August 29, 1996. 10 Interesting facts about that day!

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Tiger Woods lines up a putt in his first professional round, in the Greater Milwaukee Open on Aug. 29, 1996.

Twenty years ago today, Aug. 29, 1996, Tiger Woods, 20 at the time, made his professional debut at the Greater Milwaukee Open. It was a memorable week, notwithstanding his tying for 60th, and occasionally an amusing week. Here are 10 reasons why:

1. En route via a commercial airline from home in Orange County, Calif., to Portland, Ore., for his final amateur event, Woods turned to his father and said, “I’m never flying coach again.” Indeed, the day after his U.S. Amateur victory, he had a corporate jet standing by to take him to Milwaukee. Suffice it to say, he was right.

2. In Milwaukee, Woods paid for dinner one night with a gift certificate he had received upon his arrival. A day later, when Woods and his instructor Butch Harmon were driving to Brown Deer Park Golf Course in the Milwaukee suburb of Glendale, Butch asked him whether he had his checkbook, so he could pay the $100 entry fee. “Butch, I don’t have one-hundred dollars,” he said, despite having already signed a $40 million contract with Nike. Harmon floated him a loan. Later, Woods said, “I haven’t seen a penny yet. I haven’t seen any check in the mail yet. I’m still broke.”

3. Nike sent Woods several bags stuffed with shirts and pants. At his locker at Brown Deer Park, he found four new Titleist golf gloves and three dozen Titleist Tour balata balls. He was giddy. “He was like a 10-year-old dropped into the middle of Toys ‘R’ Us,” Harmon said.

4. Woods’ agency, IMG, initially planned for Tiger to announce he was turning pro at Niketown in Chicago. That idea was scrapped. Instead, he released a statement on that Tuesday that he was turning pro, then held his “Hello World” news conference on Wednesday. Among the media outlets on hand were People and Newsweek magazines and the television show “Extra,” a strong indication that a new higher-profile era in golf had begun.

5. The Woods family — Tiger, father Earl and mother Kultida — was sporting 27 Nike swooshes on its clothing and shoes on Wednesday, though Kultida vowed not to give up the Reeboks that she had been wearing the week before. “They pay Tiger, they don’t pay me,” she said.

To see the other 5 interesting facts about August 29, 1996, go here!

Source :     Golf Digest

Pictures : Getty Images, 

Important questions we must ask the 1st week of the FedEx Cup!

I have some compelling questions of my own at the beginning of the 10th FedEx Cup.  1. The Tour Championship does not offer an exceptional enough field to make it interesting. Will increasing the field from 30 to 50 make it more competitive?  2. The points system is flawed when players can skip one of the last 4 events and still win the FedEx Cup.  Should it be made compulsory for the qualifiers to play in all 4 events? And finally, let’s end the season directly after the Tour Championship and start the next season in the new year. Thanks to  of Golf Digest for these interesting questions.

The 2016 FedEx Cup Starts now!

The 2016 FedEx Cup Starts now!

The 10th edition of the FedEx Cup Playoffs might be the most anticipated yet. On the line in the PGA Tour’s postseason are plenty of Ryder Cup points, millions of dollars and even player-of-the-year honors. With all that in mind, let’s take a look at seven burning questions entering the closing stretch of what has already been an exciting campaign.

1. Who will win the PGA Tour Player of the Year Award?

This race is as wide open as ever, making these final four events crucial in determining who takes home the hardware. Obviously, the conversation starts with the four major champs: Danny Willett, Dustin Johnson, Henrik Stenson and Jimmy Walker. Should any of those guys win the FedEx Cup, it would be hard to deny them POY (We can pretty much rule Willett out, though, since he is skipping the first two playoff events and probably won’t qualify for the third). However, there are other challengers in Jason Day (three wins, including a WGC and a Players) and Jordan Spieth (two wins) as well. Spieth would probably need at least two playoff wins and the FedEx Cup to win a second consecutive POY, but a FedEx Cup might be enough for Day, despite the Aussie coming up short in the four majors. For both, that $10 million bonus would help ease the sting of not winning a 2016 major. But for now, DJ looks to be the leader with his U.S. Open and WGC-Bridgestone Invitational titles and his tour-leading 12 top-10s in 18 starts.

2. Who will make the U.S. Ryder Cup team?

The Barclays is the last chance for players to make the Hazeltine-bound squad on points. Four players — Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth, Phil Mickelson and Jimmy Walker — have mathematically wrapped up spots. Brooks Koepka at No. 5 is basically a lock, but then it becomes much hazier. No. 6 Brandt Snedeker is less than 400 points clear of No. 11 Matt Kuchar and only the top eight will qualify after this week. If you’re outside of the top 11, you basically need to win at Bethpage Black to get into the top eight. For those who don’t make it on points (currently, Patrick Reed is No. 8 and J.B. Holmes is No. 9), the final three playoff events will still serve as auditions for captain Davis Love III. He’ll make three captain’s picks after the BMW Championship and a final pick after the Tour Championship.

3. Who will fill out the European Ryder Cup team?

Captain Darren Clarke already knows who nine of his players will be, but there are still three spots to fill following the Barclays. The four names being talked about the most? Lee Westwood, Martin Kaymer, Russell Knox and Shane Lowry. With five rookies already qualifying for the team, it seems likely that Clarke will go with veterans Westwood and Kaymer. If so, choosing between Knox, who has won twice on the PGA Tour this season, and Lowry, who won last year’s WGC-Bridgestone Invitational and was runner-up at this year’s U.S. Open, will be tough. Although, curiously, Lowry is skipping the Barclays. Hmm.

To see the rest of these burning questions, go here!

Source :    Golf Digest

Pictures : Tour Pro Golf Clubs   Secret in the Dirt

What would Peter Kostis do if he was PGA Tour Commissioner?

I have always had the greatest respect for Peter Kostis and his PGA Tour commentary is always on point.  His great insight in both golf instruction and the PGA Tour make him an enjoyable announcer to listen to.  Kostis is a breath of fresh air compared to announcers who love the sound of their own voice and never shut up!  So it comes as no surprise that Peter has some ideas on how the PGA Tour would fare even better.  With PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem retiring soon, here are Peter’s ideas brought to you by Swing by Swing!
 
If all goes according to plan, Tim Finchem will likely be retiring as PGA Tour commissioner at the end of the 2016 season and all indications say he will be succeeded Jay Monahan.
Finchem has held the commish post since 1994. Since then, the game has changed dramatically. While you can credit Tiger Woods for a decent portion of golf’s transformation, Finchem’s accomplishments can’t be overlooked (see: TV Deals).
In a recent Golf.com article written by CBS analyst and instructor Peter Kostis, he offers up three pieces of advice on how the next commissioner can improve the game. The catch is that these relatively simple ideas will likely never happen. Shorten the season The golf season should extend from early January to Labor Day weekend. Period. That would give us 30 to 35 events per year, which is plenty. This sort of compact schedule would more often draw the very best players. And besides, why fight an unwinnable ratings battle with the NFL? Golf can’t compete with football, and the FedEx Cup playoffs deserve a showcase without interference from the NFL. As for the so-called Fall Series events, I have a solution: Incorporate them into qualifying tournaments and the Web.com season. That way, smaller events that can’t afford the PGA Tour premium price can enhance their fields and visibility. The most important rationale behind my short-season suggestion, though, is protecting players. Tour pros need an offseason to rest and recover, and to work on improving technique. No other major pro sport competes 12 months a year. Plus, fans would anticipate and get excited for the start of the season! It’s just not the same when things kick off in October, a week after the FedEx Cup concludes at the Tour Championship.
To see the rest of Peter’s ideas on improving the future PGA Tour schedule, go here! Source : Dan Bier  Swing by Swing  Peter Kostis Pictures: Keith Allison

FedEx Cup Highlights. The Best of the Best!

When the Inaugural FedEx Cup debuted in 2007, nobody would have guessed that 10 years later it would have developed into such a hotly contested race!  There were bumps in the road as FedEx and the PGA Tour slowly changed the format to it’s now exciting conclusion to each PGA Tour year.  Thanks to   and  of Golf Digest for this interesting compilation of the 10 most exciting moments.

2007 Deutsche Bank Championship: The Showdown

The PGA Tour’s new venture was still searching for respect at TPC Boston, despite an emotional victory by Steve Stricker in the first-ever playoff event (Tiger Woods’ absence didn’t help things). But a Tiger vs. Phil final-round battle in the next tournament gave the playoffs a much-needed spark. The showdown came down to the final few holes and Mickelson edged Woods. For the time being. . .

2008 The Barclays: Sergio’s Kiss Of Death

8 Huge Improvements for Golf in the 2020 Olympics! Love # 5.

Although I found the 2016 Olympic Golf Competition exciting and a great success for golf, some changes can enhance the competition to make the next one more spectacular.   of Golf Digest has some terrific ideas to make golf at the 2020 Olympics an even bigger spectacle!  Definitely food for thought for the next USA Olympic Committee!  Although I don’t like #3, as implementing an age limit would not only get some pushback, it is downright discriminatory!  

Despite its nightmarish pre-tournament narrative, the 2016 Olympic golf competition went as well as organizers could have hoped. The field seemed ingrained in the Summer Games experience, the Sunday leaderboard was littered with popular names and the tournament drew sold-out galleries. While the ultimate barometer of success will be the metabolism of golf in countries foreign to the game, the early returns on the Rio experience earned a thumbs-up review.

Which is not to say the tournament isn’t in need of tweaking. While golf’s long-term Olympic involvement will be decided in 2017, the sport will be a part of the Summer Games in Tokyo. Here are 8 changes we’d like to see for the 2020 Olympic golf tournament:

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A decongested PGA Tour schedule

One of the reasons why many of golf’s best passed on Brazil concerned the jammed PGA Tour calendar, accentuated by the British Open and PGA Championship separated by just nine days. Spreading the majors out not only lessens players’ mental load, but also subtracts an excuse for bowing out of the Summer Games. Our proposal:

— Move the Memorial so it takes place on…drum roll…Memorial Day weekend.

— The U.S. Open jumps to the second week of June, with the British Open ending the second weekend of July.

— The Olympics, which run from July 24th to August 9th, holds its men’s golf competition in the second week of the Games, with the women kicking off the proceedings in week one.

— The PGA Championship goes to the last week of August, a date that manages to miss the beginning of football season.

The FedEx Cup begins in September, and we’re erasing the bye week between the BMW Championship and Tour Championship, instead giving the players a week’s rest between Atlanta and the Ryder Cup.

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Bigger field

Before the mass withdrawal by golf’s preeminent figures became the overriding storyline, the Olympic tournament’s format drew the most criticism. As a refresher, here were the parameters that shaped the 2016 Olympic field: no more than four players in the top 15 from any one country can qualify; after the top 15, a maximum of two players can qualify per country; host country Brazil is guaranteed a spot.

This construction presents a few hurdles: chiefly, it limits the depth, even on the top level, of the entrants. For example, 13 of the top 22 players in the world are American, keeping talent like Brooks Koepka on the outside looking in. This issue is better illustrated on the women’s side, where South Korea accounts for half of the world’s top 30. Make no mistake, organizers emphatically want this tournament to be considered in a major light. To do that, it needs to get more of the top 30-40 players, no matter their country affiliation, involved.

That won’t come at the expense of others. Representatives from countries not often seen on golf’s biggest stages – think China, Mexico, Bangladesh — will still have a spot in the tournament. The entry of the top 30-40 players merely strengthens and deepens the field. The augments the Olympic field from 60 players — about 40 percent the size of a normal PGA Tour event — to the 80-90 range, instantly adding credibility and viability to the tournament.

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Age limit

Admittedly, this will likely receive the biggest pushback. However, other sports — most notably, basketball — are considering putting age restrictions on Olympic athletes. The age ceiling is not intended to discriminate: as Henrik Stenson, Justin Rose and Marcus Fraser proved, the old guys can pack a punch. Rather, the idea is to use the international dais to highlight young guns and fledgling talent that’s projected to be a factor in the sport for years to come. No offense to Stenson, who’s the hottest player in golf the past five weeks, but he does have a sooner-rather-than-later expiration date.

Youth won’t necessarily equate to a better show; in the same vein, it’s an easier sell to casual or fringe fans. While that marketing spiel might be tough to swallow, it’s a very real reality golf, and all athletics, have to face.

Source :    Golf Digest

Lanny Watkins tells Keegan Bradley “Go hit the ball!”

It seems, listening to Lanny Watkins broadcasting for the Golf Channel at the John Deere Classic, that Keegan Bradley has “paralysis by analysis!”  The hilarious commentary between Lanny and Jim Gallagher Jr.,  reminded me of when I played an exhibition match with Hugh Biocchi and John Bland. (both former European Tour and Champions Tour players) Hugh seemed to be taking his time over a shot and my eldest son Gary, who was only 4 at the time, yelled out from the gallery “Hit the ball man!”  That cracked up Hugh and the whole gallery!  Thanks to   of Golf Digest for posting this “broadcast gold!”
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Keegan Bradley at the John Deere Classic on Thursday.

Lanny Wadkins is in the World Golf Hall of Fame and always played as though he was in a hurry to get there. Bless him.

Accordingly, he’s never been particularly tolerant of those who dawdle and dither.

Wadkins is working the John Deere Classic for Golf Channel and he was not amused with Keegan Bradley, notably his pre-shot gyrations from the 17th fairway and a greenside bunker at 18 in the second round on Friday. Golf Channel’s Jim Gallagher Jr. teed it up for him.

“Keegan, going through so many different, looks like swing thoughts,” Gallagher said with Bradley sizing up his shot on 17.

“A few too many swing thoughts,” Wadkins said. “Look at this. Go hit the ball.”

To read the rest of the hilarious commentary between Lanny Watkins and Jim Gallagher Jr, go here!

Source :    Golf Digest

Pictures : Getty Images   Galatians Design

16 PGA Championship courses to add to your bucket list!

The PGA Championship  is always played on spectacular golf courses chosen by the PGA of America to provide the very best test for the top players in the world.  But you can also experience these great courses.  Tim Gavrich of golfvacationinsider gives you a list of all the golf courses used by the PGA to conduct their Championship that is accessible to you, the everyday golfer!   There are plenty of PGA Championship courses you can play on golf vacations, including North Carolina’s Tanglewood Park Championship Course, above.
This year’s PGA Championship at Baltusrol Golf Club in New Jersey is off to a great start. I’m particularly fascinated by the course’s routing – how strange it must be for the pros not to encounter a par five until the 649-yard 17th, and then finish on another (more reachable) three-shotter. That should make for quite the finish come Sunday afternoon. One slight bummer about Baltusrol, though, is that unlike last year’s PGA venue – Whistling Straits – very few of us will have the opportunity to play the course, given the private nature of the club. That said, there are a number of past and future PGA Championship venues that you and I can (and should) visit and play. And guess what? There are more of these courses than you might think…and you probably live or will soon travel near one of them. Check out the list here: As you can see, the PGA Championship has been (and will continue to be) played on plenty of public courses in some of the best golf vacation destinations in America, making it easy to add a major championship to your own personal record book. California Course: Pebble Beach Golf Links Location: Pebble Beach, CA Hosted the PGA Championship in: 1977 Architect: Jack Neville and Douglas Grant Green Fee: $495 Course: TPC Harding Park Location: San Francisco, CA Will Host the PGA Championship in: 2020 Architect: Willie Watson and Sam Whiting Green Fee: $177 Florida Course: PGA National Resort & Spa (The Champion Course) Location: Palm Beach Gardens, FL Hosted the PGA Championship in: 1987 Architect: Jack Nicklaus Green Fee: $347 Indiana Course: French Lick Resort (Donald Ross Course) Location: French Lick, IN Hosted the PGA Championship in: 1924 Architect: Donald Ross Green Fee:  $120 Minnesota Course: Keller Golf Course Location: Maplewood, MN Hosted the PGA Championship in: 1932 and 1954 Architect: Paul Coates; renovation by Richard Mandell Green Fee: $43
To see the rest of the PGA Championship courses that you can play, go here! Source : Golf Vacation Insider   Tim Gavrich Pictures : Evan Schiller   Destination Kohler/The American Club

Hank Haney gives us the Key move in Jimmy Walker’s Golf Swing!

Jimmy Walker has a free-flowing golf swing that seems devoid of any surplus movement.  Smooth on the backswing, great transition into the downswing, and a full follow-through.  But the key component of this swing is the ability to keep the club moving from the inside.  This produces a consistent draw.  His one move that helps him produce this swing is explained by Hank Haney for Golf Digest!  Enjoy!       Source : Hank Haney   Golf Digest Picture : Getty Images

Get to know Jimmy Walker. 14 interesting facts!

Jimmy Walker is an interesting man, but very few people can tell you much about him other than the fact that he is a 5-time winner on the PGA Tour, and has a propensity for playing well from the front!  And now he is also a Major Championship winner!  But there are many more interesting facts about Jimmy Walker – as  of Golf Digest points out.  14 of them!

1. He was a LONG shot to win the 2016 PGA Championship

2. He played collegiate golf at Baylor

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3. Prior to Baltusrol, his biggest golf thrill was playing in the 2001 US Open

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4. He met his wife at a Nationwide Tour event

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5. He was the 2004 Nationwide Player of the Year

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Source :     Golf Digest
Pictures :Golf Digest

The 9 steps to making it on the PGA Tour! #4 is critical!

I have worked with many male and female golfers who aspired to make it on the PGA or LPGA Tour.  Let me tell you something.  Talent is just a very small part of it! There are many golfers making a living on the PGA and LPGA Tours, who have very little talent.  But they have the desire, work ethic and a sense of determination I see in very few young people today.  Most want it on a silver platter, and if it is too hot or too cold, they avoid the range.  They have no chance!  So, check out this article by Mark Donaghy  of GolfWrx to see if you have what it takes!  
When Ty Tryon qualifies for the PGA Tour at a very young age, everybody. including myself, thought he was the next superstar.

When Ty Tryon qualified for the PGA Tour at a very young age, everybody. including myself, thought he was the next superstar.  It was not to be!

I’m sure we all know a top young amateur golfer with aspirations of turning pro. It may be the kid at your local club who hits the ball a country mile and has a short game that would make Seve proud. Or it might be a hot shot you’ve seen at a tournament, and followed his or her progress since they were knee high to a grasshopper. You’ve watched them win local and even regional tournaments from high school into the top amateur ranks, and think they will be the next Rory McIlroy or Jason Day. So why do so few of these talented amateur golfers actually break through on the world stage? What is it about the transition from top amateur to professional golf that can act as a trap door for some, and a trampoline for others? To find out, I spoke to Johnny Foster, who runs The Johnny Foster Golf Academy, a top Irish coaching academy targeting elite young players.
“Since 2004, my team and I have had the pleasure of coaching dozens of Ireland’s aspiring elite amateurs and professionals at our academy,” he said. “The walls have become decorated with pictures of players’ trophies and signed memorabilia. But for us, it’s the faces who aren’t there that raise our eyebrows. I often ask myself, ‘Do you remember this guy…where did he go? I was certain he’d make it.’ “On the other hand, I’ve scratched my head many more times when guys who were can’t-miss amateurs have been swallowed by the results-driven, unapologetic world of pro golf, seemingly unable to score as they did as amateurs just months before. Why is that? Did they lose their talent? Do pro golfers play to a smaller hole? I don’t think so. What I do know is that players who have made the successful transition have shared certain qualities.
With help from Foster, I created this list of the 9 things that can prevent top amateurs from realizing their pro golf dreams.

1Desire

This is the biggest motivating factor in being successful in anything. Something has to drive golfers to want to be the best, and it has to be there at every point in their career. Complacency and lack of belief are desire’s biggest enemies, sapping drive and willpower.

2Talent

We have all heard it said before: someone has a natural talent, or they were born with a club in their hands. Talent has to be grown and supported, however, for a golfer to reach the highest level. How many talented golfers have we heard of who never made it?

3Ability

More precisely than just ability, professional golfers need the ability to score. All of the talent in the world doesn’t matter if you cannot simply get the golf ball in the hole. Scrambling, clutch putting and performance under pressure become extremely important when a career is on the line. Johnny says: There’s only one common denominator among the players who are successful: their score. The top-25 on any given week will represent a variety of club manufacturers, listen to a multitude of coaches and probably be from a range of countries. In fact, on many occasions, the only thing they do have in common is that they have finished at the same score at the week’s end. So as much as myself or any other adviser tells you to “forget about the score and stick to the process,” you better have the potential to score at a tour standard or there’s not much point reading on. Your diet can be pure and you can surround yourself with the latest technology, which will make you feel better, but in my experience the most important number a player can produce is their stroke average in relation to par. If you have the rare ability to manipulate numbers, I’d stick to lowering that if you can, rather than fixating on your angle of attack. If you are an aspiring player, ask yourself, “Is everything I’m currently doing geared to helping me reduce my scoring average?” This is a constant pillar of our philosophy; we tirelessly work with our students to reduce their scoring average in relation to par.

4Work Ethic

Along with having natural talent, there is no substitute for hard work and building a good routine. Fitness, practice, media/sponsor commitments, and travel all require hard work and good time management that needs to be engrained. Look at how seriously the modern-day players take their games these days: they train with fitness experts, work on technique with world-class coaches, and engrain their good habits with hundreds of balls almost every day. They say it takes 10,000 hours of focused practice to be world class. You don’t do that without hard work and a solid routine. Johnny says: Learning a trade or a set of skills is a process that takes time, usually years. So consider this when planning your assault on professional golf; “I’ll give it a go for a year” isn’t really a sound plan. How many surgeons or classic opera singers give it 12 months and eventually become successful? Remember, you’re attempting to reach the 0.01 percent of people in your chosen field. Your apprenticeship will take time, so make the financial and emotional provision for it. You’re attempting to hone a very specific set of skills. From reading grain on greens to working with a professional caddy, allow yourself time to adjust. And be realistic with your deadlines. Look at your rate of progression over the past few years. Fair chance this trend is going to continue. As the saying goes, “An overnight sensation usually takes about 10 years.” The fact is that in all of the wins and trophies achieved by our clients, the vast majority were done so by long-term students who really valued and benefited from a strong player-coach bond.
To see the other steps needed to make it on the PGA or LPGA Tours, go here! Source : Mark Donaghy  of GolfWrx Pictures : GolfWrx  Richard Hannam