Golf Buzz

July 22, 2013 - 11:50pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
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Ernie Els and Phil Mickelson
Callaway Golf Europe via Twitter
Callaway Golf Europe took to Twitter Monday to show us Ernie Els and Phil Mickelson with their trophies from the 1984 Callaway Junior World Championships.

With Phil Mickelson's victory in the Open Championship still fresh on our minds, Callaway Golf Europe tweeted out this blast-from-the-past photo on Monday. It shows the two most recent Open champions – Mickelson and 2012 winner Ernie Els – with the trophies they won in the 1984 Callaway Junior World Championships in San Diego.

Els won the age 13-14 bracket over Mickelson, who finished second – you can read the words ''runner-up'' on Phil's trophy. That same year, David Duval won the age 15-17 division, and Tiger Woods won the age 9-10 division despite being only 8 years old at the time.

That year, admittedly, was an anomaly, but several other past winners went on to professional glory, including Corey Pavin, David Toms, Amy Alcott, Notah Begay III, Lorena Ochoa, Craig Stadler and Nick Price.

The 2013 tournament was played last week. This time of the year, in fact, is about the most important for big-time junior golf – the U.S. Junior Amateur and U.S. Girls Junior events are being played this week, and the Junior PGA Championship is next week. These events have produced a plethora of prominent players, and it'll be fun to follow the progress of this year's winners.


July 22, 2013 - 9:58am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
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Truline Greens, golf, short game, putting, tool, training
Unlike other artificial greens, Truline mimics the speeds you'll face on the golf course.
If you've played golf for any amount of time, you know that the most important part of the game is the short game.
Unfortunately for many, when it comes to practice, the short game is often the most neglected.
We think we've found a solution for you. And the best part is, you don't even have to leave home.
Paul Branoff is the CEO of a company called Truline Greens, makers of indoor, portable putting greens (they can also be used outdoors and are perfect for an office setting). We know what you're thinking: "I've tried those cheap, roll-up turf greens before. They're nothing like the greens I deal with on a golf course."
No argument here other than this -- that's because you haven't tried Truline yet. While a Truline green does roll up, that's only for your convenience. Truline delivers the ideal year-round practice surface that will help build confidence to step up to those 5-10 foot putts and drain them every time.
Incredibly, even with its synthetic surface, Truline greens are available in the speeds you encounter on the golf course. One speed available comes in at 9.9 feet on the Stimpmeter -- the pace most amateur players see on the course; the other is Tour Speed, which is 12 feet on the Stimpmeter.
A Truline green can be customized to your preferences, but here are the standard sizes available with their particulars:
- Big Murph 12’ Long x 65" Wide
- Little Murph 10' Long x 45" Wide (stance end), enabling you to stand on the putting surface and putt from various angles
- Will not leave “trails” or “grooves” on putting surface
- Regulation cup (4.25” diameter)
- Ability to easily create various degrees of break (system provided)
- “Backstop” to prevent balls from rolling off end of putting surface
- 18” of putting surface beyond cup (ideal putt believed to roll 17” past the cup)
- Indicators may be placed on both sides of green, at any distance, to assist with various practice putting drills
- Portable: Rolls up easily for storage or transportation. Lightweight.
The Big Murph and Little Murph are a nod to five-time PGA Tour winner and longtime commentator Bob Murphy, who helped develop the greens.
The Big Murph is available for $409 at the standard speed, or $429 at the Tour Speed. Little Murph, meanwhile, is available for $309 at the standard speed, or $329 at the Tour Speed.
We recently had a chance to chat with Branoff to learn more about the greens. What is it that got you into the business of creating these greens?  
Branoff: Simple -- winters in Michigan. And I couldn’t find a high-quality, portable putting green at a reasonable cost. Tell me about the quality of your greens -- it's certainly not the standard turf mat you can pick up at the local sporting goods store.  
Branoff: I believe we have the highest quality material and workmanship possible. Our greens are cut and assembled by highly skilled people using only the best material and equipment. They are 100 percent made in Michigan, with the exception being the raw/base material, which comes from an excellent source in Georgia. The material they ship us for the "regular" Murph green is only made for our company. How are you able to create Tour-level green speeds on your artificial greens?  
Branoff: We use the same base material, but the mill in Georgia "shaves" or "trims" the surface to the height we need for faster speeds. Can you talk a little about your offerings from a size perspective? It looks like you have a couple of "standard" sizes, but you can also customize, can't you?  
Branoff: Our greens come in standard 4’ x 10’ and 6’ x 12’, but we do offer custom sized greens, also, to suit our customers’ needs. We have shipped greens 6’ x 27’, 12’ x 29’, 4’ x 22’, 6’ x 15’, etc. We can manufacture from 12 feet wide to lengths up to over 100 feet -- but then they wouldn't really be portable. Bob Murphy is a big endorser. Furthermore, a couple of your products are named after him. Can you tell us a little about Murph's influence with Truline?  
Branoff: Murph and I go back to the mid-90s and I know him from playing golf with him; and I thought that with his stats and reputation as a great putter, he would be a wonderful person to help with our greens.  
A few key points in our greens from my collaboration with Murph called for a wider green at the "stance" end to putt from different angles and with different degrees of break. With a wide stance end, you're also able to stand on the same surface as your ball, which is very critical, especially for the better player. We also have 18 inches of green behind the cup for distance control practice, and a true rolling/realistic surface. How long have you guys been in business?  
Branoff: Since 2008. What has been the highlight for Truline so far?  
Branoff: Luckily, we've had a few. TaylorMade asked for a Big Murph for use on the TV Show "The View." TMAG (TaylorMade/adidas Golf) was launching its Ghost putter series and believed our green to be ideal for the show.  
Our greens were used by a leading putting analysis system company at the PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando two years in a row, and then Dave Stockton and his sons used our green in their booth at the PGA Show and Dave was kind enough to place advertisement for us at the booth and allowed me to share the booth with him. He introduced me to countless people from the Tours, who now use our greens.  
At the end of July, our greens will be in the men's locker room for players wishing to relax by putting during their breaks at the BB&T Atlanta Open professional tennis tournament. Can you talk about the significance of the ball stopper that sits behind the green -- you know, other than to stop the ball?  
Branoff: There are leading putting instructors who believe the ideal putt should roll 17 inches past the cup, so we placed a backstop at 18 inches. If you hit the backstop, you’re putting a little too aggressively. What does the future hold for Truline?  
Branoff: We have begun shipping to Canada and we will continue to look into how to distribute to Australia, the UK, and Europe. We receive numerous requests from overseas, but shipping costs make this prohibitive -- at least at this point. Another future market I believe is ideal, based upon their love for golf and tight space requirements, is Japan. We don’t advertise yet, but have been growing only by "word of mouth" so far. Can you tell our readers how they can get their hands on a Truline green?
Branoff: Readers can visit our website at Locally, in Michigan, there are a few retailers and golf clubs carrying our greens. We do offer professional discounts to professionals, instructors, and schools.
To learn more about Truline Greens, visit
You can also follow Truline Greens on Twitter, @TrulineGreens.
Follow T.J. Auclair on Twitter, @tj_auclair.
July 22, 2013 - 1:58am
Posted by:
John Holmes
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Jim "Bones" Mackay at the Open Championship
Getty Images
Bones Mackay assumed a position very familiar to Jason Dufner fans during the Open Championship ceremony.

All right, I know I'm a little punch-drunk from the long hours we've worked all week on the Open Championship on top of all the other events. But tonight when I was wrapping up our weekend coverage, this photo of Phil Mickelson's caddie Jim "Bones" Mackay jumped out at me.

Mackay obviously had a tiring week, both physically and emotionally, on Lefty's bag, and no one could fault him for taking a seat during the awards ceremony in which his boss received the Claret Jug. But all I could think was – Bones is ''dufnering!''

And with that, I promise, no more ''dufnering'' here in the Golf Buzz.


July 20, 2013 - 3:53pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
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Lee Westwood at the Open Championship
Getty Images
Lee Westwood, the Open Championship 54-hole leader, is one of many players with a 2-iron in his arsenal this week.

Because it's always played on links courses, the Open Championship prompts the players to make more club changes than any other event on the calendar.

Here's a quick overview of some of the club selections at Muirfield from Sports Marketing Surveys, the company that tallies the clubs in each player's bag at the start of every European Tour event. These stats are from the full field that teed off Thursday:

--Two players didn't even have a driver in their bag.

--Among the 156 players, there were 66 hybrids, 66 utility irons and 39 2-irons. 

--53 players didn't have a 3-iron. 

--There were 506 wedges – that figures out to 3.24 wedges per player.

--15 players were using a long or belly putter. 

This week is an anomaly because of the course conditions, but I wouldn't have expected to see the same number of utility irons as hybrid clubs, even though Ernie Els won the 2012 Open with three Callaway utility irons in his bag.

The popularity of these is utility irons shows that companies like Callaway, Titleist and, most recently, Ping were definitely onto something when they decided to create a new generation of utility irons. On the flip side, it's also interesting to see so many players going without a 3-iron on a course that requires so many low, penetrating shots.


July 19, 2013 - 2:48pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
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Muirfield Golf Club clubhouse
Getty Images
Muirfield, hosting the Open Championship this week, ranked just outside the top 10 by the globe's golf course architects.

With the Open Championship being played at Muirfield this week, Golf Course Architecture Magazine picked a perfect time to release its first-ever list of the world's top 100 courses. The difference between this list and all the others is that this one was selected exclusively by the men and women who make their living creating golf courses.

''It's a common criticism that many, perhaps even most golfers, judge courses on factors such as the turf condition or the quality of service in the clubhouse; well, if anyone is best placed to look beyond that at the design of the course itself, it ought to be the architects,'' Adam Lawrence, the magazine's editor, wrote in introducing the list.

Almost 250 course architects from around the globe submitted ballots. The criteria they used to make their selections? Well, there weren't any. Each voter was charged with devising his own critera – factoring in merits such as strategic value, beauty, fun and history. 

''Even if one can agree [on] set criteria against which voters should make their judgements, one doesn't have objectivity, partly because those criteria are themselves subjective, and partly because the individual voters have to be trusted to apply them in the same way, which is impossible,'' Lawrence wrote. ''We chose the opposite route: to define no criteria and to say to our voters, in true Potter Stewart fashion, 'We believe you know what good is when you see it'.''

All right, enough preamble. Let's get to the list.

Who's No. 1? The Old Course at St. Andrews, which was picked as the top course by 23 percent of the voters, and ranked in the top 10 on 69 percent of the ballots.

No. 2 is Cypress Point, while No. 3 is Pine Valley. Augusta National comes in fourth, and then the list really gets interesting with links like Royal County Down and Sandbelt layouts like Royal Melbourne jockeying with American classics like Pebble Beach and Oakmont for spots high up the ranking. 

One thing about this list as opposed to many others is that it feels more global. I certainly haven't played the majority of these courses, but I'm glad to see some of my unheralded personal overseas favorites like Lahinch and Nairn and Cruden Bay claim their places, along with some of golf's newest masterpieces, on a list that is probably 2/3rd populated by courses older than half a century.

You can download the entire list in a special .pdf file and I encourage you to do so. It is beautifully assembled, and there's a lot of interesting commentary on the individual courses as well as golf course architecture in general. Whether you agree with the choices or not, it's definitely worth a few minutes of your time.   


July 18, 2013 - 8:45pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
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Jin Park and his Big Green Egg at the Sanderson Farms Championship
Jin Park via Twitter
Jin Park took to Twitter to show off the Big Green Egg he received at the Sanderson Farms Championship.

The Open Championship is dominating the golf headlines this week, but it's not quite the only game in town.

While the game's best players are battling mighty Muirfield, the best of the rest are down in Mississippi for the Sanderson Farms Championship. The tournament has gone through title sponsors from Viking to True South in recent years.

This is the first year that Sanderson Farms has gotten involved and, as Monte Burke at points out, the big Mississippi-based chicken concern has gone all out to brand the event. Now, a lot of companies do a good job of putting their unique touches on the tournaments they sponsor – this week, for example, the tee markers at the LPGA Tour's Marathon Classic are little gas station pumps.

But Sanderson Farms has gone all out or, as Burke calls it, full chicken. For example:

--the tee markers are chickens painted by children in a local hospital

--the crosswalk signs are chickens

--much of the food available on the course is, of course, chicken

--the big Friday night concert features local blues artist Super Chikan

--and, to me, the kicker: The tournament's official gift to its players is a Big Green Egg! If you follow Twitter, you know that the Green Egg is an object of desire like few others among the PGA Tour players. And if anyone needed a boost after not getting into the Open, the Green Egg is just the ticket.

Apparently, Sanderson Farms is only on board for this year at this point. But if the grilling golfers in the field have any say in the matter, this could be the start of a long and happy relationship.