Golf Buzz

September 26, 2012 - 2:59pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
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Tom Watson and Andy Williams
Tom Watson is one of many high-profile champions of the Andy Williams San Diego Open at Torrey Pines.

The obituaries for Andy Williams in the papers and websites today are rightfully focused on his singing career, but he also played a key role in boosting golf’s popularity in southern California and around the nation.

Back in 1968, Williams agreed to become the celebrity host of the San Diego Open Invitational on the PGA Tour – this was the golden era of celebrity golf events, like the Bing Crosby Pro-Am, the Bob Hope Desert Classic and the Glen Campbell Los Angeles Open. Williams was an avid golfer, and frequently played in the pro-am portion of these celebrity-filled events.

The San Diego Open was founded in 1952, but hop-scotched around southern California for its first 16 years, never really finding a home. Williams came aboard in 1968 -- the same year that the tournament moved to Torrey Pines, and the combination of celebrity clout and first-class venue proved to be a real game-changer. The event has remained at Torrey ever since, and become one of the most successful on the PGA Tour – and no doubt that success helped to pave the way for Torrey to be awarded the 2008 U.S. Open, won by Tiger Woods in his memorable 18-hole playoff over Rocco Mediate.

Williams served as celebrity host of the San Diego Open for 21 years – only the Hope and Crosby affiliations with their events lasted longer. Williams eventually shared title billing with sponsors like Isuzu and Shearson Lehman Brothers, and his name finally disappeared from the title in 1989. The tournament, of course, is now known as the Farmers Insurance Open.

Williams died Tuesday at age 84 in Branson, Mo., after battling bladder cancer. He’s most famous for his rendition of “Moon River,” and the venue he owned in Branson is called the Moon River Theater. He amassed 18 gold records and a pair of platinum records, and was a mainstay in Las Vegas for several decades. He hosted “The Andy Williams Show” on NBC from 1962 to 1971, and starred in a number of other variety shows over the years. He also headlined several Christmas specials, and hosted the Grammy Awards a record 13 times.

 

September 25, 2012 - 11:13pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
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Feel Golf 73-degree wedge
Courtesy of Feel Golf
The 73-degree wedge from Feel Golf allows players to hit a very high, soft-landing shot with ease.

What does Feel Golf have in common with Apple? Both sold out of their most recent offering in almost no time.

For boutique clubmaker Feel Golf, the hot product is its new 73-degree wedge. Feel launched the wedge (which comes in USGA conforming and non-conforming editions) about a week ago, and they proved so popular that they’re already sold out.

"This is the biggest rush order Feel Golf has seen since first introducing the original non-conforming shot-saving wedge," said Feel Golf CEO and PGA Professional Lee Miller. "Both conforming and non-conforming 73-degree wedges are on back order and are scheduled to arrive around the end of October."

The new model is the latest revelation from Feel Golf, which introduced a 64-degree wedge in the early 1990s. That club was thought to be too extreme at the time, says Feel Golf, but many players – most famously Phil Mickelson -- now regularly use 64-degree wedges. These clubs, though, might be better suited for mid- to high-handicap players who lack confidence with nuanced shots close to the green.

"The 73-degree wedge allows players to hit a very high, soft-landing shot with ease from 50 yards in," said Miller. "Just like the 64-degree wedge, our 73-degree wedge allows the golfer to take their full swing, which is a golfer's most repeatable swing, and simply aim it right at the pin."

Feel Golf's 73-degree wedge helps eliminate most of the short-game guesswork of open stances, open faces and half swings, company officials say. One of the most common problems for recreational players is that they lack the touch and confidence to fully commit to the shot, they explain, so they decelerate, producing inconsistent results.

"With good rhythm, players can take a full swing with the 73-degree wedge," said Miller. The wedge glides through the ball, landing very softly from a tight lie or a bunker making it easier to score just like the pros."

For more information, visit www.feelwedges.com.

September 25, 2012 - 11:22am
Posted by:
Steve Eubanks
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Billy Casper
Steve Eubanks
Hall of Famer Billy Casper spent Tuesday morning in the Ryder Cup Pro Shop signing his new book, "The Big Three and Me." Fans lined up to meet the legend and buy his memoirs.

 

This is the week where golf’s red-carpet legends turn out in droves. The first sighting came on Tuesday morning in the Ryder Cup Pro Shop when Billy Casper showed up to sign his new book, “The Big Three and Me.” 

Holder of 51 PGA Tour titles, three majors, 5 Vardon Trophies, and holder of a Ryder Cup record 23½ total points in eight appearances, Casper is as spry and engaging as ever at age 81. His book chronicles an extraordinary Hall of Fame career, and the interaction he had with golf’s Big Three: Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player. As a contemporary, Casper is the oft forgotten member of that foursome, but his career is just as compelling.

He is also a devout Mormon. And his book also chronicles his faith journey and the challenges of balancing family, church, and an athletic career. 

“This was the perfect time to tell this story,” he said. “All the right pieces had to be in place, and they finally are.” 

Fans lined up to the pro shop door to meet Casper and buy his memoirs. It couldn’t happen to a nicer guy. 

 

September 25, 2012 - 12:51am
Posted by:
John Holmes
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SkyCaddie Breeze rangefinder
Courtesy of SkyGolf
The Skycaddie Breeze offers a variety of different displays of scorecards and yardages, among its many features.

SkyGolf bills its new SkyCaddie Breeze as the simplest rangefinder in golf, not to mention its least expensive. The Breeze delivers a virtual sprinkler head, says SkyGolf -- offering golfers front, middle and back-of-the-green distances from anywhere on the course without touching a button or even aiming the device.

The Breeze comes preloaded and is hands-free from the parking lot to the 18th green, and yardages are displayed in big, easy-to-read numbers on a 3-inch, sunlight-readable display. Its features include: Auto Course (finds and loads a course automatically); Auto Hole Advance (advances to the next hole automatically); and Auto Distance (yardages update every second without aiming).

Golfers also can measure any shot, knowing the exact distance they hit their clubs, while enjoying digital scoring at their choosing and much more. And with a turn of the wrist, they can view a jumbo screen with a large number to the green or see their scorecard in landscape orientation.

"The new Breeze addresses the needs of a large segment of golfers who are looking for simplicity and accuracy at a price unmatched in the industry," said SkyGolf CEO Richard Edmonson. "Even more exciting is the Breeze is also upgradable to provide many other game-saving course features and applications that help golfers play even better as their needs and their games grow. This will enable Breeze owners to customize their SkyCaddie to meet their unique needs as golfers without buying a new device or buy features they would not use."

Breeze owners seeking more advanced features such as HoleVue, IntelliGreen, RangeVue and PinPoint can add them via a series of optional upgrade packs and membership choices.

The Breeze carries a suggested retail price of $229.95, and for the remainder of 2012 buyers will receive $250 in Hotel Savings Bucks, which may be used to for savings of up to 40 percent off the guaranteed lowest rate available at more than 15,000 hotel properties worldwide. In addition, members can earn SkyRewards Points and other discounts, and can reduce the price even more by taking advantage of the SkyGolf Trade-In program.

For more information, visit www.skycaddie.com.

September 24, 2012 - 1:22am
Posted by:
John Holmes
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Ping Golf founder Karsten Solheim
Karsten Solheim's original homemade putter became the foundation of a golf equipment empire that is still innovating.

Yeah, yeah, I know Monday Night Football is on, but you really oughta tune in to CNBC tonight for "How I Made My Millions" – or at least fire up the DVR. This episode is all about Karsten Solheim and his creation of Ping Golf.

"How I Made My Millions," says CNBC, goes behind the curtain to reveal how everyday people have taken ordinary ideas and turned them into extraordinary businesses. The program, CNBC explains, puts the American Dream on display and shows you that it's alive and well if you have the heart, the desire and the know-how to make it big.

The Ping Golf episode, entitled "Stroke of Genius," focuses on Solheim, who back in the 1950s was an engineer who thought he could play better golf if he improved his putter, so he built one himself. His original Ping putter, named for the sound it made when it hit the ball, became the foundation of a golf equipment empire that is now run by his son John and is still innovating all these years later.

"How I Made My Millions" premieres at 9:00 p.m. ET, and reruns at midnight ET. You can see a 70-second teaser on YouTube.

September 23, 2012 - 11:47pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
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Courtesy of Club Glove
The Last Bag XL (left) can accomodate nearly any tour golf bag, while the TRS Ballistic Check-in XL features five packing modules.

The U.S. Ryder Cup team is jetting into Chicago with its clothes, equipment and accessories packed neatly in Club Glove travel bags that you too can buy for your golf vacations.

For their sticks, the Ryder Cup players are using the Last Bag XL club bag. The Last Bag XL is the No. 1 golf travel bag brand at all PGA Tour and Champions Tour events, says Club Glove, and it is complemented by the Stiff Arm Device, a fully adjustable, three-piece telescoping crutch that is slightly longer than the longest club in the bag, protecting clubs and shafts while nearly eliminating all risk of breakage.

The Last Bag XL weighs in at 11.2 pounds and stands 55 inches tall, 22 inches wide and 19 inches deep to accomodate nearly any golf bag and up to a 48-inch driver plus room for gear and accessories. Its single-piece, burst-proof Invista Cordura 1000 D water-resistant nylon is up to three times stronger than standard polyester and lasts up to five times longer than standard polyester. It also contains in-line skate wheels and bearings for smooth and quiet transport, an over-the-top zipper for easy loading, and two exterior shoe/storage pockets with nylon shoe bags.

It comes in 16 different colors, carries a suggested retail price of $329, and can be customized with a name or initials for an additional $20.

For their clothes, the players are using the TRS Ballistic Check-in XL, which features five packing modules to help keep its content wrinkle-free and organized. Extremely functional and durable, the bag is woven with military-spec Invista Cordura 1050 denier Ballistic nylon fabric that offers up to twice the abrasion resistance and up to four times the tear resistance of other premium brands. It stands 31 inches tall, 15 inches wide and 12 inches deep, and weighs 13.8 pounds.

The Check-in XL retails for $799, and is part of a multi-piece TRS Ballistic line that also includes the Backpack ($349), Shoulder Bag ($349), Carry-on ($699) and Check-in ($750).

This marks the eighth time that Club Glove has in some capacity outfitted the U.S. team for the Ryder Cup. The company – whose travel gear is used by more than 90 percent of PGA Tour players, according to the Darrell Survey -- created custom, personalized versions of its bags for each Ryder Cup player.

When used as a set, travelers can take advantage of Club Glove's patent-pending Train Reaction system. This allows users to quickly and easily connect bags and reduces the amount of effort needed to pull or push them by creating a perfect center of gravity and weightless feel.

For more information, visit www.clubglove.com.