The Rules of Golf are tricky! Thankfully, we’ve got the guru. Our Rules Guy knows the book front to back. Got a question? He’s got all the answers.

On a short par 3 over water, the tee box was placed with an overhanging tree on the line to the pin. I moved the left tee marker a few feet so that the tee shot could be hit without obstruction. This was done before everyone teed off — in fact, my opponent played first and I hit second. What is the correct penalty? This has sparked a huge debate in my men’s league. —JASON WRIGHT, VIA E-MAIL

If you notice that tee markers are poorly placed, are you allowed to adjust their position before play begins? Our expert has the answer.

Jason, the fact that you ask what the penalty is — rather than if there’s a penalty — suggests you know you’ve done wrong … and you have. (Admitting that you have a problem, however, is the first step toward recovery of your honor.)

Tee markers are fixed — yes, even poorly positioned ones. Under Rule 8.1a, if you move one to gain a potential advantage by improving the conditions affecting the stroke, you must take the general penalty, which is two strokes in stroke play or loss of hole in match play. (Other players could likewise be subject to penalty if they knowingly took advantage of your maneuver.)

Source: Golf.com

When Bobby Jones won the Grand Slam — all four major tournaments in a calendar year — it included the U.S. Open, the Open Championship, The U.S. Amateur, and the British Amateur. Today the first major of the year is Jones’ own tournament, The Masters. Hosted on the course he built, Augusta National, it has become an annual American sporting tradition that transcends golf. But The Masters wasn’t always iconic, it wasn’t even always called The Masters, and it almost failed a number of times. We caught up with golf historian and Bobby Jones biographer Sidney Matthew to find out how Augusta National and The Masters went from a bankrupt passion project to a seminal part of our sporting identity.

Why did Bobby Jones build Augusta National?

Because he was tired of playing in front of crowds. He wanted a sanctuary, and he always, from early in his career, had the ambition of building the world’s greatest inland golf course.

What would make the ideal golf course in his mind?

Well, it evolved over time. As he played around the world, he collected knowledge about all of the famous golf courses. He borrowed from these golf courses, the very best features. And of course he studied golf course architecture. He wrote about it. He discoursed on it. He talked to his pals who were golf course architects, and he believed that you never really mastered golf until you try to figure out what the architect had in mind when he built the golf course. That way you would be able to play the golf course correctly, the way it was intended by the architect.

What were the world class courses Jones borrowed from?

Late in his life, Jones said, If I were to be sentenced to play on one golf course for the rest of my life, it would be the Old Course at Saint Andrews. And the reason for that is the essence of golf is adventure, and the key to adventure is variety. A golf course that provides the most adventure and the most variety provides the most enjoyment because it presents a different challenge every time you play it. The ultimate golf course would never play the same way twice two days in a row because of weather, because of conditions, because of the playing partners. Because of the way that the course may be set up with flag positions, and just the seasons, and the way the grass grows. But with Saint Andrews, it provides the most variety of any golf course that Jones had ever seen.

Jones didn’t design Augusta National alone. Why did he take on a design partner?

He chose Alister MacKenzie because MacKenzie was a kindred spirit in this notion that the Old Course is the best golf course in the world. And MacKenzie understood it, the Royal and Ancient hired him in 1921 to do a line drawing and the first competent survey of the golf course that had been done. MacKenzie was in the Boer War early on and studied the art of camouflage. He could see that the Boers were digging trenches and building embankments to hide their guns. So you’d move your troops in thinking that you were out of range and they’d blow you to bits. So he copied some of those features of camouflage in some of his golf courses. He would put a bunker 30 yards from the green but trick you into believing it was the green side.

Sort of an optical illusion to play with the mind?

Yeah. You see that today, and of course you know. MacKenzie said when you play a golf course, you should envision yourself on the forecastle of a ship than on the heavy sea. And when you’re looking at the front of the ship, you see the waves crashing at you. You see the breakers, white caps. Those are bunkers. But when you look back behind the ship, you see the rolling sea and you see no white cap. It’s all green. And when you’re on a MacKenzie course, you can see that today.

What was MacKenzie’s more general design philosophy?

MacKenzie believed that many of the broad roads will lead to destruction, narrow is the way that leads to salvation. You should build a golf course with as much variety and as many options as possible. The USGA sets up an Open golf course that you’ve got to be a marching soldier right down the middle. You’ve got to hit your drive right straight down the middle, you’ve got to hit your shot straight on the green, and you’ve got one putt or two putt. If you stray to the right or stray to the left, it’s going to cost you a shot because you’re in rough up to your ankle and will break your wrist. What that does is make a very mechanical, unimaginative golfer, because straight, straight, straight, that’s all you do. MacKenzie spawned the strategic school of golf course architecture. The penal school of architecture was old-testament thinking — if you sin, you should be punished, and there is no forgiveness, there is no redemption. That’s the way it is. The strategic school of golf course architecture said wait a second. Let’s flatten some of these bunkers out, so with a heroic shot, you should be able to redeem yourself. But it’s got to be a heroic shot. So they at least give you a chance for forgiveness and it followed the reformation. It had a religious overtone to it. So a golf course provides the most enjoyment for the highest-skill player or the lowest duffer. And that’s the variety of the adventure. That’s beautiful.

You described Jones’ reason for building Augusta National, as he wanted a sanctuary away from the crowds. Then why create this tournament?

Everyone said that Bob Jones was insane for building a golf course during the Depression. Golf courses were folding, and Augusta folded twice. The fact is that he seized on the opportunity because of the piece of ground. Jones saw the piece of property and said, That’s it. We’re going to build my dream course on this piece of property. He said it looked like this land was lying there for years waiting for a golf course to be laid on it.

But (after building it) they folded a couple of times. So (the partners) decided, Let’s see if we can hold an invitation tournament and then invite all of Bob’s pals. Surely they’ll come. And Grantland Rice said, Well, I’ll help you out. All of the sports writers go down to the [Florida] Grapefruit League [for] baseball in the winter in Florida, and I’ll tell them to come back to Augusta and report on the tournament and maybe we can bring the gate up. They also told the British press, if you guys can make it to New York, we’ll put you on a train, put you up at the Bon Air Vanderbilt, and that’s how they got the British Press to come. Of course anybody who was anybody wanted to come play at Bob Jones’ first invitational tournament. Because Bob was a national and international hero. And so everybody showed up and the gate didn’t come in. So Alfred Severin Bourne had to reach into his pocket and come up with the $5,000 purse. Then in the second year, Gene Sarazen hits the shot heard round the world on 15 and makes, and all the sports writers go crazy, and so everyone wanted to go to the next tournament in ’36 to find out what in the world’s going on in Augusta. And that’s really what kicked it off. Jones initially thought it was somewhat immodest to call it the Masters, but in 1938, Jones said, I think that it has earned the right to be called the Masters, because it continues to assemble those who are entitled to call themselves the masters of the game.

In 1894 when the USGA was formed by the top half dozen golf clubs, amateur golf was on page one of the sports page. In Plato’s Republic the amateur athlete was the hero who was emulated by the populous. And that was true at the turn of the century. They did not have professional golf at that time. They had exhibitions. Walter Hagen was the first guy to make a living as a professional golfer in the late ‘20s.

And this is because it was viewed as being sort of undignified?

Well it was. Golfers were associated with caddies. They were not educated. They didn’t dress well. They were shagging the member’s wives. They were not allowed in the club houses. It was not looked upon as an honorable profession, and mainly because it was associated with gambling and drinking. One of the reasons Bob Jones retired in 1930 was he had more ambition than to be a professional golfer and he hated to travel. It was the horse-and-buggy era. They traveled by ship, they didn’t have private citation jets yet. It was horrible. And the biggest purses were a few thousand dollars, so, you might make a few hundred dollars. Jones had a profession. In 1928 he’s working as a lawyer for Coca-Cola, and all of the big companies wanted him as their lawyer so they could play golf with him.

So when the Masters first started, it was more of a social outing with Bob Jones to rub shoulders with Jones and all of his pals rather than a money-making thing. And it wasn’t until the later years that it became a major because of the publicity that it got, and because of the uniqueness of the golf course — a golf course unlike any other. And it continued to assemble those who were entitled to be called “the masters of the game.” Anybody who was anybody wanted to win Bob Jones’ tournament, the same way that [later] they wanted to win Arnold Palmer’s tournament. You always want to win the King’s tournament.

So I suppose we could say that the Depression sort of leveled the playing field in terms of the perspective people had on professional golfers. 

It did. Everybody had to be scrappy. Hagan was the paradigm. But Neilson, Snead, and Hogan, that triumvirate really kind of launched it. I mean, Snead goes over to Saint Andrews and he wins it in ’37, first time he ever saw it! Hogan goes over to Carnoustie in ’53, and he’s on his way, he’s won three, he’s on his way to win the grand slam, right? That he couldn’t make it back to play in the PGA was his problem. But he won Carnoustie the first time he ever saw it. So these guys became international superstars as professionals.

Later on The Masters becomes iconic — it transcends golf. It becomes an iconic sporting event. How did it become so popular?

Well, yes, the popularity became universal. People who did not play golf found that they enjoyed watching it on TV. Remember, golf was a rich man’s sport. In Great Britain, it’s a poor man’s sport. You know, it’s a common town, and everybody in town belongs to the golf course. And you don’t have to be rich to play it, the courses were public. Here they’re private, so only the rich guys could play it. But you didn’t have to play it, you could watch it, and it became extremely popular because it had this swash-buckling Errol Flynn–type character, Arnold Palmer, making these heroic displays of athleticism and looking fabulous.

But The Masters also became a singular tournament because Bob Jones and Cliff Roberts made it gentile. They made it fun for the spectators, and they raised the level of sportsmanship. In the ’60s when Jack Nicholas was overhauling Arnold, some spectators shouted out, “Miss it! Fat Jack.” Jones heard that, and he was terribly distressed. So he sat down, put pen to paper and he wrote out some suggestions for the spectators. They still hand it out today. It says, that, in the game of golf, etiquette and decorum are almost as important as the rules governing play. Most distressing are those rare occasions upon which a spectator will applaud or cheer misplays or misfortunes of a player. Although these occurrences are extremely rare, we must completely eliminate them if our patrons are going to deserve their reputation of being the most knowledgeable and considerate in the world. Now, that is a pretty high standard. But guess what? You don’t see anybody acting out. The patrons of the Masters are the most considerate and knowledgeable in the world.

Source: Men’s Journal

BY DAVE PELZ
One of the things that separates Tour players from the rest of us is that the former are intimately familiar with their games. They know how different shots will unfold regardless of where the ball is sitting, especially around the green (where difficult lies abound). Not surprisingly, that’s where weekend players tend to cough up strokes.
There are four parts to every short-game shot. Failing in any area will almost surely lead to a poor result.
They are:
1. Judging the lie.
2. Selecting a club.
3. Predicting how the ball will react when it lands.
4. Executing the swing.
This article addresses the first — and perhaps the most important — part of the shot equation. If you can’t pull off good shots from bad lies, you’ll never reach your scoring goals.
In my opinion, the only way to develop this skill is through experience. Pros have the advantage of unlimited practice time, but you can begin to catch up with a simple three-shot experiment that I use in my schools. Its entire purpose is to open your eyes to the various backspin outcomes that can be created by the type of lie you’re facing.
For this “Backspin vs. Lie” experiment, you’ll need your lob wedge, a tee and three balls. Select a 20- to 30-yard shot around a green that forces you to carry a bunker but that provides plenty of room between the apron and the pin. Drop one ball into the rough, another into a normal fairway lie, and tee up the third so it’s about a half-inch above the grass (photo, above). The goal is to land all three shots in the same place on the green, about a third of the way from the edge to the flagstick. (Repeat any shot that misses the landing spot.)
Once you’re successful from all three lies, check the results, which should look something like what’s pictured in the photo at right. What you’ll notice is that the shot from the rough rolled out the farthest — the mass of grass that wedged its way between the ball and the clubface at impact killed most of the backspin. The shot from the fairway stopped short of the first, even though it landed in the same spot. That’s because you generated much more backspin due to the cleaner lie. And for the teed-up third ball, which had zero grass on the clubface to interfere with contact, you created max backspin and stopped the ball almost immediately after it hit the green.
Of course, you never get to tee up your wedge shots, but that’s not the point. What this exercise teaches is how lie effects spin, and that controlling spin is the trick to hitting short shots close. It’s an invaluable lesson. Try it from different distances using different wedges. The experience will turn you into a cagey vet in no time.
Source: Golf.com

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Sergio Garcia’s appearance in the Saudi International came to an abrupt end over the weekend when he became the first golfer disqualified for a new rule. Under Rule 1.2, a tournament committee can kick a player out of an event for violating the “spirit of the game” or “breach of etiquette,” and Garcia got the boot after his third round in which he was said to have purposely damaged as many as five greens at Saudi Arabia’s Royal Greens Golf & Country Club.

“I respect the decision of my disqualification,” Garcia said in a statement. “I damaged a couple of greens, for which I apologize for, and I have informed my fellow players it will never happen again.”

While there isn’t video of said violations (At least, not yet), footage of Garcia throwing a temper tantrum in a bunker on the par-5 fourth hole the previous day has surfaced thanks to Sky Sports. And it is something else. Have a look:

Embedded video

There are two important things to remember here:

1.) This is NOT even the (main) reason Garcia got DQ’d.
2.) Sergio Garcia is 39 years old.

In the aftermath of the latest Garciagate—remember, this is a golfer who once spit into the hole after retrieving his ball—the Scotsman reported the Spaniard will not face any further suspension from the European Tour.

Source: Golf Digest

Brooks Koepka sounds off on Bryson DeChambeau, fellow players’ slow play: Hitting a golf ball “Is not that hard…it’s kind of embarrassing”

A host of players have defended professional golf from its stigma of slow play. Brooks Koepka isn’t one of them.

Pace of play has increasingly become an issue for the sport’s top circuits, and it was in the spotlight again over the weekend thanks to Bryson DeChambeau’s deliberate pre-shot preparation at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic.

Watch here: https://twitter.com/EuropeanTour/status/1089629619983126528

Both Koepka and DeChambeau are playing in this week’s European Tour event in Saudi Arabia. Speaking on Golf Monthly’s podcast to Michael Weston, Koepka was asked about his thoughts on the criticism DeChambeau and other players have received for slow play. The three-time major winner did not sugarcoat his response.

“I just don’t understand how it takes a minute and 20 seconds, a minute and 15 to hit a golf ball; it’s not that hard,” Koepka told Weston. “It’s always between two clubs; there’s a miss short, there’s a miss long. It really drives me nuts especially when it’s a long hitter because you know you’ve got two other guys or at least one guy that’s hitting before you so you can do all your calculations; you should have your numbers. Obviously if you’re the first guy you might take ten extra seconds, but it doesn’t take that long to hit the ball, especially if it’s not blowing 30. If it’s blowing 30 I understand taking a minute and taking some extra time with some gusts, you know changing just slightly, I get that but if it’s a calm day there’s no excuse.

“Guys are already so slow it’s kind of embarrassing. I just don’t get why you enforce some things and don’t enforce others.”

DeChambeau separately addressed the issue with reporters, taking a more defensive stance on the matter.

RELATED: Players, Euro Tour face criticism for new event

“It’s actually quite impressive that we’re able to get all that stuff done in 45 seconds; people don’t realize that it’s very difficult to do everything we do in 45 seconds,” DeChambeau said on Tuesday. “I think that anybody that has an issue with it, I understand, but we’re playing for our livelihoods out here, and this is what we want to do. If we want to provide the best entertainment for you, it’s part of our process, or it’s part of my process, at least.”

DeChambeau partially blames his lack of experience for his measured approach. He says he’s put on the clock “almost every week” but is accustomed to it now. Still, it’s not his intention.

“We try and speed up,” DeChambeau said. “Trust me, we do our due diligence to speed up and do our best. We’re not trying to slow anyone down. I’m not trying to slow anyone down. It’s just a part of the process, and unfortunately the Rules of Golf allow for a certain amount of time, and we’re (using it) to our fullest potential.”

Koepka is playing this week with Justin Rose and Henrik Stenson, while DeChambeau is teeing it up with Ian Poulter and Thorbjørn Olesen.

Source: Golf Digest

Farmers Insurance Open - Round Three

(Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

Tiger Woods makes his 2019 debut at the Farmers Insurance Open this week, his first official PGA Tour appearance since last fall’s triumph at East Lake. Thanks to his successful comeback campaign in 2018, this year’s foray at Torrey Pines doesn’t boast the build-up as Woods’ previous post-surgery starts in La Jolla, the attention shifted to what’s ahead rather than the state of the 43-year-old’s physicality and game.

Not to say this tournament lacks hype. If the bookmakers are to be believed, Tiger fans could be in for a treat. Whereas Woods was viewed as a toss-up to make the cut last year, the sharps have circled the 14-time major winner as one of the event favorites, entering at +1200 (only Jon Rahm and Justin Rose have lower odds). That might seem audacious for Woods, given he hasn’t played competitively since the Hero World Challenge. Conversely, the man is no stranger to Torrey Pines, bagging eight professional victories at the property.

In honor of Tiger’s first 2019 outing, here are nine wagers, odds and bets from BetDSI Sportsbook to monitor this week.

Will Tiger Woods make the cut? (Yes -170, No +140)
Officially, Woods ended his 2018 on a tear with a runner-up at the PGA Championship, a T-6 at the BMW Championship and his win at the Tour Championship. Unfortunately for Woods, his performance at the Ryder Cup, the made-for-TV match with Phil Mickelson and the Hero were on the opposite end of the spectrum, as Tiger was clearly gassed. Still, with almost two months of rest—coupled with the fact that he’s only missed the cut once at Torrey—”Yes” is an easy call.

Will Tiger Woods finish in the top 5? (Yes +400, No -650)
Woods’ most recent win at Torrey was in 2013; it’s also his only top-20 finish at the event since 2008. We’re not deterring your resolve from rolling with the plus-400…we just don’t endorse it, either.

Will Tiger Woods finish in the top 10? (Yes +200, No -265)
Woods did post seven top-10 finishes in just 18 starts last year, but copy and paste the sentiments from above. Of note, the last time Tiger finished inside the top 10 at Torrey but didn’t win the tournament was 2004.

Tiger Woods highest score on any hole: Over 6.5 (-130), Under 6.5 (+100)
Framed in another fashion: Do you think Woods will make a double on a par 5, triple on par 4 or quad on a par 3? We don’t want to meet the sorry soul that dares to vouch “yes” to any of these items.

Tiger Woods lowest score (18 holes) on North Course: Over 70.5 (-120), Under 70.5 (-110)
Last year the North was right in the middle of the pack in course difficulty on tour, coming in at 0.590 strokes under par. Woods shot 71 on the North in 2018; with calm weather in the forecast, expect Woods to break that figure this week.

Tiger Woods lowest score (18 holes) on South Course: Over 71.5 (-110), Under 71.5 (-120)
Only four courses (not counting major venues) were tougher in 2018 than the South. If Woods makes the cut, he’ll get three chances on the course, and it’s likely that one of those go-arounds will go, ahem, south. Over is the safe play.

Tiger Woods cumulative score for The Undertow (Holes 2, 3, 4 on North Course): Over 11 (+100), Under 11 (-130)
It reads 4-3-4 on the card, but this stretch features the fourth, first and second hardest holes on the North. Nevertheless, Woods made it through unscathed last season. The biggest deadlock of the bunch, but we like Woods to replicate last year’s feats.

Tiger Woods full tournament FIR (must make cut): Over 56.5 percent (-110), Under 56.5 percent (-120)
Call your accountant, unload all your stocks, call in whatever monetary favors are outstanding and place all funds on the under. Though Woods’ driving accuracy steadily improved throughout the summer, Torrey Pines flaunts some of the tightest confines on tour. Considering he hit just 21.43 percent of fairways at the Farmers Insurance Open last year, that 56.5 percentage is a pipe dream.

Will Tiger Woods hold an overnight lead? (Thursday-Saturday): Yes +500, No -900
Our educated guess says no. But for those adventurous enough to take this wager, parlay it with a top 5 or top 10 finish to get the most bang for your buck.

Source: golfdigest.com

5 tips to help you keep your golf resolutions in 2019

The new year has arrived and a lot of you golfers out there might be uttering the words, “new year, new me.”

Most of us make New Year’s resolutions and, unfortunately, most of us fail to see them through for all 365 days.

If your resolution involved improving your golf game in 2019, here’s a list of things you can do every day/week — even if you’re in the bitter cold like a lot of folks right now — to help you achieve those goals.

And, once it warms up in your area, you can take all five of these drills outside.

5. Exercise. Yeah, we know. That’s what we should be doing every day anyway, right? But when it comes to golf, you don’t want to be tight. There are a number of stretches you can do right from your desk while reading emails that will benefit your arms, shoulders, neck, back, hips and legs for golf season.

Even better, place one of those handy, elastic, tension bands in the top drawer of your desk.

4. Take 100 swings per day in your house or garage… without a golf ball. The best players in the world visualize the shot they want to hit before they hit it. With a drill like this one, you’re going to be forced to visualize, because there’s no ball there to hit. If you’re able, place a mirror in front of you and pay attention to the positions of your address, takeaway, the top of your swing and impact position as well as follow through. Do it in slow motion. Become an expert on your swing.

3. Work on your chipping. Can’t do it outside? No worries. You can purchase a chipping net, or even put down a hula-hoop as a target. Get a few foam golf balls and a tiny turf mat to hit the balls off of.

Will it produce the same feel as a real golf ball? Of course not. But what it will do is force you to focus on a target and repeat the same motion over and over. After a long layoff, “touch,” is the first thing that goes for all golfers.

This will help you to work on some semblance of touch all winter long.

2. Practice your putting. Anywhere. All you need is a putter, a golf ball, a flat surface and an object — any object — to putt at. If you’re so inclined, rollout turf can be purchased for around $20 with holes cut out.

Since the greens are where you’re going to take most of your strokes, doesn’t it make sense to dial that in whenever possible? It can be fun too. Does your significant other, roommate, or child play? Have regular putting contests.

The feel you gain during those sessions may not seem like much, but man will they come in handy when your season begins on the real grass.

1. Make a weekly appointment with your PGA Professional. Even in areas of the country that are suffering through the cruelest of winter conditions, you can always find a place to hit golf balls inside. Contact your local PGA Professional to find out where places like this in your area exist. You might be surprised at all the options you have.

Source: pga.com

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