Golf Buzz

April 29, 2013 - 7:31pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
john.holmes's picture

A high school golfer from Michigan and his coach died Monday when the minivan they were riding in collided with another van on a rural road near Traverse City, Mich.

The identities of the 30-year-old coach, the 17-year-old golfer and the 27-year-old woman weren’t immediately disclosed, but law enforcement officials said the van was carrying the Grayling, Mich., High School golf team near Excelsior Township, about 25 miles east of Traverse City. Grayling is about 15 miles east of Excelsior.

Here are some other details from the Associated Press report on the accident:

''It was pretty horrific,'' Michigan State Police Sgt. Don Bailey said of the crash.

Bailey told The Associated Press he came upon the crash shortly after it occurred about 11:30 a.m. Monday in Michigan's northern Lower Peninsula. He had to use a fire extinguisher to put out a fire in one of the vehicles.

''There were three ejections and those bodies were laying around,'' he said.

The golf team was in a silver minivan and left Grayling for an invitational tournament in Traverse City. The minivan was northbound on Crawford Lake Road when it smashed into the side of a white minivan traveling east on County Road 612.

''Our initial investigation shows the white van may have been speeding,'' Bailey said. ''There's also a question if the silver van stopped at a stop sign.''

A woman driving the white minivan was in serious condition, while a 3-year-old girl in that vehicle appeared to be unhurt. Bailey said the girl was in a child restraint seat.

Students at Grayling High School were notified of the crash Monday afternoon, and events and practices were canceled, according to Joe Powers, superintendent of the Crawford AuSable Schools.

Crisis team counselors will be at the school Tuesday.

''We do have classes because we believe the students need each other,'' said Powers.

''We will delay the formal start of school to have an opportunity for students to talk to each other. We will have counselors throughout the building, including the hallway, so students can lean on adults they know and who they are comfortable with.''

Powers said this was the golf coach's first year with the team.

Mike Fortino, general manager of the Grayling County Club, said one of the injured golfers was his nephew, an 18-year-old senior at the high school.

''He has a broken jaw and some teeth are knocked out,'' Fortino said.

The team has about 30 members and sometimes plays at the club, he added.

''They were going to a match (Monday) and only take six to eight players,'' said Fortino. ''Some of the kids work here, have girlfriends here. Some of their mothers work here. 'The coach was new at his job. He was a personal friend. It's a bad day, a bad day.''


April 29, 2013 - 3:45pm
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
tj.auclair's picture
Getty Images
Merion Golf Club uses wicker baskets atop its pins rather than the traditional flag.


Legendary Merion Golf Club's East Course in Philadelphia will host its fifth U.S. Open this June.
On Monday, it was revealed that a special part of Merion will be kept in place for the season's second major. Rather than using pin flags, Merion instead uses a pin with a small, red wicker basket on top of it. 
Shane Bacon had the details on Yahoo's Devil Ball Blog:
For the first time since 1981, the world will descend on Merion Golf Club's East Course on June 13 for the second major championship of the year and the fifth time the U.S. Open has been hosted there.
One thing you should expect to see? Wicker baskets adorning the tops of the flagsticks all across Merion's famed links.
Devil Ball put a call into the USGA on Monday morning asking if the traditional wicker baskets would be in play and it was confirmed they would.
Why wicker baskets instead of traditional flags? Let the Merion Golf Club website explain it...
"The wicker baskets' origin is a mystery to this day. There was a great deal written in 1912, and for three years thereafter, locally and nationally about this new course in Philadelphia. However, there was no mention of the soon-to-be famous wicker baskets. It could be assumed they were not there. By the summer of 1915, William Flynn, Merion's Superintendent, received patent approval for his wicker basket design. Merion had baskets that fall and from then-to-today. It could be assumed, due to lack of written proof, that Flynn convinced Wilson to use the baskets, and Merion received its "basket notoriety" the next year during the 1916 U.S. Amateur."
Follow T.J. Auclair on Twitter, @tj_auclair.
April 27, 2013 - 9:21pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
john.holmes's picture
Samuel L. Jackson om TMZ
Samuel L. Jackson talked golf with TMZ.

I swear to you that my wife found this item on TMZ, not me. I swear!

While she was perusing the celebrity gossip show on TV this afternoon, she saw an item in which the TMZ guys asked Samuel L. Jackson who the best celebrity golfer is. (Why on earth TMZ had celebrity golf on the brain, I have no idea.)

Jackson laughed, and then said: Kenny G!

The TMZ guys were incredulous, but Jackson promised that Kenny G is indeed the man when it comes to celebrity golf – and then drove away.

Is Jackson correct? Very likely. A few years ago, Golf Digest published a ranking of the top golfing musicians, and Kenny G came in first on their list, with a listed handicap of 0.6. Vince Gill, who we mentioned in our item on George Jones yesterday, was second on that list.

Things could have changed since then, but Kenny G is a regular in all those celebrity pro-ams and he’s probably kept his game in shape. And hey, would Samuel L. Jackson steer us wrong? I think not.

To see the TMZ video clip, click here. But beware, they’re quite irreverent about Kenny G and golf.


April 27, 2013 - 7:46pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
john.holmes's picture
Brittany Lang and Kevin Spann at the North Texas LPGA Shootout
LPGA Tour via Twitter
Brittany Lang and boyfriend Kevin Spann hugged after she accepted his proposal at the North Texas LPGA Shootout on Saturday.

So, how memorable was your round of golf today? Not as memorable as Brittany Lang's, I bet.

The LPGA Tour veteran had just wrapped up her third-round 71 in the North Texas LPGA Shootout at Las Colinas Country Club this afternoon when her boyfriend, Kevin Spann, walked up to her. But instead of saying 'good game,' he dropped to one knee, pulled out an engagement ring and and asked her to marry him.

''We've been together about 11 months,'' said Lang. ''We met at the club that we play at and it's been going very well. I had a few ideas [this might be coming] because he's been acting a little strange.''

The two indeed met in the parking lot at TPC Craig Ranch in the Dallas suburb of McKinney, where Lang lives. And, no it's not a coincidence that the two of them were dressed in almost-identical outfits. Lang says she plays better when they dress alike.

The Golf Channel caught the surprise proposal on camera. To see it, click here.

There was, predictably, a lot of reaction to the proposal on social media. But no one summed up the day like Kris Tamulis, who played with Lang on Saturday. Here's her tweet: "2 rare occurrences today on the course: I saw a spectator take a wee on a tree just outside the ropes AND my playing partner got engaged!"




April 26, 2013 - 10:14pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
john.holmes's picture
George Jones
Getty Images
Country superstar George Jones and his golf clubs played a role in a memorable Vince Gill video.

Country music superstar George Jones was a bit of a golfer, too. And as music world mourns his death – Jones passed away early Friday at the age of 81 – we wanted to pay our respects by providing a link to a very funny golf-themed video in which Jones has a cameo.

Back in 1993, Vince Gill – the country music star most widely known for his love of golf – had a big hit with a song called ''One More Last Chance,'' and the video for that song is all about golf. At the end, Jones makes an appearance driving a small tractor with his golf bag strapped across the back.

That, of course, is a laughing reference to one of the more infamous incidents in Jones' wild life – when, while on a drinking binge, he drove his John Deere riding mower 10 miles to a liquor store.

To see the video, click here.


April 26, 2013 - 12:27pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
john.holmes's picture
Louis Oosthuizen at the Ballantine's Championship
Getty Images
Louis Oosthuizen averages about 300 yards off the tee, but his drive on the first hole Friday almost doubled that distance.

Louis Oosthuizen hit what likely will go down as the longest drive of the year on the European Tour today at the Ballantine's Championship in South Korea.

The 2010 British Open champion teed it up on the 583-yard, par-5 first hole at Blackstone Golf Club and let 'er rip. His shot went soaring down the right side of the fairway, then bounced onto the cart path.

It rolled down the winding path for close to two minutes! It almost came to a halt at one point, then picked up speed again, and finally to came to rest against a curb about 500 yards from the tee – and only a foot or two short of a U-turn that would have carried it far away from the hole.

At this point, the odyssey of Oosthuizen's orb gets anticlimactic. Oosthuizen took a free drop, pitched the ball into the fairway and ended up making a par.

For the record, Oosthuizen ranks seventh on the European Tour in driving distance, averaging 302.8 yard a pop. He shot a 71 today and is tied for eighth after two days of the rain-delayed event near Seoul.

For our complete coverage of the second round, click here.

And to watch Oosthuizen’s drive on YouTube, click here.