par 6, european challenge tour, 783 yard hole
Twitter / Challenge_Tour
The European Challenge Tour's stop in Slovakia includes the longest hole in Europe, a Jack Nicklaus-designed 783-yard par 6.

There was a videogame that was out when I was a little kid, I forget its name now, but it allowed you to create your own golf courses. I would always make them to be impossible, with insanely long holes and a ridiculous number of obstacles.

I always thought that those type of holes existed only in my childhood fantasies, until I heard about the 15th hole on the Legends Course at Penati Golf Resort in Slovakia.

Jack Nicklaus must have been having a bad day when he designed the 783-yard par 6. It's hard to even fathom how far 783 yards is, so here's some comparisons.

 
The course hosts this week's D+D REAL Slovakia Challenge on the European Challenge tour. Surprisingly, the hole didn't play very difficult in last year's tournament, yielding 26 eagles and 227 birdies.
 
Though it didn't happen at last year's event, it's not inconceivable that someone could score a three on the par 6, which would be an albatross. And while it would be essentially impossible, a two on the hole would be called a condor. A condor has never been recorded in professional golf, which isn't that surprising considering most weeks it would require a hole-in-one on a par 5.
 
And now what you've all been waiting for, a fly-over of the hole:
 
 
Without the benefit of professional-level length, the hole would play much more difficult for amateurs. Still, with four shots to get to the green, do you think you could birdie the longest hole in Europe?
Could you birdie this 783-yard par 6?
golf marathon
Twitter / WSJSports
Danie Steyn and Bill Boonn played 153 holes in a single day without a cart, walking over 45 miles.

There's a commonly held sentiment amongst sports fans who don't watch golf, especially those that have never seen Dustin Johnson hit a tee shot. "Golfers aren't athletes." You've heard it, you've argued with your friends about it, and as untrue as it is it's tough to shake.

That accusation will never be made about Danie Steyn and Bill Boonn.

The Wall Street Journal had the story of Steyn, 29-year-old a golf instructor, and Boonn, a 41-year-old radiologist, spending a sunny day playing golf, something we can all relate to. But that's where the similarities stop.

They teed off at 5:26 a.m., and didn't stop playing golf until 6:46 p.m. In between? How about 153 holes without a cart, logging 83,592 steps. The eight and a half rounds required 45 miles of walking, the equivalent of almost two marathons.

And the pair played some decent golf, playing an alternate shot format that tallied 705 total shots, which comes to an average of about 83 per round.

They started off sharing a bag, jogging between every shot in their morning rounds. In the afternoon, they decided to carry just two clubs each, splitting a 4-hybrid, 8-iron, sand wedge and putter.

The concept is one of the more unique ways to raise money for charity. Here's an exerpt from the full story:

The outing was part of a network of golf marathons called Hundred Hole Hike, in which people walk and play 100 or more holes in a day to raise money for a charity of their choice. For Steyn, that was the Junior League of Philadelphia. Boonn played for the Make-a-Wish Foundation.

The concept took root in 2011, when a Chicago banker named Jim Colton raised more than $110,000 by walking 155 holes in a day for a caddie who had been paralyzed in a ski accident. The following year, he started the charity that oversees the hikes. Now, they attract nearly 100 golfers per year. There have been hikes across the U.S. and a few in Canada, Scotland and Australia.

Do you think you could walk 100+ holes in one day? And if had to pick four clubs to do it with, would they be the same ones as Steyn and Boonn?

 

A single day, 153-hole golf marathon for charity
July 7, 2016 - 9:17am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
tj.auclair's picture
Patrick Reed
@europeantour on Twitter
After playing a difficult shot from some heavy fescue at Castle Stuart on Thursday, Patrick Reed slipped while climbing back down a hill.

One of the best events in golf is going on this week -- the Scottish Open at Castle Stuart.

Many of the game's biggest stars are playing, as they prepare for next week's Open Championship at Royal Troon.

Patrick Reed, a member of both the PGA Tour and the European Tour, is one of those players.

During his first round on Thursday, Reed provided a memorable moment.

Following a pulled drive on the par-5 second hole that hung up in some nasty fescue on a hill, Reed was faced with an incredibly difficult second shot. It was so difficult, he could only take about a 6-inch backswing.

Once he made contact with the ball, Reed lost his balance walking down the hill:

 

Remarkable shot, all things considered.

It wasn't quite as enjoyable as this intentional hill slide from Phil Mickelson in the 2015 PGA Championship at Whistling Straits, but it was fun nonetheless:

 

Patrick Reed takes a spill on hill at Scottish Open
July 6, 2016 - 2:35pm
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
tj.auclair's picture
9 things to carry in your golf bag
Seamus Golf
Is your golf bag bursting at the seams? Do you really need all that stuff that's in there for a 4-5 hour round of golf? Here's a list of the essentials you should be carrying. Leave the rest in the trunk.

Who out there is guilty of slinging an overloaded golf bag?

Come on. I can't be the only one raising my hand.

Just because many great golf bags today feature loads of pockets doesn't mean we have to fill them all up. Admittedly, I'm still trying to grasp that concept.

During a recent round at an exceptional golf course that required our foursome to take caddies (which I love on those rare, special occasions, by the way), I realized what a problem my "loading the golf bag" issue had become when my caddie demanded I switch my stand bag for a lightweight loaner bag from the bag room.

In fairness, our foursome had two caddies carrying two bags apiece. I can't blame my looper for not wanting my bag to be weighed down by a rainsuit and umbrella on a cloudless 85-degree day, an Orange Whip training tool, position sticks, bluetooth speakers and whatever else was in there.

RELATED: Things that drive us crazy on the course | Things that drive you crazy

So, we made the bag switch and tossed in just the bare essentials.

Once the round was finished, we went back to the bag room to move my belongings back from the loaner bag to my own back. As I hoofed it back to my car with that ridiculously heavy bag and jumped in for a four-hour drive home, I had a lot of time to think about what should always be in the bag and what shouldn't.

With that theme in mind, here are the nine things you should be carrying in your golf bag.

By the way, I'm sure I have golf minimalist friends out there who can eliminate even more... this is what I feel comfortable with:

9. Sunscreen. Do yourself a favor and do not mess with the sun's harmful rays. Always have a tube of sunscreen in the bag. And don't think that applying before your round and then throwing it in the trunk is enough. It's recommended that you reapply sunscreen when you're outdoors every two hours. For a round of golf, that means at least once at the beginning and once at the turn.

8. A rangefinder. For a long time, I believed I wasn't a good enough player to have a rangefinder. When I finally got one, I realized I wasn't a good enough player not to have one. I'm not like Johnny Miller hitting it within a half-yard of my target when I'm at my best. But my round moves quicker and I'm more likely to hit my shots -- even bad ones -- closer to the hole when I know precisely how far away I am.

7. A great towel. We're not talking about the beat up bath towel you dig out of the linen closet. This type is golf-specific -- one that retains water and has a pattern that allows you to dig in and get that dirt out of your iron grooves, keeping your clubs and golf balls clean over the course of a round.

6. A water bottle. Most courses have water scattered throughout at various tee boxes. Just to be safe, I always like to have a bottle of water handy. There's nothing worse than being parched on a hot summer's day as you make the climb up to an elevated green. It feels like you're in the Sahara instead of on the golf course. No thanks.

5. Two golf gloves. One might rip. You may sweat through one. You might get some rain on the course that soaks one. Have a dry second one for back up. It takes up virtually no room in your bag and is as light as a feather.

4. A palmful of golf tees. I'm not going to tell you to take only 2 or 3 tees, or even 5 or 10. I've played with guys who break tees virtually every time they use them. Personally, I prefer the plastic, unbreakable tees (they're not really unbreakable, but close enough for me). I like to carry just enough tees so that I don't have to ask a playing partner, "Hey, can I borrow a tee?"

3. Four coins or ball markers. Why four? One for you and one for each of the other three people in your group in case they don't have one. There's nothing worse than when your lining up that rare birdie putt only to have someone in the group use a tee to mark their ball that's halfway between your ball and the hole. So distracting.

2. Divot tool. I've seen people fix their ball marks with tees. Can we all agree that doesn't get the job done as effectively as a dedicated divot tool? I had an old golf coach who had a great rule that I try to follow to this day -- when you arrive at the green, use a divot tool to fix your ball mark and at least one other. It keeps the greens in good shape for everyone.

I recently got something called a "Switchblade" and I love it. It's basically a divot tool and ball marker in one. What's great about it is the fact that the divot tool portion closes up so it's not stabbing your leg while in your pocket. You just hit a small button when you're ready to use it.

1. 6-8 golf balls. This is mainly for your regular golf course, or a course you're familiar with. I realize you might need more on a more difficult course. I'm so guilty of carrying way more golf balls than I need. It's pretty much a mental block. I stress out over, "what if this isn't enough? What if I run out of balls at the turn and I spent $120 to play this course?"

If you really sit back and think about your recent rounds, you might be surprised when you realize how few golf balls you've actually lost.  

9 things to carry in your golf bag
July 6, 2016 - 1:18pm
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
tj.auclair's picture
backyard, driving range
T.J. Auclair/PGA.com
Can't carve out enough time to get to the golf course or the driving range, but still want to work on your game? Why not setting something up in your backyard.

If you work a lot of hours, have young children -- or both -- chances are you don't have much time to work on your golf game.

A round of golf is probably going to take between 4-5 hours. That's not going to happen during the week.

A trip to the driving range to hit a large bucket of balls could be a nearly two-hour roundtrip if the range isn't around the corner (assuming you're working on hitting golf shots and not just hitting golf balls).

You can only look at your swing in the mirror so many times before you're itching to get out and hit a real golf ball.

RELATED: One man's amazing backyard golf practice area setup

Lucky for you, we have a solution that will allow you to stay at home and get in some valuable practice whenever you have a spare moment. It's even the kind of thing that can be fun for the whole family: A backyard driving range/practice area.

It could be as simple as buying a net at your local golf store.

But, if you want to get creative, we have some ideas...

A practice area for less than $400

What you need: A couple of small turf mats ($30/ea), a portable golf net ($50), a storage container (around $150) with padlock, a bucket of balls ($50 for bucket of 100 recycled golf balls), a few targets (free -- use large rocks/boulders around the yard), a chipping net ($25) and a shag-bag ($30)

This is precisely the set up in the backyard of my parents' house. Over roughly 2 acres of land in the powerlines adjacent to their house, my dad put in a very basic -- yet highly effective -- practice area that has been working wonders on his previously non-existent short game.

In the area, he put a portable pop-up net between two telephone poles:

It's just right for when you want to take full swings with all your clubs and you really only need to use 3-5 golf balls. You can hit right off the grass, or use a small piece of artificial turf.

Let's get to the short-game, though, as that's at the heart of this particular backyard set-up.

There's a concrete drum in the middle of the 2-acre field. It's about 2 1/2-feet wide. We use this as our primary target, but there are plenty of things to aim at -- big boulders, specifically -- in the yard. Here's what the drum looks like:

You can use anything, really -- even a real golf flag from a sporting goods store. For us, the drum was just sitting around and had no other use, so we figured it'd be perfect.

At the back of the property, my dad put in a storage container he purchased at a box store. You don't need one, but it's certainly a time saver. In it, my dad stores a bucket full of real golf balls, a bucket full of foam golf balls ($15), small turf mats, the chipping net and the shag-bag. When you're ready to practice, just bring your wedges and the key to the container:

Also, not absolutely, positively 100 percent necessary, but I also recommend taking your rangefinder along with you. Unlike at the driving range where targets are marked off, the ones in your backyard are homemade. I like to shoot a variety of targets so that I can dial in my wedge distances while I practice:

I like to switch between hitting to the concrete drum and the chipping net:

When you're done, simply take the shag-bag to pick up all the balls and then start over:

There's your at-home practice area for less than $400. 

How to build your own backyard practice area
July 6, 2016 - 12:22pm
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
tj.auclair's picture
practice area
T.J. Auclair/PGA.com
Want to get a little more elaborate with your backyard golf setup? Check out one man's amazing backyard setup in northern Rhode Island.

We showed you how easy it is to build your very own backyard golf practice area for not a lot of money.

This is the opposite of that. 

The "money is no object" practice area (Or, as my dad and I also like to call it, "Chris's backyard")

What you need: A lot of experience with heavy machinery (or hire someone who does), lots of money and a spouse who supports your crazy obsession with golf

Chris is my dad's neighbor who lives about a mile away. My dad has gotten to know Chris over the last couple of years from seeing him on the morning walk with his dog.

One day, my dad noticed something in Chris's backyard. It was like walking into an episode of MTV Cribs:

Yep. That right there is in the neighbors backyard. This, my friends, is the ultimate backyard golf practice area.

As it stands now, Chris has two tees set up in two different spots on his sprawling property. One is about 40 yards -- carrying water the entire way -- from his artificial practice green:

The other is from a mini-cliff, roughly 70 yards away (he also has plans to install a second green, which will be roughly 120 yards from the first tee):

I mean, couldn't you just practice here all day? Along with those longer pitch shots and lob-wedge shots, you can also chip and putt:

And Chris has thought of everything. Not wanting to go diving for water balls every few days to reload his bucket, Chris purchased two key items for his backyard practice area that come in incredibly handy and also keep (some) costs down. The first is floating range balls:

Chris has a skimmer to get the balls at the edge of the water, but for the ones that find a watery grave in the middle of his beautiful pond, Chris has this peddle boat:

Pretty sweet, isn't it?

Chris is a handy guy and does a lot of the work in his backyard by himself. Even with that, for a set-up like this one, you're talking 10s of thousands of dollars.

I don't have the extra dough for that. So, for now, I'm happy to use what I can in my backyard (a fantastic net by The Net Return, $595 -- pictured below) and then travel just five miles away for the open invitation to Chris's house.

One man's amazing backyard golf setup