December 19, 2012 - 3:26pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
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Harmon's Heroes Golf Classic
Courtesy of Harmon's Heroes Golf Classic
The money raised at the recent Harmon's Heroes Golf Classic helped two wounded soldiers secure their own homes.

A pair of wounded warriors have been able to secure homes of their own, thanks in large part to golf instructor Buch Harmon and his Harmon’s Heroes charity effort.

Harmon, who is a Vietnam veteran, created Harmon’s Heroes in 2009 as a way to reach out directly to soldiers wounded in combat and provide financial assistance to those with a qualifying need. On Veterans' Day, Harmon hosted a group of wounded soldiers and other golfers in his annual Harmon's Heroes Golf Classic at the Bali Hai Golf Course on the Las Vegas Strip.

The golfers playing with the veterans donated between $10,000 and $25,000 per foursome, with 100 percent of the funds raised going to the Harmon's Heroes Foundation. As a result, two veterans have been able to secure homes, one in Boston and the other in Texas. And plans are under way to help a veteran from Las Vegas get his or her own home next.

"Many of us have no idea what these veterans face once they get home," said Harmon, whose father, Claude Harmon, was a longtime PGA Head Professional at Winged Foot Golf Club in New York and also the winner of the 1948 Masters.

"Dealing with physical wounds is bad enough, but the financial hardships they face are absolutely mind-boggling and we want to help," he added. "And assisting them in owning their own home is one of our priorities."

In addition, a portion of the sales of Harmon's two-DVD set, "Butch Harmon About Golf presented by Titleist," is donated to the Harmon's Heroes Foundation.

For more information, visit www.harmonsheroesfoundation.org.

The golf industry, of course, is blessed with a number of charitable efforts dedicated to help veterans and their families. Some of the other ones worth checking out are:

--Patriot Golf Day stages golf fundraisers nationwide over the Labor Day holiday weekend, and you can participate either by playing or volunteering to help out. It is jointly supported by The PGA of America and the U.S. Golf Association.

--The Folds of Honor Foundation is funded primarily through the proceeds from Patriot Golf Day, but you can make a donation anytime. Folds of Honor is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that provides college scholarships for the children and spouses of military men and women disabled or killed while serving our great nation.

--The Salute Military Golf Association is another 501(c)(3) nonprofit, and it provides golf equipment, lessons and access to courses nationwide for wounded servicemen and women. Since ts creation in 2007, its volunteer golf professionals have given, free of charge, hundreds of lessons and clinics to our wounded warriors.

--Birdies for the Brave was created by Phil and Amy Mickelson to support troops injured in combat, and it is now a part of PGA Tour Charities. Golf courses nationwide stage a variety of fundraising events that have raised millions of dollars for military homefront groups that serve the specialized needs of wounded warriors and military families. Birdies for the Brave fundraising events provide golfers the chance to participate in golf tournaments on top courses nationwide.

--Tee It Up For the Troops helps wounded warriors get out on the course and uses golf events to raise money for the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund, an independent non-profit thar provides financial support for the families of military personnel lost in service to our nation, and for severely wounded military personnel and veterans.

Many other groups and events nationwide also support this effort. And while they’re not charitable organizations, many of golf’s most prominent equipment companies – Bridgestone, Callaway, Cleveland, Ping and TaylorMade, among them – donate a lot of golf clubs, balls and other gear, and work diligently to promote many of these great causes with no regard for credit or publicity.

 

December 18, 2012 - 6:26pm
Posted by:
Steve Eubanks
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Eric Lastowka
Long Drivers of America
After bombing a tee shot 355 yards in the finals, Eric Lastowka, a longtime engineer for Titleist, won the Senior Division of the Re/Max World Long Drive Championship in Mesquite, Nev.

For the last 16 years, Eric Lastowka has worked as an environmental engineer in Titleist’s ball manufacturing plant in Brockton, Mass. Now he is a world champion.

Participating in the Senior Division of the RE/MAX World Long Drive Championship for the first time, Lastowka beat 63 division qualifiers to become this year’s Longest Senior Driver with a 355-yard poke.  

“This is the ultimate,” said Lastowka. “I’ve had a lot of close calls in the Open Division in the past (runner-up in 2006, eighth place in 2001), but this is why I continue in this sport. There are so many good hitters that it always takes your best to win. Now that I have won, it gives me even more motivation to repeat next year.”

At 6-5 and 240 pounds, Lastowka hits a 5 ½-degree driver with a House of Forged shaft. 

“My success this year is based on being in good physical shape,” said Lastowka. “I have spent a considerable amount of time over the years participating in the Acushnet Wellness program, and it does pay off. I have focused on the cross-fit style workouts with the fitness coaches that the company provides its associates. It is very challenging, but rewarding.”

Lastowka also attended the first level of the Titleist Performance Institute (TPI) certification program this year, where he learned about the relationship between the golf swing and fitness.

The weeklong World Long Drive Championship started with 64 Senior Division participants in Masquite, Nev. The field was reduced to 16 on the first day. Lastowka advanced after winning his first three rounds with drives of 379, 360 and 391 yards. He won his next two matches with downwind blasts of 426 and 403 yards.

The wind turned on the final day, but Lastowka won his first match with a 333-yard drive, setting up his winning 355-yarder. 

“It’s a thrill,” he said. “It’s wonderful to be known as a world champion.”  

 
 
December 18, 2012 - 5:28pm
Posted by:
Steve Eubanks
steve.eubanks's picture
Trump's anti-wind farm ad
Aberdeen Press and Journal
Donald Trump has been the talk of the UK since running this ad in a couple of Aberdeen newspapers. The proposed wind farms, which Trump vehemently opposes, would be within sight of Trump International Golf Links.

 News flash: Donald Trump is bombastic.

That proclamation will earn a chuckle from anyone in the United States who owns a television, radio or computer. The Donald has been selling his over-the-top personality for three decades.

But Trump’s shtick is new and a bit much for the genteel sensitivities of Scotland, at least according to various environmental activists who have complained to the Advertising Standards Authority (they seem to have an agency for everything over there) about Trump’s new advertisement against a proposed Aberdeen wind farm.

Trump’s ad, which ran last week in various Scottish outlets including the Aberdeen Press and Journal, compared the support Alex Salmond, the First Minister of the area (whatever that means) has shown for a wind farm along the coastline of Scotland and adjacent to Trump International Golf Links, to his earlier support for releasing Abdel al-Megrahi, the Lockerbie bomber, for “humanitarian reasons.”  

This, of course, earned cries of outrage from Green Party activists and more ministers of this or that, but it played into Trump’s hands perfectly. Nobody outside a few pub crawlers saw the original advertisement. Now, the entire UK is talking about the boorish American. No one, however, disputes that Minister Salmond supports windmills and was one of the advocates for releasing al-Megrahi.

Oh, those outrageous Americans and their brilliant PR schemes.  

 

December 18, 2012 - 10:54am
Posted by:
John Kim
john.kim's picture
World's longest golf club
Photo: CaddieClub
And you thought long putters were out of control?

A Texas golf pro recently set a world record by using the longest usable golf club - over 14 feet long! - to hit a ball 146 yards.  Why?  Um, well - why not??

Check out the video and story here.

December 17, 2012 - 4:59pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
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Ariya Jutanugarn
Ariya Jutanugarn took home the LET Q-School trophy only weeks after her sister Moriya captured the LPGA Tour Q-School prize.

The 2012 tournament season officially ended on Monday with the conclusion of Q-School for the Ladies European Tour. We generally don't cover much of the LET over here in the United States, but Q-School had a couple of newsworthy notes.

First, the medalist was 17-year-old Ariya Jutanugarn, who triumphed less than a month after her older sister Moriya was co-medalist at the LPGA Tour Q-School. I don't know this for a fact, but I'd bet that sisters have never won the two big women's tour Q-Schools in the same year. And after playing together – and so well – for several years in junior events across the United States and around the world, the two sisters from Thailand now will go their own ways.

"I'm going to miss her a lot because we have to separate," Ariya said on Monday. "I have to go with my dad and Moriya will go with my mom. I'm really happy I won because it will make me feel confident for my professional career."

Among the other players earning their LET cards were Emily Taylor, who dominated the English amateur ranks last year, and Holly Clyburn, one of the players on Britain-Ireland's victorious Curtis Cup team. The star of that team, 16-year-old Charley Hull, struggled to a 76 on Monday and missed out on her card.

Also missing out was Cheyenne Woods, the niece of Tiger Woods who starred at Wake Forest. Hull and Woods, arguably the two biggest names in the event, earned partial status on the LET for 2013.

Three Americans did earn their cards, however -- Mallory Fraiche, who played for Arkansas-Little Rock and on the Symetra Tour tied for eighth; Katie Burnett, who played at South Carolina, finished ninth; and Dawn Shockley, who played at the University of Denver and on the Symetra Tour, tied for 15th.

At the bottom of this post is a complete list of players earning their LET cards.

Q-School wrapped up an amazing final weekend of competition:

--Charl Schwartzel won the Alfred Dunhill Championship in South Africa by 12 shots a week after he won the Thailand Golf Championship by 11. No one can be sadder that there isn't an event this week than Schwartzel.

--Sergio Garcia won the Iskandar Johor Open in Malaysia as persistent storms forced the event to be shortened to 54 holes, shooting a 61 on Sunday to clinch the victory in the Asian Tour's season-ender. Just as impressive to me is that oft-delayed events like this one require a little extra concentration. And Garcia, who so often lets his frustrations get the best of him, showed that concentration.

--Daniel Popovic, ranked no. 1,251 in the world, led from wire-to-wire to win the Australian PGA Championship. The young man deserves an extra golf clap because he succeeded despite almost giving up the game to care for his dad, who is suffering from terminal bone cancer and spent the week in the hospital. 

--Angel Cabrera won the Argentina Open, which is now part of the PGA Tour Latinoamerica. Cabrera, who of course owns a Masters Green Jacket as well as a U.S. Open trophy, spent many years plying the circuits of South America, and had won the Argentina Open twice before. He has close to three dozen wins on the Argentine Tour and Cordoba Tour to go with his majors and handful of European Tour titles.

--Asia won the Royal Trophy in a playoff over Europe in Brunei, thanks to a thrilling comeback. The Europeans jumped out to a 3.5 to 0.5 lead after the Friday four-balls in the Ryder Cup-style event, but the Asians worked their way back to within half a point on Saturday and rallied again in the Sunday singles to tie the match at 8-8.

Under Ryder Cup rules, Europe would have retained the trophy as defending champions. But the Royal Trophy went to a sudden-death four-ball match between Nicolas Colsaerts and Francesco Molinari for Europe and Y.E. Yang and K.T. Kim for Asia. Kim drained a 15-foot birdie putt on the first extra hole to give Asia the trophy for the second time in the event's six-year history.

So that's it for 2012. We now have a whole 17 days off before the 2013 season begins on Friday, Jan. 4 at the PGA Tour's Hyundai Tournament of Champions in Hawaii.

Here are the players who earned their 2013 LET cards:
1. Ariya Jutanugarn -24
2. Nikki Campbell -19
2. Emily Taylor -19
4. Louise Larsson -17
5. Xi Yu Lin -16
6. Camilla Lennarth -15
7. Malene Jorgensen -13
8. Mallory Fraiche -12
9. Charlotte Ellis -11
9. Katie Burnett -11
9. Maria Salinas -11
9. Julia Davidsson -11
9. Alexandra Vilatte -11
9. Bonita Bredenhann -11
15. Paula Hurtado -10
15. Dawn Shockley -10
17. Daniela Holmqvist -9
17. Sharmila Nicollet -9
17. Whitney Hillier -9
20. Elina Nummenpaa -8
20. Laura Cabanillas -8
20. Maha Haddioui -8
20. Virginia Espejo -8
20. Sarah King -8
25. Cathryn Bristow -7
25. Laura Jansone -7
25. Holly Clyburn -7
25. Jia Yun Li -7
25. Melanie Maetzler -7
25. Margarita Ramos -7

December 17, 2012 - 11:03am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
tj.auclair's picture

Joe Logan from MyPhillyGolf.com, reports that in preparation for the 2013 U.S. Open at historic Merion Golf Club, members have been asked to hit off of artificial mats from the fairway for what Merion's Green Chairman Bob Rex told Logan was, "for divot control."

Logan reports:

The mats, which have been in use since October, are rectangular, about 5 inches wide by 15 inches long, with a little bulbous knob on the end.
 
It's a simple concept.  Each caddie at Merion, which is a walking-only course, carries a mat in the pouch of his caddie bib. By the time his player reaches his tee shot, the caddie has lifted, cleaned and placed his ball on the mat.
 
"They're just like something you’d find at the driving range," one Merion member said of the mats. "I actually find them easier to hit off of than turf."
 
Are members fuming over the inconvenience?  "There has been zero push back," said Rex.
 
"It's not the least bit controversial," confirmed the other Merion member. "You have to understand that Merion has a culture that we are a club that hosts major championships and in doing so, you have to make some sacrifices."

To read more about the mats at Merion from Logan, click here.