Golf Buzz

Hell Bunker at St. Andrews
St. Andrews Links Trust via YouTube
Course workers laid in new sod faces and dropped in 60 tons of new sand during the rebuilding of the Hell Bunker at St. Andrews.
The Open Championship returns to St. Andrews next week, and the grounds crew has been busy for months getting the Old Course into tip-top shape. Atop the to-do list was rebuilding as many as 50 of the course's 112 bunkers – including the famed "Hell Bunker" on the par-5 14th hole.
The Hell Bunker is the second most famous bunker on the Old Course, behind only the "Road Bunker" on the 17th hole. It is also one of the world's biggest – it is 6 ½ feet deep and covers more than 300 square yards – and has captured more than its share of golfers who dared to challenge it. 
Among them is Jack Nicklaus, who made a quintuple-bogey 10 on the hole back in the 2000 Open Championship after straying into its cavernous maw. Small consolation, but Nicklaus wasn't in contention at the time. Back in 1933, though, Gene Sarazen was trying to defend the Claret Jug when he entered Hell and came out with an 8 – and missed out on a playoff by a single shot.
"Rebuilding such a vast bunker differs from the others on the course," Greenkeeper Martin Turna explained in a post on the St. Andrews Trust website. The Hell Bunker's sod face is so tall, and the bunker itself so big, that refurbishing it is a multi-step process that began with removing all the sand, digging out the sod in the face and lifting the turf above the bunker.
The workers used a "spirit level" to make sure the layers of sod in the bunker's face were laid in evenly – "this was a hugely important consideration throughout the build," he wrote. The bunker was built up to about three quarters of its height and then left for couple of weeks to bed in before the reconstruction was completed.
If you've ever been in any of the big bunkers at St. Andrews, they feel like their faces are straight up and down. In fact, they're slanted at a 65-degree angle, which Turna said is the standard angle for rough and fairway bunkers on the Old Course.
And though the Old Course is, well, old, the Hell Bunker was rebuilt in a state-of-the-art fashion. Its new floor contains more sand – 60 tons of sand, in fact – and less clay to aid in drainage and help it dry up faster after it rains. 
Also, the bunker got its own TV camera. Until now, only the Road Bunker had a TV camera embedded in its face, but several of the bunkers remade over the past year – including the Hell Bunker – were outfitted with camera ducts as well.
Here's a very cool time-lapse video of the Hell Bunker rebuild:
Craig Stadler
Craig Stadler was in Chicago for a Champions Tour event that starts on Friday.

Craig Stadler, who won the 1982 Masters, threw out the ceremonial first pitch before the Chicago Cubs played the St. Louis Cardinals at Wrigley Field on Wednesday night. 

Stadler, who now plays on the Champions Tour, was in town for the Encompass Championship which starts Friday at at North Shore Country Club in Glenview, Ill. 

While Stadler didn't bring the same type of magic that Brittany Lincicome did when she threw the first pitch of the Giants' no-hitter against the Mets last month, he did sport some facial hair that would make Goose Gossage and Rollie Fingers proud. He was also wearing a Chicago Cubs jersey with an 82 on his back -- presumably in honor of his playoff win against Dan Pohl at the Masters.

Unfortunately, Stadler didn't lead the Wrigley faithful in the traditional singing of 'Take Me Out To The Ballgame' during the seventh-inning stretch. That honor went to long-time MLB reporter Peter Gammons.

July 9, 2015 - 10:45am
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Yao Ming
Graeme McDowell | Twitter
Yao Ming is more than a foot taller than any of the golfers in this photo.

Former NBA player Yao Ming stands 7-feet, 6-inches tall -- a height that can be truly hard to appreciate. Thankfully, there are some golfers who are willing to give us perspective. 

As part of a social-media campaign to help raise money for charity by posting photos with celebrities, Graeme McDowell tweeted out this photo that shows how tiny he looks next to the former Houston Rockets center. 



Oh, and those other fellows in the photo are Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy and Luke Donald. Johnson is the tallest of the quartet, checking in at 6-foot-4. McDowell and McIlroy are 5-foot-10, while Donald is 5-foot-9. 

Related: Yao Ming discovers that golf is hard

Ernie Els shared his own photo on Thursday of his and Ian Poulter's encounter with Ming -- an experience that left Els feeling like "The Little Easy." 




Felt like Little Easy next to Yao Ming. Anyone think @ianjamespoulter and I can take him in a game? #RBCGolf4Kids

A photo posted by Ernie Els (@ernieelsgolf) on



This isn't the first time we've seen Ming make golfers look rather small. Earlier this year, Tiger Woods was left looking up to Ming after sharing the stage with him in China. And last year, John Daly may have reconsidered his "Big John" nickname after meeting Ming.

July 8, 2015 - 11:58am
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Rory McIlroy
Rory McIlroy/Instagram
Rory McIlroy posted this picture Wednesday of his foot in a cast, while watching tennis from Wimbledon.

Rory McIlroy will not defend his Open Championship title.

RORY'S INJURY: McIlroy ruptures ligament in left ankle playing soccer

In an Instagram post Wednesday, the world's No. 1 player wrote this, along with posting a photo of his left foot in a cast:

After much consideration, I have decided not to play in the Open Championship at St. Andrews. I’m taking a long term view of this injury and, although rehab is progressing well, I want to come back to tournament play when I feel 100% healthy and 100% competitive. Thank you for all your support and best wishes. I hope to be back on the course as soon as I can.... In the mean time, come on Andy!!!



GETTING THE CALL: Russell Knox will replace Rory at St. Andrews

McIlroy is obviously cheering on Andy Murray, Scottish tennis pro. who was playing Vasek Pospisil in one quarterfinal match at Wimbledon. On the bright side, Murray won and will face Roger Federer in the semis.