Golf Buzz

March 11, 2015 - 10:18am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
tj.auclair's picture
Adam Scott
USA Today Sports Images
If last week's T4 at Doral is any indication, Adam Scott's switch to a short putter should be no issue at all.

The PGA Tour visits the Copperhead Course at Innisbrook Resort in Palm Harbor, Fla., for the Valspar Championship.

This is one of the most difficult courses on the PGA Tour, primarily because of its brutal final three holes, known as the Snake Pit.

The Snake Pit begins with a narrow, dogleg right, long par-4 that hugs water. The difficult 215-yard par-3 17th is next before the round ends with the uphill 445-yard par-4 18th.

RELATED: Valspar Championship tee times | Potential 2016 U.S. Ryder Cup team

Australia's John Senden returns as the defending champion, but the field is loaded with formidable challengers.

Here are the five you'll want to keep an eye on.

5. Jim Furyk
Best finish in 2014-15 season:
T7 AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am
Reason to watch: A winner at Innisbrook in 2010 -- his first of three "Ws" that season on his way to winning the FedExCup -- Furyk has been fantastic in three starts this season. In three starts, Furyk has yet to finish worse than a tie for 14th. Since winning the Valspar Championship in 2010, Furyk has finished no worse than T20 in the event. He also lost in a playoff in 2012. He may not win, but expect Furyk to have a strong showing this week.

4. Luke Donald
Best finish in 2014-15 season:
T7 Honda Classic
Reason to watch: By his standards, it's been a rough couple of years for Donald, the former world No. 1. Regardless of that, Innisbrook always seems to bring out the best in Donald. Along with winning in 2012 -- his last win on the PGA Tour -- Donald tied for sixth in 2010, and tied for fourth in both 2013 and 2014. His trend of solid play at Innisbrook will continue this week.

3. Jordan Spieth
Best finish in 2014-15 season:
T4 Northern Trust Open
Reason to watch: Simply put, Spieth is my favorite young gun in the game today. He's incredibly consistent and just always hovering around the first page of leaderboards. I just want to see him close the deal more frequently -- no doubt he wants to do the same thing, but man, it's not easy out there! In two prior Valspar Championship starts, Spieth has finished T20 and T7. The course clearly fits his eye -- and there aren't many out there that don't. Spieth has been piling up the top 10s for a while now. Soon he'll be piling up wins.

2. Gary Woodland
Best finish in 2014-15 season:
T2 CIMB Classic
Reason to watch: Woodland showed some promise early in the season with a T2 at the CIMB Classic and a T3 at the Sony Open in Hawaii, but has cooled off a bit since. He could get back on track this week at the Valspar Championship, a tournament in which he won back in 2011 -- his first PGA Tour win. A year ago, Woodland tied for eighth at Innisbrook. He's one of the longest hitters in the game, which comes in handy at this course, and has put in a lot of work on his short game. With injuries hopefully behind him, Woodland could be on the cusp of a break out season.

1. Adam Scott
Best finish in 2014-15 season:
T4 WGC-Cadillac Championship
Reason to watch: Until last week, we hadn't seen Scott on the PGA Tour since early November when he tied for 12th in the WGC-HSBC Champions. And things looked different at Doral... Rather than a long, broomstick putter, Scott was back to the conventional putter with an unconventional grip. If last week was any indication, it doesn't look as though Scott has anything to worry about once the anchoring ban goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2016. He tied for fourth at Doral, three-putting just once, making 87 percent of his putts from inside 10 feet, including an incredible 52-of-52 from five feet and in. If Scott is strutting with that kind of putting confidence come Masters week, look out.

Here's how my five to watch fared at the WGC-Cadillac Championship:

5. Paul Casey -- T38
4. Justin Rose -- 55
3. Bubba Watson -- 3
2. Dustin Johnson -- Winner
1. Patrick Reed -- T23 

Greg Jennings
USA Today Sports Images
Minnesota Vikings receiver Greg Jennings loves golf in part "because it develops you mentally."
 
Tuesday was the craziest day on the National Football League calendar, with a plethora of high-profile trades and free-agent signings. Amid all the hullabaloo, however, Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Greg Jennings was probably thinking about – golf.
 
Jennings is quite the golf nut – he played some during his youth, but really got into the game during his rookie year with the Green Bay Packers and has pursued it ever since. 
 
He's also been inspired to see people from all walks of life, and parts of the world, succeed in the game. To see "different guys [like Tiger Woods and Vijay Singh] come on strong and be able to play at such high levels," he said in a Q&A on ESPN.com, "it gives us a confidence that you know what, we can play this game, too."
 
As he got into golf, "it became one of those pastimes that I was able to network and spend a lot of time with guys, get to know them better, and even work on my own game," explained Jennings, who led the Vikings with 59 receptions for 742 yards and 12 touchdowns last season.
 
 
"It is one of those games that is very competitive and it is almost like an inner competition because you don't even have to compete with anyone else," he added. "You are competing against yourself. Like the last time you were out, or the last ball you just hit, or the last putt. Different things like that."
 
Because he can only get the sticks out part of the year, he's never gotten his scores to the level he would like. But he knows what he needs to improve from his level of shooting in the high 80s and low 90s: More consistency.
 
And even if his scores aren't what he'd prefer, Jennings enjoys his time out on the course.
 
"I love it because it develops you mentally. If you allow it to get to you, you will become mentally weak," he said. Golf " allows you to become mentally strong if you allow the frustration to kind of subside, and you can allow the mistake and take the failure, to not get frustrated.
 
"That is what it does for me," he added, "that is why I enjoy it."
 
Golf in Egypt
Courtesy of Golf Travel Egypt
Egypt isn't known for golf, but it has several world-class facilities and beginning a major push to attract golfers.
 
So you're sitting there, looking forlornly out the window at the five feet of snow in your yard that just won't melt, and you decide to make a list of places around the world you'd love to go on a golf vacation. 
 
Scotland, check. Ireland, check. Spain's Costa del Sol, check. Egypt, check.
 
Wait … Egypt?
 
Yes, a group called Golf Travel Egypt, which is backed by the Egyptian Tourism Authority and the Egyptian Golf Federation, has begun a major push to attract golfers to its little corner of the world. Specifically, the country wants to become a world leader in attracting golfers traveling with their instructors.
 
 
Egypt offers "the best possible conditions where teaching pros have everything they need to develop the relationship with their golf club members in the winter months," said Mohammed Attallah, the golf business development director at Golf Travel Egypt, in a release announcing the new endeavor.
 
As an example, Golf Travel Egypt points to the Madinat Makadi Golf Resort on the Red Sea, which has extra par 3, 4 and 5 holes just for practice. Also: the state-of-the-art academy facilities at the Allegria Golf Club (with a Greg Norman-designed layout in Cairo) and Katameya Dunes (with a Nick Faldo-designed course in Cairo), which boast K-Vest Biomechanics software and analysis tools as well as Flightscope launch monitors and Sam Putting Labs on site.
 
"Destinations aiming to attract teaching pro-led groups need to be able to offer an experience that is comfortable in a relaxing environment and where the golfers don't feel under pressure on the course," said Peter Walton, the chief executive of the International Association of Golf Tour Operators (IAGTO). "Egypt has the capacity on its golf courses to provide exactly this with established resort destinations on the Red Sea and the option to mix up golf, tuition and sightseeing by combining the Red Sea with Cairo."
 
Egypt already hosts several events for up-and-coming professional golfers on the Pro Golf Tour and Alps Tour circuits, both of which are regional satellite tours of the European Tour's Challenge Tour. And the country recently created its first home-grown tour, the Mediterranean Tour, which has a series of events exclusively in Egypt open to both professionals and elite amateurs.
 
Plenty of people already travel to Egypt to visit the Pyramids in Giza, soak up the culture in Alexandria, go shopping in Cairo and hang out on the beach in Sharm-el-Sheikh. Soon enough, a significant number of those tourists might add golf to their to-do list.
 
March 10, 2015 - 1:39pm
Posted by:
Greg Stephens
Gregory Stephens's picture
Playing golf pregnant
Greg Stephens
Randi Stephens is an avid golfer who loves the game. She and her husband, PGA Professional Greg Stephens, are expecting their first child but that hasn’t stopped Randi from enjoying the game she loves.

By Greg Stephens, PGA; Director of Golf at Victory Ranch; Nike Golf Elite Advisory Staff

My wife Randi is an avid golfer who loves the game. We are expecting our first child but that hasn’t stopped Randi from enjoying the game she loves.

Golf is a great way to enjoy being outside and get good exercise while pregnant. Be sure to consult with your physician before participating in any physical activity when pregnant.

My wife’s doctor loved and endorsed the idea of Randi continuing to play golf throughout her pregnancy. It is a good way to keep your core strong since most core exercises should be put on hold during this time.

What you need to know

The biggest keys we have worked on with Randi’s swing are balance and not over swinging. Be sure to spend some time warming up before you play.

Start with pitch shots and gradually increase the length of your swing. This will help get your core loose before making full swings. It is also a great way to find out where the limit of your swing is that day. 

Randi’s swing has gotten a little bit shorter as her range of motion is slightly limited, with this has come a little bit of distance loss with her irons. Taking one extra club with your irons will solve this issue. Do not try to over swing or hit the ball harder as this will have an effect on your balance.

READ: How throwing your club can actually help your swing

Depending on how far along you are in your pregnancy may have an effect on how long your swing is. You may go from full swings to three-quarter length swings and possibly even half-swings.

Listen to your body and don’t try to make long swings like you typically would. 

Tempo is extremely important here. Since your swing may be getting shorter you may feel the need to swing faster so be aware of this and swing with a smooth and relaxed tempo. Focusing mainly on balance and tempo will help you make solid contact with your clubs. 

READ: How to use Instagram to market your golf course

Try to hold your finish a little longer than you typically would, this is a great way to ensure good balance and tempo. Again, listen to your body and don’t over-do it. 

Some days you may have the stamina to play all 18 holes, other days maybe 9 holes is enough and some days maybe you skip a hole or two throughout the round.  You don’t have to put golf on hold when you’re pregnant, just being out there continuing to enjoy the game you love is the key.