Golf Buzz

February 5, 2016 - 11:40am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
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Bubba Watson
USA Today Sports Images
One day after stating his negative feelings toward the course where the Waste Management Phoenix Open is played, the TPC Scottsdale fans let Bubba Watson have it when he arrived at the par-3 16th hole on Thursday.

Bubba Watson, a runner-up in each of the last two years at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, banking over $1 million in those two starts, admitted earlier this week that -- well -- TPC Scottsdale isn't exactly his favorite venue on Tour.

"I don't like it," Watson said Wednesday. "I'm not going to PC it. I don't like it at all."

He wasn't done there.

"Obviously, I'm here because of my sponsors and everything," Watson said. "I love coming here. It's always great weather. Used to have a house here. It's always beautiful coming here and playing here."

As the Associated Press reported:

He reiterated that he's only playing the tournament out of loyalty to Phoenix-based Karsten Manufacturing, the maker of his Ping equipment, and sponsors Oakley and Stance Socks.

"I just mentioned why I'm here," Watson said. "I've got three beautiful sponsors that love it here."

Ouch. Honesty is the best policy, but maybe not so much when you're talking about the venue that features the rowdiest crowds -- and hole (the par-3 16th) -- on the PGA Tour.

Watson tried to backtrack on his words via Twitter before his first round Thursday:


But, that wasn't enough for the fans at No. 16 who showered Watson with boos when he arrived in the first round. The damage had been done and theyy let the two-time Masters champ know about it:


Despite all the boos, Watson birdied the hole and shot an opening 2-under 71 that had him very much in contention. 

Harold Varner III
PGA Tour via YouTube
The raucous gallery at No. 16 appreciated Harold Varner's long birdie putt, but they really loved his celebratory "dab" after it fell.
No doubt Harold Varner III is focused on playing as well as he can in this, his rookie season on the PGA Tour. But it's safe to say he's also got a little case of Super Bowl fever this week.
The East Carolina product is also a huge fan of the Carolina Panthers, and quarterback Cam Newton in particular. So when he drained a curling 36-footer for birdie on the raucous 16th hole at the Waste Management Phoenix Open this afternoon, he didn't hesitate to offer a little homage to Newton in celebration.
Once the putt fell, Varner performed an emphatic "dab," just like Newton does after scoring. Varner's dance move ignited the gallery so much that he did it again, sending the crowd into even more of a frenzy.
Varner ended his day with a 1-under 70. But if can roll in some putts like that one on 16, he might be dabbin' some more late Sunday afternoon – just before Newton and the Panthers take the field to try to do some more dabbin' of their own. Take a look:
Contributed photo
Hank Aaron (wearing shorts) poses for a photo with PGA Professional Hanc Spivey (red shirt) the second time the two happened to meet.

What's worse than fawning over a celebrity? Maybe not realizing you're meeting one in the first place.

That happened to longtime PGA Professional Hanc Spivey, who recently retired as Head Golf Professional at Dretzka Park Golf Course in Milwaukee. He gave a golf lesson to baseball's home run king -- Henry Aaron -- and didn't recognize him. 

In honor of Hammerin' Hank's 82nd birthday on Friday, the story is too good not to retell.

"It was a humbling experience and an embarrassing experience," Spivey said. "I didn't know who he was."

The chance one-time meeting occured a few years after Aaron retired from baseball, Spivey recalled. It was sometime in the early 1980s, and Spivey was busy giving lessons at the course.

Aaron, who started his Major League career in Milwaukee with the Braves, and ended it two decades later with the Brewers, had gotten interested in golf. So it wasn't a surprise that Aaron might be in Milwaukee with clubs in tow.

"I was just starting my next lesson -- he might have been my 10 o'clock or 11 o'clock lesson," Spivey said. "I saw the guy coming up, with the pull cart and wearing bermuda shorts, red tube socks, tank top, hat on. I started to give him a pre-interview, and asked him his name -- and he said 'Aaron.' "

Well, Spivey admits he wasn't a big baseball fan, so a middle-aged man wearing street clothes might not have caught his attention. But after Aaron hit a few shots, Spivey knew he was teaching someone with athletic ability.

"I asked, 'Aaron, how long have you been playing? What kind of scores do you shoot?' The normal routine," Spivey said. "I asked him to hit a few shots, and he hit a few 7-iron shots, about 220, 230 yards out there."

Aaron always downplayed his golf abilities. For example, here's one of his best-known quotes about the game: "It took me 17 years to get 3,000 hits in baseball. It took one afternoon on the golf course."

So it was no surprise the man with 755 career home runs didn't bring a lot of attention to himself on the range. Still, others began to notice what was taking place. 

"We went ahead and conducted the lesson," Spivey said. "I prescribed some fixes to his swing and he left. Maybe 30 seconds later, some of the range kids came running up and asked me if I got an autograph.

"And I thought, 'Autograph? From who?' Why would I get an autograph?"

Why, Hank Aaron, of course. Spivey immediately realized his gaffe. But it took more than two decades to rectify the error. And "Aaron" was just as gracious the second time as the first.

"We played in the Hank Aaron fundraiser here in Milwaukee and I had an opportunity to meet him," Spivey said. "The guy who had brought Hank to the driving range back in the early '80s brought Hank over to my table and asked him, 'Hank, do you know who this fellow is?' And he looked at me and said, 'Yeah, that's the little guy who gave me the golf lesson and didn't know who I was.' "

Spivey said Aaron was more than willing to share some time.

"He took pictures with me and signed a baseball and bat," Spivey said. "I'm going to cherish that for the rest of my life. It was a little embarrassing but a lesson learned."

It's not every day a teacher gives -- and receives -- a lesson at the same time.

February 4, 2016 - 2:17pm
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
tj.auclair's picture
Here's a look at the "Hinotori Touch Putter" created by KRONOS Golf Founder Phillip Lapuz. It's currently on display in the British Golf Museum.

A rare putter created by U.S.-based KRONOS Golf Founder Phillip Lapuz is now on display at the British Golf Museum in St. Andrews, Scotland.

It took three months for Lapuz to design the "Hinotori Touch Putter" followed by months of polishing the rare flat-stick to perfection.

The design on the sole of the putter features the Japanese Hinotori which literally translates in English to "bird of fire," or "phoenix."

"The high relief engraving design on the Hinotori was inspired by years of traveling throughout Japan and experiencing its many wonders," Lapuz said. "In particular, the beautiful and intricate imagery that composes Byodo­in Temple in Kyoto served as a memorable symbol of my time in Kyoto. The phoenix engraving is itself a representation of those emotions, crafted out of a desire to express my fond feelings of Kyoto to others in the form of art, as well as to serve as a shining example of what golf should aspire to become."

The "Hinotori" is amongst more than 16,000 golf-related items in the collection at the British Golf Museum, known as one of the most comprehensive golf collections worldwide.

"Golfing Links Organization and the British Golf Museum both recognize and respect true golf craftsmanship and knew there wasn’t a better place to showcase the 'Hinotori' to golf enthusiasts worldwide than the home of golf, St. Andrews," said Golfing Links Organization CEO Vincent Walker.

The "Hinotori" will be on display through October 2016. 

February 4, 2016 - 10:01am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
tj.auclair's picture
A robot, co-owned by CBS golf commentator Gary McCord, aced the famous par-3 16th hole at TPC Scottsdale on Wednesday. The robot's name? Eldrick.

Gary McCord, golf commentator for CBS, is a partial owner of a robot named, "Eldrick."

Strange? Perhaps, but not if you've ever listened to anything McCord says.

Anyway, McCord took "Eldrick" out to the rowdy par-3 16th hole at TPC Scottsdale for a pre-party on Wednesday and, I'll just say this -- does Eldrick the Robot ever know how to party.

Check out what happened when Eldrick took what is believed to be just his fifth swing ever:


Hole. In. One.


It reminded us of another, more famous Eldrick -- Tiger Woods -- who did this on that very hole in the 1997:


That never gets old. 

Matt Heuerman
Matt Heuerman via Twitter
At 6-foot-6, Matt Heuerman towers over some of his teammates in Barton Collier High School in Naples, Florida.
Today is National Signing Day, when the nation's top high school football players officially decide where they'll be playing ball in college next fall. There are always a handful of big surprises on this day every year – and one of the biggest ones today involves golf.
Down in Naples, Florida, Honorable Mention All-State tight end Matt Heuerman declared his intention to not accept a football scholarship anywhere. Instead, he said, he's decided to pursue his love of golf, and will try to play his way onto a college golf team next  year.
"I've made up my mind," Heuerman told The Fort Myers News-Press. "Sometimes you just have to trust your gut."
Heuerman definitely could be playing college football in the future. At 6-foot-6 and 215 pounds, he caught 51 passes for 685 yards and eight touchdowns for Barron Collier High School. In addition, his older brothers also played tight end at Barron Collier and went on to solid college careers – brother Mike played at Notre Dame, while brother Jeff played for Ohio State and is now a rookie with the Denver Broncos.
Both his brothers have struggled with injuries, and Matt himself tore his ACL during his freshman season. But, he says, the fear of getting hurt isn't what made him change his career path.
"It wasn't really a fear of getting injured," Heuerman said. "I know that comes with playing the game. But I know there's a time limit on football. I can play golf as long as I want."
Heuerman, who played golf even while focusing on football in high school, has been working on his game with Lloyd Johnson, a PGA instructor at Grey Oaks Country Club in Naples who has helped several junior players get college scholarships. Johnson told the newspaper that Heuerman's inexperience is mitigated by the fact that he is so athletically talented.
"I feel that if I put in as many hours as I did into football I'll continue to improve and get one step better each day," Heuerman said. "I'm excited to see where this takes me."