Golf Buzz

March 10, 2013 - 5:17pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
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WGC-Cadillac Championship pin flag
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The pin flags could come into play a lot more if golf went to NASCAR-style cautions.

So we're sitting here watching Tiger at Doral and occasionally flipping over to the NASCAR race in Las Vegas. Tiger was ahead by five at the turn at Doral and in Vegas the field was all strung out, so there wasn't much drama at either venue.

NASCAR, as it so often does when things get boring, threw a caution for ''debris on the track.'' This allowed the safety crew to corral that oh-so-dangerous hot dog wrapper or whatever. But more important, it also bunched up the field and got a lot of popular drivers who were way behind back into contention.

And it made us wonder – why doesn't golf have its own version of a debris caution? Take today – Tiger's out of sight with nine holes to go. Surely there's a hot dog wrapper blowing around somewhere at Doral. Tour official Slugger White could call a timeout to fetch it and, oh by the way, bunch the field up. During the brief timeout, the players could check their spikes, clean the dirt out of their grooves, maybe even take a swig of Gatorade.

Then, when they resume play, the field bunches up behind Tiger – instead of cruising by five, Phil Mickelson and Steve Stricker and Graeme McDowell are just one back. Keegan Bradley and Adam Scott are two behind and Sergio Garcia trails by three. Slugger waves the green pin-flag, and off they go – and, voila, we've got a brand-new horserace.

Heck, if that works out, why not try another of NASCAR's concoctions – the green-white-checker finish? Throw another yellow pin-flag with a few holes to go, give everybody the same score, set them off on the 17th tee with two holes to see who wins.

It's genius, don’t you think?

What, you don't agree. Well, honestly, me neither.

Tiger running away from the field might not be ''dramatic,'' but it is still great to watch, and I suspect the TV ratings will reflect that. Plus, he's justly rewarded for his stellar play throughout the tournament – and, we all know, every stroke counts, no matter whether it occurred Thursday morning or Sunday afternoon. It's just one of the many reasons why we all love golf – even when the final outcome is clear well before the checkered flag flies.

March 9, 2013 - 11:27pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
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Fanny Sunesson and Henrik Stenson
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Fanny Sunesson, shown here with Henrik Stenson, is by far the most accomplished female caddie in golf history.

After a couple decades as a caddie for such high-profile players as Nick Faldo and Henrik Stenson, Fanny Sunesson retired last fall to focus on coaching and mentoring golfers. This spring, she'll take on a new job – host of her own golf tournament in her native Sweden.

Sunesson will act as host of the inaugural Solvesborg Ladies Open on Scandinavia's Nordea Tour, which also is part of the Ladies European Tour's Access Series (similar to the LPGA Tour's developmental Symetra Tour).

''I was a little surprised when the request came, but this will be exciting,'' Sunesson said. ''The idea is that I will share my experiences from all the years on the tour. In Solvesborg I will take care of the sponsors of the pro-am, give lectures and make sure everyone is happy. If I have the opportunity, I will be on site throughout the competition.''

The Solvesborg Ladies Open is set for May 22-24 at Solvesborg Golf Club in Solvesborg, Sweden.

 

March 9, 2013 - 9:47pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
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Tank putter from Odyssey Golf
Courtesy of Odyssey Golf
The Tank putter from Odyssey golf features two wings flanking a large cutout, and a line of red dots to aid with alignment.

One of the things golfers like most about long putters is that they're heavier than standard-length models, and that extra weight tends to make them more stable during the stroke. The future of long putters might be in doubt, but that stability is a trait golfers will seek no matter the length of the shaft.

The new Tank putter from Odyssey is, as its name suggests, heavier than your average flatstick – its head weighs 400 grams, while its shaft weighs 150 grams. This extra weight, plus a counterbalance weight (weighing 30 to 40 grams, depending on the individual model, at the top of the shaft) helps to keep the Tank stable through impact and to quiet the hands during the stroke. In addition, the added weight engages the big muscles to promote a pendulum stroke that helps keep the wrists from breaking down.

''With Tank, we wanted to enhance the stability of the putter by increasing the Moment of Inertia [in essence, its resistance to twisting or rotating] of the entire club,'' said Odyssey Golf Principle Designer Austie Rollinson. ''We feel this achieves most of the benefits of anchoring without actually touching the body.'' 

In redistributing weight to enhance the Tank's stability, Odyssey focused on placing the balance point in each shaft in relatively the same position as in a conventional putter. So at each length, the balance point is in a slightly different place on the shaft. And because of their extra weight (19 percent heavier than a standard putter), the conventional-length Tank putters have a total club MOI that is 34 percent higher than a standard putter, while the longer options (32 percent heavier than standard) have a total club MOI that is 109 percent higher than a standard putter.

"At every golf club in the world, we've heard golfers say, 'I just want something a little heavier,'" said Odyssey Golf Global Director Chris Koske. ''With the proposed anchoring ban in discussions, we thought it was the right time to service golfers with an alternative and stability-focused method to putting and putter design.

''We didn't just do heavy – each component is carefully weighed to ensure a proper balance point and ultimate stability,'' he added. ''We brought two prototypes out to Riviera and one went in play immediately."

The Tank's head, with its two wings flanking a big cutout in the middle, looks a bit like the reverse of Odyssey's famous 2-Ball models. A string of small red dots on the crown provides an alignment aid, and the face contains Odyssey's popular White Hot insert, which claimed more than 30 victories across the worldwide tours in 2012. For 2013, Odyssey developed a new laser milling cutting process that better matches the insert shapes to the various head shapes.

Tank putters will be available at retail starting on April 12. They, along with the Metal-X Arm Lock putters that Odyssey unveiled in November, should attract serious looks from golfers either considering long putters or weaning themselves off of long putters.

March 9, 2013 - 1:02am
Posted by:
John Holmes
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Rickie Fowler fan at WGC-Cadillac Championship
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This kid at the WGC-Cadillac Championship at Doral on Friday is a big Rickie Fowler fan -- or at least a big Rickie Fowler hat fan.

For years, we've talked about the Tiger Effect. Over the last few years, though, I've seen many more examples of the Rickie Fowler Effect -- little kids decked out in flat-brimmed caps and brightly colored shirts.

But I have to say, the kid pictured in the photo above is a first for me. I'm pretty sure he (or she) is a big Rickie Fowler fan. But what I really want to know is how that hat is balanced on his (or her) head.

 

 

 

March 8, 2013 - 11:32pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
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Tiger Woods' old house in Isleworth
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Tiger Woods' old house in Isleworth (left) will soon be home to Bubba Watson and his family.

The PGA Tour rolls into Orlando for the Arnold Palmer Invitational the week after next, but Bubba Watson plans to arrive sooner. He won’t be there for an early peek at Bay Hill, though – he and his family are relocating to Orlando and looking to move in next week. And, he revealed Friday, their new house just happens to be Tiger Woods and Elin Nordegren's old house at Isleworth.

"It's true," Watson said at the WGC-Cadillac Championship. "We closed last summer and we're moving in next Thursday or Friday."

Woods, of course, has decamped to his oceanfront mansion on Jupiter Island, Fla.

Watson and wife Angie looked at dozens of places before they even checked Woods' old digs out. And in the seven months since they made the purchase, they have overseen a complete renovation of the property.

"We ended up changing everything. We probably saved maybe five percent of it," Watson said. "We built it all around Caleb. There are like three playrooms."

At Isleworth, Watson's neighbors will include fellow PGA Tour players including Graeme McDowell, Ian Poulter and Justin Rose.

"The one I've talked to the most is Charles Howell," Watson said. "He has two kids and talked about how family-oriented Isleworth is. They got programs for kids, tennis camps, golf camps, family night every Wednesday night for dinner. They were all things we wanted to be involved in, and the golf course is really good, too, for me to practice."

March 8, 2013 - 9:30am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
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Augusta National
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Could the famous leaderboard at Augusta National one day feature the names of the top women golfers?

 

It's certainly not imminent, but LPGA Tour Commissioner Michael Whan still has hope that one day Augusta National Golf Club will open its doors to an LPGA event.
 
In a report written by Erik Matuszewski on Bloomberg.com, Whan explains that each year since becoming commissioner in 2010, he's reached out to Augusta National about potentially hosting a women's event in addition to the Masters.
 
“I don’t know anybody who loves the game who wouldn’t view Augusta National as maybe the best golf platform in the world,” Whan told Bloomberg.com. “Would I like to see the best female golfers in the world on that stage? Of course.”
 
From the Bloomberg.com report:
 
LPGA Tour Commissioner Mike Whan has hope that Augusta National Golf Club may one day open its gates to an event for the sport’s top women’s tour after the Masters Tournament host added female members last year.
 
Whan, who took over as LPGA commissioner in 2010, said he contacts the club in Augusta, Georgia, every year about hosting a women’s tournament in addition to the Masters, the first of golf’s four annual major championships for men. This year’s Masters is scheduled for April 11-14.
 
Whan, 48, said he’s not discouraged about being rebuffed by Augusta National officials and said he understands why “it’s not the right time and may never be the right time.” Augusta National spokesman Steve Ethun didn’t return an e-mail message seeking comment.
 
 
Follow T.J Auclair on Twitter, @tj_auclair.