Golf Buzz

Stockton Seaview Hotel & Golf Club
Courtesy of Stockton Seaview Hotel & Golf Club
The links-style Bay Course at the Stockton Seaview Hotel & Golf Club overlooks the skyline of Atlantic City, N.J.

The LPGA Tour is back at the Stockton Seaview Hotel & Golf Club near Atlantic City, N.J., this week for its ShopRite LPGA Classic. And though the field is typically strong for this popular event, the biggest news might be what's under the players' feet.

The resort is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year, and the Bay Course – on which the event is being played for the 16th time – has just opened the curtains on a noteworthy renovation. 

Highlighting the makeover to the links-style layout are new tee boxes on the fourth, fifth, 10th and 12th holes, which have added 150 yards in overall length, and rebuilt tee boxes on the other holes to create better, more consistent playing surfaces. A new bunker complex was added between the fourth and fifth holes to collect stray shots on each of those holes.

In addition, the resort installed new GPS units in its golf carts; completely redesigned its tee signs, markers and in-ground tee and fairway yardage plates; and got new retro wooden bunker rakes and pin flags.

SHOPRITE CLASSIC: Lydia Ko pacing herself in her first full season on LPGA Tour

"The course renovation will create a greater playing experience for the ladies of the LPGA, as well as golfers of all levels, and we are very excited that this project is being completed during our centennial in 2014," said PGA Director of Golf Kevin DeDonato.  

The resort holds a unique place in the Northeast – it has been owned by Richard Stockton College of New Jersey since 2010 but dates back to 1914, when public utility magnate Clarence Geist founded what was originally known as the Seaview Country Club. The Bay Course opened in 1915 – it was largely created by course architect Hugh Wilson, who had also designed the two courses at Merion in nearby Philadelphia, and finished the next year by Donald Ross.

A nine-hole course opened in 1929, and a second nine was created in 1959 to complete what has become the Pines Course, another championship layout that showcases southern New Jersey's pine forest landscape. 

The Seaview officially entered the history books when it hosted the 1942 PGA Championship. Sam Snead won the first of his seven major titles that year, holing a 60-foot chip shot on the 35th hole of the match-play finale to defeat Jim Turnesa. That event was played on a composite layout including holes from both courses.

 

Cheyenne Woods
Cheyenne Woods via Twitter
Cheyenne Woods showed off her U.S. Women's Open invitation after she qualified late Wednesday.

We've heard a lot about Lucy Li lately, as the 11-year-old phenom qualified her way into the U.S. Women's Open by winning her qualifier by an amazing seven shots.

Today, she filled in another week on her summer calendar by qualifying for the U.S. Women's Amateur Public Links Championship. She finished third in her qualifier, as nine players from the starting field of 45 to punched their tickets to The Home Course in DuPont, Wash., in mid-July.

Li, however, isn't the only prominent female golfer to be making some plans today. Late Wednesday, Cheyenne Woods – Tiger Woods' niece – qualified her way into the U.S. Women's Open, which is enjoying a higher profile than usual this year because it will be played as the second half of a unique "doubleheader" – it will be played on the No. 2 Course at Pinehurst the week after the men's U.S. Open is played there.

 
The irony of Cheyenne's success is that she will be in her national championship while her uncle Tiger won't be able to play in his as he continues to recover from back surgery.

Woods, who starred at Wake Forest (she won the ACC individual title in 2011 and graduated in 2012), has yet to earn full-time LPGA Tour status, and that appears to be her ultimate goal. The 23-year-old – who won more than 30 tournaments as an amateur – won a mini-tour event in 2012, then captured the Volvik RACV Ladies Masters on the Ladies European Tour in February, giving her a two-year exemption on that circuit. She is also playing the second-tier Symetra Tour this season.

 

Keegan Bradley at The Memorial
Srixon via Twitter
Keegan Bradley used a non-belly putter for the first time in his PGA Tour career on Thursday at The Memorial

Keegan Bradley helped ignite the long-putter explosion when he won the 2011 PGA Championship to become the first player to win a major with a belly putter. He has used a long putter for four years, but admits that the impending anchored-stroke ban that will go into effect in 2016 has been like a "ticking clock in your head." 

On Thursday at The Memorial, Bradley went without a belly putter for the first time in his PGA Tour career, and it worked out just fine. He knocked in a 12-foot birdie putt on his opening hole, added four more birdies for a 5-under 67 and was one shot out of the lead among the early starters. It was also his best-ever score at Muirfield Village. 

"I'm totally in a trial period here," Bradley, whose best score in eight previous rounds was a 71, told The Associated Press. "I'm not in any way saying I'm switching for good from now on. This is just for right now and this week." 

Bradley was persuaded to give the shorter putter a try on the advice from his mother, and a week of practice and trash-talking with his good friend Michael Jordan.

Bradley didn't like the way he finished off the HP Byron Nelson Championship two weeks ago, and while talking to his mother, she suggested he go to a shorter putter. 

 
"I hadn't put any thought into it up until that point," he said. "And so I thought I needed something to get me excited about playing because I was bummed." 

Bradley hasn't won since the 2012 WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, and he needs to get moving if he wants to earn a spot on the Ryder Cup team. Inspired to experiment by his mother, he played with Jordan at The Bear's Club in South Florida, asking him to be relentless in heckling and make Bradley feel uncomfortable, "which he's good at." 

"And we just kept playing and playing. And I felt better and better with it," he said. "And I came here not knowing what I was going to do. I played a round with Brendan Steele and I felt good with it again, and I thought there's no reason for me not to do it." 

Bradley said he last used a conventional putter in 2010 in his second start on the Nationwide Tour, but switched over to the belly putter because he felt he was better with it. 

His plan for the year was to qualify for the Ryder Cup team and start converting to a shorter putter after October. 

 
Now? Who knows? 

The new putter is 41 inches, which is about 6 inches longer than a standard putter. The difference is that Bradley doesn't press the end of it into his belly. He felt better over lag putts, and he said the shorter putter improved his touch on fast greens. 

"The negatives are just ... I'm aware that people are watching me," he said. "And that's the hardest part." 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

 
Double hit
YouTube
John Cook in the Champions Tour.

Many of you may have seen an interesting shot recently on the Champions Tour when John Cook double hit his ball on the 14th hole at Regions Tradition. The interesting story there was that Cook was unaware he double hit the ball, but after seeing cell phone video of the shot, realized he did and he was assessed with a penalty.

We were curious about not only this type of mishit, but others in the family, so we asked Senior co-chairman PGA Rules Committee Brad Gregory about the play. Gregory said the double hit rule itself is clear, Rule 14-4. It says if a player strikes the ball more than once during a stroke, the player must count the stroke and adds a penalty stroke for two strokes in all. The player would play the ball as it lies.

Which is what happened. But how about some other scenarios after the initial strike of a ball?

For instance, if it hits the club face, then shaft? Same thing, says Gregory. Initial stroke plus penalty for the shaft hit and then play as it lies.

Adding complexity, Gregory said if the ball were to hit something else (a tree, bunker lip, etc) and then rebounded and hit your club after deflection, it applies to a different rule (19-2) but the result is the same. "Count the stroke and add a penalty stroke for two strokes in all. Except in a rare circumstance where the ball comes to rest on the player, partner, their caddies or equipment. In this case, the player must drop the ball under the spot it came to rest."

Prior to 2004, these two Rules had different results, said Gregory. Back then, Rule 14-4 was the same but the penalty for Rule 19-2 was the general penalty. In match play, it was loss of hole and in stroke play, the penalty two strokes.

 

May 29, 2014 - 7:15am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
tj.auclair's picture

The PGA of America and LPGA will join forces for a new KPMG Women's PGA Championship, announced by PGA of America CEO Pete Bevacqua and LPGA Commissioner Michael Whan this morning on Golf Channel's "Morning Drive."

 

 

The KPMG Women's PGA Championship will continue the rich tradition of the LPGA Championship and will rotate annually among prestigious courses in major metropolitan markets. In its first year, the Championship will be held in 2015 at the Westchester Country Club in Rye, N.Y., with a purse among the highest in women's golf at $3.5 million. The Championship will be operated by the PGA of America in close collaboration with the LPGA. NBC's Golf Channel, which broke the exclusive news, will be televsion partners.

Whan said the partnership will "evolve the LPGA into a new era."

Bevacqua said a critical addition is that PGA Professionals will have a chance to qualify for the major, like the PGA Championship and a first for the women's game. "This is all about growing the game, taking a very vocal stand in the women's game," Bevacqua said. 

More on the announcement will come during a press conference scheduled for 11 a.m. from the Saturday Night Live studios at 30 Rock in New York.

 

 

H2O Golf floating green in Halifax Harbour
H2O Golf
The H2O Golf floating green is open all summer in the Halifax Harbour in Nova Scotia.

When many of us see the island green on the 17th hole at TPC Sawgrass, we get the willies. When Canadian golf lovers Mike Kennedy, Steve Dexter and George Fowler saw it, they got inspired.

So they created their own version – and it floats in the harbor in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

The trio has founded H2O Golf, which lets golfers take shots at a green floating in Halifax Harbour. In fact, the company says, it is "North America's only floating ocean golf green." 

The green is about 65 square meters in size, and is made from the same artificial turf used at the New England Patriots' Gillette Stadium, according to The Halifax Chronicle-Herald.

"We were kind of chatting around the art of the possible and next thing you know we're riveting geraniums to a floating golf green in the harbour and tugging it across with a tugboat," Kennedy, the H2O Golf president, told the newspaper.

The company has hired a couple of PGA of Canada professionals to help the golfers wanting to take their best shots – and they've hired a team of local divers to retrieve the balls that end up in the drink.

The company is charging $10 for three balls, and anyone who makes an ace wins a prize as well as a spot in the season-ending closest-to-the-pin competition. In addition, every golfer receives coupons for a variety of local businesses, and there is also a series of weekly competitions throughout the summer. 

And if things should happen to go horribly wrong, like someone lodges a ball in the blowhole of a passing whale, the H2O Golf guys can always just give George Costanza a call. He is, after all a marine biologist.