Golf Buzz

February 14, 2014 - 8:55pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
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South Africa President Jacob Zuma
Courtesy: South African government
South African President Jacob Zuma believes that golf can help people achieve a healthy lifestyle.
President Obama is spending the Presidents Day weekend in Palm Springs, where his plans reportedly include binge-watching ''True Detective'' and playing a little golf. In South Africa today, President Jacob Zuma went all in on golf, kicking off his weekend with his sixth annual President’s Address Golf Challenge.
For the last six years, Zuma has followed up his annual State of the Nation address with a day of golf to raise money for his education trust and other charities. So he joined a host of other golfers at the Atlantic Beach Golf Course, just outside Cape Town, for the big event.
Public Service and Administration Minister Lindiwe Sisulu, Energy Minister Ben Martins, Eastern Cape Premier Noxolo Kiviet and United Democratic Movement leader Bantu Holomisa were among the participants, according to a report on Joining them were a variety of leaders from both the public and private sectors in southern Africa.
"I think the contributions by the people who are participating in this event [will allow] us to attend to some of the challenges and help our children. The feedback we are getting is that the work we are doing is making an impact," Zuma told the website. 
"It is indeed an important occasion. I feel very passionate about it. That is why I don't miss it,'' he added. ''Whatever we do here must have an impact to those who are needy."
Zuma also encouraged South Africans to use sport to achieve a healthy lifestyle, and said that sport can help unite the country's people.
"Sport is very important. Besides the entertainment and the competitive spirit that it brings, you get healthier if you participate in sport,'' he explained. ''So I'm very happy that some ministers are here today to play."
South Africa is just one of several golf-crazy nations – the Africa Open is being played there this week – but I don't know of any others where the president and his fellow leaders get together for a huge golf charity outing for such a good cause. It'd sure be great to see other countries follow Zuma's example.
February 14, 2014 - 2:59pm
Posted by:
John Kim's picture
Ryan Moore sings Jake Owen
Photo: Courtesy MyGolfMix YouTube
Ryan Moore was just one of the many golf personalities taking part in the sing-along.

Country music star Jake Owen loves golf. And golf apparently loves Jake Owen.

At the recent Waste Management Phoenix Open, Owen - with the help of a record-setting crowd (and more specifically, the likes of David Feherty, Gary McCord, Rickie Fowler, Ryan Moore, NBA legend Julius ("Dr. J") Erving and a host of others) took part in one of the great sing-a-longs in golf history. No other music video can touch this for showing the fun and passion that golf can bring - with the help of a guitar and a catchy tune. Great work by our friends at @golfmix.


Owen, at one time harbored ambitions on becoming a professional tour player. An injury forced him to music - and well, that has worked out pretty well for him. Still, according the GHIN, he sports a low single-digit handicap index out of the Golf Club of Tennessee. Though I doubt he'll make as big a mark on the course as he does on stage, he's doing a pretty good job of integrating these two avocations.

In addition to his presence at the WMPO, he is scheduled to perform at TPC Sawgrass during The Players Championship week in May.

You can read more about Jake Owen and his golf life here (h/t Back 9 Network)

You can follow John Kim on Twitter at @johnkim

February 14, 2014 - 10:23am
Posted by:
Bob Denney
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President Ford
The Gazette, Cedar Rapids
Joe Garagiola (wearing plaid pants at center) clowns with a Secret Service agent as 67-year-old former President Gerald Ford attempts to sink a short putt in the Amana VIP tournament. June 22, 1981. (Republished with permission ©2014 Iowa SourceMedia Group, Cedar Rapids, Iowa)

Four years removed from serving as the 38th president of the United States, a term that was one of the most turbulent periods in American history, Gerald R. Ford greeted me near a clubhouse door.

“Are you my caddie today?”

They say you learn a lot about a person when you spend a few hours playing golf with him. You learn perhaps more as a caddie. My short course with the man who pulled a country through post-Watergate and post-Vietnam healing came on June 22, 1981.

PHOTOS: U.S. presidents playing golf

Ford made his third and final visit to the former Amana VIP Pro-Am in Iowa City, Iowa, arriving at the University of Iowa’s Finkbine Golf Course with a seven-cart detail of Secret Service. He had warmed up 48 hours earlier with what he said was “a pretty good round” at the Vince Lombardi Memorial Classic in Menomonee Falls, Wis. I became one of the members of the “detail,” provided that I kept my pin secure on a badge pinned to my caddie bib.

On this day, Ford hit the practice range briefly before facing a gallery of 20,000 at the “Masters of the Pro-Ams.” The 15th annual VIP field spanned the sports and entertainment industry, featuring Tom Watson, Hubert Green, Fuzzy Zoeller, George “Goober” Lindsey, St. Louis Cardinal slugger Stan Musial, Joe Garagiola; former Milwaukee Bucks Coach Don Nelson and college basketball coaching giants Bob Knight, then of Indiana, and Lute Olson, then of the University of Iowa.

WATCH: Best drivers of 2014

Our group included LPGA Hall of Famer JoAnne Carner and NBC Sports announcer Joe Garagiola. Presidential aide Lee Simmons of Palm Springs, Calif., who met Ford at the White House while in the Air Force, drove the former president in a cart. I trudged behind, stubborn to prove to the Secret Service that I could keep up.

My Boss for the day carried a 12 handicap at home in Palm Springs, and despite those well-publicized reports of his wayward drives bopping spectators, Ford’s game was well within the ropes this day. He posted a 90, but he displayed enough game to prove that he was a far better golfer.

The president’s scrambling talent was showcased on the 15th hole, a par-5 that rose up a valley to an elevated green. Ford shanked a wedge approach and was faced with an almost impossible recovery from a grassy ravine. A Secret Service agent stood nearby and whispered, “Watch this; just watch this.”

Ford lofted his approach over a clump of trees, on to the green and within 25 feet of the hole. As the gallery applauded enthusiastically, the same agent said, “He does a lot of that stuff.”

PHOTOS: Cool and creative golf course photos

On one of the longest holes at Finkbine, Ford asked me for club selection. “Everything you have in the bag, Mr. President.” He swung smooth and hard, and smiled, “That felt good, Bob.”

Ford’s concentration was broken at the right time for laughs with Garagiola, a left-hander who had played numerous rounds with the former president. “You folks should have been behind us in 1976, and then I could’ve been named the Italian ambassador to the Vatican,” Garagiola declared to the gallery. “Instead, you voted for Carter.”

Just as Garagiola lined up a putt, a woman yelled back, “I didn’t vote for Carter!”

“Thatta girl,” Garagiola said without looking up.

The Boss also smartly flew an approach over a television truck parked along the 18th fairway and out of trouble. The same Secret Service agent grinned. “I have a variety of teaching pros telling me what to do,” said Ford during the special moments when it was just me and him walking to a green. “I think that is the problem sometimes. I just come over the top on a lot of shots. Just need to swing smoother.”

Earlier in the round, Garagiola hit a tee shot and then sprinted up and put his arm around me as we walked. “Well caddie, what do you think of the Boss?”

READ: What shocked Tom Watson on the golf course

“He’s one of the most gracious guys you ever want to meet. He also plays a good game despite the distractions.” Garagiola concurred, and then went into a story about a past round with Ford. He recalled a female reporter ducked under the gallery ropes and began walking with the group.

“I told her as nice as I could, ‘you can’t be out here, you have to take care of that (an interview) before or after golf,’ ” said Garagiola. “The next day she writes a column ripping Mr. Ford for snubbing her.”

We celebrate another Presidents Day and some of us are fortunate to have literally rubbed shoulders with the Commander in Chief of our country. President Gerald R. Ford is the least appreciated of all our modern presidents, and I always felt he deserved better. His 1979 autobiography, “A Time to Heal,” convinced me.

As Ford finished the last round of golf that he would play in Iowa, he was greeted by a mass of officials in a crowded, tiny clubhouse. I was busy putting his golf bag into a waiting open trunk.

“The man wants to see you right now,” said a Secret Service agent. Sprinting back to the clubhouse, I arrived just in time to hear my name called twice, and as loud and clear like my dad used to call me from the back door before dinner.

“Here I am, Mr. President.” Ford greeted me with a big handshake and smile, thanking me for the afternoon’s work. The media eagerly awaited post-game remarks and the security cordon quickly formed around me and the Boss. Together, we were escorted, shoulder-to-shoulder, out the clubhouse door.




February 13, 2014 - 8:45pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
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Augusta National
Kevin Faigle via Twitter
Augusta National's 'Members Only' sign at Washington Road was coated in ice and knocked off-kilter by the storm.
Masters Week is less than two months away, and the crews at Augusta National might have a bit of extra work to do to prepare the iconic course for the season's first major. That's because the prominent club – like much of the rest of the South – was coated in ice earlier this week as a huge winter storm wreaked havoc from Louisiana all the way up to New England.
A couple weeks ago, we remember, Augusta National was covered in a picturesque layer of snow. That did no lasting damage, but the same likely can't be said for this ice storm.
The club is cleaning up some minor debris, an Augusta National spokesman told The Augusta Chronicle on Thursday via text. Club officials are still assessing the damage, but they expect to reopen on Friday.
Photos shared on social media showed several limbs down on Magnolia Lane, and the ''Members Only'' sign at Washington Road was knocked off-kilter by the storm. Crew cleaned up the entrance area on Thursday, the newspaper said.
There have been no reports as to whether any of the property's signature trees – like the Eisenhower Tree on the 17th hole or the big oak tree directly behind the clubhouse – suffered any damage. 
Here are some photos from Kevin Faigle of WRDW-TV:
February 13, 2014 - 4:53pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
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Natalie Gulbis
Natalie Gulbis via Instagram
Natalie Gulbis led a group of youngsters in a game of ''golf ball.''
As we all know, the golf industry is always looking for new ways to introduce people to our great game. In some cases, that can mean incorporating aspects of golf into other sports.
LPGA Tour star Natalie Gulbis did her part to grow the game in just this manner the other day as she led a group of youngsters in a game of ''golf ball.'' As she explained it on social media, the game is essentially baseball – but, instead of hitting a pitched ball, batters hit an oversized golf ball with a golf club and then run the bases. 
Gulbis devotes a lot of her free time to working with kids – especially the Boys and Girls Clubs of America. She's in a great position to encourage youngsters unfamiliar with golf to give the game a try, and it's gratifying to see her exploring creative ways to do so.
February 13, 2014 - 4:04pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
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Pebble Beach Golf Academy
Getty Images
A new driving range and dramatically expanded golf academy are joining the world-famous Pebble Beach Golf Links.
After more than 20 years of planning and nine months of construction, there’s a new addition to the fabled Pebble Beach Golf Links complex. The Pebble Beach Driving Range and Golf Academy has opened.
"It almost doesn't feel real," CBS golf announcer and Pebble Beach resident Jim Nantz told The Monterey Herald newspaper. He also called it "the one last missing link" at Pebble Beach. 
The range, 350 yards long and double-ended, is next to the nine-hole, par-3 Peter Hay Golf Course at Collins Field, and also includes a putting green and 40,000-square-foot short game complex. 
The academy is housed in a 3,000-square-foot building that replaces the small tent structure at Spyglass Hill Golf Course that long housed the school. Among its amenities are a 3-D motion capture system for swing analysis and an indoor putting area.
The new structure is "a dream come true," according to PGA Professional Laird Small, the academy's longtime director.
"The way that I've always looked at this is that Pebble Beach is one of the best places in the world to come and play the game," Small told The Herald. "My dream has always been to make it one of the best places to come and learn how to play the game. Golf is a passion for people. So if we can then make a change in their game, you're changing their life for the positive." 
The motion capture system helps instructors identify the specific areas of a golfer's swing that need help, Small said, adding that it is especially useful for junior golfers and players just learning the game. Along with that system is what he calls a robot golf pro, which guides golfers through their perfect swing to help ingrain the proper muscle memory.
"We now have a practice facility and a golf academy that rivals any in the world," said Bill Perocchi, CEO of Pebble Beach Co. "Most importantly, it's one that is befitting the legendary golf, the legendary customer service and just the stunning beauty of Pebble Beach."