Golf Buzz

January 31, 2014 - 9:12am
Michael.Benzie's picture
Phoenix Open
Photo by Robert Laberge/Getty Images
Bubba Watson tosses gifts into the crowd on the 16th hole during the first round of the Waste Management Phoenix Open at TPC Scottsdale on January 30, 2014 in Scottsdale, Arizona. ()

As the Waste Management Phoenix Open enjoys another raucous and enthusiastic crowd, I posed a question as to whether the fan experience at the annual party at TPC Scottsdale was actually a better "fan experience" than the uber-hyped Super Bowl.

It got me thinking. What are the best fan experiences in golf?

This seemed easy - or so I thought.

A fan experience can take many forms. Is it seeing top players (Hello Augusta!)? Is it being able to be loud and rowdy (Goodbye Augusta!). Is it seeing a beautiful course (Hello Augusta again!). Let's just define it as: something you'll enjoy, remember and treasure.

Here are five of my most notable, listed by date. But we want to know yours, as well. Join the conversation on our Facebook page.





The Waste Management Phoenix Open. Jan. 30-Feb. 2. It's a combination of Mardi Gras, a college pep rally, a Friday night bar crawl - oh, and some of the world's best players. All the attention (rightfully) is on the 16th hole where the crowd is always the star of the show, but the entire tournament, course and city is pretty much one carnival for the largest crowds in golf. If you believe that beer, sundresses and sunshine make for a good time - this is your event.

The Masters. April 10-13. What's the complete opposite of the Waste Management Phoenix Open? This. Meticulous grooming of the course, sweet tea and lemonade is often the drink of choice. Lots of blazers (look for the green ones!) walking the fairways. Great prices on food. You know virtually every hole on the course. And every golfer in the world wants to be there. There are more rules in place here (no running ... ever. No laying down, no cameras/cell phones on tournament days, etc.) but virtually every golf fan in the world is happy to abide. It's that awesome.

The Players Championship. May 8-11. Here it all boils down to one hole - the famous 17th. The island green has become more than a favored viewing spot, it has become a Shakespearean tragedy - being played 145 times (for two days at least), and again 140+ times on the weekend. The crowd sits on the bank and "ooohs" and "ahhhhhs" at every shot. The shot is so simple, and yet, no lead is safe. For sheer lump in the throat and kick in the gut intensity, watch a few groups come through this hole on Sunday. You'll remember it the rest of your life.

PGA Championship. Aug. 7-10. Albeit a bit biased (this is, after all), how can you argue with the major championship that was the first to allow fans to bring phones to the course and set up wifi for them? Already billed as the strongest field in golf, it has a host of Your Game golf-related activities on site and even allowed fans to pick a hole location for the Sunday round of a major!? The emphasis on the fan experience, from the merchandise shops to the walkway layouts are the hallmark of the final major of each season and the fans have responded in kind.
The Ryder Cup. Sept. 23-28. As someone who has been to Ryder Cups both here in the U.S. and overseas - I can state for certain that this is the most unique and probably passionate event in golf, maybe all of sports. It's hard to describe the emotion involved, from the fans to the media to the players themselves. Think SEC football meets WWE - and we all go silent over a four foot putt and half the crowd goes nuts depending on what happens. Now multiply that by 10. That's how I feel at every Ryder Cup.


January 30, 2014 - 8:38pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
john.holmes's picture
TaylorMade Tour Preferred golf balls
Courtesy of TaylorMade
The Tour Preferred (l) and tour Preferred X golf balls take over as TaylorMade's flagship models.
The 2014 PGA Merchandise Show, held Jan. 22-24 in Orlando, showcased thousands of new products great and small from hundreds of vendors. After walking the 10 miles of aisles in the Orange County Convention Center for two days, I've come up with a list of 10 products that caught my eye, and I'm rolling them out over a 10-day period. Here is the sixth one:
A lot of us in the golf industry got our first look at the new Tour Preferred and Tour Preferred X golf balls from TaylorMade at the PGA Merchandise Show last week.
So, you ask, are they any good? 
Well, TaylorMade replied with an emphatic yes last weekend, when Sergio Garcia won the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters and Jessica Korda won the Pure Silk Bahamas Classic with Tour Preferred X balls. That gave TaylorMade wins in two of the three big events played around the globe last week.
I'd say that's not a bad debut, except that Garcia also used a Tour Preferred X to win the Thailand Golf Championship in December. But you get the point. 
''Golf ball innovation doesn't just happen overnight. Rather, it is a series of ongoing conversation with our Tour players,'' said Dean Snell, TaylorMade's vice president of golf ball R&D. ''These conversations have led to the introduction of breakthrough technologies including low drag aerodynamics for ultimate wind resistance, a five-layer construction for superior control throughout the club set and now our softest and most durable cover.''
These two new spheres take over as the flagship balls in the TaylorMade line, and the company calls them tour-caliber balls that provide complete tee-to-green performance. As a result, they say, they expect most of their staff players to join Garcia and Korda in switching to them over the next few months.
One new technology in the new balls is what TaylorMade calls Soft Tech, the company's softest and most durable cover to date. Made of a cast urethane, the new cover provides an even softer feel around the greens than previous TaylorMade offerings. The Soft Tech cover also lasts longer and will provide higher resistance to shearing, while the 322-dimple pattern is designed to minimize distance loss on low-spin shots and maintain a penetrating ball flight into the wind.
Inside both models is a REACT Core for greater ball speed on all shots, along with a Spin Mantle designed to deliver precise and consistent spin rates on shots throughout the bag. What separates the two models from each other is their spin characteristics.
The Tour Preferred is designed for players looking for more spin in their mid- to long-iron shots. This additional spin also will promote a higher trajectory on approach shots. The Tour Preferred X generates less spin and a more boring trajectory.
Both the Tour Preferred and Tour Preferred X will be available at retail on March 1 with a suggested retail price of $45.99 per dozen. 
January 30, 2014 - 6:36pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
john.holmes's picture
Wilson golf bags and Odyssey putter covers
Courtesy of Wilson Golf and Odyssey Golf
Wilson Golf is marking the Phoenix Open with some retro golf bags, while Odyssey has come out with eco-friendly putter covers.
If you can tear your eyes away from all the fun at the wacky 16th hole at TPC Scottsdale, there are a couple of interesting things to keep a look out for at the Waste Management Phoenix Open.
First off, Odyssey has created special putter covers that reflect the tournament's green spirit – in fact, the exterior of the covers is made of recycled material, and the brown color was inspired by paper grocery bags. The inspiration, according to Scott Goryl of Odyssey parent Callaway, is Waste Management's push to create a greener, more sustainable world.
The covers, for both mallets and blades, will be found on the putters of several Odyssey staff players. Only about 100 were produced and none will be sold at retail, though Odyssey is giving a few away via social media.
Also, Wilson Golf is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year, and is marking the big occasion this week by outfitting its staff players with retro golf bags styled after those that its ambassadors – including Gene Sarazen and Sam Snead – used during the company's glory days. The red and white bags also feature the vintage Wilson Staff shield and retro branding.
Padraig Harrington, Kevin Streelman, Ricky Barnes and Jim Herman are using the bags in Phoenix, while Paul Lawrie, Anthony Wall and Marcel Siem are doing the same at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic. The Wilson Staff ambassadors are expected to use the bags for most of the year as well.
Here is a better look at the bags and covers, courtesy of Wilson's and Odyssey's Twitter account:
January 30, 2014 - 2:47pm
Posted by:
John Kim's picture
golfer and gator
Courtesy My Sun Coast News
North Port, Fla., golfer Jack Dupre has some interesting decisions to make.

Play the ball as it lies!'s on an alligator.

(Tip of the cap to my friend @ryanballengee for finding this gem (via

North Port, Fla., resident Jack Dupre was playing out at Myakka Pines golf course when he hit a somewhat wayward shot. A shot that could have very well ended up in the hazard ended up - well, in a different kind of hazard. Pretty sure it's a free drop (if you can get the ball).

His playing partners did what all good playing partners would do. No, not consult a rule book, call the pro shop, caution their friend about, they grabbed their phones and started taking pictures.

Flashback: Golfer loses fingers to crocodile in Cancun

January 30, 2014 - 2:35pm
Posted by:
John Kim's picture
Payne Stewart
Getty Images
Payne Stewart would have been 57 on Jan. 30th, 2014.

Happy birthday Payne Stewart.

Golfer, gentleman, icon, champion. Can't really add too much to that list...nor would you want to.

Stewart, who won eleven PGA Tour events (including three major championships) showed that hard work and perserverence could - and should - be rewarded in the game. Even more, class and humility would always be a part of golf's culture as well.

His throwback fashion style, complete with plus fours and ivy caps, made him distinctive. His engagement with fans made him popular. His fiery passion made him a champion. And of course, his fist pump at Pinehurst (the '99 U.S. Open) made him a legend.


Each year, the PGA Tour recognizes a player who "shows respect for the traditions of the game, commitment to uphold the game's heritage of charitable support and professional and meticulous presentation of himself and the sport through dress and conduct." The name of the award? The Payne Stewart Award...naturally.

The then 42 year-old golfer was in his prime, coming off one of the most memorable U.S. Open wins of all time - and being a part of one of the most incredible Ryder Cup comebacks ever (Brookline), when he was taken from us in a tragic airplane accident in Oct. 1999. But his legacy and spirit still live on. Very strong in fact.

Pinehurst, which has immortalized that fist pump with a now famous statue off the 18th green, will be hosting both the men's and women's U.S. Opens this year. There will be much talk about Payne Stewart and his place in the game. As there should be.

Stewart would have been 57 years-old today. Hoping he's teeing it up somewhere and celebrating with a fist pump.
John Kim's Twitter avatar includes Payne Stewart (and once he tried to change the avatar and was shamed into not doing it by many).  You can follow him on Twitter at @johnkim.

January 30, 2014 - 9:55am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
tj.auclair's picture
CS2 training aid
CS2 Putting Aid
The CS2 putting aid serves many functions that all point to one major result for you -- a more consistent putting stroke.

How many times throughout the course of an 18-hole round of golf do you three-putt? If the answer is anything more than "zero," that's probably too much.

Even if you rarely three-putt, you can always use more consistency on the greens.

That's where a company called "CS2" comes to the rescue. "CS2" stands for: "Consistent Stroke/Consistently Square" (putter face at impact).

CS2 offers an incredibly helpful putting aid that's sure to improve your stroke, which will result in more confidence on the greens and less strokes recorded on your scorecard.

RELATED: PGA Professional mastermind behind popular Orange Whip swing tool

The CS2, essentially, is a board that is designed to give golfers a great visual as well as intuitive feel as to what is happening in their putting stroke.

Watch the video below where European Ryder Cup star Ian Poulter, who has been known to make some huge putts under pressure, explains how you can use the CS2:



The CS2 is basically a two part training system.

"The first part is what we call the base plate," explained Ronnie Mathews, one of the men behind CS2. "We recommend that golfers start with this only, as it will help them to understand their own preferred putting path. We do not believe that there is one perfect putting stroke -- rather that each golfer needs to find his own preferred path. The guide rails on the base plate are completely adjustable to accommodate any putter head size, and also the golfer's current skill level. In addition, you will see that the rails can be set up for a 'square to square' stroke, or can be arced to accommodate an 'in to square' stroke. This arc can vary from slightly inside, to quite radically inside."

Once the preferred putter path is determined, Mathews recommends that the golfer record the preferred setting and set up to those specific numbers for each practice session. Golfers should become so comfortable with the setting that they can make a putt with their eyes closed.

The second part of the CS2 training system involves learning how to return the putter face to square at impact.

"In this stage, the runway is clipped onto the base plate, and the two adjustable end gates are clipped onto the runway," Mathews said. "To start, the end gates should be set at their widest setting. The objective now is to roll the ball through the end gates without hitting either side. Once the golfer is regularly doing this, the gates can be made tighter. Once the golfer is getting the ball through the tight setting most of time, they are already vastly improved putters."

CS2 also teaches the golfer proper alignment and aim. The base plate has lines which show a square putter face at address, as well as a reflective patch to give an indication of where there head is.

"We do not believe that every golfer's head has to be directly over the ball, therefore the reflective patch is not an 'eye mirror,' but rather a guide as to where your head is," Mathews said. "The line on the runway gives the golfer a great visual image of the intended line of putt."

The beauty of the CS2 is that it works just as well indoors as it does outdoors -- welcome news for those of us who can't get out to the course in brutal winter weather conditions.

To learn more about the CS2, visit

The CS2 Putting Aid is available for $89 and includes a 30-day money-back guarantee.

CS2 also offers a Putting Cup (included with the putting aid, or sold separately for $12.99).

Follow T.J. Auclair on Twitter, @tjauclair.