t h in k yo u ng | p l ay hard
GEAR UP WITH THE 100 BEST CLUBFITTERS
IN 8 SECONDS
STICK ANY BUNKER SHOT
MUSTHAVE HOLIDAY GIFTS
OWN YOUR SWING
BRYSON WHATâ€™S IN MY BAG
WHO GIVE BACK
Contents 16/17 50
Golfers Who Give Back 68
▶ Cover Story: The Arnie Award Peyton Manning, Phil Mickelson and Jake Owen follow the Palmer method.
Book Excerpt: A Crooner, Caddies & Kings Bing Crosby’s son tells tales of a legend who was no snob when it came to his golf. BY NATHANIEL CROSBY AND JOHN STREGE
▶ Own Your Swing Focus on the fundamentals you need to improve.
Play Your Best 12
One-Sided Argument Use your dominant arm to hammer the ball.
BY DAVID LEADBETTER 88
4 Ways to Reboot Your Putting Pull yourself out of that rut and hole more putts. BY CAMERON M C CORMICK
Best Duel Ever! Henrik Stenson, Phil Mickelson and key outsiders take you behind the scenes of the riveting race for the claret jug.
Stick Any Bunker Shot How I handle every lie.
The Golf Life 42
BY RICKIE FOWLER
BY RON WHITTEN
BY CRAIG BESTROM 76
2016 Best New Courses Tiger Woods’ Bluejack National and Tom Doak’s The Loop have something in common: fun and playability.
Tour Tips Hit more precise pitch shots. BY LYDIA KO Butch Harmon Three common mistakes for why you miss greens
BY PETER FINCH 44
Ask Golf Digest How much practice is too much?
Rundown Do pros use ball-washers? BY BRITTANY ROMANO AND CLAIRE ROGERS
Jack Nicklaus Let the bunkers dictate your play
Hank Haney Get your swing on plane
Swing Sequence: Soren Kjeldsen An eﬃcient, free-and-easy move to learn from
Back to Basics Why training your hand movement will lead to better golf.
BY JOHN HUGGAN AND DAVE SHEDLOSKI
BY SMYLIE KAUFMAN
The 8-Second Rule Are you standing over the ball too long?
Editor’s Letter Tim Finchem’s Exit Interview. BY JERRY TARDE
4 golfdigest.com | december 2016/january 2017
▶ Holiday Wish List 21 must-have gifts. BY MARTY HACKEL AND BRITTANY ROMANO
The Core Get stronger and more ﬁt during the holidays. BY CORY BRADBURN
BY MIKE STACHURA
BY BOB CARNEY
New Looks: Putters Check out these six models.
Rules Guess who caused these unusual rulings on tour. BY CLIFF SCHROCK
BY TRAVIS FULTON 64
X-Golf You’ll need a helicopter to play this par 3.
Undercover Tour Pro Culture shock. WITH MAX ADLER
What’s in My Bag Bryson DeChambeau
Win Winter: America’s 100 Best Clubﬁtters Your ultimate guide to customization.
BY MIKE STACHURA
Man About Golf The Locker-room Whisperer. BY DAVID OWEN Fast and easy tiebreakers. BY MAX ADLER
Cover photograph by Walter Iooss Jr.
kaufman: j.d. cuban • gift guide: jeffrey westbrook • manning: chris condon/pga tour • cover fashion credits: page 15
Editor’s Letter Finchem’s Exit Interview
to us. I say, “Ty, A, not many people are reading that garbage, and, B, if they do, they’re going to forget about it in 24 hours. So don’t let it bother you.” ●●●
american president you most admire? you’ve known a few. Probably George Bush,
JERRY TARDE Chairman and Editor-in-Chief s editor I’ve been fortunate to work with the three commissioners who ran the PGA Tour since its founding. I edited a rules column written by Joseph C. Dey Jr. after his tenure (1969-’74); he had the imperious bearing of a medieval archbishop. It was once said in our pages, Dey kept a copy of the New Testament in his right breast pocket and The Rules of Golf in his left—“he helped write one of them.” I then enjoyed a tumultuous relationship covering Deane Beman, the tour’s greatest commissioner but an intense dictator (1974-’94). The commissioner I’ve come to admire best is Tim Finchem, 69, whose 22year reign as the most powerful man in golf will end when Jay Monahan takes over in January. My ﬁrst recollection of Finchem was when we published Part One of a series on the tour’s business operations that was scorchingly critical. Beman dispatched his thendeputy commissioner to ﬂy to our oﬃces in Connecticut and pound on the table with his shoe, which I recall Finchem doing with perfervid outrage. We were so chastened that we quickly published the next two installments. When Beman retired, Finchem ascended. A master politician who once worked in Jimmy Carter’s White House, Tim acted like the shoe episode never happened. His dry humor and business skills gained him increasing respect. We played many rounds of golf together. I remember him making 2s in successive rounds at Pine Valley’s infamous ﬁfth hole. I never thought anyone could sustain the tour’s tra-
No. 41. He was great to play golf with, and be around. He’s an absolutely true gentleman, and very funny. Two good qualities, I think, in any leader.
what qualities in jay made you endorse him as your successor? It’s kind of a
jectory of prize money, but Finchem out-Bemaned Beman. Finchem’s greatest achievement came in 2007 and 2008, at the depth of the ﬁnancial crisis, when he never blinked, slyly tapping into his reserve funds and keeping the purses growing until the economy kicked in and the tour roared back. Known for his long-winded answers, he’s a formidable subject in a Q&A. So I brought a chess clock and set the ground rules for our interview on Nov. 1, a week before the policy board’s vote to conﬁrm Monahan. Finchem had only one minute to answer each question. Again, he never blinked. ●●●
what would surprise the average golfer about the job as commissioner? You
don’t play golf very much. We always counsel people that we hire: Do not expect your handicap to go down when you work for us. We all travel a great deal, and you really can’t take the clubs because if you add an extra half-day to play, it becomes untenable.
When you get bright, creative people who come up with good ideas, and good managers who can execute them, you’re going to be successful. ●●●
your compensation has been a matter of public record and comment. [the tour’s 2015 tax return as a nonprofit shows finchem’s total compensation as $5,655,352.] were you underpaid or overpaid? pick one. [Laughs.] I think I’ve been
fairly paid. ●●●
that’s not one of the choices. If you were to
compare me with other sports commissioners, you’d say it’s low. I think as a company you should try to get the best talent you can, spending as little as you can to do it. And I think our board has kept my position and our other senior-management positions in a 50-60 percent of total cash comp compared to the marketplace. So I think that’s reasonable. ●●●
what do you think was your no. 1 accomplishment in the job? Developing a solid
one of the things i admire most about you is your thick skin. in hebrew they say gam zeh ya’avor—this too shall pass. but you’re irish? As the
working relationship between our executive staﬀ and the players. And making good choices [in hiring] people.
years go by, you sort of take the longer view. I love Ty Votaw when he comes in with some story that’s sticking the needle
6 golfdigest.com | december 2016/january 2017
long list. His skill set, his background, his knowledge of sports from the bottom up, is much superior to what I enjoyed when Deane made me deputy commissioner. Jay’s tough, but in a very nice way. And he’s a good manager because he always keeps everybody looking down the road. I think he gives oﬀ a sense of conﬁdence to people, which is important. I think he’s 10 percent more Irish than I am, but substantially more likable. If you talk about public speaking, I have a bit of an advantage over him because I’ve been doing it longer. But he has a huge advantage over me because he really connects with people. He has this ability to say things that draw you in, in a meaningful way. If I tell a story, I give the overview. If he tells a story, he takes you there into the minutiae of what happens, and you really live through the moments of the story. He has no ego whatsoever. None. So if you add it all up, he’s pretty strong. ●●●
how would you rate yourself as a negotiator?
Fair, I’d say. I have one signiﬁcant ﬂaw. In big negotiations, I have a tendency to drive it from my perspective. As opposed to, as I normally do in other areas, push toward sort of a consensus. You don’t need to control it. You need to help grow it and reach out for more input. I think that held me back from being better than I was. Illustration by Ben Kirchner
“It’s so much fun doing this job with these people that you just want to work all the time.” describe your golf game. ghin.com says you’re a 6.5 at pablo creek in jacksonville and cypress point. My game is
inconsistent. Every three or four years I have a couple of really good rounds for me that keep my enthusiasm going. I really like to practice these days. I was at Burning Tree last week for about four hours, just chipping and putting and hitting balls. I don’t know what else you can do better than that to clear your head. I probably played 20 rounds this year, all in. ●●●
so what’s your day going to be like when you retire?
I’m going to try to take two half-days a week to do intensive work on my game by myself, really practice. And play at least three rounds a week. Get into an actual rhythm. [Finchem later said he will remain active as chairman of The First Tee and launch a capital campaign in 2018 for the eﬀort he cofounded to introduce golf to young people and teach the game’s core values.] ●●●
as a newspaper carrier, you once delivered your route during a hurricane. what’s the worst weather you’ve ever played golf in?
St. Andrews, about ﬁve years ago, on the Old Course. When we got way at the back, on the 12th or 13th holes, a lightning storm came up. I didn’t know they had lightning in Scotland. It was so bad that we huddled down, got in those little hollows, and curled up and prayed. That’s how bad it was.
Palmer, and he’s making [a big deal] over me. It just didn’t feel right. And such a down-to-earth good guy. But the other side of it is, in my tenure, he became sort of a conﬁdant. Somebody I could bounce things oﬀ of. He wouldn’t be a guy who would, you know, write the book for you, but he had great instincts. So I came to love that about him, and he was very helpful to me. And then his sense of humor was amazing. ●●●
among current players, who best personifies what we admired so much in arnie? If you had to write
down Arnold’s qualities, a fair number of players you could argue have everything on the list. Not as famous maybe, not as successful, but technically have a lot of those qualities. The younger players coming up today really pay attention to those things, more than 10, 15 years ago. People say, “I love Jordan Spieth.” And there are other players like that. But Arnold had this other thing going on. I don’t know how you articulate what it was. And I don’t know if anybody will ever have that thing again. ●●●
favorite tour wife not your own? and you can’t pick barbara nicklaus. I get along
shot was underneath the hole, eight, 10 feet away. So I thought that was the exclamation point: OK, this guy’s great, and that’s going to last a long time. ●●●
what would be the harm of fines/suspensions being made public? why is your organization different from the nfl, the nba and mlb? You have to consider two
things. One is the level of the action or violation. And the other is to your point, what’s the harm? If a player broke out into a ﬁstﬁght with somebody or if a player had a signiﬁcant domestic-abuse situation, or a player is in a bar with a gun, the public has a right to know our reaction. But if a player says a bad word in front of 30 kids, we don’t like that, but we don’t think we need to tell everybody, because we want people to view our players as role models. Thankfully we don’t have much of the former. But if we started to get some of it, and we’ve had our issues, then we’ve got to step up and tell the story. We like our policy the way it is. ●●●
favorite course to play every day for the rest of your life? Pablo Creek,
Burning Tree, Cypress Point. ●●●
tell us something we still don’t know about tim finchem. I voted Republican
with tour wives really well. Lisa Cink would have to be right up there. Amy Mickelson is a delight.
twice for president.
which single event during your tenure had the most impact on the tour’s level of exposure? Tiger Woods
When I was a kid, just watching him play Augusta, the way he moved around the course, the way he handled himself. But the ﬁrst time I went to Latrobe stands out in my mind. He invited me up there to play golf 17 or 18 years ago. I mean, I’m at Latrobe, this is Arnold
becoming a dominant player. For me, as a fan, when he lapped the ﬁeld at Pebble Beach [in the 2000 U.S. Open] by 15 shots or whatever, he had cemented the fact that he was in the best two or three players of all time. I actually walked with him on the ﬁnal round. If you go back and watch it, he might have hit one shot that day that wasn’t pretty much exactly where he wanted to hit it. Every
Out-of-bounds is a little goofy. People don’t follow that rule anyway. If there’s a lake on the right side of the fairway, and I hit in the lake, I can drop it with a one-stroke penalty. If it’s a fence that marks out-ofbounds, I have to go back to the tee, which is essentially a twostroke penalty. What’s the logic in that? And then the other, from the tour’s perspective: When the ball is on the green, there shouldn’t be a penalty if it moves, period. You just replace
you mentioned at arnold’s memorial service that you hit 18 balls in his honor. what about arnie moved you?
8 golfdigest.com | december 2016/january 2017
what rule of golf would you like to see changed?
it and you putt it. Unless you intentionally moved it. ●●●
you’re standing on the last tee of the masters, last pairing, with a two-shot lead. walk me through the finish. I hit my drive on the
left side. It creeps into the rough short of the bunker because I can’t reach the bunker. And then I look at it and think hard. There’s no wind. I take a rescue club and try to get it 75 yards short of the green. And I succeed. And then I get a little nervous. ●●●
don’t tell me you chunk the wedge? No, I hit a good wedge,
but I overcook it a little—blade it a touch—take it to the back of the green. It’s a Sunday pin, so now I’ve got to two-putt. I run it about 10 feet past. I miss the putt coming back, but the good news is, I’m in a playoﬀ. ●●●
if you left a letter on your desk for the next commissioner, what would it say? It would
be a struggle to determine whether I should give just general encouragement or give directives on how to do the job. The latter would be inappropriate, and the former is probably unnecessary. I would tell Jay that he’s got all the tools; he’s gonna do great. But keep in balance everything from a time standpoint, because it’s so much fun doing this job with these people that you just want to work all the time. Jay is more balanced than I was. He works really hard on his family stuﬀ, so he doesn’t need me to tell him that. ●●●
besides free private aviation, what will you miss the most? Working with
these people here. Going to the meetings. Dreaming stuﬀ up. Trying to make it happen. Setting a vision for the next year or two. Driving it. You know, I’ll miss the players. The players have been great. Yeah, I will miss it.
Meat, a school chum who played shoeless and would be besties with Beef
El Pato, for Angel Cabrera
Editorial chairman & editor-in-chief Jerry Tarde executive editor Mike O’Malley creative director Ken DeLago managing editor Alan P. Pittman Terribledeputy editor Max Adler tempered, tempestuous ARTICLES editorial development director Tommy Craig Bestrom Thunder senior editor Ron Kaspriske Bolt senior writers bureau Jaime Diaz, Dave Kindred, Tim Rosaforte, Ron Sirak, Guy Yocom associate editor Stephen Hennessey assistant editor Brittany Romano editor-at-large Nick Seitz writer-at-large Dan Jenkins contributing editors Dave Anderson, Peter Andrews, Tom Callahan, Bob Carney, Marcia Chambers, David Fay, John Feinstein, Peter Finch, Thomas L. Friedman, Lisa Furlong, Matthew M. Ginella, John Huggan, Dean Knuth, David Owen, Steve Rushin, Dave Shedloski, Roger Schiﬀman, Geoﬀ Shackelford
The Dredger INSTRUCTION senior editor Peter Morrice senior writer Matthew Rudy playing editors / pga tour Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Tom Watson, Rickie Fowler, Justin Leonard, Phil Mickelson, Nick Price, Jordan Spieth, David Toms playing editors / lpga tour Paula Creamer teaching professionals Rob Akins, Todd Anderson, Chuck Cook, Sean Foley, Hank Haney, Butch Harmon, Hank Johnson, David Leadbetter, Jack Lumpkin, Jim McLean, Tom Ness, Renee Powell, Dean Reinmuth, Randy Smith, Rick Smith, Dave Stockton, Josh Zander professional advisors Amy Alcott, Dr. Bill Mallon, Gary McCord, Randy Myers, Judy Rankin, Lucius Riccio, Ph.D., Dr. Bob Rotella, Ben Shear, Ralph Simpson, Frank Thomas, Stan Utley EQUIPMENT senior editor Mike Stachura equipment editor E. Michael Johnson assistant editor Keely Levins technical panel John Axe, Ph.D.; Martin Brouillette, Ph.D.; Thomas E. Lacy Jr., Ph.D.; David Lee, Ph.D.; John McPhee, Ph.D.; Dick Rugge; George Springer, Ph.D.
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Moose, who makes a sound like one when he misses putts
Wayne the Drain
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10 golfdigest.com | december 2016/january 2017
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“The best golf nickname I’ve ever heard is . . .”
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Blister, a lazy course employee who’d show up only after the hard work was done
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Play edited by ron kaspriske
Sand By Me How I handle any bunker shot BY RICKIE FOWLER
ere at the Medalist Golf Club in Hobe Sound, Fla., I’m in a steep-face pot bunker. Most golfers associate these hazards with Scotland and Ireland, but we have synthetic ones at this club. Instead of bricked layers of sod that can melt in a muggy climate, the face of this bunker is built with strips of artiﬁcial turf. Only up close can you tell they’re not real. (As a member here, I’ve had this view more times than I care to admit.) Tough as they are, these bunkers have forced me to perfect a few techniques for extreme situations. Learn them, and you’ll gain the conﬁdence to handle any bunker at your course. —WITH MAX ADLER
12 golfdigest.com | december 2016/january 2017
“Crazy tall lip? Open the face and drop your hands back to clear it.”
“Accept that awkward lies happen. The biggest thing to control is how you react.”
Photographs by Walter Iooss Jr.
Play Your Best
stay positive Maybe you’re agitated because you just made a bad swing or it feels like an unlucky break, but the worst thing you can do is let negative emotion carry into a diﬃcult bunker shot. Hate the sand or the moment, and you’ll tend to rush and make matters worse. Instead, laugh a little inside about your situation. Then embrace the chance to hit a memorable shot. Obvious as this might sound, attitude separates more players than talent in this game.
create a stance Sometimes the issue is, you’re not even sure how to stand. Your only options are to put one or both feet outside the bunker or maybe take a knee. Whatever the case, just try to get as centered as possible. Where does your torso need to be so that your hands can hang directly over the ball? If the ball is far below my feet, like it is on this shot (left), I grip the club as long as it can be. If the ball were above my feet, I’d slide my hands down the grip. Also, gravity wants to pull me down the slope on this shot, so I sink a lot of weight into my knees and rear end to stay balanced as I ﬁnd my footing. Standing extra wide, you won’t be able to put much leg action into the shot, but resist the urge to swing harder with your arms. Swinging out of control will make you fall victim to gravity and hit the shot thin or way too fat.
splash it high To clear a ridiculously tall lip, remember two setup keys: (1) Open the clubface as far as it will go before taking your grip. I see a lot of amateurs get confused here. I hold the club lightly in my right hand ﬁrst, let the face fall open, then I put my left hand on the top of the grip; (2) Drop the hands back, away from the target. This adds even more loft. Once you’re set up properly, it’s really all about speed. Take a full swing, sliding the club under the ball. On the follow-through, keep the clubface pointing to the sky. Hopefully you’ll see the ball up in the air, too.
dig deep OK, maybe you got really screwed. On top of everything else, your ball is buried so only the top half is visible. Time to swing hard. I mean really hard. Play it in the middle of your stance, come down steep and enter the sand about an inch behind the ball. You won’t make much of a followthrough, but if you keep the face open, the ball should pop out. Now go sink the putt. rickie fowler is a Golf Digest Playing Editor. + PUMA shirt, $75, pants, $80, shoes, $160 COBRA hat, $26
Play Your Best Tour Tips
“Don’t be afraid to follow through on short shots.” Pure Pitching Practice this release pattern for consistency BY LYDIA KO
f you want to become better at pitching, my first piece of advice is to put your ball in lots of scenarios when you practice. Why hit 50 from the same spot when you get only one swing for each shot on the course? Next, understand how your wedge is supposed to move through the grass. It’s supposed to glide, not dig. To
get it to do that, feel like you’re letting the clubhead strike the ball a split second before the hands move over the top of its position (small photo). That means keep your grip pressure light, and resist the urge to prevent the clubhead from releasing in fear of hitting it too far. Keep the club moving. A great way to practice this action is to pitch with your
right hand only. It’s hard to stop the momentum of the clubhead with only one hand. It will naturally glide along the turf and then extend just left of your target to complete the swing. Copy the feel of this release pattern when you play and your pitching will improve. Lydia Ko is No. 1 in the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings.
call away: hat, $28 • footjoy: shoes, $200
Don’t change the length of your swing to control distance. Just change grip length. For shorter shots, grip down.
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Photographs by Dom Furore
Play Your Best Golfer’s Wish List by Butch Harmon
When a yardage is perfectly between a 7- and 8-iron, I’m most likely to… ▶ Baby the 7: 52% ▶ Muscle the 8: 43% ▶ Do whatever my caddie or partner says: 4% ▶ Do the opposite of what anyone says: 1% SOURCE: GOLF DIGEST READERS
How to Hit More Greens You can start by avoiding these mistakes
here are lots of reasons golfers miss greens— poor contact, overswinging, too much curve on the ball. But the root problem is usually one of three bad habits: 1. not taking enough club. I almost never see an amateur hit over the green on a fullswing approach. When facing a full 8-iron shot, take the 7 and swing smoothly. You’ll hit the ball more solidly, and get the distance right. 2. aiming poorly. This stems from just not thinking properly. Most golfers are happy to put the ball anywhere on the green, so they aim at the middle. Problem is, that doesn’t
18 golfdigest.com | december 2016/january 2017
allow for their natural shot shape. For example, if you’re a left-to-right player and you aim at the middle, your target goes from the whole green to just the right half. Instead, aim at the left edge of the green. 3. trying to help the ball up. The club’s loft will send the shot plenty high if you hit it ﬂush. Here’s a great way to stop lifting: When you hit irons on the range, hover the clubhead a few inches at address so you have to hit down to get to the ball. You’ll learn to shift forward and swing down and through. Butch Harmon is a Golf Digest Teaching Professional.
Some people think a shorter swing means shorter shots, but often the opposite is true. Short, wide backswings, where the hands stretch away from the body (above), create a bigger arc than long swings where the arms collapse at the top. The key is how much you turn your body. As long as you make a good windup behind the ball, a short swing can be powerful. Photographs by J.D. Cuban
footjoy: shirt, $75, pants, $85, shoes, $180 • titleist: hat, $27, glove, $24 • rolex: watch • house of fleming: belt
Don’t hang back and try to lift the ball oﬀ the ground. Shift forward and focus on swinging down and through.
Play Your Best Strategy by Jack Nicklaus
“Some bunkers are to challenge; others are to help you aim.”
ometimes there’s no substitute for experience. With rare holes, if you haven’t walked the land, you’ll want to be paired with someone—maybe a caddie—who can clearly articulate what lies ahead. But most of the time, a simple scorecard drawing shows all you need. As a designer, I try to give golfers very clear cues with the bunkering. Take the par-5 16th at the Condado de Alhama Golf Resort (illustrated), a course I designed in Murcia, Spain. At 636 yards from the back tees, almost nobody is getting home in two. From overhead it might look like a jumble of obstacles, but what you have to do becomes pretty straightforward if you ask, “What shot do I want for my third?” Then, by plotting how far you typically advance the ball, you see what’s doable. The key is to identify the challenge bunkers (the ones you can choose to hit over) and the directional bunkers (the ones you can use to help your aim). Figure those out, and an intimidating hole becomes strategically simple. —WITH MAX ADLER
GARDEN SPOT Getting here in two swings is an achievement. With just a partial wedge in, you can run one on or hit just about any shot you like. Having options is your payoﬀ for taking on two challenge bunkers with the second shot. And to be in position to hit such a big second, you certainly carried the ﬁrst challenge bunker on the left side of the fairway with your tee ball. How do you spot a challenge bunker? Hitting to one side of it looks easier, but hitting over it unlocks a big chunk of fairway.
▶ Challenge bunkers ▶ Directional bunkers
From here you’ll have a clean look at the green. Any hole location is accessible, even one cut on the far right. An unimpeded view is your bonus for having carried a challenge bunker. A slightly longer approach is the trade-oﬀ for staying short of the second challenge bunker.
TIME TO PAY Being here in two isn’t bad, but it’s not ideal. This native area before the green is elevated, so your view of the ﬂag is obscured, if not totally blocked. You also have the greenside bunker to contend with when you come in on this line. But getting here was probably stress-free. You simply had to gauge the distance to the bunker in front of this spot and hit short of it. With the drive, perhaps you used the other directional bunker as a similar lay-up target. You can always spot a directional bunker because there’s no reward for going over it.
NO REAL CHOICE These three bunkers I consider neither challenge nor directional. To ﬁnish the hole you have to go over them at some point, so there’s no decision. They boost the importance of ﬁnding the fairway with the drive. If your tee shot catches the ﬁrst challenge bunker (left of the fairway), you might have to lay up short of these three. Reaching the green in regulation will be impossible. It’s just like No. 17 at Baltusrol.
20 golfdigest.com | december 2016/january 2017
UNDER THE HILL
With most of my greens, the back is subtly higher. I don’t enjoy greens that slope too severely back-to-front. We never played many because the tour didn’t think such greens were worthy of a tournament. If you come across one, you absolutely cannot go long. If it’s my ﬁrst time playing a course, I might take extra care to leave approach shots below the hole. Illustration by Chris Riley
al messerschmidt/getty images
Flying Blind How to navigate an unfamiliar hole
Play Your Best What the Pros Know by Hank Haney
23% 21% 18%
I wish my backswing were… ▶ More repeatable ▶ Longer ▶ Shorter ▶ Slower SOURCE: GOLF DIGEST READERS
o matter how long or short your swing, one fundamental you need to apply is keeping your arms “connected” to your body as you swing back and through. If you do it right, you’re making it way easier to have good timing during the swing and to move the club on the correct plane. It’s easy to see when your lead arm “disconnects” by moving away from your body on the backswing. But the trail arm pulling back behind you causes just as many problems. Either way, your swing gets shifted oﬀ plane, and you’ll have a hard time getting your body, hands and arms to work together on the downswing. Ideally, your lead arm moves up your chest in the backswing, and your trail arm doesn’t do much more than fold up from the elbow and rotate out slightly. It’s a simple move, but you have to do it in addition to turning your body. Remember, the arms bring the club up, and the body rotation brings it around. Get it right, and you’ll be in sync, with the club moving on plane.
Your trail arm should bend up at the elbow and move slightly outward— not get trapped behind your body.
call away: hat, $28, glove, $19
Get Connected It’s the path to good timing
Hank Haney is based at the Hank Haney Golf Ranch in Lewisville, Texas. To get ﬁxed in Golf Digest, send Hank your swing on Twitter: @HankHaney.
22 golfdigest.com | december 2016/january 2017
Photographs by J.D. Cuban
Play Your Best Swing Sequence oren Kjeldsen’s swing is one of the most unusual for a modern-day tour pro. There is no rigidity in his hands and arms, no emphasis on the big muscles or a huge shoulder turn to generate more power. Instead, the Danish pro’s wrists cock early, his left arm bends and his hands never rise above his head as he takes the club to the top of the backswing.
Soren Kjeldsen A free-and-easy swing that works under pressure
It might look unusual, but it works. The four-time winner on the European Tour ﬁnished T-7 at this year’s Masters, T-9 at the British Open, had four other top-10 ﬁnishes; and he won the Irish Open in 2015. He has been working with Scottishborn instructor Colin Smith since 1992, and although Smith has helped maintain Kjeldsen’s special technique, it was always
the teacher’s goal to make his player selfsuﬃcient. “I come from the Jack Grout/Jack Nicklaus philosophy that you need to understand your swing so you can ﬁx it yourself,” Smith says. “Soren’s soft arms and hands and very full release make it easier to swing the club freely under pressure. That’s why it’s the type of swing average golfers should emulate.” —ROGER SCHIFFMAN
RELAXED AND READY
Soren sets up with his head and hands behind the ball, his right shoulder well below his left. This promotes an upward strike with the driver. “Note the angle of the stripes on his shirt,” says his teacher, Colin Smith. Also important: Soren is relaxed. “His hands and arms are soft, and his left arm is not extended.”
Taking the club back, he exhibits an early wrist cock while his lower body remains stable. “This shows that you don’t have to be like Rory McIlroy, rigid at address and going back,” Smith says. “The average golfer, who can’t practice a lot, should keep the hands and arms soft and supple to avoid a tense swing.”
He creates a “double-lever action,” by cocking his wrists and then folding the left arm, Smith says. Those are two power generators. And he does it without sliding or swaying. That helps ensure a center-face strike. “If you drew a line from the center of his chest to the ground, it’s the same as it was at address,” Smith says.
24 golfdigest.com | december 2016/january 2017
S O U RC E : E U RO P E A N TO U R
▶ 2016 DRIVING ACCURACY
Soren Kjeldsen (31st)
▶ 2016 SAND SAVES
Henrik Stenson (1st)
Soren Kjeldsen (5th)
Alejandro Canizares (1st)
Starting down, he unleashes the club with tremendous speed by letting the two levers—the left wrist and arm—straighten. His lower body initiates the downswing but isn’t wildly overactive. “Soren’s knees don’t move together,” Smith says. “Like Sam Snead, his right foot stays down as his left knee moves at the target.”
As he strikes the ball, “Soren has a little more hand and arm rotation than the average tour player, resulting in a controlled draw,” Smith says. Past impact, note how the right hand rolls over the left. “This kind of release is recommended for the average golfer,” Smith says. “Especially if you tend to slice the ball.”
His steady head position is a result of swinging with great balance. “He just pivots around his center,” Smith says, noting amateurs can copy this by practicing with their feet closer together. He ends with his weight on the outside of the left foot and right toe. “It looks like he can stand like that for years,” Smith says.
soren kjeldsen 41 / 5-7 / 143 pounds Fredensborg, Denmark driver TaylorMade AeroBurner 10.5 degrees ball Srixon Z-Star XV + PUMA shirt, $70, pants, $80 shoes, $160, belt, $50 SRIXON glove, $19, visor
Photographs by J.D. Cuban
Play Your Best Back to Basics
our hands are the only connection you have to a golf club, so it’s logical that if you want to improve your swing, focusing on their positions and movement is a smart way to go about it. Remember, it’s your hands that control the clubface, and its orientation at impact is the biggest factor in what happens to the ball. That means if you work on hand action, you’re essentially working on ball-ﬂight control. From your driver to your irons to your wedges and even the putter, use these tips to get hold of a better golf game.
—WITH RON KASPRISKE Travis Fulton, a Golf Digest Best Young Teacher, runs the Golf Channel Academy at the World Golf Village in St. Augustine, Fla.
2 bunker play
‘HITTING DRIVES ON THE UPSWING KEEPS THE BALL IN THE AIR LONGER WITH LESS SPIN.’
1 tee balls
Swing up and in to smash it ▶ Golf-ball radar systems like TrackMan prove that you should hit drives with an ascending blow. To pattern this upswing, focus on both hands moving upward as they approach the ball and inward after impact. Here’s how: Set the driver on the ground a few feet behind a teed-up ball (near right). Then make half-swings sweeping the driver along the turf and hitting up on the ball (far right). Sense the hand movements and copy them on the course.
28 golfdigest.com | december 2016/january 2017
Stay loose on greenside sand shots ▶ Don’t shorten up and brace for impact in the bunker. You want your swing to feel long and unhurried. Your left wrist should cup at the top as if it’s bending from the weight of the clubhead. Make practice swings with your left hand only and, when you reach the top, check that wrist and make sure it’s more cupped (above). This will help open the clubface. From here, keep the hands relaxed when you swing down, and let the club glide through the sand.
“Hit down on the ball, but don’t let the club dig into the turf.” 4 chipping action
Maintain the dish
▶ Your goal is to make ball-ﬁrst contact when you chip. But what you don’t want is to swing down so steeply that the leading edge of the club digs into the turf, gets stuck, and you chunk the shot. You need a shallower approach so the wedge glides along the turf through impact. You can get that by creating a little dish in your left wrist at address (left), and maintaining that slightly cupped position when you swing. The shaft will still lean slightly forward at address so you can hit down on the ball, but the dish ensures the club doesn’t stub. That’s how you hit it crisply.
Support the club at the top ▶ A good backswing is critical to hitting crisp irons. Focus on two key spots for your hand movements: (1) About halfway back, hinge your wrists moving the clubhead skyward and aligned with the left forearm. Feel the heel pad of the right hand pushing against the thumb of the left. (2) As you reach the top, sense that the bottom three ﬁngers of the left hand are gripping the handle and are curled toward the right palm, which should be supporting the club’s weight (right). Now you’re ready to start down.
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Turn over your pitch shots ▶ Many golfers think they have to hold the face skyward on shorter wedge shots to hit it high and soft. This leads to distancecontrol issues, because the club isn’t making solid contact. Instead, swing so your hands rotate the clubface down and to the left as it passes through the impact zone. This is not a ﬂip in which the right hand scoops under the left. The right should rotate on top of the left, and the shaft should be in line with the target with the toe pointing up after impact (above). The shot will feel solid, yet the ball will still ﬂy high and stop quickly—with added backspin.
6 on the green
Take your hands out of the stroke
▶ Active hands can do more harm than good when you’re on the green, because they make it diﬃcult to keep the putterface square to your putting line. Instead, when you swing back and through, keep your grip light and feel like the motion of the
putter is being generated by a small turning, not rocking, of the shoulders. If the hands stay passive, this slight shoulder turn will allow the face to move on a small arc yet remain square to your putting line. Better face control means more made putts.
Photographs by Dom Furore
Equipment by Mike Stachura
Play Your Best
Sophisticated fitting tools aren’t just for drivers. Lasting Connection How to ﬁnd a putter that’s right for you pi n g vau lt ▶ The four putters in this series feature a milled construction with a grooved face pattern that varies in shape and intensity to improve the way mis-hits roll.
t i t l e i st ca m e ron & crow n ▶ Weighted based on the specific requests of players looking for shorter putters, these models come only in 33-inch lengths.
odyss e y m il l e d col l ection rsx ▶ The face’s friction pattern maximizes roll, and a slot in the sole helps produce a crisper sound not usually found on face-insert putters.
wi l s on infinite
p ri ce $300
▶ This line of seven putters includes heavier, largerdiameter grips and slightly heavier heads to steady your hands and stabilize your stroke.
he typical golfer purchases a new putter every six years, according to Golf Datatech, an industry research ﬁrm. (This is up from ﬁve years in 2013.) Clearly, the putter is a more considered purchase, especially as average prices have more than doubled during the past two decades. The conﬁdence that comes from a proper ﬁtting is another reason why putters are sticking. Sophisticated ﬁtting tools aren’t just for drivers: High-speed cameras and devices like SAM PuttLab and Quintic show you how a putter can ﬁt and improve your stroke. So skip the emotional attachment. Today, a ﬁtting makes for a lasting relationship with your new putter—like perhaps one of these six.
taylor m a d e tp col l ection ▶ The six classic shapes in this series benefit from a polymer face insert with grooves cut at an upward 45degree angle to create forward roll. price $200/$220
cl e ve l a nd tfi 2 1 3 5 ▶ The copolymer behind the face yields a soft feel, but the secret is how the sightline matches the geometric center of the ball for better alignment. price $160
Photograph by Dan Saelinger
december 2016/january 2017 | golfdigest.com
Play Your Best What’s in My Bag
Tip of the cap If you see me practicing without my signature Hogan-esque cap, it’s because I wear it only for tournament rounds. But I always carry this headcover. DRIVER
age 23 lives Clovis, Calif.; Dallas story 2015 U.S. Amateur and NCAA champion. Earned 2016-’17 PGA Tour card with Web.com Tour win in September. tinkerer at heart At 17, I discovered single-length clubs. My coach, Mike Schy, and I grinded down a bunch of shaft ﬂexes and clubs to build my ﬁrst set. Then David Edel built my set for my amateur career. With Cobra’s support, I’m proud of our new one-length irons. new putting stroke? I’m thinking about switching to the sidesaddle method in 2017. I’m always trying to gain an advantage, so I won’t rule anything out. —with stephen hennessey club
34 golfdigest.com |
Gophers, ya great git I’ve always had an easy time memorizing things. At 6, I knew mental math. One of my talents is reciting “Caddyshack” lines. Kind of like any golfer.
specs Cobra King LTD Pro, 7.8° (Project X Hzrdus Black 85 shaft, tipped 1 inch, X-ﬂex, 44.5 inches) This is the lowest-lofted driver I’ve ever played. It has helped reduce my spin rate while maintaining an ideal launch angle.
Inspiration I mark my Bridgestone B330-S with a cross and Bible verse for motivation. It also helps my aim.
IRONS specs Utility iron: Cobra King 3, 39.5 inches. 4- through pitching wedge: Cobra King Forged One Length (all 37.5 inches, Project X LZ 6.0 shafts, JumboMax XL grips)
Science guy My yardage book marks my achievements and has my initials. It also holds my vector-putting scale, which helps me putt according to the grade of topography.
Cobra brought these one-length clubs to market in the fall. I spent two weeks with the R&D team to oﬀer my insight on these irons I’m using.
WEDGES specs Cobra King Versatile Grind (50°, 55° and 60°, KBS Hi-Rev X shafts, 37.5 inches) Each wedge has a special stamp on it to make it fun (Fittyﬁve and Fitty). The 60-degree (right) has a unique look, too. The swingweights and lengths are the same as my irons.
My artistry I’ve gotten into stippling drawing, which is done with many dots making ﬁgures. This is hanging in my room at home.
FAIRWAY WOOD specs Cobra King LTD 3/4, 12° (Project X Hzrdus Black 85 shaft, X-ﬂex, 44 inches) I always had a diﬃcult time ﬁnding a consistent 3-wood. The versatility with this club has really beneﬁted my game.
PUTTER specs Edel The Brick, 34.5 inches, 2° loft 335 grams I’ve used this prototype since 2014. I’ve said I might change to sidesaddle, but I love the look of this.
Working it Given my love of physics, the Cobra tour reps stamped a sequence of symbols that spell out: “Do work” on my 60-degree.
equipment: j.d. cuban • dechambeau: david cannon/getty images • hogan painting: courtesy of dechambeau • caddyshack: orion pictures/getty images
The Golf Life
America’s 100 Best Clubﬁtters Your ultimate guide to ﬁnding a better game BY MIKE STACHURA
F YOU HAVEN’T noticed, custom clubﬁtting has become more ubiquitous than craft breweries. As more equipment companies oﬀer drivers with dozens of settings and bouquets of custom shafts, the golf consumer is at once tempted and swept away by a cornucopia of confusing choices. As Jason Fryia, owner of six Golf Exchange stores in Ohio and Kentucky, explains, “I don’t think golf equipment is a self-shoppable product.” Fortunately, every golf shop, from the 50,000-square-foot megastores to the corner shops one-ﬁftieth the size, is increasingly equipped with expert ﬁtters divining the right heads, lofts and lengths with a wisdom that encompasses club technology, instruction ideas and even good, old-fashioned people skills. In our fourth listing of America’s 100 Best Clubﬁtters, we highlight the top facilities in the country that expertly bridge this marriage of art and science, and we oﬀer some of their wisdom to prepare you to embrace the beneﬁts of clubﬁtting.
turn the page for our list
december 2016/january 2017 |
The Golf Life Equipment kentucky golf exchange Florence, Lexington and Cincinnati (six stores) man o’ war golf learning center Lexington louisiana
Where to go to get ﬁt E HIGHLIGHT ﬁtters in two lists this year. America’s 100 Best, the elite ﬁtting facilities in the country, are cited here based on a poll of our course-rating panelists and industry sources, as well as our internal reviews of nomination forms. On GolfDigest.com, look for the 100 Best and our list of nearly 600 additional Golf Digest Certiﬁed ﬁtters, locations that oﬀer the tools, such as a launch monitor, to conduct a proper ﬁtting. The two lists were culled from an examination of more than 1,200 facilities.
▶ How to prepare for a clubfitting.
Randall Doucette, a master clubﬁtter for the Marriott Golf Academy in Orlando, says to approach a clubﬁtting with an open mind. If you have a swing coach, Doucette says to get a tune-up before going for a ﬁtting. “Come to the ﬁtting with notes on what you’re working on and where you want to get to,” he says. You also should come to the ﬁtting with your current clubs. This gives you and your ﬁtter a baseline for comparing other clubs. Also, Doucette says every good ﬁtting requires patience: “There’s no need for anxiety and nervous tension. We’re here to make you better.” —KEELY LEVINS
▶ Why getting fit once is not enough.
One myth about clubﬁtting is that it’s like buying a tailored suit: Get ﬁt once, and use those specs for life. But that thinking is oﬀ base, according to Dan Sueltz of D’Lance Golf
Performance Center in Englewood, Colo. Sueltz says avid golfers should be ﬁt every two years. “A lot of things can change in that time,” Sueltz says. “You might experience changes in strength, ﬂexibility, reﬂexes or have an injury. Your swing might become steeper or shallower, etc.” People also need to realize diﬀerent manufacturers might have a diﬀerent speciﬁcation for length or lie angle. So the ﬁtting you get for one brand might not apply to another one. —E. MICHAEL JOHNSON
▶ Finding the right driver isn’t only about swing speed.
Swing speed can be a starting point, but the best ﬁtters want to see how you’re hitting the ball. If impacts are scattered across the face, for example, you can bet a large, highly stable driver is best for you, even if you swing it faster than Bubba Watson in a bad mood. The right
Illustrations by Rami Niemi
driver is also about how the weight is balanced within the head. Knowing how drivers diﬀer or how that weight can be tweaked can improve how far you hit the ball and how well you square the clubface. Says Woody Lashen of Pete’s Golf in Mineola, N.Y.: “Finding a driver with the correct center of gravity for the player, whether it’s forward, back or toward the heel, can change the person’s game. For example, a relatively straight hitter who is spinning the ball too much, even if he doesn’t swing very fast, can gain tremendous distance with a driver that will spin the ball less.”—MS ▶ The putter is the easiest club to get fit for. Your putting
stroke is generally your most repeatable, so that makes it the easiest to analyze, and sometimes the recommended changes (length, lie angle,
california carlsbad golf center Carlsbad golden golf mart San Gabriel haggin oaks super shop Sacramento kepler’s golf repair Walnut Creek no bogeys golf Laguna Niguel plaza golf Torrance the club fix Irvine (plus locations in Ariz., Calif., Texas, N.Y.) urban golf performance Los Angeles colorado d’lance golf performance center Englewood gott golf Aurora connecticut chris cote’s golf shop Portland/Southington downtown golf Stamford garner golf Fairﬁeld greenwich golf fitting studio Greenwich performance clubworks Brookﬁeld florida fellinger custom golf Hobe Sound grand cypress academy of golf Orlando loft golf Palm Beach Gardens marriott golf academy Orlando palm beach golf center Palm Beach Gardens
prestige golf Miami pure performance golf labs Naples (plus locations in Ariz., Ga., Mass., Mich.) putter around Boynton Beach/Tamarac southy golf Bradenton the villages golf academy The Villages georgia idle hour golf learning center Macon sea island golf performance center St. Simons Island the golf doctor Woodstock hawaii aloha golf center Honolulu and Las Vegas indiana
james leitz golf Covington le triomphe golf academy Broussard maryland golf care center Bethesda massachusetts ace of clubs Saugus joe & leigh’s golf performance center South Easton michigan carl’s golfland Bloomﬁeld Hills/Plymouth clor’s outpost Osseo leading edge golf Okemos miles of golf Ypsilanti/Ann Arbor/ Cincinnati minnesota 2nd swing golf Minneapolis/Minnetonka totally driven Edina ultimate fit golf Columbia Heights north carolina first tee golf shop Goldsboro leatherman golf learning center Charlotte tee to green driving range & golf shop Apex new hampshire golf & ski warehouse Greenland, West Lebanon, Hudson and Scarborough, Maine kustom clubs fitting center Manchester
touchet golf Fort Wayne true clubs Carmel
iowa golf usa Coralville ken schall golf performance studio West Des Moines
novogolf Tappan and Closter, N.J. pennfair golf East Rochester pete’s golf Mineola
country acres custom golf Mount Vernon new level golf Rockford
fw golf Wickliﬀe granville golfland Granville mcgolf custom clubs Waverly the golf pit Maumee windmill golf center Macedonia
kansas golf md Lenexa
the perfect swing golf Toms River new york
continued on pg. 40
listed alphabetically by facility name
The Golf Life Equipment
How to Avoid a Bad Clubﬁtting The only thing worse than playing with clubs oﬀ the rack is playing with clubs that weren’t properly ﬁt. Wade Heintzelman of Golf Care Center in Bethesda, Md., shares his warning signs you’re not getting a proper ﬁtting:
continued from p g . 38
grip) don’t require a putter change. Even if you want something new, resist the urge to test a bunch of putters oﬀ the rack. “You might make a few good putts with this putter, but that doesn’t mean you’re lined up with it or that it has the right weighting for you,” says Don Coyle of Country Acres Custom Golf in Mount Vernon, Ill. Coyle recommends that you focus not only on the head shape, but the hosel position, weight distribution and alignment lines. “That’s the stuﬀ that can really make a diﬀerence,” he says. —BRITTANY ROMANO
Collierville, Tenn. “That makes no sense.” Aside from length and lie angle, Felix says nine out of 10 golfers don’t use enough bounce. (That’s the angle formed by the sole, the leading edge and the ground.) He also likes the control provided by heavier shafts. “You want to reduce the role of the hands on these shots. It’s like a counterbalanced putter: The more weight, the less chance a golfer can fudge it up.” Then, there’s distance gapping—making sure each wedge covers a certain distance without overlaps. Felix thinks 5 degrees between clubs works better than 4, citing a need for more loft around the green.” —EMJ
▶ Wedges are the most overlooked club in fitting. “I ﬁt
▶ Don’t forget about grips. The
people all the time who have non-standard length and lie angles in their irons but buy wedges oﬀ the rack,” says Scott Felix of Felix ClubWorks at Spring Creek Ranch in
grip might be the last thing on your list when you go through a clubﬁtting, but it can yield big beneﬁts. Nick Sherburne, a master ﬁtter at Club Champion, a nationwide
chain, says a grip’s size and texture aﬀect the way your hands release the club at impact and the shape and trajectory of your shots. “Tour players agonize over grips because they understand that is what connects you to the club,” he says. “Finding that proper size will help promote the proper release at impact, leading to crisper, cleaner shots.” —MS ▶ Should I get my swing fixed before I get fit for clubs?
Top clubﬁtters believe instruction is a vital component of the ﬁtting process. “We typically work backward from impact to address to understand how the head and shaft need to perform for players to get the most out of their swing and equipment,” says Gregg Rogers, founder of Gregg Rogers’ Golf Performance Centers in Bellevue, Wash. His point is that ﬁnding more distance or improving accuracy can’t
40 golfdigest.com | december 2016/january 2017
1. The ﬁtter doesn’t explain the process. You need to know why you were ﬁt the way you were. 2. The ﬁtter doesn’t ask about your game or clubs. How can you track improvement without a baseline measurement? 3. The ﬁtter doesn’t use the latest tools. Launch monitors, video tracking and ﬁtting systems have come a long way. Feel is important, but a technical analysis is critical. 4. The ﬁtter has few choices. You need what’s best for your game, not what’s best for your ﬁtter’s wallet.—BR be limited to new clubs. As for what comes ﬁrst, Rogers, a 20-year PGA member, believes your clubs should take precedence. “Getting the proper ﬁt in the player’s hands gives a better opportunity to develop the impact fundamentals from the beginning,” he says. —MS
ball golf center Oklahoma City
club champion Los Angeles; Orlando; Sandy Springs, Ga.; Chicago; Deerﬁeld, Ill.; Willowbrook, Ill.; Rockville, Md.; Needham, Mass.; St. Louis; Hackensack, N.J.; Syosset, N.Y.; Bala Cynwyd, Pa.; Austin; Houston; Plano, Texas; Bellevue, Wash.
oregon fiddler’s green Eugene redtail golf center Beaverton pennsylvania izett golf Ardmore sittler golf center Kutztown rhode island spargo golf Cranston south carolina eagle zone Greenville lowcountry custom golf Mount Pleasant swingfit Hilton Head Island victory custom golf Lake Wylie tennessee fairways and greens golf center Knoxville felix clubworks Collierville texas compugolf Carrollton dallas golf performance studio Dallas leonard golf links Fort Worth mk golf technologies San Antonio sellinger’s power golf Dallas, Roanoke swanson golf center Houston utah golf lab Salt Lake City virginia golfdom McLean hodson golf Richmond the golf fitting studio At the Westﬁelds, Clifton and Palm Desert, Calif. washington, d.c. the golf doctor-dc washington gregg rogers’ golf performance centers Bellevue puetz golf Seattle area (four stores)
cool clubs Scottsdale; Foster City, Calif.; Irvine, Calif.; Stamford, Conn.; Wellington, Fla.; Suwanee, Ga.; Northﬁeld, Ill.; New York Golf Center (two locations); Lewisville, Texas golf etc Lakeland, Fla.; Wichita, Kan.; Morristown, N.J.; Cary, N.C.; Monroe, N.C.; Bismarck, N.D.; Granbury, Texas golf galaxy Roseville, Calif.; West Des Moines, Iowa; Bloomington, Minn.; Chesterﬁeld, Mo.; Omaha; Henderson, Nev.; Oklahoma City; Tulsa; Berwyn, Pa.; Pittsburgh; Glen Allen, Va. golf headquarters Little Rock; Fort Wayne, Ind. (Bobick’s); Waterloo, Iowa; Louisville; Springﬁeld, Mo.; Billings, Mont. (Mitchell Golf); Albuquerque (Bullseye Golf); Chattanooga; Amarillo, Texas; Lubbock, Texas; Chesapeake, Va. golfsmith Chandler, Ariz.; San Jose, Calif.; Sarasota, Fla.; Overland Park, Kan.; Greensboro, N.C.; Brookﬁeld, Wis. golftec Foster City, Calif.; Boulder, Colo.; Centennial, Colo.; Cherry Creek, Colo.; Alamonte Springs, Fla.; Hollywood, Fla.; Vernon Hills, Ill.; Wichita, Kan.; Metairie, La.; Greensboro, N.C.; Fairlawn, Ohio; North Olmsted, Ohio; Holladay, Utah; Spokane, Wash.; Bellevue, Wash.; Middleton, Wis.; Mequon, Wis. hot stix golf Fountain Hills, Ariz.; Scottsdale; Stanford, Calif., North Palm Beach, Fla.; Rye Brook, N.Y. pga tour superstore Chandler, Ariz.; Scottsdale; East Palo Alto, Calif.; Delray Beach, Fla.; Orlando; Roswell, Ga.; Downers Grove, Ill.; Minnetonka, Minn.; Paramus, N.J.; Westbury, N.Y.; North Myrtle Beach, S.C.; Plano, Texas true spec Coral Gables, Fla.; Doral, Fla.; Naples, Fla.; New York City; Columbus, Ohio worldwide golf Edwin Watts Golf: Miami. Golfers’ Warehouse: Hartford, Conn. Roger Dunn Golf Shops: Indio, Calif.; West Los Angeles; Mission Viejo, Calif.; Newbury Park, Calif.; Santa Ana, Calif. The Golf Mart: Dublin, Calif.; San Diego. Uinta Golf: Riverdale, Salt Lake City and St. George, Utah
listed alphabetically by facility name
edited by peter finch
Top Shot This par 3 is on New Zealand’s South Island, elevation 4,500 feet ith courses like Cape Kidnappers and Kauri Cliﬀs, both among the world’s top 50, golf in New Zealand already has a reputation for awe-inspiring scenery. But this par 3 in Queenstown takes it to another level. Known as Over the Top Golf, it features four tee boxes (from 164 to 312 yards) and commanding views over Queenstown and Lake Wakatipu from an altitude of more than 4,500 feet. The only way to get there is by helicopter, which accounts for its steep price (about $340 U.S. per player). Some 640 golfers have played the hole since it opened, each getting ﬁve shots at the green. There have been a few birdies, but marketing manager Shannon Walker doesn’t know how many. Most players don’t ﬁll out their scorecards, he explains. “Too busy looking at the view.” —peter finch
michael thomas/ www.photosport.co.nz
42 golfdigest.com | december 2016/january 2017
To reach the tee here, a golf cart won’t cut it—you’ll need a helicopter.
The Golf Life Ask Golf Digest
How much range time would it take to master the game? Two things apply, John. The ﬁrst is Rule 11-3 in the Rules of Golf. The second is Rule 2-6 in the Procedures for In-Laws, Volume III. Let’s get the golf stuﬀ out of the way. If the ball fell oﬀ the tee while he was making a stroke, it counts as a stroke. He should have played it as it lies. What matters here is the deﬁnition of a stroke: the forward movement of the club with the intention of hitting the ball. So if the ball fell oﬀ the tee in the backswing, it’s not a stroke. If he stopped his swing short of the ball—like Tiger used to do when he heard sounds in the gallery or in his head—it’s also not a stroke. You follow? Now, back to the brother-inlaw thing. Do you really want to make your family holiday gatherings more awkward than they already are? Don’t be that guy; let him re-tee without penalty.
IN FOUR WORDS Q: Is it legal to make an indentation behind your ball in the fairway? A: Yes, but dieting helps.
appropriate holiday golf gifts in descending order YESSIR! Gift certiﬁcate to Bandon Dunes
A new driver
There has been a lot of research on what types of practice are best, but we don’t know of any studies on how much to practice. Malcolm Gladwell famously wrote in his book Outliers: The Story of Success that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to master something. For example, it took us that long to ﬁgure out you could take apart a Rubik’s Cube and put it back together with all the colors matching. If you believe Gladwell, your members would have to hit balls for three hours
every day for more than nine years to master golf. During that time, they’d likely lose their jobs, go through two divorces, need spinal surgery and change their names to Vijay. Is that a limited return? Hmmmm. As my brother-in-law started his swing, a gust of wind blew his ball oﬀ the tee, and he had a big whiﬀ. He said he could re-tee without penalty. Was he right? JOHN ALEXY, MARTINSVILLE, N.J.
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DENNIS FETSCHER, ESCONDIDO, CALIF.
▶▶▶ When it comes to matters of odds and probability and, well, really anything involving math, we turn to Dean Knuth. He’s responsible for nearly every golf bet you’ve ever won or lost, because Knuth —aka “the Pope of Slope”—was heavily involved in the creation of the USGA’s handicap system. Here’s what he said about your question: “It’s a sucker bet if the skins are not net skins. But if it’s net skins, you’re actually at an advantage unless everyone is playing at 80 percent of handicaps.” As for buying into closest-tothe-pin contests against those single-digit golfers, Knuth says if you do, he’s got a “ﬁxer upper” in Fallujah he’d like to sell you.
A dozen balls Motorized pushcart A bag of tees A bag of half-nakedlady tees Anything designed to hold a cigar Any divot-repair tool above $1 “I’d rather be golﬁng” coﬀee cup Opened-toed golf shoes WHAT A STUPID I AM
Submit your burning questions here: email@example.com or on Twitter @GolfDigest Illustration by Sam Island
bandon dunes: stephen szurlej • tees: amazon.com • mug: ben walton
I work at a country club and see members practicing two or three hours, three to four times a week on the range. Is there an amount of time where there is a limited return on all that work? JOHN OLIVERIO, PITTSBURGH
In my club’s tournaments, there’s extra pressure to buy into “optional” skins. With a 19.2 Handicap Index, I have little chance of winning things like closest-to-the pin or gross skins against guys with single-digit handicaps. Seems like my money would be better spent on lotto tickets. What say you?
The Golf Life Rundown
Hot dog after nine? Yes. Plastic ball markers? No.
Conduct Unbecoming? Tour players reveal their most amateurish moves e use the same clubs they do, wear the same clothes and copy their attitudes (we see you, ﬁngerwaggers). But what about the reverse? Are there any ways tour pros act like amateurs? Our unscientiﬁc survey of PGA Tour players at the 2016 Travelers Championship:
▶ “I’ve never used one of those things,” Patrick Rodgers says dismissively. Adds Colt Knost: “I don’t think you even see them out here anymore.” The pros’ preferred method is a damp cloth, ideally employed by someone other than themselves. “I’ve used [the ball washer] on my golf cart,” says Martin Laird. “Sometimes, when I’m playing at home and my caddie isn’t there to do it for me, I will.”
USE PLASTIC BALL MARKER FROM THE GOLF SHOP? Yes 9% No 91%
▶ Course-provided ball markers scored the fewest “yes” votes in our survey. Typical was Jon Rahm, who used the same coin for nine years before recently switching to one from his alma mater, Arizona State. Jason Gore was among the few who have no problem playing with plastic. “I probably have one right now,” he says. “I was just in Nantucket last week and haven’t cleaned out my pockets.”
BUY A SHIRT AT THE GOLF SHOP? Yes 42%
GET A HOT DOG AT THE TURN? Yes 69%
DRINK FROM THE WATER COOLER? Yes 64%
▶ Justin Thomas
▶ Rahm, a Spaniard,
▶ It’s not that most
and Smylie Kaufman will buy one if it’s a memorable course, but they won’t ﬁnd Chez Reavie among the shirt racks. His answer: “No, no, no.”
had one once—during a practice round at Oakmont earlier this year. Rodgers always has one at his home course. Martin Piller is more of a connoisseur, considering only top-notch dogs. “Depends on the course,” he says. “If they have good hot dogs, yes.”
players resist staying hydrated. They just prefer the quality and certain cleanliness of water bottles— and, if possible, carried by their caddies. “If it’s really hot in the summer, I’ll drink from anything,” Laird says.
WEAR SNEAKERS WHILE PLAYING? Yes 46%
▶ Some might laugh, but Andrew Loupe sees beneﬁts of training in trainers. “If I’m working on my balance, yes,” he says. “You don’t have as much grip on the ground, so if you’re working on your balance, it’ll force you to swing in control.”
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RETRIEVE A BALL HIT INTO SOMEONE’S BACK YARD? Yes 54%
▶ “I’ll shank one every other month,” Kaufman says. But will he venture onto someone’s property to retrieve it? “No, that’s a lost cause.” Johnson Wagner doesn’t think twice about it: “I’ll walk straight in.” Adam Rainaud will trespass on only the more welcoming yards. “Unless they look really friendly and invite me in their yard, I’m staying out,” he says. —brittany romano and claire rogers
Illustration by Gluekit
j.d. cuban/getty images
USE A BALL WASHER?
The Golf Life Rules
Gary Player couldn’t see the hole. He asked for—and got—a little help. ANSWERS 1. Gary Player had his caddie, Rabbit Dyer, do this in the 1989 RJR Championship. Rule 17-1 allows it. 2. Under Rule 13-4, touching the sand with your clubhead is a two-stroke penalty, even when done in anger. Luke Donald suﬀered this fate in Round 1 on No. 9 at the 2014 Masters. The penalty gave him an 8, and a day later he missed the cut by a shot. 3. No. Patty Sheehan’s caddie kicked Alison Nicholas’ ball in the 1994 Solheim Cup singles, causing a one-stroke penalty (Rule 18-3b). Sheehan lost the hole and the match. 4. A mark used in connection with Rule 26-1b, which describes how to drop from a water hazard, can stay grounded, as Jack Nicklaus did in the 1991 Memorial.
It Happened On Tour Take this quiz of rules incidents and see whom they aﬀected 1
Is it OK to have your caddie hold the ﬂagstick high above the hole so it can be seen from a blind spot?
Not searching for a ball, a player’s caddie accidentally kicks the opponent’s ball. Because it was hidden by a leaf, is it “no harm, no foul”?
When two players mistakenly hit each other’s ball, does the penalty fall on the ﬁrst golfer to err?
If you hit your tee shot on a par 3 to the edge of but not overhanging the cup then mark, clean, and replace it, is it a hole-in-one or a birdie if it falls in? 8
If a dog runs onto the green as a golfer is preparing to putt and swats the ball away, can the player putt from where it comes to rest?
In stroke play, if you thump the sand in disgust with your club after failing to get out of a bunker, is there no penalty because you weren’t swinging at the ball when you struck the sand?
If you put a tee in the ground to mark where your ball last crossed the margin of a hazard, is it a penalty if you leave it there while playing your shot after taking a drop?
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When a ball at rest on the green is struck by a shot from oﬀ the green, the struck ball can be put in its original spot. Can you place the ball in motion where it would have stopped if unimpeded?
When a golfer is courteous enough to move his marker from someone’s putting line, shouldn’t he get the same courtesy and be reminded to move his coin back before putting?
5. It’s double trouble. In 1995 at San Diego, in Round 2 on their 10th hole, Phil Mickelson and Brad Faxon each teed oﬀ with No. 1 Titleists. Lefty got to a ball ﬁrst in the fairway. Each hit to the green, and the error was noticed. (Faxon played Tour Balata.) They had to replay their shots from the correct spots and take two-stroke penalties (15-3b). 6. No. In the 1994 Masters, Loren Roberts was allowed to replace his ball where it was on 18 (Rule 18-5, Rule 20-3ciii), but Ernie Els had to play his ball from where it came to rest (Rule 19-5a). 7. An ace! A ball replaced that remains at rest for a few seconds and falls in is considered holed out (Decision 20-3d/1), as Cindy Rarick discovered in the 1988 Santa Barbara Open. 8. You’d do what Paul Casey did at the 2012 Dunhill Links and replace the ball without penalty (Rule 18-1). 9. Courtesy can be contagious, but when Dale Douglass failed to move his marker back in a 1987 Chrysler Cup Four-Ball match, it cost him and Gene Littler the hole to Player and Bob Charles (Rule 20-7b). —cliff schrock
Illustration by James Yang
The Golf Life Holiday Wish List
What Everyone Wants We dare you to top these 21 cool gift ideas BY MARTY HACKEL AND BRITTANY ROMANO
Let the rain know how you really feel with this colorful 62-inch umbrella. Vents on every panel mean wind gusts won’t turn it inside out. gfore.com / $120
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Photographs by Jeﬀrey Westbrook
The Golf Life Holiday Wish List
Dunning Full-Zip Heathered Hoody Ben's Garden Tray This six-by-six-inch decoupage tray features dozens of swing thoughts.
bensgarden.com / $56
New Era 2.0 9Fifty Snapback Old-school style with modern technical features.
neweracap.com / $30
Glenmorangie Signet ($200), Woodford Reserve Double Oaked ($55), Maker's 46 ($40)
Dependable gifts for anyone who spends time at the 19th hole. glenmorangie.com, woodfordreserve.com, makersmark.com
Sometimes you need an extra layer of comfort after your round.
dunning.cc / $125
so much more to offer Looking for even more gift ideas for the golfers on your shopping list? We have you covered. Head to GolfDigest.com for our comprehensive online gift guide. You’ll also ﬁnd videos about our favorite items: golfdigest.com/go/gifts
Hickies Lacing System
These shoelace replacements eliminate the need for tying and allow for various ﬁt options. hickies.com / $15
Apple Watch Series 2 Golfers will appreciate its water-resistance and brighter screen.
apple.com / $399 (42mm)
Yeti Hopper Flip 12
This three-pound cooler has room for 12 drinks with ice and ﬁts into any golf cart.
JBL Clip 2
yeti.com / $280
Especially suited for golfers who love to walk and play tunes, this waterproof Bluetooth speaker is designed with eight hours of battery life. jbl.com / $60
Daneson Every Blend
Small-batch toothpicks, with various ﬂavor options (such as single-malt and bourbon blends). daneson.com / $38 and up
Porsche Design 911 Soundbar
An original Porsche 911 GT3 twin-exhaust module provides a surround-sound system with an integrated subwoofer. porsche.com / $3,500
The Golf Life Holiday Wish List
This oversize phone has Android’s latest version, two rear cameras and a removable battery.
Bose Quiet Control30 Wireless Headphones
lg.com / $672-$829 (varies per carrier)
Noise-canceling audio with innovative comfort in lightweight form. bose.com / $300
Nikon COOLSHOT 80VR New vibration-reduction technology promises better accuracy by mitigating shaky hands.
nikonsportoptics.com / $400
RLX Ralph Lauren Hybrid Jacket Coolwool merino sleeves and back combine with a quilted front. ralphlauren.com / $225
Coyote Asado Freestanding Ceramic Grill
Samsung Gear Fit2
This ﬁtness-tracker and GPS sportsband is designed for those on the go, with four days of battery life and water-resistance.
Tokens & Icons TPC Sawgrass
Made from balls reclaimed from the water on the famed 17th hole. The back of the face features pin-ﬂag fabric. tokens-icons.com / $325
samsung.com / $180
Limited-edition bottle with special packaging will appeal to the discriminating tequila drinker on your list. patrontequila.com / $60
Precise control of cooking temperatures makes grilling, smoking or searing meat on this 254-square-inch surface an exact science. bbqguys.com / $1,200
The Golf Life The Core
Small changes to your routine that will pay off in the spring. Winning Winter How to avoid holiday ﬁtness double bogeys on’t count that!” You know that commercial where the C-level exec playing golf wants a mulligan on every shot? Nice as it would be to hit lots of (foot) wedges this winter, the sad reality is that shorter days and colder temperatures severely limit playing time for many of us. The “don’t count that” mentality can easily creep into our holiday health habits, too. Big family meals, the stress of buying gifts and cold weather can add up to much less movement, much more eating and lots of rust by spring. Don’t let this happen. We consulted with experts at Premier Fitness Camp (PFC) at Omni La Costa Resort & Spa. They suggest focusing on three lifestyle elements. If we’re aware of how each aﬀects our health, we can make small adjustments and come out of winter lighter, healthier and ready to play.
HOW YOU EAT We’re intentionally avoiding the word “diet” here. As PFC trainer Todd Bassler says, restricting calories or forcing certain foods on yourself usually doesn’t work. Instead, Bassler recommends picking a well-rounded meal plan from a nutritionist or fitness professional: “Losing weight is a long-term plan, not a quick fix.” Adds Jessica Janc, PFC’s director of nutrition: “If you have a plan to prepare healthy meals and snacks, you will be properly fueled and less likely to grab any and all sugary treats you see when the hunger sets in.” One tip for not overeating at holiday parties: Have a healthy snack (or protein bar or shake) beforehand. It will reduce your hunger at the event. If you know that still won’t stop you from all the sweets and drinks, prepare to work extra hard in the gym before and after.
HOW YOU MOVE Let’s face it: We’re all less motivated to be active when the weather is colder. But there are still opportunities to take advantage of our otherwise sedentary winters. Having a regular workout routine will trump all else, but you can counter those extra calories you’re about to take in by finding little windows of time for “mini workouts.” PFC director of fitness Wendy Sallin recommends these strategies: “While you are in line at the mall or sitting in holiday traffic, flex your abs for 10 seconds, rest and repeat until you get to the register or your destination. Set an alarm on your phone and do 20 squats every hour wherever you are. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Walk the snow-dusted golf course for a breath of fresh air! Mini windows of time are all around us. You just need to use them wisely.”
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HOW YOU THINK If we convince ourselves it’s too cold to move, our chances of being active decrease dramatically. “It’s just weather,” says Michael Mantell, director of transformational behavior coaching at PFC. “It’s a great opportunity to try new activities, to enjoy the crunch of falling leaves under your feet, to have snowball fights with your kids, to do some hiking or jogging or some other new activity that will stimulate your brain and complement your game.” Do this and you will increase your chances of loving the coming months while staying in shape. Mantell also notes that “you will become what you believe.” If those beliefs include “I’m going to freeze to death,” “I’ll probably get injured,” or “There’s not enough daylight to be active,” then your game and your health are more likely to suffer when the sun does come out. —cory bradburn Illustrations by Peter Arkle
The Golf Life
“If you can’t talk football, you won’t make many friends on the PGA Tour.”
Undercover Tour Pro Culture Shock was always set on moving to America. Before I decided that I wanted to play golf for a living, I grew up listening to my parents, teachers and other professional people talk about the bigger opportunities here. No disrespect to the European Tour—I think the new CEO, Keith Pelley, is a smart guy who’s already initiated a lot of measures that have made it better—but the PGA Tour is always going to have the richer purses. There’s just more corporate money splashing around. I don’t see that changing in my lifetime.
Orlando was the ﬁrst place I paid rent in this country. It seemed like on every corner there was a Burger King, a Denny’s and a really solid golf course I’d never heard of. With all the amusement parks, I was familiar with the city’s reputation as a popular spot for families to go on holiday. But it took a bit of traveling before I realized just how unlike the rest of the country Orlando really is. The Northeast is so beautiful in summertime. California is amazing. The winters stink for golf, but some of the states with the Rocky Mountains are my favorite. We live in Arizona now. My job requires good weather and reliable airports, and I like that we can see the mountains from our terrace. Besides driving on the right-hand side of Illustration by Brian Cronin
the road, the most diﬃcult cultural adjustment was simply getting into conversations. I’m a native English speaker, so language wasn’t the problem. But if you can’t talk football, you won’t make many friends on the PGA Tour. The same goes for basketball, the college level more than pro. Baseball, not as much, which surprised me, as I’d grown up thinking it was your national pastime. “SportsCenter” is playing in our locker room at every tournament, and a lot of guys turn it on when they’re killing time in the hotel room, too. I’ve given up trying to get Americans interested in, let alone to understand, rugby and cricket. I love it when I get paired with an international player who can chat about this stuﬀ, but to stay sane I’ve had
to learn the sports here. I’ve even adopted favorite teams, mostly for random reasons. My favorite football team is from the city where I won a big event. I suppose I should root for the Cardinals, but this allegiance was established before we bought in Arizona. A lot of the pros from the Southern states tell hunting and ﬁshing stories to each other. Sometimes those will last four or ﬁve holes. I didn’t grow up with guns, so it’s pretty hard for me to connect with that crew. And those guys aren’t exactly going to make much of an eﬀort to include you. I’m not trying to make it sound like we’re all shallow people, but in over a dozen years I’ve never talked to another pro about a book he’s read. Not once. With the presidential campaign this past year you heard some political discussions, but more in the manner of it being a sport, as that seems to be the way news outlets cover elections here. It’s all about the matchup. When I ﬁrst moved to America, I had it in the back of my mind I’d eventually move back to near where I grew up. I never imagined having much desire to stick around and play PGA Tour Champions events, which hasn’t changed. But the thing is, my kids are American. We’re rooted here. I can’t talk to them about cricket, either. —WITH MAX ADLER
december 2016/january 2017 | golfdigest.com
The Golf Life Man About Golf
The Locker-room Whisperer Your guide to the good and bad (plus tipping) BY DAVID OWEN
ruce Barilla grew up at the edge of what was then Chicago’s meatpacking district, in the neighborhood called Back of the Yards. He began caddieing in 1967, when he was 13, and two years later he moved to the refreshment stand. “It was $1.50 an hour, which was more than I could make caddieing,” he told me. “I got all I
could eat for free, and I could play golf after work and on Mondays, and the girls came to the counter in bathing suits. It was the best job I ever had in my life.” He went to college to please his parents, whose parents had immigrated from Eastern Europe, but as soon as he graduated he changed his mind about careers. “I just wanted to go back to the golf course,” he said. So that’s where he went. He spent most of the next 35 years working at clubs and tour events, usually in the locker room, with a lengthy intermission during which he preached at an independent Christian church, mopped ﬂoors at a college and went through a divorce. He’s now retired, although he works part-time as a driver at Enterprise Rent-a-Car, and he still preaches. He also works at tournaments and consults with clubs that want to improve their locker rooms. “I’ve done consultations at 27 clubs, and I’ve worked at or visited 40 more,” he said. “I don’t mean any disrespect, but if architects and interior designers have never been a locker-room attendant, they’re going to make mistakes.” Here
are some of those mistakes: ceramic dispensers for shampoo and other shower liquids (which break when they’re dropped and can’t be checked visually as they get low); double-stack half-lockers (which aren’t tall enough to keep suits from wrinkling); amenities placed on counters next to sinks instead of on shelves just above them (because amenities on counters get wet and make the counters hard to keep clean); clubs that redo their locker rooms without seeking
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input from employees who’ve worked in them for years. And here are some things he likes: heated shelves in shoeshine rooms (for drying wet shoes); a supply of loaner shirts (for golfers who get rained on and need something presentable for the grillroom); lockers wide enough for two pairs of shoes stored side by side (like the ones at Butler National); shoe-shine counters situated as close as possible to the lockerroom entrance (so that workers can easily spot members and guests who need help). Barilla’s website, lrcgolf.com, includes a ﬂoor plan for something he calls a Shower Suite™. If my wife ever tricks me into remodeling our house again, I’m hiring him to design the bathrooms. In Barilla’s view, a locker room should be a sanctuary— and never more so than during a professional event (he has worked at 45 of those). “There are things we see that even sportswriters don’t,” he said. The best regular tipper among the pros is Phil Mickelson; the biggest tip he has ever received part of was a check for $5,000
that Billy Hurley wrote to the locker-room staﬀ at Congressional Country Club after winning the Quicken Loans National this past June; the biggest tip as a percentage of the purse was $1,200 from Nick Price at the Western Open in 1993. Barilla answered my questions about tipping only because I insisted. He believes that no-tipping policies discourage good service, but he also believes that job satisfaction comes mainly from working hard and paying attention to details. He leans toward his wife’s philosophy, which is that if a waitress does a poor job you give her a nice tip anyway because maybe she’s having a terrible day. “Five dollars is a very reasonable tip for doing a pair of shoes,” he said, when I asked for speciﬁcs. “And if you’re unsure what to do, you can ask the manager or your host. I know it can seem like a lot—there’s the car parker, the bag guy, the cart guy, the shoe guy. But even if you have to spread around a hundred bucks, why not? You couldn’t aﬀord to get in the door, so it’s worth it.”
brad mangin/pga tour/getty images
A reasonable tip for doing shoes? Here’s your answer.
Just a guess, but there are probably three or four things you need to work on with your golf swing to improve. Am I right? Then jot them down. I don’t care if you use an index card, like I do, or dictate them to your smartphone. Just make a list of swing keys, and when you practice, stick to them. For example, maybe you swing off your back foot and need to transfer your weight better. Or maybe you cut your swing off short, and should let your chest keep turning. Whatever issues you have, don’t let them always get the best of you because you’re not paying attention to how to fix them. Working with my swing coach, Tony Ruggiero, I’ve identified four fundamentals that I constantly try to improve. Keeping the index card handy allows me to stay on point. See if my notes can help you be a better ball-striker, too. — w i t h ro n k a s p r i s k e
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WING focus on the fundamentals you need to improve by smylie kaufman
don’t sway Making a full turn and really loading up the right side as you take the club back is a huge power generator. Do that and you can really hit the ball hard. However, be careful you don’t let your body sway a lot in that direction. That will make it much harder to get back to the ball and produce solid contact. One thing I do to prevent that sway is to make a backswing where my pivot feels centered over the top of the ball (below). Tony will even hold an alignment stick next to the right side of my head as a reminder. If I bump it, I’m swaying too much.
keep it together Whenever my swing gets a little funky, I go back and check to see that my right arm isn’t drifting too far away from my body when I make a backswing. A little separation is ﬁne, but a real loss of connection means it’s going to be a challenge to re-sync my arm swing with my body pivot on the way down, so my timing isn’t oﬀ. I want everything turning back together, so I’ll often work on keeping my shirt sleeve tucked into my armpit as I make a backswing. Here I’m demonstrating what I mean by bunching my shirt into the armpit as I make a onehanded backswing (above). This helps remind me to keep the movement of my arms and body in sync.
Photographs by J.D. Cuban
+ POLO GOLF shirt, $90 RLX GOLF pants, $98 POLO RALPH LAUREN belt, $85 FOOTJOY shoes
completely unwind When you rotate your upper body toward the target in the downswing, don’t stop after you strike the ball. Keep going. Feel like your chest covers the ball at impact and rotates all the way until your right shoulder is pointing at the target—or at least as far as you can unwind. A drill I do to train this movement is to set up with an alignment rod between my feet. This represents my ball position. I then make practice swings, focusing on getting my upper body fully unwound so it moves ahead of the alignment rod (below). I keep turning until my right shoulder is ahead of my left foot (photo on page 61). This full rotation makes sures the clubface is square at impact and I power through the ball. Finish strong and you’ll own your swing.
use the ground A good downswing has to start from the ground up for leverage and proper sequencing. Getting things to move in the correct order is a challenge for a lot of people I play with in pro-ams, but I sometimes struggle with it, too. When things are a little oﬀ, I go back to my step drill (above). It helps train the fundamental of shifting your weight into the front foot before swinging down. I make practice swings where I lift my left foot oﬀ the ground, step with it toward my target, planting it again, and then swinging the club down and through. After a few reps, I really start to regain that proper feet-ﬁrst sequencing. smylie kaufman won the 2015 Shriners Hospitals for Children Open on the PGA Tour, shooting a ﬁnal-round 61. He ranked 26th in birdie average (3.80) last season.
ARE YOU STANDING OVER THE BALL TOO LONG?
BY BO B CA R N E Y
t’s a simple question, and it seems like an important one: How long should it take to hit a golf shot? Rummage through most instruction books, and you’ll ﬁnd a lot on the subject of timing, but little on time. That’s why a new book called Golf ’s 8 Second Secret: What separates golf’s greatest champions, by PGA pro Mike Bender and accomplished amateur Michael Mercier, has provoked debate. The authors argue that a shot—from the time you set your lead foot, step over the ball and swing to the ﬁnish—should take eight seconds. This period occurs only after a golfer has carefully evaluated conditions, incorporated swing thoughts and narrowed his or her focus. In other words, there is no going back. Bender and Mercier studied dozens of the game’s greats through TV coverage, ﬁlm footage, even old photographic sequences, and that’s the consistent duration it took them—from Bobby Jones to Mickey Wright to Phil Mickelson. Others, such as Lee Westwood, tend to take longer or vary the time, especially under pressure, and that invites problems. The authors add that before they even step in, a player’s pre-shot routine should take no more than 10 to 12 seconds, for a total of about 20. Do you get it done that fast? Judging from an informal study of amateurs at a public course, most weekenders aren’t even close. They are check-listers, reviewing the do’s and don’ts as they stand over the ball, sometimes for as long as 20 seconds. Double that time when you add their pre-shot routine. Though Bender and Mercier believe we all could use an eight-second shot clock, some of the game’s most prominent coaches aren’t as convinced. They do agree, however, on three things: (1) You should swing without delay once over the ball; (2) That time ought to be consistent for every shot; (3) It’s personal. The coaches supported the book’s organization of the shot process. They say sizing up a shot can take any amount of time. Tour pros, for instance, tend to spend more time deciding about escape shots or unpracticed shots around the green. But once the decision is made, rehearsal and execution should take no more than 20 seconds and must be consistent. The idea is to progress from conscious calculation to instinctive motion as you decide, picture, feel and ﬁnally act. Mixing the stages, such as still debating club selection while standing over the ball, invites poor performance. “If you take too long over the ball, your feet get landlocked,” says instructor Dean Reinmuth. “Then your whole lower body feels stuck.
The upper body gets quicker. So your motion looks too quick, but really what happened is, you took too long.” Sport psychologist Gio Valiante agrees with the authors, to a point: “I’ve talked about 20 seconds from pre-shot to ﬁnish. But it’s a range. Some players are at 23, some at 17. You can’t make it a rigid thing. Everybody copies the best players in the world. But the best players don’t copy anyone.” Only one of the 25 or so Hall of Famers Bender and Mercier studied—Jack Nicklaus—varied from the eight-second rule. He did that, they say, because he spent less time on his pre-shot routine and noticeably longer over the ball, but still totaling 18 to 20 seconds. “Almost always under pressure there is a tendency to take more time,” says sport psychologist Bob Rotella. “But the real problem is when you start taking too much time between the last look at the target and the swing. I try to get guys going with their ﬁrst instinct. That one is all about conﬁdence and commitment. The second one can be ﬁlled with fear and doubt.” Rotella often asks clients to make a practice swing, inevitably ﬂuid and relaxed, and then suggests they build a routine around that. Josh Zander, a Golf Digest Teaching Professional who played in the 1992 U.S. Open, cautions that no matter the time taken, you must feel ready to hit. “Sometimes I count to four as I approach the ball. Then I see an image of the shot, and my brain tells me we’re ready to go. I’d be surprised if it weren’t eight seconds or less. But the key is to go when your brain gives you the signal. Remember Sergio Garcia, the way he gripped and re-gripped the club? The thing I admired about that was that he wouldn’t go until he was ready.” Bender and Mercier say that’s why great players take only eight seconds. Any longer is bad for conﬁdence and focus. It’s precisely why Garcia and Westwood haven’t won majors, they say. Sport psychologist Richard Coop studied the 20-second zone a decade ago. His take: More important than a consistent time is what happens during that time. “A lot of golfers have rituals but not routines,” he says. “In other words, you’ve gone through the ritual of motions, but not really been there, done the routine.” Coop’s advice on time: “Find what it is you’re doing over the ball that’s taking so long—and still not working—and eliminate it.”
DEBATING SHOT SELECTION WHILE OVER THE BALL INVITES POOR PERFORMANCE.
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Photograph by Hugh Kretschmer
Illustration by Stanley Chow
PHILANTHROPY + GOLF
GOLFERS WHO GIVE BACK PEYTON, PHIL & JAKE follow THE PALMER METHOD W H E N I T C OM E S T O G O L F A N D G I V I N G B AC K , no individual gave more than Arnold Palmer. Our sport lost its greatest legend in September, but the example he set will endure in golfers forever. ▶ Charity is in the DNA of every golfer—$3.9 billion is generated annually through golf events for charitable causes. Some of that comes from the PGA Tour contributing a record $160 million in 2015. Billions more come from grassroots events at your courses and ours. ▶ For the ﬁfth year, Golf Digest is celebrating Golfers Who Give Back. This time, we’ve partnered with our friends at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am and Monterey Peninsula Foundation. You’re probably familiar with MPF’s chairman of the board, Clint Eastwood, but our group also included vice chairman Doug Mackenzie, CEO Steve John and director Heidi Ueberroth. The AT&T is a leader in charity among PGA Tour events, generating more than $10 million in 2015. Only the Valero Texas Open matched that $10-million achievement. ▶ Together, our joint committee has selected retired NFL great Peyton Manning, four-time AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am champion Phil Mickelson and country artist Jake Owen as this year’s Golfers Who Give Back. Each of them will receive The Arnie Award, Golf Digest’s highest honor, at the AT&T in February. The connection to Palmer is even more ﬁtting because he was one of the owners of Pebble Beach. The Arnie is a trophy-size version of a seven-foot Palmer bronze sculpture created by artist Zenos Frudakis. As part of the Golfers Who Give Back program, we will donate a total of $100,000 to MPF, Arnie’s Army Charitable Foundation and the individual charities designated by Manning, Mickelson and Owen. — C R A I G B E S T R O M
THE ARNIE AWARD december 2016/january 2017 | golfdigest.com
peyton manning hits his tee shot on the 18th hole during the 2 0 1 4 at &t p e b b l e beach pro-am.
PEYTON MANNING When Peyton Manning said during his retirement speech in March, a month after quarterbacking the Denver Broncos to his second career Super Bowl win, that life was not shrinking for him, “it’s morphing into a whole new world of possibilities,” an improved golf game was at least somewhere on his wish list. Manning wore No. 18 and played 18 seasons in the NFL, leaving as the league’s all-time leader in career passing yards (71,940), touchdown passes (539) and wins (200). “Eighteen is a good number,” Manning said, “and today I retire from pro football.” Now when Manning references the number 18, at least throughout our October sit-down at Castle Pines Golf Club near his Denver home, the number is mostly about golf. december 2016/january 2017 | golfdigest.com
the itinerary together and, nowadays, the email exchanges leading up to the trip are fun, the banter and all that. I had to postpone a trip to Ireland with some of the guys when I was injured a few years ago, and we’re hoping to do that next year.
YOU SEE THE LOOK ON THE FACES OF THESE PARENTS— THEY’RE SCARED—AND YOU JUST FEEL FOR THEM AND WONDER, WHAT CAN WE DO TO HELP? for the first time in forever, you’ve had time to work on your golf game during the fall. how well are you playing? I was telling Eli the
other day that my 18-year theory is being proven untrue. For all of these years, I’ve thought that once I was able to play in the spring, summer and fall, I’d be able to lower my handicap. But it just isn’t true. I’m the same golfer. I’m not getting any better, and I might even be playing a little worse. ●●●
have you been playing a lot?
I guess I played a little more this past spring, with not having football and other commitments. And I played in a couple of tournaments in the fall. Played in a pro-and-threemembers event at Pinehurst with some of the guys from Crooked Stick, and I got invited to a member-guest on the East Coast. ●●●
but you aren’t playing as well as you’d like? I used to
compare golf to football, and I’ve stopped doing that. Considering the amount of repetitions I put into football, and knowing the amount of reps the best golfers in the world put into their games . . . I just haven’t
had the reps, and I’m probably not willing to put in the reps. I really try to have a good attitude when I play. I don’t get too frustrated, because I know I haven’t put in the time. But, every day I go out thinking, This might be the day I’m gonna shoot a great score. ●●●
what’s a great score for you? Oh, something in the 70s.
I’m a 5-handicap in the books, but I wish I were a little more consistent. When I play well, I break 80, but that hasn’t happened a lot lately. ●●●
what’s the best round you’ve shot? It was at St. Andrews
seven or eight years ago during a great trip to Scotland with my dad and my brothers, Cooper and Eli, and let me preface it by saying we were on some up tees. It was maybe 6,300 yards, but I shot even-par 72. My dad, Cooper and I had gone to a golf school in Orlando, and I learned how to “knock it down” before we went over there. I had it for the week we were in Scotland, but I don’t have it anymore. ●●●
you’ve played a number of the courses on golf digest’s list of america’s 100 greatest. are you trying to play them all? I wouldn’t say I’m
on a mission to play all of them, but I do enjoy golf trips. I love planning the details, putting
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how do your football injuries affect your golf?
I’m healthy, no problems. I still work out and try to take care of my body. Golf is an incentive for me to stay healthy and ﬁt. ●●●
you aren’t one to talk about the charitable work you and your wife, ashley, have done for the past 18 years, but it’s impressive. between the peyton manning children’s hospital at st. vincent in indianapolis and your peyback foundation for disadvantaged youth, you’ve given back a lot. I like to say that
the Children’s Hospital is one of the cooler teams I’ve been a part of. Let’s face it, no one wants to be in a hospital, and you certainly don’t want your child to be in a hospital. Ashley and I have visited patients and their parents in that hospital through the years. You see the look on the faces of these parents— they’re scared—and you just feel for them and wonder, What can we do to help? That drives me to help the fundraising eﬀorts I lead to get our doctors and nurses every resource they need. ●●●
what role does golf play in the fundraising? There’s a
gala every year where we honor a patient and a member of the staﬀ. We’ve had big singers come and perform. Jake Owen, Luke Bryan, Darius Rucker and Vince Gill, for example, have donated their time. Jim Nantz and Mike Tirico have been among our MCs. I’ll have them come in the day before, and we’ll play golf and then enjoy raising funds the next evening.
what’s your peyback foundation all about? Ashley
and I started that in 1999, and we’ve given grants to programs that provide leadership and growth opportunities for kids who don’t have life easy. We’ve helped kids speciﬁcally in Indiana, Tennessee, Louisiana and Colorado as a way to “pay back” the communities that helped us. Louisiana is where I grew up. Tennessee is where Ashley is from and where I went to school. And we’ve lived in Indiana and now Colorado. ●●●
what inspired you to do all of this? My dad hosted a golf
tournament for almost 30 years to beneﬁt cystic ﬁbrosis. It felt like he made a diﬀerence, and I guess that had an impact on me. I just feel that if you can help people in some way, fund more programs, make a diﬀerence, it’s deﬁnitely worth your time. ●●●
the bronze sculpture of arnold palmer you’ll receive as one of our golfers who give back is called the arnie because we think he was the model of a golfer giving back. what did arnie mean to you? I read where
he spent almost six ﬁgures in stamps responding to fan mail. That made a big impact on me, that he took the time to take care of his fans. I believe in the power of a handwritten letter. Whether it’s a congratulations on your career or Hey, thinking about you during this time. It’s more personal than an email or a text, and I think Arnold Palmer was the standard-setter on that. And, of course, his commitment to giving back through philanthropy set a standard as well. Not only was that Arnold Palmer’s impact on golf, but he did that for all sports. —CB
previous pages: manning: christian petersen/getty images • mickelson: j.d. cuban • eastwood (circa 1975): michael ochs archives/getty images
hil Mickelson was the reigning U.S. Amateur and NCAA champion as a junior at Arizona State, and now he had won a PGA Tour event in Tucson. Soon he’d be playing in his ﬁrst Masters. So, what next? “I called Arnold Palmer and asked if he’d play a practice round with me,” Mickelson says. The impact Palmer made on young Phil that week at Augusta is being paid forward. And it’s why Golf Digest and Monterey Peninsula Foundation have chosen to honor Mickelson with The Arnie Award as one of our Golfers Who Give Back. If you’ve watched Mickelson during his 25 years on tour, you’ve probably witnessed a random act of kindness: handing a ball to a kid; signing a glove and tucking in a little cash; tipping locker-room attendants extra because, as Phil reasons, they make his life better; and for
the past several years, welcoming and mentoring young tour players, including Dustin Johnson and Rickie Fowler. “I know how good Arnold made me feel that day at the Masters,” Mickelson says. “I was nervous and didn’t feel like I belonged, but he made sure I felt like part of the club—the way he put his arm around me, told me stories and invited me to join him for lunch. I’ve tried to do that for others because I know how much it meant to me.” Not only has Mickelson consistently given back to others at tour events, he and his wife, Amy, through the Phil & Amy Foundation, are huge supporters of charitable organizations tied to the military and education. Birdies for the Brave, for example, is a tour umbrella program that Phil and Amy helped create in 2005. It funds several military support organizations, including the Special Operations Warrior Foundation and Homes For Our Troops. Also in 2005, the Mickelsons partnered to develop the Mickelson ExxonMobil Teachers
Academy, a curriculum that gives third-, fourth- and ﬁfthgrade teachers tools to motivate students in math and science. Phil and Amy think the best way to give people opportunities to improve their quality of life is through education. One example: The Special Operations Warrior Foundation gives college scholarships to children of fallen soldiers who served in Special Operations forces. “Golf has provided me with opportunities to do a lot of things for a lot of people, and I’m incredibly appreciative,” says Mickelson, who’ll receive The Arnie Award during the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am in February. “We’ve always had an emotional and family connection to Pebble Beach. My dad caddied for me there in the California state am, and having won the AT&T four times makes the memories I have there even more special. My grandfather used to caddie at Pebble Beach for 35 cents a bag, and now we’re playing for millions of dollars. Shows you how much things have changed.” —CB
p h i l m i c k e l s o n at n o . 8 d u r i n g t h e 2 0 1 4 at &t pebble beach pro-am.
I KNOW HOW GOOD ARNOLD MADE ME FEEL . . . I’VE TRIED TO DO THAT FOR OTHERS.
MONTEREY PENINSULA BENEFITS FROM TOURNAMENT GIVING
hen Bing Crosby began his golf tournament in 1937, its mandate was clear: Local charities must beneﬁt. Today, Monterey Peninsula Foundation runs the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am and has assumed the obligation, supporting more than 250 nonproﬁt organizations in Monterey and surrounding counties. “The peninsula is quite wealthy, but you’ll ﬁnd in the eastern part of the county that the per-capita income is very low,” says Dr. Michael L. Jackson, president and CEO of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Monterey County. “Many of our kids are latchkey kids, almost 42 percent.” The generosity of MPF and its high-proﬁle board that includes chairman Clint Eastwood (above) and vice chairmen Peter Ueberroth and Doug Mackenzie has allowed the Boys & Girls Clubs to serve more than 150,000 meals a year. Another beneﬁciary of MPF is Community Hospital of Monterey Peninsula. Most recently, the foundation provided a $500,000 grant for Kids Eat Right, a handson nutrition and physical-activity program. In the past, the foundation has provided support for many other initiatives, including digital mammography. The foundation also runs the PURE Insurance Championship, a PGA Tour Champions event; one of the largest beneﬁciaries is The First Tee of Monterey County, which started in 2004 and has grown to 6,000 kids. “It’s a good partnership, golf and giving,” says Steve John, CEO of MPF. “We’re fortunate to be involved in such a wonderful sport.” —john strege
december 2016/january 2017 | golfdigest.com
THE GREATEST PART [OF CHARITY] FOR ALL OF US . . . IS BEING ABLE TO HELP ONE ANOTHER.
few days before we got together with country artist Jake Owen at the Golf Club of Tennessee, he received a photograph in the mail of a soon-to-be-married couple that was taken the night they met, at a Jake Owen concert nine years ago. Somehow the groom found Owen’s Nashville address, and he asked in the accompanying letter if Jake would sign and return the photo so it could be displayed at their wedding and eventually in their home. Owen gladly obliged, and he says it’s requests like those that remind him why he’ll never regret giving up competitive golf for a career in music that so far includes two No. 1 country albums and six No. 1 singles. “I feel like I’ve been able to touch more people with a guitar and a song than I would have with a putter or a driver,” says Owen, the only golfer we know to shoot “a legit four-under-par
68 at Pebble Beach” while playing alongside buddy Jordan Spieth during the 2015 AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. The son of a very good amateur golfer, Owen was swinging cutdown Titleist irons when he and twin brother Jarrod were still in diapers. At 15, Jake won his ﬁrst junior tournament, and during high school in Vero Beach, Fla., he was No. 1 on the golf team. A shoulder injury suﬀered in a wakeboarding accident ruined his plans of trying to walk on while attending Florida State, and during the six months of rehab he discovered music. The golf motivation, he says, had always come from his dad, Steve, who reached the quarterﬁnals of the 1978 U.S. Amateur before losing to Bobby Clampett. “Thanks to my dad, I had the talent, fundamentals and foundation like many of those guys on the PGA Tour,” Owen says. “What I didn’t have was the drive. Music is something I found because I lost interest in golf. My dad didn’t put a guitar in my hands when I was in diapers; I taught myself how to play when I was 19 and
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20 years old. I think that’s why I’ve enjoyed music a little more than golf.” Today he’s able to enjoy both, playing occasionally alongside the best golfers in the world on their stage—and sometimes pulling them onstage to sing beside him. Owen’s commitment to giving back blossomed in 2006, the year he released his ﬁrst album, “Startin’ With Me,” and debut single, “Yee Haw.” That’s also when he combined with childhood friend and former professional tennis player Mardy Fish on Mardy’s Tennis & Jake’s Music Fest in Vero Beach, where both grew up. That event (2006-’11) and the Jake Owen Foundation concerts (2012, ’14, ’15) have raised $1.25 million and beneﬁted several organizations, including St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Hibiscus Children’s Center, Boys & Girls Clubs of America, Habitat for Humanity, and Autism Speaks, an organization especially important to Owen because
j a k e o w e n w at c h e s his tee shot during the first round of the pebble beach pro-am in 2015, the year he shot a 68.
he has a nephew with autism. Last December, Owen got Spieth to play in Vero Beach’s biggest golf tournament, the annual Grapefruit Pro-Am, where Spieth whacked his opening tee shot while running Happy Gilmore-style. Because the Grapefruit was played the same weekend as Jake’s beneﬁt concert, both received a signiﬁcant boost that’ll likely be even bigger at this year’s events Dec. 9. “I’ve performed multiple times at Jordan’s foundation event, at Jason Day’s event, Peyton Manning’s, Tim Tebow’s, and they’ve come and helped me as well,” Owen says. “The greatest part for all of us, golfers and entertainers, is being able to help one another. And golf is usually the common denominator.” —CB
jeff gross/getty images
BY NAT H A N I E L C RO S BY & JO H N ST R E G E
ACROONER, CADDIES KINGS
BING CROSBY’S son tells TALES of a LEGEND who was NO SNOB when it came to HIS GOLF BING CROSBY, OR DAD TO ME, was the most popular entertainer in the world in his day, a day that lasted the better part of five decades. In 1977, the last year of his life, he was still selling out shows in London and New York City. “Just imagine something five times stronger than the popularity of Elvis Presley and the Beatles put together,” Tony Bennett said in 1999. Dad’s inﬂuence spanned generations. The Beatles’ ﬁrst hit single, “Please Please Me,” was inspired in part by a line in one of Dad’s songs. “I remember the day I wrote it,” John Lennon said. “I heard Roy Orbison doing ‘Only the Lonely’ or something. And I was intrigued by the words to a Bing Crosby song that went, ‘Please lend a little ear to my pleas.’ The double use of the word ‘please.’ So it was a combination of Roy Orbison and Bing Crosby.” crosby lines up a putt in engl and in 1960.
E D I T O R’S N O T E From the book 18 Holes With Bing: Golf, Life, and Lessons From Dad, by Nathaniel Crosby and John Strege. Copyright © 2016. Reprinted by permission of Dey Street Books, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.
december 2016/january 2017 | golfdigest.com
Nathaniel Crosby is the founder and president of A P P L E T R E E S O C I E T I E S , providing aﬄuent travel groups access to Appletree residences and private golf clubs and golf resorts in second-home and vacation-home markets around the country.
THE OFFICE OF STRATEGIC SERVICES THOUGHT IT MIGHT BE A GOOD IDEA FOR HIM TO BROADCAST DIRECTLY TO THE GERMAN PEOPLE. THUS THE MONIKER DER BINGLE WAS CONCEIVED. One’s standing in the social strata was of no concern to him. He was as comfortable with caddies as he was with kings, a man who could mix and match with the Rockefellers, Vanderbilts and Mellons as well as caddies and railbirds likely to be betting their dinner money on their next favorite horse. “As long as a person was bright or amusing or congenial, it mattered little to Crosby how wealthy or socially prominent he might be, and his friends included studio technicians, musicians, chauﬀeurs, horse trainers, and proprietors of bowling alleys,” Herbert Warren Wind wrote in The New Yorker. On the wealthy front was George Coleman, my father’s best friend. Coleman was an Oklahoma oil man among other varied ﬁnancial interests and an avid golfer, who counted Ben Hogan among his closest friends in golf, as did my father. The original Mrs. Coleman once was heard saying to her husband, “You’re not going to invite any of those golf-pro friends of yours to our party tomorrow night, are you?” The future ex-Mrs. Coleman was the antithesis of my father, and she was forever dubbed “the former beloved” by Coleman after they divorced. Dad’s nephew, Howard Crosby, told an illuminating story about my father’s lack of what the British journalist Alistair Cooke called “prima donnaism.” It occurred in 1975, a few days before the contestants in the Bing Crosby National Pro-Am were set to arrive. “Uncle Bing showed up in town and called to see if I wanted to meet him at Cypress [Point] for a bit of golf the next day,” Howard said. “Of course I was up for that, so we planned to meet at the pro shop at 7:30 the next morning. When I got there, Uncle Bing was already sitting on the trunk of his car, changing into his golf shoes. Then he asked the assistant pro if there were any caddies who could play a bit. And [the assistant pro] said there were a couple of single-digit handicappers back there. So Bing hired the two kids to ﬁll out a foursome, plus two more to carry bags, and
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away we went. I remember thinking at the time that there were undoubtedly hundreds of the wealthiest, most prominent citizens of Carmel/Pebble Beach who would have loved to be in that foursome with Bing Crosby, and here he goes and hires a couple of caddies. How typical of Bing.” HOLLYWOOD PAST AND PRESENT
ad’s principal playground during his years in Los Angeles was Lakeside Golf Club, an entertainment-industry enclave then and now: from Oliver Hardy, W.C. Fields, Johnny Weissmuller and Gene Autry in the past to Jack Nicholson, Sylvester Stallone, Justin Timberlake, Adam Levine, George Lopez and Bruce Willis today. The club was conveniently located around the corner from Universal Studios, allowing Dad to play early in the morning and, during summer months, late in the afternoon, often with Bob Hope. Many days, Dad played a morning round and went to the racetrack in the afternoon. When asked by his playing partners if he wanted to go to the track with them, he invariably would answer, “I have a previous engagement, but I’ll see you there.” He then would arrive at the track accompanied by the caddies who had worked his foursome that morning. Inevitably, Dad would overpay each of them by $20 as seed money for their wagers. “People ask me how much golf I’ve played and how I learned my golf,” Dad said. “I learned it playing with these caddies, mostly, and watching pros play.” Dad often went to the caddies’ rooming house and rousted a few of them to play a $1 nassau. Norman Blackburn, in his book Lakeside Golf Club of Hollywood, 50th Anniversary Book, wrote that “Bing would rather win a buck from a caddie than a thousand from Dan Topping [the co-owner of the New York Yankees], which he did many times.”
previous page: popperfoto/getty images • facing page: donaldson collection/getty images
Billboard called Dad “the most popular radio star of all time.” For ﬁve years in a row he was the No. 1 box-oﬃce draw, and in 1944 he won an Academy Award as best actor for his portrayal of Father O’Malley in “Going My Way.” He ranks among the best-selling recording artists in history with more than a half billion of his songs and albums in circulation. His recording of “White Christmas” is the best-selling single of all time. Generations have been bridged by this voice, which The Times of London once wrote had been “heard more often by more people than that of any mortal in history.” Between 1927 and 1962 he had 368 charted records. No one else is even close: Frank Sinatra had 209, Elvis Presley 149 and the Beatles 68. Yank, a weekly military magazine published during World War II, identiﬁed him as the individual who had done the most to boost morale during the war, according to U.S. troops polled; President Franklin Roosevelt came in second. When Dad arrived in London, the Oﬃce of Strategic Services thought it might be a good idea for him to broadcast directly to the German people. Thus the moniker Der Bingle was conceived. At one point Dad was in France, where there was still ﬁghting, and was invited to Gen. Omar Bradley’s headquarters. The general asked Dad where he’d been that day. “We made it to the town of St. Mère Eglise,” Dad said. “St. Mère Eglise?” Bradley said incredulously. “We haven’t taken St. Mère Eglise yet!” “Well, we had it for a while this morning,” Dad said in his best deadpan. “I can’t believe that you’ve lost it already.” And then there was golf. Everything Dad accomplished in the entertainment ﬁeld was a distant second to this game that animated him more than anything else. As my mother, Kathryn, so aptly described many years ago, Bing Crosby was a golfer who sang. “In the battle against par or against your opponent,” Dad once told Golf Digest, “you can’t think about much else, and the result, for me at least, is good therapy. For me, golf has been a kind of passport to relaxation and happiness.” He began the Bing Crosby Pro-Am in 1937; and it still is played today, though under an assumed name, the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. The pro-am concept that is a staple of virtually every PGA Tour event today, with proceeds earmarked for charity, was Dad’s idea.
who needs a fourth? crosby is joined by bob hope and f r a n k s i n at r a , c i r c a 1 9 4 0 .
DAD WOULD ARRIVE AT THE RACETRACK ACCOMPANIED BY THE CADDIES WHO HAD WORKED HIS FOURSOME THAT MORNING. INEVITABLY, HE WOULD OVERPAY EACH OF THEM BY $20 AS SEED MONEY FOR THEIR WAGERS. MATCH VS. THE MYSTERIOUS MONTAGUE
KEEPING A SECRET FROM THE DUKE
s for Dad’s association with kings (or former kings), one was a golf partner, the Duke of Windsor, formerly King Edward VIII, who had abdicated his throne to marry an American socialite and divorcee, Wallis Simpson. On a visit to Paris one year, Dad teamed with a friend, Ray Graham, in a match with the Duke and Chris Dunphy, the chairman of the greens committee at Seminole Golf Club and one of Dad’s friends. The Duke was notorious for his aversion to wagering any more than a few dollars. So neither Dunphy nor Dad bothered to tell him what the bet was that
day. Yet every hole or two, either Dunphy or Dad would holler, “Texas!” Curious, the Duke asked Dunphy why they were always talking about Texas. “Never mind,” Dunphy said. “I’ll explain later.” He waited until the end of the round to tell him. “Every time Bing or I said ‘Texas,’ that meant we were doubling the bets.” “I say, Chris,” the Duke replied, “I’m glad you didn’t tell me about it at the time.” Dad mixed comfortably with England’s royal family as well. In the summer of 1976, we spent a couple of weeks at Petworth House outside of London. During our stay there the entire royal family—Her Royal Highness Queen Elizabeth, Prince Charles, Prince Phillip and other notables—held a party with us, presumably to showcase their renowned houseguest. Meanwhile, Mom had instructed me to bow when I met the queen, but I thought she was kidding. Alas, I failed to make the gesture in a timely manner, resulting in a stern lecture in royal-family etiquette from my mother. For my mom, being from West Columbia, Texas, meeting the royals and, better yet, spending time with them was a personal achievement. So a few weeks later when we were attending the races at the Goodwood Racecourse, Queen Elizabeth was there, too. Her Royal Highness sent an emissary down to invite us to the Royal Enclosure, or Royal Box, as Americans might call it. Mom was thrilled at the invitation, Dad less so. He repeatedly declined, citing the fact he was
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n at h a n i e l c e l e b r at e s h i s 1 - u p win over brian lindley in the 1981 u . s . a m at e u r at o ly m p i c c l u b .
underdressed for the occasion. Top hat and tails generally are required for gentlemen in the Royal Enclosure, and Dad had a green plaid sports jacket that he wore far too often in his later years. The queen insisted that it didn’t matter, but Dad continued to decline. In his defense, he was colorblind, and as I recall was wearing brown shoes with one red sock and one green sock. Mom, meanwhile, seethed at the missed opportunity. PLAYING WITH JFK
residents were also playing partners of my father’s, among them John F. Kennedy, with whom Dad played at Palm Beach Country Club in April 1961. “The president has a good-looking golf swing,” my father said. “It’s smooth. All the fundamentals are right. He has a good stance and grip and slow backswing. He hits the ball with determination. He’s out there 240 or 250 yards.” Dad partnered with the president in a match against Kennedy’s father, Joseph, and Chris Dunphy. One of the legendary stories included Dunphy failing to concede Kennedy’s threefoot putt for par on the ﬁrst hole, despite the president’s plea to do so. “Make a pass at it,” Dunphy said. “I want to see your stroke.”
courtesy of nathaniel crosby
ad was involved in a famous match with a notorious and mysterious Lakeside member. His name was LaVerne Moore, though he had taken the name John Montague, or Mysterious Montague, as he came to be known because of his clandestine nature. He was a very good golfer, purportedly one of the best in the country, according to legendary sportswriter Grantland Rice. Montague fell in with the Hollywood crowd, even living for a time with Oliver Hardy of Laurel and Hardy fame. One day, Montague defeated my father in a match at Lakeside. Afterward, in the clubhouse bar, my father complained that he hadn’t been given enough strokes. “I could beat you with a shovel, a bat and a rake,” Montague replied. “For how much?” Dad asked. “For $5 a hole.” That was how it widely has been reported, but I’ve heard that the bet was for $5,000 a hole, a tidy sum among the well-heeled even today, but more so in those days. They repaired to the ﬁrst hole. Montague used a fungo bat oﬀ the tee and drove the ball into a bunker. From there, he took a shovel and scooped the ball onto the green about two feet from the hole. He made the putt by using the rake like a pool cue. “I was history,” Dad said. The mystery surrounding Montague turned out to be the questionable past from which he was hiding. A story with photos on Montague, as his legend grew, appeared in Time magazine, piquing the interest of a law-enforcement oﬃcial who had spent seven years working on a criminal case involving armed robbery and assault in upstate New York. Montague was arrested for the crimes, though later was acquitted of them.
“I work in the Oval Oﬃce all day for citizens like you,” Kennedy replied. “And now you’re not going to give me this putt?” Dunphy said nothing. “OK,” Kennedy said. “But let’s keep moving. I’ve got an appointment after we ﬁnish with the director of the Internal Revenue.” “Putt’s good,” Dunphy said. “Pick it up.” Dad said the best part of Kennedy’s game was how he would arrange matches on the ﬁrst tee. “He’ll only bet a dollar or two, but an awful lot of negotiation goes on before the clubs start swinging. He works out the best possible arrangement before he makes a move. It gives me conﬁdence that he’ll be able to handle those international rascals.” About those international rascals: After his abbreviated round with the president, Dad recounted the day to my mother. “He told me that during the round special agents came up to the president,” Mom said. “They had a little conversation. Turns out that was the day of the kidnapping threat against Caroline.” The president’s daughter, 3 at the time, was staying at the nearby oceanfront home of her grandparents Joseph and Rose Kennedy and reportedly was the target of pro-Castro Cubans. SINATRA, JFK AND MARILYN MONROE
y father developed a friendship with President Kennedy, though he did not use his status to seek out these kinds of relationships. Basking in reﬂected glory was not part of his repertoire. These relationships always evolved through a mutual interest in golf. When President Kennedy was planning a weekend retreat in the Palm Springs area in 1962, he was invited to stay at Frank Sinatra’s house in Rancho Mirage but chose to stay at my father’s home instead. At the time, Kennedy’s brother Robert F. Kennedy, the attorney general, was investigating organized crime ﬁgures, and the president balked at staying at the home of a man thought to have connections with those under investigation. Sinatra reportedly was livid. He had built a helicopter pad and a guest wing on the house for the occasion. And when he discovered the president would be staying at my father’s house, he said, “Staying with Bing Crosby? He’s not even a Democrat.” A long-standing rumor, incidentally, was that Kennedy had a visitor during his stay at my father’s house. Her name: Marilyn Monroe. WINNING THE U.S. AMATEUR
was just turning 16 when Dad died in October 1977, leaving me with an emotional void. Dad’s death at 74 was at the time considered a reasonably long life, yet it still came as a shock and was not easy for any of us. There isn’t a road map for fatherless teens or, as I told my mother years later, for widows at 43. Golf, meanwhile, continued to be the focal point of my youth, and the experiences I’d had at the Bing Crosby Pro-Am, handing out scorecards and pencils to the likes of Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Lee Trevino and others, motivated me to work hard on my golf with the intention of playing the PGA Tour one day. I fell short on that front, but I did win one very important tournament, the 1981 U.S. Amateur, less than four years after my father’s death. I had been inspired by a cause greater than myself: I wanted to win to honor my father’s memory. Dad was a strong enough golfer to have played in the U.S. Amateur, in 1940, at Winged Foot. He also played in the British Amateur one year and countless other lesser amateur competitions. I had found a medal my father had received for participating in one of them, and I wore it on a chain around my neck throughout the 1981 Amateur, rubbing it for good luck in stressful situations. My mother, meanwhile, wore Dad’s old sport coat and hat during the ﬁnal match. Dad was a remarkably humble man, and he expected the same of his kids. A reporter asked me what my father might have said had he been there to witness my victory. “Don’t let it go to your head, son,” I replied. Privately, I’m sure he would have had another reaction, one closer to that of his old road partner and golf foil, Bob Hope, 78 at the time, who was watching the telecast in the grillroom of a Minnesota golf club. When I holed the winning putt, I was told by an assistant professional at the club that Bob had cried. Hope’s emotional reaction was a testament to his long and adoring friendship with my father and his understanding of what it would have meant to Dad had he been there.
BEST NEW courses2016
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t h e l o o p i s a r e v e r s i b l e l ayo u t, t h e c l o c k w i s e b l a c k a n d t h e c o u n t e r c l o c k w i s e r e d .
TIGER’S BLUEJACK NATIONAL & DOAK’S THE LOOP HAVE SOMETHING IN COMMON: FUN & PLAYABILITY Photograph by Dom Furore
by ron whitten
BEST NEW on the face of it, Golf Digest’s Best New Private Course and its Best New Public Course of 2016 could not be more dissimilar. The private winner, Bluejack National in the piney woods of Montgomery, Texas, is an opulent Tiger Woods design that bears a resemblance to Augusta National, where Woods has won four green jackets. The public winner, The Loop at Forest Dunes, in an expansive meadow near Roscommon, Mich., is a rustic trek by veteran course designer Tom Doak. It’s a reversible layout, two courses in one, inspired by the Old Course at St. Andrews, where centuries ago play on the links alternated direction to spread out wear and tear. But if you look beyond the glare of the gleaming white quartz in Bluejack’s bunkers and past the massive humps in some fairways of The Loop, you begin to notice some commonalities. When you play them both—actually, all three—one conclusion is unmistakable: They are virtually the same golf course, in concept and philosophy. They are both exceedingly wide and generous oﬀ the tee. Fairways average almost 60 yards wide at Bluejack, even wider at The Loop. Both have a spot where joint fairways merge, forming a corridor of 100 yards. Neither has any formal rough. Everything is
tightly mowed. Beyond the fairway edges at Bluejack are pine forests, whose ﬂoors are covered with pine straw and mulch to allow errant shots to be quickly found and played. Oﬀ The Loop’s fairways are stretches of sand dotted with tufts of native grasses, ferns and stubby pines, nothing so dense as to prohibit recovery shots. The premium at both is placed upon approach shots into the greens. Bluejack has perched greens, sunken greens, diagonal greens. So does The Loop. There are many spots on greens where the ground game is encouraged and rewarded, feeding a shot across a ridge or down a slope toward a hole location. Fairway approaches are likewise canted and contoured to guide good shots onto greens and reject those oﬀ line. To that end, both operations rely on turfgrasses meant to be ﬁrm and resilient. Being in a Southern climate, the fairways at Bluejack are tightly bladed Zeon Zoysia, the same superturf used at Rio’s Olympic Golf Course (which wasn’t considered for 2016 Best New because it was closed for public play until after the Olympics). Bluejack’s tee boxes and green surrounds are an even newer Zoysia breed, L1F, for a shorter, tighter cut. Says Woods: “This will allow the ground to be used as a friend on approach shots and create lots of options for recovery shots around the greens.” Its greens are hybrid TifEagle Bermuda, as smooth as any bentgrass green. The Loop is blanketed in cool-season fescue blends, an old-country turf that provides bounce and roll oﬀ the tee and lets balls scurry around and onto greens. The putting surfaces are bentgrass not mowed tight because Doak believes that a ground game works best when the putting surfaces aren’t faster than the approaches leading into them. The greens at both are subtly contoured. There are certain spots on both where a shot to a pin placement might seem successful, only to slowly creep down an imperceptible slope, leaving a longish putt. Yet there is not an exaggerated slope on any green at either locale, never the fear that a runaway putt could end up back down a fairway.
THEY REPRESENT THE TREND THAT MANY ARCHITECTS ARE EMBRACING: BUILD FOR THE MASSES, NOT THE ELITE PLAYERS. Photograph by J.D. Cuban
Bluejack has just 39 bunkers; The Loop has 73, many of them quite small. Bunkers were positioned for strategic purposes, not as eye candy. The Loop does have a couple of surprise hidden bunkers behind greens, but of course they become clearly visible when encountered from another direction. These are courses created to put smiles on the faces of their patrons. Hit it, ﬁnd it, hit it again toward the green, run in a putt or a pitch, cheer and move on. The Loop has no water hazards, Bluejack has four small lakes, all avoidable with smart play. They represent the trend that many 21st-century golf architects are embracing: Build for the masses, not the elite players. The selections of these two seemingly disparate courses as Best New, based upon evaluations by our panel of nearly 900 male and female golfers, reminds us that there’s more than one way to decorate a playable course. For Woods, Bluejack National is his “Hello, World” moment as a ﬂedgling golf architect (at least to most American audiences; his ﬁrst design was El Cardonal at Diamante in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, in 2014). Expertly
aided by designers Beau Welling and Shane Robichaud of Beau Welling Design, Woods created Bluejack on the site of a 30-year-old failed private club called Blaketree National Golf Club, which had been based on a routing by Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw, who had no involvement in the ﬁnished product. Blaketree was the exclusive haunt of the late oil and gas attorney Thomas Blake, but Bluejack is intended to be a family club, with onsite housing, very short junior tees on every hole—dubbed Frank’s Tees after the famed headcover in Tiger’s golf bag—and even a delightful 10-hole lighted pitch-and-putt, The Playgrounds. For Doak, The Loop is a reminder that the one-time Boy Wonder, now 55, is perhaps the most thoughtful and accomplished course designer of his generation, willing not just to push the envelope but ﬂip it over and scribble on its back side. (His inﬂuence even extends to our winner for Best New Remodel of 2016, Piping Rock Club in Locust Valley, N.Y., which was restored by Bruce Hepner, a longtime former design associate.) Doak was aided by his Four Horsemen of Architecture—Eric Iverson, Don Placek, Brian Schneider and Brian Slawnik—in pulling oﬀ a magician’s feat at The Loop by devising 18 holes that function as 36 without ever posing the sensation of playing the wrong way down a fairway. “The goal is to have two very diﬀer-
2016 best ne w private
ent courses over the same piece of ground, so people will want to stay over to play it both ways and compare and contrast the two,” Doak says. “I’ve been looking for the right site for many years, and the Forest Dunes site seemed right for it.” (The Forest Dunes resort also has a 14-year-old Tom Weiskopfdesigned layout that won a Best New award in 2003 and is ranked No. 118 on Golf Digest’s ranking of America’s Second 100 Greatest.) As bold as Doak was in embracing a radical idea, he was rather cautious when submitting his project for consideration as Best New. He did not want The Loop considered as two separate courses—the clockwise Black and counterclockwise Red—because he was concerned one would be declared the winner over the other and tourists thereafter would focus solely on the winning 18. So we agreed to have panelists evaluate his design as a single 36-hole entity. We’re willing to embrace radical ideas, too. For a complete look at Golf Digest’s 2016 Best New Courses, including panelists’ candid comments, go to golfdigest.com/story/ best-new.
1 Bluejack National Montgomery, Texas 7,552 yards, par 72 Tiger Woods, designer 2 The Reserve at Moonlight Basin Big Sky, Mont. 7,982 yards, par 72 Jack Nicklaus 3 Trump National G.C. Washington, D.C. (Championship) Potomac Falls, Va. 7,793 yards, par 72 Tom Fazio II best ne w public 1 The Loop at Forest Dunes Roscommon, Mich. 6,704 yards, par 70 (Black) 6,805 yards, par 70 (Red) Tom Doak, designer 2 Tatanka G.C. Niobrara, Neb. 7,450 yards, par 72, Paul Albanese 3 Lebovic G.C. Aurora, Ontario 6,462 yards, par 70 Doug Carrick best ne w remodeled 1 Piping Rock Club Locust Valley, N.Y. 6,877 yards, par 71 Bruce Hepner, redesigner 2 Baltimore C.C. (East) Lutherville, Md. 7,037 yards, par 70 Keith Foster
t i g e r ’ s ta k e : b l u e j a c k n at i o n a l is wide open.
3 Westchester C.C. (West) Rye, N.Y. 7,005 yards, par 71 Tom Fazio
use your dominant arm to hammer the ball by david leadbetter
▶ If I tossed you a golf ball and asked you to toss it right back to me, without even thinking, I bet you’d throw it with your dominant arm. What this should tell you is that even though you’ve got two arms, you feel more comfortable using one over the other. Remember that when you swing the golf club. A good golf swing is a blend of coordinated movement from both sides of the body, but it’s really your dominant side that wants, and should, dictate the action. For most of you, that means taking a right-side approach to your swing. Grab a bath towel and I’ll show you how. — w i t h ro n k a s p r i s k e
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backswing: load and separate Wrap a towel around your right arm at the elbow joint and hold it taut like I am here (left). Now mimic a backswing all the way to the top trying to resist the movement— just a little—with your left hand. You should feel like your upper body is coiling with the latissimus dorsi “lat” muscle really ﬂexed on the right side of the back. You’ll also notice that to swing to the top, you have to let your right arm separate from your upper body. I know you might have heard to
keep that elbow tucked when you swing back, but letting the right arm “ﬂoat” a little away from your trunk provides a nice, wide swing arc and puts you in position for the proper shallowing of the club on the way down. Essentially, you’re creating more room to swing from inside the target line. Couple that with the coiling the resistance of the towel promotes, and you’re poised for a powerful, right-side-fueled downswing.
downswing: shallow and connect Keeping the towel stretched, I want you to mimic a downswing. Get things started with your normal lower-body action and then pull the towel toward the ground with your left hand while lightly resisting that motion with your right arm (below). Feel like the right arm is moving down in the same manner it would to skip a stone or throw a ball sidearm. In other words, the right palm should
not be facing downward. You should feel like the right arm is being pulled into a tucked position alongside the body. Why do you need the towel? When you resist the pulling action, it prevents the right arm from drifting away from the body toward the ball. That’s the over-the-top move slicers make with the club cutting across the target line. If that elbow gets tucked and you keep rotating toward the target with your body, you’re going to give the ball a strong smack with your right arm. + JOS. A. BANK shirt CALLAWAY glove, $16 ROYAL ALBARTROSS shoes, $370 ROLEX watch HOUSE OF FLEMING belt
Photographs by J.D. Cuban
4 ways to reboot yo ur putting by cameron m c cormick
1 2 bench yo ur putter
If you’re the kind of golfer who talks to a putter, gives it a good spanking when it isn’t performing, and even threatens to back the pickup truck over it in the parking lot, it’s time for the “we need to take a break from each other” conversation. Bench your putter for something diﬀerent. Use a blade? Switch to a mallet. Always preferred heel-shafted putters? Try a centershaft. Everything from club length to grip circumference is up for consideration. Go get ﬁtted (see page 36). The big switch works for two reasons. First, there are no bad memories with a new putter. It’s a new day. Second, assuming the old one isn’t now residing in a scrapmetal yard, you’ll make it just jealous enough that it will perform its best when you rekindle your relationship.
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re ally bench yo ur putter
“It’s not you, it’s me” won’t ﬂy as a break-up excuse after the second Tinder date, but it’s probably true of your relationship with the putter. It showed up ready to bury every ﬁve-footer— but sometimes you didn’t. You need a refresher on mechanics. So I suggest you practice putting with your sand wedge. It’s not as crazy as it sounds. A good stroke is propelled by the shoulders and requires minimal hand or wrist action. To get the ball rolling with a wedge, you have to make that kind of stroke hitting the ball at its equator with the leading edge (above). This type of practice elicits precision and is good for the ol’ ego. You’re more apt to forgive yourself for a miss, which helps reduce those anxious feelings that turn you into a puddle of goo when the putts actually count.
WAS YOUR PERFORMANCE IN 2016 SLIGHTLY LESS THAN SATISFYING? I know it’s not enough to hear it happens to everyone from time to time. You want to shake off the year of stubs, lip-outs and three-jacks before golf season rolls back around and you’re racking up missed putts again like a kid catching Pokémon. Well, if you really want to fix this flat-stick fiasco, you’re going to need a bit more than a 30-minute session rolling balls into those tiny golf cups. I recommend a full reboot. Here I’m going to give you four ways to pull yourself out of that putting rut. Sometimes only one of these will do the trick, but be prepared for
Cameron McCormick is Jordan Spieth’s instructor and teaches at Trinity Forest Golf Club in Dallas.
the reality that you might need all four. Best get started. —WITH RON KASPRISKE
3 4 grab and go
You’ve held your putter the same way for so long the grip is starting to look like one of those training clubs that has grooved channels for your ﬁngers. It’s time to switch it up, because what you’re doing, as they say here in Texas, is as pitiful as a three-legged dog. The easiest switch would be to ﬂip hand positions so the higher one is lower. But I think you should take it a step further. Get crazy with it. Try the saw, the claw, the paintbrush, the non-anchored belly grip. Sometimes all you need is a dramatically diﬀerent way of holding the club to reset your brain and start rolling the ball the way you used to.
under armour: pants, $80, belt, $20, shoes, $200
hit some bombs
On the putting green you need to be more Picasso than Pythagoras. In other words, knowing the math behind a putt is important (speed, slope, etc.), but don’t let it squelch your right-brain artistry. You probably aren’t crunching numbers when you ball up a piece of paper and try tossing it into the garbage. You just use your feel. My suggestion? Go deep. Find the longest, craziest putts on a green and try to make them. Even putting from well oﬀ the green will help you get your feel back. You know you have to hit the ball hard, and you know it’s going to break, but when you try these long-distance putts, you become less concerned with the mechanics and tap back into the hand-eye coordination you thought you lost. Another beneﬁt? It will free up your stroke. No more trying to steer them in. You’ll putt without fear of missing. Reboot complete. Photographs by J.D. Cuban and Dom Furore
90 . GOLF DIGEST
ILLUSTRATIONS BY NIGEL BUCHANAN
HENRIK STENSON, PHIL MICKELSON AND KEY INSIDERS TAKE YOU BEHIND THE SCENES OF THE RIVETING RACE FOR THE CLARET JUG AT ROYAL TROON
BY JOHN HUGGAN & DAVE SHEDLOSKI
BEST! DUEL! EVER!
four decades after the celebrated Tom Watson-Jack Nicklaus Duel in the Sun at Turnberry, two players separated themselves in another classic showdown for the Open Championship. Phil Mickelson started at Royal Troon by tying the major-championship record with a 63—call it a 62½ after his putt for 62 lipped the cup—but Henrik Stenson closed with a 63 on Sunday to hold oﬀ Mickelson’s bogeyfree 65 in perhaps the ﬁnest head-to-head ﬁnal-round matchup in the game’s history. ▶ “They scored better than we did,” said Nicklaus, whose 65-66 ﬁnish in 1977 fell one short of Watson’s 65-65. Added Watson: “They played better.” ▶ In the days, weeks and months after the events at Troon, Golf Digest interviewed Stenson, Mickelson, their caddies and 16 other key ﬁgures who were intimate witnesses to that memorable week and the build-up that started a month earlier. PREDICTION AT OAKMONT henrik stenson , who was paired with Mick-
elson in the ﬁrst two rounds of the U.S. Open: On the third hole of the second round at Oakmont, we were waiting. Phil turned to me and said I had the game for the majors. Then he said he really hoped that I would win one. phil mickelson I said, “Listen, you’re one of the best long-iron and middle-iron players in the game, which is what you have to do to win major championships.” I said, “You’re going to win your major championship. Just keep doing what you’re doing.” henrik stenson My reply was, while that was all very well, it would be great as long as he wasn’t on the receiving end of it. ●
After an opening 69 at Oakmont, Stenson was 10 over par for 16 holes in the second round before darkness halted play, and he withdrew. ●
henrik stenson I’d felt a pop in my right knee during a workout session in my room on the eve of the event. I tried to play, but it was hopeless, especially as I had to play nearly 36 holes on the Friday. I pulled out as a precautionary measure but played in the BMW International in Germany and won before I got to the Scottish Open. That was important. I had been close to winning a few times over the previous months. gareth lord , Stenson’s caddie: Yeah, there were some odd ones in there. When Jordan Spieth beat us at the  Tour Championship, he didn’t hit the course for two days.
It was absolute robbery. When Jordan made a huge putt on the 11th green in the last round, I looked over at Henrik. It looked like he had just been kidney-punched by Rocky Balboa. We had reached the stage where we expected the other guy to do something ﬂuky. But we were past that by Troon. Nothing Phil did came as a surprise. ANOTHER MEETING BEFORE TROON phil mickelson, on playing with Stenson in
the Scottish Open at Castle Stuart a week before the Open at Troon, both ﬁnishing T-13: The ﬁnal round, I shot 66 in some terrible weather. Felt like I was ready. jim (bones] mackay , Mickelson’s caddie: We got the tough end of the weather the ﬁrst two days at Castle Stuart. We got crushed on the tee times, and we played in like 35-mile-anhour gusts on Thursday afternoon. That’s the thing that’s great about the British—and at times incredibly painful. When Rory won at Liverpool in 2014, we got crushed. We got crushed at St. Andrews in 2010.
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Open. If you’re within an hour of him in the draw, you have no chance. [Laughs.] jim mackay The joke was going into the week, maybe the fact we got the bad tee times at the Scottish, we paid our penance: We got it last week. Please Lord, let it not get us this week. We didn’t, and it was just a question of taking advantage. You know, Phil had obviously played at Troon before  and had played extremely well. Missed that playoﬀ by a shot, so he had good feelings about it. pete cowen, Stenson’s swing coach: I had put a thick putter grip on a wedge for him when he won in Germany the month before, and I brought it with me to Scotland. He’s so feeloriented, and that grip helps him achieve the perfect movement on the backswing. Once he knows he’s in position, he becomes so calm and conﬁdent. On the other hand, if he doesn’t feel right, he tends to panic. And when he does that, he tries to correct things at impact. But by then, of course, it’s too late. He and I are always ﬁghting that. When he’s not comfortable with something, we always go ’round in circles technically. We always ﬁnish up in the same place, but how well he does depends on how big the circle is. And the circle was very small that week. Having known him for 15 years, I know when to shut up, which is part of being a good coach, of course. gareth lord Tactically, Troon is pretty basic: Hit it there, then hit it into the middle of the green. If you go long, you’ve had it. That’s it. But of course, it’s all about execution. henrik stenson We walked the course on the Monday afternoon. It was raining. Neither of us had ever seen the course before. gareth lord If we had gone out with the clubs, the course would have seemed unplayable and maybe affected Henrik’s conﬁdence. henrik stenson I played only nine holes [the front] on Tuesday and nine more [the back] on Wednesday. That was it. But I had seen what I needed to see. gareth lord That’s a lot less than we would normally do. But we had our plan. We have always worked on the premise that Henrik needs to feel strong at the weekend to win a major. Plus, if you don’t have your game by Wednesday morning, you’re not going to ﬁnd it by that evening.
’PHIL GOES, “WHOA, WHOA, WHOA!” AND HE’S LIKE, “TEAM MEETING.” FIRST TIME IN 24 YEARS HE CALLED A TEAM MEETING DURING A ROUND.’ —CADDIE JIM MACKAY
this page: keyur khamar/pga tour • opening pages: glyn kirk/afp/getty images (stenson), mike ehrmann/getty images (mickelson)
gareth lord [Justin Rose] is cursed at the
LOSING A CLOSE FRIEND tim barter , Sky Sports: My impression of
Henrik over the course of the whole week is that he was more focused than I have ever seen him. Henrik is a practical joker. Whenever we get him on the “Skypad” [basically a massive iPad], he wants to play with it. He wants to press the buttons. But he was less like that at Troon. henrik stenson I was on a mission. I had lost a good friend earlier that week [Mike Gerbich, whom Stenson had met while living in Dubai]. Mike’s son had put this on his dad’s Facebook page: Go win this one for Mike. When I read that, I shed a few tears on the Tuesday night. He was my cause that week. Mentally, that helped. I never got stuck thinking about why I hit it left or why I had a bad break. pete cowen That was why Henrik was wearing the ribbon on his hat. It was there before the other one everyone wore to show respect for those who died that week in Nice [an attack in France that killed 86 and injured 434]. He had an inner calmness all week. tim barter Earlier in the week, he had talked about how he’s 40 now and had maybe ﬁve years left of being able to compete in major championships. pete cowen By the Wednesday afternoon, I knew he was going to play well, because he was in a bunker that afternoon showing oﬀ. It was down to him and Lordy [Gareth Lord], really. I always say that to Lordy when Henrik is in a good place, “There’s only you can cock it up from here.” [Laughs.] gareth lord We caddies are not allowed to bet, of course, but I get asked all the time if it’s worth investing in Henrik. In the lead-up to Troon, I was telling people even I couldn’t put him oﬀ. That’s all I’ll say on that subject. [Laughs.] pete cowen Henrik is hard to predict. It depends which Henrik turns up. He has three ways to hit the ball: good, very good and perfect. And he doesn’t like the ﬁrst two. He thinks he can only win with perfect. Which is nonsense.
stuart franklin/getty images
DAY 1: A TEAM MEETING AND A 62½ phil mickelson Most of the low scores were
on the outward nine, where it was downwind. But it was diﬃcult for me because the wind was right to left—I always struggle with a really strong slice wind. On the second hole I made about a 25-, 30-foot putt, and that was big for me. I relaxed a little, didn’t really force it thereafter. gareth lord Phil was maybe 90 minutes ahead of us. He was God knows how many under after 11 holes. I was looking at the board and shaking my head. We were something like six behind, and we’d played only ﬁve holes. So that eagle [by Stenson at the sixth] was important.
’ON FRIDAY, BEFORE HENRIK SHOT 65, HE ACTUALLY SAID TO ME, “THIS IS THE WEEK.” HE JUST KNEW. SO DID I.’ —PETE COWEN STENSON’S SWING COACH Mickelson birdies the par-5 16th and the par-3 17th and needs to birdie the par-4 18th to shoot a major-championship-record 62. ●
phil mickelson After I steered the tee shot
at 18 a little bit, I made a conscious eﬀort to be aggressive. Cut the 6-iron back into that strong left-to-right wind, which I did. Gave myself a good look at it. After I hit it, Ernie [Els] said, “You know what that’s for?” I said, “You’re darn right I do.” jim mackay I’ll tell you a funny story. I start walking, and Phil goes, “Whoa, whoa, whoa!” And he’s like, “Team meeting.” First time in 24 years he called a team meeting during a round. His opening line is, “Do you know what this putt is for?” And I went, “Yeah.” He goes, “You know, historically speaking?” and I went, “Yeah, of course—62.” He goes, “OK, I need your best read ever right here.” I’m like, “Man, I’m on board.” We’re now walking toward the green, and I’m thinking, Well, this is going to kind of be like a guy throwing a no-hitter. No one’s going to say anything going up to the green. You know, superstitions. Ernie is like, “Cousi [cousin], I want a 62.” Ernie was all in. The whole way down, he’s literally rubbing Phil’s shoulders. He’s pumping him up: “You can do it!” phil mickelson Special guy. We all knew walking up to the green that it was a chance to make history. It was fun to have that chance. We both had the same read, just a little bit outside the hole. It’s just going to break a couple of inches to the left. Wasn’t a hard putt, uphill right to left. I hit it good. Well, it was in the middle of the hole with four inches to go. There’s no way that it could miss. But it did. jim mackay , who tumbled backward to the ground, feet up, after the putt missed: Steve Sands [Golf Channel announcer] called me over and said, “Let me play this back for you.” They had this super-duper close-up of it hitting what appeared to be maybe a small pebble that had come out of a bunker. lee westwood , the third member of Mickelson’s group: I said to him, “I’m not sure how that missed.” I’m still not sure. jim mackay As a caddie, we sit on the sides of the greens and watch our players putt. I’ve been doing it now for 27, 28 years. Because of the angles and your whole depth-perception thing, you can see a ball roll up to a hole from
the side, you can see the speed, you can see the way it’s breaking, and a foot or two from the hole you can say, That’s absolutely in, and 99 times out of 100 it goes in. Phil was crushed. As he said, 63 in the ﬁrst round of a major, and we left there just crestfallen. henrik stenson I saw Phil’s putt on television that night. I saw him the next morning when I walked past the putting green and gave him some shit. I ﬁnished up on 68 at the end of the ﬁrst day. Phil was only ﬁve better. [Laughs.] phil mickelson Somebody will shoot 62 at some point, but on that course in those conditions . . . it was diﬀerent than Phoenix [his putt for 59 that did a 180-degree lip-out at Scottsdale in 2013]. DAY 2: “THIS IS THE WEEK” pete cowen On Friday, before Henrik shot
65, he actually said to me, “This is the week.” He just knew. So did I. And so did Lordy. I was trying not to get too excited. I had seen Henrik this good before, most recently at the Players Championship in May. Lordy and I were with him at the bottom end of the range there. We were the only ones there. He hit 100 shots and didn’t miss one. In succession. Not one. I told Lordy I had never seen anything like that before from any player. He of course told all his pals to bet on Henrik. And he missed the bloody cut. I vowed then never to say anything again about how well he’s hitting the ball. You never quite know for sure with Henrik. jim mackay Phil shoots 69 the second day. Solid follow-up. Uneventful. It rained a lot. He had the two gloves going. He’s got this great track record of playing in two gloves. henrik stenson My goal when I started on Friday was to beat the bad weather we knew was coming, and to just get a bit closer to Phil, but it turned out to be a whole lot more than that [cutting the lead to one]. The weather got worse and worse, so we deﬁnitely got the right half of the draw. Anyone playing that afternoon had no chance to win, basically. gareth lord We were watching the golf on television that afternoon. The house was shaking. Butch Harmon [on Sky Sports] said: “I bet Stenson and Mickelson are back in their hotel rooms with their feet up and big smiles on their faces.” And two minutes later, Phil had texted Butch to say, “Yes, I am.”
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been out there in a car wash thinking of guys back in their rooms with their feet up. DAY 3: PULLING AWAY rich beem , 2002 PGA champion and Sky
Sports announcer: You can always tell when guys are going well. It’s the way they carry themselves, the way they walk. Everything they did was in slow motion. I talked to Henrik before they went out. He was already in his zone. Phil was the way he always is in the limelight: He wants it and enjoys it. henrik stenson On the ﬁfth he putted close and said he would mark, but when it started to rain he decided to ﬁnish. I asked him if he was afraid of a little water. [Laughs.] We had a few of those friendly little moments out there. We both respect each other a lot, and there has always been a jokey, sarcastic atmosphere with us. He’s a lot of fun. jim mackay We got that amazing break on 12, where Phil blocked a 2-iron oﬀ the tee, and it took a bounce and hit in the gorse bush; bounced oﬀ it. rich beem He looked dead. But he swung through the gorse, caught the ball cleanly and hit it just short of the green. No one except Phil would even have tried that shot. jim mackay And we made 4 as opposed to 6 or 7. He made the fricking downhill 10-footer for par. Big ﬁst pump. When Phil won the Masters in ’04, his ﬁrst major, he had played some great majors before, and things hadn’t worked out. I remember Tiger saying in an interview, to win majors you’ve got to play really well, and you’ve got to get the breaks. On Friday of the ’04 Masters, Phil pulled like a 5-iron on 13, and the ball rolled into [a tributary of] Rae’s Creek. We walked up, and there was an island of grass about the size of a Frisbee right in the middle of Rae’s Creek, and the ball was sitting in the middle of it in a perfect lie that you could hit driver oﬀ of, and Phil almost chipped it in for eagle. We said, “Hey, maybe this is our week.” Making that par at Troon was a little like that. henrik stenson , on his birdie at the 17th, which gave him a one-stroke lead entering the ﬁnal round: Walking oﬀ 18, Phil said, “Henrik, that was a pretty sporty birdie.” rich beem I asked my boss at Sky if I could go with them again the next day, but he was having none of that. I just knew how special it could be. And it was. I spent most of the round sneaking peeks.
time the wind was blowing around 30 miles per hour. It was really tough. Grant Moir of the R&A was out there. I asked him if the pin positions were going to be a little easier. He said they weren’t quite sure what the wind was going to do, so yes, they were. If you look at the pin sheet for that day, I don’t think there were any less than four yards from the edge of any green. Compared to most Opens, they were “easy.” Which made perfect sense. Had the wind stayed as it was and the pins had been really tough, the players might still be out there. Then, of course, the wind died down, so the course played easier than it could have. None of which is meant to demean the way Stenson and Mickelson played. They were magniﬁcent. No one else played the way they did that day. As a result, we had an Open that everyone was talking about. It was fantastic. So you have to wonder why they don’t do that every year. Why do they deliberately set up the course so that it’s less enjoyable for everybody? phil mickelson I had a nice warm-up and really started hitting it well. I knew it was going to be a good day. It kind of all clicked. It was just a rhythm thing. I was getting a little quick from the top, and I was quieting everything down going back. jim mackay Phil and [instructor] Andrew Getson had ﬁgured something out, and from the ﬁrst swing, he had it. pete cowen Twenty minutes before Henrik teed off, we were talking about technique, which was bizarre. But I know him so well; it was all just banter. The last thing I said to him was, “It’s been a long journey. Just go out and do it.” That was it. I walked him over the bridge from the practice ground. Then I went right and he went left. I jumped in my car and drove back to Yorkshire. I listened to it all on BBC Radio 5 live, which was annoying at times. The reception was a bit in and out. tim barter , Sky Sports: For the ﬁrst time in my experience, when I asked [Stenson] for a pre-round interview, he said no as he was walking to the range. He very politely declined, saying, “Mind is on the job. I’m going to skip it today.” He’s normally very approachable and aﬀable. That was interesting. ●
On the ﬁrst hole, Mickelson makes a birdie and Stenson three-putts for a bogey, the swing giving Mickelson a one-shot lead.
DAY 4: DOWN TO A TWO-MAN DUEL
After rounds of 68-65-68 (12 under par), Stenson leads Mickelson by one (63-69-70) and third-place Bill Haas by six. ken brown , BBC commentator and former Ryder Cup player: I was out on the course really early on the Sunday morning. At the
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david feherty, NBC/Golf Channel: “I think
what happened there actually galvanized Henrik. Like he said, No. F--- no. Not this time. He turned into Clint Eastwood. pete cowen I shouted, “You silly prat!” at the radio when Henrik three-putted the ﬁrst green. I was just happy he was out there with the [correct] number of clubs in his bag. I was coaching Woosie [Ian Woosnam] in 2001 when he got done for the extra club in the ﬁnal round of the Open at Lytham. I was on the range with Woosie. His caddie, Myles [Byrne], was there, too, of course. I said to him, “What’s the yardage at the ﬁrst?” The shot was a draw with a 6-iron. So I told Woosie to hit a few of those. He hit them all perfectly. At which point I said, “That’s my job done, and Woosie’s, too. It’s all down to you now, Myles.” “Don’t worry about me,” he said. “I can do my job.” But of course he didn’t. [Laughs.] jack nicklaus I happened to watch the ﬁrst hole—I turned the TV on [at home in Florida]. I sat down and watched the whole thing, and I never do that. I usually try to watch some of the golf, the majors. But this was one occasion where I couldn’t stop watching. colin montgomerie It was amazing what was going on, from Phil’s ﬁrst shot into the ﬁrst green to Henrik’s three-putt. Then Henrik switched to another gear, and so did Phil. jim mackay Phil’s chip on 2, I don’t know how it missed. Big lip-out. And he stiﬀed it on 3 but missed. Henrik poured them in the middle for birdies on 2, 3 and 4. tim barter , Sky Sports: It was like prizeﬁghters exchanging blows. jim mackay Phil had to make eagle on 4 just to keep up. phil mickelson I knocked that in, and we’re back to square. That’s when I knew it was a two-man race—we were both so far ahead, and nobody was doing anything in front of us. henrik stenson Walking to the ﬁfth tee, I said to Phil, “We’ve got a pretty good betterball going on here.” ●
Both players birdied the par-5 sixth to get to 15 under par. ●
steve stricker We were in the third-to-last
group, and all J.B. [Holmes] and I were thinking was that we had no chance. You could hear the commotion. It was surreal going around the course knowing something like
’I SAT DOWN AND WATCHED THE WHOLE THING, AND I NEVER DO THAT. . . . I COULDN’T STOP WATCHING.’ —JACK NICKLAUS
henrik stenson We’ve all been there. I’ve
’YOU’RE GETTING BEAT BY 100, SO IT’S NOT A LOT OF FUN.’ —STEVE STRICKER (LEFT), WHO FINISHED FOURTH, 15 STROKES BEHIND STENSON, WITH J.B. HOLMES (RIGHT), WHO WAS THIRD, TRAILING THE WINNER BY 14 SHOTS that was going on behind us and not seeing it. We were playing for third place, and that’s a hard thing to do. Yeah, you’re trying. You want to ﬁnish as high as you can, but at the same time you’re getting beat by 100, so it’s not a lot of fun. jim mackay A funny note about Stricker: We played with him Sunday the month before at Memphis, and he and Phil tied for second. They’re longtime friends. We’re in the scoring tent, signing the cards, and this tour oﬃcial comes in and says, “Mr. Stricker, it’s my job to inform you that you are now exempt for the Open Championship.” Strick says something like, “I’m not sure what I’m going to do.” Phil’s like, “You’ve got to go; are you kidding me? Go play in the Scottish.” Strick enters the Scottish, they stay in a castle, and there’s a cook and all this stuﬀ, and they’re hooting and hollering. Strick then goes to the British and gets the bad end of the draw but ﬁnishes fourth. So amazing playing, and he gets in the  Masters. tim barter On the seventh hole when Gareth Lord lit a cigarette, Henrik told his caddie to enjoy it because it was his last one. [In 2015, they had made a bet that if Stenson won a major, Lord would give up smoking.] That told Gareth the playful side of his boss was still there. But from then on, he was in the zone. phil mickelson, on Stenson making a 20-foot birdie putt on the 123-yard eighth, the famed Postage Stamp: That was a big turnaround. No. 8, he had struggled with throughout the week [par-par-bogey in the ﬁrst three rounds], and I had played very eﬀectively [birdie-birdie-par] in diﬃcult conditions. jim mackay Phil almost holed it on Friday. phil mickelson A little more sauce on it, and it would have gone right in. I just love that hole. Hit a good shot to about eight feet on Sunday. That was really my opportunity to pick up one or two because the potential for a catastrophe there is pretty great. If you try to get close to that hole and go down in the bunker, you’re looking at 4 to 6 pretty quick. He hit a good shot, but it was still 25, 30 feet. And he ended up making that putt ﬁrst. That put a lot of pressure on me to hit a good one. That was not my best putt there. gareth lord From three to six feet is not his favorite. Never has been. ●
Both players went out in four-under-par 32, keeping Stenson’s lead at one.
glyn kirk/afp/getty images
jim furyk I remember exactly what I was thinking as it got to the back nine: I just didn’t want someone to make a double bogey or bury it under the lip of a bunker. I wanted to see them throw down to the end. roger maltbie, NBC/Golf Channel: As they made the turn, I already was getting lost in what was happening. I was thinking, This is pretty cool. There haven’t been many days when I felt so privileged to have the vantage point that I had. david feherty I was thinking, Really? I get paid for this? phil mickelson I’m only one back, and we both birdied 10. I hit a really good shot there out of the rough to about 12 feet, and he was 25, 30 feet, and here again he knocks it in. I got determined on that one, ended up knocking it on top. And then he three-putted the next hole [the par-4 Railway Hole, which played more than half a stroke over par and was the most diﬃcult hole for the week], and we were right back to even. jim mackay On 12, they both par. Phil makes the 25-footer up the hill. Heck of a save [to remain tied for the lead]. wayne riley, Sky Sports on-course commentator: I looked at Henrik. He had a wry little smile on his face, as if to say, This guy isn’t going away, is he? henrik stenson By this stage all we’re saying to each other is “Good putt” or “Good shot.” Stuﬀ like that. There isn’t a lot of chat otherwise. I never stop saying that, though. I’m not getting any negative vibes. jim mackay Lordy, Stenson and Phil are a little bit ahead of me as I’m walking
bad about making that 50-footer. I had seen too many other guys do that to me over the previous 18 months or so. roger maltbie Are you kidding me? That was the blow. There was going to be some dramatic moment that was going to be the deciding factor. Would it be bad luck? Or a bad decision? It ended up being a great putt. gareth lord You don’t hole putts like that and then don’t win. Or do you? As Phil putted, we were standing by the side of the green. I looked at Henrik, and he said, “How do you calm down after that?” I told him he could start by breathing. He had almost turned blue. phil mickelson The putt at 15 was just shocking. For him to make that was just . . . you couldn’t expect that, even though you probably should. jim mackay I’ve seen that happen twice before in Phil’s career. The other two would be Payne Stewart on the 70th hole in the ’99 U.S. Open for par [at Pinehurst], and Justin Rose on the 17th hole of the 2012 Ryder Cup [at Medinah] for a 2. You always expect your opponent to make it, but once in a while you’re like, Holy cow, that was something. And then 16 was huge. A lot going on. Henrik plays ﬁrst [on the second shot to the par 5], and for a guy who’s striped everything, oh, my gosh, this isn’t right at his target—it’s in the left rough. Will he get a bad lie? Phil, now you’ve got to hit a shot. He hits this incredible 3-wood to 25 feet. Big roar from the gallery. Like, OK, is this where we get some big comeback? phil mickelson I’m looking to pick up at least one there. wayne riley , Sky Sports: Henrik’s ball was way oﬀ the ground [in the grass]. If he had put the club down behind the ball, it would have moved. So he had to address it with the club in mid-air. jim mackay He had to pitch it over the bunker, and it had to run out 30 feet or so. It lands over the bunker and rolls out. henrik stenson Because of the lie, it came out hot, maybe ﬁve feet past. phil mickelson Now I’m thinking, Gosh, I can still have a two-shot swing, but I need to at least make this to make sure I’ve got one. henrik stenson I expect him to make every putt—you have to. gareth lord The ball actually bobbled a little maybe six feet from the hole.
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jim mackay Phil didn’t hit a better putt all week. Much like the putt at 18 on Thursday, a foot to go, I’m like, This can’t miss. phil mickelson If I had a little more pace on it, it would have gone in. Instead, it kind of dove oﬀ at the end. henrik stenson, on his ﬁve-footer for a birdie and a two-stroke lead: It was tricky but not super-hard. phil mickelson He knocked his in, and that was demoralizing, but a lot happens on those last two holes. geoff shackelford , Golf Digest Contributing Editor: Stenson arrived at the 17th tee, then walked toward the New York Post’s Mark Cannizzaro and me, standing against the large scoreboard. “Shield me,” Stenson said, and I’m thinking, What’s wrong? Then he took oﬀ his undershirt and said as dryly as possible, “I’m a little hot.” henrik stenson Someone asked me later if I did that to look good in the pictures later. But I was like, “No!” ken brown , BBC commentator: The pin at 17 was seven yards from the drop-oﬀ on the left side of the green. So if you missed on that side, getting up and down was very possible. Not easy, but possible. The players were all less-frightened of missing there, so they could be more aggressive. gareth lord We had a spot we played for on that green all week. We didn’t really care where the ﬂag was. henrik stenson And the numbers worked out beautifully. The pin was almost right on our spot. It was just a ﬂat-out 4-iron, which is exactly what I wanted at that stage. As soon as I looked up, the ball was arrowed straight at the pin. I don’t think I even watched it ﬁnish. I just walked to the bag and handed Gareth the club. In the circumstances, that was one of the best shots of my life. wayne riley, Sky Sports: The impact made a noise like a ﬁrecracker. It just went oﬀ: Pow! I thought, Holy shit! david feherty Henrik is like a piece of steel cable on a suspension bridge. He can hold his golf bag out at arm’s length for like 30 seconds. Try that. It’s ridiculous. phil mickelson This ball in that thick, heavy air never left the pin. gareth lord I thought he was even closer than the six feet it ended up from the ﬂag. The shot was too good to be that far away.
’I LOOKED AT HENRIK, AND HE SAID, “HOW DO YOU CALM DOWN AFTER THAT?” [THE BIRDIE PUTT AT THE 15TH HOLE.] I TOLD HIM HE COULD START BY BREATHING. HE HAD ALMOST TURNED BLUE.’ —CADDIE GARETH LORD
david cannon/r&a/r&a via getty images
oﬀ 13 tee, and this guy from behind says, “Excuse me.” It’s the R&A rules oﬃcial with the group. He says, “Please inform the players that they need to catch up with the group in front of them.” And I said to him, “Sir, these guys are putting on a pretty good show right now. Why don’t you just leave them alone?” I remember being shocked. These two obviously have separated themselves, and the place is going bananas. It would be unfair to say anything to anybody at this point. He asked me to say something, and I took a pass on it. What had gone on at the U.S. Open [the delay in making a ruling on Dustin Johnson], I just didn’t think the timing was very good. phil mickelson The putt on 13, I might have had 35 feet, and it was perfect speed, but it didn’t break. It ended up not going in, and it totally shocked me. That was my chance to go one up. We got to the par 3 [the 14th hole], and I just had a feeling he was going to make a 2, and he did [to take a one-stroke lead]. He hit a good shot in there to about 18 feet or so. henrik stenson I wasn’t sure I would get many more chances. I holed it, and the grandstand exploded. It was a bit like a Ryder Cup. He was getting more support early on Saturday, but it had balanced out by the end of the round. It was 50-50 on Sunday. He’s very popular in Scotland [as the 2013 Open champion at Muirﬁeld], and rightfully so. But he was still only one shot back. He wouldn’t have been shaken up too much. phil mickelson It was a great 2, you know? Not the best feeling. jim mackay Henrik hit his second shot at 15, it’s kind of a bowl on the right. We weren’t sure if his ball had hung up in the rough or if it had maybe kicked down toward the fringe and the green. We knew at best he was going to have whatever that was, 50, 60 feet. Then Phil hit a very good iron shot to whatever he did, 30 feet. The thing about Henrik was, he made all these putts at this point, and they had looked good the entire way. We had seen this now for 33 holes, 32 holes. henrik stenson I had left one short there the day before. And the one on 11 was still fresh in my mind. During my practice stroke I was focused on hitting it freely. Even if it feels like too much, go with it. I gave it a good slap. jim mackay It’s rolling across the green, and I’m going, Damn, this looks really good, too. gareth lord Twelve feet away, I was convinced it was going in. I pulled the ﬂag out at that point. And then came the only bit of emotion you’ll see from me all day. I had the ﬂag in my hands, and when the ball was about a foot away, I gestured, “Get in, you f-----!” jim mackay It went in the hole at perfect speed [for a two-stroke lead]. Henrik doesn’t show much emotion at all on a golf course. To his credit, he showed a lot when that putt went in, and he had every right to. henrik stenson I was never going to feel
’THE SOUND THIS 3-WOOD MADE, IT WAS LIKE IT CAME OUT OF A GUN. I’M LIKE, THIS IS NUKED! . . . IT WAS JUST A QUESTION OF, WOULD IT GET TO THE BUNKER?’ —JIM MACKAY, ON STENSON’S FINAL TEE SHOT, WHICH FINISHED 18 INCHES FROM THE SAND henrik stenson The ball actually took a shit bounce when it landed. Given how pure I hit it and how high it was coming in, it should have stopped stone dead. phil mickelson The only way to pick up one is to make a 2 on a brutal hole. [Mickelson’s tee shot missed left, and he chipped to about 15 feet.] gareth lord I was just grateful the bugger didn’t chip in. He could have. jim mackay It’s the kind of putt that Phil makes, you know what I mean? If he doesn’t make it, it’s pretty much over because Henrik’s inside of us for 2. And Phil makes it. Awesome. phil mickelson Well, I needed to make that to have a prayer, because you just don’t know what will happen. That prayer almost happened. henrik stenson It was a long time for me to wait between my tee shot and my putt. That didn’t help. My mind was wandering and calculating. I tried to dead-weight my putt. I hit a good one. But it was under-paced for the line it was on. The last thing I wanted was a two-footer coming back. Two putts were ﬁne. gareth lord If we’d been oﬀered a two-shot lead on the 72nd tee at the start of the week, we would have taken it. colin montgomerie The only birdie Henrik Stenson missed was the easiest putt, on 17, or he’d have birdied the last ﬁve holes on the strongest back nine that we have in golf. Amazing.
david cannon/r&a/r&a via getty images
AVOIDING DISASTER AT THE 18TH pete cowen I got home just as Henrik was on the 18th tee. henrik stenson On the way to the tee, I stopped in the toilet. On the tee we
talked about what to hit. [Lord says a fairway bunker to the right was 317 yards away; Mackay estimates the distance at 304.] The thought I had was that I had to assume Phil would make birdie, so I had to make par. If I hit a 2-iron, I’d have maybe a 6-iron to the green. And it wasn’t the widest target. So doing that brought 5 [bogey] into play. That was why I went with the 3-wood. I just wanted to be closer to the green. And if I hit it up the middle, great. But if I did leak it a little to the right, it would never reach the bunker. gareth lord That’s not quite what we said. Up the middle is ﬁne. If he mis-hits it to the right, it won’t reach the sand. But if he hits a rocket straight at middle wicket, it has a chance of ﬁnding the bunker. That we knew. But we also knew that there was plenty of room way right, and he would get a drop into the semirough because of the grandstands. That would leave only an 8-iron to the green. henrik stenson Plus, the left-hand bunkers are in play no matter what club I hit. phil mickelson You can always have a two-shot swing on the last. When he hit a 3-wood and it came whistling straight oﬀ the face right at the bunker, there was a good chance it was going to go in. gareth lord As soon as he hit it, I’m saying, “Get down!” henrik stenson With the adrenaline, it came oﬀ like a rocket. jim mackay The wind was left to right, a little bit of help, and Stenson on his worst day is one of the ﬁve best ball-strikers in the world, and the sound this 3-wood made, it was like it came out of a gun. I’m like, This is nuked! It was just a question of, would it get to the bunker? Another funny story: A group of guys who had ﬁnished were all getting on a plane to go to Sergio’s outing in Switzerland, and they’re taxiing down the runway. There’s a TV on the plane, and when Stenson hits the 3-wood oﬀ 18 and the ball’s rolling toward that Greg Norman bunker [from which Norman made an X in the 1989 Open playoﬀ], the TV cut out as the ball was rolling, and they’re like, Aaaggghhh! phil mickelson If he goes in, now he’s got to wedge out, and I’ve got a chance with a birdie to tie him. henrik stenson I saw the ball disappear over a little ridge, but I couldn’t see it ﬁnish. I did think it was in the bunker.
could see the ball. henrik stenson A little white egg just short of the bunker. That made me quite happy. gareth lord The ball was about 18 inches short of the sand, but he had a perfect stance. david feherty People standing around me were saying he got lucky. No he didn’t! He hit a fantastic shot that would have been unlucky to go in the bunker. The quality of the shots he hit—I never thought in my lifetime that I would watch someone hit the quality of shots that Tiger Woods could hit, with the amazing penetration and accuracy. The game has changed so much since I quit playing—probably because I quit playing. phil mickelson Henrik’s second into 18 is not that hard of a shot, so he most likely will make par, but you still never know. henrik stenson Phil hit a little carvey tee shot to the right, short of mine. I think he hit maybe a 7-iron to the green. So if I had hit a 2-iron I would have been even farther back than he was. And because he mis-hit his tee shot, that reduced his chance of making birdie. He was so far back. phil mickelson I wanted to hit a hook, and I wanted to hit one harder, and I took a little bit less club. It just wasn’t quite enough, and I left it 40 feet short. gareth lord Henrik had a perfect yardage for a wedge. I was like, “Go on, my son: Hit it on the left edge of that clubhouse, and job done.” henrik stenson I hit the wedge shot as hard as I wanted to maybe 25 feet. It was perfect. gareth lord: It isn’t quite done, though. If Phil holes for 3, Henrik still has to two-putt. And the putt had six feet of break in it. henrik stenson But because the putt was a slinger with a potential tail on it, I wasn’t thinking I had won just yet. Chances were, in fact, had Phil holed for 3, I would have had a three-footer to win. So when he left his a foot short—right on line—I knew it was over. Then I can take it for granted. My putt almost went in sideways on the break [for a three-stroke victory]. Lordy came over and gave me a little hug. Actually, it was quite a big hug, the biggest hug he’s ever given me. [Laughs.] wayne riley I was out on the 18th green the next morning, doing a piece for Sky Sports News. On camera, I holed the putt Henrik made to win the Open—on my 22nd attempt. The next time I saw Henrik I told him I needed 22 goes to make it and couldn’t believe how much the ball broke at the hole. His response was priceless: “Couldn’t you see that?” jim mackay Henrik is such an easy guy to root for, A, because he’s such a good guy, and B, because we all know what he’s been through, the peaks and valleys. It’s a tough game, and he’s fought back from a couple of
whatevers [including swing yips and losing millions in a Ponzi scheme]. You’re out there in this moment where this guy’s having the greatest professional moment of his life. It was fun to watch them hug it out. david feherty Gareth is not a guy who is going to agree with Henrik just because he thinks he should. Two of the most complicated relationships that I’ve seen on the golf course in a long time: Bones and Phil, and Gareth and Henrik. CONGRATS FROM OAKMONT PROPHET henrik stenson Phil said something like,
“Really well played; really well done. I’m happy for you.” I think I said, “Well done to you, too, and remember the conversation we had?” phil mickelson At Oakmont, I’d told him he had the game to win a major. I’d said, “I hope it’s not at my expense,” and a month later it was at my expense. It’s almost like when I said it, I kind of knew I had made a mistake. We laughed about it as we were walking to the scorer’s tent. henrik stenson We were sitting there checking our cards. There was a screen behind us. Phil looked at it and turned to me and said, “Ten birdies? Really? F--- oﬀ!” But he did it with a big smile. phil mickelson We’ve had a relationship that goes back well over a decade of bantering and smack-talking and playing pranks and so forth. He’s a funny guy with a very dry sense of humor. Very easy guy to like. pete cowen My wife calls Henrik my “third son.” She told me we both deserved it because we had put up with each other for so long. It’s funny what you think at times like that. My mind went to what people say after climbing Everest: “The journey is better than the arrival.” I was delighted, of course, and I was proud of him. But emotional? No. I don’t know what emotion is. Plus, to be fair, when you look at how Henrik putted, you have to give credit to Phil Kenyon, his putting coach. henrik stenson Göran Zachrisson [of Swedish television] did an interview with me in the clubhouse. I invited him back to the IMG house. He’s been going to the Open for 50 years and has covered 200 majors, and he had never seen a Swede win. He was very emotional. Toward the end of the broadcast, he couldn’t speak.
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göran zachrisson He came to me with the jug full of champagne he had poured in there. Then he poured it into me. We had three million people watching in Sweden, and there are only 10 million in the whole country. pete cowen Henrik rang me that night. I was in a restaurant with my family. We didn’t say much. I asked him if he could believe it. He said he couldn’t. He wasn’t emotional, either! I don’t think it had sunk in yet. So I texted him the next day and asked him again: Can you believe it? All I got back was a picture of the claret jug sitting on a table. No words. None were necessary. Actually, I did get a bit emotional. I was staying in a house at Troon with some of the caddies. The tradition is that if anyone wins a major, they have to pay for the accommodation. It cost me £3,500. henrik stenson When I put my U.S. phone back on at midnight, the text message starting stacking up. The phone beeped for ages. I tried to use my Swedish phone to take a video of the American one. It was almost spinning. gareth lord Everyone says the back nine is the toughest, which it is. But Henrik was one under on the ﬁrst day, three under on Day 2, then two under on Saturday and four under the last day. That’s 10 under. henrik stenson Ten under on both nines— I did not realize that until now. But that is what won the championship, playing the back nine better than anyone else. tim barter Phil had just played the best round of golf anyone ever has to lose a major. paul casey : Phil was the unlucky guy who shoots 65 and loses. I loved that they went so low. I’m tired of this “protecting courses” attitude some events have. If a top player is playing well, he should be able to shoot a low score. If not, they’ve screwed with the setup. colin montgomerie They said the scoring was low. No, it wasn’t. Six under was third. It just so happened that two guys went mad, and they drew the best out in each other. phil mickelson It was the ﬁrst time in my career I had played to this level, to the level of my expectations, and it was not enough to win. I had played to this level before, and every time I’d won. I’d never not won. jim mackay Had Phil not ever won an Open, I’d be a mess. I’d be in a straightjacket. phil mickelson The only thing that really eases it for me is I do have a claret jug [when
’AT OAKMONT, I’D TOLD HIM HE HAD THE GAME TO WIN A MAJOR. I’D SAID, “I HOPE IT’S NOT AT MY EXPENSE,” AND A MONTH LATER, IT WAS AT MY EXPENSE.’ —PHIL MICKELSON
glyn kirk/afp/getty images
gareth lord Twenty yards oﬀ the tee, we
145th open championship july 14-17 / 2016 / royal troon / par 71 henrik stenson phil mickelson j.b. holmes steve stricker rory mcilroy tyrrell hatton sergo garcia andrew johnston dustin johnson soren kjeldsen bill haas
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he birdied four of the last six holes at Muirﬁeld to beat Stenson by three strokes]. steve stricker It’s crazy to think about how many of those Phil would have won any other year, something like 140 of them. Crazy. COMPARISONS TO THE DUEL IN THE SUN colin montgomerie All great events are
competitive events, and that was what we had in 1977 at Turnberry with the famous Duel in the Sun with Watson-Nicklaus, which, all credit to Jack Nicklaus for making it such an event as it was. And without Phil Mickelson, Royal Troon’s Open wouldn’t have been memorable because Henrik Stenson would have won by—what was he, 14 shots ahead of third place? Incredible. Wow. jack nicklaus On the last round that Tom and I played, it was 65, 66. And they were 63, 65. And a par 71, and we were a par 70. So they scored better. Did that mean they played better? I don’t know. When Watson and I did it, we were the 1 and 2 players in the game. Those guys sure put on one heck of a show. I thought it was one of the great events that I really had the pleasure to watch. tom watson What happened at Troon was better simply because they played better. They shot lower scores. But I do think ours had more drama. Henrik sort of pulled away there toward the end. Jack and I were right there together all the way to the last hole, and the putt he made at 18 [from 35 feet], you always expect him to do things like that. And he forced me to make my putt [from two feet
for the win]. We were locked up right to the last shot. henrik stenson I got a wonderful letter from Jack Nicklaus. Arnold Palmer got in touch, too. phil mickelson I watched that [Turnberry]. I was so little, though—I was only 7. But I remember watching it and watching the replays. I remember Hubert Green’s line—he finished third [11 shots behind Watson]—and he said, “I won this golf tournament. I don’t know what game those other two guys were playing.” Pretty funny, because it feels that way. jim furyk I didn’t see the Duel in the Sun, but I’ve seen highlights. Hard to believe that could have been better than what Phil and Henrik did. But as great as Phil and Henrik are, how can you beat a NicklausWatson showdown? It’s two of the greatest players of all time going at it compared to two great players. No oﬀense, but two of the all-time greats going toe-totoe at Turnberry . . . that, to me, is just hard to beat. david feherty I had been a pro for a year [in 1977]. Two iconic players, Watson and Nicklaus, going at it. This was right up there with it. Phil Mickelson is certainly an iconic player. Then there’s Henrik, who is a late bloomer, and in some ways a lot like Mickelson was for a long time until he won his ﬁrst at the 2004 Masters. The standard of golf between those two guys, you won’t see that again for a long time, I think. I mean, it took nearly 40 years, right? jim mackay I’m ﬁve years older than Phil. Absolutely remember . And I’d be lying if I didn’t say that it was in my head a little bit as we played the back nine. How could it not be, when you realize the separation and the whole mano-a-mano thing, the Watson-Nicklaus thing? When Phil won Deutsche Bank in 2007, we played on Sunday with Tiger. It was to a large degree Phil and Tiger coming down the stretch, and we were on 17 tee waiting for the group in front of us. Tiger and Steve [Williams] basically said out loud to Phil and me, “This is what it’s all about. This is fun.” colin montgomerie Being from Troon—that’s my home course; I’m a member of the place and everything; my dad is the president there—it’s put Troon on the map, if it wasn’t already. We’ll talk about that Open for a long, long time. tom watson I was in a car [in London] for two and a half hours listening to it on Sky Radio. It was one of the great events in history. You rarely get the opportunity or the pleasure to be able to see an event like that—and it happened at the Open. gareth lord People keep saying to me that it was the best golf they have ever seen. I think they might be right.
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december 2016/january 2017 | golfdigest.com
Closeout Four hours of combat settled by a bumpand-run? Not right.
▶ If the score at the end of regulation is tied, the winner shall be determined by . . . logos The golfer whose shirt logo represents a golf course listed higher on Golf Digest’s most recent ranking of America’s 100 Greatest Courses wins. if still tied . . . clubs The golfer who’s a member in good standing at the most private clubs wins. (Associations, societies and other venueless consortiums of lesser dues shall not be counted.) if still tied . . . irons The golfer with the lowestnumbered long iron in her golf bag wins. if still tied . . . marriages The golfer with the largest negative age diﬀerential with spouse wins. if still tied . . . cars The golfer whose car in the parking lot that day (not the vintage Mercedes kept on the cape or the Lamborghini in the shop) has the higher Blue Book value wins. if still tied . . .
Fast and easy ways to decide the winner ne shortcoming of our game is the lack of a universal method to break ties. Even our major championships perpetuate the disorder: The Masters uses a sudden-death playoﬀ, the PGA Championship has a three-hole aggregate score, the Open Championship uses a four-hole playoﬀ and, all alone on its high horse, the U.S. Open has an 18-hole round that demands everyone come back on Monday. On the club level, where additional golf is usually impractical, winners and losers are decided by systems as arbitrary as scorecard count-backs over the last three, six, nine or whatever holes, and as vulgar as chip-oﬀs. Four-plus hours of grinding competitive agony settled by a bump-and-run?! Not right. So that we might all rest better, here is our formula for quickly and painlessly declaring a champion. May the worst golfer lose. —MAX ADLER
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memory The golfer who can cite the legal name of his caddie wins. if still tied . . . Etch two names on the trophy. These people belong together in history. christian iooss
impairment The golfer who has consumed the most alcoholic drinks in the past 24 hours, as can be veriﬁed by service staﬀ and bar chits, wins. if still tied . . .
Photograph by Christian Iooss