Editor's note: This column appeared as Inside the Ropes in the May 10 issue of Golfweek
It’s time to consider picking a college coach to captain the Walker Cup team.
The collegiate game emphasizes the team concept. With the NCAA Championship being decided by match play, the best college coaches stand out as highly qualified to guide a Walker Cup team, which uses a match-play format similar to the Ryder Cup’s.
Coaching golf at the collegiate level has become serious business. No longer are the coaches simply driving the van and dispensing hot chocolate. They serve many roles and can lead a Walker Cup roster loaded with college all-stars. After all, guiding a team is what they do 365 days each year. They are pros at it.
Captain Jim Holtgrieve, a former U.S. Golf Association champion and former touring pro, brings top credentials to the U.S. Walker Cup team for the Sept. 7-8 matches against the Great Britain & Ireland at New York’s National Golf Links on Long Island. There is no pressing need for change, though GB&I has won four of the past seven matches in a series that the U.S. leads ...
GREENVILLE, S.C. – Rick Cloninger of Fort Mill, S.C., won the Chanticleer Senior Invitational, finishing the 54-hole event with a 1-over 223 on the Chanticleer course at Greenville (S.C.) Country Club.
Cloninger shot a final-round 73 to move from fifth to first on the final day of the tournament. With the victory, which comes in only his second national event of the year, Cloninger move from No. 72 in the Golfweek Senior Amateur rankings into the top 30.
Starting out seven shots behind second-round leader Matt Grandy, Cloninger’s final-round 73 was enough to give him a one-shot victory over Bill Leonard of Dallas, Ga.
Cloninger might be the only player in history to represent three states –Florida, Georgia and South Carolina – in the USGA State Team Matches. He has also competed in the United States Amateur Championship and the U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship.
Although Cloninger has the game to turn professional he said, “I’m happy with the way I’ve done it and wouldn’t change it.” He said didn’t much like the idea of giving up a job with a steady paycheck for the gamble of pro-golf.
In the Super Senior Division, Mike Weiner ...
By Ron Gaines, Golfweek.com
If it’s true that an organization takes on the personality of its leadership, nobody should be surprised that USGA President Glen Nager is putting slow play at the top of his list.
Five-hour rounds are unacceptable for Nager, a partner at Jones Day, a high-profile, fast-paced law firm in Washington, D.C.
“The cry that pace of play has become one of the most significant threats to the game’s health has become only louder over the last year," Nager said recently. ". . . This problem touches every golfer, from the professional to the elite amateur to the collegiate player to the millions of recreational golfers at both public and private facilities.”
In its recent announcement, the USGA has commited to making the game more welcoming, enjoyable and sustainable and is directing resources toward this new research.
The first step will be an initiative to identify challenges and solutions regarding pace-of-play issues in the game of golf.
The USGA will look at golf facilities and analyze factors such as course design and setup, along with player management and the effectiveness of player-education programs.
For players, the USGA will continue to look at the Rules of Golf ...
LA QUINTA, Calif. – Doug Pool defended his title by winning the Senior division of the Golfweek Senior Amateur by a stroke at PGA West.
The Las Vegas resident had a three-round total of 216 to beat runner up Jeff Burda from Modesto, Calif. Pool dropped shots at Nos. 3, 4, 7, and 17 – including a double bogey on the fourth – but had enough birdies on his card to make his even par round of 72 enough for victory.
Pool, known for his consistent play, said his game around the greens helped considerably.
"I didn't have my "A" game overall today but my short game was great," he said. ". . . Yesterday, when I made the birdies on No. 12 and 17 with a 30 and 15 footer, I gained a lot of confidence."
Pool's ninth-place finish last week in the Society of Seniors' Masters coupled with his win this week will move him into the top 10 in the Golfweek Senior Amateur Rankings.
"We keep our courses in top tournament condition and to see players play this well is really a tribute to the quality of the field," said Michael Ferguson, Director of Golf at PGA West.
In the Super ...
Setting a record by more than 750, the U.S. Open will feature 9,860 entrants trying to qualify for the 2013 championship at Merion Golf Club in Ardmore, Pa., the USGA said Thursday in a news release.
Local qualifiers are set for 111 sites May 3-16. Sectional qualifiers are set for 13 sites May 27 and June 3. Registration closed April 24, when 643 registrations were accepted – including the final one from Joseph Bush, 45, a professional from Scotch Plains, N.J., just eight seconds before the 5 p.m. EDT deadline, the USGA said.
“The fact that we have a record number of entries, from across the world, is a testament to both the great appeal of the U.S. Open and the historic nature and grandeur of Merion Golf Club,” USGA Executive Director Mike Davis said.
Other years in which the U.S. Open attracted more than 9,000 entrants: 2012 (Olympic), 2010 (Pebble Beach), 2009 (Bethpage; previous record, 9,086) and 2005 (Pinehurst).
Fifty-two players among the entrants are exempt. That number will grow to include the winners of two May tournaments, the PGA Tour's Players Championship and the European Tour's BMW PGA Championship ...
British Amateur champion Alan Dunbar has turned professional. The Northern Irishman signed with Chubby Chandler’s International Sports Management in July 2012, when he was believed to be the first golfer to take advantage of a new rule that enabled amateurs to sign to a professional management company.
Dunbar, who turns 23 next week, missed the Masters cut after rounds of 83-77. He also won the 2009 St. Andrews Links Trophy and was a member of Great Britain & Ireland’s victorious team in the 2011 Walker Cup with a 2-1 match record.
Dunbar will begin his career with consecutive starts on the Challenge Tour: this week’s Challenge de Madrid and the following week’s Montecchia Golf Open in Italy. He also has a start in the European Tour’s Madeira Islands Open on May 16-19 and Nordea Masters on May 30-June 2.
“We are delighted that Alan has agreed to let us help, encourage and guide him at the start of his professional career,” Chandler said in a statement. “I am convinced he will go a long way in the paid ranks after a glittering amateur career.”
By turning professional, Dunbar gave up an invitation to this year’s ...
Michael Jordan wore cargo pants to play a round of golf at the high-end La Gorce Country Club in Miami Beach.
That’s a no-no.
Jordan’s multipocketed pants were against the dress code that says members and guest must wear a collared shirt and Bermuda shorts, according to a New York Post article.
The article also states that a rep for Jordan said, “Michael Jordan did wear cargo pants. . . . He had been there many times before and had worn cargo pants previously, and had never been made aware that he was violating any dress code. This time, he was made aware of the violation on the 12th hole, and at that point . . . he did refuse to interrupt his game and return to the clubhouse and change. We were not aware that he is not allowed to return to La Gorce. I guess it’s their loss – as MJ is a great golfer, and a great guest.”
This fashion faux pas comes two months after Jordan was inside the ropes at Medinah Country Club for the Ryder Cup with a pair of jeans on.
Has he finally learned his lesson?
Play the ball as it lies.
It was a tough break for Detroit Tigers pitcher Justin Verlander as his ball landed on a tree stump while playing a round of golf at Kinloch Golf Club in Manakin-Sabot, Va., over the weekend.
Golf fans made reference to the 1996 golf movie Happy Gillmore, starring Adam Sandler. More specifically, when Shooter McGavin landed a shot on ‘Frankenstein’s fat foot,’ (the character known in the movie as Mr. Larson). In response, the pariodied account of McGavin reminded the Tigers ace that golf does indeed have a rulebook.
A hilarious scenario, but no answer as to whether Verlander hit the shot.
A rule is a rule.
CLEVELAND – It’s something of a miracle that Lisa McCloskey made it to her 21st birthday. The accident-prone McCloskey – wearing a white bandage across the bridge of her nose – gave herself a nice birthday present Aug. 7 with a 2-under 70 in the second round of the U.S. Women’s Amateur, easily advancing to match play at The Country Club. No, she didn’t get punched in the face. Yes, she did walk into a metal pole.
McCloskey, a 2012 Curtis Cup member, isn’t going to let a small nose fracture keep her from that allusive USGA crown. Heck, that’s nothing compared to all the freakish things that have happened to her over the years.
While a freshman at Pepperdine, McCloskey drove a golf cart over a bridge and into a waterfall at Trump National Golf Club in Los Angeles. Playing in a school fundraiser, McCloskey hydro-planed her cart and flipped it, landing in the rocky pond on No. 17. Fortunately, she suffered only what she believed was a minor concussion and sprained ankle. She also lost a few articles of clothing along the way but managed to keep her pants on ...
CLEVELAND – Kendall Prince is about to pull up her Ohio roots, but not before one last tournament in the Buckeye State.
Prince, last year’s Big 10 Freshman of the Year at Ohio State, says she doesn’t even feel like she’s in Ohio this week for the U.S. Women’s Amateur at The Country Club. The Lake Oswego, Ore., native had never ventured far from campus in Columbus, about 150 miles southwest of Cleveland.
Prince returns home immediately after the U.S. Women’s Amateur to retrieve her car and drive south to Arizona. She’ll join that roster this fall. Prince had originally committed to Oregon before deciding on Ohio State.
“I was looking to get back on the West Coast and ready for the Pac 12,” she said of her decision. “I think with Coach Laura (Ianello), it’s just a really good fit. I think that (good) weather year round will really help my game.”
Being healthy will, too. Prince missed the Big 10 Championship and NCAA regionals and nationals at the end of the spring because of a ruptured appendix. She had to sit out a month until she returned to full health ...
CLEVELAND – Lydia Ko tells a nightmarish story about getting out of San Francisco after the U.S. Girls’ Junior and finding her way to Ohio. Read: The New Zealander isn’t used to American airports, where long lines, canceled flights and frustrating layovers are the norm.
“That’s life,” Ko says eventually with a sigh. “You can’t always have a perfect flight. I guess it’s good getting experience in all areas.”
Perhaps Ohio wouldn’t be high on the list of stateside destinations for a 15-year-old making just her fourth trip to the U.S., but the past two weeks have been all about practicality for Ko. That and making friends.
After being told she couldn’t spend the weeks leading up to the U.S. Women’s Amateur honing her game at The Country Club, Ko has been holed up at nearby Stonewater Golf Club and Little Mountain Country Club. At night, she returns to her hotel room to watch crime dramas like CSI and surf Facebook. It’s a pretty choice life, even if it has been adventure-free. The only college campus Ko has visited during this trip to the U.S. is Stanford. To be ...
MIDWAY, Utah – Ben Griffin got his driver’s license just eight day ago. Now the 16-year-old is in the Round of 16 at the U.S. Amateur Public Links after a 19-hole victory over Pacific’s Alex Edfort.
Griffin hit pitching wedge to 4 feet on the 19th hole – the first at Soldier Hollow – then made the putt after Edfort lipped out his 15-footer for birdie.
“It was a great match,” Griffin said. “We both didn’t play as well as we would’ve liked, but it was really back-and-forth. It was a close match all day. It was whoever stayed alive and hit the right shot at the right time.”
Griffin squared the match with a par at the 481-yard, par-4 ninth hole. They halved every hole on the back nine, making eight pars apiece and birdies at the par-5 16th. Edfort reached that green in two, but Griffin had to lay up after driving into a fairway bunker. Griffin’s approach with a 54-degree wedge lipped out and stopped 1 foot from the hole. Edfort two-putted for birdie.
“That was pretty key,” Griffin said.
Griffin recently completed his sophomore year at ...
KOHLER, Wis. – After she got the lay of the land Tuesday at Blackwolf Run, Stephanie Meadow had a quick email to send. The rising junior at Alabama has to play hookey for the first few days of summer school. She hopes her finance professor understands.
The first day of that session happens to coincide with the opening round of the U.S. Women’s Open, a tournament to which Meadow gained entry only three days ago, courtesy of her Ladies British Amateur victory.
All of a sudden, Meadow’s summer has taken a decidedly different turn.
“This was supposed to be an easy summer. This was supposed to be the whole month of July off and just kind of easy, like mini off-season,” Meadow said. “... I was thinking right after the British Am, I’m done for a month, just relax. We couldn’t miss this for the world.”
Meadow arrived in Wisconsin late Monday night, and spent time Tuesday morning working around the greens. She opted only to walk a few holes on Tuesday, and will play a full 18 on the eve of the championship. Meadow has a late-afternoon tee time on Thursday with former Arizona State player ...
TROON, Scotland - Add Nathan Kimsey’s name to a list that includes Morgan Pressel and Ross Fisher. Finally the snails are being outed.
About time, too!
Kimsey was handed a one-shot penalty for slow play in the second round of qualifying for the British Amateur Championship. The Englishman picked up two bad times, and the R&A docked him a stroke. His 72 turned into a 73, but he still qualified for the match play stages.
Pace-of-play guidelines have been in existence for the Amateur Championship for years. Ditto for the Open Championship. In fact, the R&A, U.S. Golf Association and all professional tours have pace-of-play guidelines. It’s just that they haven’t really been enforced.
“Our championship committee had reviewed this whole thing over the winter and decided the policies we had in place were the correct ones, and we are going to enforce them somewhat more rigorously than we had in the past,” R&A chief executive Peter Dawson said.
Pace-of-play guidelines were printed in 16 languages and placed on a large notice board in the foyer of the Royal Troon clubhouse. Competitors hardly could fail to miss them. Kimsey obviously failed to ...
NESHANIC STATION, N.J. – It’s not often that players walk out of a scoring tent in tears after shooting under par. But for Steffi Neisen, stroke-play qualifying at the U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links provided a mixture of joy and relief. The hard work paid off.
Neisen’s goal coming into the WAPL was simply to advance to match play, something she hadn’t done in three previous USGA appearances. Rounds of 70-68 at Neshanic Valley Golf Course put her in second place at 6-under 138, one stroke shy of soon-to-be-USC-graduate Lisa McCloskey.
“I know I’m a good player,” Neisen said, but it meant something to the Nebraska junior to post those rounds back to back.
Few players in this week’s field have a perspective on the game like Neisen, 20, of New Prague, Minn. Her two brothers were diagnosed with Hunter syndrome, a rare genetic disorder that predominately affects males.
Sam Neisen died two years ago at age 16 from the terminal condition. Steffi’s youngest brother, 12-year-old Tommy, was diagnosed with the syndrome at age 3. When asked if Tommy was able to follow along by watching live scoring, Steffi said he can ...
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