Golf Buzz

March 24, 2014 - 11:40pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
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TPC Harding Park
Courtesy of TPC Harding Park
TPC Harding Park has renovated all its greens and bunkers, and now hopes to land some high-profile golf events.
What a week it's been for golf in California. In the past few days alone, the famed Poppy Hills Golf Course reopened after a top-to-bottom makeover and the city of Oceanside turned down a big-money proposal to convert the popular but perpetually underfunded City Center Golf Course at Goat Hills into a soccer facility.
 
Then, last weekend, TPC Harding Park – the most popular and prestigious municipal course in the San Francisco area – reopened its normal configuration after a major remake of its own. Golfers had been using temporary greens since December 1 while all the permanent greens were renovated.
 
The makeover involved converting all 18 putting surfaces from poa annua to tyee bentgrass, according to the Northern California Golf Association. The bentgrass not only will improve playability, the NGCA said, but is also more resistant to pests.
 
 
In addition, all the bunkers were refurbished and the approaches to all the greens were reconfigured. About 375 tons of pebble beach white sand replaced all the existing bunker sand, according to The San Francisco Appeal, while 6.2 acres of sod were used on the greens and their approaches.
 
The renovation was done with the idea that the course could regain the Champions Tour's season-ending Schwab Cup Championship as early as 2015 – or perhaps land the PGA Tour's Match Play Championship, which is looking for a new title sponsor and host venue, according to The San Francisco Chronicle. The PGA Tour, which took over Harding Park's day-to-day operations in 2010 when it became a TPC facility, is funding $400,000 of the $1.2 million cost of the green renovation, the paper said.
 
"We painted a rusted car for the [2013 Schwab Cup Championship]," Harding Park General Manager Tom Smith told The Chronicle last fall. "This is basically ensuring a long-term, premium product. It definitely needs to be done. This is the championship course in the city’s portfolio, so we have to put some money back into it."
 
TPC Harding Park opened in 1925, and was named after President Warren Harding. The course hosted the 2009 Presidents Cup, the 2005 WGC-American Express Championship and several PGA Tour events in the 1960s, along with the Charles Schwab Cup Championship in 2011-13. Johnny Miller, Michael Allen and Ken Venturi are some of the players who frequented the course as junior players.
 
March 24, 2014 - 9:00am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
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Jason Dufner
Getty Images
Even though 2013 PGA Champion Jason Dufner doesn't show much, if any, emotion on the course, he's proven to be one of the most photogenic players on the PGA Tour.

Today, March 24, 2014, reigning PGA Champion Jason Dufner turns 37 years old.

Happy birthday, Duf!

If age 37 is anything like age 36 for Dufner, it's going to be a fantastic year for him ... and all of us.

For serious golf fans, Dufner was already on the radar screen (he won the 2012 Zurich Classic of New Orleans and the 2012 HP Byron Nelson Championship) before hitting pop culture radar shortly after his 36th birthday, March 28, 2013.

RELATED: The birth of Dufnering | The Year of Dufnering | Dufner wins 2013 PGA Championship

That's the day Dufner went viral with a hilarious photo, slumped over against a wall in a children's classroom, an act that soon became known as "Dufnering." If you have time and want to check out Twitter, "#Dufnering."

There were also an amazing number of "Dufnering" references tagged on tumblr with fellow pros, fans and even pets recreating the pose.

The ribbing from fellow pros was the best, and it was Dufner's good buddy -- the man who beat him in a playoff at the 2011 PGA Championship -- Keegan Bradley who led the charge with these tweets:

 

 

These Dufnering tweets from Bubba Watson and Rickie Fowler were spectacular too:

 

 

As crazy as the Dufnering phenomenon was it didn't define Dufner's year. Instead, it was his Ben Hogan-esque performance at Oak Hill last August en route to claiming his first major, the PGA Championship, which may have been -- in part -- the result of good karma from a special gesture he made to a PGA Professional earlier in the week.

Dufner was clinical in his picking apart of Oak Hill. It was the most boring way to play (and we write that with only envy and affection) -- hitting fairways, hitting greens and not making mistakes -- something prior to that week no one could have imagined at the hallowed Rochester, N.Y., Donald Ross design.

It's often been said that Dufner is a "flatliner" on the course -- which is to say he shows little to no emotion. His demeanor never changes. That's what makes him so intriguing. He admits he gets nervous, but it never shows.

The other lovable thing about Dufner is that he's a guy's guy (remember what he did to wife Amanda on the 18th green after winning the PGA?). He's a must-follow on Twitter (@JasonDufner). On the social media site, he provides hilarious commentary on major sporting events, Auburn University sports, pokes fun at friends (like Bradley) and more.

The guy has become so famous that there's also an unofficial Twitter account named, "Dufner's Ego" (@Dufego1). There's a lot of salty language on the account, but it's a fun follow if you're not easily offended. The person who runs the account tweets out what we all imagine Dufner must be thinking on and off the course.

But let's get back to the events that unfolded after the PGA Championship win.

Along with the beautiful Wanamaker Trophy, Dufner also took home a sapling from the Oak Hill nursery to plant an oak tree from the course on his own property in Alabama. Now that's special.

He also took a whirlwind tour of New York City, making the media rounds following his victory. You can relive that trip with this photo gallery.

And, upon his return home from New York, Dufner and his wife picked up the new addition to the family, Prince Louie Dufner (a French bulldog, who also has his own official Twitter account, @PrinceDufner). Prince Louie posed for this off-the-charts-cute photo:

Lastly, post-PGA, Amanda posted this photo of her hubby to her Instagram, snuggled up to the Wanamker Trophy:

In the last few months, we've seen more antics from Dufner that make us say, "Man, I'd love to have a beer with that guy!"

Like the time he put a huge rock in Bradley's golf bag at the World Challenge in December, or the time he looked "thrilled" to be on a breathtaking Hawaiian hike with Amanda.

As we said, life at age 36 is going to be hard to top for Dufner. But if we've learned anything, life at 37 and beyond should at least be a whole lot of fun for Duf.

Happy birthday, champ.

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

 

March 23, 2014 - 12:47am
Posted by:
John Holmes
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John Daly at the Loudmouth Grill
Loudmouth Golf via Twitter
Loudmouth Golf ambassador John Daly joined the fun at the grand opening of the Loudmouth Grill.
Talk about your brand extension. The good folks at Loudmouth Golf opened a restaurant on Saturday.
 
Yes, the Loudmouth Grill opened for business in The Shoppes of Windermere in Orlando. The eatery encompasses 7,000 square feet and has 276 seats, according to the Orlando Business Journal.
 
"The Loudmouth Grill is part of our growing portfolio of licensing deals," Loudmouth Golf CEO Larry Jackson told the Journal. "We look forward to opening this restaurant and the possibility of more locations in the future."
 
As you might expect, the Loudmouth Grill's interior is festooned with the bold colors and patterns on which the company has built its business. It also includes a variety of memorabilia from celebrities and athletes who have sported Loudmouth apparel. And you won't be surprised to learn that John Daly was on hand for the grand opening. 
 
Here is a shot of the interior. You can see other photos from the big debut in the Loudmouth Golf Twitter feed.
 
 
 
March 23, 2014 - 12:20am
Posted by:
John Holmes
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Center City Golf Course at Goat Hill
The Center City Golf Course at Goat Hill lives on, at least for now, after a proposal to convert it into a soccer facility was rejected.
There's good news for the Goat.
 
The Goat, of course, is the nickname at southern California golfers have bestowed upon the Center City Golf Course at Goat Hill, a popular but money-losing municipal facility owned by the city of Oceanside, Calif. And for a while this week, it looked like the Goat might be put out to pasture.
 
The city was considering a proposal by Real Salt Lake, a Major League Soccer team owned by Oceanside resident Dell Roy Hansen, who wanted to convert much of the 76-acre golf facility into what he called a "soccer mecca." His plan called for the course to be reduced to nine holes, with the remainder of the land to host a soccer academy and a 5,000-seat stadium that he hoped would attract a minor league pro team and perhaps even a women's pro team.
 
Needless to say, the proposal was extremely unpopular among the area's golfers. And on Wednesday, they showed up en masse at a city council meeting to voice their opposition to the soccer proposal, according to a story in The San Diego Union-Tribune
 
 
Most of the golfers in attendance supported an alternative plan by John Ashworth – the local clothing designer who founded the Ashworth golf apparel company. Ashworth has created a coalition called Goat Hill Partners and, according to the newspaper, had been working with the city for two years on a plan to restore the golf course, rebuild the clubhouse, create a botanical garden and start a community farm.
 
"Hopefully you'll decide to reconsider our plan," Ashworth told city officials; Ashworth had thought he was near a deal with the city until the soccer proposal came up. "I'm convinced if we build it, they will come."
 
Center City is a "golf course for everyone," according to its website. The course plays to about 4,400 yards, with a mix of par-3 and par-4 holes in addition to its signature par-5 15th hole. The course – only about a mile from the Pacific Ocean – has no water features, but is built on a plateau with several significant elevation changes. The facility also includes a driving range, practice green and chipping areas, and offers PGA instruction.
 
Adult green fees top out at $26 per person with cart on the weekends, and drop as low as $9 to walk nine holes on weekdays, according to its site.
 
Oceanside Mayor Jim Wood agreed to end negotiations with Real Salt Lake, the paper said, but warned the audience that there was still no telling what might happen in the future.
 
Francesco Molinari
Francesco Molinari nearly holed a 180-yard shot from the rough Saturday at Bay Hill.

Who says there's no March Madness in golf? Francesco Molinari nearly holed the equivalent of a full-court buzzer-beater Saturday in the third round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

THIRD ROUND RECAP: Adam Scott's lead slashed in half as challengers loom

Molinari was in the left hand rough on the par-4, 466-yard 15th at Bay Hill, more than 180 yards away from the flag, when he put this swing on the ball. The only thing that could have made it better was if somebody had pulled the flagstick.

The look on Molinari's face is priceless. He's actually disappointed that he has to putt for a tap-in birdie. Most amateurs would have been excited to have been anywhere on the green from there.

WEEKEND IN PHOTOS: Saturday's best shots from Bay Hill, LPGA Founders Cup

 

March 21, 2014 - 7:42pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
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Rickie Fowler
Was Rickie Fowler all wet when he gave his reason for Bubba Watson's 83 at Bay Hill? Well, yes.
Why did Bubba Watson shoot an 83 on Thursday in the Arnold Palmer Invitational? 
 
Rickie Fowler knows. In fact, he reveals that Bubba's high score was actually his fault.
 
Rickie's explanation, and the payoff – an acrobatic leap into the lake behind Bubba's house in Orlando – can be found in the video below. We're not sure we believe him, but his flip is pretty cool: