Golf Buzz

Par-6 hole at Penati Golf Resort
EuropeanTour.com
This marker on the tee box of the 15th hole of the Legends course at the Penati Golf Resort warns of what lies ahead.
 
Here's a first: The course hosting the D+D REAL Slovakia Challenge on the European Challenge Tour – Europe's version of the Web.com Tour – has a hole that this week is playing as a 783-yard (716 meters) par 6.
 
Needless to say, it's the first par 6 ever on either the Challenge Tour or the European Tour. It also measures out as the longest hole either of those two tours has ever tackled – besting the 705-yard, par-5 16th hole on the North Course at GreenEagle Golf Club, which hosted the 2010 ECCO Tour Championship in Germany.
 
The hole is the 15th on the Legend Course at the Penati Golf Resort in Senica, Slovakia. That course hosted the event last year, too, but tournament organizers played the hole as a long par 5.  This is the first time it's played to its full 783-yard length.
 
 
There are precious few par-6 holes elsewhere in the world, so almost none of the players have any experience on how to play this particular one. The prevailing view seems to be to think of it as a loooonnng par 5 and consider it a huge birdie opportunity.
 
"If you don't mess it up, there's going to be a lot of low scores there this week," Ricardo Gouveia, who won last week's Challenge Tour event, told EuropeanTour.com. "It's pretty much the same as playing the par 5, you end up playing in from more or less the same area."
 
And in fact, the hole was the easiest on the course in Thursday's first round, playing to a 5.36 stroke average. The players carded 14 eagles and 82 birdies along with 50 pars and 10 bogeys. No one scored worse than a bogey, but almost everyone had something to say about their experience.
 
 
Robert Streb
Getty Images
Robert Streb's sand wedge, after serving as his putter last week, now boasts an encouraging message.
 
All of us golfers love our clubs, but few of us love them as much as PGA Tour player Robert Streb loves his. We found this out a couple months ago, when Streb showed up at The Players Championship with a 60-degree wedge festooned with an image of TPC Sawgrass' famed "island green" 17th hole.
 
And though that wedge is clearly a work of art, Streb doesn't hesitate to make his wedges work overtime. We found this out on Sunday, when he accidentally broke his putter on the ninth hole of the final round of the Greenbrier Classic and had to use his sand wedge to putt for the rest of his round.
 
Most of us would have been doomed. Streb, however, wedge-putted like a champ – he made five birdie putts, and wound up tying for the lead before finally losing out to Danny Lee in sudden death.
 
That was an amazing feat, and wedge wizard Aaron Dill of vokey Wedges commemorated it by adding a special inscription to it. As you can see below, it’s quite motivational:
 
 
Hell Bunker at St. Andrews
St. Andrews Links Trust via YouTube
Course workers laid in new sod faces and dropped in 60 tons of new sand during the rebuilding of the Hell Bunker at St. Andrews.
 
The Open Championship returns to St. Andrews next week, and the grounds crew has been busy for months getting the Old Course into tip-top shape. Atop the to-do list was rebuilding as many as 50 of the course's 112 bunkers – including the famed "Hell Bunker" on the par-5 14th hole.
 
The Hell Bunker is the second most famous bunker on the Old Course, behind only the "Road Bunker" on the 17th hole. It is also one of the world's biggest – it is 6 ½ feet deep and covers more than 300 square yards – and has captured more than its share of golfers who dared to challenge it. 
 
Among them is Jack Nicklaus, who made a quintuple-bogey 10 on the hole back in the 2000 Open Championship after straying into its cavernous maw. Small consolation, but Nicklaus wasn't in contention at the time. Back in 1933, though, Gene Sarazen was trying to defend the Claret Jug when he entered Hell and came out with an 8 – and missed out on a playoff by a single shot.
 
"Rebuilding such a vast bunker differs from the others on the course," Greenkeeper Martin Turna explained in a post on the St. Andrews Trust website. The Hell Bunker's sod face is so tall, and the bunker itself so big, that refurbishing it is a multi-step process that began with removing all the sand, digging out the sod in the face and lifting the turf above the bunker.
 
 
The workers used a "spirit level" to make sure the layers of sod in the bunker's face were laid in evenly – "this was a hugely important consideration throughout the build," he wrote. The bunker was built up to about three quarters of its height and then left for couple of weeks to bed in before the reconstruction was completed.
 
If you've ever been in any of the big bunkers at St. Andrews, they feel like their faces are straight up and down. In fact, they're slanted at a 65-degree angle, which Turna said is the standard angle for rough and fairway bunkers on the Old Course.
 
And though the Old Course is, well, old, the Hell Bunker was rebuilt in a state-of-the-art fashion. Its new floor contains more sand – 60 tons of sand, in fact – and less clay to aid in drainage and help it dry up faster after it rains. 
 
Also, the bunker got its own TV camera. Until now, only the Road Bunker had a TV camera embedded in its face, but several of the bunkers remade over the past year – including the Hell Bunker – were outfitted with camera ducts as well.
 
Here's a very cool time-lapse video of the Hell Bunker rebuild:
 
 
 
 
Craig Stadler
Craig Stadler was in Chicago for a Champions Tour event that starts on Friday.

Craig Stadler, who won the 1982 Masters, threw out the ceremonial first pitch before the Chicago Cubs played the St. Louis Cardinals at Wrigley Field on Wednesday night. 

Stadler, who now plays on the Champions Tour, was in town for the Encompass Championship which starts Friday at at North Shore Country Club in Glenview, Ill. 

While Stadler didn't bring the same type of magic that Brittany Lincicome did when she threw the first pitch of the Giants' no-hitter against the Mets last month, he did sport some facial hair that would make Goose Gossage and Rollie Fingers proud. He was also wearing a Chicago Cubs jersey with an 82 on his back -- presumably in honor of his playoff win against Dan Pohl at the Masters.

Unfortunately, Stadler didn't lead the Wrigley faithful in the traditional singing of 'Take Me Out To The Ballgame' during the seventh-inning stretch. That honor went to long-time MLB reporter Peter Gammons.

July 9, 2015 - 10:45am
andrew.prezioso's picture
Yao Ming
Graeme McDowell | Twitter
Yao Ming is more than a foot taller than any of the golfers in this photo.

Former NBA player Yao Ming stands 7-feet, 6-inches tall -- a height that can be truly hard to appreciate. Thankfully, there are some golfers who are willing to give us perspective. 

As part of a social-media campaign to help raise money for charity by posting photos with celebrities, Graeme McDowell tweeted out this photo that shows how tiny he looks next to the former Houston Rockets center. 

 

 

Oh, and those other fellows in the photo are Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy and Luke Donald. Johnson is the tallest of the quartet, checking in at 6-foot-4. McDowell and McIlroy are 5-foot-10, while Donald is 5-foot-9. 

Related: Yao Ming discovers that golf is hard

Ernie Els shared his own photo on Thursday of his and Ian Poulter's encounter with Ming -- an experience that left Els feeling like "The Little Easy." 

 

 

 

Felt like Little Easy next to Yao Ming. Anyone think @ianjamespoulter and I can take him in a game? #RBCGolf4Kids

A photo posted by Ernie Els (@ernieelsgolf) on

 

 

This isn't the first time we've seen Ming make golfers look rather small. Earlier this year, Tiger Woods was left looking up to Ming after sharing the stage with him in China. And last year, John Daly may have reconsidered his "Big John" nickname after meeting Ming.