Golf Buzz

October 15, 2015 - 11:28am
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PGA of America
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Tommy Bolt and Charlie Sifford
The PGA of America
Two-time Ryder Cup player Tommy Bolt (l) and pioneering African-American player Charlie Sifford are among the members of the PGA of America Hall of Fame's Class of 2015.

Thomas Henry “Tommy” Bolt was born in Haworth, Oklahoma, in 1916, and at age 2, lost his mother to influenza. His family fled the 1930s Dust Bowl of Oklahoma to settle in Shreveport, Louisiana, where Bolt’s father could continue working in the construction industry. Tommy dropped out of Byrd High School as a sophomore, and at age 13, got into golf as a caddie. Al Espinosa, who lost a playoff to Bobby Jones at the 1929 U.S. Open, visited the club where Bolt caddied. Bolt was so impressed by Espinosa's dress and manner that he resolved to become a professional golfer himself. That dream was delayed often, however. Bolt spent four years in the U.S. Army during World War II, serving as head professional at a club in liberated Rome, in 1945. Then he alternated between professional golf and construction work. He finally joined the PGA Tour fulltime at age 34. His first victory came at the 1951 North & South Open Championship. Bolt won three times each in 1954 and 1955, and then a severe hook started popping into his game. He spent an offseason practicing with Ben Hogan, who changed Bolt's grip and helped cure the hook. Bolt would go on to win nine professional events, including the 1958 U.S. Open. Sportswriters dubbed him “Thunder” Bolt, automatically preceding his name, because of his reputation for tossing clubs and verbal barbs. This overshadowed Bolt’s skill as one of the game's finest ball-strikers. Away from the glare of the media, Bolt was someone his fellow tour professionals would flock to for advice. He also gave financial and career assistance to aspiring professionals, but didn’t publicize it. In later years, he supported local golf teams and Native American students; provided equipment; and sponsored a tournament for an assisted living center. He was twice selected to the Ryder Cup team in 1955 and ’57. At age 42, and facing scorching heat and brutally high rough in Tulsa, Bolt dominated the field at Southern Hills, winning the U.S. Open by four strokes over Gary Player. In 1969, he captured the Senior PGA Championship and played a key role in the creation of the Senior PGA Tour (now Champions Tour). Bolt was voted into the World Golf Hall of Fame by the veterans committee in 2002. He passed away in 2008, in Cherokee Village, Arkansas.

PGA Master Professional Ray Cutright was the 60th recipient of the PGA Golf Professional of the Year Award in 2014, and the fourth member of the Georgia PGA Section to receive the honor. A native of Syracuse, New York, Cutright is only the fourth PGA Head Professional in the 102-year history of Idle Hour Club, in Macon, Georgia. During 23 seasons at Idle Hour, he has designed an innovative youth development program. He also oversees a staff that operates the Blum Learning Center, a training home to nine college programs and many scholarship student-athletes, including Russell Henley, now a star on the PGA Tour. He has inspired 15 former students and employees to attain PGA membership.

Elected to PGA membership in 1976, Cutright arrived at Idle Hour Club in 1993. From 1996-97, he served as president of the Georgia PGA Section. Cutright’s pathway to golf began through his father, and he was later mentored by PGA Professional Butch Hansen at Berkeley Hills Country Club in Duluth, Georgia. Following his apprenticeship, Cutright was named PGA Head Professional at Toccoa (Georgia) Country Club. From there, he became General Manager at Riverside Country Club in Macon; later, PGA Head Professional at St. Simons Island (Georgia) Club; and eventually, PGA Director of Golf at Sea Island (Georgia) Golf Club. In 1991, Cutright became just the 82nd PGA Master Professional in Instruction. From 2008-10, Cutright served on the national PGA Board of Directors. He was co-chair of the Instruction Committee and helped elevate the national PGA Teaching & Coaching Summit, while also developing the Georgia Teaching & Coaching Summit. In 2003, Cutright won the Horton Smith Award for his contributions to professional education. He was inducted into the Georgia Golf Hall of Fame last January.

Born in Buffalo, New York, and the son of a PGA Professional, Michael Doctor was raised in the northeastern New York community of Plattsburgh and experienced a career calling during his youth. Growing up in a prolific golf family, Doctor knew as early as the fourth grade that he would commit himself to building a career as a PGA Professional. With that commitment and focus, Doctor was elected to PGA membership in 1979. This year marks his 31st season as PGA Head Professional at Skaneateles (New York) Country Club. Doctor’s late father, John, competed in two Canadian Opens, five Senior PGA Championships and eight PGA Professional Championships. Doctor began his golf career while working for his father in the bag room of Bluff Point Country Club in Plattsburgh. Today, Doctor is a PGA Master Professional and was the 2013 PGA Golf Professional of the Year. He was the second member of the Central New York PGA Section to receive the highest annual honor bestowed upon a PGA of America Professional. In 2007, Doctor was the national Bill Strausbaugh Award recipient for his outstanding display of integrity, character and leadership in his commitment towards mentoring others within the Association.

He is also a six-time recipient of the CNY Section Bill Strausbaugh Award. Doctor served two terms on the national PGA Board of Directors, and also was a member of the Northeastern New York PGA Board through 1984. He served two terms as president of the Central New York PGA Section. Doctor was inducted into the Central New York PGA Hall of Fame in 2009, and was the Section’s 1991 and 2012 Golf Professional of the Year. He is also a five-time winner of the PGA Junior Golf Leader Award; a two-time Horton Smith Award recipient for contributions to professional education; and the 1995 Section Teacher of the Year. That same year, he earned his PGA Master Professional status. As a member of the national PGA Board of Directors, Doctor has chaired the national Awards Committee, PGA Employment Committee and the PGA Education Committee, for which he continues to serve. In addition, Doctor has served two terms on the PGA Board of Directors as District 4 Director, and continues a nearly three-decade term on the Central New York PGA Board of Directors.

Born in Kemp, Texas, on his mother’s birthday and three months premature, George Hannon would survive to become a model PGA Professional, whose 59-year PGA career was a study in inspiring juniors; serving as a PGA Section leader and one of the most successful collegiate golf coaches in America. Succeeding legendary Harvey Penick as University of Texas men’s golf coach, Hannon’s 18-year term (1963-81) with the Longhorns included NCAA Champion teams in 1971 and 1972, and 12 Southwest Conference titles. Ben Crenshaw, who played for Hannon, was the individual champion in 1971 and ’73; and a co-champion with teammate Tom Kite in 1972. His Longhorns’ rosters over the years included Tour professionals Mark Brooks, Phil Blackmar, Brandel Chamblee, Warren Chancellor, Rik Massengale and Paul Thomas. The Hannon era at Texas also featured nearly 60 who became PGA Club Professionals. From 1972-73, Hannon served as president of the Southern Texas PGA Section. The son of a pharmacist, Hannon fell in love with golf as a junior. He entered the University of Texas in 1940, before enlisting in 1941, joining the U.S. Army Air Corps. He became a radio operator on a B-24, flying 43 missions in the Pacific Theater during World War II. Hannon returned home after the war to re-enroll at Texas, where he planned to follow his father’s path in pharmacy. However, Hannon could not forsake his love of golf. He left school to become a club professional, beginning a career as a starter at Lion’s Municipal Golf Course in Austin, Texas. In 1953, Hannon became an assistant professional at Dallas Athletic Country Club. When the head professional at Austin Lions Municipal retired in 1961, Hannon returned to Austin to take over responsibilities. And when the City of Austin completed Morris Williams Golf Club, Hannon became the professional manager for the new club, while continuing to manage Lion’s Municipal. Hannon began his University of Texas coaching career two years later. He was inducted into the Golf Coaches Hall of Fame in 1982; the Texas Golf Hall of Fame in 1991; and was the Golf Coaches Association’s 2001 Lifetime Achievement Award recipient.

After serving his country in the Battle of Okinawa, one of the fiercest campaigns of World War II, Charlie Sifford returned home to face a challenge that would consume the rest of his life – pursuing a professional golf career in America, during an era of social injustice. So it was for Charles Luther Sifford, a native of Charlotte, North Carolina, who had caddied as a youngster at a whites-only hometown country club. Sifford met Jackie Robinson in 1947, soon after Robinson broke the modern Major League Baseball color barrier with the Brooklyn Dodgers. Sifford sought Robinson’s counsel about his dream to become a tour professional. Robinson challenged Sifford that he could not be a quitter. While Sifford encountered much hostility as he pursued a career in golf, he followed Robinson’s advice and never quit. Sifford strung together a living coaching others, including big-band singer Billy Eckstine. He also played, picking up victories at non-PGA (United Golf Association) sanctioned events. He won six Negro National Opens in the 1950s. Sifford quickly made a mark on the PGA Tour, winning a non-sanctioned 1957 Long Beach Open; then finishing runner-up behind Billy Casper, at the 1960 Orange County Open in Costa Mesa, California. Sifford’s quest to be allowed PGA Tour membership was finally fulfilled in 1961, as the PGA of America – which administered the Tour at the time, - eradicated its Caucasian-only membership clause. Sifford was granted full membership in 1964, and went on to win the PGA Tour’s Greater Hartford Open in 1967, and the Los Angeles Open in 1969. He captured the Senior PGA Championship in 1975, one of seven victories he collected as a senior player. Through his struggle for respect in golf, he helped pave the way for others including Lee Elder, who in 1975 became the first African-American to play in the Masters; Calvin Peete, who had 12 PGA victories, including the 1985 Players Championship; and Tiger Woods. In 2004, Sifford was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame, the first African-American to receive the honor. In 2006, he became Dr. Sifford, by receiving an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from the University of St. Andrews. Then, in early 2009, came the creation of the Charlie Sifford Exemption, which allows for the invitation of a player to the Northern Trust Open (formerly the Los Angeles Open) who represents the advancement of golf's diversity. In November 2014, as President Barack Obama presented Sifford with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian award, he said, “We give thanks to the trailblazers who built the arc of freedom towards justice.” In his later years, Sifford spoke of hoping to see more African-American golfers, and he conducted clinics for youngsters. Sifford passed away on Feb. 3, 2015, at age 92.

William Payne Stewart began playing golf at age four, learning the game from his father, Bill, a former Missouri State Amateur Champion. In 1982, Stewart earned his PGA Tour card and captured his first of 11 Tour titles – The Quad Cities Open – the only time his father would see him win. Bill Stewart died of cancer in 1985. Payne went on to become one of the most unforgettable figures in golf, striding the fairways in signature plus-fours and a tam-o’-shanter cap, while displaying a graceful, fluid golf swing. After playing at Southern Methodist University and earning his degree, the Missouri native turned professional late in 1979, but failed to earn a PGA Tour card. So, instead, he competed on the Asian Tour, winning twice. Stewart’s second PGA Tour win, the 1987 Bay Hill Invitational, resulted in him donating his $108,000 winner's check to the Florida Hospital Circle of Friends, in memory of his father. Stewart’s major breakthrough came during the 1989 PGA Championship at Kemper Lakes near Chicago, when he rallied from five strokes off the pace with nine holes to play to overtake a faltering Mike Reid. In 1991, Stewart went on to win the U.S. Open in a playoff against Scott Simpson. Then, after struggling for several years, he experienced a spiritual awakening, rededicating himself to his family and placing a different priority on golf. Finding an inner peace, a victory at Pebble Beach jumpstarted his 1999 season. He achieved a crowning achievement, making a 15-foot par putt on the final hole to win the U.S. Open at Pinehurst No. 2 in a head-to-head battle with Phil Mickelson. That victory secured Stewart’s fifth berth on a U.S. Ryder Cup Team. In one of the most emotional Ryder Cups, Stewart was part of a stunning American Sunday rally. With a U.S. victory assured, Stewart conceded his singles match to Colin Montgomerie on the 18th green at Brookline Country Club. Twenty-nine days later, on Oct. 25, 1999, Stewart's life was tragically cut short in a private plane accident. In 2000, the PGA Tour established the Payne Stewart Award, which is presented annually to a player who shows respect for the traditions of the game, commitment to uphold the game's heritage of charitable support, and professional and meticulous presentation of himself and the sport through his dress and conduct.

One of golf’s most engaging and successful players of the modern era, Lee Buck Trevino was born into poverty in Dallas, Texas, and was raised by his mother and grandfather, a gravedigger. Trevino began picking cotton when he was 5, and advanced to picking up golf balls before he joined the caddie yard. He left school at age 14, helping raise money for his family. Before he would become a major force in golf, Trevino spent four years in the U.S. Marine Corps. Turning professional in 1960, Trevino’s golf talent was spotted by PGA Life Member Bill Eschenbrenner of El Paso, Texas, who was among a group playing Mondays at the former Horizon Hills Country Club. It was there that Trevino stayed in a small motel on the property, worked behind the golf shop counter and managed the practice range. Eschenbrenner, the 2005 PGA Golf Professional of the Year, ultimately signed the documents verifying that Trevino was eligibly employed, allowing his entry to the PGA Tour. In 1968, at age 27, Trevino captured the first of his two U.S. Open Championships at Oak Hill Country Club in Rochester, N.Y. This would also mark the first of four occasions when the legendary Jack Nicklaus finished second to him in a major. Trevino went on to win 29 times, including six majors – the 1968 and 1971 U.S. Open; 1974 and ’84 PGA Championship; and the 1971 and ’72 Open Championship. He competed on six U.S. Ryder Cup Teams in three separate decades (1969, ’71, ’73, ’75, ’79, ’81), posting a 17-7-6 record, and went on to serve as U.S. Captain in 1985. He was the 1971 PGA of America Player of the Year, won five Vardon Trophies for scoring excellence; and was the 2013 PGA Distinguished Service Award recipient. In a remarkable four-week period in 1971, Trevino won in succession – the U.S. Open, Canadian Open and Open Championship. At the height of his career, he was one of three players struck by lightning on June 27, 1975, at the Western Open. Though it severely hindered his game, he battled back through a series of operations and won 29 more titles on the Champions Tour, a run that included the 1992 and 1994 Senior PGA Championships. Behind the scenes, Trevino maintained a passionate philanthropic life. Leading his charitable efforts was the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, sparked through donations from winning three former Danny Thomas Memphis Classic (now St. Jude Classic) titles. For nearly three decades, Trevino has been virtually on call for countless charities, agreeing to be “auctioned” to a donor, then playing golf with groups throughout the country. Trevino is also an avid supporter of the military and has appeared in recruiting announcements for the U.S. Marines.

October 15, 2015 - 11:15am
Posted by:
Bob Denney
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The PGA of America
PGA Master Professionals Michael Doctor (l) and Ray Cutright have been selected for induction in the PGA of America Hall of Fame's Class of 2015.

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. (Oct. 15, 2015) -- Tommy Bolt, Charlie Sifford, Payne Stewart and Lee Trevino, a foursome that left a historic impact upon American golf, head a class of seven inductees to be enshrined into the PGA of America Hall of Fame.

The 2015 class, to be honored Nov. 12, at the PGA’s 99th Annual Meeting in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, also features 2013 PGA Golf Professional of the Year Michael Doctor of Camillus, New York; 2014 PGA Golf Professional of the Year Ray Cutright of Macon, Georgia; and legendary University of Texas Coach George Hannon.

RELATED: Profiles for the 2015 PGA of America Hall of Fame inductees

“It is with great pride that the PGA of America welcomes this exceptional class into the PGA of America Hall of Fame, who by their achievements have made significant and lasting contributions to our Association and the game of golf,” said PGA President Derek Sprague.

“They represent individuals who were passionate leaders; stood strong against social injustice; inspired young players to greater heights; and whose performance on the course is remembered for generations. Their names will be inscribed among those who have made golf the greatest game.”

October 15, 2015 - 10:46am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
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Deer fight
Michael Mooney on YouTube
From the "you don't see this everyday" files: Two bucks locked horns on the middle of a green at Spyglass Hill Golf Course last week. Yikes.

It's not unusual to see wildlife on the golf course.

But, when said wildlife is fighting on a green, well, that's another story.

RELATED: Weird animal encounters on the golf course

That's what happened at the Spyglass Hill Golf Course in Pebble Beach a week ago (nice spot by Golf Digest writer John Strege) when two bucks went at it hard.

Check out the video below:


Simmer down, guys. You're in Pebble Beach, Calif. Take in the scenery. 

October 15, 2015 - 8:45am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
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Matt Kuchar
PGA Tour of Australasia/YouTube
You know it's your day on the golf course when you're lining up a short putt for what would be a crushing double bogey, but then a gust of wind provides an incredibly lucky assist. Just ask Matt Kuchar.

Following the Presidents Cup, Matt Kuchar decided to stay on the other side of the world, traveling from South Korea to Fiji for the Fiji International on the PGA Tour of Australasia.

On an incredibly windy day at Natadola Bay Golf Course Sigatoka in Thursday's first round, the Golf Gods rewarded Kuchar for playing the tournament.

RELATED: What happens if the wind blows your ball in the hole?

Check out what happens as Kuchar lines up a short double bogey putt on the second hole:


That's right... the wind blew the ball in the hole for bogey -- the last shot Kuchar played. Kuchar finished the day with a 2-over 72 and is currently tied for second.

Kuchar did not have to replace his ball. He was protected by Decision 18-1/12 and Decision 20-3d/1 in the Rules of Golf. To summarize, Decision 18-1/12 states that the wind is not considered an "outside agency." If the wind blows a player's ball, he or she should play from the new position. If the wind blows the ball into the hole, the player is deemed to have holed out with his or her last stroke played.

Decision 20-3d/1 benifited Kuchar as well, because it states that even a ball that has been replaced ("marked") on a green -- if at rest on the spot it was placed -- would be played from the new location if the wind caused it to move. For Kuchar, the new location was in the hole, hence no need to play another shot.

Lucky break for Kuch indeed. 

Jaden Soong
Jaden Soong is only 5 years old, but he already knows how to hold his finish like a pro.
There are lots of cool little golfers out there. We've even written about a few here on over the years. But I ran across a little guy the other day who has a personality to match his game.
His name is Jaden Soong. He's five years old, and lives in Southern California, where he plays in U.S. Kids Golf tournaments – and regularly wins medals. He's also already made a hole-in-one – something his dad has never done.
In the video below, you can see why he got an ace – his swing is awesome, and he really makes solid contact. He even holds his finish just like a pro.
The other thing he does like a pro – TV interviews. His interplay with reporter Curt Sandoval in a feature for KABC-TV is just hilarious. 
"Why do you like golf?" Sandoval asks. Because, Jaden replies, "you get birdies and pars." 
It's a little early to make guarantees, but it sure seems like we'll be seeing more of young Jaden on the golf course in a few years – playing big tournaments or covering them. Either way, he'll be well worth watching.
To see the KABC-TV feature, click here  – there's no way to embed the video, but I encourage you to take a look. And you can check out his game in this video his dad posted on YouTube last summer:
Drone golf
The object of drone golf is to drop a golf ball as close to a flagstick as possible.
As long as there are people with imaginations, there will be new variations of golf.
The newest one I've run across: Drone Golf. Yes, that's playing golf using a drone.
Drone golf is the invention of a man named John Mendonca, a retired electrical engineer who lives in Las Vegas and has been tinkering with the concept at Las Vegas Country Club.
"I always loved remote control stuff, and this is even more fun," Mendonca told KLAS-TV in Las Vegas.
The object of his game is pretty simple. You equip a drone with a cup big enough to hold a golf ball, then fly your drone over a golf hole. When you think your drone is directly over the hole, you have the drone drop the ball.
There's no putting or anything after you drop. Your score is determined by the number of inches your ball comes to rest away from the flagstick.
It's just that simple. And that's why his slogan for his game is "Fly – drop – win."
Mendonca is still developing his concept for the game, and so far has restricted it to the practice range at Las Vegas CC. He does, however, have some big ideas.
"I hope to have a professional drone golf association," he told the TV station, "where people from all around the world can come to compete for prize money."
Here's the report from KLAS: