Golf Buzz

April 5, 2013 - 1:59pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
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Alvaro Quiros
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The political instability on the Korean peninsula is affecting Alvaro Quiros' travel plans.

No tour hopscotches the globe like the European Tour, and most of its players have embraced the circuit's worldwide reach.

That doesn't mean every player is happy to go to every tournament, however.

It would be "a stupid idea" to play at the Ballantine's Championship in Incheon, South Korea, later this month, says Spanish star Alvaro Quiros, because of the growing political tension on the Korean peninsula.

The first five editions of the Ballantine's Championship have been well received, despite the relative remoteness of host venue Blackstone Golf and Country Club on the outskirts of Seoul. But the big-hitting Spaniard definitely won't be around for the sixth, which is set for April 25-28. 

"I'm not going to play in Korea," the six-time European Tour winner told Reuters. "I don't think it's a good moment to go there – it would be a stupid idea with the way things are. I don't want to mess with my life just to play in a golf tournament."

Asia has been rattled in recent weeks by warnings from North Korea that a military conflict was inevitable because of sanctions the United Nations has imposed because of its nuclear activities. North Korea has declared war on South Korea and even threatened to strike targets in the United States.

While Quiros will sit this one out, the tournament won't be short on stars. Already committed are PGA Tour stars Dustin Johnson and Zach Johnson, along with former British Open champion Louis Oosthuizen. Dustin Johnson also played at Incheon in 2011 but missed last year with a back injury. Zach Johnson will be playing his first pro event in Asia.

ASICS
ASICS
The ASICS Gel-Ace Pro retails for $185.

 

Asics, long recognized as the makers of some of the best, most comfortable running shoes on the market also happen to be in the golf business these days.
 
I stumbled upon the shoes at a recent trip to the local Golfsmith and was intrigued, seeing as I love my Asics running shoes.
 
As I learned more, it turns out Asics has been making golf shoes for three years now. Not sure how I missed that.
 
Here's more information from a press release about the company's GEL-Ace Pro model, endorsed by Japan's Shingo Katayama, who finished fourth at the 2009 Masters:
 
Best known for performance oriented running shoes, ASICS has translated key technical features and craftsmanship into a golf shoe that enhances athletic performance. Most notably, an extended trusstic that contours the heel and provides a solid base of support under the heel and arch, leading to a reduction in fatigue while also enhancing foot stability during the golf swing.  
 
Additional features include waterproof inner lining that keeps the foot dry while maintaining breathability; a sockliner that is reinforced for additional arch support; hidden lacing system that allows for a snugger fit and slimmer profile, and replaceable Scorpion Stinger Spikes.  
 
“We are thrilled to enter the golf category and bring ASICS technology to today's golfer,” says Matt Donnelly, Footwear Manager for ASICS America Corporation. “Based on the excitement and interest Katayama generated wearing the shoes at the Masters, we feel confident consumers are interested in a functional yet stylish golf shoe.” 
 
ASICS Corporation, with more than 50 years of footwear manufacturing experience, offers a full line of performance-driven athletic shoes and technical active sports apparel and accessories. 
 
The GEL-Ace Pro is just one of several models offered by Asics. It retails for $185.
 
Asics also offers sneaker-looking golf shoes like the Match-Play Classic ($95) and the MatchPlay33 ($80), among others.
 
For more information, click here to check out all of the Asics golf offerings.
 
You can also visit Asics on Facebook, or via the Asics Twitter page, @ASICSamerica.
April 5, 2013 - 8:44am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
tj.auclair's picture
Bubba Watson
YouTube
Bubba Watson playing golf on a day off -- left-handed with a right-handed set of clubs.

 

Earlier this week, we showed you the unbelievable hovercraft golf cart created by Bubba Watson and Oakley.
 
To no one's surprise, that video went viral in no time.
 
Today we bring you another great video starring the 2012 Masters champion.
 
Joined by ESPN.com's Michael Collins -- a former PGA Tour caddie -- Bubba shows up unnannounced to Dubsdread Golf Course just outside Orlando. 
 
The video, entitled, "Bubba's Day Off," features Watson playing golf with a set of right-handed rentals. Of course, being that he's a lefty, Watson basically plays golf with the clubs backwards. It's amazing.
 
He's also got a push cart, which is a far cry from that awesome hovercraft.
 
Bubba also answers calls in the proshop as a trainee.
 
He asks a customer on the phone, "How many people do you need for 2:30 (tee time)?"
 
The man explains he's a single and Bubba says to the rest of the proshop, "Oh, he's just one. He don't got no friends."
 
It might not be as mindblowing as the hovercraft video, but this one is a cool video to watch nonetheless.
 
 
Follow T.J. Auclair on Twitter, @tj_auclair.
Who's Your Caddie?
Photo: Getty Images
Aaron Baddeley gets some help from his caddie(s) during the 2012 Masters Par 3 Tourney.

 

Golf, unlike most sports, provides players the opportunity to do things exactly like the best professionals in the world. We play the same clubs, wear the same clothes and best of all, can play the same courses (in many cases).  And even more, from time to time, we can play the same shots.  If you sink a 20 foot birdie putt, you can rest assured you just performed at a level that can only be matched by the best. (Yes I've heard of eagles from the fairway but just providing some context here.)
 
Anyways, I've never had a desire to tee it up against the Tour pros in an official event. Not sure my 8 (and rising) handicap would do anything but embarass myself and the Tour as I hoped to break 90 on the long and probably difficult test. 
 
But you know where I could "compete"? -the par 3 course at Augusta. Not necessarily compete to win, but compete as in...not shoot +12.  I'm pretty certain on a nine-hole course where the longest hole is listed at 140 yards and the shortest is 70, I could come in within a shot or two either way of level par.
 
But this leads to one of my all time favorite golf discussions. If I were invited to play the Par 3 Tourney during Masters Week, my concern wouldn't be my score - it'd be...who'd be my caddie?  (Yes, it's a ridiculous hypothetical - but that's what I do)
 
Thought 1) My wife. She'd kill me if she wasn't selected. She'd love it because it's Augusta and very pretty and all that - but maybe she says "no."  It's hot, it's a long walk with a (limited) bag of clubs, maybe it's raining or she's got work stuff going on...then we go to 
 
Thought 2) A great golf friend.  There are no better golf experiences than the ones you enjoy with your best golf pal.  But I wonder if this causes a natural shift in the friend dynamic.  I'm the player, you're the caddie - even you usually wax me by 5 shots every round.  Maybe...
 
Thought 3) Some celebrity.  Pretty much anyone will jump at the chance to be inside the ropes at the Masters.  I've seen NBA stars and hollywood actors wearing the famous white jumpsuits while caddying for way lesser known golfers.  I'm going to go with Kate Upton as my first call 
 
Thought 4) Cute kids.  I don't have kids but that's a sure way to get the patrons on your side...to see the youngsters, barely as tall as the clubs they are carrying, in those tiny caddie outfits helping a golfer select their club.  Again, I don't have kids so I'd have to borrow one.  
 
Obviously, I've given this too much thought.  But what about you?  Think about it a moment and get back to me.
 
You can respond or follow John on Twitter at @johnkim_10
April 4, 2013 - 2:03pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
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Pebble Beach Golf Links
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Pebble Beach Golf Links is a staple of top 100 golf course rankings.

There are plenty of golf course rankings out there – probably the best known to most of us are the Golf Digest 100 Greatest Courses and the Golf Magazine Top 100

Pretty soon, though, there'll be a new kid on the block. Golf Course Architecture magazine is working now to create its own ranking of golf courses, to be called Architects' Choice Top 100. The voting for this ranking is being done exclusively by professional golf course architects.

''With most professional golf course architects having visited a large number of golf courses throughout the world, and having a very specific eye for quality that comes from their full time work on golf design, we believe these rankings will be the most insightful evaluation into golf course design quality there has ever been,'' says Golf Course Architecture.

The course designers get to decide their own criteria for their ranking – factoring in merits such as strategic value, beauty, fun and history – and then they'll weight those attributes as they see fit to create their individual top-10 lists. These lists then will be combined to produce the full GCA Top 100 ranking.

And in addition to creating this full top 100 list, the magazine plans to analyze data to deliver more insight on the architects' selections, looking at regions, types of golf course, prevalence of particular architects' work and the balance of modern and historic designs.

Voting is taking place now, and GCA plans to release its inaugural Top 100 list in its July issue. It'll be very interesting to see how much difference there is between this list and the existing ones.

 

April 3, 2013 - 1:54pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
john.holmes's picture
TaylorMade Lethal golf ball
Courtesy of TaylorMade
The success of such TaylorMade balls as the new Lethal has prompted the company to construct a new golf ball plant.

TaylorMade will build a new golf ball manufacturing plant, company officials announced Wednesday. The 120,000-square-foot facility will occupy 25 acres in Liberty, S.C., about 28 miles east of TaylorMade's current facility in Westminster, S.C.

The company expects to break ground on the new plant in May and open up next January. The transition from Westminster to Liberty will be complete by July 2014, they said.
 
''The innovation by our R&D team, the passion of our work force in South Carolina and the rapid adoption by the best players in the world have dramatically improved our position in the golf ball category,'' said TaylorMade Executive Vice President John Kawaja. ''The byproduct of this success was the need for a new ball plant that will improve our unit production, quality and margin position.''

The new Liberty plant is expected to be more energy efficient and require less maintenance than the current Westminster plant, TaylorMade said, while also allowing the production process to be revamped to be more efficient.

The current plant turns out about 72,000 balls per day (6,000 dozen) and 24 million balls per year (2 million dozen).

TaylorMade currently markets close to a dozen models of golf ball across the price spectrum, including the RocketBallz, SuperDeep (white and yellow), Burner (white and yellow) and Noodle (white and yellow). Its newest ball, which debuted earllier this year, is the Lethal, a premium five-piece sphere that TaylorMade says is the second-most popular ball on the PGA Tour as well as its best-selling high-end ball ever.