Editor's picks: Our 7 favorite golf stories of the year

Len Mattiace
Pawtucket Country Club
A course-record 61 fired at Pawtucket Country Club in Rhode Island back in 1970 still stands to this day. In the early 2000s, however, it could have been broken or tied by PGA Tour player Len Mattiace. Instead, Mattiace intentionally avoided it.
By
T.J. Auclair & Dan McDonald

Series: PGA

Published: Wednesday, December 13, 2017 | 10:14 a.m.

The best golf stories of the year aren't always the ones that happen inside the ropes.

Sometimes they're the ones that nobody knows about, or the ones that you need to know more about.

In 2017, the editors at PGA.com stumbled upon many of those.

Here's a look, in no particular order, at seven of our favorites. You can click on the headline to read the story:

That time LPGA player Mary Bea Porter-King hit a wayward shot and saved the life of a drowning toddler

Synopsis: During a qualifying round for a LPGA event in 1988, former LPGA winner and 2011 PGA First Lady of Golf Mary Bea Porter-King saved the life of a drowning toddler. Porter-King hit a lousy second shot into a wooded area on a par-5 hole. When she arrived at the ball, she noticed the dire situation on the other side of a wrought-iron fence.

The incident involved an Amish family who didn't know what to do (like call 9-1-1). Porter-King performed life-saving CPR on the young boy. Through the years, Porter-King and the boy -- now a grown man -- have kept in touch and become friends.

Make-A-Wish fulfills teen's Masters dream

Synopsis: A 16-year-old Michigan boy named Keaton Cleland, was born with a heart defect called “Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome” or “HLHS.” The defect means that the left side of the heart, which receives oxygen-rich blood from your lungs and pumps blood through your arteries to the rest of your body, never fully develops.

An avid golfer and golf fan, Cleland always wanted to attend the Masters to follow his idol, Jordan Spieth. That's where the Make-A-Wish Foundation stepped in.

Make-A-Wish was able to send Cleland and most of his family to Augusta National for the 2017 Masters. In the story, we learned more about Cleland's own game -- he was his high school team's MVP -- as well as some of the hurdles he's had to overcome in his young life and how heart breaking all of this was for his family at times.

Synopsis: Golf is a fun game, and this story just hits that theme so well. While going through his unique warmup stretches before the Dick's Sporting Goods Open, Miguel Angel Jimenez had a young fan mimicking his moves.
 
Thankfully, someone was there to capture video of the moment and Jimenez walking over to say hi to his admiring young fan. 
 
 


Synopsis: Mike Reasor, a PGA Tour journeyman, once shot rounds of 123 and 114 in an official event... after making the cut.

How is that possible from a PGA Tour caliber player? We went back in time to those two days in the 1974 Tallahassee Open to find out how exactly it all transpired.

What we learned through accounts given by Reasor's widow, a best friend and a fellow competitor, is that Reasor's scores were more a testament to the determination of a proud, stubborn man than those of a clown.

What if we told you that Reasor shot those scores playing with just one hand? He did. And you'll have to read the story to find out why.

That time a PGA Tour player three-putted to avoid a course record

Synopsis: Imagine, if you will, having a putt to establish a new course record at a prestigious country club.

Now, imagine missing that putt on purpose not once, but twice, to avoid setting or tying the course record. That's what PGA Tour pro Len Mattiace did in the early 2000s at Rhode Island's Pawtucket Country Club.

Pawtucket CC's record score of 61 belonged to its late PGA Head Professional, Les Kennedy, who set the mark in 1970. Kennedy was a legend around Pawtucket CC and Mattiace felt he had no business owning something that meant so much to the club's members.

In this story, Mattiace and his father-in-law (and playing partner that day), reveal the conversation that unfolded on that 18th green before Mattiace prepared to hit his putt.

Synopsis: In July, Danielle Kang birdied No. 18 at Olympia Fields to claim not only her first major championship at the KPMG Women's PGA Championship but also her first win as a professional after 144 starts.
 
But that's where the story of that weekend starts. This touching column from PGA.com's Mike Lopresti takes an insightful look into how she dealt with the death of her coach, her mentor and her father, K.S. Kang, who died four years ago from cancer. 
 
Synopsis: This was one of our favorite stories to put together this year and one that readers enjoyed just as much. We came across this great short story written in 1892 by J. McCullough called "Golf in the year 2000."
 
McCullough set out to explore what the world would look like a century from then through the lens of golf. While he had some pretty farfetched ideas he also was pretty close on some technology such as the subway system, Trans-Atlantic travel under 2 hours, color photography, elevator lift systems and shaving without a razor, instead using a brush with a liquid which left his face smooth.
 
We took a look at what golf inventions he thought up and gave them grades based on what actually happened. Check them out -- and our illustrations trying to dive into his mind -- and keep dreaming up ideas for what you think the future could look like.