Top 5 New Courses I Played in 2016

First off, sorry for the click-baity title there, but how else was I supposed to describe a list of golf courses? With that apology out of the way, I won’t waste time introducing this post since I’m sure people never read anything other than the titles in list posts. Also, this article isn’t meant to be full reviews of the courses, that would take up too much space. Rather, this represents a quick hit on some of the notable courses I got to play this past year. They aren’t ranked against each other, but instead listed in the time order I played them. First up, Alabama.

Ross Bridge

This past end of January 2016, so coming up on a year ago now, I had a week off and went to play some solo golf down in Alabama on the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail. And if you didn’t see some of my comments from back then, I highly highly recommend the trail.

None of the courses I played were below average, and what was great also was that it was the “offseason” which meant that it was cold enough to keep the locals away, but warm enough for me and my resistance to cold weather when golfing.

Of all the courses, I’ll highlight Ross Bridge. Mostly because it tips out at 8,191 yards, with a rating / slope of 78.5/135. It was also great because I was literally, and I mean literally in the literal sense, the only person to play the course that day.

The cloudy sky, and lack of overseeded rough also made for some cool pictures.

The one thing that happens with an 8,000 yard course is there’s very little variation in the lengths of the holes. The par threes were all about 225 yards, and likewise on up with the par 4s and par 5s. I can’t imagine having a course that long with a drivable par 4 or something, though I think Erin Hills can claim that honor, which is over 8k and has a drivable par 4 on the second hole.

A few notes on the other courses I played on the trail: The ones at Capitol Hill were awesome, only issues were that it was in the 30s to start (cold to even me), and also that the cart ran out of juice on my second 18 of the day around the 13th hole. Oxmoor Valley was also baller, with the Ridge course being on a ridge. Scroll through those pictures on the link and check out that elevation. It was great. Also great that I got 54 holes in that day with only having to play through 2 groups. Now that’s the best.

Sand Valley

If I only played 13 of the holes at a course, does it still count as playing a full round? Definitely not handicapwise, but in terms of this post, it sure as hell does.

The newest of the Coore Crenshaw production courses only had the front 9 officially open when we played in July, with 10, 16, 17, and 18 open for play, but without tee markers, which made finding the tees on number 16 very difficult.

The course was so new when we also played it that they were in the process of digging out grass that had grown its way into the newly sanded bunkers. The expression on the face of this high school aged dude who was doing the digging showed that he really really didn’t want to be there. But hey! That’s what summer jobs are supposed to be right?

It’s very hard to describe this type of dry, links golf when most people are used to the tree lined country club style courses with lush rough and round greens. Coore Crenshaw do use some of the “template” holes that you’ll see on those old school courses (like the punch bowl 17th, or the redan 3rd), but a lot of their green designs are novel. I think my favorite example of this is demonstrated in the second hole, with a wide fairway to the left, and an offset green to the right. Challenging the right side leads to an easier approach shot, both visually and slopewise, but there’s also a pack of trees to that side which can screw you if you veer too close.

The new Coore Crenshaw courses also feature the hip runoff areas without rough that are becoming more and more popular. Think the Olympic course by Gil Hanse, or any of the British Open rotation courses. Rough is out, runoff areas are in.

I was also a fan of the elevation change on the property out there. A lot of design has to do with the piece of property you’re given, and unless you pull a Pete Dye at Sawgrass where he made a course out of swamp, it’s hard to get that super highly ranked course design unless you have some elevation.

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Trinity Forest — Coore & Crenshaw in Texas

I’ve said before that to be a cool kid in the golfing world, all you need to do is talk about all the Coore & Crenshaw designed courses you’ve played in your life. And last week, a couple other of the GOTM guys (and gal) and me made it down to Dallas for a post-Christmas golf trip where the location was decided by finding a direct flight to somewhere without snow. Dallas got checkmarks for both of those, and also was home to Trinity Forest, one of the newest Coore Crenshaw designs.

Photo taken from their website, linked above.

Photo taken from their website, linked above. Sixth green short, 13th green long and left of it.

Trinity Forest, plunked just south of the city and home track for SMU’s golf teams, opened in the spring of 2016, and the big wigs of Texas also gravitated to the course right away. Jordan Spieth becoming a member (he can’t play Dallas National every day amirite?), nobody’s favorite side-saddle putter with the SMU ties, Bryson DeChambeau has also joined. Throw in a former president in Dubya, and you’ve got yourself a Texas party. Also while we were out there, Cameron McCormick was giving a presumably $500 an hour lesson, and Emmett Smith was somewhere on the course, but try as we might, we had no luck in finding him.

Facility-wise, the main clubhouse is still (and was) being built, but the makeshift trailer clubhouse has to be the best trailer clubhouse in the history of trailer clubhouses. Full bar, lockers, showers, all the hair and beauty products that could possibly be needed in a men’s locker room, lounge room, TVs, shoe shine equipment, and even M&Ms that Dylan crushed after the round.

The attitude at the club was awesomely laid back too. There was a group that went off along with us, them starting on #10, who went off with those Golf Board things. Pat asked our forecaddy Jesse about the policy on phones and cameras on the course, and Jesse gave a look of “why would there be any issues with using phones?” When we rolled up in the carts that we took from the parking lot, there were a bunch of push carts there if we wanted them. And at the turn, the guy working brought out a foam cooler of beer at Dylan’s request.

We headed to the practice facility first, which featured a range with an indoor teaching area (where McCormick was teaching), and on the other side, a giant facility which we learned was for the SMU team. Off to the side was a giant sloping putting green with only 3 holes cut for some reason, and connected to that was a chipping area with bunker. Off past that was a 9 hole short course, which we didn’t play.

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2017 SBS Tournament of Champions — The real start of the PGA Tour season

Welcome back to the 2017 series of GOTM previews! This week, the Tour starts it’s two week stretch in Hawaii, while the rest of us are stuck in the cold continental (I’m presuming at least) US. Here’s what to watch for, and some music, as always.

Shoutout to the flute in the chorus here. Can it be a chorus without lyrics? I’m gonna say yes.

What the hell is SBS?

My first attempt at figuring out what SBS logically involved I searched Google. Which for a hot sec led me to believe that SBS referred to this Australian Broadcasting Company thing. I half rationalized it by thinking that Hawaii was like, almost in Australia, so that’s not unreasonable for an Australian Company to sponsor the tournament! Yeah, that was dumb.

Who are you SBS?!?!?!?!?

Who are you SBS?!?!?!?!?

Then off to looking at wikipedia, where I hit an article that disambiguates SBS, and instead of having one company stick out as the sponsor, I was left with something like 50 different SBSs. I actually started clicking on all of the links there, trying to match the logo from the wikipedia page to the tournament’s logo, and then also realized that was really dumb.

Finally, after searching PGA Tour dot com and finding nothing, I landed on the tournament’s wikipedia article which chronicled the saga of title sponsorships for the event. SBS refers to Seoul Broadcasting System and actually was the title sponsor back in 2010. Hyundai took that over in 2011 (both Korean brands), while SBS was still a sponsor, though not title-wise. A little change up last year, with Northern Trust taking over a FedEx Cup event, Hyundai, who “is headquartered and heavily invested in the greater Los Angeles area” will take over the event at Riviera, and SBS is back titling the ToC!

Excellent sleuthing by me, and all that was left to do was edit the tournament’s wikipedia article with the new information. Though really, you’d think the PGA Tour would do a little more at making it easy to figure out who’s sponsoring their events. But that’s just me.

No issues with the NFL Playoffs

My first thought when thinking about watching this weekend’s action was about how in the world the PGA Tour could expect anyone to watch the golf, when I know everyone here is going to be glued to their TVs watching the Packers take down the Giants at Lambeau. And then I realized I was an idiot because the Tour is off in Hawaii, meaning that the action will just get started over there right after the Packer’s victory.

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The Development of the Young Guns Tour

“I’ve never in my tenure seen so much buzz and interest about rookies and young players creating exciting performances.”PGA Tour Commissioner

– Tim Finchem, end of 2010

The PGA Tour is getting younger. This isn’t something that happened overnight but is something that has been slowly changing the tour landscape over the last twenty years.

So what happened twenty years ago? …Tiger Woods happened, but, much has already been written about Tiger’s epic and trailblazing career along with the correlating increases in tournament purses, tv money, player earnings, longer courses, etc. that his dominance brought to the game.

The development and emergence of younger players has taken the tour to a new level, one that thrives with or without The Big Cat. The first young gun that came on the scene post-Tiger  was Sergio Garcia, who as a 19-year old kid was prancing down fairways at Medinah in the 1999 PGA Championship chasing Tiger. Eventually, Tiger held off Garcia, but this duel nonetheless started one of, if not the most dominant era of golf.

We all know this jump from a baby-faced Garcia.

We all know this jump at Medinah from a baby-faced Garcia.

By the end of 2000, Tiger had defended his PGA Championship and was a few months away from completing the Tiger Slam. If you take a look at what the top 50 in the world looked like then, you’ll see an average age of 34.3, with 12 players in their 20’s, and one of them was under 25 years old (Sergio Garcia).

Fast forward five years later and the tour actually got older. At the end of 2005, the average age of top 50 in the world was 35.5. Only seven players in there 20’s and Garcia was still the lone member under 25 years old in the top 50.

Over the next five years, Tiger Woods won four majors, including the U.S. Open on one leg, but also missed significant amounts of time on tour due to injuries and that Thanksgiving 2009 incident. During that time, several up and comers including Anthony Kim, Camilo Villegas, Martin Kaymer, Rory McIlroy, and Rickie Fowler started winning tournaments and grabbing the attention of fans and sponsors alike.

At the end of the 2010 season, the average age of the top 50 players in world dropped to 32.06. Nearly three years younger than top 50 at the end of 2005. Now there were 20 players under the age of 30 in that group and five under 25! Sergio finally older than 25 was replaced in the top 25 by five guys.

In the last few years, players like Jordan Spieth, Hideki Matsuyama, Jason Day, and Dustin Johnson have joined the young guns by winning a lot and raising the bar. Actually they’ve lowered the age bar. Take a look at the current top 50 in the world at the end of 2016. The average age stayed relatively flat at 32.18, a group of 18 guys were under 30 but seven are under the age of 25 signifying that the best players in the world are getting younger.

Spieth, the poster child for young golf.

Spieth, the poster child for young golf.

Not only are the best players in the world getting younger, but they are getting better! The data from the same years but looking at just the top 25 players is more of the same.

TOP 25 OWGR 2000 Average Age: 32.84 ; Under 30: 8 ; Under 25: 1

TOP 25 OWGR 2005 Average Age: 35.76 ; Under 30: 3 ; Under 25: 1

TOP 25 OWGR 2010 Average Age: 34.20 ; Under 30: 7 ; Under 25: 1

TOP 25 OWGR 2016 Average Age: 31.48 ; Under 30: 12 ; Under 25: 4

Look at how the average drops over four years since 2005! Almost, half of the best 25 golfers in world are in their roaring twenties. Four of them are younger than 25 led by 23 year old Spieth who already has a couple majors. Tim Finchem thought there was excitement in 2010 around the youth on tour. As he enjoys retirement, he has to be beyond excited and overjoyed with the current crop of young guns and youth on tour.

What to Watch For in the 2017 Year of Golf

Welcome to golf in the year 2017! Most of these 2017 preview articles take either one of two directions. 1) Super boring lists of facts about the upcoming season or 2) Ridiculous lists of predictions that aren’t going to come true and where the author isn’t held accountable for their terrible foresight. So I figured, instead of sticking to just one of those standard forms of preview article, I present the GOTM mishmash 2017 preview!

And as Chance the Rapper notes at the beginning of the intro here (well actually, the line was taken from Kanye, but I’m crediting Chance for now), even better than I was the last time, and we back.

The Rise of Hideki

Most well known for the odd Srixon outfits he wears, which I’m not sure if Hideki picks out himself or if Srixon forces him wear presumably to appeal to the Japanese golf playing public. Pretty sure no random Joe in the US is going to be wearing this yellow getup just because Hideki wore it when he beat a flailing Rickie Fowler in a playoff (during the Super Bowl) at the Waste Management Phoenix Open this past year.

What an odd shirt Hideki

What an odd shirt Hideki

Hideki is also hilarious to watch because of his displays of displeasure, and abridged follow throughs on what most people would consider decent shots. I can understand the desire to hit every shot perfect, but Hideki takes it to a whole new level. Compilation time! Watch the whole vid, it isn’t too long.

Classic Hideki.

All that being out of the way first, people quickly forget how good H-dek has been his entire life, dating back to his amateur career. He was the first person, as a 19 year old, to earn the Masters exemption for winning the Asian Amateur back in 2011, where he was also the low amateur that year, making the cut. In 2012, reached number 1 in the world amateur golf rankings. After his first professional year in 2013, he earned enough world-wide money to become a member on the PGA Tour in 2014, where he won the Memorial. After a lack luster 2015, where his highlighting accomplishment was t5 at the Masters, he won the WMPO early in 2016, and current, has won 4 of his last 5 events dating back to this October, including a victory at the Hero World Challenge.

Now obviously I’m not talking that he’s Tiger level, considering Tiger. But given his consistency from these last few years and the recent improvement makes him poised for a big breakout soon. And when I say “big breakout”, I mean top 3 in the world within 3 years.

Hideki is going to have a great 2017 no doubt, but I don’t know if I’m ready to proclaim him as number 1 in the world at the end of 2017 just yet.

DJ is best

With all my drooling over Hideki, I need to step back and make sure people know that Dustin Johnson will have the best 2017, money-wise, win-wise, sexy butter cut drivers that go forever-wise, and chiseled beard-wise.

Can't lose with that beard line. I mean, daaamn

Can’t lose with that beard line. I mean, daaamn

He’s got the most talent, and seems like he finally has the experience and self control to play well rather than party it up on yachts. And after all this time he appears to have learned to overcome his brother’s lack of caddying prowess and win nonetheless.

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2016 PGA Championship — Glory’s Last Shot?

Last major before the FedEx Cup Playoffs finish up the tour seaso- Wait, they’re telling me that there’s another tournament, the “Olympics”, that is supposedly something that people want to win between the PGA Championship and the FEC Playoffs? We’ll talk about whatever the Olympics are when the time comes, but right now it’s time for the last major of the year, the PGA Championship!

Glory’s Last Shot?

You’ll hear that tagline all week, the PGA being “Glory’s last shot”. However, the problem now is that after the PGA we have the Olympics as well as the FedEx Cup, providing numerous additional opportunities at personal glory. And really, let’s be honest here, having two majors in three weeks really makes the second seem less important. Remember the pastrami sandwich from last week’s preview? The PGA Championship is that bottom piece of bread here in that metaphor.

Though it takes away from the glory of this tournament, I must give credit to the PGA Tour for what it has done with the FedEx Cup. In its short 9 year existence, the FedEx Cup has been elevated by the PGA Tour from somewhat of a gimmick into a legit 4 event series that players and fans actually care about. Damn right I’m gonna tune in every week and see who’s playing well at the end of the year.

Also, why the hell is glory’s last shot in July?! It’s the 7th month of the year. There are 12 months in the year if you didn’t know. Why can’t the tournament be, you know, closer to the end of the summer which would make sense? Oh yeah, the Olympics.

Baltusrol

First off, that’s an impressive grouping of vowels in that word. According to Wikipedia, “Baltusrol Golf Club was named after Baltus Roll (1769–1831), who farmed the land on which the club resides today.” Wikipedia doesn’t say who came up with that brilliant naming scheme. If I ever farmed some land, and then later had a championship golf course built on top of my land, I hope they name it Schuljoh Golf Club in my honor.

Anyway, Baltusrol is kind of a weird course in the PGA Championship rotation. A USGA course for much of it’s existence, it apparently switched allegiance to the PGA somewhere between 2000 when it last hosted the US Am, and 2005 when it hosted it’s first PGA Championship. And despite hosting a bunch of top events, the course is relatively unknown in terms of design. I couldn’t think of what any hole specifically looked like until I googled it (see below). Players seems to like the design, and it’s hard to find controversy in hosting the PGA at a course with as much history as Baltusrol.

Also a fan of how the club’s logo is pretty much the golden snitch!

Or really, the Red-Golden Snitch

Or really, the Red-Golden Snitch

The 4th Hole

I didn’t even remember this part of the course, but apparently the 4th hole is famous!

#4 at Baltusrol

#4 at Baltusrol

Back earlier this year, I wrote an article about the most famous hole by number. And when apparently Baltusrol has one of the most famous 4th holes in golf. It does look pretty out there.

Also, looking at Rickie Fowler’s snapchat story, he had a pic of the 4th hole with grandstands surrounding it. Naturally, that means I screenshotted it and posted it here.

rickie-baltusrol-4th

Definitely a cool look, Rickie

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RBC Canadian Open — Opens on Opens

Though a preview for a different event isn’t exactly the place for this, but shoutout to Henrik Stenson for that Sunday 63. And now, Phil’s finished second in a major 11 times, which is incredible to think about, but still pales in comparison to Jack Nicklaus and his 19 runner up finishes! Jack’s finished second 19 times, and he still won 18 majors in his career. I know I talk about Tiger being the GOAT all the time, but damn Jack.

This week, defending champion and current world number 1 Jason Day tries to repeat at the RBC Canadian Open. But world number 2 Dustin Johnson will also be there trying to take that number one spot away.

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In honor of Country Thunder this weekend, here’s some Eric F. Church.

Major Sandwich

Because of the dumb Olympics, the poor Canadian Open is the sandwich meat between the two pieces of major bread that is the British Open and the PGA Championship. Luckily in this metaphor, the RBCCO isn’t some crappy Oscar Mayer bologna, but some high class roast beef. Or possibly pastrami. Big fan of pastrami.

Just imagine the top piece of bread as the British Open, the bottom piece the PGA, and the meat, the delicious meat in the middle, is the Canadian Open.

Just imagine the top piece of bread as the British Open, the bottom piece the PGA, and the meat, the delicious meat in the middle, is the Canadian Open.

But really though, it has to suck when your event is moved from a normally fine spot in the schedule is forced to be the buffer between majors. Then again, it’s not like anybody is playing in the Olympics, so having some time off between the PGA and FedEx Cup playoffs means top guys don’t have to ditch on the RBCCO.

Back to Glen Abbey

Also of note, this is the second consecutive PGA Tour event outside the country. And as I mentioned last week’s preview, as a semi ignorant American that I am, I needed to look up on a map where Glen Abbey was, so I figured I should just include another screenshot of Google Maps so people out there know how close to the US they course is this week.

Waddup Canada

Waddup Canada

Designed by Jack Nicklaus back in 1977, it’s not known because it’s hosted the Canadian Open the most times, but also because of Tiger Woods hitting a ridiculous fairway bunker shot to one when he played there in 2000.  Here’s a video of the shot that I know I’ve posted before, but definitely needs to be watched again.

Mike Weir

Yes! The Canadian lefty is back this week to try his hand at making a cut. And because of that, I’m going to use this space to preach about why old guys who kind of suck still get to play in tournaments rather than the good up-and-comers from the Web.com tour. So feel free to skip to the next section if you don’t want to be told what to think.

The PGA Tour needs casual fans to watch tournaments and want to go to tournaments. Casual fans don’t want to see new players that have a chance to be stars. They want players who they actually know. It’s like going to a concert and not knowing any of the songs. Sure it’s interesting, but it’s not even close to as good as when you know the lyrics and can sing along. Yup, I just compared Mike Weir to a band playing a concert. Just remember, in general, just remember, old well known guys >>>>> new unproven guys in the eyes of the public.

Battle for No. 1

Along with defending champ Day, Dustin Johnson is also making an appearance this week. As with most Tour events, eyes will be on the best players. Though Day still holds the number 1 ranking thanks to the fantastic end to his season last year, DJ has definitely been playing the best of recent, beating Day during the final round of the WGC Bridgestone a couple weeks ago, right after winning the US Open.

It’ll be interesting to see if the Tour will pair the two guys together the first two rounds, or spread them out to get talent in both waves of tee times. I’d say put them together, I want a show.

2016 Open Championship — Royal Postage Stamps in the Morning

Despite all the talk on the Golf Channel about players skipping the Olympics, we actually have a major being played this week! Crazy right? Poor British Open / Open Championship for getting semi overshadowed by a different event. That being said, it’s still a major, and the world’s eyes will be on Scotland this week, and for the most part, eyes that are thankful it’s sunny and warm where they are.

As always, music while you read.

What Makes a Course Royal?

Even after 25 years of being alive for British Opens, I guess I never thought of why some of the courses are prefaced with “Royal” in front of their title. And apparently there’s no real reason for this other than just the Royal family saying that something is cool enough to be Royal. Either way, Troon was granted Royal status in 1978, during its 100 year anniversary.

There don’t appear to be any Royal courses in the US, considering it wasn’t exactly a colony of the Brits back when golf courses started popping up in the early 1900s, but if there were, I’m sure the first would be Royal Lincoln Park in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. That course definitely has the Royal feel, don’t let anyone else tell you otherwise.

Now I’m wondering if the Royal family can designate any location as “Royal”. Like could the Starbucks I’m writing this at be a Royal Starbs, or if the PokeStop around the corner from my apartment can be a Royal PokeStop.

Postage Stamp

At just 123 yards, the 8th hole at Royal Troon is dubbed the Postage Stamp, is one of the more famous holes in British Open golf, partially because it’s super short, and partially because it has a cool name. Look for the Postage Stamp hole to be featured heavily on television coverage. Also, if anyone out there wants to do some cool graffiti, I suggest spray painting the Queen’s face on the green to make it look like a real British postage stamp. Just don’t say you got the idea from GOTM.

Instead of me trying to describe it, how about I just let this nice Scottish man describe the hole while some sort of drone camera revolves around it.

Also, if you’re looking for some more videos about the difficulty of the hole, check out Rory making a 9 in a practice round. Those bunkers are really deep.

Last Time at Troon

Todd Hamilton beat Ernie Els in a 4 hole aggregate playoff to claim his only major title. Yup that Todd Hamilton.

For some reason, the British Open seems to bring out some odd winners. Hamilton won in 2004, just two years after Ben Curtis, everyone’s favorite NFL sponsored pro golfer, won in 2002. Two guys who never really did anything before or after that win. But hey, can’t take away their names on the Claret Jug.

Scotland!

Apparently it does make a difference where in the UK the Open is played. Being the semi-ignorant American that I am, I always figured that it didn’t matter if the Open was played in England or Scotland. But apparently it does!

Since I couldn’t find a good map indicating where Troon was, I whipped out the screenshot again and got that picture below. Quite far up north. I also looked up sunrise and sunset times for Troon and apparently it’s only from 04:57 to 21:50 (9:50 for those incompetent at math). I always thought that Scotland would have ridiculously late sunset times, but 9:50 isn’t too unreasonable.

Wonder what kind of Pokemon are around Troon this week.

Wonder what kind of Pokemon are around Troon this week.

True Links

Despite what we talk about in the US, a links golf course is not just a course with open, tree-less, fescue laiden property. Links golf courses are ones where the front nine goes out from the clubhouse, and the back nine comes back to the clubhouse. Boom.

Checkout the super janky screenshot I took from Troon’s club’s website that shows the routing. The holes go out along the water, and then come back to the clubhouse.

Janky af

Janky af

Also, if you’ve ever heard the terms “outward 9” and “inward 9”, links courses are where they originated since holes literally go outward and then inward.

Also of note with the routing here, is that the first 6 holes play down the prevailing wind and are decently short, while the incoming holes are into the wind and longer. So don’t be surprised when players start off 4 or 5 under through 6, only to finish the round over par.

Early Morning Coverage

While I’m sure the networks love it when majors are played on the west coast, offering prime time coverage (remember the 2008 US Open at Torrey? TDubs winning playing in the evening was cool to watch) as a golf fan, I don’t want to have to wait and tap my toes all day for coverage to start.

This year, with tee times starting at 6:35 in the morning over in Scotland, 1:30am-4pm EST on Thursday and Friday. Go to a bar on Thursday night, and, at least in the midwest, you can get an hour and a half of morning coverage before the bars close. Then again, if you’re at a bar til 2 am close, you might not be able to wake up to enjoy the coverage all morning long. Watching golf is a balance.

What’s even better about that is that when the coverage is done, and you’re undoubtably pumped for whoever won, and all motivated to practice a lot and play yourself, you’ve still got 5 hours or so of sunlight left in the US to tee it up. And we all know, evening golf is best golf.

Mike Tirico

Even though coverage is moving to NBC / Golf Channel, Mike Tirico, my fave sports announcer is moving to that family of networks just in time to anchor coverage. Well I guess Johnny Miller will really be anchoring coverage, but Mike Tirico will be anchoring coverage in our hearts.

PGA Tour is back!

After a not desired week off due to flooding, the PGA Tour is back with an off week event, this time the Barbasol Championship down on the RTJGT. Check out coverage after the Open is done since we know you won’t have had your fix of pro golf at that point.

2016 WGC Bridgestone — So Many Stones

Stones on stones this week at the Bridgestone at Firestone GC. It’s a WGC event meaning good, limited field. Also being played at a different time of year than normal! Dumb Olympics. Still expect a bunch of good golf!

Despite the ‘U’ in the title, damn catchy song here.

Firestone

Firestone is one of the more interesting courses on Tour in my opinion, and it has nothing to do with the uniqueness of the course. Because it isn’t unique at all! The course is completely tree lined, and basically every hole but a few look exactly the same on TV. So besides the Firestone GC watertower that will surly get a lot of airtime when they come back from commercials, I’ll highlight the holes that do look a little different and are recognizable.

firestone-watertower

16 — Known for it’s length, at 667 yards, and a pond in front of the green. That’s about it. But really, it’s fun the few times a week where someone decides to go for it in two. Also, since it’s near the end of the course, it plays a part coming down the stretch. With the final round hole location near the water, it’s a rare par 5 where you might be hoping for a par.

Look at how well Tiger stays in posture there. So pretty to look at.

Look at how well Tiger stays in posture there. So pretty to look at.

18 — It’s got a tree in front of the green. Kind of cool, kind of gimmicky, but definitely notable. And because I love Tiger, and feel he needs recognition whenever, here’s a video of him hitting it over the tree in the dark.

Tiger’s Stomping Grounds

Did I mention Tiger? WGCs, and the Bridgestone at Firestone specifically have been really good to Tiger. Tdubs has won there 8 times in his career. Yup, 8. And there have only been 16 events meaning he’s won half of them.

Favorite Tiger stat of the week is that Jason Day and Adam Scott, winners of the first and second WGC events this year respectively, are looking to become the third person to win multiple WGCs in a year. Tiger did that 6 times.

Why you hurt Tiger?! I want to watch you play golf again.

Lack of Euros

Of the top 50 in world ranking, only 40 are teeing it up in Akron. Usually a full field, there are 10 Euros who decided to say “Screw it” and play in le Open de France. This list includes now #4 in the world, Rory McIlroy.

Travel is tough, making the schedule work out is tough, and when they throw curveballs like putting the dumb Olympics mid August, you get players not want to deal with all that travel. And so a WGC event slips a little in stature for no good reason.

Side note, Rory’s got to get it together and start playing well.

Barracuda

The limited field WGC event means there’s an opposite field PGA Tour event again! This being the Barracuda Championship out in Reno Nevada. Things to look forward to this week are really long drives from the thin air out in the mountains, as well as the Stableford scoring system. Fans of the Tour in the past remember the old International out in Colorado which used the point scoring system that favors birdies and bogeys to pars.

It’s definitely a fun change to normal 4 round stroke play events. And since it’s out near the west coast, we get to watch that on TV live after the Bridgestone finishes. And everyone loves more PGA Tour caliber golf!

2016 Quicken Loans National — Loans on a Course

Time for another post major hangover! Luckily we have Tiger Woods to act as the Cool Blue Gatorade to help squash the throbbing headache we all have after watching DJ beat Oakmont and the USGA. It’s the Quicken Loans National!

Turns out new Band of Horses is as good as old Band of Horses.

Time Shift

Was anybody else out there as confused as I was when I looked at the schedule and realized that the tournament after the US Open is the QLN? Time to blame the stupid Olympics! The QLN is just the first event this year to be shifted to allow for the Olympics. This also means a PGA Championship in July, with just one event between the British Open and the PGA. That’s just dumb.

And because the Olympics are on NBC, and the Golf Channel is owned by NBC, you’re not gonna hear anyone in the media complaining about this. But really, golf in the Olympics are dumb. At least with the current format. I’ll have more on my dislike for it in the future, so get ready for at least a little more complaining.

Back to Congressional

After a year off, the QLN is moving back to Congressional CC, a classic course if there ever was one.

congressional

Most notably, Congressional is the site of Rory’s 8 shot victory at the 2011 US Open. I just looked at the scores again to make sure I had the numbers right, and Rory finished at -16, how’d the USGA let him do that?! They should have issued him a couple one stroke penalties to bring him down a notch or two or seven. /s

Rory will not be playing this week however, he’ll be in Germany for the BMW International.

Semi pudgy Rory in the house.

Semi pudgy Rory in the house!

Tiger in the house, just not playing

The PGA Tour loves having hosts, big names who can go there and call the tournament their own. Names bring people to tournaments. Casual fans don’t really care about watching “good golf”, they want to see players with names they recognize play golf. And having Tdubs associated with an event, even though he isn’t playing, it huge.

Anyway, as we all know, Tiger is unfortunately sidelined. Some reports saying that he reinjured himself (again) so who knows when, if ever, he’ll be back in competitive action.

Which actually, on a semi side note, is what makes Lebron the best. He doesn’t get hurt! Can you imagine playing that hard for 82 games, four 7 game series, getting hacked all the time, basically tackled at some points, and then having to do that for some 15 years? Injury prevention is severely underrated in a top athlete. That should be in the scouting report as a top level line item. Just ask Ryan Braun or Derrick Rose how that’s treating them during their careers. I get pretty excited imagining what could have been if only Tiger wasn’t hurt all the time.

Injured Tiger will be around the media this week, possibly deflecting questions about his health. So look for some speculative stories about his status coming from the media.

Amateurs

It’s that time of year again! With NCAAs done, the summer schedule heating up, the top ams turn pro, expect sponsor exemptions into these different tournaments. This week, we see the pro debuts of Arizona State’s Jon Rham, most recently the low am at last week’s US Open, and Jordan Niebrugge of Oklahoma State, previously the low am at last year’s British Open.

Amateurs like this, and others who will be highlighted in the coming weeks, are all trying to pull the Jordan Spieth move of playing well enough on the big Tour using sponsor exemptions to never have to dip down to the Web.com tour. A tall order for sure, but interesting to watch.

Look for more of these features in the coming weeks as other top ams attempt to transition.

Old Peeps

The American Family Insurance Championship at University Ridge in Madison, Wisconsin, or simply Am Fam Champ. In keeping with the times, Steve Stricker, who isn’t even old enough yet to compete in Champions Tour events, serves as host. The Madison native will be out on the grounds and playing in a 9 hole exhibition scramble event along with Brett Favre, Mark Tauscher and Andy North. Now that’ll be a highly attended 9 holes.

U Ridge is really a cool course, front nine more open, and then head to a tree lined back nine, so check it out on tv when they show replays of the coverage at night. I’ve never been to a Champions Tour event, but apparently they have fields of only 81, and everyone uses carts. Which just sounds awesome.