Golf Buzz

March 23, 2014 - 12:20am
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John Holmes
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Center City Golf Course at Goat Hill
The Center City Golf Course at Goat Hill lives on, at least for now, after a proposal to convert it into a soccer facility was rejected.
There's good news for the Goat.
The Goat, of course, is the nickname at southern California golfers have bestowed upon the Center City Golf Course at Goat Hill, a popular but money-losing municipal facility owned by the city of Oceanside, Calif. And for a while this week, it looked like the Goat might be put out to pasture.
The city was considering a proposal by Real Salt Lake, a Major League Soccer team owned by Oceanside resident Dell Roy Hansen, who wanted to convert much of the 76-acre golf facility into what he called a "soccer mecca." His plan called for the course to be reduced to nine holes, with the remainder of the land to host a soccer academy and a 5,000-seat stadium that he hoped would attract a minor league pro team and perhaps even a women's pro team.
Needless to say, the proposal was extremely unpopular among the area's golfers. And on Wednesday, they showed up en masse at a city council meeting to voice their opposition to the soccer proposal, according to a story in The San Diego Union-Tribune
Most of the golfers in attendance supported an alternative plan by John Ashworth – the local clothing designer who founded the Ashworth golf apparel company. Ashworth has created a coalition called Goat Hill Partners and, according to the newspaper, had been working with the city for two years on a plan to restore the golf course, rebuild the clubhouse, create a botanical garden and start a community farm.
"Hopefully you'll decide to reconsider our plan," Ashworth told city officials; Ashworth had thought he was near a deal with the city until the soccer proposal came up. "I'm convinced if we build it, they will come."
Center City is a "golf course for everyone," according to its website. The course plays to about 4,400 yards, with a mix of par-3 and par-4 holes in addition to its signature par-5 15th hole. The course – only about a mile from the Pacific Ocean – has no water features, but is built on a plateau with several significant elevation changes. The facility also includes a driving range, practice green and chipping areas, and offers PGA instruction.
Adult green fees top out at $26 per person with cart on the weekends, and drop as low as $9 to walk nine holes on weekdays, according to its site.
Oceanside Mayor Jim Wood agreed to end negotiations with Real Salt Lake, the paper said, but warned the audience that there was still no telling what might happen in the future.
Francesco Molinari
Francesco Molinari nearly holed a 180-yard shot from the rough Saturday at Bay Hill.

Who says there's no March Madness in golf? Francesco Molinari nearly holed the equivalent of a full-court buzzer-beater Saturday in the third round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

THIRD ROUND RECAP: Adam Scott's lead slashed in half as challengers loom

Molinari was in the left hand rough on the par-4, 466-yard 15th at Bay Hill, more than 180 yards away from the flag, when he put this swing on the ball. The only thing that could have made it better was if somebody had pulled the flagstick.

The look on Molinari's face is priceless. He's actually disappointed that he has to putt for a tap-in birdie. Most amateurs would have been excited to have been anywhere on the green from there.

WEEKEND IN PHOTOS: Saturday's best shots from Bay Hill, LPGA Founders Cup


March 21, 2014 - 7:42pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
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Rickie Fowler
Was Rickie Fowler all wet when he gave his reason for Bubba Watson's 83 at Bay Hill? Well, yes.
Why did Bubba Watson shoot an 83 on Thursday in the Arnold Palmer Invitational? 
Rickie Fowler knows. In fact, he reveals that Bubba's high score was actually his fault.
Rickie's explanation, and the payoff – an acrobatic leap into the lake behind Bubba's house in Orlando – can be found in the video below. We're not sure we believe him, but his flip is pretty cool:
March 21, 2014 - 3:54pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
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TaylorMade SLDR driver
Courtesy of TaylorMade
The SLDR driver is included in TaylorMade's moneyback guarantee program that is running over the next couple of months.
Since it debuted last summer the SLDR driver from TaylorMade has become one of golf's best sellers, not to mention the most widely used driver on the PGA Tour. 
On Friday, the company came out with this guarantee: Buy any SLDR driver, fairway or Rescue club between now and June 1, and test them out for 30 days. If you don't gain distance over your current clubs, TaylorMade will refund your money.
"We know there are golfers out there who don't trust our science or what tour players do," said Brian Bazzel, TaylorMade’s director of product creation for metalwoods. "So we're encouraging these golfers to trust their own distance. That's why we’re putting the SLDR guarantee in play."
Golfers wishing to return their SLDR clubs can either call a toll-free number or visit the TaylorMade website. Those who elect to do so will receive a check within 12 weeks, the company said. 
The SLDR line of clubs is built around the concept of "lofting up" – using more loft than the average golfer traditionally uses in his driver and fairway clubs. That, combined with the low-forward center of gravity in the clubs, creates the ideal conditions for distance – a higher launch with less spin – the company said.
For complete information on the guarantee, click here.
And here is a video of TaylorMade CEO Mark King talking about the SLDR guarantee:
March 20, 2014 - 10:42pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
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Zachary Christman and Eric Angeles
Remember a couple days ago when we showed you the two guys who teamed up to hit one golf ball? Well, they're at it again.
After their first video went viral – thanks in part to our including it here on the Golf Buzz – California high school golfers Zachary Christman and Eric Angeles got out their sticks, turned on their video gear and figured out a way to top it.
Looks like they did – they duplicated their first trick, but this time upped the difficulty factor with a friend and a bench.
After that first video, the good folks at the Pinehurst Resort said they wanted the dynamic duo to come on out to North Carolina and try some trick shots on the iconic No. 2 course. That hasn't happened yet, but the guys shared this second video with the Pinehurst staff, who posted it on YouTube.
"We'll find a way to get you guys to Pinehurst one day to try the shot at The Cradle of American Golf," Pinehurst wrote on its website. We can only hope it happens.
In the meantime, here is the new video, with the original right below it:
March 20, 2014 - 7:30pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
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Poppy Hills Golf Course
Photo by Joann Dost
Poppy Hills is open again after a signficant makeover by course architect Robert Trent Jones II, who created the layout back in 1986.
Poppy Hills Golf Course – well known as one of the popular and prestigious courses in northern California's Pebble Beach area – held its grand reopening ceremony Thursday after a top-to-bottom redesign that took just more than a year. The course will reopen for public play on April 4.
The renovation was overseen by course architect Robert Trent Jones II, who created the layout back in 1986. For the renovation, his quest was to restore each hole to its natural elevation along the floor of the Del Monte Forest, soften the doglegs and contours and remake all 18 greens with bent grass.
In addition, he built a new 11th hole, which is now the shortest par 3 at Poppy Hills; created a new version of the 12th hole, which now tees off toward a spectacular ocean view and rolls downhill; and revitalized a seasonal creek that cuts in front of the new ninth green. 
The catalyst for the renovation was to find a way to improve drainage while conserving water. Jones' introduction of native waste areas reduces the amount of irrigated turf by nearly 25 acres, and he installed an irrigation system that is 20 percent more efficient. The entire course was sand-capped to enhance drainage as well, and a significant amount of rough was eliminated to make the course firmer and play faster.
"It's a renaissance more than a renovation," Jones said. "It's really a brand-new golf course. The new conceptions have reinvigorated the golf course. They will bring the course back to all its glory."
Par at Poppy Hills has dropped from 72 to 71, but the yardage has increased from 6,863 to 7,002 from the new Jones Trail (the back set of tees). The Jones Trail plays to a rating of 73.5 and a slope of 135, but now there is more flexibility in course set-up, with five sets of tees instead of four.
As the redesign was being formally unveiled, course officials also announced that the Champions Tour's Nature Valley First Tee Open will be played at Poppy Hills and Pebble Beach in September. Poppy co-hosted the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am from 1991-2009, as well as the Callaway Pebble Beach Invitational for four years; it is owned by the Northern California Golf Association, which has its headquarters on site.