Golf Games Back For More

By Adam BarrMay 23, 2005, 4:00 pm
We were having so much fun in Vegas, we decided to stick around.
Actually, we stayed on to shoot a second Whats In The Bag? in Las Vegas because there are more cool on-course golf games than can be fit into even that many shows ' but we figured nine holes just isnt enough.
Just to recap, in the first show about games golfers use to sharpen the competition (which aired Monday, May 16), we reviewed some old favorites and included a few you may not have heard of. Of course, The Golf Channel doesnt take a position on on-course wagering, so what you play for ' lunch, chips, dollars, pounds sterling, pork belly futures ' is all up to you.
So it was on to our golf game back nine. The second show airs Monday, May 23 at 10:50 p.m. ET as part of Your Game Night.
  • Nassau, Part Deux. We began at the very windy Paiute Golf Resort outside of Vegas, which offers some stunning views of the desert and faraway mountains. It also has some challenging driving holes, especially when the wind howls, as it did on this day. This was the beginning of the third way of the popular three-way bet: Stakes are available on the front nine, the back nine and the overall. Most everyone knows some version of this standby.
  • Snake. Well, it was the desert, after all. But this one can be worse than a rattler, at least in a metaphorical sense. As we discovered at Silverstone Golf Club, its a simple burden: Whoever three-putts gets the snake, and carries it until someone else three-jacks ' if they ever do. Whoever has it at the end of the round pays stakes agreed upon beforehand. Some people go so far as to bestow a rubber snake on the poor carrier, which we find works so much better than a real one. Variation: The snakeholder can nominate his successor, pressuring that player to get down in two. And you can do all kinds of multiplying of the stakes every time theres a three-putt.
  • Aces & Deuces. Sometimes called Acey Deucey, is a four-player enterprise. We tried this at the beautiful Aliante Golf Club. On each hole, the low score, or ace, wins a predetermined amount from the other three, and the high score, or deuce, loses to the other three. The ace bet is usually worth twice the deuce, but you can juggle that any way you want. Ties dont pay, and carryovers are at the groups option. Handicaps? Again, up to you, but without em, its tough to be the D player. Trust me on that one. And can you lend me bus fare?
  • Gruesomes. Not so much a reference to my game as an especially devilish team competition. At TPC at the Canyons, we fired this one up. Both team members tee off ' and then the other team picks what drive they have to play. From then on in, the teams play alternate shot. Kind of spreads out the suffering. But think of the hero recovery possibilities. Play this only with people you really like, and empty all the sharp stuff out of your bag first.
  • Up and Downand Down and Down. We actually made this one up at Las Vegas popular Angel Park Golf Course. Its a great on-the-spot bet for people who miss a lot of greens (who, me?). The idea is, whoever gets up and down wins the bet ' and the amount he wins can be increased by a per-stroke amount to be paid by the hapless player who does not. Better players can give odds to less-able golfers to even things up a bit. So if a stick who can get up and down a lot bets, say $2 per stroke, and you bet 50 cents, you pay him half a buck for every putt it takes you after the first one to get in the hole. Conversely, if you get up and down and he three-jacks, you could make $10. This one was fun because we thought it up, and as so many of you have told us since last week, youve been pretty creative yourselves.
  • Bingo Bango Bongo. Heck, your Grampa used to play this one. I think I saw him at Tuscany Golf Club, where we B-B-Bed it up. Any number of players can get in on the action in this old chestnut, which has stood the test of golf time. Points (and there agreed upon value) are awarded for first to get on the green (bingo), closest to the pin once all balls are on (bango), and first to hole out (bongo). Highest point total at the end of the round wins. Naturally, to avoid unnecessary violence, you have to play in order ' the player who is away always plays first. And you can add your own variations, such as double payoff for anyone who wins all three on one hole.
    The remainder of our extended round, which we played at Legacy, a fine club, and Royal Links, a Scottish-like test not far from the Strip, decided all the outstanding bets, garbage and non. And I came up on theumshort end of thewrong side of theI lost.
    But what a time I had, checking out all these old and new games. As long as there are golfers, there will be games, bets, competition ' in short, fun, in all its local and regional variations.
    So keep it up, folks. We shot the show, but over the decades, you wrote it. Play on, play well, andhey, lemme see your handicap card. Oh, really? Well, well just call your club about this right now.
    Email your thoughts to Adam Barr
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    Rahm, with blinders on, within reach of No. 1 at Torrey

    By Rex HoggardJanuary 23, 2018, 10:10 pm

    SAN DIEGO – The drive over to Torrey Pines from Palm Springs, Calif., takes about two and a half hours, which was plenty of time for Jon Rahm’s new and ever-evolving reality to sink in.

    The Spaniard arrived in Southern California for a week full of firsts. The Farmers Insurance Open will mark the first time he’s defended a title on the PGA Tour following his dramatic breakthrough victory last year, and it will also be his first tournament as the game’s second-best player, at least according to the Official World Golf Ranking.

    Rahm’s victory last week at the CareerBuilder Challenge, his second on Tour and fourth worldwide tilt over the last 12 months, propelled the 23-year-old to No. 2 in the world, just behind Dustin Johnson. His overtime triumph also moved him to within four rounds of unseating DJ atop the global pecking order.

    It’s impressive for a player who at this point last year was embarking on his first full season as a professional, but then Rahm has a fool-proof plan to keep from getting mired in the accolades of his accomplishments.

    “It's kind of hard to process it, to be honest, because I live my day-to-day life with my girlfriend and my team around me and they don't change their behavior based on what I do, right?” he said on Tuesday at Torrey Pines. “They'll never change what they think of me. So I really don't know the magnitude of what I do until I go outside of my comfort zone.”

    Head down and happy has worked perfectly for Rahm, who has finished outside the top 10 in just three of his last 10 starts and began 2018 with a runner-up showing at the Sentry Tournament of Champions and last week’s victory.

    According to the world ranking math, Rahm is 1.35 average ranking points behind Johnson and can overtake DJ atop the pack with a victory this week at the Farmers Insurance Open; but to hear his take on his ascension one would imagine a much wider margin.

    “I've said many times, beating Dustin Johnson is a really, really hard task,” Rahm said. “We all know what happened last time he was close to a lead in a tournament on the PGA Tour.”

    Farmers Insurance Open: Articles, photos and videos

    Rahm certainly remembers. It was just three weeks ago in Maui when he birdied three of his first six holes, played the weekend at Kapalua in 11 under and still finished eight strokes behind Johnson.

    And last year at the WGC-Mexico Championship when Rahm closed his week with rounds of 67-68 only to finish two strokes off Johnson’s winning pace, or a few weeks later at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play when he took Johnson the distance in the championship match only to drop a 1-up decision to the game’s undisputed heavyweight.

    As far as Rahm has come in an incredibly short time - at this point last year he ranked 137th in the world - it is interesting that it’s been Johnson who has had an answer at every turn.

    He knows there’s still so much room for improvement, both physically and mentally, and no one would ever say Rahm is wanting for confidence, but after so many high-profile run-ins with Johnson, his cautious optimism is perfectly understandable.

    “I'll try to focus more on what's going on this week rather than what comes with it if I win,” he reasoned when asked about the prospect of unseating Johnson, who isn’t playing this week. “I'll try my best, that's for sure. Hopefully it happens, but we all know how hard it is to win on Tour.”

    If Rahm’s take seems a tad cliché given the circumstances, consider that his aversion to looking beyond the blinders is baked into the competitive cake. For all of his physical advantages, of which there are many, it’s his keen ability to produce something special on command that may be even more impressive.

    Last year at Torrey Pines was a quintessential example of this, when he began the final round three strokes off the lead only to close his day with a back-nine 30 that included a pair of eagles.

    “I have the confidence that I can win here, whereas last year I knew I could but I still had to do it,” he said. “I hope I don't have to shoot 30 on the back nine to win again.”

    Some will point to Rahm’s 60-footer for eagle at the 72nd hole last year as a turning point in his young career, it was even named the best putt on Tour by one publication despite the fact he won by three strokes. But Rahm will tell you that walk-off wasn’t even the best shot he hit during the final round.

    Instead, he explained that the best shot of the week, the best shot of the year, came on the 13th hole when he launched a 4-iron from a bunker to 18 feet for eagle, a putt that he also made.

    “If I don't put that ball on the green, which is actually a lot harder than making that putt, the back nine charge would have never happened and this year might have never happened, so that shot is the one that made everything possible,” he explained.

    Rahm’s ability to embrace and execute during those moments is what makes him special and why he’s suddenly found himself as the most likely contender to Johnson’s throne even if he chooses not to spend much time thinking about it.

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    Rahm focusing on play, not shot at No. 1

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 23, 2018, 9:06 pm

    SAN DIEGO – Jon Rahm’s meteoric rise in the world rankings could end with him reaching No. 1 with a win this week at Torrey Pines.

    After winning last week at the CareerBuilder Challenge, his fourth title in 51 weeks, Rahm has closed the gap on Dustin Johnson – less than 1.5 average points separates them.

    With Johnson not playing this week, the 23-year-old Spaniard has a chance to reach the top spot for the first time, but only if he defends his title at the Farmers Insurance Open.

    Farmers Insurance Open: Articles, photos and videos

    “Beating Dustin Johnson is a really, really hard task. It’s no easy task,” he said Tuesday. “We still have four days of golf ahead and we’ll see what happens. But I’ll try to focus more on what’s going on this week rather than what comes with it if I win.

    “I’ll try my best, that’s for sure. Hopefully it happens, but we all know how hard it is to win on Tour.”

    Rahm has already become the fourth-youngest player to reach No. 2 in the world, behind Tiger Woods, Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy. 

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    Rahm: Playoff wasn't friendly, just 'nervous'

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 23, 2018, 8:53 pm

    SAN DIEGO – Too chummy? Jon Rahm says he and Andrew Landry were just expending some nervous energy on the walk up to the fairway during the first playoff hole of the CareerBuilder Challenge.

    “I wouldn’t have been that nervous if it was friendly,” Rahm said with a smile Tuesday. “I think it was something he said because we were talking going out of the first tee.

    “I didn’t know Andrew – I think it was a pretty good time to get to know him. We had at least 10 minutes to ourselves. It’s not like we were supporting each other, right? We were both in it together, we were both nervous together, and I felt like talking about it might have eased the tension out of both of us.”

    Farmers Insurance Open: Articles, photos and videos

    On Sunday, two-time U.S. Open champion Curtis Strange saw the exchange on TV and tweeted: “Walking off the tee talking to each other. Are you kidding me? Talking at all?”

    Strange followed up by saying that, in a head-to-head situation, the last thing he’d want to do was make his opponent comfortable. When his comments went viral, Strange tweeted at Rahm, who won after four holes: “Hopefully no offense taken on my comment yesterday. You guys are terrific. I’m a huge fan of all players today. Made an adverse comment on U guys talking during playoff. Not for me. A fan.”

    Not surprisingly, the gregarious Rahm saw things differently.

    “We only talked going out of the first tee up until the fairway,” he said. “Besides that, all we said was, ‘Good shot, good putt, see you on the next tee.’ That’s what it was reduced to. We didn’t say much.” 

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    Tiger grouped with Reed, Hoffman at Torrey Pines

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 23, 2018, 8:35 pm

    SAN DIEGO – Tiger Woods will make his 2018 debut alongside Patrick Reed and Charley Hoffman.

    The threesome will go off Torrey Pines’ South Course at 1:40 p.m. ET Thursday at the Farmers Insurance Open. They begin at 12:30 p.m. Friday on the North Course.

    Woods is an eight-time winner at Torrey Pines, including the 2008 U.S. Open, but he hasn’t broken 70 in his last seven rounds on either course. Last year, he shot rounds of 76-72 to miss the cut.

    Farmers Insurance Open: Articles, photos and videos

    Reed, who has grown close to Woods after being in his pod during the past two international team competitions, is coming off a missed cut last week at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Hoffman, a San Diego native, has only two top-10s in 20 career starts at Torrey.

    Other featured groups for the first two rounds include:

    • Jon Rahm, Jason Day and Brandt Snedeker: 1:30 p.m. Thursday off South 1, 12:20 p.m. Friday off North 10

    • Rickie Fowler, Patrick Cantlay, Xander Schauffele: 12:30 p.m. Thursday off North 10, 1:30 p.m. Friday off South 1

    • Phil Mickelson, Justin Rose, Hideki Matsuyama: 12:40 p.m. Thursday off North 10, 1:40 p.m. Friday off South 1