Golf Buzz

November 10, 2016 - 3:05pm
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
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Jack Nicklaus
USA Today Sports Images
Not wanting to miss his grandson's NFL game on the Sunday of Ryder Cup week, Jack Nicklaus (right, with Tony Jacklin at the 2016 Ryder Cup) went to Gillette Stadium for the Patriots-Bills tilt and streamed the Ryder Cup on his phone throughout.

NEW YORK -- Jack Nicklaus is considered by many to be the greatest golfer who ever lived. Given his 73 PGA Tour titles, including 18 major championship victories, it'd be hard to argue otherwise.

He's also regarded as one of the all-time greats when it comes to putting family first.

During the 2016 Ryder Cup, Nicklaus was in town at Hazeltine National to be a part of the Opening Ceremony and then spent two of the competition days there at the request of Ryder Cup USA Captain Davis Love III to bestow some words of wisdom on the team.

Nicklaus was happy to oblige... but had to get out of town before the singles matches began on the final day to fly to Massachusetts with wife, Barbara, for that day's Buffalo Bills-New England Patriots game at Gillette Stadium.

RELATED: Levy ready to be PGA President | Q&A with Lynn Swann | Annual Meeting coverage

The reason?

Nicklaus didn't want to miss the chance to see his grandson -- Nick O'Leary, a tight end for the Bills -- play.

But just because he was taking in the 16-0 Bills win over the Patriots (the lone blemish on the Pats schedule this season) didn't mean the Golden Bear was in the dark on the happenings back at Hazeltine.

"We had our cell phones right there with us and we streamed the Ryder Cup on the app all the way through the whole football game," Nicklaus said in New York City on Thursday, where he dropped in for a visit at the PGA of America's 100th Annual Meeting. "So we got to see most of the golf, as well as the football game. Nick [O'Leary] played a good game and the Bills won. So it was a fun day to watch the U.S. team play well and come out victorious."

While many believed a U.S. win was incredibly important this year given its dismal 2-8 record in the previous 10 Ryder Cups, Nicklaus wasn't necessarily on board with that line of thinking.

"Was the win important for the U.S.? I don't know," he said. "There's always going to be an ebb and flow in an event like that. You're going to go through times when the Europeans are going be strong and times when the Americans are going to be strong. There are good golfers on both sides of the pond and that's what makes it a great event. You never know who's going to have the best team until you get there. They're going to have to go out and play the best golf. That's what it all boils down to."

As the PGA of America celebrates its centennial Annual Meeting this week, Nicklaus scratched his head at the reality that he's been a PGA member himself for half that time.

"The PGA has been the backbone of what has grown the game of golf," he said. "I've been a member for half of that time, which is a little hard to believe. Fifty years.

"The PGA of America was certainly the start of professionals promoting and growing the game of golf -- teaching the game of golf," he added. "It started out as guys who played the tour in the winter time and went to the clubs in the summer time or vice versa, depending on where their club was. It evolved into becoming tournament players and club players. The club players are still pretty good players."

Nicklaus celebrated another anniversary recently too -- 55 years since he made the decision to leave amateur golf for the professional ranks. It was a decision that came with a little regret at the time as it meant he wouldn't be able to defend his U.S. Amateur title in 1962, but based on his resume, it's safe to say everything turned out OK.

"I've had a great time in this game," he said. "I didn't turn professional for financial reasons. I turned professional because I wanted to be the best golfer I could be and the only way you're going to be the best golfer you can be is to play against the best. The only place to do that was on the PGA Tour. That's why I did that." 

November 10, 2016 - 9:41am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
tj.auclair's picture
Paul Levy
USA Today Sports Images
Incoming PGA of America President Paul Levy feels prepared and ready for his new role as the head of the association that represents 28,000+ men and women golf professionals.

Paul Levy ‘prepared’ for new role as PGA of America President

NEW YORK -- Twenty-five years after attending his first PGA Annual Meeting, Paul Levy will leave this week’s 100th gathering in Midtown New York as the incoming PGA of America President.

“I was thinking today that I’ve been going to the Annual Meeting now for 25 years,” said Levy, current PGA Vice President and the President of Club Operations and Development for Sunrise Company, and also the CEO and General Manager at Toscana Country Club in Indian Wells, California. “This will be my 25th year. I was thinking back and remembering my first Meeting how charged I was just from the videos. You almost leave with goose bumps after watching those… In 1992, I left here inspired to be involved in an association that operated at this level and I remember the passion everyone had.”

Levy called the opportunity to serve the 28,000+ men and women PGA professionals across the country a “great honor and a great privilege.” He said this is upcoming two-year stint as PGA President is the top honor of his PGA governance life.

RELATED: Q&A with Lynn Swann | Coverage of 100th PGA Annual Meeting in NYC

The path to becoming PGA President started four years ago for Levy when he was elected to the position of PGA Secretary. PGA officers start off with an election to PGA Secretary, serving two years in that role, followed by two years as PGA Vice President before ascending to the association’s top position.

Levy said the last four years have been a great way to prepare for his soon-to-be new role, because he’s had the opportunity to see everything that happens behind the scenes.

He compared it to one of his first job’s as an assistant pro when he remembered something the head professional told him: “Son, here’s the deal. You’re no good to me until about the third year as an assistant pro.”

Levy wondered why that was.

The pro told him, “Well, the first year you’ve got to go through the member-guest, the member-member, understand how we do the buying in the spring and the fall, and I’m having to teach you everything. The second year, you’re kind of learning everything. By the third year, you’re returning on the investment, so to speak. You’re starting to get it down.”

After the four-year build up to becoming PGA President, Levy said he feels well prepared for what lies ahead.

“At that point, you’ve had many years working with the PGA staff,” he said. “When you get to this point, it’s not that you’re going to be ready for everything, but you’re in a pretty seasoned position to understand what your duties are and what your role is and some of the things you’re going to be dealing with.”

Among the highlights for Levy as a PGA Officer, has been the behind-the-scenes involvement in the Ryder Cup.

“It’s kind of like an in your body and an out of your body experience,” he said. “The part where you’re in your body, you’re realizing that you get to do something like this. I have a brother who passed away in 2010 who loved the game of golf. My God. If he knew the things I’ve gotten to do the last few years he would have done anything to do that. He was the consummate sports fan. As an executive of the PGA, as an Officer, you play a role. I got to be on the task force for the Ryder Cup, which was a great experience. Now we’ll be getting the Ryder Cup Committee together to determine the next captain and what changes and things we’ll solidify in the Ryder Cup going forward.

“If you had told me 20 years ago I was going to get to play that role? I would have said, ‘You’re kidding me. I’m really going to get to do that?’ But when you’re in that role, you’re in that role. You’ve prepared. The PGA has given you the tools and support. We have a great senior staff. Pete Bevacqua, our CEO. We strategize, we brainstorm. You play that role of what you do,” Levy added. “But at the same time, you have this out of body experience. I’m 56 years old, but I’m still just a kid. A kid who loves the game of golf, who has spent his whole life since I was 12 years old I’ll I’ve done is golf. The day I started playing golf, I pretty much quit every other sport except basketball. You’re at the Ryder Cup. You’re watching the greatest golfers in the world compete at the highest stage in the world in maybe the most remarkable, unique sporting event that exists in any sport. There’s still that fan in you. It’s like you’re having two experiences at once. When we won… forget about Ryder Cup Committees and task forces and the PGA, it was about one thing: Seeing that putt go in the hole, we win the Ryder Cup and the pure emotion of the fans, of us and the players – that’s priceless. And getting to be a part of that, very cool.”

For Levy, there will many more unique experiences to come over the next two years 

jack nicklaus
USA Today Images
Jack Nicklaus made, for him, a very difficult decision 55 years ago when he elected to leave the amateur ranks and play golf as a professional. As it turns out, that decision was one of the best he's ever made.

Can you imagine a professional golf world without the game's winningest major champion of all-time, Mr. Jack Nicklaus?

Neither can we. But, if it weren't for a decision made with "mixed emotions and considerable thought," we likely would have never known -- at least to this legendary extent -- the man affectionately nicknamed "The Golden Bear."

Monday, Nov. 7, marked the 55th anniversary of the day Nicklaus made the leap from amateur to professional golf.

A copy of the letter that Nicklaus penned to then-USGA Executive Director Joseph Day Jr., dated Nov. 7, 1961, was shared via the Golden Bear's Twitter account on Monday:

 

 

In the letter, Nicklaus expresses his regret that his decision to jump to the pro ranks would preclude him from being able to defend his U.S. Amateur title in 1962... it turned out to be no big deal, as Nicklaus would claim the first major title of his illustrious career at the USGA-run U.S. Open in 1962 -- the first of his record 18 major victories and four U.S. Opens.

Looking back over the last half-century plus and a record that includes those 18 majors, 73 PGA Tour victories and countless other records, we'd have to say that as difficult a decision as it was for Nicklaus to turn pro, well, he made the right decision. 

November 7, 2016 - 10:43am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
tj.auclair's picture
Adam Scott
YouTube
Here's a look at seven great moments at the Masters over the last decade -- like this birdie putt by Adam Scott on the 72nd hole in 2011.

Each year when the final putt drops at the PGA Championship, golf diehards begin the countdown to the first round of the next major eight months later -- The Masters.

With that in mind, we dug up seven great moments from Masters week at Augusta National over the last decade.

7. Adam Scott's birdie putt on No. 18 in 2013. At the time, it looked like this putt might be the one that would win Scott his first major and -- more importantly -- the first green jacket for an Australian. As it turned out, Argentina's Angel Cabrera, the 2009 Masters champion, would force a playoff that Scott would eventually win. But, this putt was special as you can see based on the reaction from the otherwise typically reserved Scott.

 

 

6. Charl Schwartzel's finish in 2011. When you do something that's never been done by a winner in Masters history, it's a big deal. That's precisely what Schwartzel did in 2011. The South African rallied at just the right time to essentially steal the tournament from Adam Scott and Jason Day by birdieing each of the final four holes. A collective 4 under on 15, 16, 17 and 18 at Augusta National with the pressure that comes during the final round of the Masters? That'll work.

 

 

5. Phil Mickelson tree shot on No. 13 in 2010. On his way to winning his third Masters, Mickelson pulled off one of the great shots in tournament history with his second shot into the par-5 13th hole. After his tee shot sailed right into the pine straw, Mickelson found his ball sitting directly behind a pine tree, obstructing his view -- and angle -- to the green. In his typical go-for-broke style, Mickelson proceeded to hit the shot of the tournament, carving the ball around the tree, onto the green and within 5 feet of the hole to set up an unlikely eagle putt. He would miss the eagle try, but tapped in for a birdie on a hole that truly could have been a disaster had that second shot gone wrong. He would go on to win by three shots over runner-up Lee Westwood.

 

 

4. Jordan Spieth's record-tying performance in 2015. In his first Masters a year earlier, Spieth was tied for the lead with 2012 Masters champ Bubba Watson. When the dust settled on that final round, Spieth would be the runner-up -- quite the feat for a Masters rookie. That's not how Spieth looked at it, however. Instead, it was one that got away and a defeat he looked forward to avenging quickly. Twelve months later, he avenged it in a big way -- a record-tying way. No player got within three shots of Spieth in the final round. When he signed for a 2-under 70 that Sunday, Spieth equaled the tournament scoring record -- 18-under 270 (initially set by Tiger Woods in 1997) -- for a four-stroke victory over Phil Mickelson and Justin Rose and his first major championship. It was the first of two consecutive major wins for Spieth, who also finished T4 at the Open Championship and runner up at the PGA Championship that year.

 

 

3. Bubba Watson's wedge shot on No. 10 in 2012 playoff. After missing the fairway wide right at the par-4 10th hole on the second hole of a playoff with Louis Oosthuizen, Watson found himself in a terrible spot for his approach. In a place where most probably would have punched out back into the fairway, Watson somehow managed to hook a wedge through a shoot and onto the green within 9 feet of the cup. Once Oosthuizen made bogey, Watson needed two putts for his first major championship victory all set up by the most incredible of shots at the most crucial time. He cleaned up the par and snagged the first of his two Masters wins in a three-year span.

 

 

2. Louis Oosthuizen's albatross on No. 2 in 2012. OK, so we just covered how Oosthuizen lost the playoff to Watson in 2012. Well, the fact is, he wouldn't have even been in position for a playoff if it weren't for a Masters-first that occurred very early in the final round. Beginning the final round two shots behind Peter Hanson, Oosthuizen soared into an early lead with this shot, which was just the fourth albatross in Masters history (the first caught on camera) and the first on the second hole.

 

 

1. Louis Oosthuizen's ace on No. 16 in 2016. For a guy who has never won the Masters, Oosthuizen's name sure is popping up quite a bit on this list. He tied for 15th at the 2016 Masters, but it included this hole-in-one in the final round on the par-3 16th, one of the coolest shots you'll ever see... and not just because it was an ace. But because it was a bank-shot ace. Remember this?

 

 

November 6, 2016 - 2:04pm
Posted by:
Matt Craig
matthew.craig's picture
driver head cover, head cover, golf head cover
Facebook / Martha Hudson
We love crazy driver head covers, so we reached out to you all to see if we could find the coolest head cover in golf.

People like to tell me that the cover you put on your driver doesn't matter. "How many strokes does that take off your scorecard?" they say, "how many putts does it make for you?"

To those fun-suckers, I reply with a couple questions of my own: "How can you quantify that feeling you get when you're reaching for the big dog on a long par 5, and Yoda is looking you in the eye?" and "can you evaluate the mental edge you get over your playing buddies you have when you're packing a pair of American flag boxing gloves over the woods in your bag?"

You can't. So now that we can all agree that head covers are awesome, you can understand why we reached out to you all on social media (follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram if you aren't already!) trying to find the coolest head cover in golf. You all did not disappoint:

Some solid advice here from Travis Young:

 

Nate Cleghorn sent us Stewie from "Family Guy":

 

 

Bill Murray would not approve of this submission from Barbie Starks:

 

Shirley Wong brings us Garfield. I bet this golf club tastes like lasagna:

 

 

 

Martha Hudson gives us Grumpy from "Snow White":

 

 

What Adam Proto lacks in figurines, he makes up for in color:

 

 

We take it that David Greeno is a Notre Dame fan:

 

 

Molly Switzer asks, "who says golf and unicorns can't go together?":

 

 

After some research, I've determined that this submission from Colin Reston is the mascot for Scottish football club Partick Thistle:

Matt Erwin's crab is always watching him:

 

 

I'm not entirely sure if this dog from Jim Szink is a head cover or an actual dog:

 

 

Lynette Garverick King says her husband is always sporting Cool Eddie:

Atakan Karakaya has an entire zoo operating in his bag: