Golf Buzz

Jack and Barbara Nicklaus
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Barbara Nicklaus has teamed with her husband Jack to raise millions of dollars for junior golf and children's charities.
Barbara Nicklaus, Jack Nicklaus' wife for more than half a century, will receive the 2015 Bob Jones Award, the U.S. Golf Association announced Wednesday. 
Presented annually since 1955, the Bob Jones Award is the USGA's highest honor. It recognizes an individual who demonstrates the spirit, personal character and respect for the game exhibited by Jones, winner of nine USGA championships. 
"Barbara's generosity of spirit and deep respect for the game have touched the lives of countless families throughout the world," said USGA President Thomas J. O'Toole Jr. "Her dedication to support players and spouses, and advocacy for multiple causes, are worthy of our highest honor. She has been the rock for arguably one of the game's greatest champions, while raising a family and devoting her heart and soul into what she believes in."
Mrs. Nicklaus has a long history of generating attention – and funds – for a variety of youth-related charitable causes and volunteerism. Among her most prominent efforts is the Barbara and Jack Nicklaus Junior Golf Endowment Fund, which supports junior golf programs at the local, state and national level for children who otherwise might not be introduced to the game.
She also serves as the chairman of the Nicklaus Children's Health Care Foundation, which promotes the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of childhood diseases and disorders. The foundation, which also supports not-for-profit programs and projects aimed at pediatric health care and health-related services, has raised more than $32 million since its inception in 2004. 
In 2010, the foundation became the lead charity of the Memorial Tournament, which Nicklaus created in 1976. To date, the Memorial has generated more than $23.5 million in donations to Central Ohio charities, including more than $13 million to Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio.
In addition, her involvement as co-chairperson for the charity that organizes the Honda Classic has helped raise considerable money for the Nicklaus Outpatient Center in partnership with Miami Children's Hospital, which is designed to meet the healthcare needs of children and adolescents from birth through age 21. 
"Golf has not only given us an incredible life, it has provided us a vehicle and a means to make a difference in the lives of young boys and girls, and the families who love them," she said. "I don't think our life's work could ever compare to or repay what the game has given to us."
Mrs. Nicklaus joins a list of winners that includes champions such as her husband (1975), Francis Ouimet (1955), Babe Didrikson Zaharias (1957), Arnold Palmer (1971), Ben Hogan (1976), Annika Sorenstam (2012) and Payne Stewart (2014), as well as those who have contributed to the fabric of the game in other meaningful ways, including Richard S. Tufts (1967), Joseph C. Dey Jr. (1977), Bing Crosby and Bob Hope (1978), P.J. Boatwright Jr. (1993) and President George H.W. Bush (2008). The Nicklauses are the first married couple to receive the accolade.  
She will receive the award during the 2015 U.S. Open, set for 15-21 at Chambers Bay in University Place, Wash.
Odyssey works putters
Courtesy of Odyssey Golf
The Odyssey Works 2-Ball Fang mallet (left) has curved "fangs" for extra stability, while the #7 has weighted alignment wings. Both have Odyssey's new Fusion RX mesh and Versa alignment stripes.
The best way to describe the new line of Odyssey Works putters from Odyssey Golf? Let's just call them Odyssey's version of a greatest hits album.
The faces of the 11 putters in the Works family feature a thin (0.406 millimeters) stainless steel mesh laid across a White Hot insert – the insert found in some of Odyssey's best and most popular putters over the past several years. The mesh, called Fusion RX, is similar to the insert in the company's recent Metal-X line of putters, helps get the ball rolling straight and true.
The idea behind blending these two elements in one face is to combine the mesh's skid reduction with the feel provided by the White Hot insert, and Odyssey says the new Works putters reduce skidding even quicker than the Metal-X models.
This new impact zone is housed in 11 putter heads outfitted with Odyssey's popular Versa color scheme – the bold black and white stripes that serve as very distinctive alignment aids.
Two of the putters stand out from the group – the Versa 2-Ball Fang mallet and the heavier Tank Versa 2-Ball Fang mallet. Both contain Odyssey's 2-Ball alignment system with a pair of "fangs" – curved bars arcing from front to back that add perimeter weight to increase their stability through the swing.
The 2-Ball Fang has a 360-gram head with a full shaft offset, while the Tank model has a slightly heavier 380-gram head and is counterbalanced by a weight in the butt of the shaft to improve its stability. It also has a full shaft of offset. The 2-Ball Fang retails for $199.99, while the Tank version goes for $219.99.
MORE FROM CALLAWAY AND ODYSSEY: Big Bertha Alpha 815 drivers | Versa Jailbird putter
The other Odyssey Works models are the:
--#1. A 350-gram heel-toe weighted blade with a crank-neck hosel and a full-shaft offset. $179.99. 
--#1 Wide. A 350-gram blade with a wide flange, double-bend shaft and full-shaft offset. $179.99.
--Tank #1 Wide. A 380-gram blade with heel-toe weighting and a wide flange, it also has counterbalancing weight in the butt of its double-bend shaft and a full-shaft offset. $199.99.  
--Arm Lock #1 Wide. A 400-gram blade with heel-toe weighting and a wide flange. It has a full-shaft offset and its double-bend shaft is 43 inches long to "lock" into the golfer's arm for more stability and control. $199.99.
--Tank Rossie #1. A 380-gram face-balanced mallet with counterbalance weighting in the butt of its double-bend shaft, and a full-shaft offset. $199.99.
--V-Line. A perimeter-weighted mallet with a new "Big T" version of the Versa alignment system and a full-shaft offset. $179.99.
--#7. A modified 350-gram mallet with weighted alignment wings, a double-bend shaft and a full-shaft offset. $179.99
--Tank #7. A modified 380-gram mallet with weighted alignment wings and counterbalance weighting in the butt of the double-bend shaft, and a full-shaft offset. $199.99.
--#9. A 350-gram flanged blade with toe weighting, a heel shaft, a long hosel and a half-shaft offset. $179.99.
All the putters except for the Arm Lock model can be outfitted with an oversized SuperStroke grip for an extra $20. They're all available for pre-order now and will be in stores on Jan. 30. 
Here's a quick introductory video from Odyssey:
Natalie Gulbis
LPGA veteran Natalie Gulbis gave her Twitter followers an inside look into her workout regimen.

Pro golfers make it look so easy. They walk 18 holes like it's a stroll in the park, since the caddy's carrying all the heavy stuff. 

But what television doesn't show you is how hard they work out when they're not on the course.

For example, take Natalie Gulbis' workout routine. She gave her Twitter followers this week an inside look into some of the exercises she uses. Do you think you could keep up with her exercise regimen?









By the way, happy birthday to Natalie. The 14-year LPGA veteran turned 32 on Wednesday.

January 7, 2015 - 11:30am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
tj.auclair's picture
Bubba Watson
Chesson Hadley got this shot of Bubba Watson seconds before jumping off a cliff into the Pacific Ocean.

So how do PGA Tour players competing in this week's Hyundai Tournament of Champions prepare for the first event of the new calendar year?

Well, if you're two-time Masters champ Bubba Watson and 2014 PGA Tour Rookie of the Year Chesson Hadley, you go cliff-jumping:

Wait, what?

RELATED: 5 players to watch in Maui | Hyundai tee times | 10 to watch in '15

Hadley is wearing a GoPro camera before taking his plunge and gives us a quick peek of a little more than we wanted to see of Bubba.

Life isn't bad when you're a PGA Tour winner kicking off the new year in Maui.

January 7, 2015 - 11:26am
mark.aumann's picture
Phil Mickelson
USA Today Images
Adverse course conditions, like a great deal of mud, fall under the guidelines of "winter rules."

Just because it's winter doesn't mean you should be playing "winter rules."

That's a misconception many amateurs have about playing this time of year. The Bermuda may be dormant and the lies may not always be the best, but if it's a dry, sunny day, you're probably not allowed relief.

CHECK THE RULES: Bunker or native terrain?

As Bryan Jones, co-vice chairman of the PGA Rules Committee, explains, the decision to allow "lift, clean and place" has little to do with temperature and everything to do with course conditions. And the ultimate decision to allow "preferred lies" -- as one of the Local Rules -- falls into the hands of the course officials or tournament committee.

That's why you'll sometimes see "lift, clean and place" implemented after a heavy rain. If the tournament committee determines that there are "adverse conditions," the Preferred Lies/Winter Rules section of the Rule Book comes into play, even if it's hot enough to fry an egg on the sidewalk.

None of the 34 Rules of Golf directly address the issue of "winter rules," but Appendix 1, Part A, Definition 4b specifically deals with adverse conditions. Here is the exact phrasing from the Rule Book:

Adverse conditions, including the poor condition of the course or the existence of mud, are sometimes so general, particularly during winter months, that the Committee may decide to grant relief by temporary Local Rule either to protect the course or to promote fair and pleasant play. The Local Rule should be withdrawn as soon as the conditions warrant.

Jones, who is at the PGA Golf Club in Port St. Lucie, Fla., this week for the PGA Winter Championships tournament, said "abnormal playing conditions that interfere with the proper playing of the game" is the key point to consider.

GOLF BALL MIX-UP: What to do if you hit the wrong ball?

"Interestingly enough, we will play our first event utilizing the 'Preferred Lies/Winter Rules' authorized by the Rules of Golf because of adverse conditions," Jones said. "In our situation, the adverse conditions exist due to extreme wet fairways where virtually every stroke that lands on a closely mown area will collect a great deal of mud on the ball, whereas a ball that lands in the rough will not, because the thicker grass prevents the ball from penetrating the ground.

"That inequity to well-struck shots is the key, as is the frequency of occurrence. If only a couple of fairways yielded this result, the Committee would not utilize this option."

Jones said three conditions must be met for "winter rules" to be in place.

1. The Committee (or course officials) must authorize this Rules extension granted by Appendix 1, part A.
2. The majority of the golf course must be impacted to consider this.
3. The Committee should utilize the wording provided by Appendix 1, part B 4c ,which explains exactly how to proceed: lift and place, lift and drop, and the distances allowed.

MORE RULES QUESTIONS: What if your ball moves at address?

So why do Local Rules exist?

"When we need to stray from the purity of the Rules, we have guidance on how to do so and will be backed by the (sanctioning bodies) should a dispute arise," Jones said.

So the rule of thumb?

"Play golf as normal, unless normal golf is really challenged by mother nature."

January 7, 2015 - 9:26am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
tj.auclair's picture
Bubba Watson
USA Today Sports Images
Bubba Watson is going for two wins in as many 2014-15 PGA Tour starts this week at Kapalua's Plantation Course in the Hyundai Tournament of Champions.

After a nearly two-month break, the 2014-15 PGA Tour season resumes this week at the gorgeous Kapalua Plantation Course on the island of Maui in Hawaii with the Hyundai Tournament of Champions.

There are only 34 players in the 2013-14 winners-only field, highlighted by Masters champ Bubba Watson.

RELATED: Hyundai T of C tee times | 10 to watch in 2015 | 5 storylines of 2015

Zach Johnson returns to Maui as the defending champ at the 7,452 yards, par-73 Ben Crenshaw/Bill Coore designed course.

Before the tournament tees off on Friday, here are five players you'll want to keep an eye on in Maui.

5. Geoff Ogilvy
Best finish in 2014-15 season:
First start
Reason to watch: Ogilvy won in back-to-back starts at Kapalua in 2009-10. Until late last season, the 2006 U.S. Open champ had been deep in a slump. Ogilvy broke out of that slump with a win in the Barracuda Championship (played opposite the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational) last August. That timely win propelled him to a previously believed unlikely spot in the PGA Tour Playoffs for the FedExCup, where he would tie for second at the Deutsche Bank Championship and play his way into the Tour Championship. Ogilvy picked up some much-needed confidence with those victories. To begin the new season this week in Maui at a venue where he's won twice must feel great. That's why I like Ogilvy to continue his resurgence this week.

4. Bubba Watson
Best finish in 2014-15 season:
Won the WGC-HSBC Champions
Reason to watch: Well, the two-time Masters champ is one-for-one this season having won in China in early November. After a long break, we'll see Watson at the long-ball friendly Plantation Course, where he tied for fourth when he last played the event in 2013. Watson got off to a red-hot start last season, finishing in the top 10 in seven of his first 10 starts, highlighted by wins at the Northern Trust Open and the Masters. He cooled off a touch, understandably, after that hot start, but the start of the year traditionally seems to suit Watson. Plus, I want to see him try to recreate that driver off the tee-driver off the deck-putt sequence on Kapalua's 18th hole from 2011. That was awesome.

3. Jimmy Walker
Best finish in 2014-15 season:
T4 at Shriners Hospitals for Children Open
Reason to watch: It'll be darn near impossible for Walker to top his 2013-14 season, one in which he won three times, and recorded seven other top 10s. This will be Walker's second straight start at Kapalua and I'm interested in seeing if he learned anything about the course from his T21 showing a year ago. He should be a nice, relaxing week for Walker, who heads over to Oahu next week as the defending champ of the Sony Open.

2. Zach Johnson
Best finish in 2014-15 season:
Missed cut at The McGladrey Classic
Reason to watch: This will be just the second start of the new season for Johnson, who returns to Kapalua as the tournament's defending champ. As he's proven time and again, there's no ballpark on the PGA Tour too big for Johnson. Last year's win in Maui was the first of three consecutive top-10 finishes for Johnson. A high finish at Kapalua could lead to another nice, little run.

1. Matt Kuchar
Best finish in 2014-15 season:
T21 at the Open
Reason to watch: Kuchar has played in the Hyundai Tournament of Champions four times in the last five seasons. All four of those starts yielded no worse than a T6 finish. There's no reason to believe that trend won't continue -- or even improve -- this week. Kuchar is one of the most consistent players on the PGA Tour and has been for years. He rarely misses a cut and -- more often than not -- is in the mix.