Golf Buzz

July 1, 2014 - 10:26am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
tj.auclair's picture
Tom Watson
USA Today Sports Images
In an announcement at the Greenbrier on Tuesday, five-time Open Champion Tom Watson was granted an exemption into the 2015 Open at St. Andrews -- the 40th anniversary of Watson's first Open win at Carnoustie.

The R&A held a press conference this morning at the Greenbrier -- site of this week's Greenbrier Classic on the PGA Tour -- to make a couple of major announcements.

First, Royal Birkdale will host the Open Championship in 2017 and Carnoustie will host it in 2018.

RELATED: U.S. Ryder Cup Captain Tom Watson's blog archive

Second, 2014 U.S. Ryder Cup Captain Tom Watson was extended an exemption to play in the 2015 Open Championship at St. Andrews. It will be the 40th anniversary of Watson's 1975 Open win at Carnoustie -- the first of his five Open victories.

"I certainly appreciate, more than you will know, the R&A for this exemption," said Watson, who never won the Open at St. Andrews. "This is something very special to me to be able to finish out my career. This is the place I want to finish my career and playing the Open Championship."

Barring a top-10 finish -- either this year, or next -- it will also be Watson's last Open Championship. The R&A grants exemptions to the top-10 finishers from the previous year's Open, and to any past Open champions who have finished in the top 10 in the previous five years.

Watson was the runner up at Turnberry in 2009, losing in a playoff to Stewart Cink.

July 1, 2014 - 9:36am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
tj.auclair's picture
Bubba Watson, PING G30
Masters champ Bubba Watson is expected to put PING's new G30 driver in play this week at Greenbrier. No surprise, it's really pink.

This week, Masters champ Bubba Watson will debut his new PING G30 driver at the Greenbrier Classic.

According to a report from Golfweek's James Achenbach, PING is expected to begin selling the G30 driver, fairway woods, hybrids and irons in early August.

At this point, wrote Achenbach, just the driver and fairway woods are available on the PGA Tour and PGA European Tour. equipment writer Jonathan Wall took this splitscreen image of the PING's standard G30, alongside the "Bubba Watson" inspired model:

July 1, 2014 - 8:28am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
tj.auclair's picture
Sergio Garcia
Sergio Garcia -- along with a crew from TaylorMade -- recently surprised unsuspecting golfers at Bethpage Black with a gift of new SLDR S drivers.

You've seen commercials over the years with star golfers surprising unsuspecting weekend warriors at the local muni over the years -- whether it was the old Tiger Woods/Buick commercials, Phil Mickelson/Ford, or the newer Tom Watson/MasterCard commercials.

Well, the folks at TaylorMade stepped it up a bit. They visited the mother of all munis -- Bethpage Black in New York, site of two past U.S. Opens, as well as a future Ryder Cup and PGA Championship.

RELATED: Star golfers accept the "Ice Bucket Challenge"

TaylorMade also brought along one of its star endorsers -- Sergio Garcia.

During the stunt, Garcia shows up on a crowded Bethpage driving range and then announces he and TaylorMade have a gift for all the golfers there -- a fitting for a free SLDR S driver.

It didn't stop there. As golfers made their way to the first tee just below the famous Bethpage Black sign that reads: "WARNING -- The Black Course is an extremely difficult course which we recommend only for highly skilled golfers" -- they were met by a gallery, standard bearers, Golf Channel's Tripp Isenhour on the mic to announce each player for the full on PGA Tour Experience.

As you'll see below, the fans were blown away.

It also looks like Garcia built up some good will with the fans at Bethpage. In 2002, he was heckled relentlessly for excessive waggles before he hit each shot. Fans were literally counting the number of waggles before Garcia pulled the trigger. 

Stacy Lewis Ice Bucket Challenge
LPGA Tour via Twitter
World No. 1 Stacy Lewis accepted the Ice Bucket Challenge from new U.S. Women's Open champion Michelle Wie.

Summer is officially here, and everybody's looking for ways to keep cool both on and off the course. One of the craziest ways is the Ice Bucket Challenge.

I'm not exactly sure where or when this started, but over the past several days a multitude of pro tour players have begun challenging each other to pour a bucket of ice water over their heads. The protocol seems to be that someone challenges you, and you have 24 hours to accept or make a donation to charity.

If you agree, you must drench yourself and capture it on social media. Then you get to call out someone else, and the chain just keeps rolling.

PGA INSTRUCTION: Putt like Michelle Wie, but don't try to mimic her stance

Both male and female players have embraced the Ice Bucket Challenge, but I have to give the LPGA contingent the most credit for their enthusiasm and the fact that many of their top players – including Michelle Wie, Stacy Lewis, Lydia Ko and Suzann Pettersen – have done it.

I was especially impressed with Wie. I mean, her week began with her first major title at the U.S. Women's Open and ended with a bucket of ice water over the head on the practice range in Arkansas.

You can catch up with this ridiculous, hilarious fad by searching #IceBucketChallenge on Twitter. In the meantime, here are some of the LPGA's best drenchings:









Seung-Yul Noh
Seung-Yul Noh hits a perfect flop shot Sunday for a clutch up-and-down.

In most instances from the fringe, golfers are taught to land the ball on the green quickly and let it roll to the hole.

But Seung-Yul Noh faced a situation Sunday that required him to go up and over a ridge that bisected the green at Congressional Country Club's No. 5. So he pulled a page from Phil Mickelson's bag of tricks and went for the flop shot. Here's the result:

With that putt for par, Noh escaped danger and kept from putting a big number on his scorecard early in the round. He played the shot with the clubface open, just as if he was hitting out of a bunker. It's exactly how PGA professional Quinn Griffing describes hitting that kind of shot in this instructional video:



Michelle Wie
USA Today Images
Michelle Wie's unique putting stance works because it feels comfortable to her and she can repeat a smooth putting stroke every time.

With the advent of super slow-motion replays and instant analysis, amateur golfers love to copy what they see professionals doing on the course. But what works for one golfer isn't necessarily the best option for another.

Take Michelle Wie's unique putting stance, for instance. Wie's spine is nearly parallel to the ground, a chiropractor's dream. But the reason it works for her is because she feels comfortable with her eyes over the ball, and more importantly, she's able to consistently repeat a smooth, accurate putting motion.

TABLETOP STANCE: Michelle Wie's putting accuracy improves dramatically 

Nicole Weller, PGA head teaching professional at The Landings Club in Savannah, Ga., sees this trend first-hand.

"Tapping into someone else’s creative idea has become more popular with widespread media on television and through digital means," Weller said. "Mondays after tournaments usually bring on many imitators at the practice facilities and courses as they attempt the ideas they saw work for someone else."

There's an obvious reason why everyone has a unique golf swing, Weller said.  

"The club moves based on how a person can or can’t move, which creates their unique motions," she said. "When learning the correct putting stance for that person, the combination of comfort with correctness is the obvious goal."

U.S. WOMEN'S OPEN: Michelle Wie wins first major at Pinehurst No. 2

So what if you feel comfortable with your current putting stance, but there's a flaw somewhere that's causing you to miss more putts than you make? Weller said don't try to reinvent your stance. Instead, use the practice green to experiment inside your comfort zone so you can develop a repeatable stroke that works for you. 

"Find the place where you 'see' the line the best -- that can be a little different for everyone based on how they stand -- and then allow that to be comfortable," Weller said. "Forcing, grinding or working the putting stroke will most likely result in less feel and touch for speed. Being in a good place emotionally, mentally and physically will make it a lot easier, so I believe comfort trumps all, if the ideas that need to be in place are."

First and foremost, Weller said don't worry so much about the result as getting the process down pat. That's a major issue with amateurs, who have a tendency to obsess over what went wrong rather than what they did right. You don't have to have a perfect pendulum swing as long as you have the putter square at impact -- and more importantly, can repeat that motion every time.

With practice and a positive attitude, the results will come. 

"Instead of focusing on mistakes, focus on the key ingredients that lead to success," Weller said. "Many golfers want to know what they did wrong. The more one thinks of what went wrong, the more the wrongness is still in one’s mind, something to avoid.

MORE INSTRUCTION: Tips on improving your putting

"Why focus on what went wrong? Do you want to do that again or get excited about seeing if you can do what it is you want to do and if you didn’t, do it again until you get what you want?"

Weller said to understand what's happening during your putting stroke, there are tools which can provide instant feedback. In addition, an instructor can provide guidance to help you feel more comfortable when standing over your ball on the green.

"Amateurs can definitely work to be more comfortable, properly aimed and aligned and use feedback tools to learn where the ideal areas are," Weller said. "For example, using an Eyeline Golf Putting Rail and Mirror or a Star Putter will help one know they’re properly lined, have their eyes in the most optimal position for them and have a square putter face at both address and impact." 

In any case, her key tip is to stay task-oriented. Don't try to change everything at once, but take a logical, measured approach to improving your putting game.

"The instructor is your guide, the ball is the ultimate teacher showing a golfer what variables are working," Weller said. "Adjusting to many variables at one time will also create questions on what is working. So work through set-up slowly with an instructor and learn what seems to work best.

"In a nutshell, use training tools for feedback and measurement for consistency, work on a single idea at a time and give it a chance before adjusting and moving on and allow yourself to be in a relaxed, calm and enjoyable state."

You may never be able to replicate Michelle Wie's putting stance, but with practice, there's no reason you can't duplicate her results.