October 4, 2014 - 4:19pm
mark.aumann's picture
Rory McIlroy
Rory McIlroy is the most recent winner of the claret jug, the trophy handed out to the Open Championship winner.

When it comes to the traditional "Fall Classic," Americans equate that with the World Series, which has been around in its present form since 1903. And most golf fans think of the Open Championship as having a late summer place on the golfing calendar.

But that wasn't always the case. On Oct. 4, 1873 -- 141 years ago today -- two traditions began that are the pinnacle of any golfer's career aspirations. First, the Open Championship was held at St. Andrews for the first of 28 times. And second, winner Tom Kidd was presented with a new silver claret jug.

2014 OPEN CHAMPIONSHIP: Rory McIlroy wins third major title

According to the Open Championship's official website, the trophy for winning the inaugural Open Championship at Prestwick in 1860 was a silver belt donated by the Earl of Eglinton, with the idea that the first man to win the Open three consecutive times would own it. That happened just 10 years later, when Tom Morris Jr. accompished the feat.

There was no Open held in 1871, so the committee formed to come up with a new trophy had until the next May to determine how to proceed. This is from the Open Championship's website:  

According to the minutes of The Royal and Ancient Golf Club, dated May 1, state that the green committee had been “empowered to enter into communication with other clubs with a view to effecting a revival of the Championship Belt, and they were authorised to contribute a sum not exceeding £15 from the funds of the club."

Agreement was finally reached on Sept. 11, 1872 between the three clubs that were to host The Open — Prestwick, the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers and The Royal and Ancient Golf Club. They decided that the winner would receive a medal and that each of the three clubs would contribute £10 towards the cost of a new trophy, which was to be a silver claret jug, instead of another belt. 

Its proper name was to be The Golf Champion Trophy. These decisions were taken too late for the trophy to be presented to the 1872 Open Champion, who was once again Tom Morris Jr. Instead, he was awarded with a medal inscribed ‘The Golf Champion Trophy’.

So on Oct. 4, 1873 at St. Andrews, Kidd outlasted a field of 26, shooting a two-round total of 179 to beat Jamie Anderson by one stroke after heavy rains swamped the course overnight. In those days, there was a one-stroke penalty for moving your ball from casual water.

TOM WATSON: Legend plans to end competitive career at 2015 Open Championship

Afterwards, he was awarded the claret jug. But Kidd's name was not the first to be engraved on the trophy. Instead, that honor went to Tom Morris Jr., who had won the previous Open.

 

The Open was original "fall classic"
October 4, 2014 - 11:20am
mark.aumann's picture
St. Andrews minutes
The official minutes from the Society meeting on Oct. 4, 1764 that propose making St. Andrews into a 10-hole course with an 18-hole layout.

Why are there 18 holes on a regulation golf course? Because on Oct. 4, 1764, the Old Course at St. Andrews was shortened from playing a total of 22 holes to 18, and all courses since have followed that dictum.

GOLF HISTORY: How the "mulligan" got its name

So the players in this year's Alfred Dunhill Links Championship are playing under rules set 250 years ago today.

Here's the explanation from the St. Andrews website:

The decision to reduce the world’s most famous Links from 22 to 18 holes was made by the Society of St Andrews Golfers – more commonly known today as the R&A – on October 4, 1764, and would become the standard bearer for courses around the world and championship golf to the present day.

On October 4, 1764, following the Challenge for the Silver Club a meeting took place of the Society, whose minute reads: “The Captain and Gentlemen Golfers present are of the opinion that it would be for the improvement of the Links that the four first holes should be converted into two. -- Wm. St. Clair"

The removal of two holes (four in total going out and back) in subsequent years meant the Old Course would become, around that period, 10 holes, of which eight were played twice

In the decades that followed the Old Course continued to evolve as the Links and surrounding areas developed, from playing the course backwards through to new greens being built and holes so familiar today became mapped out. By the mid-19th Century, the 18-hole format at St Andrews had become the blueprint for golf with new and existing courses across the world all following its 18-hole layout.

Euan Loudon, Chief Executive of St Andrews Links, said: “This important date marks another milestone in the game of golf’s rich history and the special place St Andrews, the Home of Golf, holds for this great game.

“The Society of St Andrews Golfers may not have appreciated the ramifications of the decision they made on October 4 1764 but those individuals and the resultant changes to the Old Course had a huge impact on the way the game would be played forever.

“The records show they took the decision because they sought to improve the Links and that commitment to improving this magical place resonates with everyone here at the Links today.

“Staff across the Links work tirelessly to honour and respect the history of St Andrews and to improve the experience of every golfer coming here, be it the world number one competing this weekend or those securing a cherished tee time in the ballot next week.”

Golf Course architect and historian Edwin Roald is making the trip to St Andrews to celebrate the special anniversary. He said: “It‘s the Old Lady‘s 250th birthday, so to speak, and it is very fitting that many of the world‘s best golfers are gathered to honour her on the big day. I myself am delighted to be one of so many great guests.”

According to the Royal and Ancient Golf Club website, the idea of having two holes on the same green wasn't explored until 1832. Along with separate teeing grounds and wider fairways, the idea of playing in a "loop" was created -- although the course was played both clockwise and counter-clockwise until the 1870s. 

ST. ANDREWS: Old Course to host 2015 Open Championship

To give you some reference to the time frame involved in the 1764 decision, it would be another 12 years before the United States declared independence from England. But since "golf" had been played on the Links in some form or fashion since sometime in the 1200s, according to St. Andrews' records, it was almost 500 years before the Society settled on an official "regulation" course. 

 

Celebrating 250 years of 18 holes
October 3, 2014 - 3:23pm
andrew.prezioso's picture
Gleneagles greenskeepers
James Bledge via YouTube
The greenskeepers at Gleneagles put in a lot of hours to get the ground ready for the Ryder Cup.

We all appreciate the work that groundskeepers do to get courses ready for a round of golf, yet we rarely see all their hard work. However, now we have definitive proof that groundskeepers are among the hardest workers in golf.

Gleneagles' deputy head groundskeeper Gavin Speedie tweeted out a link to an awesome video showing a behind-the-scenes look at all the preparation that was put in to getting the course ready for one of golf's biggest events. It's six minutes long, but it's definitely wotrth the time. 

It's impressive seeing all the hours that this crew put into getting Gleneagles in pristine condition for the event. 

Well done and thank you, laddies. 

Video shows prep work for Ryder Cup
October 3, 2014 - 11:12am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
tj.auclair's picture
Jason Day
YouTube
Even the best player in the world are prone to a horrible shot on occasion, as TaylorMade shows in its latest commercial.

We're suckers for a great golf commercial... And TaylorMade has just that right now with its "Nobody's Perfect" ad.

Check it out:

See, no one is immune to the occasional awful shot -- not even the best players in the world, guys like Sergio Garcia, Justin Rose and Jason Day! Sure, our awful shots are more frequent than theirs, but still.

RELATED: Readers highlight their favorite golf commercials

According to TaylorMade, help is on the way October 15. This commercial teaser is a lot of fun.
 

TaylorMade's 'Nobody's Perfect' commercial a hole-in-one
October 3, 2014 - 9:13am
Posted by:
Bob Denney
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Gus Andreone
PGA of America
A statue of Gus Andreone overlooks the Gus Andreone Practice and Teaching Facility at the Palm Aire Country Club.

By Bob Denney
PGA of America

Pay a visit to Palm Aire Country Club in Sarasota, Florida, and you may bump into Gus Andreone, whose impact and charm continue to amaze both members and guests.

Andreone is the oldest and currently longest-serving PGA of America member, having marked his 103rd birthday on Sept. 30. He has served the Association for more than 75 years.

Palm Aire members marvel at Andreone, who plays three times a week, and provides golf tips while going out and breaking his age regularly on the course.

“Par for me is 90 now,” says Andreone.

Related: Find a PGA Professional in your area

There’s a wooden statue of Andreone, the creation of club member John Gray, which overlooks the Gus Andreone Practice and Teaching Facility. The statue, presented in 2011 to honor Andreone on his 100th birthday, symbolizes the humble man’s unpretentious affection for the game, his profession and what it means to wake up every day knowing that there’s more golf to be played.

A native of Bellaire, Ohio, Andreone says his personal formula for longevity is not complex. “It’s all about just being yourself, keeping your old regular pace,” he says. ”You just have habits you do every day. You don’t live outside of what you do every day.”

The man who served Edgewood Country Club in Pittsburgh for 30 years before retiring to Florida, counts himself blessed in many ways. “The fact that I am sitting and talking to you now is something special,” says Andreone, who served under General George S. Patton in World War II. Andreone was a member of the 10th Armored Tiger Division that helped liberate Europe.

“We were in the Ghost Division, guys that nobody knew who and where we were,” says Andreone. “I was commandeering a half-track in Germany, and as we made a left-hand turn, we took a direct hit from a mortar shell. We were carrying two 50-gallon tanks of gas. I’m here today.”

Video: PGA Professionals give you tips to improve your game

When Andreone retired in 1977, he spent about $20 a week on $1 scratch tickets. On Dec. 15, 1983, he won the Pennsylvania State Lottery. He earned $1,000 a week for the rest of his life. If that wasn’t enough good fortune, his move to Florida carried more instant karma. He won $18,000 and $21,000 in the state’s Fantasy Five Lottery game. “If you want to touch me, it’s OK with me,” joked Andreone.

There was more magic for Andreone on the course. He has made seven holes-in-one, but no more memorable scores than a pair in 1960, while playing St. Clair Country Club near Pittsburgh.

Andreone hit his tee shot out of bounds on a par-3 hole, then reloaded and knocked his second ball into the hole for a deuce. Later that year, he hit his shot out of bounds and on the same course on a par-4 hole, dropped his next ball and hit under a tree to the green and into the hole for a birdie-3.

Wait, there’s an explanation.

In 1960, the USGA Rule 29-1 (now Rule 27-1), Ball Lost or Out of Bounds, was introduced with the phrase, "For Trial in 1960, USGA," and the Rule stated, "If a ball be lost or out of bounds, the player shall incur a penalty of loss of distance." There was no penalty stroke assessed and the next stroke was made from the spot of the previous stroke.

All of the above should come naturally for a man who defies the odds. “I take a spoon of honey every morning in my coffee. Every morning,” says Andreone. “Before I get out of bed, I do a certain set of exercises that help my knees, back and hips. It works for me.”

Related: Fred Couples celebrates 55th birthday

A past secretary (1971-72) of the Tri-State PGA Section, Andreone also encouraged golf’s next generation of players and professionals. At his home club, he inspired nearly a dozen assistants who went on to become head professionals.

Andreone’s first wife, Henrietta, died of cancer in 1977. His second wife, Betty, who he married in 1985, had managed the golf shop at the former Rolling Hills Golf Club in Davie, Florida, where she landed a short part in “Caddyshack.” For movie fans, that’s Betty strolling the pool deck in a bathing suit just as caddies invade the club members’ pool.

Steve Yates, the PGA Director of Golf at Palm Aire Country Club, said Andreone “is a joy for all our members. I first met Gus when he was in his 80s and I was just getting my feet wet on the job. Gus challenged me to a game – betting that he would need only a stroke. I sized him up and thought it would be simple match.

“When we got to the tee, he said, ‘That one stroke I get will be divided up 18 ways. If we tie on a hole, I get 1/18 of a stroke against your score.’ Well, I knew I had been taken.”

 

PGA’s oldest member at 103 is still making an impact
October 3, 2014 - 8:53am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
tj.auclair's picture
Fred Couples
USA Today Sports Images
Fred Couples turned 55 years old on October 3.

The king of cool, Fred Couples, turns 55 years old today.

Couples, whose lone major win came at the 1992 Masters, turned professional in 1980. Over his many years on the PGA Tour, Couples racked up 15 victories and continues to be an annual contender at the Masters.

Couples has 11 wins and counting on the 50+ circuit.

No one since Arnold Palmer in his heyday has epitomized "cool" quite the same way as Couples. His laid-back nature and effortless golf swing makes him the envy of many. It looks like he's not even trying (though we know that can't be the case, because no one could ever be as good as Couples for as long without a burning competitive fire).

Though he has just that lone major win on the PGA Tour, Couples has an impressive 26 top-10 finishes in the majors.

Happy birthday to a guy for the better part of 30 years we haven't been able to get enough of and has provided us with memories like this -- a hole-in-three -- at TPC Sawgrass:

 

Fred Couples celebrates 55th birthday