October 4, 2014 - 10:20am
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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 - 2:23pm
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 - 10:12am
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 - 8:13am
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 - 7:53am
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
October 2, 2014 - 3:18pm
andrew.prezioso's picture
Derek Holland
Derek Holland via Instagram
This looks like it will go down as another Derek Holland prank, much like his impersonations during the 2011 World Series.

Ah, the power of Instagram video. It's amazing what you can pretend to do with it. 

Take this video from Texas Rangers pitcher Derek Holland for instance. Holland, playing the par-4, 440-yard fifth hole at Cottonwood Valley in Dallas, slightly exaggerates his power on the course in this video. 

At least Holland fesses up at the end of the video that he didn't actually hit it that far. 

If there were a baseball player to actually drive a ball as far as Bubba Watson, Holland seems like a pretty good candidate. He didn't make his season debut until September after suffering a knee injury after tripping over his dog last winter, so he had plenty of time to work on his golf swing (because isn't that what all baseball players do when they're hurt?). Plus, his swing looks pretty good and he was posting from the golf course yesterday. 

Alas, this looks like it will go down as another classic Holland prank. 

Derek Holland 'hits' 400-yard shot