Let the Transformation Begin

By June 21, 2004, 4:00 pm
Natural Golf Makeover ChallengeDid you hear the joke about the cop, the biker, the marketing rep, the mother and the disc jockey? Well actually its no joke, but rather a group of five lucky golfers selected from 10s of thousands of applicants to take part in the eight week Natural Golf Makeover Challenge.
 
Designed with the average golfer in mind, this fivesome is set to go through a complete and thorough golf makeover from swing instruction and fashion sense to motivation and a fitness regime. The hope - after eight weeks of scrutiny from experts in each field - that each golfer will feel better, look better, and most importantly, play better golf.
 
After learning of their selection to the show via videotape, the five participants were flown to Orlando, Fla., to begin the challenge. Though from different parts of the country and from varying backgrounds, they all share one common thread ' a passion for the game of golf.
 
Ed Woronicz and Summer Davidson-JonesNow, with the cameras rolling for the show, their games would be under the spotlight like never before.
 
I hosted a birthday concert in Central Park before a million people ' nothing to it. Sat and talked with Bruce Springsteen ' nothing to it. But Im gonna be filmed playing golf? Now thats something thats somewhat nerve-wracking, said disc jockey Ken Dashow from Brooklyn, N.Y.
 
Golf Channel host Vince Cellini met the players at the Reunion Golf Resort for a quick 18 holes to size up what each individual brought to the table, or better yet, what they didnt bring to the table.
 
Unbeknownst to the players, the shows four experts ' or gurus ' who were going to be along for the entire process were secretly disguised out on the course to keep a watchful eye on what they were up against.
 
Lou Holtz, head football coach at the University of South Carolina, was spotted driving the beverage cart and was on board as the motivational guru. He later was introduced to the group on a football field just outside of Orlando.
 
Lou Holtz? Incredible! Thats a 12 on a scale from 1 to 10, remarked Ralph Sanzeri, a police officer from San Jose, Calif., about the prospect of working with Holtz.
 
Kelly Blackburn, a physical trainer for several PGA Tour and Champions Tour players, was tapped as the fitness guru and met with the chosen five at a local health center. They were then put in contact with the fashion guru, Marty Hackel, fashion editor at Golf Digest.
 
And finally, the group was introduced to Ed Woronicz, Director of Golf operations and Instruction for the Natural Golf Corp. Woronicz first went over a few of the basic principles of the Natural Golf system including grip, stance and body position. But it was what he said could be achieved by following these principles that had one of the Fab Five more than excited.
 
Ed said to me, There are four basic things Im going to tell you and youre going to hit the ball perfectly every time, said Dashow. How can you argue with that? How can that ever be bad?
 
Finally, just when they thought the day was winding down, Cellini surprised the group with an announcement that they were being flown to Chicago not only to see the sights but also to tour the headquarters of Natural Golf and to receive their own custom set of golf clubs.
 
Not a bad ending to the start of the Natural Golf Makeover Challenge.
 
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    Hadwin returns to site of last year's 59

    By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 11:04 pm

    Adam Hadwin had a career season last year, one that included shooting a 59 and winning a PGA Tour event. But those two achievements didn't occur in the same week.

    While Hadwin's breakthrough victory came at the Valspar Championship in March, it was at the CareerBuilder Challenge in January when he first made headlines with a third-round 59 at La Quinta Country Club. Hadwin took a lead into the final round as a result, but he ultimately couldn't keep pace with Hudson Swafford.

    He went on to earn a spot at the Tour Championship, and Hadwin made his first career Presidents Cup appearance in October. Now the Canadian returns to Palm Springs, eager to improve on last year's result and hoping to earn a spot in the final group for a third straight year after a T-6 finish in 2016.

    "A lot of good memories here in the desert," Hadwin told reporters. "I feel very comfortable here, very at home. Lots of Canadians, so it's always fun to play well in front of those crowds and hopefully looking forward to another good week."

    Hadwin's 59 last year was somewhat overshadowed, both by the fact that he didn't win the event and that it came just one week after Justin Thomas shot a 59 en route to victory at the Sony Open. But he's still among an exclusive club of just eight players to have broken 60 in competition on Tour and he's eager to get another crack at La Quinta on Saturday.

    "If I'm in the same position on 18, I'm gunning for 58 this year," Hadwin said, "not playing safe for 59."

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    Rahm: If I thought like Phil, I could not hit a shot

    By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 10:39 pm

    When it comes to Jon Rahm and Phil Mickelson, there are plenty of common bonds. Both starred at Arizona State, both are now repped by the same agency and Rahm's former college coach and agent, Tim Mickelson, now serves full-time as his brother's caddie.

    Those commonalities mean the two men have played plenty of practice rounds together, but the roads quickly diverge when it comes to on-course behavior. Rahm is quick, fiery and decisive; Mickelson is one of the most analytical players on Tour. And as Rahm told reporters Wednesday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, those differences won't end anytime soon.

    "I don't need much. 'OK, it's like 120 (yards), this shot, right," Rahm said. "And then you have Phil, it's like, 'Oh, this shot, the moisture, this going on, this is like one mile an hour wind sideways, it's going to affect it one yard. This green is soft, this trajectory. They're thinking, and I'm like, 'I'm lost.' I'm like, 'God if I do that thought process, I could not hit a golf shot.'"


    CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


    The tactics may be more simplified, but Rahm can't argue with the results. While Mickelson is in the midst of a winless drought that is approaching five years, Rahm won three times around the world last year and will defend a PGA Tour title for the first time next week at Torrey Pines.

    Both men are in the field this week in Palm Springs, where Mickelson will make his 2018 debut with what Rahm fully expects to be another dose of high-level analytics for the five-time major winner with his brother on the bag.

    "It's funny, he gets to the green and then it's the same thing. He's very detail-oriented," Rahm said of Mickelson. "I'm there listening and I'm like, 'Man, I hope we're never paired together for anything because I can't think like this. I would not be able to play golf like that. But for me to listen to all that is really fun."

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    DJ changes tune on golf ball distance debate

    By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 9:16 pm

    World No. 1 Dustin Johnson is already one of the longest hitters in golf, so he's not looking for any changes to be made to golf ball technology - despite comments from him that hinted at just such a notion two months ago.

    Johnson is in the Middle East this week for the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, and he told BBC Sport Wednesday that he wouldn't be in favor of making changes to the golf ball in order to remedy some of the eye-popping distances players are hitting the ball with ever-increasing frequency.

    "It's not like we are dominating golf courses," Johnson said. "When was the last time you saw someone make the game too easy? I don't really understand what all the debate is about because it doesn't matter how far it goes; it is about getting it in the hole."

    Johnson's rhetorical question might be answered simply by looking back at his performance at the Sentry Tournament of Champions earlier this month, an eight-shot romp that featured a tee shot on the 433-yard 12th hole that bounded down a slope to within inches of the hole.

    Johnson appeared much more willing to consider a reduced-distance ball option at the Hero World Challenge in November, when he sat next to tournament host Tiger Woods and supported Woods' notion that the ball should be addressed.

    "I don't mind seeing every other professional sport, they play with one ball. All the pros play with the same ball," Johnson said. "In baseball, the guys that are bigger and stronger, they can hit a baseball a lot further than the smaller guys. ... I think there should be some kind of an advantage for guys who work on hitting it far and getting that speed that's needed, so having a ball, like the same ball that everyone plays, there's going to be, you're going to have more of an advantage."

    Speaking Wednesday in Abu Dhabi, Johnson stood by the notion that regardless of whether the rules change or stay the same, he plans to have a leg up on the competition.

    "If the ball is limited then it is going to limit everyone," he said. "I'm still going to hit it that much further than I guess the average Tour player."

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    LPGA lists April date for new LA event

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 17, 2018, 8:18 pm

    The LPGA’s return to Los Angeles will come with the new Hugel-JTBC Open being played at Wilshire Country Club April 19-22, the tour announced Wednesday.

    When the LPGA originally released its schedule, it listed the Los Angeles event with the site to be announced at a later date.

    The Hugel-JTBC Open will feature a 144-player field and a $1.5 million purse. It expands the tour’s West Coast swing, which will now be made up of four events in California in March and April.

    The LPGA last played in Los Angeles in 2005. Wilshire Country Club hosted The Office Depot in 2001, with Annika Sorenstam winning there.