Golf Buzz

May 18, 2013 - 10:43pm
john.holmes's picture
Ed Carpenter at the Indianapolis 500
Getty Images
Ed Carpenter won the pole for the Indianapolis 500 driving a car sponsored by Fuzzy Zoeller.

So after the Byron Nelson finished up Saturday evening, I was flipping channels and stopped when I got to the shootout for the pole at the Indianapolis 500.

What caught my eye? The graphic that showed Ed Carpenter on top with just a few minutes to go in the final qualifying session. 

And what's so special about Carpenter? As you can see in the photo above, his car is sponsored by Fuzzy's Ultra Premium Vodka – which, of course, is owned by Fuzzy Zoeller.

Winning the pole is a huge deal for Carpenter, who is the owner/driver of his own single-car team. To take the pole for the Indy 500 for the first time in his career, he had to outperform the dominant multicar teams from Ganassi Racing, Penske Racing and Andretti Autosport, which any open-wheel fan can tell you is a tremendous feat.

There's no telling how Carpenter will fare against his goliath competition when the green flag flies on May 26. But one thing is sure – win or lose, he's earned Fuzzy's Vodka a whole lot of great publicity.

 

 

 
Mary Hardin-Baylor women's golf team
Mary Hardin Baylor won the women's Division III golf national championship, and in doing so broke up one of the most historic streaks in all of college sports.

College golf is flying a bit under the radar right now, but this week has been one for the record books.

Earlier today, Lynn University rallied to overtake its Sunshine State Conference archrival Nova Southeastern and win the women's NCAA Division II title for the first time since 1997.

And on Friday, the University of Texas-Tyler outdueled Transylvania to win the men's Division III crown, the first national title in school history. The win capped off the career of Head Coach King Campbell in grand style, as he had announced that he was retiring at the tournament's end.

Impressive as those victories were, though, they paled in comparison to the history made Friday at the women's Division III finals, where Mary Hardin-Baylor won its first national title after four runner-up finishes. The real headline isn't that Mary Hardin-Baylor won, but that Methodist University finished third.

Here's why: Until Friday, Methodist was the only school ever to win the women's D-III crown. That's right – the only one.

Up until the year 2000, the NCAA conducted a combined tournament for both the D-II and D-III schools. In 2000, the divisions were separated to give each one its own champion. And every year since 1998 – two years before the split, and all 13 afterward – the Methodist women had prevailed.

Methodist's 15-year title streak was the longest active streak in any NCAA sport, and was the third-longest streak in the all-time history of NCAA athletics. The longest streaks were Kenyon College's 31 straight men's Division III swimming titles and the Kenyon women's 17 straight women's Division III swimming.

Over at USA Today, Craig Bennett assembled these facts to put Methodist's streak in perspective:

--Other than Methodist, the longest streak of NCAA golf titles was nine straight years, by the Yale men's team from 1905-13.

--Methodist's average winning margin in the Division III tournament was 35.7 shots. The only times its margin of victory was less than double digits was six shots over DePauw in 2012 and two shots over Mary Hardin-Baylor in 2004.

--Methodist won the 2007 title by 88 shots. The record victory margin for Division I women is 36 shots (Tulsa in 1982), and for Division II women it's 74 shots (Florida Southern in 2002). The biggest men's victory in any division is 49 shots by Division III California State-Stanislaus in 1979.

--And finally, three different head coaches – Kim Kincer, Vici Pate and current coach Tom Inczauskis – have led the Monarchs during their amazing winning streak.

Giving credit to the Monarchs for their amazing run of success right now feels a little like applauding a pitcher when his no-hitter is broken up in the eighth inning. But the program deserves plenty of applause – as does Mary Hardin-Baylor for its achievement in ending the streak.

After these action-packed few days, the NCAAs take a quick break, and they're right back at it on Monday with the start of the men's Division II finals. The women's Division I finals begin on Tuesday, with the men's Division I finals kicking off on May 28. You can follow all the action over at NCAA.com or on our special landing page.

 

 
Arnold Palmer
Francis Ouimet Scholarship Fund
Francis Ouimet's great grand-daughter, Caitlin Wallerce with Arnold Palmer.

 

This past Wednesday was declared, "Francis Ouimet Day," by the state of Massachusetts. 
 
On that day The Francis Ouimet Scholarship Fund celebrated the 100th anniversary of Ouimet's stunning upset victory in the 1913 U.S. Open at The Country Club in Brookline, Mass. -- regarded as the most important moment in golf history by many.
 
Ouimet's victory was so important to golf because it was credited with bringing the game into the American sporting mainstream.
 
As part of the celebration of Francis Ouimet Day in Massachusetts on Wednesday, golf legend Arnold Palmer attended a function for the Francis Ouimet Scholarship Fund on Boston Harbor. Palmer watched and gave swing tips as Ouimet Scholars hit balls from the lawn of the Moakley Courthouse to a floating target in Boston Harbor.
 
Palmer is a supporter of the Ouimet Fund. The Francis Ouimet Scholarship Fund was established in 1949 and since that time has awarded over $25 million in college tuition scholarships to more than 5,000 students with demonstrated financial need. Ouimet Scholars work as caddies or in pro shop or course superintendent operation in Massachusetts. 
 
The Gala that evening sold out with over 2,100 attendees and was expected to be the largest golf dinner in the U.S. this year and possibly the largest ever held in the U.S. 
Zero Restriction, Pinnacle Rain Jacket
Zero Restriction
The new Pinnacle Rain Jacket by Zero Restriction is the lightest weight waterproof jacket in golf.

 

I have a confession to make: as much as I love playing golf, I can't stand bearing the elements out on the course when it's cold or raining. Compounding the issue is the bulky gear I have to wear in order to keep warm and dry.
 
Until now.
 
I recently played in a charity golf event. I was looking forward to it, seeing as it would be a rare opportunity for a Monday round. Then I saw the forecast. While there would be an abundance of sunshine under magnificent blue skies, it was going to be chilly.
 
That's what happens when you live in New England though. Recently we've been spoiled with glorious days in the mid-70s. This particular day for golf was going to be in the low 50s.
 
It certainly wasn't freezing by any means and -- let's face it -- low 50s is practically “shorts” weather in the Northeast. But, with a strong wind, like this particular day, low-50s felt a lot more like mid-40s.
 
Just as I headed out the door for the tournament, I received a package from Summit Golf Brands (makers of EP Pro, Fairway & Greene and Zero Restriction), which included the company's new Pinnacle Rain Jacket by Zero Restriction to try out. 
 
Talk about perfect timing. 
 
I immediately ditched the gear that I had in my golf bag, which felt like I was unloading a 100-pound weight, and replaced it with the feather that is the Pinnacle Rain Jacket.
 
At first, I thought, "This isn't going to be warm enough. It's so thin and so light."
 
Then I said, "Whatever, it's not going to be THAT cold, and I want to try this out."
 
On to the course I went. I don't have a lot of gripes about golf raingear in general. The way I always saw it was this -- it's designed to keep you dry and warm. It serves a purpose and if that means sacrificing comfort, so be it.
 
Now I know that’s wrong, because Zero Restriction has completely changed the way I think about weather-related golf gear. 
 
I put the jacket on as soon as I got to the range before my round. I wanted to see how it felt to swing with the jacket. Would it be one of those that looks great, but I need to take off to play shots and put on between shots?
 
I quickly noticed a number of things:
 
1. It was the furthest thing from bulky.
2. It didn't even feel like I had a jacket on.
3. It was warm.
4. There were "zero restrictions" (pun intended) in terms of my swing. 
 
The Pinnacle Rain Jacket never once got in my way. The length of the sleeves were perfect. The zipper never got in my line of sight standing over putts. The jacket moved with my body as I swung, rather than making me feel as though I had a load of laundry under each arm while wielding a golf club in my hands.
 
It's impossibly light and just as impossibly warm. As the folks at Summit Golf Brands so accurately articulate in Zero Restriction's Twitter account hashtags, the Pinnacle is golf's #LightestWeightWaterProof jacket and #CaddiesBestFriend because it is so light.
 
The Pinnacle Rain Jacket isn't just the perfect golf jacket... It's the perfect anything jacket.
 
When I mentioned that to someone at Summit Golf Brands, he wasn't surprised to hear my review and relayed a message employees got from the company's non-executive Chairman of the Board Tom Nolan a few month's back, upon Nolan's appointment.
 
“The key here for me," Nolan told the Summit Golf Brand folks, "is literally everybody at this company is a golf guy. If I can’t wear (Fairway and Greene or Zero Restriction) playing in the U.S. Mid Am or the club championship, we’re not making it. That, in itself, will separate us from everyone else in the marketplace.”
 
Indeed, it already is. This jacket is a hole in one.
 
Here are the specifics on the Zero Restriction Pinnacle Rain Jacket, which retails around $350:
 
Premium 2.5 layer waterproof and windproof stretch fabric for maximum protection. Power torque back and multidirectional stretch elbow panels allow for full freedom of movement during swing. Two-way waterproof zipper allows front of jacket to lay flat and release when putting. Self-fabric cuffs with Bemis tape at high grip points, makes more tactile and durable. High storm collar with memory points allows you to shape the collar as you need to fight the elements and customize the fit. Chest and side pockets have waterproof zippers for secure protection of valuables. Guaranteed Waterproof for the life of the garment. 
 
To learn more about all the great products Zero Restriction has to offer, visit www.zerorestriction.com.
 
You can also visit Zero Restriction on Facebook, or follow them on Twitter, @zr_golf
 
Follow T.J. Auclair on Twitter, @tj_auclair.
Callaway Golf
YouTube
Callaway Golf Custom Club Manager Logan Fondren gets set to hole a putt you need to see to believe.

 

I'm not sure what your office is like, but many in the golf world -- my official office that I don't see often in Atlanta and my home office that I'm in each day -- feature multiple putters and makeshift golf holes. You know, for spur of the moment putting practice/putting contests.
 
Well, the folks at Callaway Golf have brought office putting contests to a whole new level.
 
We just received video of Callaway Golf Custom Club Manager Logan Fondren holing an insane putt from the top of a staircase. It was like one of those old Larry Bird/Michael Jordan McDonald's commercials in terms of ridiculousness -- banking it off floor boards, down stairs, etc. Of course, those commercials were made possible by special effects. Fondren's putt actually happened!
 
 
Trust me, you need to see it to believe it.
 
Follow T.J. Auclair on Twitter, @tj_auclair.
PING Moonlite
PING
The new PING Moonlite bag features a new water-resistant belly -- an addition implemented by PGA Professional Marty Jertson.

 

As you’ve probably heard if you’re visiting this site, PGA Professionals wear a number of different hats.
 
The common misconception is that they’re always playing golf. That couldn’t be further from the truth in most cases. That’s because, in most cases, your PGA Professional is the man or woman who gives lessons, manages a pro shop, coordinates tournaments, helps with rules situations and so much more.
 
And, if you’re PGA Professional Marty Jertson, your duties involve wearing a very unique hat. 
 
Jertson works for PING Golf. His official title is, “Senior Design Engineer II.”
 
So what does that mean?
 
“I’m practically a club designer,” said Jertson, who is also an accomplished player having teed it up in the last two PGA Championships by virtue of top-20 finishes in the 2011 and 2012 PGA Professional National Championships. “Most of my time is spent doing the detailed design work, including all of the 3-dimensional Computer-Aided Design (CAD) for various products that we launch, and doing the research and analysis that powers the designs.  
 
“We are unique at PING in that we do a lot of our own shaft and grip designs too, and I’ve been very involved in that over the last eight years.  Most recently, I’ve worked on the G25 irons, Anser driver and Anser irons, and i20 driver and fairway woods.  I’ve also assisted in some of our soft goods product development, and was influential in the development of iPING -- which is an App that we developed to measure various attributes of your putting stroke and bring the quality of a high-end custom putter fitting directly to your iPhone.”
 
Jertson’s latest idea that’s come to fruition for PING Golf is a new feature to the company’s popular Moonlite bag (think, ultra lightweight, Sunday bag). This particular feature is a game changer for this type of bag. It’s also an idea that Jertson admits he’s surprised no one had thought of before.
 
This is how PING describes the bag:
 
Sleek and ultra light with Enhanced Ergonomics for added comfort and convenience, the Moonlite can tote your entire set of clubs and stow your belongings in three pockets to make your round of golf an easy walk. The adjustable standing strap ensures the Moonlite is easy to lift without bending down, and it features a new water-resistant belly.
 
Ah… that “new water-resistant belly” -- that was Jertson’s idea. Since the bag has no stand to keep the weight at a minimum for those who prefer to carry their bags, the water-resistant belly was truly the only thing missing from the Moonlite until now. 
 
“Being from Arizona, one thing we don’t get a lot of is moisture and dewy mornings,” Jertson said. “When I first turned professional out of college, I had a handful of good friends that would go Monday qualify for Web.com Tour events and travel with their staff bag (for if they got in) and a Moon bag for the Monday qualifier.  The Moon bag, by the way, was named after the Moonwalk golf course – a par-3 course at nearby Moon Valley Country Club near PING headquarters – for which the bag was first devised. “
 
At those qualifiers, Jertson’s friends noticed an issue with the Moon bag.  
 
“The problem with the Moon bag was that their grips would get wet on the dewy mornings,” he said. “So, to fix this, they would wrap plastic grocery bags around the bottom of the bag and duct tape them in place.  Well, when we went to design the new Moonlite, I knew we had to solve this problem for golfers out there, and we needed to broaden our scope from just designing for Arizona.  The material that we ended up using for the bottom of the bag is fantastic – and you can use this bag on wet days, and any geographic conditions."
 
So there you have it, a seemingly elementary fix to make a great bag virtually perfect.
 
“Some of the best ideas out there are the ones that you end up saying, ‘Boy, why didn’t I think of that?’ This feature probably falls in that category,” Jertson said. “The bag itself has a lot of other great features in addition to the new bottom.  It also has a dual strap, which can be removed to make a single strap for the traditionalists out there.”
 
With so many golf companies out there these days, it isn’t easy coming up with unique ideas and products. It’s a challenge to say the least, but one that Jertson and his team at PING are always up for. 
 
“What we do in product development at PING, whether it’s for clubs or soft goods, is to focus on solving true problems that our customers face,” he said. “We see this as a never ending challenge. In clubs, we focus on longer and straighter, with good sound and feel.  In soft goods, we are really making a push for improving the ergonomics of our products.  You’ll notice an ‘E2’ on all of our bags now, which stands for ‘Enhanced Ergonomics.’ If we can keep improving ergonomics and focusing on true customer needs, as engineers, we will naturally create unique ideas and features that are innovative, while being functional.”
 
Somehow, Jertson is finding a way to juggle his duties at PING while also maintaining a game that most of us could only dream of possessing.
 
“It’s getting harder and harder to keep my golf game is good shape, but I’m truly fortunate to have great equipment combined with great club fitting,” he said. “It really helps. I play our biggest, most forgiving model of irons, because I know I’m not going to flush every single shot. Additionally, I have a very supportive wife. I try to practice as smart as possible, and stay focused on fundamentals.  I do most of my putting practice indoors at home, at night. And, I get to hit balls 3-4 times a week at work for testing, which helps.  Golf is a tough sport, so you have to seize the opportunities when they are there.”
 
To learn more about the new Moonlite bag by PING, click here
 
Follow T.J. Auclair on Twitter, @tj_auclair.