November 10, 2016 - 8:41am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
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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 

Paul Levy 'prepared' for new role as PGA of America President
major championships
USA Today Sports Images
It's never too early to start speculating about the 2017 major championships. With the 2017 Masters just 2017 days away, here's a closer look at all four majors.

If you're a fan of professional golf, is there anything better than speculating about how the majors will unfold? Aside from actually watching those majors play out, I don't think so.

The first major championship of the 2016-2017 season tees off with the Masters just 149 days from today.

Here's a closer look at the 2017 major championship venues, when they are and what we're guessing the top storylines will be.

The Masters, Augusta National Golf Club, Augusta, Ga., April 6-9, 2017

The venue: The same as it's been since this tournament began in 1934 -- the immaculate Augusta National Golf Club. The beauty of this jewel is that there are typically numerous changes made from year to year to the grounds, be it the course, the practice facility, or new buildings, yet each April when you arrive it looks as though those changes had been in place for years and years.

Because the Masters is held at the same place every year, experience is typically a huge plus. Jordan Spieth has bucked that trend over the last few years, finishing T2 in 2014 -- his Masters debut -- before tying the tournament's 72-hole scoring record in his 2015 victory. Spieth also tied for second in 2016.

While Augusta National has become considerably longer through the years, it's still not uncommon to see older players -- specifically "past champions" -- make a run during tournament week. We've seen this from Jack Nicklaus in 1998 (T6), Fred Couples (top-20 finishes from 2010-2014) seemingly every time he tees it up there and Bernhard Langer in 2014 (T8) and Tom Watson (T18, 2010).

An adage that never gets old at Augusta National is, "the Masters doesn't start until the back nine on Sunday." That usually holds true. Just ask Spieth about No. 12 in 2016, which costs him a tournament he was in control of at the time; ask Rory McIlroy about the 10th hole disaster in 2011, where the television audience was treated to moving pictures of cabins they probably didn't even know existed on the property thanks to McIlroy's wayward tee shot; or, on the flip side, how about Charl Schwartzel's four consecutive birdies to close out a win in 2012; or Phil Mickelson's miraculous shot on No. 13 in 2010 that set up a birdie that allowed him to get some distance from the field? A lot can happen -- and has happened -- for better or worse on those final nine holes.

Top storylines for 2017:

- Can Spieth win the Masters to avenge 2016's crushing defeat just like he did in 2015 after a tough loss in 2014?

- Can Rory McIlroy win his first major since the 2014 PGA Championship at Valhalla and, in so doing, complete the career grand slam?

- Does Phil Mickelson, at age 46, make a run at a fourth green jacket, thus supplanting Jack Nicklaus as the oldest Masters champion (by months) in history?

- Does Tiger Woods come out from a long PGA Tour absence to shock us all in his first major played since a missed cut at the 2015 PGA Championship?

- Will have a sixth consecutive first-time major winner, joining Jason Day at the 2015 PGA Championship, Danny Willett at the 2016 Masters, Dustin Johnson at the 2016 U.S. Open, Henrik Stenson at the 2016 Open Championship and Jimmy Walker at the 2016 PGA Championship?

The U.S. Open, Erin Hills, Erin, Wis., June 15-18, 2017

The venue: Of all the majors to be played in 2017, Erin Hills will be the great unknown. Just like Chambers Bay out in Washington in 2015, a men's professional major has never been played at this relatively new venue, which opened in 2006.

Though it's 35 miles northwest of Milwaukee, Erin Hills looks like a linksy-style course. Don't let the looks fool you, however. Just like its neighbor, Whistling Straits, down the road in Kohler, it's still going to play very much like an American-style course, rewarding towering iron shots that can stop on a dime on the greens (something you will not see on the pure links courses across the pond, where low shots and a bump-and-run game are required).

Since 2000, only two players have won the U.S. Open with scores that reached double digits under par: Tiger Woods (12 under in 2000 at Pebble Beach) and Rory McIlroy (16 under at Congressional in 2011). By contrast, six scores at even par or worse have won the U.S. Open in that timeframe, with Geoff Ogilvy at 5 over at Winged Foot in 2006 and Angel Cabrera at 5 over at Oakmont in 2007, being the highest.

With that said, expect "par" to be the players' friend at Erin Hills.

Top storylines for 2017:

- Since the course is relatively unknown, will we see a surprise winner, someone outside the top-30 or higher in the Official World Golf Ranking?

- Given that he's the defending champion of the U.S. Open and has played well in majors in the area (top 10s in the two PGA Championships at Whistling Straits since 2010), is it safe to call Dustin Johnson the overwhelming favorite?

- Along those same lines, do we see Jason Day claim another major in the state where he picked off his first in 2015?

- Can a 50-year-old Steve Stricker, inspired by his home-state crowd, make a run at his first major?

- Does the winner of the Masters keep the dream of a grand slam alive with back-to-back major victories like Jordan Spieth did in 2015?

The Open Championship, Royal Birkdale Golf Club, Southport, England, July 20-23, 2017

The venue: 2017 will mark the 10th time in history that Royal Birkdale has hosted the Open Championship and the first since Padraig Harrington came out on top in 2008.

It will be the shortest of the four major venues in 2017 at just over 7,100 yards... but it might not feel that way to players forced to deal with the brunt of the weather conditions at a place that has seen delays in the past for high winds that were blowing golf balls off the greens.

Arguably the greatest aspect of an Open Championship, along with the fact that it's an opportunity to watch the world's best play the game the way it was first played, is that it doesn't discriminate against age or length (or lack thereof). Anyone can win it.

Look back to Turnberry in 2009 when Tom Watson very nearly won his sixth Open at the age of 59, losing in an three-hole, aggregate playoff to Stewart Cink. That would have been a sports story for the ages.

Mark O'Meara was 18 years younger than Watson when he won at Birkdale in 1998, but still no spring chicken at 41 years old. Since O'Meara, there have been only six major winners in there 40s (Henrik Stenson, 40, 2016 Open Championship; Vijay Singh, 41, 2004 Masters; Payne Stewart, 42, 1999 U.S. Open; Darren Clarke, 42, 2011 Open Championship; Ernie Els, 2012 Open Championship; and Phil Mickelson, 43, 2012 Open Championship)... four of those were in the Open Championship.

Top storylines for 2017:

- Can the epic duel between Mickelson and Stenson in 2016 at Royal Troon be topped (not likely)?

- Does a 40-something win the Open for the second time in as many years and the sixth time since 1998?

- How much of a factor will the weather be and will it lead to like of the draw on tee times?

- Will an amateur player step up and make a run like a then-17-year-old amateur named Justin Rose did at Birkdale in 1998?

The PGA Championship, Quail Hollow Club, Charlotte, N.C., August 10-13, 2017

The venue: Quail Hollow Club will be a new major championship venue, but it will be far from new to the world's best players, who have competed in the Wells Fargo Championship several times over the years.

More so than any major -- Masters included -- this is likely to be the one course and one major in 2017 where most of the field will feel a sense of comfort, if there is such a thing in a championship of major caliber.

If there isn't comfort, there will at least be familiarity. Changes have been made in anticipation of the PGA Championship -- including a Wells Fargo Championship venue change to Wilmington, N.C. for 2017 -- but it's hard to imagine the final three holes, known as "The Green Mile," playing much harder than they already do.

Because most of the players who will tee it up here have plenty of experience at Quail Hollow, expect to see the lowest winning total of the four majors in 2017.

Top storylines for 2017:

- Past winners of the Wells Fargo Championship at Quail Hollow include major champions Rory McIlroy, Tiger Woods, Lucas Glover, Jim Furyk, Vijay Singh and David Toms. At least three of those players could seriously contend.

- Could Rickie Fowler, also a past Wells Fargo champ, pick up his first major victory if he hadn't already in 2017?

- Can Webb Simpson, a member at Quail Hollow, claim the second major championship of his career in front of his home crowd?

- Can Jimmy Walker become the first players since Tiger Woods in 2006-2007 to win the PGA Championship in consecutive years? 

The Majors 101: Where they are, when they are and what the top storylines will be
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. 

Jack Nicklaus reveals letter he sent to announce professional status 55 years ago
November 7, 2016 - 9:43am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
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Adam Scott
YouTube
Ahhh... today marks 150 days until the start of the Masters, the first major of the 2016-17 season. 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.

Sure, there's golf being played right now, but nothing compares to major championship golf, right?

That's why 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.

Today marks 150 days until that glorious moment arrives.

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?

 

 

7 great moments from the last 10 Masters Tournaments played
November 6, 2016 - 1:04pm
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:

 

 

Wild, wacky head covers of the golf course