Not Laying Over the Auld Sod

By Adam BarrJuly 24, 2005, 4:00 pm
Im just back from Scotland, where the dust kicks up with every iron shot and your frustration level kicks up with every stop in your national tour of bunker walls.
 
Dont get me wrong; I love playing over there. But there must be something in the water (more likely the beer) that delays learning for hapless players like me. Whereas a baby learns right quick to pull its hand away from something hot, golfers are another story. Our playing and equipment habits are so ingrained that it takes awhile for the lessons to sink in.
 
Once they do, though, golf in the games home makes eminent sense. Herewith, a capsule summary of my latest tuition. (With any luck, well explore these issues more deeply in a future edition of Whats In The Bag?)
 
Less is more. While packing, I removed four clubs from my bag. Whatever good they do you is probably not worth the weight when youre carrying. If you dont believe me now, call me from the 16th hole. Besides, if you cant create shots and get it done on hard, fast Scottish courses with ten clubs, stay home and play Overwatered Acres GC.
 
Ego? What ego? Even if youve cured yourself of pulling driver on every tee, you may need some remedial work. When the wind starts, irons may be the way to go. Throughout East Lothian ' at Gullane, North Berwick, Luffness New ' a wet spring had spawned waist-high grass in the rough, below whose oat-like tendrils lay wiry junk that makes you want to slit your throat. Ive never seen grass turn a clubhead so dramatically. I started hitting off the toe of my wedge just to avoid a dead shank.
 
But the best thing is to never get in the stuff. And if that means 5-iron off the tee, so be it. Macho gets you nothing if youre knee-high in the foliage.
 
They skimp on the Stimp. It seems to be O.K. to rap it on Scottish greens. They felt like 7 on the ol meter to me, and none of the natives thought that was out of whack. Putts required authority.
 
Dont hold back. Authority. That may be the No. 1 lesson of the trip: Commit to the shot. A shot struck with any sort of tentativeness will likely suffer. Steer jobs apply elsewhere. Example: After driving into the central bunker at North Berwicks excellent par-5 eighth hole, I got out well and had the classic Scottish shot in: A low, running 7-iron that I planned to bounce on the front and watch roll up, right past the left greenside bunker. But I was the tiniest bit doubtful in my striking, and even though the shot looked good as it took off, I knew immediately that a more confident effort was required to get it past the bunkers roll-in area. So in it went. And oddly, it felt like golf justice.
 
The sand is not as grainy as you might believe. So dont necessarily leave your high-bounce sand wedge at home. But I found a low-bounce gap wedge more useful generally, especially from greenside lies, which tend to be a little tight. In the more powdery bunkers, I just opened up a little more, and it worked fine.
 
Its not a home game. Thats the whole reason for going, right? Dont expect everything ' from the fronts of the greens, the fairway lies (brown is fine to hit from, believe me), or even the beer to be the same. (Although some Scottish bars, believing theyre catering to the U.S. crowd, now offer cold and regular. Reg for me, thanks, with that nice, creamy head.) Explore, adapt and enjoy.
 
On and off the beaten path. Play the classics, but also check into these gems, played by some or all of our party this time around (some are private, so inquire before showing up): The New Course at St. Andrews, all three courses of Gullane Golf Club, North Berwick West Links, Panmure (in Barry, near Carnoustie), Royal Montrose, Monifieth.


IN THE PIPELINE: A slew of new products are on the way from Bridgestone, led by a line extension of the J33R driver. This one will be 460 cc (its predecessor is 420), the effective size limit under the Rules of Golf. The coefficient of restitution (C.O.R.) is also maxed out on this model, says Bridgestone.
 
The popularity of the 420 cc model moved Bridgestone to bring the larger model to the market, and the company is confident that its primary target, mid-handicappers, will buy in.
 
What weve found is that tour players and low- to mid-handicappers want that 460 size, but they dont want it to look like that, said Mike Moxie, Bridgestones club marketing manager. The size is masked underneath the crown, so its an understated 460.
 
The curvature of the crown does more to generate a pleasing shape than a flatter design would, Moxie said. Look for the club at retailers this fall; suggested retail will be $499. Lofts: 8.5, 9.5 and 10.5 degrees. Standard shaft: Aldila NV65. Grip: Golf Pride. Custom options are available.
 
Also from Bridgestone: J33 hybrid utility woods, which are numbered in a way that clearly shows their mission of replacing irons: the No. 1 has 15 degrees of loft, No. 2 has 18 degrees, and No. 3 has 21 degrees. The standard shaft is Aldilas NV85, which is made especially for hybrids. The camber on the sole of these clubs allows for some workability both up and down and side-to-side, Bridgestone says. Suggested retail will be $249 per stick; they are also coming when the leaves change. And finally, for those who like a low-glare look at their wedges, Bridgestone will have a series of J33 Black Satin Forged Wedges in 52-, 56- and 60-degree lofts. A softer leading edge will reduce digging, Bridgestone says, and a long hosel raises the weight (and therefore the center of gravity) to produce spinny, low trajectory shot thats easier to control. These come with True Temper S300 steel shafts standard, as well as Golf Pride Tour Velvet grips. Also due in the fall, these clubs will retail for $159 each, suggested.
 
True Temper already has its new Black Gold steel shaft on tour, and plans are to introduce it to the golf masses this September. An extension of the popular Gold family of products, the Black will satisfy the needs of those who like a stepless design whose weight decreases as the clubs shorten.
 
Dynamic Gold is constant weight, meaning that the 3-iron shaft weighs the same as the 8'iron shaft, said Scott Hennessy, True Tempers president and CEO. While Dynamic Gold continues to be the overwhelming choice of professionals and top amateurs, there is a segment of players who prefer descending weight shafts because of their distinctive feel as the clubs progress into the shorter irons.
 
True Temper uses a proprietary manufacturing process to control not only the weight but also shaft frequency ' the tolerance is plus or minus two cycles per minute ' and that guarantees consistent feel, the company says. The shafts, which feature a satin nickel finish, will come in regular, stiff and extra stiff flexes, both tapered and parallel.
 
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Rose wins; Aphibarnrat earns Masters bid in Indonesia

By Will GrayDecember 17, 2017, 1:59 pm

Justin Rose continued his recent run of dominance in Indonesia, while Kiradech Aphibarnrat snagged a Masters invite with some 72nd-hole dramatics.

Rose cruised to an eight-shot victory at the Indonesian Masters, carding bookend rounds of 10-under 62 that featured a brief run at a 59 during the final round. The Englishman was the highest-ranked player in the field and he led wire-to-wire, with Thailand's Phachara Khongwatmai finishing second.

Rose closes out the year as perhaps the hottest player in the world, with top-10 finishes in each of his final 10 worldwide starts. That stretch includes three victories, as Rose also won the WGC-HSBC Champions and Turkish Airlines Open. He hasn't finished outside the top 10 in a tournament since missing the cut at the PGA Championship.

Meanwhile, it took until the final hole of the final tournament of 2017 for Aphibarnrat to secure a return to the Masters. The Thai entered the week ranked No. 56 in the world, with the top 50 in the year-end world rankings earning invites to Augusta National. Needing an eagle on the 72nd hole, Aphibarnrat got just that to snag solo fifth place.

It means that he is projected to end the year ranked No. 49, while Japan's Yusaku Miyazato - who started the week ranked No. 58 and finished alone in fourth - is projected to finish No. 50. Aphibarnrat finished T-15 in his Masters debut in 2016, while Miyazato will make his first appearance in the spring.

The results in Indonesia mean that American Peter Uihlein and South Africa's Dylan Frittelli are projected to barely miss the year-end, top-50 cutoff. Their options for Masters qualification will include winning a full-point PGA Tour event in early 2018 or cracking the top 50 by the final March 25 cutoff.

Cabreras take 1-shot lead in Father/Son

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 11:23 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. - Two-time major champion Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. birdied their last three holes for a 13-under 59 to take a one-shot lead Saturday in the PNC Father-Son Challenge.

Cabrera, a Masters and U.S. Open champion, is making his debut in this popular 36-hole scramble. His son said he practiced hard for 10 days. What helped put him at ease was watching his father make so many putts.

''We combined very well,'' Cabrera said. ''When I hit a bad shot, he hit a good one. That's the key.''

They had a one-shot lead over Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara, who are playing for the first time. That included a birdie on the last hole, which O'Meara attributed to the strength of his son.

''My little man hit it 58 yards by me on the 18th,'' said O'Meara, the Masters and British Open champion in 1998. ''It's a little easier coming in with a 6-iron.''

Defending champions David Duval and Nick Karavites rallied over the back nine at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club for a 61. They are trying to become the first father-son team to repeat as winners since Bernhard and Stefan Langer in 2006. Larry Nelson won two years in a row in 2007 and 2008, but with different sons.

''I'd imagine we have to break 60 tomorrow to have a chance to win, but hey, stranger things have happened,'' Duval said. ''I've even done it myself.''

Duval shot 59 at the Bob Hope Classic to win in 1999 on his way to reaching No. 1 in the world that year.

Duval and his stepson were tied with Bernhard Langer and 17-year-old Jason Langer, who made two eagles on the last five holes. This Langer tandem won in 2014.

Jack Nicklaus, playing with grandson G.T., opened with a 68.

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Woods' 2018 schedule coming into focus ... or is it?

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 16, 2017, 5:46 pm

Two weeks after his successful return to competition at the Hero World Challenge, Tiger Woods’ 2018 schedule may be coming into focus.

Golfweek reported on Saturday that Woods hopes to play the Genesis Open in February according to an unidentified source with “direct knowledge of the situation.”

Woods’ agent Mark Steinberg declined to confirm the 14-time major champion would play the event and told GolfChannel.com that Woods – who underwent fusion surgery to his lower back in April – is still formulating his ’18 schedule.

Woods’ foundation is the host organization for the Genesis Open and the event supports the Tiger Woods Learning Center in Anaheim, Calif.

The Genesis Open would be Woods’ first start on the PGA Tour since he missed the cut last January at the Farmers Insurance Open.

Rose weathering delayed Indonesian Masters

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 3:52 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose held a three-stroke lead after eight holes of the third round Saturday when play was suspended for the day due to bad weather at the Indonesian Masters.

Rose was 3-under on the day and led his playing partners Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Scott Vincent. The Englishman led both players by a stroke after the second round was completed Saturday morning due to weather delays on Friday.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.