Golf Buzz

July 15, 2013 - 11:43pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
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Hammacher-Schlemmer hovercraft golf cart
The hovercraft golf cart is perfect for anyone in search of a head-turning way to levitate around the links.

Jammed in my usual stack of junk mail today was a catalog from gadgeteer extraordinaire Hammacher Schlemmer. And on the cover – a golf cart hovercraft.

Yes, a golf cart hovercraft like the one Bubba Watson zooms around in on YouTube, and the ones soon to be available for rent at Windy Knoll Golf Club in Ohio – one that you can buy for your own self.

''This is the golf cart that glides over sand traps and water hazards on a cushion of air as easily as it does over fairways and the rough,'' the Hammacher Schlemmer website says. ''Powered by a 65-hp twin-cylinder Hirth engine, its nine-blade axial-flow ducted fan propels the craft up to 45 mph and 9" off the ground without harming grass, allowing immediate crossing of a pond or stream to follow-up a cross-water shot. 

''The fan's streamlined design minimizes noise, speeds up an 18-hole outing, and conveys four passengers beneath a lift-up roof and two golf bags in an open rear compartment,'' it adds, though I'm not sure why they'd make one that could hold four people but only two bags.

Anyway, the site says the hovercraft's ''low-profile, aerodynamic design minimizes air drag to maximize stability in crosswinds while its innovative skirt system employs individually handmade segments to provide optimal anti-plow and -scoop performance. The craft's fiberglass composite and urethane foam composite hull meets United States Coast Guard standards for reliable hovering over water.''

The hovercraft weighs 600 pounds when sitting unloaded on the ground. And it retails for a mere $58,000 – pretty expensive for a golf cart, but a bargain for anyone in search of a head-turning way to levitate around the links, or anywhere else for that matter.

If you're interested, check it out here. But remember, I call shotgun.


July 15, 2013 - 12:34pm
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
tj.auclair's picture
Rickie Fowler
This new ESPN commercial featuring Rickie Fowler is worth 30 seconds of your time.
OK, so by now everyone knows Rickie Fowler's favorite color is orange. 
Or is it? This great new, "This is Sportscenter," ESPN commercial, suggests that maybe Fowler isn't wearing all that orange in honor of his Oklahoma State University Cowboys after all. 
h/t Steve Elling, @EllingYelling on Twitter.
Follow T.J. Auclair on Twitter, @tj_auclair.
July 15, 2013 - 1:35am
Posted by:
John Holmes
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Will Wilcox
Getty Images
Will Wilcox became the fourth player in Tour history to card a 59 on Sunday, going 12 under on the par-71 Willow Creek Country club course in the final round of the Utah Championship.

Will Wilcox became the fourth player in Tour history to card a 59 on Sunday, going 12 under on the par-71 Willow Creek Country Club course in the final round of the Utah Championship. Unfortunately, he came up one shot short of making the playoff that Steven Alker won over Ashley Hall.

Wilcox began his final round tied for 38th place, 10 shots behind 54-hole leader Chad Collins. 

''It's huge, obviously,'' Wilcox said afterward. ''It's something every golfer dreams of, and on a par 71, it seems a little more attainable.'' 

Because the weather-delayed third round didn't end until Sunday morning, Wilcox began his final round on the 10th hole and birdied his first four holes.

''I teed off in front of a few people who had gathered on No. 10, and I noticed as my round progressed that the spectator size was growing a little,'' he told Tour Media Official Laury Livsey. ''I haven't really gotten much TV time out here, but even the cameras didn't bother me. I was hitting it fine, so the added attention wasn't a big deal.'' 

As he worked his way down the home stretch, Wilcox said, he missed what he called ''a really easy birdie putt'' on No. 7, his 16th hole. 

''It was probably no more than two-and-a-half, maybe three feet. I hit just a terrible putt. So if I was nervous during the round, it came at my 16th and 17th holes,'' he said. ''When I missed that short one on 16, I was nervous because I had three feet coming back for par. I also knew I needed to bury the putt on 17 to give myself a chance at 59 on my closing hole. But I made it, and that set me up for the finish.''

It what might have been an ominous preview, Wilcox had double bogeyed No. 9 (his final hole on Sunday), in the third round. But it proved to be no problem for him as he closed out his 59.

''For me, No. 9 at Willow Creek is a 7-iron off the tee and a pitching-wedge par 4. That's a pretty nice combination,'' he said. ''If you can't hit the fairway with a 7-iron, I don't know what to tell you. I hit the fairway, and then it was a front-left pin. So it was the perfect number for me with a wedge in my hand. I had perfect numbers all day. It was awesome.'' 

Wilcox described his final birdie putt as right-edge, six or seven feet, and said he wasn't really nervous.

''A few players came out to watch me on my last hole, including Jason Gore, who shot a 59 on this tour himself. I appreciated that,'' he said. ''There were a lot of hugs, and everything got really busy, even a little crazy. I had to do a Golf Channel interview, and I almost gave away the ball I made the putt with. The media official told me to put it in my pocket. He also gave my caddie, Tyler Olson, permission to keep his caddie bib as a memento.''

Speaking of the ball, Wilcox used a Srixon TourYellow ZStar XV, making it the first yellow ball to join the 59 club.

Here is the list of the sub-60 scores in official events on the world's top-level tours that Wilcox has joined:

Ryo Ishikawa (-12), 2010 Japan Golf Tour, The Crowns in Aichi, Japan 

Al Geiberger (-13), 1977 PGA Tour, Danny Thomas Memphis Classic in Memphis Tenn.
Chip Beck (-13), 1991 PGA Tour, Las Vegas Invitational in Las Vegas, Nev.
David Duval (-13), 1999 PGA Tour, Bob Hope Chrysler Classic in Palm Springs, Calif.
Paul Goydos (-12), 2010 PGA Tour, John Deere Classic in Silvis, Ill.
Stuart Appleby (-11), 2010 PGA Tour, Greenbrier Classic in White Sulphus Springs, W.Va.

Annika Sorenstam (-13), 2001 LPGA Tour, Standard Register Ping in Phoenix, Ariz.

Notah Begay III (-13), 1998 Nike Tour, Dominion Open in Richmond, Va.
Doug Dunakey (-11), 1998 Nike Tour, Miami Valley Open in Springboro, Ohio
Jason Gore (-12), 2005 Nike Tour, Cox Classic in Omaha, Neb.
Will Wilcox (-12), 2013 Tour, Utah Championship in Sandy, Utah

Masahiro Kuramoto (-12), 2003 Japan Golf Tour, Acom International in Ibaraki, Japan  

Adrien Mork (-12), 2006 European Challenge Tour, Tikita Hotels Agadir Moroccan Classic in Agadir, Morocco


July 14, 2013 - 10:13pm
Posted by:
John Kim's picture
Happy Gilmore swing
courtesy YouTube
Hitting the famous "Happy Gilmore" drive is not as easy as it looks - even for some of the world's best.
Who amongst us golf nuts have never been inspired by the golf classic "Happy Gilmore"? No, not to wrestle an alligator (or Bob Barker) but to try one of those run up and wail away drives that helped the hockey-loving accidental golf pro win the coveted Tour championship from Shooter McGavin.  
Well, our friends at the European Tour (yes, the same folks who brought us 'Rory vs. the Robot' were certainly inspired - as were some of the top golfers in the world - as shown in the latest offerings from overseas. Check out how some of the best players in the world do at recreating the Happy Gilmore drive.  
*** Spoiler: Paul Casey was awesome, Padraig Harrington hit it the best and Phil Mickelson did better in the actual tournament (won!) than he did on his shot.
Connect with John on Twitter at @johnkim_10
July 13, 2013 - 8:26pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
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Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon
Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon spent their Saturday on the links with President Obama.

'Pardon the Interruption' co-host and longtime Washington sportswriter and radio personality Tony Kornheiser turned 65 on Saturday. For his momentous birthday, he got a pretty unusual gift – a round of golf with his PTI co-host Michael Wilbon and President Obama.

Obama spent more than four hours at the golf course at the U.S. Army's Fort Belvoir in Virginia, south of Washington, D.C., according to the Associated Press. There apparently was a fourth in the golfing group, but the White House didn't identify him (or her).

Even though Kornheiser customarily ends each show with a shoutout to Canada, Obama is a something of a PTI fan. Back in October of 2011, he taped a special message commemorating the show's 10th anniversary.


July 12, 2013 - 8:07pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
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Calabar golf course in Nigeria
Thomson Perrett & Lobb
The second hole on the Calabar course will wend through an old rubber plantation.

South Africa has several world-class golf courses, but the rest of Africa? Outside of Morocco, not so many.

The western Africa nation of Nigeria, however, soon will add the continent's newest high-end golf destination.

Construction has begun on a new championship course just outside the city of Calabar, the capital of Nigeria's Cross River State, that was designed by Thomson Perrett & Lobb, the golf course architecture firm founded by five-time British Open champion Peter Thomson. The layout begins in a dense plantation of rubber trees before moving into several valleys and up onto a ridge before it finishes alongside the Calabar River.

''We have worked very hard to ensure the course will fit seamlessly into the landscape,'' said TPL principal Tim Lobb, who is leading the design team. ''For example, we have marked the clearing lines by hand to give a natural looking edge, rather than the hole corridors being straight, and we have retained clumps of trees in strategic spots.''

Lobb said that he developed a routing that that makes the best possible use of the land's natural contours, and minimizes earthmoving. 

''Calabar is less than five degrees north of the Equator, with a challenging tropical climate, especially during the rainy season, so enhancing the site's natural drainage channels will be key to making a course that's playable year round,'' he said. 

Construction of the course should be finished by the end of 2014, Lobb said, with the opening planned for 2015.

The new course is part of a $200 million improvement project by the state government that incorporates an international-standard convention center, five-star hotel and a residential community.

''The Calabar International Convention Center, the golf course and the rest of the development will be a world-class amenity for the State, and one of the leading facilities in West Africa,'' said Liyel Imoke, the governor of Cross River State. ''We are delighted that the course construction is under way, and we look forward eagerly to seeing it completed.''

Nigeria has a population of around 170 million, but only about 50 golf courses and 200,000 golfers – so far. The new course will be just the second 18-hole layout in Cross River State, and its greens are made of dirt, not grass.

"An up-to-date standard golf course becomes relevant in an economy like ours in Nigeria, that is growing rapidly," Imoke told CNN. "We now see a new emerging middle class, what they used to call the yuppie class. The yuppie generation is here, and they play golf. If Calabar has something to offer, and they come to Calabar, then the people in Calabar benefit from that expenditure."