Golf Buzz

October 27, 2013 - 6:23pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
john.holmes's picture
Mike Small at the Illinois Golf Hall of Fame
Courtesy the Illinois Golf Hall of Fame
PGA Professional Mike Small posed by his "wall of fame" at the Illinois Golf Hall of Fame.

If you're a regular reader of PGA.com, you know that PGA Professional Mike Small owns a list of accomplishments unlike any other golfer around. And on Friday night, he became the youngest person ever inducted into the Illinois Golf Hall of Fame.

Small, 47, was part of the 15th class to be inducted into the Illinois hall, along with his fellow PGA Professional Bob Harris and PGA Tour and Champions Tour standout Jay Haas.

Small was born in Aurora, Ill., and was a teammate of PGA Tour star Steve Stricker at the University of Illinois, where he played an integral role on the Illini's 1988 Big Ten Championship team while finishing second behind Stricker for the individual Big Ten title. He turned professional in 1990, began competing on smaller tours and became a PGA member in 1996. The following season, he won the Monterey Open and Cleveland Open and finished in the top 15 on the Nike Tour money list, which earned him his PGA Tour card for the 1998 season.

A few years later, Small became the head golf coach at Illinois, which has become a national powerhouse under his leadership. During his tenure, the team has captured five Big Ten titles (2009-2013) and competed in eight NCAA National Championships (2002, 2003, 2008-2013). Small has been named Big Ten Coach of the Year six times (2002, 2009-2013), and this year's team finished as the NCAA runner-up.

In addition, he's captured the Illinois PGA Championship a record nine times (2001, 2003-2010), the Illinois Open four times (2003, 2005-2007) and the 2007 Illinois PGA Match Play Championship. He's the only person to win both the Illinois PGA Championship and Illinois Open in the same year – a feat he's accomplished four times.

MORE ON THE HONOREES: Read the official release from the Illinois Golf Hall of Fame

Nationally, Small has won the PGA Professional National Championship three times (2005, 2009, 2010), tying Larry Gilbert as the only three-time winners of the prestigious event. He has been honored as the PGA of America Player of the Year three times (2006, 2007, 2010) and is a four-time member of the U.S. PGA Cup team. He has competed in eight PGA Championships, making the cut three times (2005, 2007, 2011), and played in three U.S. Opens. He's also the only member of the Illinois PGA to win the PGA Professional National Championship.

Harris, meanwhile, became one of the greatest Illinois PGA Professionals to ever play the game, earning NCAA team and individual championships and competing in the Masters, U.S. Open and PGA Championship. He also was the PGA head golf professional at one of Chicago's most prestigious country clubs.

Now 84, Harris began caddying at the age of 12. His high school didn't have a golf team, but he played at San Jose State University, where in 1948 the team won the NCAA championship and he was the individual champion. He served in the military for four years during the Korean War, earned his PGA membership in the mid-1950s and began a quarter-century run at Sunset Ridge near Chicago.

Harris won the Illinois PGA Match Play Championship a record six consecutive times (1958-1963), the Illinois PGA Championship twice (1959, 1961) and the Illinois Open twice (1955, 1956). Nationally, he competed in the Masters twice (1956, 1961), the U.S. Open seven times (1949, 1955, 1960, 1961, 1963, 1964, 1968) and the PGA Championship three times (1959-1961). And at one point, he held nine scoring records at golf courses in the Chicagoland area. 

A HOOSIER HONOR: PGA President Bishop inducted into Indiana Golf Hall of Fame

Haas, one of the most consistent players in PGA Tour history, holds the record for most career cuts made on the tour with 592. Playing for Wake Forest, he won the NCAA individual championship in 1975 on a team that Golf World called "the greatest college team of all time.'' The Wake Forest teams headed by Haas and Curtis Strange won the NCAA team championship in 1974 and 1975.

Haas, 59, grew up in Belleville, Ill, made his first hole-in-one at age 10 and was the Illinois State High School champion his junior year. At Wake Forest, he was named to the NCAA All-America team four consecutive years (1973-1976) and earned All-ACC honors in 1975 and 1976, the first two years it was awarded. Also, in 1975 he received the Fred Haskins Award, given annually to the most outstanding college golfer in the United States.

He won nine times on the PGA Tour, competed in the Ryder Cup three times (1983, 1995, 2004), owns 16 Champions Tour victories, and was the Champions Tour Player of the Year in 2006 and 2007. He received the 2004 Payne Stewart Award, presented to a player sharing Stewart's respect for the traditions of the game, and the 2006 Bob Jones Award, the highest honor given by the USGA.

 

October 26, 2013 - 7:26pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
john.holmes's picture
Muira MB001 irons
Courtesy of Miura Golf
The Miura MB001 irons features sole refinements that help them travel effortlessly through turf.

Miura Golf, the Japanese maker of what it calls ''the world's finest forged golf clubs,'' takes its time when it comes to creating new clubs. 

"We don't automatically bring out a new blade every year," said Miura President Adam Barr. "The only calendar we operate on is the one in the minds of the Miuras. When they say a club is ready, we go.''

It's ''go-time'' at Muira Golf right now, though, as the company rolls out the MB001 iron set – the latest creation of founder Katsuhiro Miura and sons Yoshitaka (a club grinding expert) and Shinei (who supervises the forging operations at the company's factory in Himeji, Japan).

The MB001 muscleback is Miura's first new blade iron in six years, and joins the Tournament Blade and the Series 1957 Small Blade in the Miura catalog for better players. The company also offers several cavityback iron sets along with hybrids, wedges and putters.

"This is a big event," said Barr. "The MB001 contains the benefits of all the lessons we have learned in watching irons perform, since the Tournament Blade came out in 2007 and the Small Blade arrived in 2006."

The MB001 features sole refinements that help it travel effortlessly through turf. The sole's shape and size – subtly adjusted from earlier models – gives the player a better chance of keeping the clubface square at impact. A thin top line presents a simple, clean look that reduces distraction.

The flow of steel from the hosel to the low-offset clubhead is smooth and non-reflective, and Yoshitaka Miura focused on the relationship of the toe and heel so that they look harmonious as a whole. The compact clubhead is nearly the same length heel-to-toe as the Tournament Blade and, like that club, offers plenty of "face space" without looking overly long. 

The clubs have a more upright appearance at address that helps the player feels closer to the ball, and able to see all of it without needing to adjust away from a comfortable head position. This better view of the ball, says Miura, lends pre-stroke confidence. 

The MB001 will be available from authorized Miura dealer/fitters worldwide in early November. They carry a suggested retail price of $235 per club, though the price may vary with different shaft options.

Here is a video with more information on the new Miura MB001 irons:

October 26, 2013 - 3:48pm
Posted by:
John Kim
john.kim's picture
Cordillera Ranch
Courtesy of Cordillera Ranch
Players at Cordillera Ranch are raving about the new Zeon Zoysia grass.
There are some serious questions that are lingering in my mind about how golf is going to work in the Olympics. How will teams be established? What will the format be? What about the alligators on the course?!
 
But one topic that seems to be a sure hit will be the turf used at the Gil Hanse designed course outside of Rio de Janiero.
 
Why? Because people are testing out the Zeon Zoysia strand at Cordillera Ranch just north of San Antonio.
 
Zeon Zoysia is supposed to be drought resistant, a perfect grass for the fairways and tee boxes at the Jack Nicklaus designed Cordillera Ranch.  The course currently under construction near Rio de Janeiro will also use the same strand for its fairways, tee boxes and its rough.  (Cordillera has Bermuda rough and A-5 bentgrass greens.)
 
What's more, both courses are supplied by Bladerunner Farms in Poteet, owned by turf-grass expert David Doguet. Zeon Zoysia was developed by Doguet, and Bladerunner is the largest privately held zoysia breeding facility in the world.
 
"Our members love it because the ball sits up on it like a tee," says Cordillera Ranch Director of Agronomy Mark Semms. "It is the most playable fairway turf on the market because of its blade density."
 
One impressed member is PGA Tour player (and recent Frys.com champion) Jimmy Walker.  
 
"We've been to the most premier golf courses in the country and we just marvel at what an amazing facility that Cordillera is," says Walker. "There's nothing like it in the country."
 
Last spring at a corporate outing, one golfer dropped a ball onto the practice tee and swung a 3-wood, making easy and pure contact. He turned around in amazement and remarked, "Wow, that zoysia is phenomenal."  That golfer - Hall-of-Famer Greg Norman.
 
 But having favorable lies is only an ancillary benefit of Zeon Zoysia, says Semm. 
 
"We selected the grass because it assimilates perfectly to the climate of this region," he adds. "It uses between 30 and 40 percent less water and fertilizer, is drought tolerant and able to persevere through extreme conditions."
 
The turf's protection against cold weather and long periods without water is dormancy. Normally a translucent green, Zeon Zoysia will "dim out" to a muted green and ultimately, light brown.  It only takes a few consecutive days over 75 degrees, however, to restore it to its native grandeur.
 
"Zeon Zoysia is very environmentally friendly," Doguet told Golf Course Industry earlier this year. "The grass needs very little water, and very low amounts of nitrogen fertilizer, while still looking and playing great. The grass will create a world-class playing surface for the Olympics, and for many years to come."
 
PGA, LPGA, and European Tour players encounter nearly every type of turf during the season - bentgrass, Bermuda, fescue and even the invasive Poa annua. Due to its limited growing range, however, zoysia grasses aren't as prevalent at tour venues. 
 
"Most of them have played on it at some point, but not necessarily Zeon," says Semm. "They are going to be pleasantly surprised and with the lies they'll get, it will only make the best players in the world even better." 
 
Zeon has the same effect on members' games. But the grass's dormant periods require an explanation, up front.  
 
"There's an educational process with new members, but once we explain the environmental and playing benefits, they get it quick," says Semm. "Eventually, they get spoiled and don't even want to play on Bermuda fairways anymore." 
 
So regardless of what country you're pulling for or any other questions you may have about golf's glorious return to the Summer Olympics - the one thing that you probably won't have to worry about is the condition of the course - validated by the reception and performance at one particular club in the U.S.  Now those alligators...that's another story. 
 
 
 
 
October 26, 2013 - 12:16am
Posted by:
John Holmes
john.holmes's picture
Simon Dyson at the BMW Masters
Getty Images
Simon Dyson was disqualified from the BMW Masters after a TV viewer called in a ruled violation.

Simon Dyson of England was disqualified from the European Tour's BMW Masters in Shanghai on Saturday morning (Friday night in the United States) for a rules violation that has ramifications near and far.

The DQ costs Dyson a legitimate shot at the victory – and a huge payday in the $7 million tournament – seeing as how he was in second place behind leader Luke Guthrie after 36 holes. Worse, it prevents him from making a big move up the European Tour money list. 

Dyson entered the event – the first of four that make up the European Tour's version of the FedExCup playoffs known as 'The Final Series' – ranked No. 66 on the money list. Only the top 60 make it into the season-ending $8 million DP World Tour Championship at the end of November.

ASTURIAS AWARD: Jose Maria Olazabal receives Spain's highest honor

The violation occurred on the eighth hole of the second round at Lake Malaren, when Dyson marked his ball just beyond the cup. As he marked it, he made a quick move to tamp down a spot on the green directly in his line. 

''Simon Dyson has been disqualified from the BMW Masters presented by SRE Group under the rules of golf (6-6d). Simon was found to have breached rule 16-1a, which states that a player must not touch his line of putt,'' said European Tour Chief Referee John Paramor in a statement.

''Television viewers alerted the European Tour to the incident, which took place on the eighth green during the second round, and when the footage was reviewed Simon was seen to touch the line of his second putt after marking and lifting his ball on the green,'' the statement explained. ''He subsequently failed to add a two-shot penalty to his score when signing his card, and as a result has now been disqualified.''

 

October 25, 2013 - 9:15pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
john.holmes's picture
Jose Maria Olazabal at the Prince of Asturias Awards
Getty Images
Jose Maria Olazabal received the 2013 Prince of Asturias Award for Sports in front of an audience that includes the Spanish Royal Family on Friday in Oviedo, Spain.

The accolades for Europe's 2012 Ryder Cup victory just keep coming to the victors. The latest: On Friday, winning captain Jose Maria Olazabal received the 2013 Prince of Asturias Award for Sports, Spain's most prestigious sports award.

Describing Olazabal as "one of the greatest golfers in history," the award jury pointed to Olazabal's two Masters wins and four Ryder Cups, "a competition in which he also demonstrated his leadership ability when captaining the European team to an epic comeback in 2012."

Olazabal, 47, is the first golfer to win the prestigious award since his friend and hero Seve Ballesteros received it in 1989. Olazabal got his award – in total, eight were presented in fields ranging from science to literature – from Crown Prince Felipe in a ceremony in the northern city of Oviedo.

REMEMBERING PAYNE STEWART: TJ Auclair reflects on one of golf's great trajedies

''It's very difficult even to get nominated for the award, so I never thought I'd win it, to be honest,'' Olazabal said. ''Without question this is the most prestigious award I've ever received, so it's a real honor. I don't feel like I deserve it necessarily, but it's very nice to receive it. I didn't expect to win it, but now that I have I couldn't be happier. I've always tried to conduct myself in the right way both on and off the course, and hopefully this is recognition of that.''

The Sports Award is bestowed upon the individual, group or institution whose lives are not only examples to others, but who have also reached new heights in mankind's struggle for excellence, and who have contributed by their efforts to perfecting, nurturing, promoting and disseminating sport. 

And if you're wondering why Olazabal is only now receiving this award when the Ryder Cup was last year, it's because the annual honorees are announced each summer – so the 2012 winners were chosen before the Ryder Cup.

Here's a video interview feature with Olazabal:

 
 
 
October 25, 2013 - 11:39am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
tj.auclair's picture
Tin Cup
Tin Cup
Tin Cup golf ball stencils make your golf ball easily identifiable.

Whether you're a high-handicapper, or a perennial contender in the club championship, one common denominator should be this: you should mark your golf ball so that it's easily identifiable and leaves no question as to whose it is.

That's where a company called Tin Cup comes in.

Tin Cup makes -- well, "Tin Cups" -- that fit around your golf ball and serve as a ball-marking stencil. There are more than 130 existing designs offered by Tin Cup, including college logos, shamrocks, flags, animals and more. 

And, if you don't see one that sticks out to you, Tin Cup can even customize a design (think initials, tournament logo, course logo, etc.).

If you're a mustache kind of person, November -- or "Movember" -- is right around the corner. Tin Cup offers a 'stache design so that you can stencil a mustache on your golf ball.

Tin Cup ball marking stencils retail for $19.95. You can purchase a Tin Cup package for $30, which includes a leather pouch, Sharpie marker, clip and poker chip. Customized Tin Cup stencils with up to six characters cost $75, while a logo or your own design run at $125.

Select marks can also be used as alignment/game improvement tools. Tin Cups are 100 percent Made-in-the-USA and the stainless steel cup construction carries a lifetime guarantee.

To learn more, visit www.tin-cup.com. You can also find Tin Cup on Facebook and on Twitter, @TinCupMarker.

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