Golf News

Ryder Cup News!


The Europeans officially have a new Ryder Cup team captain: Padraig Harrington.

The 47-year-old Irishman was named to the position Tuesday at the European Tour headquarters in Wentworth, England. The Europeans will be looking to defend their 2018 title when they visit Whistling Straits in Wisconsin in 2020. Harrington is now the third Irishman to hold that position this decade, following Paul McGinley in 2014 and Darren Clarke in 2016.

“I have played under many wonderful European captains since I made my debut 20 years ago,” Harrington said. “I would like to think that my captaincy will be a mix of all of them.”

The three-time major champion has served as vice-captain at the last three Ryder Cups (two of them European victories) and appeared in the event six times as a player. He won four Ryder Cups during his playing days, with his first victory coming in 2002 at The Belfry in England. Most American fans have committed it to memory by this time, but the Europeans have dominated the Ryder Cup over the last quarter-century, having won nine of the last 12 biennial events.

Harrington emerged as the favorite for the position after Lee Westwood declared his interest in serving as captain when the event visits Rome in 2022. The selection was made by a panel that includes three previous Ryder Cup captains, Thomas Bjorn, Darren Clarke and Paul McGinley, European Tour CEO Keith Pelley, and a member of the Tour’s Players Committee.

The biggest asset Harrington brings as a captain? It could be his knowledge and experience of the course, where Harrington played three PGA Championships. He also continues to play a busy worldwide schedule, in which he will surely see many potential players on the professional golf landscape. In all, Harrington’s career speaks for itself. He’s won six times on the PGA Tour and 15 times on the European Tour, with a dominant three-major stretch in the mid-2000s.




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Changes You Need To Know


Changes In Golf (Fore) 2019


The new, modernized Rules of Golf have been finalized and released by the USGA and R&A, and will go into effect at the beginning of 2019. Though the general premise for this update was to clarify the sport’s notorious ambiguity around its guidelines, let’s be honest: rules language can still be hard to process. Luckily for you, we have everything you need to know about the new Rules of Golf right here.

One change is designed specifically for the recreational golfer

Regarding out of bounds or a lost ball. Instead of stroke and distance, a new local rule allows the option of dropping a ball in the vicinity of where the original was lost or out of bounds, including the nearest fairway area, with a two-stroke penalty. Basically, if you blow your first drive into the woods, you no longer have to hit your third from the tee box. Instead, you can play your fourth from the fairway—basically, the best case scenario (save for a hole-in-three) with your third shot. This was done to help pace of pace.

This rule will not be in play at the professional level, or other elite competitions.

Another tweak: The height of your drop

Although the initial proposal had a player taking a drop from any length above two inches from the ground, the new rule stipulates drop be taken from knee height, still a significant change from the current shoulder level.

There’s also no longer a penalty for a double-chip

Somewhere, T.C. Chen is smiling. Golfers will now just count the hit as one stroke.

Club-length, not inches, will be the measurement for relief

One of the March 2017 proposals called for either a 20-inch or 80-inch standard, but golfers responded by saying “How are we going to actually measure that?” The governing bodies agreed, going back to club lengths instead.

Aside from the tweaks, other proposals in the first draft from March 2017 will be implemented

These touch on six main areas: ball-moved penalties, relaxed putting-green rules, relaxed rules for water hazards, pace of play, player integrity and rules in the bunker.

The big takeaways from this are:

No more penalty for accidentally moving a ball on the green

You are still penalized, however, if it is “virtually certain” you caused it to move on purpose.

You can putt with the flag stick in

Not only has the penalty for putting to an unattended flag been eliminated, you can go at it without having it removed at all.

You can repair all the damn spike marks your heart desires

As well as repair animal or other damage on the green.

Another penalty removed: touching the line of the putt

However, caddies are not allowed to stand behind or serve as an extension of the line.

You can now move impediments in bunkers and water hazards

There’s also no penalty for touching the ground or water in a penalty area. In the sand, however, you cannot ground the club right next to the ball.

However, if you’re “generally” touching the sand with the club, that’s OK.

An extra relief option has been added for an unplayable ball in a bunker

Yep, more good news for those that struggle in the sand. You can play the ball to be outside the sand with a two-stroke penalty.

The Rules also give your integrity some latitude

A player is given “reasonable judgement” when estimating or measuring a spot, point, line, area or distance. Your placement will be upheld, even if video evidence later shows it wasn’t in the exact right spot.

You also are no longer required to announce when you are lifting a ball to identify or see if it’s damaged

The new Rules are really trusting you on this, buddy. Don’t blow their faith in you.

You’re no longer allowed five minutes to look for a lost ball

Your search party now has three minutes. Let’s be honest, you weren’t going to find it in five, anyway.

And a player can take no more than 40 seconds to play a stroke

A change made to help speed of pace of play, although admittedly this one could be a tad hard to enforce at the amateur ranks.

Sadly, one of the most debated rule changes was not made

That would be relief from a fairway divot. “One of the primary objectives for the overall initiative is to make the rules easier to understand and apply, but to also make sure we maintained the traditions and principles behind the game,” said Thomas Pagel, USGA senior director of rules & amateur status. “And the principles are to play the ball as it lies and the course as you find it. So to write a rule that allows a player to sort of deviate from that, was not something we were wanting to do.”

In other words, pray the rest of the group takes a casual attitude towards foot wedges from fairway craters.





Tour Tip Thursday



Tour Tip Thursday



If you watch the pros closely, you’ll rarely see them make a full, all-out swing with their wedges or short irons. They usually dial it down to 75 or 80 percent of their full tempo. Why? Because when they’re within striking distance of the pin, distance control is all that matters. And the best way to control your distance is to swing within yourself.

One way to do this is by choking down on the club, gripping halfway down the handle to subtract 5 yards from your approach, or all the way down to the steel to remove 10 yards. This will allow you take the longer club and swing more smoothly and in control, rather than having to go all-out with a shorter club. So if your normal 8-iron carries 150 yards and you need the ball to travel 145 yards, grip halfway down the handle; if you need it to go 140 yards, move your hands to the bottom of the grip. Try this grip switch with all of your scoring clubs and you should start to see a lot more birdie opportunities.




“Golf is a Game for a Lifetime”

Now that I have lived close to a lifetime, I can truly appreciate that quote. I’ve learned that you don’t have to play it your entire life to benefit from the game. I have seen many examples of folks learning golf at an early age, dropping the game entirely at various stages of their life and coming back to it when time allowed. It is worth noting that those folks had a distinct advantage, even if they hadn’t played it in 40 years, over those who were just taking it up for the first time. Maybe that is why, despite what you may have heard, interest in Junior Golf is steadily growing, up 7% in the U.S. since 2011.

But what is so great about this game of a lifetime for your kids? Hmmmm, let’s see…

  1. Anyone can play. You don’t have to be an exceptional athlete to enjoy golf. It is a non-contact sport, so there is minimal risk of injury and it’s never too early (or too late) to take up the game, but the sooner the better.
  2. Time spent outdoors. Seems like these days any activity that encourages kids to get exercise outdoors, enjoying nature, is a positive. Golf courses serve as scenic parks where people are active and challenged.
  3. Safe and Positive Environment. The social nature of the game facilitates lifelong friendships and more than any other sport exposes kids to a variety of adult mentors who all help educate your child about the game and its challenges.
  4. Important Life Lessons. Golfers have to learn to manage their emotions, have a positive outlook and focus on the task at hand. Such desirable traits as Integrity, Etiquette, Discipline, Respect and Persistence are essential to golf and naturally carry over into other areas of life.
  5. Proceed at Your Own Pace. Kids can determine how good or serious they want to be. For those on the fast track, there are junior tournaments and potential college scholarships. For others, they may prefer to just have fun playing a game with their friends. Some will drop it completely as they become young adults, only to find years later that it is an important socializing and/or business networking tool easily picked up because of the fundamentals learned as a child.
  6. Family Time. Golf is a great game for the entire family to enjoy together, which is a rarity these days. Even grandparents can be included. Get your little ones started early, when they want to be with you and you’ll create family memories that you will cherish forever.

All these points are powerfully communicated in the words of Dr. Gordon Fosdick of Middleton, CT whose story appeared in the Feb. 2014 Golf Digest. His wife passed away of a rare liver disease at a very early age, leaving him with two grade school fraternal twins to raise alone:

“We were all there at her bedside when she passed. The doctors had told us it would only be a matter of hours… we were all teary, but I was grateful neither child completely lost it.

I never realized how much work my wife did. Laundry never ends. Children don’t pick up after themselves or remember the things they need. After dropping them off at school, I was usually scrambling to be “not that late” for my first patient… life became as hard as I’ve ever known. I tried not to let my children see me break down.

Christopher always had a talent for golf, but after his mother’s death he immersed himself in the game. The year she died, a nine hole executive course with a range opened almost within sight of our house…

Logistically it’s a huge relief having a safe place Christopher can be for hours. I’m proud of all his competitive success, but what really gives me peace is the second family my son has found in golf. He’s become the little mayor of the course. All the employees, fine men in their 20s and 30s, are among his best friends. He watches golf in the lounge and talks equipment anyone who comes in. In other sports you’re either on or you’re off, but with golf it’s OK to just hang around.

… Without golf I’m not sure what would’ve happened to Christopher. He would have had a lot of time on his hands to go down a wrong path. When he plays golf, he feels his mother’s presence in his heart and uses it as motivation. We’ve spoken a little about this. When I pick him up from the course, it’s not unusual for a stranger to approach my car window and tell me what a great kid I’ve got. If I were picking him up someplace else, I’m not so sure this would happen.

There are a million things you can buy to help your kids learn and grow, but only a few make a real impact.

John Kohler
PGA Professional
Coyote Creek GC