With Phil Mickelson's victory in the Open Championship still fresh on our minds, Callaway Golf Europe tweeted out this blast-from-the-past photo on Monday. It shows the two most recent Open champions – Mickelson and 2012 winner Ernie Els – with the trophies they won in the 1984 Callaway Junior World Championships in San Diego.
Els won the age 13-14 bracket over Mickelson, who finished second – you can read the words ''runner-up'' on Phil's trophy. That same year, David Duval won the age 15-17 division, and Tiger Woods won the age 9-10 division despite being only 8 years old at the time.
That year, admittedly, was an anomaly, but several other past winners went on to professional glory, including Corey Pavin, David Toms, Amy Alcott, Notah Begay III, Lorena Ochoa, Craig Stadler and Nick Price.
The 2013 tournament was played last week. This time of the year, in fact, is about the most important for big-time junior golf – the U.S. Junior Amateur and U.S. Girls Junior events are being played this week, and the Junior PGA Championship is next week. These events have produced a plethora of prominent players, and it'll be fun to follow the progress of this year's winners.
All right, I know I'm a little punch-drunk from the long hours we've worked all week on the Open Championship on top of all the other events. But tonight when I was wrapping up our weekend coverage, this photo of Phil Mickelson's caddie Jim "Bones" Mackay jumped out at me.
Mackay obviously had a tiring week, both physically and emotionally, on Lefty's bag, and no one could fault him for taking a seat during the awards ceremony in which his boss received the Claret Jug. But all I could think was – Bones is ''dufnering!''
And with that, I promise, no more ''dufnering'' here in the Golf Buzz.
Because it's always played on links courses, the Open Championship prompts the players to make more club changes than any other event on the calendar.
Here's a quick overview of some of the club selections at Muirfield from Sports Marketing Surveys, the company that tallies the clubs in each player's bag at the start of every European Tour event. These stats are from the full field that teed off Thursday:
--Two players didn't even have a driver in their bag.
--Among the 156 players, there were 66 hybrids, 66 utility irons and 39 2-irons.
--53 players didn't have a 3-iron.
--There were 506 wedges – that figures out to 3.24 wedges per player.
--15 players were using a long or belly putter.
This week is an anomaly because of the course conditions, but I wouldn't have expected to see the same number of utility irons as hybrid clubs, even though Ernie Els won the 2012 Open with three Callaway utility irons in his bag.
The popularity of these is utility irons shows that companies like Callaway, Titleist and, most recently, Ping were definitely onto something when they decided to create a new generation of utility irons. On the flip side, it's also interesting to see so many players going without a 3-iron on a course that requires so many low, penetrating shots.
With the Open Championship being played at Muirfield this week, Golf Course Architecture Magazine picked a perfect time to release its first-ever list of the world's top 100 courses. The difference between this list and all the others is that this one was selected exclusively by the men and women who make their living creating golf courses.
''It's a common criticism that many, perhaps even most golfers, judge courses on factors such as the turf condition or the quality of service in the clubhouse; well, if anyone is best placed to look beyond that at the design of the course itself, it ought to be the architects,'' Adam Lawrence, the magazine's editor, wrote in introducing the list.
Almost 250 course architects from around the globe submitted ballots. The criteria they used to make their selections? Well, there weren't any. Each voter was charged with devising his own critera – factoring in merits such as strategic value, beauty, fun and history.
''Even if one can agree [on] set criteria against which voters should make their judgements, one doesn't have objectivity, partly because those criteria are themselves subjective, and partly because the individual voters have to be trusted to apply them in the same way, which is impossible,'' Lawrence wrote. ''We chose the opposite route: to define no criteria and to say to our voters, in true Potter Stewart fashion, 'We believe you know what good is when you see it'.''
All right, enough preamble. Let's get to the list.
Who's No. 1? The Old Course at St. Andrews, which was picked as the top course by 23 percent of the voters, and ranked in the top 10 on 69 percent of the ballots.
No. 2 is Cypress Point, while No. 3 is Pine Valley. Augusta National comes in fourth, and then the list really gets interesting with links like Royal County Down and Sandbelt layouts like Royal Melbourne jockeying with American classics like Pebble Beach and Oakmont for spots high up the ranking.
One thing about this list as opposed to many others is that it feels more global. I certainly haven't played the majority of these courses, but I'm glad to see some of my unheralded personal overseas favorites like Lahinch and Nairn and Cruden Bay claim their places, along with some of golf's newest masterpieces, on a list that is probably 2/3rd populated by courses older than half a century.
You can download the entire list in a special .pdf file and I encourage you to do so. It is beautifully assembled, and there's a lot of interesting commentary on the individual courses as well as golf course architecture in general. Whether you agree with the choices or not, it's definitely worth a few minutes of your time.