Golf Buzz

September 25, 2013 - 6:21pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
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David Toms 265 Academy
Courtesy of the David Toms 265 Academy
The David Toms 265 Academy occupies 60 acres in the center of Shreveport.

David Toms has had a pretty good run lately. First, the 2001 PGA Championship winner salvaged a disappointing PGA Tour season with three strong showings in recent weeks to cement his fulltime status for the upcoming season. 

And now, he's opening his own golf academy in his hometown of Shreveport, La. Even better is that it looks like the blueprint of what a modern golf facility ought to be.

The David Toms 265 Academy covers 60 acres in the center of Shreveport, and Toms bills it as a golf practice facility and youth academy. Its mission, Toms says, is to provide a world-class training and practice facility to help golfers at every level and enhance the golf experience – and, he stresses, to ''enhance a child's character, self-esteem, and career possibilities through growing the game of golf in the lives of underprivileged children.''

Toms only got shovels in the ground last January but, amazingly, the facility already includes a nine-hole Par 3 course, an 18-acre driving range, eight putting and chipping greens, and three regulation holes (par 3, 4, & 5). Within a year or so, it also will have a full-service clubhouse, three indoor hitting bays, video equipment and teaching technology, fitness center, indoor putting studio, professional clubfitting, and the Humana Youth Achievement Center. 

Humana is one of Toms' partners in the facility, along with John Deere and donors to the David Toms Foundation – which, by the way, has donated more than $3.6 million to children's charities. There is also a full teaching staff led by PGA Professional Shaun Webb, who's coming over from Orange County National in Orlando.

''Like any new golf course, it won't be perfect on Day 1, but I feel like we built a product that everyone can enjoy,'' Toms said. ''We are starting with a soft opening for our members only, but we will begin with First Tee and other youth programs very soon.''

The Par 3 Course was created to help golfers work on their short games. ''The holes are intended to mimic approach shots to par 4s or a third shot into a par 5. Each hole has a shot value that we wanted to give our members to work on,' Tom said on his website. ''For example, we have a green with water on the left, one with water on the right, we have a narrow green that is deep and we have a wide green that is shallow. 

''Every curve, hill, tree and bunker is in place for a very precise reason,'' he explained. ''This area will give our members a unique 'course' to work on their short game while also trying to post a score. Golfers can practice a variety of shots from 120 yards and in and have a lot of fun doing it.''

In the practice area, Toms created more than 2.3 acres of tee space alone. ''First and foremost, I wanted to make sure we had ample teeing area so that we always have pristine turf to hit from,'' he said. ''Our main tee box is bigger than a football field, and we have more than one tee box, so I feel like we will always have plenty of great grass to play from. The target greens have zoysia grass which offers a color contrast from the surrounding Bermuda grass. In addition we are cutting the grass in a certain way to have fairway corridors to promote accuracy.''

Tom has spent several years working on the facility's plan, and that included some serious pondering over its name. He wound up with a number: 265.

So why 265? Well, 265 was Toms' winning score at the 2001 PGA Championship – and it remains the lowest aggregate total in major golf championship history. Coincidentally, 265 was also his winning score for his first PGA Tour win (the 1997 John Deere Classic) and his most recent win (the 2011 Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial).

Click here for more information on the David Toms 265 Academy, and click here for more on the David Toms Foundation.

 

September 24, 2013 - 7:59pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
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Callaway Golf Apex irons
Courtesy of Callaway Golf
The Callaway Apex irons are the first forged irons that provide the soft, responsive feel for which forged clubs are known, as well as extra distance, Callaway says.

Golfers of a certain age no doubt remember – or even owned – Hogan Apex irons, which debuted back in the early 1970s. Over three decades or so, the Ben Hogan Co. rolled out more than a dozen iteration of Apex irons, whose classic forged blades were, at their finest, among the best better-player irons on the market.

Callaway Golf bought Hogan about a decade ago, sold the apparel side of the business to Perry Ellis last year, and now is resurrecting the Apex name for its latest set of irons, which will debut at retail in December. Both the original Hogan Apex models and the Callaway versions are forged from carbon steel, but that's about where the similarities end.

Callaway calls the Apex irons a ''longer, more attractive cousin to the Diablo Forged iron,'' which Callaway says originated the category of high-performance forged cavityback irons. They won't replace any current irons in the Callaway line-up, and are designed to appeal to a broad range of golfers seeking the best of forged players' irons and cast game-improvement sticks. 

The new Apex clubs are the first forged irons that provide the soft, responsive feel for which forged clubs are known, as well as extra distance, Callaway says. A big reason for this, they explain, is that the new clubs contain a thin, 455 Carpenter high-strength steel face insert that is the same material Callaway uses in the forged cup faces of its X Hot fairway woods to help the ball jump off the face.

The lightweight face insert also means that Callaway could reposition weight low in the head. Using a tungsten insert in the sole to lower the center of gravity helps increase launch angles in the low irons (3-5 irons) and improve forgiveness. This composition, Callaway says, creates a clubhead with the performance properties normally found in game-improvement irons, and helps golfers launch the ball at appropriate angles and spin rates throughout the set.

The heads are slightly larger than the X Forged irons, and the faces feature wide-spaced (30-degree) grooves. These are the first Callaway irons to use these grooves, Callaway says, adding that they provide increased spin out of the rough for average golfers. In addition, the heads boast a satin chrome finish that's consistent with the look of Callaway's muscleback irons. 

The Apex irons will come with two shaft options. The True Temper XP95 steel shaft will help deliver high launch angles with a controlled ball flight, while the UST Recoil is a lightweight graphite shaft with higher flex points for better feel and workability. The company hasn't yet released a suggested retail price.

 

September 23, 2013 - 11:03pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
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President Obama
Getty Images
President Obama is a frequent golfers, and former President Bush says, "I think he ought to play golf."

President Obama has played more than 140 rounds of golf since moving into the White House. And while some people have voiced their objections, one very prominent person who can relate to the pressures a president faces says all those golf outings are quite alright with him.

In an excerpt from "In Play with Jimmy Roberts," which debuts Tuesday on the Golf Channel, President George W. Bush says that playing golf is a good outlet for the men who hold the nation's highest office.

"You know, I see our president criticized for playing golf. I don't – I think he ought to play golf," Bush says in the interview. "Because I know what it's like to be in the bubble. And I know the pressures of the job. And to be able to get outside and play golf with some of your pals is important for the president. It does give you an outlet." 

Bush was an avid golfer for years, but quit playing in the fall of 2003, saying it was inappropriate for the commander in chief to be seen on the course while Americans were fighting and dying in Iraq and Afghanistan. He has resumed playing in retirement, and has participated in the last several Patriot Golf Day events near his new home in Dallas.

Fifteen of the last 18 presidents have played golf, and two are in the World Golf Hall of Fame – Dwight D. Eisenhower and Bush's father, George H.W. Bush. Eisenhower was a member at Augusta National.

When Roberts suggested that golf is a good release, Bush agreed. 

"I think it is," he said. "And I think it's good for the president to be out playing golf." 

You can see a clip from the interview with President Bush here.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

 
September 23, 2013 - 2:31pm
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
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Phil Mickelson
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In an effort to play at his highest level on a more consistent basis, Phil Mickelson said he may cut his tournament schedule by 25 percent.
In some instances, less is more. 
 
At this point in his illustrious career, that's apparently how Phil Mickelson is feeling about his tournament scheduling going forward.
 
"I don't play at my highest level every single week," Mickelson said at the conclusion of Sunday's Tour Championship where he finished in a tie for 12th. "I have kind of ups and downs and I'm a very emotional player."
 
The 43-year-old Mickelson is coming off a great season, highlighted by three victories, most notably the Open Championship -- his fifth career major win.
 
Until 2013, Mickelson hadn't had a multiple-win season on the PGA Tour since 2009. 
 
Even still, he's thinking of making a significant cut to his scheduling -- something that would leave a lot of tournament sponsors and fans disappointed to say the least.
 
"I am going to have to factor that into some of my scheduling (the fact that he's not playing at his highest level every week) and maybe cut out 25 percent of my events in an effort to play at a high level when I do play," he said. 
 
For context, since 2007, Mickelson has made starts in 20 events or more on the PGA Tour every year expect 2009 when he made 19 starts.
 
Follow T.J. Auclair on Twitter, @tjauclair.
 
September 23, 2013 - 9:13am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
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Keegan Bradley
GolfChannel.com
If you thought the whole "Dufnering" phenomena was on fumes, think again.
 
Jason Dufner's good buddy and fellow PGA Champion Keegan Bradley paid homage -- we think -- to Dufner with this hysterical celebration at the Tour Championship on Sunday after holing out an approach shot from 170 yards out on East Lake's fourth hole.
 
 
Typically when a player holes out from any distance, we've become accustomed to the high fives and enthusiastic fist pumps. Bradley, however, took it where no player has gone before. Rather than get all riled up, Bradley simply sat on the ground in the position that's become famously known as "Dufnering."
 
 
 
This while Dufnering thing just never gets old. 

UPDATE: On Monday morning, Keegan Bradley (@Keegan_Bradley) tweeted the video of his Dufnering stunt to the man himself with this message:
 
"In ur face @JasonDufner." 
 
Follow T.J. Auclair on Twitter, @tjauclair.
 
 
September 22, 2013 - 12:30am
Posted by:
John Holmes
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Michelle Wie at shooting range
Provided by Michelle Wie via Twitter
Michelle Wie tweeted that she was "scared" before heading to the shooting range for the first time, but her pistol target shows that accuracy was no problem.

The LPGA Tour is off this week so, naturally, some of its more promiment players spent Saturday at the range.

No, not the driving range. Michelle Wie, Christina Kim and Jane Park were in Texas, so the range in question was a shooting range.

They were in Austin along with bride-to-be Jeehae Lee – a former LPGA Tour player who now works at IMG, which represents Wie and several other players – and IMG vice president Nickole Raymond. And part of their pre-wedding ''Hen Party'' activities included a visit to the Hidden Falls Adventure Park northwest of town, where they got familiar with a variety of firearms large and small.

''Going shooting today for the first time!,'' tweeted Wie, who added the hashag "#scared." She proved to be something of a natural with a pistol, however, as the right-hand image above showing her target proves.

After mastering their handguns, the firing females moved on to some serious hardware. 

''Got to shoot a Desert Tactical 338 Lapua sniper with the help of a marine,'' Wie tweeted. ''That was one BIG gun.''

Kim agreed, calling her experience with that weapon ''insane.''

And, Raymond said, ''Things got way more bad ass when the Marine brought out the Desert Tactical .338 Lapua.''

Wie also tried out an M-16. And as much fun as they obviously had, it sounds as if they came away from their experience with a new appreciation of the guns and their capabilities. Wie also had a word of warning for Lee's future groom, James Kuk.

''The bride was a pro!!,'' she tweeted. ''@kuk504 watch out...''