Golf Buzz

December 6, 2013 - 7:35pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
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Northwestern University indoor golf facility
Courtesy of Northwestern University
Northwestern University Coach Pat Goss says that working indoors in the winter is ''our best chance, as coaches, to make our guys different, better players.''

As much of the country shivers away, most of us are watching our golf games wither away. You know who's got real big smiles on their faces, though? The golf coaches at several big Midwestern universities.

A few days ago, The Wall Street Journal ran an interesting piece on how several golf programs at colleges up in Cold Country are thriving despite their golf-unfriendly winters. The secret is what writer John Paul Newport calls ''the arms race in luxurious new indoor practice facilities.''

And just as important, he notes, is that the most successful coaches at these northern schools are positiong their chilly locales as a positive rather than a negative during their ever-more-successful recruiting effort.

"Weather for sure is our biggest obstacle in recruiting against the Southern schools," Illinois Men's Coach Mike Small – well-known to readers as a PGA Professional and quite a successful player in his own right – told the newspaper. "But we believe strongly that for certain players with certain mind-sets, the atmosphere and the coaching up here is going to help them become better players faster than they would if they went to some place with warm weather."

Illinois, we remember, finished second to Alabama in last spring's NCAA Championship, and is one of only six schools to make it into the 30-team NCAA team finals for six years running. That includes 2010, when Scott Langley won the individual championship. Langley is now on the PGA Tour, where other Illini alumni include Steve Stricker, Luke Guthrie and D.A. Points.

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Small's Illinois program was the first Big Ten school to create a state-of-the-art indoor practice palace, the 14,150-square-foot Demirjian Golf Practice Facility for both its men's and women's squads. The $5.2 million structure, which opened in 2007, has a 6,300-square-foot short game area that includes putting green, sand bunkers and different strains of artificial grass; six heated hitting bays that open onto the range so players can see the full arc of their shots; and team locker rooms, coaches' offices and a spacious team lounge.

"That was huge," Small told the newspaper. "We improved so much that winter, the team shot lower scores in our first two tournaments in February than we had averaged in the fall."

At least six other Big Ten schools have opened similar facilities since then, the paper said, adding that Ohio State in January will open one so big that its short-game area is large enough to service a Space Shuttle.

Practicing indoors during the winter is preferable to working on technique and building confidence, Small said, while Northwestern Coach Pat Goss – best known as Luke Donald's longtime instructor explains that working indoors in the winter is ''our best chance, as coaches, to make our guys different, better players.''


December 6, 2013 - 12:46pm
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
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If you want to be a great putter of the ball, you need to possess a great rhythm and tempo in your stroke.

In today's golf tip, PGA Professional Blake Cathey offers a way to help you develop better putting consistency by improving your tempo and confidence.

December 6, 2013 - 9:14am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
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Jason Dufner
Getty Images
It seems Jason Dufner's three favorite things these days are winning golf tournaments, Auburn football and annoying good buddy Keegan Bradley.

Ever since the 2011 PGA Championship where Keegan Bradley edged Jason Dufner in a playoff at the Atlanta Athletic Club, the two have formed a bond.

Like any two alpha males, however, that bond is fostered more by ribbing than anything else.

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The number of stunts the two have pulled on one another over the last couple of years seem endless. Here are a few just from this year: When Bradley switched from a visor to one of those flat-billed hats, Dufner tweeted a picture of the Lego Man in a construction helmet and asked if that was the look Bradley was going for; at the PGA Championship -- which Dufner won at Oak Hill -- the two were part of a pre-tournament money match. Bradley, trailing in the match with partner Rob Labritz, a PGA Professional, said to Labritz, "Hey Rob, did I ever tell you this story? I was 4 down with five to go and I won this tournament," -- that's what Bradley did to Dufner in the 2011 PGA and he said those words loud enough for Dufner to hear; paired together at the 2013 Tour Championship, Bradley holed out a shot for eagle from the fairway and immediately Dufnered in celebration.

There have been many more moments between the two, the latest of which came on Thursday in the first round of the Northwestern Mutual World Challenge at Sherwood Country Club.

After Dufner hit a shot from a bunker, Bradley's caddie, Steve "Pepsi" Hale, walked into the bunker to rake. As he stepped in, Hale picked up a massive rock, handed it to Dufner and said, "You want a souvenir?"

Dufner took the rock and walked directly to Bradley's bag and stuff it in one of the pockets.

Here's the video:



Sure, Pepsi picked up on it while it was happening, but it was classic nonetheless.

Bottom line: Bradley and Dufner need their own reality show.

Follow T.J. Auclair on Twitter, @tjauclair.

December 5, 2013 - 2:55pm
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
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Sun Mountain
Sun Mountain
The new V1 Sport push cart from Sun Mountain.

The newest version of Sun Mountain's Speed Cart golf push cart, the V1 Sport, combines the most popular features of past Speed Cart models with new colors and graphics plus it folds and unfolds easier than ever, has an improved brake system, and mag wheels.

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The new for 2014 Speed Cart V1 Sport features a quick-release E-Z Latch System to allow easier folding, unfolding and handle height adjustment. V1 Sport also features maintenance-free synthetic wheels with solid foam tires and a new pin brake system, which replaces the former caliper brake, to securely lock the wheels in place.

Additional features on the Speed Cart V1 Sport include adjustable brackets that secure a golf bag without using straps or cords, an umbrella mount that secures an open umbrella to shield you (and your clubs) from rain (or sun) and an accessories tray with a scorecard holder, drink holder and a mesh headcover tray.

The patented fold down design of Speed Cart allows the lightweight 17 lbs. cart to fold down in seconds and conveniently fit into a car trunk. Optional accessories for the Speed Cart include a Sun Mountain UV golf umbrella, Speed-Paq™ bag for extra storage, cart seat, sand and seed mix bottle, a storage cover, and cart mitts that smartly attach to cart handle. Speed Cart V1 Sport colors for 2014 include white/lime, silver/pink, black, blue, gunmetal/red, silver, and gunmetal/orange.

Speed Cart V1 Sport is in stores now with a suggested retail price of $199. To find your most convenient retailer, call 800-227-9224 or visit

Follow T.J. Auclair on Twitter, @tjauclair.


December 5, 2013 - 12:00pm
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
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One of the most important aspects of golf when it comes to scoring is control of your wedges.

In today's golf tip, PGA Professional Ron Philo Jr. demonstrates how you can improve your scores by mastering the three-quarter wedge shot.


December 5, 2013 - 9:24am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
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Sweden's Joel Sjoholm
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Sweden's Joel Sjoholm played his first hole in the European Tour's Hong Kong Open in sneakers on Thursday after arriving at the course just in time for his scheduled tee off.

The European Tour is in China this week for the Hong Kong Open. For most who play that tour, it sure is a long way to travel. Therefore, jetlag is no surprise.

But, what happened Thursday morning isn't something you see very often in professional golf -- one player was disqualified for showing up late for his tee time, while another got there just in the nick of time and was forced to play the first hole in his sneakers.

Let's start with the unfortunate DQ of Finland's Joonas Granberg. According to a report (found by Golf Channel's Ryan Lavner), Granberg was disqualified when he showed up to the wrong tee box for a scheduled 11:50 a.m. local time tee off. Granberg went to the first tee, but oddly, was meant to tee off on the 11th hole.

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The 26-year-old ran to No. 11 only to see that his caddie wasn't there. The caddie had gone to the 10th tee -- the more usual starting place for a two-tee start. When the caddie couldn't get to the 11th tee in time, Granberg was disqualified.

Then there was Sweden's Joel Sjoholm, who arrived at the course for his tee time with no time to spare.

"I set six alarm clocks this morning and woke up in desperation at 7:58 a.m., tee time was 8:30 a.m. and we live a good 25 minutes from here so I was panicking to the tee box," Sjoholm told European Tour Radio, according to the Sky report.

Sjoholm was lucky to snag a quick taxi. That got him to the course, but not with enough time to go to the locker room to change from sneakers into his golf shoes.

"They went to the locker for me and I played the first hole in sneakers until I came up to the green when they were standing nicely there with two pairs of shoes so I could pick," he said. "It was the royal treatment!

"It felt quite awkward and when I was standing over the first tee shot I realized I hadn't even tied the laces on my sneakers, which are a half size too big as well."

As expected, the day only got better for Sjoholm after nearly missing out on the tournament. He shot a 2-under 68 and was four shots off the pace.

"I am happy I shot minus two -- I should not even be here," he said in the report. "I am really happy at the moment. Maybe I should do it more often because it's a long time since I started that good."

Follow T.J. Auclair on Twitter, @tjauclair.