Golf Buzz

August 28, 2013 - 9:18pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
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Dave Thomas and George O'Grady
Getty Images
Dave Thomas received his silver lifetime membership card earlier this year from European Tour Chief Executive George O'Grady, who said the honor should have been bestowed "a long time ago."

Dave Thomas, a four-time Ryder Cup player who went on to design more than 100 golf courses, died Tuesday at the age of 79 at his home in Spain.

''Dave became a household name in the 1950s and 1960s when he helped to build the game in Britain and all over the world,'' said European Tour Chief Executive George O'Grady, who awarded Thomas with Honorary Life Membership in the European Tour earlier this year. ''He was a larger-than-life character, a truly great guy, and our condolences are with his partner Carol and Dave's sons Michael and Paul.

''Wherever the Tour has travelled, from Britain to the Continent to the Rest of the World, we have played on courses designed by Dave and both as a player and an architect he leaves a lasting legacy to the game he truly loved.''

Thomas, born and raised in Newcastle, England, turned professional in 1949 at the age of 15, about the time he watched Sam Snead and several other golf greats in the Ryder Cup at Ganton Golf Club. Ten years later, Thomas made his Ryder Cup debut at Eldorado Country Club in Palm Springs, Calif., against Snead – Thomas and partner Harry Weetman halved their foursomes match with Snead and three-time major winner Cary Middlecoff.

Thomas went on to play in three more Ryder Cups, the last in 1967 at the Champions Golf Club in Houston, Texas, where he partnered with a young Tony Jacklin in all four four-balls and foursomes. After halving his singles match with Gene Littler, Thomas went home with 2 ½ points.

In 1958, Thomas lost a 36-hole playoff to Peter Thomson at the Open Championship at Royal Lytham & St. Annes, and in 1966 at Muirfield he tied for second with Doug Sanders one stroke behind Jack Nicklaus. He also represented Wales 11 times in the World Cup of Golf between 1957 and 1970 and captured more than 20 European Tour titles including the 1955 Belgian Open, 1958 Dutch Open, 1959 French Open and 1963 PGA Match Play.

Arthritis ended his playing career prematurely, and Thomas immersed himself in course design. He teamed with Peter Alliss to design the Brabazon Course at The Belfry near Birmingham, England, which hosted the Ryder Cup in 1985, 1989, 1993 and 2002. Thomas also designed such layouts as De Vere Slaley Hall in Northumberland, England; St. Leon Rot in Germany, which has hosted European tour events and will host the 2015 Solheim Cup; the Roxburgh in Scotland; San Roque in Spain; Cannes Mougins; La Baule and Terre Blanche in France; and courses in Africa, China, Japan, South America and Taiwan. 

Thomas also was Captain of the [British] Professional Golfers' Association during its centenary year in 2001 and five years later he was made an honorary life member of the British PGA.

Thomas is survived by his partner, Carol, and two sons, Michael and Paul. His wife, Robbie, and another son, Philip, predeceased him.

The European Tour contributed to this report.

 
 
August 28, 2013 - 4:35pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
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Bob Denney and George Raveling
Denny/The PGA of America and Raveling/Getty Images
Bob Denney, now of The PGA of America, interviewed basketball coach George Raveling in 1984, and found himself holding a piece of American history.

EDITOR'S NOTE: This item first appeared on PGA.com on August 28, 2013, but we are republishing it today to commemorate the 2014 celebration of the Martin Luther King holiday.

Today is the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King's ''I Have a Dream'' speech and there is a full day of activities taking place in Washington. D.C., to commemorate the big occasion.

Dr. King's speech remains one of the most noteworthy in American history – and it has a golf connection. Bob Denney, long a media fixture and golf historian at The PGA of America, played a significant role in preserving the actual copy of the speech that King delivered that fateful day.

The story was recounted in detail in a video feature that James Brown did for CBS News recently, and I encourage you to watch it – if you do, you'll get to see a brief glimpse of Denney rocking an excellent '80s mustache.

Here's the short version:

George Raveling, who went on to become a prominent basketball coach at schools like Washington State, Iowa and Southern California, volunteered to assist in the March on Washington back in 1963, and was assigned to help with security on the podium during the speeches. That put him very close to Dr. King and, when King finished speaking, Raveling asked if he could have the speech. 

King gave it to him. Raveling took it home, tucked it into an autobiography of Harry S Truman, and eventually forgot about it.

Fast forward a couple of decades to 1984, and Denney – then a newspaper reporter in Iowa – interviewed Raveling on the significance of becoming the first African-American head hoops coach for the Hawkeyes. He asked Raveling whether he'd been involved in the Civil Rights movement, and Raveling told him the story.

Denney asked if he still had the speech. ''And I said, 'Yeah.' And even at that point, it still didn't dawn on me there was anything unusual about it,'' Raveling told Brown. ''And so he got all excited, he said, 'Well, where is it?'''

Raveling retrieved the book out of his basement – and there was the speech, folded in half, slightly discolored but still in good shape.

Denney borrowed the speech, and wrote his article – and, as a gift, had the speech framed for Raveling. It remains in that same frame today.

"It doesn't have a title ... It's not identified as 'I have a dream.' You can simply see the date and the time,'' said Raveling of the speech, which runs a mere three pages on paper. ''You'll see that he pretty much followed the script." 

Until, of course, King began speaking extemporaneously, stretching what had been written as four minutes of remarks into a 16-minute tour de force.

Raveling now keeps the speech in a bank vault, and plans to pass it down to his son upon his death – with the condition that it never be sold. 

"The speech belongs to America, the speech belongs to black folks," he said. "It doesn't belong to me, and it would be sacrilegious of me to try and sell it to profit from it."

Denney remains circumspect about his role.

"A past chapter of my professional life suddenly turns up in the news, and I am thankful for having met George Raveling,'' he wrote in an email. ''He was beyond a coach; he remains a Renaissance man.''

 

August 28, 2013 - 12:12pm
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
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Swingbyte
Swingbyte
The Swingbyte device and app gives users instant feedback on swings.
We're always excited around here when we find products that can help you improve your game.
 
In that spirit, we've stumbled across a product and app called "Swingbyte." Swingbyte is an innovative, easy-to-use, sensor and app-based technology designed to improve your golf swing faster and we think it's a great complement to your lessons with a PGA Professional.
 
The Swingbyte device weighs less than one ounce, is about the size of your little finger and clips to your golf clubs shaft just below the grip. The device connects via Bluetooth to iOS and Android devices. It can be used on any club in your bag. 
 
The Swingbyte provides instant, accurate swing feedback with an intuitive user interface and interactive 3D swing graphics. You can also auto-trim and video sync to your Swingbyte data.
 
Here is how the simple operation of a Swingbyte works:
 
STEP 1: Attach the lightweight Swingbyte 2 sensor to any golf club below the grip -- driver through putter.
 
STEP 2: Swing. Vibration of impact registers and sends that data wirelessly to your app for viewing.
 
STEP 3: Analyze. Review full 3-D rendering of your swing and swing data (like clubhead speed, clubface and club path angles) on your mobile device.
 
The Swingbyte retails for $149. You can find more information at www.swingbyte.com.
 
 
Follow T.J. Auclair on Twitter, @tjauclair.
 
August 28, 2013 - 10:08am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
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Rickie Fowler
Farmers Insurance
Rickie Fowler's alter-ego -- Dick Fowler, P.I. in the latest Farmers Insurance commercial.
In one of the better golf commercials we've seen in a long time, Rickie Fowler nails his character, Dick Fowler, P.I., in the latest spot for Farmers Insurance.
 
 
Basically, Fowler rides around a golf course undercover, looking for people who may be breaching etiquette. And when Fowler finds them, he gives a stern warning before taking action.
 
This is certainly worth a couple minutes of your time!
 
Follow T.J. Auclair on Twitter, @tjauclair.
 
August 28, 2013 - 9:49am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
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Tiger Woods
Getty Images
The status of Tiger Woods for this week's Deutsche Bank Championship was unknown until the event was added to his official schedule on Wednesday morning.
Two days after pulling out of good buddy Notah Begay III's charity event in Verona, N.Y., to rest his sore back, Tiger Woods has officially added the Deutsche Bank Championship to his schedule on www.tigerwoods.com.
 
At the Barclays -- the first leg of the PGA Tour FedExCup playoffs -- over the weekend, Woods fought through back spasms that he attributed to a soft hotel mattress.
 
Despite playing through a lot of visible pain, Woods managed to muster a tie for second. He nearly holed a birdie try from just off the green on the 72nd hole that would have forced a playoff with eventual winner Adam Scott.
 
The tie for second was good enough for Woods to maintain his lead in the FedExCup standings. He will play the first two rounds at TPC Boston on Friday and Saturday alongside Adam Scott and Phil Mickelson, Nos. 2 and 3, respectively, in the points standings.
 
In an interview with CBS reporter and former Tour player Matt Gogel after the Barclays, Woods was noncommittal about teeing it up in Norton, Mass., this week. With the tournament being added to his schedule today, it looks like Woods is all in for the second leg of the four-event playoff series.
 
Woods is the only two-time winner of the FedExCup Playoffs, which began in 2007. He also won the Deutsche Bank Championship in 2006, just before it became a playoff event.
 
Follow T.J. Auclair on Twitter, @tjauclair.
 
August 27, 2013 - 10:12pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
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Arnold Palmer and Kate Upton
Kate Upton via Twitter
Kate Upton took to Twitter Tuesday to say she had an "amazing" golf lesson from Arnold Palmer.

We all remember last spring, when Kate Upton spent a day with Arnold Palmer at Bay Hill. The Sports Illustrated cover girl had dinner with the King, who inducted her into Arnie's Army by affixing one of his famous umbrella pins to her lapel and even getting a smooch.

Well, it looks as if Kate got the golf bug, because on Tuesday she got a lesson from Palmer. And not just a lesson – an ''amazing lesson,'' as she described it on Twitter. She also posted the photo above of teacher and pupil in their golf togs out on the links. 

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They look awfully composed in that picture, which makes me think this was part of a photo shoot. And Upton included a shout-out to Golf Digest in her tweet, making me wonder if the magazine is behind this. I saw nothing on the Golf Digest site to indicate that, but I also won't be surprised to see this image or one like it in my mailbox a couple of issues from now.

In any case, it's good to see Palmer doing his part to recruit new golfers into the game!

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And speaking of Palmer, ESPN ranks the spot in which he makes an Arnold Palmer in the ESPN cafeteria while Scott van Pelt and Stuart Scott look on in awe as No. 11 on their list of their all-time best house ads. Even better – and which we didn't see on TV – is that on the same day Palmer filmed that commercial, the ESPNers got him outside and asked him to chip a ball into an Arnold Palmer. 

Needless to say, the King came through yet again.