Golf Buzz

Webb Simpson
USA Today Sports Images
Webb Simpson has used his belly putter since he was in college a decade ago.
Webb Simpson – the defending champion at this week's Shriners Hospitals for Children Open – is one of the last holdouts still using a long putter on the PGA Tour. On Friday, he said that he'll switch to a short putter in 2015, and perhaps even sooner.
 
In fact, the move could come as early as Simpson's appearance in the Dunlop Phoenix tournament in Japan, which begins Nov. 20.
 
"I may switch for Japan in a few weeks," he told PGATour.com, "but I’m still just trying to make sure I'm ready to go and have worked on everything I need to work on before I start."
 
 
Simpson has practiced with a traditional-length putter over the past several years and has been using one in about half his practice at home and during casual rounds, according to the PGATour.com report. He hasn't yet settled on a special type or model of short putter.
 
Simpson began using a belly putter a decade ago in college, and has used the long stick in all four of his PGA Tour victories, including the 2012 U.S. Open. Simpson's Open victory came in a cluster of major wins by players using long putters including Keegan Bradley at the 2011 PGA Championship, Ernie Els at the 2012 British Open and Adam Scott at the 2013 Masters.
 
The U.S. Golf Association and Royal & Ancient Golf Club have banned the use of the anchored stroke commonly used with belly putters and broom-handle putters as of Jan. 1, 2016. Players still will be allowed to use a long putter as long as they don't press it against their body to create a hinge effect.
 
Old Works Golf Course
Old Works Golf Course
Old Works Golf Course sits atop an EPA Superfund site contaminated by years of copper smelting.
In Montana, the end of October means golf season is pretty much winding down. At the Old Works Golf Course in Anaconda, just northwest of Butte, the end of this golf season might mean the end of the 17-year-old course's life – and the beginning of a huge environmental battle.
 
The Jack Nicklaus-designed Old Works is one of the world's more unusual courses because it sits atop an old smelting facility that processed as much as 3,000 tons of copper ore daily for many years. Eventually, the smelting operation moved to a newer, more efficient site, and in the 1980s the Environmental Protection Agency declared the century-old facility a Superfund clean-up site because of contamination from metals such as lead and arsenic.
 
Instead of undertaking a mammoth clean-up effort, however, government officials worked with Atlantic Richfield and Nicklaus to create a world-class golf course that would sit atop the Superfund site and provide a protective covering over the waste left behind. It made history as the first course ever constructed atop a Superfund site, and was quickly ranked among the top courses in Montana and the Northwest. 
 
Now, not quite 20 years later, Old Works is in dire need of a cash infusion from Atlantic Richfield and, according to The Montana Standard newspaper, it might be forced to close for good if the money doesn't come through.
 
The course's governing body already has voted to close the course and lay off its three full-time employees unless Atlantic Richfield agrees to provide $100,000 or more, the newspaper reported.
 
 
"It's not just business as usual. We view the golf course as the keystone of redevelopment," Carl Nyman, the Superfund coordinator for Anaconda-Deer Lodge County said. "The golf course was going to generate the revenue and the impetus for redevelopment. If that vision is to continue, it's important the golf course continues."
 
And if the golf course closes, Anaconda-Deer Lodge County Chief Executive Connie Ternes-Daniels said she would begin pressing Atlantic Richfield to remove all the waste that was left in place beneath the course – potentially a multi-billion-dollar effort.
 
"That was the agreed-upon remedy. If something were to happen to the golf course and the remedy is no longer there, it needs to be cleaned up," she told the newspaper. "I don't believe for one minute this community would have accepted that much waste left in place" without the golf course.
 
For its part, Atlantic Richfield says it has provided funding for the course over the last two decades and believes it needs to become self-sustaining. The company has offered another loan to keep the course open one more season, but course officials say the amount isn't enough.
 
And if the parties can't reach an agreement?
 
"The loss of that course would be devastating for everybody," Ternes-Daniels said. "It would be a huge economic impact if something were to happen to the course. The Old Works Golf Course is the flagship of remediation in Anaconda-Deer Lodge County. It needs to remain as such. It's the duty of EPA, ARCO and us to make sure it does continue."
 
October 17, 2014 - 9:15am
andrew.prezioso's picture
Willie Park Sr.
PGA of America
In this photo dated back to the 1850s, Willie Park Sr. is the one in the center. Park would go on to win the first professional golf tournament in 1860.

Today's an important date in golf history. The professional part of the game is turning 154 years old today. 

While not played for the Claret Jug at the time, that tournament is the precursor to the Open Championship. In fact, the first Claret Jug would not be presented to the winner until 1873. 

So what was golf like back then? Here's the description of the event, which was won by Willie Park Sr., from the Open Championship website: 

[Park] opened his bid for the first championship at Prestwick in 1860 with a tremendous tee shot that was described by one onlooker as “sounding as if it had been shot from some rocket apparatus” and after three rounds of the 12-hole course he came to the final hole with a one shot lead over his great rival Old Tom Morris. Two putts from 10 yards would have secured him victory, but in his usual fashion he gave the ball a firm rap and it bumped and bobbled across the uneven surface before diving into the hole. He was the first champion golfer by two clear shots.

And who was this Park? Here's how the Open Championship website describes him: 

Willie Park, winner of the first Open Championship in 1860, was the Arnold Palmer of his day. "He goes bold at everything," was the generally held view, "especially with his long putts." It was felt that his aggressive style of play, so often successful in match play, would let him down over 36 holes of stroke-play in the first championship, but he was emphatically to prove his detractors wrong with four Open titles and four runner-up places in a 16-year spell.

 

October 17, 2014 - 8:28am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
tj.auclair's picture
eagle
YouTube
This is one of those rare times when an eagle on the golf course isn't a good thing.

An eagle on the golf course is usually a great thing.

In this particular case, however, it didn't help anyone's scorecard.

Check out this video where an actual, real life eagle picks a golf ball up of the green and takes off:

So what do you do if this happens to you? That's covered under decision 18-1 in the Rules of Golf:
 
If a ball at rest is moved by an outside agency, there is no penalty and the ball must be replaced.

 

October 17, 2014 - 7:53am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
tj.auclair's picture
Rafa Nadal
YouTube
In this video, tennis star Rafa Nadal works on his poker face by trying to convince two golfers he has amnesia after being struck in the head with a golf ball.

What's better than a well-executed prank?

That's exactly what tennis star Rafa Nadal pulled off recently on a course in Majorca, Spain, on a couple of unsuspecting golfers.

It was all part of a hidden-video prank by PokerStars, in which Nadal would work on his, "poker face," to convince the golfers he had been hit in the head with a ball and had amnesia.

Check it out here:

Now that was good stuff. The two golfers looked genuinely concerned when they saw a man down on the green and then you could see on their faces it quickly escalated to panic when they realized the man down was one of the world's most famous athletes.

Mikko Ilonen's scorecard
European Tour
Mikko Ilonen's magic number on Thursday at the Volvo World Match Play Championship was 3.
It's mid-October, but this is a big week in golf around the globe. The PGA Tour is in Las Vegas, the LPGA Tour is in South Korea, the Champions Tour is in North Carolina, and the European Tour has a pair of events going on: the Hong Kong Open in Asia and the Volvo World Match Play Championship outside of London.
 
As we most recently saw at the Ryder Cup, match-play golf is a unique animal that often produces memorable scorecards. It happened again on Thursday on the second day of the Volvo Match Play.
 
Defending champion and Ryder Cup star Graeme McDowell faced off against Mikko Ilonen of Finland in a match that McDowell was almost universally expected to win. But he lost, 2 and 1, because Ilonen carded 12 3s over the 17 holes of their match.
 
5 TO WATCH: See who T.J. Auclair has his eye on at the Shriners Hopitals for Children Open
 
Check out the card posted above. After a par on the par-5 opening hole, Ilonen ran off three 3s in a row to build a 2-up lead. He then parred the par-5 sixth hole to see his lead drop to one hole, then carded four more 3s in succession to grab a 4-up lead through 10 holes. From there, he went 4-3-5-3-5-3-3.
 
Amazing, 12 3s. Perhaps even more amazing considering how well he was playing, Ilonen didn't make birdie or eagle on any of the four par-5 holes. 
 
McDowell, for his part, didn't play poorly – he had seven 3s on his own card, and he halved six of the holes on which he made a 3. Between the two of them, they had 13 birdies and no bogeys.