Golf Buzz

Frank Esposito
Courtesy of the Champions Tour
PGA Professional Frank Esposito has earned two of the biggest victories of his career in a span of less than two weeks.
You'd be hard-pressed to find a golfer who's had a better nine days than PGA Professional Frank Epsosito Jr. About the only one who can come close is PGA Professional Jeff Coston.
On Friday, Esposito – the PGA Head Professional at Brooklake Country Club in Florham Park, New Jersey – won the Champions Tour National Qualifying Tournament, finishing with a 1-under 71 for an 11-under 277 total for a clear-cut four-shot victory at Orange County National in Winter Garden, Fla.
Grant Waite of New Zealand finished second, while Coston – the PGA teaching professional at Semiahmoo Golf Resort in Blaine, Washington – tied for third with Jerry Smith. 
Another veteran tour player, Rod Spittle of Canada, finished fifth, and those five players all are fully exempt on the 2015 Champions Tour.
For the two PGA members, though, their success is even more impressive considering that their Champions Tour results mirror their finishes in last week's Senior PGA Professional National Championship – where Esposito, 51, won and Coston, 58, finished sixth on Sunday in Port St. Lucie, Fla.
That gave them one whole day to celebrate, make the trip up to the Orlando area and get ready to tee off on Tuesday.
"I've just caught fire for two weeks," Esposito said. "Once again, I hit the ball very, very well all week and controlled my distance with the irons. Even though the putter was a bit shaky today, I managed my way around the golf course pretty well."
Coincidentally, Esposito also finished with a 71 to win the Senior PGA Professional National Championship. And impressively, he slept on the third-round lead in both events and closed out both victories in steady style.
"Winning this is great, it really is," Esposito – the reigning New Jersey PGA Senior Player of the Year – said after his Senior PNC victory. "I didn't know what to expect, and it means a lot to me, especially out here."

Esposito won $30,000 for his medalist honors at Champions Tour Q-School to go with the $20,000 he earned at the Senior PGA Professional National Championship. 

Playing a full Champions Tour season will be a relatively new experience for Esposito, who played in the 2008 and 2014 PGA Championships as well as the 2014 Senior PGA Championship and Champions Tour's Mississippi Gulf Resort Championship. Coston, by contrast, has plenty of tour experience – he played on the PGA Tour in 1985 and 1988, and spent 1991-1994 on the Ben Hogan and Nike Tour, which is now known as the Web.Com Tour. He's also played in multiple majors, and is a nine-time Pacific Northwest PGA Section Player of the Year.

Donald Trump
Photo by Montana Pritchard/The PGA of America
Chairman and President of The Trump Organization, Donald Trump, speaks during the Leadership Session of the 98th PGA Annual Meeting at The JW Marriott in Indianapolis, Indiana, USA, on Friday, November 21, 2014.

You'd think of all the courses Donald Trump plays and has access to play, his "bucket list" course would be a little more obscure. But after giving it some thought, he revealed an answer that would be on the golf bucket lists of your average golf-playing citizen: The Old Course at St. Andrews.

This was among his answers to five rapid-fire questions we asked Trump in a one-on-one interview at the PGA 2014 Annual Meeting Friday in Indianapolis, where he was keynote speaker.

PHOTOS: PGA 2014 Annual Meeting

Another question? Name your five holes-in-one. Trump had initially named one as his most memorable shot during a lively and humorous 1.5-hour keynote address. It was the 158-yard 12th hole at Trump Golf Links at Ferry Point, which Trump aced with an 8-iron. And to the delight of the crowd, he made sure to note he had a "massive plaque" installed.

The others: Two at Westchester Country Club, one at Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach and one at Pebble Beach in the AT&T Pebble  Beach National Pro-Am, an ace on the 12th in a foursome that included Payne Stewart. If you're interested, there's a good retelling of this 1993 ace in a 2011 New York Times piece. The caddie, Robert Lytle, tells the story:

“So Donald wants to hit a 6-iron and (Paul) Goydos wants him to hit 6-iron and I want him to hit 5-iron. So we’re going back and forth and finally I said to him: ‘O.K., Donald, I’ll tell you what, you hit the 5-iron and if I’m wrong you don’t have to pay me. If I’m right, you pay me double.’ He looked at me and said, ‘You sure?’ ”And I said, ‘Yeah, I’m sure.’ I was sure, but I was thinking maybe he’d hit it too hard and try to prove me wrong. But he hit it perfect. Two bounces and it went in the hole.”

Trump's favorite club in his bag? "My Putter. Definitely." By the way, it's a Scotty Cameron, if you're curious, and it's the same putter he's used for years. Least favorite: Anything to do with chipping.

READ: Your golf bucket list

Best piece of golf instruction: "Don't take it to seriously. I see some people that are so uptight they can't take a club back. Just remember it's just not that important and maybe you'll play better."

And finally, Trump named his projections for players to win majors in 2015, and his list was, well, safe. But in Trump fashion, it was also supersized. "We have four majors, but I would say five guys." Who? Henrik Stenson, Rory McIlroy, Phil Mickelson, Justin Rose and of course Tiger Woods.

"I think Tiger is a unique athlete and a great guy. I think Tiger is going to win a major next year."




November 21, 2014 - 1:11pm
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
tj.auclair's picture
Rory McIlroy
In the second round of the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai on Friday, this 3-wood shot from the middle of the fairway didn't go exactly as planned for Rory McIlroy. As you can see, there's a lot of turf behind that golf ball.

So here's the situation: You've just hit a perfect drive right down the pipe on a long par 5. You get to the ball, sitting beautifully in the fairway, and decide you're going to take a crack at going for it in two.

You take the headcover off the 3-wood, address the ball, take the club back and then... Oh no. Your club hits the turf eight inches behind the ball and you chunk it big time. You feel like an idiot.

Guess what? That even happens to the world's best player sometimes (never as often as it happens to you or me though).

RELATED: Angry golfer needs a towel... and a hug | Shane Lowry makes a hole-in-one

That's right -- in Friday's second round of the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai, no less than Rory McIlroy hit that dreaded chunk 3-wood while he was sitting pretty in the fairway.

Here it is since we understand you need to see it to believe it:

The difference between you, me and Rory? He still parred the hole and managed to shoot a 2-under 70 that sends him to the weekend two shots behind leader Henrik Stenson.


Oh, and here's how McIlroy explained the shot to reporters after the round: "It was a fat, low, duck-hook runner that was not intentional."

Great sense of humor.

November 21, 2014 - 11:28am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
tj.auclair's picture
It's been said that golf is 90 percent mental -- which is why it's surprising that more people don't lose their mind like this guy when things go wrong.

Golf is a game for ladies and gentlemen.

However, we'd all be lying if we didn't come clean and admit how much fun it is to see a meltdown on the course sometimes -- so long as no one gets hurt. Of course, it's not so funny if we're the one melting down.

But a fellow playing partner? It just doesn't get any funnier, does it?

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In that spirit, we think we may have found the golf course meltdown to end all golf course meltdowns.

Below is a video posted to Facebook by a Swedish guy named Patrik Vesterlund. It captures an incredible scene on a golf course in Sweden where another man absolutely loses his mind after a shot doesn't exactly play out the way he envisioned.

Check it out:


Loose translation: "What happens when a golf shot doesn't go as planned."

Wow. Tens from all the judges! That said, this was staged, right? Had to be playing it up for the camera.

This video was apparently posted in March, but resurfaced this week.

h/t Golf News Net 

November 21, 2014 - 9:43am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
tj.auclair's picture
Shane Lowry
Ireland's Shane Lowry, playing alongside Rory McIlroy, hit a perfect 7-iron from 183 yards in the DP World Tour Championship on Friday for his first career ace as a professional.

Ireland's Shane Lowry, a two-time European Tour winner, snagged his first hole-in-one as a professional in Dubai on Friday.

Lowry hit a 7-iron on the par-3 183-yard 13th hole at Jumeriah Golf Estate in the second round of the European Tour's season-ending DP World Tour Championship.

Check it out:

You've got to love it when you ask the ball to, "be right," and it's just perfect.

Through two rounds, Lowry 7 under and is just three shots off Henrik Stenson's lead. 

PGA Junior League
PGA of America
Programs like the PGA Junior League are often attractive to Generation X parents, who want to provide their children with opportunity and include them in the sport.

INDIANAPOLIS – A strong understanding of exactly how each generation was introduced to both life and golf, then applying that to how courses, PGA Professionals and the entire industry talks to those people will help grow the game.

That was the key message from Anna Liotta, who spoke to a large group of PGA Professionals at the PGA 2014 Annual Meeting in Indianapolis Thursday.

Liotta is one of 19 children and grew up in a household of six generations. Her passion for the sport is evident in the name of her dog – “Golfing.” As a child, she dug up golf balls from the frozen dirt of a driving range.

MORE: Find a golf program in your area | What are your rules on the 'gimme' | Comprehensive golf terms and glossary

Liotta outlined four key -- and familiar -- generations, but defined how those generations came to golf and what they typically want from the sport. The result: Try to find out “what makes each generation tick, and what are we doing on the golf course that’s pushing them away.”

Interim PGA President Derek Sprague said Liotta’s perspective on this generational disconnect can help PGA Professionals lure people to the game. “We need to translate,” Sprague said simply.

The Traditionalists, born 1927-1945
A familiar player in his or her 60s and 70s, and entered the game in hard times, so golf was a privilege, a “huge accomplishment,” Liotta said. The golf leaders – such as Arnold Palmer – were legends. And those legends were emulated. They have strong feelings about the tradition of the sport.

Baby Boomers, born 1946-1964
A huge part of the population and golf population, estimated at 80 million born. Liotta calls this group incredibly competitive, based on what they faced in the workplace with so many peers. Golf matched their life well. “They could schmooze and make business contacts,” she said. Golf was status and golf was access. “Baby Boomers weren’t just good,” she added. “They were great.” Liotta cited Jack Nicklaus and Nancy Lopez as player examples. Another interesting thought: This group doesn’t like words that make them sound old. So this group likely is intent on staying competitive on the course.

Generation Xers, born 1965-1977
Now in their late 30s and 40s, this was the first wave of kids of Baby Boomers and Liotta says that shaped their entry to the game as well. Their parents were busier, and they weren’t introduced in the same way to the sport. More generally, this generation was subject to divorced parents and fending for themselves after school, Liotta said. Because of that, they look for ways to include their families when they play golf. They want their children to be seen, heard on the course – and programs like First Tee and PGA Junior League golf are crucial to this group, she said. Players in this generation – Tiger Woods, for example – started enjoying rock-star status.

Millennials, born 1978-1999
A group larger than the Gen Xers at 76 million, this generation is represented by players such as Rory McIlroy and Michelle Wie. They are global athletes (see this Rory example), and they share everything (see this Wie example). Liotta said these players are sometimes “mulligans”, a later generation of kids to Boomer parents, shaping their outlook and access. Because the parents were further along in their careers, and maybe had the benefits of a first crack at parenting, they are far more involved. On the golf course, this is a group that wants to be seen as athletes, and they want inclusion because they want to share all experiences with everybody. Also competitive, and perhaps because of its size, Liotta calls this group a hot target for the growth of the game.