The Ultimate Golf Retail Yardage Book
No. 1: Drivers A challenging hole to start. No matter where you should hit it, the design draws your eye to the hole's biggest, shiniest and most expensive features. You may find yourself attracted to elements of the hole you saw in the bags of your playing partners the week before. There's a great temptation to let it all out on this one. And watch that area over there; it's legal everywhere but the United States.
No. 2: Fairway woods Hope you have something left after the mighty effort you had to expend on No. 1. You'll want one or two of the options here at this intriguing dogleg. (Note: I asked my dog to come into my study as I wrote this, and I examined his leg. Just what the hell are the architects talking about, anyway?)
If you play this hole well, and perhaps buy an extra wood, you may save some effort on the next hole.
No. 3: Irons The longest hole on the course. This one takes a mighty budgetary whack, as much as $80 to $100 per stick for the premium route. (But see note at No. 2 and consider dumping the 2- and 3-irons.)
Fortunately, options abound on this bear of a hole. Between forged, cast, offset, custom-fitted and value lines, there's a fair amount of room off the tee. As with drivers, weigh the bag appeal element carefully - and don't let it override what's best for your game.
No. 4: Putters Things ease up a little here. Putters are relatively inexpensive, even at the high end, so a muffed shot can be made up here without too much trouble. There are plenty of choices, from simple Bullseyes and Ansers to the rarefied air of Newports and Bettinardis. Want to get an edge on your competition? Go to a pro and ask for a putting lesson, and make sure he fits you for a good putter as well. As you end your request, make sure you stand behind him to catch him when he passes out.
No. 5: Bags This is a manageable par-4 with lots of pretty surroundings to look at. Do you play on a cart a lot? Might want to go for a medium-sized, traditional bag with plenty of room, so the clubs come out easily even if you have a rain suit and a sweater stuffed in the long pocket. If you live up north and like to walk, though (and God bless you for that, by the bye), consider a lightweight walking bag with a two-shoulder strap. Great for your back. Good for travel, too.
Suggestion: Unless you like the memory of getting the crap kicked out of you in junior high gym class, do not get one of those enormous tour bags with your name sewn into it.
No. 6: Shoes Again, this hole shouldn't be too much of a challenge, unless you have one of those weird foot shapes, as I do. If so, get ready for a long trying-on session.
Waterproofing of some kind is de rigeur these days, because even desert courses get dew on them occasionally. And early-season players from the American southeast to Canada never regret the extra money spent on quality waterproof shoes when they're 14 holes into a soppy round. Yes, there are butter-soft leather models out there for bone-dry days. If you can afford these as extras, more power to you. But remember, you get what you pay for.
No. 7: Balls Gird thy loins, intrepid golfer. This is where things get really tough. You must wade through a veritable kikuyu rough of SKUs, trying to figure which dimpled, white orb is best for your game. The look of this hole is deceptive; performance claims of all kinds distort your view from the tee.
On the approach, realize that you'll probably play this hole a number of times this summer, and it will take a couple of tours to get it down to a science. It's essentially trial and error, guided by your gut as to which performance claims seem the most sincere. Recall their track records when you play the hole next time.
Oh, and that alternate fairway over there? That's the wound balls. No one uses that one much anymore.
No. 8: The Cash Register Simply no way around this one. Less-than-careful play can really hurt you here, and there's rarely a way to make up loststrokes. The important thing is to come to this tee having done your research, and to not try to play outside yourself. Take par here and get out of Dodge.
No. 9: Tees A complete cream puff. Take a handful and go.
McCoy earns medalist honors at Web.com Q-School
One year after his budding career was derailed by a car accident, Lee McCoy got back on track by earning medalist honors at the final stage of Web.com Tour Q-School.
McCoy shot a final-round 65 at Whirlwind Golf Club in Chandler, Ariz., to finish the 72-hole event at 28 under. That total left him two shots ahead of Sung-Jae Im and guaranteed him fully-exempt status on the developmental circuit in 2018.
It's an impressive turnaround for the former University of Georgia standout who finished fourth at the 2016 Valspar Championship as an amateur while playing alongside Jordan Spieth in the final round. But he broke his wrist in a car accident the day before second stage of Q-School last year, leaving him without status on any major tour to begin the year.
McCoy was not the only player who left Arizona smiling. Everyone in the top 10 and ties will be exempt through the first 12 events of the new Web.com Tour season, a group that includes former amateur standouts Curtis Luck (T-3), Sam Burns (T-10) and Maverick McNealy (T-10).
Players who finished outside the top 10 but inside the top 45 and ties earned exemptions into the first eight events of 2018. That group includes Cameron Champ (T-16), who led the field in driving at this year's U.S. Open as an amateur, and Wyndham Clark (T-23).
Everyone who advanced to the final stage of Q-School will have at least conditional Web.com Tour status in 2018. Among those who failed to secure guaranteed starts this week were Robby Shelton, Rico Hoey, Jordan Niebrugge, Joaquin Niemann and Kevin Hall.
Els honored with Heisman Humanitarian Award
The annual Heisman Trophy award ceremony is one of the biggest moments in any football season, but there was a touching non-football moment as well on Saturday night as Ernie Els received the Heisman Humanitarian Award.
The award, which had been announced in August, recognized Els' ongoing efforts on behalf of his Els for Autism foundation. Els received the award at Manhattan's PlayStation Theater, where Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield won the Heisman Trophy.
Els, 47, founded Els for Autism in 2009 with his wife after their son, Ben, was diagnosed with autism. Their efforts have since flourished into a 26-acre campus in Jupiter, Fla., and the creation of the Els Center for Excellence in 2015.
The Heisman Humanitarian Award has been given out since 2006. Past recipients include NBA center David Robinson, NFL running back Warrick Dunn, soccer star Mia Hamm and NASCAR driver Jeff Gordon.
A native of South Africa, Els won the U.S. Open in 1994 and 1997 and The Open in 2002 and 2012. He has won 19 times on the PGA Tour and was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2011.
Monday finish for Joburg Open; Sharma leads by 4
Rain, lightning and hail pushed the Joburg Open to a Monday finish, with India’s Shubhankar Sharma holding a four-stroke lead with 11 holes to play in Johannesburg.
Play is scheduled to resume at 7:30 a.m. local time.
South Africa’s Erik van Rooyen will have a 3-foot putt for birdie to move within three shots of Sharma wen play resumes at the Randpark Golf Club. Sarma is at 22 under par.
Tapio Pulkkanen of Finland and James Morrison of England are tied for third at 14 under. Pulkkanen has 10 holes remaining, Morrison 11.
The top three finishers who are not already exempt, will get spots in next year’s Open Championship at Carnoustie.
Stricker, O'Hair team to win QBE Shootout
It may not count in the official tally, but Steve Stricker is once again in the winner's circle on the PGA Tour.
Stricker teamed with Sean O'Hair to win the two-person QBE Shootout, as the duo combined for a better-ball 64 in the final round to finish two shots clear of Graeme McDowell and Shane Lowry. It's the second win in this event for both men; Stricker won with Jerry Kelly back in 2009 while O'Hair lifted the trophy with Kenny Perry in 2012.
Stricker and O'Hair led wire-to-wire in the 54-hole, unofficial event after posting a 15-under 57 during the opening-round scramble.
"We just really gelled well together," Stricker said. "With his length the first day, getting some clubs into the greens, some short irons for me, we just fed off that first day quite a bit. We felt comfortable with one another."
Stricker won 12 times during his PGA Tour career, most recently at the 2012 Tournament of Champions. More recently the 50-year-old has been splitting his time on the PGA Tour Champions and captained the U.S. to a victory at the Presidents Cup in October. O'Hair has four official Tour wins, most recently at the 2011 RBC Canadian Open.
Pat Perez and Brian Harman finished alone in third, four shots behind Stricker and O'Hair. Lexi Thompson and Tony Finau, the lone co-ed pairing in the 12-team event, finished among a tie for fourth.