Golf Buzz

November 14, 2013 - 12:19pm
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
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Jarrod Lyle
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Jarrod Lyle, in remission after a second bout with acute myeloid leukemia, returned to professional golf at the Australian Masters this week.

Sport produces spine-tingling, send chills through your body moments at times. Yesterday in Australia was one of those special occasions.

Jarrod Lyle, a 32-year-old professional golfer from Australia, tearfully teed it up in the first round of the Australian Masters at Royal Melbourne.

RELATED: Lyle returns after second bout of leukemia

For Lyle, this was a joyful moment as it marked his return to competitive golf after a battle with acute myeloid leukemia -- the second time he has beat that form of cancer in his lifetime.

Lyle shot a 1-over 72 in the first round of the Aussie Masters -- a score no one will care about as much as the significance of Lyle's return.

Watch the video below to see Lyle's emotional opening tee shot.

 

 

After the round, Lyle sent out the following tweet:

 

 

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

November 14, 2013 - 10:43am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
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puttup
puttup
The "Straight Putt" is one of three, high-end putting games offered by Scotland-based puttup.

If you haven't already heard of a company called "puttup," consider this your friendly introduction to three games that could very well become a staple in your living room, office, pro shop, or favorite 19th hole establishment.

Based in Scotland, the homeland of golf, puttup was co-founded by Doug Wilkie and David Isaac, two golf-loving friends who are creating putting games that are just as much fun as they are addictive.

So what is puttup?

Currently, puttup consists of three games: The Straight Putt; The Pace Putt; and The Breaking Putt.

READ: MannKrafted Milled Putters -- the ultimate in golf customization

In simple terms, each product/game is a board thats's hand-crafted from high quality, sustainable oak creating a glass-like surface from which to putt.

Here's how they work:

The Straight Putt plays on one of the most intimidating shots in golf.

With no breaks to consider and no undulations to worry about, there's no one to blame but yourself for missing a straight putt. On this putting board there's a raised piece of oak that's just wide enough to balance the golf ball between you and the hole. The goal, of course, is to keep the ball on the slick raised oak, with zero margin for error. If you can master this, then those glass-like knee-knockers you face in a round of golf should be easy.

The Straight Putt from puttup, however, is far from easy:

The Pace Putt is described by puttup as the, "perfect judge of pace, skill and luck."

You'd be hard-pressed to argue with them, as this game board features a seesaw-like design that can be adjusted to varying levels of difficulty. The object of the game is simple -- the execution is not. You putt the ball up the seesaw-like oak. Too soft? The ball comes back to your feet. Too hard? The ball flies back to your feet. Just right? The seesaw slowly lowers and the ball nestles beautifully as it would in a hole on the course.

See it in action:

Lastly, there's The Breaking Putt. As its name suggests, the break putt requires players to perfectly judge the break on a board of oak that features seven golf holes on the lower part of the board. One side requires all left-to-right breaking putts from a variety of distances. The other side requires all right-to-left breaking putts from a variety of distances.

In the video below, Wilkie describes The Breaking Putt:

We recently caught up with Wilkie for a Q&A to learn more about puttup.

PGA.com: How did you come up with the idea for puttup?

Wilkie: I was asked to come up with some indoor golf games for some Irish golfers who we play an annual game against. They went down a storm and the local hotel Ducks wanted one in the bar. I made him a version of Pace Putt and visitors from around the world enjoyed playing it in the bar so at New Year last year we decided to try and make three games challenging the three putts in golf -- Straight, Breaking and Pace putt. The parameters that we came up with for each of the games was they had to start easy and develop to always be challenging even for the best golfer, look fantastic when not being played and most of all be fun to play.

WATCH: Check out these videos by PGA Professionals to improve your putting

After some time spent in my shed I'd come up with the three games and after testing we knew we had something special so started the company in April 2012 and launched our puttup website shortly after. There was still a lot of testing and development to be done and we finally launched at The Open in Muirfield this year which is just along the road from our base in Scotland.

PGA.com: Can you tell me a little about each of the three products you're offering now?

Wilkie: Pace Putt -- You know the putt; the one where you are at the bottom of a very steep green. We've all been there and had the ball trundle back to us, to the muted amusement of our fellow golfers. Well this is the essence of pace putt -- recreating those 'magic' moments. You have to weight your putt perfectly so the precisely balanced chute tips gently down.

In testing, there has been a variation in play. Rather than place the ball at the start of the chute, the players somehow ending up chipping from the bar, along the carpet and then up the chute. But that's another story.

Straight Putt -- The straight putt could be said to be one of the most intimidating shots in golf. No breaks to consider, no undulations to worry about. Nothing to blame. Yep, you are on your own here -- this is all about you and how straight you can putt. Or not, as the case may be. It starts easy, putting from the first mark on side one of the game -- almost a gimme, but when you turn it over to the narrow side from the back mark it requires the utmost precision -- for most golfers it's a 1 in 50 putt but the more you practice the more you make it.

Straight Putt is hand-crafted from high quality, sustainable oak. It's made as a laminate for strength and stability -- the narrow channel you putt along needs to remain straight and true. A bit like your putting.

Breaking Putt -- Breaking Putt is all about the line. Oh and the pace too. How many times have you been close to the hole only to find you're faced with a killer break? Well with Breaking Putt you have seven holes with breaks, some easier than others. We've developed a game called 'Crossfire' where two people start at either end and it's a race to see who can complete all seven holes in the right order first. Goes down a storm.

Breaking Putt is the most complex to make as the oak laminates have to be expertly bonded and shaped together. But stick this on your wall and you have one impressive-looking feature.

READ: Your favorite games to play on the golf course

PGA.com: What has the reception been like when people see your products for the first time?

Wilkie: The reaction to the games has been fantastic. At first some people are nervous of putting on wood, but once tried that is forgotten and the challenge of making hard putts takes over. They love playing Crossfire on Breaking Putt. It takes away the lengthy process of lining up putts as you race and makes you putt instinctively which a number of pros that have played it says is a tremendous training aid.

PGA.com: Did I see in one of your videos that you actually include a list of games people can play on each product?

Wilkie: All the games come with a hanger that not only lets you store them on the wall out of the way but on display the hanger also has suggestions of different games that can be played on each game. These have all been suggested to us by players and I'm sure over time many more will be suggested.

PGA.com: If I'm not mistaken, you can play puttup pretty much anywhere, right (proshop; clubhouse; home; etc.)?

Wilkie: The games are best played with friends and can be played anywhere inside or out.
When showing the games with old putters when players make the hardest putt on Straight and Breaking Putt they want to buy my old putter such is their sense of achievement of making the putt so they are great for selling putters in the pro shop.

In the clubhouse they create a fantastic atmosphere and draw different groups together as you can play group challenges on them. They also make an unusual trophy for a competition and can be branded with the competition name, have competition winners names added and also played in the bar afterwards.

The games have been used at numerous corporate events where they make ideal icebreakers or after dinner entertainment. We launched them at The Open Championship this year in all 3 of the main corporate hospitality restaurants -- you can see pictures of this on our website -- the response from guests was overwhelming with orders taken for businesses wanting their logos added to the games to then use at golf outings or at trade shows to attract customers to their stands.

We also have customers who have bought the games to then use at fundraising events, by charging to play at a charity event they can give a prize as the hardest putts are 1 in 50 they have helped many charities.

The games have been a feature in my local hotel Ducks in Aberlady, where they are played by guests daily. They even had a visit from an Icelandic TV crew who called in to film them having heard how fun they were!

We like to think of the games as fine pieces of furniture not to be tucked out of sight in a cupboard but hung up on show so in the home they look stunning and as they are so easy to take down to play (no assembly needed) it encourages you to play and practice more often.

PGA.com: What has been the most rewarding aspect of this veture so far?

Wilkie: The number of times I've heard people say "just one more go" as they try to make the hardest putt and the joy the games have brought to others makes it all worthwhile. Oh and winning three medals this year with my improved putting was a good perk of the job!

You can learn more about puttup at www.puttup.com. As for costs, the puttup games range in price from between $400-$900, plus shipping, though you should check the currency exchange rate, as all prices on the site are listed in British Pounds Sterling. Wilkie says, however, puttup will ship anywhere.

You can also find puttup on Facebook, or on Twitter, @puttupgame.

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

November 13, 2013 - 11:30pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
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Daniel Chopra
Getty Images
Daniel Chopra said playing the Manila Masters this week was "an easy decision" because he wanted to show his support for the relief efforts after Typhoon Haiyan.

As I write this Wednesday night, the first round of the inaugural Resorts World Manila Masters is under way as scheduled – despite the fact that the Philippines is still reeling from Typhoon Haiyan, which devastated several southern parts of the island nation a few days ago.

"We feel for the people affected by this unfortunate tragedy and hope that through the staging of this tournament and through our support of aid and relief programs, we will be able to help in whatever way possible," said Asian Tour Chief Executive Mike Kerr. 

The decision to proceed with the $750,000 tournament at the Southwoods Golf and Country Club was made, Kerr said, after "careful consideration and consultation with the local golf associations, authorities and relief agencies." 

The Asian Tour and the tournament's sponsors have pledged to support the Philippines Red Cross in its efforts to provide aid and assistance, Kerr said. In addition, the tournament held a minute of silence Thursday afternoon (Wednesday night in the United States) as a show of respect for the storm's victims.

Among the players on hand in Manila is two-time PGA Tour winner Daniel Chopra, who decided to come to the Philippines instead of the PGA Tour's OHL Classic partly to show his support for the relief efforts.

HENRIK STENSON: Achy wrist complicates quest for European Tour money title

''I thought the Philippines needs help right now. It was an easy decision for me to make between playing here or back on the PGA Tour in Mexico,'' he said in a story on the Asian Tour website. ''We've got the Red Cross here this week, so hopefully some of the players here can provide some sort of support financially to help the victims.''

Chopra, by the way, built the foundation of his pro career in Asia, and got his breakthrough victory at the 1993 Johor Open in nearby Malaysia.

Veteran Filipino golfer Frankie Minoza said he's aiming to win this week so he can make some money to donate to the victims of the worst typhoon ever to hit the Philippines. 

"Filipinos have very strong heart. We are used to typhoons hitting our country, but it was unusual this year," Minoza said. "We'll get over this as we are survivors and we help each other." 

If you're interested in helping out, you can make a donation through the Philippines Red Cross website at http://www.redcross.org.ph/donate

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

 

November 13, 2013 - 4:34pm
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
tj.auclair's picture

The Islandpacket.com out of Hilton Head, S.C., has the sad story of Lawrence Monroe Slovin -- an 86-year-old man who drowned after falling into a golf course pond on Sunday.

Slovin was said to have been reaching for a golf ball when he fell into the pond on the three-hole Cypress of Hilton Head course near his home in Hilton Head Plantation at about 2 p.m. Sunday. Slovin's golf partner told deputies Slovin had only recently begun playing golf again after a hospital stay.

READ: Man needs 200 stitches after golf course croc attack

From the report:

Slovin hit his golf ball back onto the fairway from near the water hazard when he spotted another golf ball closer to the water, the report said. The man said Slovin's recent health issues prevented him from bending down to grab the ball, so he tried to knock it toward him with his golf club.

Slovin lost his footing trying to hit the ball, falling backward into the water hazard. The man tried to grab his feet, but Slovin began to thrash in the waist-high water and went under, the report said.

The man said he couldn't immediately find Slovin in the muddy water. He located Slovin's body about five minutes later, pulling him to the bank of the water hazard to wait for members of the Hilton Head Island EMS to arrive, the report said.

When emergency crews arrived at the scene, they were unable to detect Slovin's heartbeat and he was pronounced dead.

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

 

November 13, 2013 - 3:38pm
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
tj.auclair's picture
Lara Baldesarra
CNN
Lara Baldesarra will be leaving Golf Channel to join CNN.

CNN announced today that Lara Baldesarra is joining the network's sports unit in Atlanta.

Baldesarra moves to CNN after having spent much of the last two years with Golf Channel, where she anchored Golf Central and hosted the weekly interview show, Grey Goose 19th Hole.

Starting in December, she will anchor World Sport, the flagship sports news program on CNN International, and contribute to sports-related event coverage across all CNN platforms.

READ: Golfers save friend from jaws of 12-foot crocodile in Mexico

"We're thrilled with Lara's addition to CNN's global sports operation," said Bill Galvin, senior vice president of sports programming and development for CNN. "Her expertise as a leading voice in the sports world aligns perfectly with CNN's commitment to providing a thoughtful perspective across a broad range of news and events."

Born and raised in Toronto, Baldesarra previously worked at Canada's national sports network, Sportsnet, covering a number of sports including soccer, tennis, rugby, cricket, American football, Formula 1 and boxing. She also spent time at Fox Soccer Channel, where she anchored the network's flagship nightly news and highlights show, Fox Soccer Report.

"I'm passionate about sports and journalism, so I could not be more excited about joining an organization that values and excels in both of these things," said Baldesarra. "CNN is a world-class operation, and I look forward to hitting the ground running."

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

November 13, 2013 - 12:37pm
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
tj.auclair's picture
Briny Baird
Getty Images
After a tie for second at the McGladrey Classic, is Briny Baird poised to win on the PGA Tour for the first time this week?

The final official PGA Tour event of the calendar year -- the OHL Classic at Mayakoba -- takes place in Mexico this week.

The tournament is the sixth event of the Tour's new 2013-14 wraparound schedule, but the last one until the first week in January when the schedule resumes with the Hyundai Tournament of Champions in Kapalua, Maui, Hawaii.

Here's a look at five players to watch at the 7,039-yard El Camaleon Golf Club at the Mayakoba resort in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, designed by Greg Norman.

SCORES: Follow the OHL Classic at Mayakoba leaderboard on PGA.com

5. Fred Funk.
Best finish in 2013:
Played exclusively on Champions Tour with exception of a missed cut at the Sony Open in Hawaii.
Reason to watch: Silly pick, you say? What, because he's 57? Age is just a number and that's especially true for Funk. He's missed the cut at the Frys.com Open and the McGladrey Classic, but on Thursday he tees it up at a place where he's got good vibes. Funk one the OHL Classic at Mayakoba in 2007 -- his last PGA Tour win, in fact. This season, Funk will be using his one-time exemption for being in the top 50 on the career money list. If he's going to make money out on the young tour, this is the place to start.

4. Harris English.
Best finish in 2013:
Winner of the FedEx St. Jude Classic.
Reason to watch: There's just nothing not to like about this guy's game. The 24-year-old snagged his first PGA Tour win this past summer in the FedEx St. Jude Classic. Along with that, English had three other top-10 finishes on the season, but none since the win until a tie for seventh in Malaysia at the CIMB Classic a few weeks ago. Listen to a lot of PGA Tour veterans talk and they'll tell you -- English is a star waiting to shine.

WATCH: Niece of Tiger Woods has golf ball-juggling tricks too

3. John Huh.
Best finish in 2013:
Tie for third at the Wyndham Championship.
Reason to watch: This 23-year-old returns to Mexico this week at the defending champion. That's got to feel good. But, because of the Tour's new wraparound schedule, Huh's title came nearly two years ago in February of 2012. He was PGA Tour Rookie of the Year that season. Huh missed a lot of cuts in 2013 -- 11 in all out of 28 starts -- but still finished in the top 25 on eight occasions, highlighted by a tie for third at the Wyndham Championship. I like Huh's chances this week because it's a place where the highlight of his career took place.

2. Briny Baird.
Best finish in 2013: N/A
Reason to watch: Baird did not make a single start during the PGA Tour's 2013 season, as he continued his recovery from double-shoulder surgery in 2012. Now that he's healed, Baird looks primed to capture that elusive first win. Perhaps making up for lost time, this week's appearance in Mayakoba will mark Baird's fourth start of the 2013-14 season. In his previous three events, Baird made the cut each time, highlighted by a tie for second a week ago in Sea Island. He's hungry.

GALLERY: November golf photos from around the world

1. Tim Clark.
Best finish in 2013:
Second at the Sony Open in Hawaii
Reason to watch: This South African's name always seems to be lurking on leaderboards... Which is why it's so hard to believe that he's only won one time on the PGA Tour. Granted, that one triumph was a big one -- the 2010 Players Championship. But still, he's a guy you might expect more from in the way of the win column. Clark enters this week after a tie for second last week in Sea Island. Playing one of the shorter courses on the Tour's schedule this week, you've got to like Clarke's chances (which isn't to say he's not strong on long courses -- he made out just fine at TPC Sawgrass).

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