Golf Buzz

August 11, 2016 - 11:05am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
tj.auclair's picture
GPS, rangefinder, golf
Do you use a GPS device, or a laser rangefinder on the golf course? We surveyed our loyal friends in PGA.com Facebook Nation and learned that it's pretty much a split decision.

There are so many things out there promising to improve your golf game. And, trust us, a lot of them work.

Two of the most important items out there that you should consider are these: A GPS watch/smartphone GPS app of some kind, or a Laser Rangefinder.

Why are these so important, you ask? Because with the help of these products, you're going to discover a more precise yardage, which -- in theory -- means that even your misses should be closer to the hole because you'll be hitting the right club.

RELATED: Here's how measuring devices can shave strokes off your game

With that, we surveyed our hundreds of thousands of friends in PGA.com Facebook Nation to figure what it is you prefer to use between a GPS watch style, or a Laser Rangefinder.

Here are your arguments for why you like one over the other.

Pro-GPS:

Jane Garrard: GPS watch because it gives me front, back and center of the green distance and more accurate distance readings of water and sand. Plus, it's right there on my wrist and I don't have to pull it out and take time to focus it!

Dwight Corky Callihan: As a ranger on a golf course, I prefer the watch. I watch people use the rangefinder and it takes much more time to use than the watch. When I compare distances with my watch with someone using a laser, they are always very close. Besides most of the players that use the lasers don't really need them because they don't play well enough to hit the shot after they use it.

Bruce Jarzmik: I've used a GPS watch for quite awhile. It's always handy and much more convenient then a rangefinder. I don't use it for anything except yardages to the front, middle and back of the green. I've worn it to a number of PGA tour events over the years as a spectator, gives a great idea of what the players yardages are while watching from the ropes.

Mike Shilkitus: GPS watch because its always right there on my wrist and doesn't slow down play.

David Wayne Morgan: GPS. Quick and easy.

John Lancaster: Watch works for me. I've recently upgraded to the Garmin X40 in your picture and it does so much more than just yardages.

Iain Henty: GPS -- much more than a rangefinder. Keeps all your stats up to date -- fairways, GIR, putts, club yardages etc.

John Foglio: The GPS since it doesn't require line of site or steady hands, but not the watch type. The watch makes it look like you're continually checking the time during your round. I'm a high 80s shooter, and the GPS accuracy is MORE than good enough for my game.

Daniel Mcgregor: GPS watch it's more efficient and practical.

Pro-Laser Rangefinder:

Samy Said: I'd rather have the rangefinder at the course. You can have the info of any point such as elevation. Sometimes use the smartphone apps with GPS to give me the info I cannot see at the spot I am.

Dan Sanders: I did the GPS for about 5 years. Found out there were discrepancies on certain holes depending on time of day. Even from height off the ground and spots just to the left or right. This year I bought the rangefinder and have been having a much better time with yardages.

Sammy Saunders: Rangefinder because I don't think they always update the watch stuff when it comes to changes in holes, we play on a lot of temp greens up here in Montana in the spring and a watch is not effective.

Robert Cardone: Rangefinder for me. I find it quicker and no need to worry about inputting any info it just reads the distances for you. I find it making my game easier and more enjoyable.

Payton Gunckel-Johnson: Rangefinder. I can scan specific trees or hazards with it and all that other good stuff. GPS just has never been for me.

Khoa Nguyen: Rangefinder. Can't shoot distance at hazard or bunkers with a watch.

Mike Rushing: Rangefinder simply because it gives me to the pin measurements and slope.

Alex Buysse: Rangefinder. Has so many more uses. Can use it on the driving range to practice better because we all know how accurate the range distances always are. You can also use it to see how far your drive was by shooting back towards the tee box.

Joseph Sciotto: Rangefinder. No need to deal with charging anything, less cords, and mostly because like Khoa mentioned, with a rangefinder can get distance for layup shots!

Geoff Morrison: Laser. Exact yardage to anything.

So, there you have it. Practically split down the middle and fantastic arguments for both.

 

 

August 10, 2016 - 3:10pm
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
tj.auclair's picture
Rob Labritz
USA Today Sports Images
PGA Professional Rob Labritz explained how the use of yardage measuring devices can help shave strokes off your golf game.

Are you one of those golfers who really wants to get better but have been reluctant to spend a few hundred dollars on a yardage measuring device?

It's an investment to be sure, but it's also an investment in your game, which -- ultimately -- is an investment in lower scores.

While the yardage markers and sprinkler heads on golf courses and the marked targets on driving ranges are nice, how accurate are they? The on-course markers (think red for 100 yards, white for 150 yards and blue for 200 yards) and sprinkler heads only measure to the middle of the green. What if you have a front or back pin position?

When it comes to the range, the teeing area isn't always in the same spot. They're always moving forward and backward so that grass can grow in.

RELATED: Stay calm in pressure situation | Tips for getting out of deep rough

Despite what you may have thought, measuring devices in golf are for everybody.

"The technology is huge," said PGA Professional Rob Labritz, who competed in his fifth PGA Championship two weeks ago at Baltusrol. "The GPS watch is probably the easiest and best to use for most golfers because it's right there on your wrist. Along with being incredibly helpful, the measuring devices also speed up play because you're not having to walk-off yardages."

GPS watches, in case you aren't familiar with them, come in a wide variety of sophistication. Most come preloaded with 10s of thousands of golf courses. You simply turn it on when you get to your course, it finds the GPS signal and you're ready to go.

Some will just give you the basic front, middle and back yardages. Others will also provide a overhead graphic of the hole, yardages to hazards, a digital scorecard, heart-rate tracking and more. Paired with a smartphone app, you can also keep track of all your stats online.

That's one reason Labritz is a big proponent of the Game Golf device (starting at $149). Game Golf provides real-time shot-tracking stats -- where and how far your ball traveled from where you hit it last, fairways hit, greens in regulation, number of putts, etc. -- that you can analyze at home after your round.

"It might seem like a lot of information, but that's the kind of data you want to track," Labritz said. "You'll discover your tendencies and you can work to correct the bad ones. It's one thing to track that information throughout the round in your head, but to see it on your computer screen or phone after a round can really put it in perspective."

For better players looking for more precise yardages, laser rangefinders are invaluable tools. They're typically between $250-$500 with some offering a "slope" option which factors in elevation changes on the course. The rangefinder will give you both the actual yardage and the yardage while factoring slope. For instance, you may have a 145 yard shot, but if it's uphill, the device will factor in a 10-yard elevation change and tell you that the shot is 155 yards. That's a one-club difference.

"If you're really wanting to dial in to the flag," Labritz said, "the laser rangefinder is the route to take. You eliminate any gray area. That's the exact yardage you need to hit it."

It's important to note that the "slope" option is not permitted for tournament play.

The benefits of these measuring devices are pretty obvious -- if you know the exact yardage, chances are even your mishits are going to be closer to the hole. There's no guesswork.

Laser rangefinders and personal launch monitors (check out the SC100 Swing Caddie for around $270. It's about the size of an iPhone and -- while Trackman is excellent -- it sure beats the $30,000+ expense) are also great for practice on the range.

As mentioned earlier, while there are marked targets on the range, they're not always accurate. Hit those targets with the rangefinder -- and anything else on the range, like trees, etc. -- to get the precise yardage.

The SC100 Swing Caddie measures carry distance, swing/ball speed and smash factor.

"If people can get their hands on a personal launch monitor, I recommend taking them out on the course to practice too," Labritz said. "Use it on every shot. People tend to get more tense on the golf course and don't swing as hard as they do on the range where they really unleash it. Compare those numbers and understand what your bag of clubs do for you."

Most of these devices offer a 30-day money-back guarantee. If you've been skeptical or reluctant about these tools before, isn't that reason enough to give them a try?

"There are so many technological tools at our disposal today and that goes beyond just equipment," Labritz said. "Take advantage of it. It will make you a better player."

Rob Labritz, who has played in four PGA Championships (he was low-Club Professional in 2010 at Whistling Straits), is currently the Director of Golf at GlenArbor Golf Club in BedFord Hills, N.Y. He was also the PGA Met Section Player of the Year in 2008 and 2013, as well as the Westchester Golf Association's Player of the Year in 2002, 2003, 2008, 2013 and 2015. You can learn more about Labritz at www.RobLabritz.com and you can follow him on Twitter, @Rlabritz
 

 

August 10, 2016 - 11:42am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
tj.auclair's picture
Tiger Woods
USA Today Sports Images
Tiger Woods' "Tiger Slam" is one of the game's greatest achievements, but it isn't No. 1.

I've been tasked with the impossible: Ranking golf's 9 greatest achievements, in order. How do you even do that?

Who is this schmuck to decide which is better than the other when just about any one of us would dine on a haggis-only diet everyday for the rest of our lives to have accomplished just one of them?

With the realization that ranking these achievements in an order all of us could agree on, is nearly as difficult as reaching just one of the feats that follow. As I run to take cover, here goes nothing...

9. Jim Furyk's 12-under 58. OK. If I'm being honest, it felt dirty putting the number "9" in front of this entry. One, because Furyk is the only player in PGA Tour history to accomplish such a feat. Two, before shooting that number this past Sunday at TPC River Highlands (a par 70) in the final round of the 2016 Travelers Championship, he was the last player on Tour to shoot a 59. He did that on On September 13, 2013, at Conway Farms (12 under since the course was a par 71) in the second round of the BMW Championship. So why is this just No. 9 even though it's something that had never happened before on the PGA Tour? I guess the only logical explanation is because it's so new.

8. Jack Nicklaus' 19 runner-up finishes in the majors. Some may argue that this isn't necessarily an "achievement" since it didn't result in victory. I'd argue that there's an exception to every rule and this is one of them because of the man we're talking about. Nicklaus -- the winningest major champion of all time (more on that later) -- also has more runner-up finishes than any player in the game's history. That's almost unfathomable. As ridiculous as this sounds -- and no less than 2016 U.S. Ryder Cup Captain Davis Love III pointed out recently -- Nicklaus could be considered the most snake-bitten golfer of all time based on that stat. The next-most runner-up finishes in majors? That would be 11 by Phil Mickelson. Back to Nicklaus -- 18 major championship wins and 19 times a runner up. Think about that.

7. Sam Snead's 82 PGA Tour victories. That's just astounding. Only two other players in the game's history have more than 70 PGA Tour wins (Jack Nicklaus, 73; Tiger Woods, 79). Here are some other incredible Snead fun facts:

- Oldest to win a PGA Tour event, the 1965 Greater Greensboro Open, at 52 years, 10 months and 8 days.

- By winning the 1960 De Soto Open Invitational, Snead became the first player to win PGA Tour titles in four different decades (since matched by Raymond Floyd).

- Oldest player to make the cut at a major: age 67 years, 2 months, 7 days at the 1979 PGA Championship.

- First PGA Tour player to shoot his age with a 67 in the second round of the 1979 Quad Cities Open.

- Oldest player to make a cut on the PGA Tour: age 67 years, 2 months, 21 days at the 1979 Manufacturers Hanover Westchester Classic.

- Only player to post a top-10 finish in at least one major championship in five different decades.

6. Francis Ouimet wins the 1913 U.S. Open at The Country Club in Brookline, Mass. This wasn't just an amazing singular accomplishment. It was also the reason for a golf boom in the United States. When Ouimet won the national championship as a 20-year-old amateur (on his home course, no less), he became the "father of amateur golf" in the United States by taking down the likes of famous, accomplished professionals Harry Vardon and Ted Ray. When you think of American golf legends, you think of names like Jones, Nelson, Hogan, Nicklaus, Palmer, Woods. Keep in mind, Ouimet was the first "hero" in American golf.

5. Byron Nelson's 1945 season. In all, Nelson won 52 times in his illustrious PGA Tour career, including four majors. Remarkably, 18 of those victories came in the 1945 season, including 11 in a row. He entered 30 tournaments that year and won 18 of them. Are you serious? In seven of those 30 starts, Nelson was the runner up. Nelson's scoring average in 1945 was 68.34, bettered by only one player in the game's history -- Tiger Woods. Woods had a scoring average of 68.17 in his historic 2000 season.

4. Ben Hogan's 1953 "Triple Crown" season. Just four years removed from a horrific car accident that nearly claimed his life, Hogan put together one of the finest season's in the game's history. He entered just six events total and won five of them, including three major championships (the "Triple Crown") -- the Masters, U.S. Open and Open Championship. Hogan never had a chance to complete the "Grand Slam" that year because the Open Championship (July 1-7) at Carnoustie overlapped the PGA Championship (July 6-10). It was the only time that a golfer had won three major professional championships in a year until Tiger Woods won the final three majors in 2000 (and the first in 2001).

3. The Tiger Slam. Otherwise known as the "non-calendar year Grand Slam." Woods accomplished this feat by winning the 2000 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach, 2000 Open Championship at St. Andrews, 2000 PGA Championship at Valhalla and then the 2001 Masters. Since his four consecutive major victories did not come in the same season, he couldn't claim a "grand slam." While not deemed a "grand slam" holding all four trophies at the same time in the four biggest tournaments in professional golf was remarkable. Four majors in a row.

Whether you want to call it a "Grand Slam" or a "Tiger Slam" you can't deny that it's simply unbelievable.

2. Bobby Jones and the "Impregnable Quadrilateral." Before the majors were what we know them to be today (Masters, U.S. Open, Open Championship and PGA Championship), they consisted of these four tournaments: The Amateur Championship (also known as the British Amateur), the Open Championship, the U.S. Open and the U.S. Amateur.

In 1930, legendary amateur golfer Bobby Jones won all four tournaments -- The Amateur Championship at the Old Course at St. Andrews; The Open Championship at Royal Liverpool Golf Club in Hoylake, England; the U.S. Open at Interlachen Country Club in Minnesota; and the U.S. Amateur at Merion Golf Club in Pennsylvania.

O.B. Keeler, a legendary writer and friend of Jones, coined the feat the "Impregnable Quadrilateral" -- a phrase we know today as "The Grand Slam." Jones was the first -- and remains the only -- player to win all four major championships in a single season.

It's one thing to win all four majors in a season. It's another thing to "know" you're going to do it. Early in 1930, before the first tournament of the Slam, Jones placed a bet on himself to win all four with British bookmakers at 50-to-1 odds. After he did it, Jones collected over $60,000 in winnings.

1. Jack Nicklaus' 18 major championship victories. While you can easily make arguments for or against the order of the achievements listed above, is there any denying that this is the undisputed No. 1? Here's the breakdown:

Masters: 6
- 1963, 1965, 1966, 1972, 1975, 1986

U.S. Open: 4
- 1962, 1967, 1972, 1980

Open Championship: 3
- 1966, 1970, 1978

PGA Championship: 5
- 1963, 1971, 1973, 1975, 1980

That's a career Grand Slam triple. The next closest in major wins to Nicklaus is Tiger Woods with 14. You know how some sports have those seemingly untouchable records -- Barry Sanders' 14 consecutive 100-yard rushing games; Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's 38,387 career points; Wayne Gretzky's 2,857 career points; Joe DiMaggio's 56-game hit streak; Cal Ripken Jr.'s 2,632 consecutive games played? In golf, the Golden Bear's 18 major wins is the pinnacle.  

August 8, 2016 - 2:06pm
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
tj.auclair's picture
Al Geiberger
@PGATOUR on YouTube
On June 10, 1977 -- 39 years ago today -- Al Geiberger became the first player in PGA Tour history to card a score of 59.

Editor's note: This story was originally published on June 10, 2016.

It's almost unfathomable to imagine a PGA Tour player winning a non-major without a single round in the 60s, isn't it?

But 39 years ago this week, that's precisely what Al Geiberger did in the Danny Thomas Memphis Classic. In fact, only two of Geiberger's four rounds were under par that week on the par-72 layout at Colonial Country Club (not to be confused with the club of the same name in Fort Worth, Texas).

Geiberger's 15-under 273 total was the winning mark.

Only two sub-par rounds -- neither in the 60s -- and a 15-under total, you say? How is that possible?

It's possible because on this very day -- June 10 -- 39 years ago in 1977, Geiberger carded the PGA Tour's first score of 59 (11 birdies, 1 eagle) in the second round of that tournament.

It should be noted that the lift, clean and place provision was in place during that round, but as Geiberger -- an 11-time PGA Tour winner and a member of winning U.S. Ryder Cup teams in 1967 and 1975 -- told Bill Fields at Golf Digest a few years back, that didn't matter.

"We were playing improved lies, but I don't ever remember doing it," the 1966 PGA Champion Geiberger told Fields on the 35th anniversary. "As you came off every tee, there was a dip in the terrain where they had winter kill. But the fairways, where we were playing to, were pretty nice. I think the field staff didn't want to go chalk off every canyon. Most of the low areas that were damaged, we were playing over those."

 

If your a cynic about a sub-60 score with lift, clean and place -- and, seriously, who are we to judge -- give all the credit in the world to Geiberger for what he accomplished on the bumpy, grainy Bermuda greens.

Along with hitting every fairway and every green that day, Geiberger also used just 23 putts to become golf's "Mr. 59." Of those 23 putts, nine were birdie putts outside of 10 feet -- 166 feet of birdie putts overall.

Now are you impressed?

As it can be this time of year, the weather was a bit steamy in Memphis that day with temperatures topping out at 97 degrees.

"It was a miserable day, hotter than hell, and I was trying regroup, collect my thoughts," Geiberger told Fields.

Here's a down-the-line look at Geiberger's rhythmic swing:

Since Geiberger's magical 59, there have been just five others on the PGA Tour [editor: before Jim Furyk's 58] Chip Beck (Sunrise GC in 1991); David Duval (PGA West Palmer Course in 1999); Paul Goydos (TPC Deere Run in 2010); Stuart Appleby (TPC Old White in 2010); and Jim Furyk (Conway Farms in 2013).

Annika Sorenstam remains the only player in LPGA history to shoot 59. She did it at the Standard Register PING tournament in 2001. 

Tommy Morrissey, pinehurst resort
YouTube / Pinhurst1895
Five-year-old Tommy Morrissey can do some spot-on impersonations of the swings of golf greats.

Tommy Morrissey is already a sensation. The 5-year-old golfer, who was born with one arm, has made headlines across the country and gotten to play and meet Tiger Woods, Arnold Palmer, Bubba Watson, Jordan Spieth and more.

His legend continues to grow, including qualifying for the U.S. Kids Golf World Championships this week at Pinehurst.

Leading up to the event, Pinehurst brought Morrissey to its golf academy to check out his incredible swing. Young Tommy did not disappoint, pulling out imitations of some of the most recognizable golf swings in the game, including Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy, Phil Mickelson, and even Arnold Palmer.

Most importantly, Morrissey and his father never seems to lose sight of just how much fun the game can be.

 

 

 

bubba watson, olympics, golf shoes
Twitter / BubbaWatson
As you'd expect, Bubba Watson is looking to make a splash at the Olympics, unveiling some crazy American-flag themed golf shoes.

With all four majors of the season behind us, the focus of the golf world turns to pride for country with the Olympics this month and the Ryder Cup in September.

For someone like Bubba Watson, that means a lot of time representing the red, white, and blue. And the man that brought us the golf cart hovercraft and then the golf cart jetpack wasn't going to simply let that opportunity pass by without some extravagent something.

That something was revealed to us on Bubba's Twitter page.

The trend of high-top golf shoes has been going around recently, seen on such players as Rickie Fowler and Rory McIlroy. But I don't think it's ever been done quite like this.

With these walking American flags on his feet, Bubba Watson is going to be hard to miss at the Olympics in Rio.