Golf Buzz

April 17, 2014 - 8:39pm
john.holmes's picture
TaylorMade White SLDR driver
Courtesy of TaylorMade
The white version of the TaylorMade SLDR driver is identical to the original black edition in every way but color – meaning it also includes a 20-gram weight that slides along a track on the front of the sole to let golfers to dial in their preferred trajectory.

It's no secret that TaylorMade has gone all in on its SLDR driver, and the latest evidence of that came Thursday as the company released a white-crowned version.

The white edition of this best-selling big stick follows other white clubs in the TaylorMade stable such as the R11, R1, Rocketballz and Rocketballz Stage 2 drivers. The full-size SLDR driver debuted last summer with a charcoal-gray crown, and was followed by a 14-degree version, a smaller 430cc version and, just recently, the SLDR Mini with a 260cc head.

"The white crown with black button-back delivers a remarkable appearance at address," said Brian Bazzel, the senior director of metalwood product creation. "Many golfers fell in love with white when it came out in 2011, and now we are delivering a limited edition white SLDR with low and forward CG for more distance when you loft up."

MORE TAYLORMADE: JetSpeed drivers and woods | Project (a) golf balls

The white version is identical to the original dark-headed edition in every way but color – meaning it also includes a 20-gram weight that slides along a track on the front of the sole to let golfers to dial in their preferred trajectory by placing the weight at any one of 21 points along the track. The SLDR allows for six millimeters of movement – that's 50 percent more than on the R1 driver – promoting a shot-dispersion range of up to 30 yards. 

It also includes the low and forward Center of Gravity that promotes low spin and faster ball speeds, as well as TaylorMade's Loft-sleeve Technology, which permits the loft to be easily adjusted. Golfers can choose from 12 positions within a range of plus-or-minus 1.5 degrees of loft change. 

The SLDR White driver will be available on May 2, and carry a suggested retail price of $399. 

 

Golf trick shot
Vine
That isn't just a guy hitting a ball with a bat. You have to see how the bat and ball got to where they are as part of an outstanding trick shot.

Trick shots have been getting a lot of run around these parts lately, thanks largely to the Bryan Brothers.

Apparently they're not the only ones pulling off golf tricks that make you say, "Wow!"

RELATED: Bryan brothers up the ante | Two-man trick shot | Trick-shot compilation

Here's a Vine from a guy named David Cramblitt, who expertly marries a golf and baseball.

Check it out:

Follow T.J. Auclair on Twitter, @tjauclair.


 

April 17, 2014 - 8:54am
tj.auclair's picture
Which golf club scares you the most?
PGA Media Archive
Is there a particular club you dread hitting when a shot or yardage calls for it? You're not alone.

Back in December, while playing in the PNC Father-Son Challenge, Jack Nicklaus was asked a simple question: Over the years, did he have a favorite club or set of clubs?

Without missing a beat, the world's greatest golfer and winner of 18 major championships gave the kind of answer that made you understand what made him so good.

"People ask me what my favorite club is, and I always said the shot I was playing at the time," Nicklaus said. "I always wanted it to be that way. I can't say it's exactly that way anymore. But if I had a 1-iron in my hand it was my favorite club. If I had a sand wedge in my hand it was my favorite club. You know, driver, putter, didn't make any difference. I wanted to be equally competent with all of them and not have something I didn't like. I've always tried to feel that way. I didn't have a favorite club."

FIX YOUR PROBLEM AREAS: Off the tee | Hybrids/woods | Short game | Bunkers | Putting

Can you imagine being able to play this difficult game like that? Yeah, neither can we!

Phil Mickelson, one of the greatest player's today, has also spoken about having no fear on the course. And does he ever practice what he preaches -- remember that needle-threaded of shot he hit through the trees on the 13th hole at Augusta National on his way to winning the 2010 Masters?

"I never felt comfortable flying, so I went and got my pilot's license," Mickelson once said. "I never felt comfortable with being in an awkward situation, so I took up martial arts. I just always wanted to take on my fears head-on. That's kind of the way I approach golf. If there's a shot that I don't feel comfortable with, I'll go on the range and work on it until I do, until I turn that weakness into strength.

"Where I see a lot of mistakes being made out here is people practice their strengths, and they don't take their weaknesses and turn them into strengths," he added. "It feels better to practice things you're good at, not the things you struggle at, and I've always tried to do the opposite."

We could all become better players if we followed that logic.

This week, we pitched this question to our friends in PGA.com Facebook Nation: We all have that one club (maybe all of them for some of us) that we really struggle with. Which club scares you the most and why?

We received loads of great answers -- some of them even gave us a good laugh. If you'd like to join the discussion, click here. And as you read these answers and reflect on your own weaknesses, remember how Nicklaus and Mickelson approach the same situations you're dealing with. Will it make you as good as them? We'd love to tell you the sky's the limit, but we're all adults here so let's be honest -- that's an unlikely expectation. But it will make you a better, stronger golfer.

MORE: Find a PGA Professional | Get Golf Ready | New to the game? | Already play?

Here are some of your best answers:

"Right now, the 56-degree wedge. Nice and easy, my head will say. And then it hits a nice and easy 23-degree line drive, usually leaving me the same shot on the other side." -- Mike Benzie

"My 60-degree wedge. When I'm on it's a beautiful thing. But when I'm not it's blade city." -- Kevin White

"My 4-iron. I have the worst hook you would ever want to see." -- Mark Church

"It's the 6-iron. All my other irons are fine besides this one." -- Joe Ferreri

"My 2-iron. Took it and the 3-iron out of my bag and have hybrids now. Wish I did this a decade ago." -- John Davis

"The 60-degree wedge. I'm having a hard time getting used to so much loft. I seem to blade it a lot. I played only with a 51-degree for decades. I have a 56-degree in bag now. I'm much more comfortable with that. I'm not giving up on the 60 though. I've had enough quality shots with it to overlook the bad ones." -- Michael Hook

"My wedge. I had a bad case of the shanks for a round and a half and now I can't get that image out of my mind when I have my wedge in my hands." -- Ryan Cameron

"Every club in the bag. Maybe I will go back to fishing. Nah. I love golf." -- David Taylor

"Putter, putter, putter. Can't putt." -- Danny Driver

"Hybrid out of the rough. I don't bother anymore." -- Dick Purdue

"Driver and 3-wood off the tee-box. It's either a duck hook or an extreme slice. I never know what's coming." -- Phillip Allred

"Woods. All of them. Don't even carry them anymore. My game is better for it." -- Kevin O'Rourke

"Any Hybrid, tried every one, every brand. Just can't hit them!" -- Andrew Carpenter

"I'm a 6-handicap and can't hit a 6-iron. Never have and never will." -- Jason Ciolino

There you have it, folks. If you struggle with a particular club or clubs, as you can see, you're not alone. Take Mickelson's approach. Get to the range and turn that weakness into a strength.

Follow T.J. Auclair on Twitter, @tjauclair.

 

TPC Sawgrass
USA Today Sports Images
The Players Championship's new playoff format means the three-hole shootout will end at the par-4 18th hole.

If there is a playoff at The Players Championship this season, it will be a three-hole aggregate shootout over the closing holes at the Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass. 

PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem announced today that the new format would see the playoff include the the par-5 16th hole, the par-3 17th and the par-4 18th. If the players are still tied, it would go to sudden death starting on the 17th. 

Until now, the tournament used a sudden-death format beginning on the island-green 17th.

5 PLAYERS TO WATCH: Who does TJ Auclair have his eye on at the RBC Heritage?

The change is significant in that it makes The Players Championship the only regular PGA Tour event not to use sudden death. Now, The Players joins the PGA Championship (three-hole aggregate) and British Open (four-hole aggregate) in using multi-hole formats. 

The Masters uses the standard sudden-death playoff, while the U.S. Open stages an 18-hole playoff.

For the record, there have been three playoffs since The Players moved to TPC Sawgrass in 1983. Sandy Lyle won on the third extra hole in 1987, while Sergio Garcia won on the first extra hole in 2008 and K.J. Choi won on the first extra hole in 2011.

 

Graeme McDowell
USA Today Sports Images
Graeme McDowell is the defending champion at this week's RBC Heritage.

One week after the pressure cooker that is the Masters, many PGA Tour players head to Hilton Head Island, S.C., for rest, relaxation, family time and the RBC Heritage and breathtaking Harbour Town.

Don't confuse the rest and relaxation with not intending to be competitive in the tournament -- that couldn't be further from the truth. It's just that in terms of venue and surroundings, you're not likely to find a more comfortable place on tour than the Sea Pines Resort.

RELATED: RBC Heritage tee times | Photos: RBC Heritage & more | Tom Watson's blog

The RBC Heritage provides a great mix -- guys coming off a high or low depending on their Masters performance and guys not otherwise exempt already for the 2015 Masters to punch the first ticket to next year's first major with a victory.

With that, here are five players to watch at the 2014 RBC Heritage.

5. Boo Weekley
Best finish in 2013-14 season:
T11 at the WGC-HSBC Champions
Reason to watch: Outside of that T11 at the WGC-HSBC Champions in November, it's been a lackluster year for Weekley, who enters this week having missed the cut in each of his last two starts (the Arnold Palmer Invitational and the Masters). If ever there were a place to get the train back on the tracks, this is it. Weekley has three wins on the PGA Tour in his career and two of them came in back-to-back years (2007, 2008) at Harbour Town. He's also been in the top 13 three times after those wins. A horse for this course, indeed.

4. Davis Love III
Best finish in 2013-14 season:
T26 at the Arnold Palmer Invitational
Reason to watch: Five of Love's impressive 20 career PGA Tour wins have come in this tournament, including the first of his career way back in 1987. He loves this place. And you know what he loathes? Missing the Masters. He hasn't played in the Masters since 2011 and would love to get back there. Love turned 50 years old on Sunday, but he doesn't strike me as the kind of guy who's ready to leave the PGA Tour for the Champions Tour. And though he hasn't had a win on Tour since 2008, Harbour Town is the kind of place where Love is more than capable of sneaking up on everyone.

3. Graeme McDowell
Best finish in 2013-14 season:
Third WGC-HSBC Champions
Reason to watch: Let's state the obvious first -- McDowell is a favorite this week because he's the defending champion. You're also not likely to find too many players reeling more so than McDowell over last week's Masters. Sure, he missed the cut. It's time to move on. However, McDowell was red hot going into the Masters. He hadn't won yet this season, but did have five top-10 finishes in just seven starts. Maybe it was a case of wanting it too much. Or, maybe Augusta National just doesn't fit his eye (it was his fifth missed cut there in seven starts). Either way, he bounced back from a missed cut a the Masters last year with a win at the Heritage. I wouldn't be surprised if that happened again this week.

2. Zach Johnson
Best finish in 2013-14 season:
Winner of the Hyundai Tournament of Champions
Reason to watch: After a scorching hot start to 2014 -- three top-8 finishes, including a win -- Johnson, understandably, cooled off a touch. However, it was still a surprise to see the 2007 Masters champ miss his first cut of the season a week ago at Augusta National. Johnson will get back on track this week in Hilton Head, where he was the runner up in 2012.

1. Matt Kuchar
Best finish in 2013-14 season:
Second at the Shell Houston Open
Reason to watch: OK. Something's got to give for Kuchar. His last three starts look like this: T4 Valero Texas Open; Runner up in a playoff at the Shell Houston Open; T5 at the Masters. Overall, Kuchar has seven top-10 finishes in 10 starts on Tour this season. He's a victory waiting to happen and -- with as often as he contends -- it's hard to believe he's got just six PGA Tour wins (that's a great career for most). With the hot run he's been on, Kuchar could be in store for a letdown. I just don't think that'll be the case this week.

Follow T.J. Auclair on Twitter, @tjauclair.

 

John Daly hits ball out of woman's mouth
John Daly via Twitter
John Daly is making a habit out of using humans as tees.

John Daly didn't play in the Masters last week, but he definitely hit one of the shots of the week.

Daly posted a video on social media showing him putting a tee in a woman's mouth, setting a golf ball on it and smacking a typical John Daly bomb. The woman appears to be singer Katherine Michelle, whose Twitter page says she is the best friend of Daly's girlfriend Anna Cladakis.

 

 

I don't know what else to say except Holy Cow – and I'm glad I don't have Daly's liability policy. Daly, however, has some experience at this kind of shot. Back in 2012, he hit a similar tee shot using David Feherty as a tee.

 

 

 

Daly's recommendation on Twitter: Don't try this at home. 

 

 

 

It's only April, but this has already been an eventful year for Daly:
 
 
And now this. We can't wait to see what's next.