Golf Buzz

Michelle Wie
Getty Images
Michelle Wie shows her hula skills Saturday after winning the Lotte Championship.

In addition to her regular job playing golf on the LPGA Tour, Michelle Wie had herself an event-full Saturday. Call it the Wie Triathlon.

First, she overcame a four-stroke deficit to win the Lotte Championship on her home course, snapping a four-year victory drought. Wie shot a 5-under 67 at Ko Olina Golf Club to beat third-round leader Angela Stanford by two strokes and capture her first LPGA Tour victory since the 2010 CN Canadian Women's Open.

As part of the post-tournament ceremonies, the winner gets up and does a celebratory hula dance in front of the crowd. As confident as Wie looked on the course, she looked every bit uneasy trying to emulate the moves of the two dancers next to her.

Wie then headed out to her own charity event, playing ping pong to raise money for the Hawaii State Junior Golf Association. The LPGA tweeted some photos from the event.

 

 

It's not Waffle House, where Bubba Watson celebrated last Sunday after winning the Masters, but for Wie, it was definitely a day to cherish.

Jimmy Walker
Jimmy Walker via Twitter
Jimmy Walker has a group of friends there who definitely aren't shy pointing out his on-course failings, rare though they have been this season.

If you worry that winning three PGA Tour events this season, dominating the FedExCup points list and rising into the top 20 in the world ranking might have given Jimmy Walker the big head, then fret no more.

Walker, who plays out of the Cordillera Golf Club near San Antonio, has a group of friends who definitely aren't shy about pointing out his on-course failings, rare though they have been this season.

He found that out just the other day, when he returned home from a stretch of events to find a certain hilarious memento at his locker. Walker was one of the favorites at his hometown Valero Texas Open a few weeks ago, but made a double bogey on the first hole of his second round thanks to a few too many shots on the green. 

And thus, he received this:

 

 

Good guy that he is, Walker accepted his prize in the proper spirit. "My good buds at home keeping me real.....4 putt on 1 at Valero," he tweeted. "I now own the new putter till someone earns it!"

 
Torresdale-Frankford Country Club
Courtesy of Torresdale-Frankford Country Club
Torresdale-Frankford Country Club in Philadelphia, home of a historic Donald Ross golf course, is being purchased by the Union League city club.

The Union League of Philadelphia – one of the nation's most respected city clubs – has agreed to buy the Torresdale-Frankford Country Club in the northeastern part of the city, the club said this week. 

The deal, which was ratified on Wednesday, is significant on a couple of fronts. First, it's encouraging that such a prominent city club sees the value in offering golf to its members. And second, Torresdale-Frankford CC, which has struggled financially in recent years, is the home of a classic Donald Ross-designed course.

In making the case for growth, Union League officials noted that their membership has shifted geographically in recent years. As recently as 2000, two-thirds of its members lived along Philadelphia's famous – and country club-studded – Main Line that stretches west out of the city. Now, however, only about 40 percent of its members live there, while the percentage of its membership living in the City Center and South Jersey has doubled.

FRIGHT IN THE FAIRWAYS?: Which club or clubs scare you the most to hit?

According to a presentation made to members, the Philadelphia Inquirer said, the Union League hopes to offer "unlimited golf" to members along with access to Torresdale-Frankford's swimming, tennis, shooting and dining facilities that occupy 150 acres about 15 miles from City Center. 

Ross, one of the game's most prolific and well-respected golf course architects, created the 6,417-yard, par-70 layout in 1921. San Snead holds the course record of 64, which he set during the 1941 Philadelphia Open.

The course is one of about two dozen that Ross created in Pennsylvania, along with Newtown Square's famed Aronimink. Among Ross's designs are the No. 2 Course at Pinehurst, which will host the U.S. Open this summer, as well as the Nos. 1 and 3 courses at the popular North Carolina Resort. Others include East Lake Country Club in Atlanta, home of the PGA Tour's Tour Championship; Oakland Hills in Birmingham, Mich., a venue for both the U.S. Open and Ryder Cup; and Scioto in Columbus, Ohio, where Jack Nicklaus spent many days in his youth. 

No doubt the Union League will look to upgrade the country club – and the course – in an effort to get its members out there. And that can only mean good news for a course whose future should be as bright as its pedigree is proud.

 

Bryan Brothers
YouTube
If you look closely, you'll see there's a live alligator involved in the latest Bryan Brothers golf trick shot video.

Golf trick shots are a serious thing, it turns out.

Moments after our earlier post today with the golf ball bouncing off pots and pans, we received a direct message on Twitter from the recent kings of the golf trick shot -- the Bryan Brothers.

RELATED: Meet the Bryans | Two-man trick | Bryan Brothers up the ante | Compilation

They provided a link to their latest effort -- The Gator Edition. That's right -- they're messing with alligators now (among other incredible shots)! The alligator comes in to play at the 1:00 mark.

Here it is:

Dare we say this is the best Bryan Brother video yet? The production quality is the best it's been.

That's a pretty swift response to pots and pans and yesterday's golf/baseball video.

Follow T.J. Auclair on Twitter, @tjauclair.

 

April 18, 2014 - 10:51am
tj.auclair's picture
Golf trick shot
YouTube
Today's trick shot incorporates pots and pans.

Another day, another golf trick shot.

This time, it involves pots, pans and a glass.

 

 

Impressive stuff. But, as far as this week's trick shots are concerned, yesterday's juggling act turned home run is still the leader in the clubhouse.

Follow T.J. Auclair on Twitter, @tjauclair

 

Xenon Golf Company
Xenon Golf Company
This is just a small sampling of the customization options offered by Xenon Golf Company.

Every now and again we stumble upon people and companies in golf that you may not have yet heard of, but should.

And that's the basis for this introduction to Kenneth "Lump" Uselton, owner of a business based out of Nashville, Tenn., called, "Xenon Golf Company."

Xenon specializes in handcrafted putters. Like other boutique putter makers we've profiled in this space -- LaMont Mann's MannKrafted and Low Tide, among them -- Xenon's creations aren't merely putters. They're truly works of art.

BOUTIQUE PUTTERS: Low Tide -- putters that tell a story | MannKrafted fine milled putters

"Currently I make mostly handmades," explained Uselton, a married father of three and a 17-year cancer survivor. "I do have some designs that I run blank heads at the CNC shop. I have about 10 unique designs that I would like to make available as CNC blanks and the customer can personalize them. There are many more stuck in my head too."

Those ideas stuck in Uselton's head are often brought to life in a 12'x20' portable building/shed he purchased in 2006. The small building resides in his back yard and has become affectionately known as, "The Old Puttershack."

"I set it up in my back yard to use as my workshop for refinishing old irons and building clubs," Uselton explained. "In 2007, I decided that I would start accumulating the equipment I needed to teach myself how to make putters from a block of material. I found a 40-year-old 1/3" hp Rusnok mini-milling machine in February 2008 from an inquiry on Ebay, a nice used tig welder and the accumulation started. If you walk into the 'Puttershack' today, you will see an encirclement of equipment for the entire process. In this shop I do the machine work, the welding, grinding, stamping, finishing -- everything is done by me. It's taken me almost 6 years to get to the point where I know that my work is now to the level I dreamt of when I started."

Before it became his career, Uselton started putting clubs together in 1986 at the age of 17, trying -- like many golfers -- to find something that would better suit his game.

During the early 1990s before golf really became "cool" for all ages, there was a vintage PING putter craze. Karsten Solheim, the late founder of PING, was a pioneer in putter design. Like many, Uselton wanted to get his hands on Solheim's designs.

"When the vintage Ping putter craze blew up in the early 1990s, I came obsessed with PING putters because Karsten was such a design genius and everything he did looked different," Uselton said. "While dragging around a set of old Northwestern blades growing up, I always drooled over the PING irons for sale in the pro shops around town."

RELATED: Salty Grips bring cork to your putter | Visit PGA.com's extensive equipment page

What was once a hobby recently turned into an occupation that remains a passion for Uselton. You see Uselton worked in a plastic plant from 1991 until the plant closed its doors in February 2012. At that job, Uselton says he worked 12-hour shifts, seven days a week every two weeks. He then spent many of his off days refinishing clubs and building sets.

He meddled for years with milled putters in the Puttershack, an art that was accelerated and skills that were honed in the mid-2000s when Uselton started to appreciate the creations of masters of the milling method -- names like Mills, Bettinardi and Cameron.

Beautiful as those works were then and are even today, it's the price point that was discouraging to Uselton.

"A normal guy like me had no desire to spend a huge amount on a milled putter," he said.

It's that "normal guy" mantra that separates Uselton from others. For less than $300 -- pretty much the starting point for most high-end putters you'll find in a golf store -- Uselton can make you a one-of-a-kind.

"The goal is to have my own functional designs, nothing radical looking but more traditional and offer them at a fair price with multiple metal choices and personalization choices," Uselton told us. "All I ask from customers is not to expect a copy of someone else's ideas. My putters start at $259 fully customized and personalized. My order forms state: 'Please do not ask for rude or offensive stampings or similar markings of other putter makers.'"

Uselton’s order form reads like an a la carte menu. The options seem endless. Customers can choose lie, length, loft, head weight, neck design and so much more. Xenon putters can be 100 percent personalized by the customer from the head design, the neck, the shaft and the grip to the stamping, the finish and the sightlines or dots. Seriously. Uselton will literally tell you, "Give it some thought and get back to me. Tell me exactly what you want."

And then, he brings your imagination – no matter how wild – to life.

Uselton's putters aren't the same, old, boring, cookie-cutter designs you find in the box stores. To the contrary, many of his shapes and designs are the kind you never even knew existed. The head shapes and neck designs are sure to be conversational pieces amongst your foursome.

Uselton also offers accessories. Things like guitar-pick shaped ball markers and guitar-shaped bag tags, almost as a nod to the city where he creates his designs – Nashville, “The Music City.”

From start to finish, Uselton estimates it’s between 4-5 weeks before the putter you dreamed up is in your hands.

“I can't believe that I have gotten to this point to be able to take a raw piece of metal, machine it, shape it, stamp it, finish it, weld it, paint it and assemble it -- all without relying on anyone else,” Uselton said. “When people entrust you to create their ‘dream’ putter, I feel an obligation to them to get it dead on.”

If you’d like to view samples of Uselton’s impressive body of work, you can click here to visit the Xenon Golf Company Facebook page. You can also give him a follow on Twitter, @xenongolf, where he posts pictures of completed projects.

And if you’re interested in getting your very own Xenon Golf Company putter, email Uselton at xenongolf@comcast.net. He can answer any questions you have to get the process started.

Follow T.J. Auclair on Twitter, @tjauclair.