Billy Casper Family Golf Month programs

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 22, 2011, 6:30 pm

Billy Casper Golf understands the value in getting families out of the house and onto the course. Below is a list of local course offerings during Family Golf Month to help foster play.

Kids Play Free

Designed for busy families to spend time together, Kids Play Free is an opportunity for golfer parents to affordably introduce the game to their children. Each junior golfer (age five to 17) plays free with each paying adult; details of the promotion vary at participating Billy Casper Golf courses. 

The genesis of BCG’s emphasis on promoting junior golf lies with its company namesake, the legendary Billy Casper, Masters and two-time U.S. Open winner. Casper has personally volunteered thousands of hours teaching golf and life skills to youth.

Wee Tees at SouthWood Golf Club (FL)

Named one of the Top 35 New Courses in America by Golf Magazine and among America’s Best New Courses by Golf Digest, SouthWood employs family-friendly “Wee Tees.” The 2,986-yard “Wee Tees” provide the ideal course setup for juniors, families, beginners or players seeking to improve their short games.

Masterfully designed by PGA Tour legend Fred Couples and his renowned design partner, architect Gene Bates, SouthWood Golf Club is an upscale public facility nestled among rolling hills, pastureland, and ancient oak trees draped in Spanish moss. SouthWood Golf Club was designed to provide enjoyable and challenging golf experience for players of all levels. 

The Golf Center at Lyman Orchards (CT)

The project calls for the addition of a comprehensive learning center with a nine-hole executive course, the only new golf course construction slated for 2011 in Connecticut. The family-friendly par-29 course will measure 1,600 yards with bentgrass greens and built to U.S. Golf Association specifications. Holes will range between 115 and 315 yards in length. 

Also planned is a 40-stall combination grass and artificial turf driving range with target greens and sand traps, a short-game practice area and 2,000-square-foot clubhouse. The Golf Center at Lyman Orchards is scheduled to open in late spring 2012.

“The Golf Center reinforces the Lyman family’s forward-thinking commitment to promote the game of golf and attract a new and broader demographic,” says Steve Ciskowski, President and CEO of Lyman Farms, Inc. “This cross-over facility will complement our two existing courses and represents a bold advance, distancing Lyman Orchards from the current landscape.”

Billy Casper Appearance Promoted Junior Programming (Washington, D.C. area)

Legendary golfer Billy Casper appeared at The First Tee of Prince William County Annual Benefit Tournament at Forest Greens Golf Club on Friday, July 15 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The Masters and two-time U.S. Open champion with 51 PGA TOUR victories, Casper provided opening remarks, offered tips to golfers, signed autographs and took photos.            

The tournament, a four-person scramble with a shotgun start at 10 a.m., raised money to help fund The First Tee programs throughout the year. The entry fee – $100 per player or $375 per team – included greens and cart fees, buffet lunch, on-course prizes and the chance to meet Billy Casper.

The First Tee of Prince William County impacts the lives of young people by providing learning facilitates and educational programs promoting character-development and life-enhancing values through golf. More than 10,000 children in Prince William County Schools have experienced the curriculum through The First Tee National School Program. 

Golf My Way at Ka’anapali

Traditionally, a round of golf is 18 holes stretched over roughly 4.5 hours. Over the last few years, golfers have found it harder to dedicate such a large block of time for one activity. Especially when on vacation with the family.

Who says you have to play all 18 holes over the course of several hours? You don’t, thanks to an innovative program – “Golf My Way” – introduced by Ka’anapali Golf Resort. The package allows golfers to pay for all 18 holes up front and have the option to leisurely fit in their round over a maximum of seven days.

“This package is perfect for golfers on vacation with their families who don’t want to spend the entire day on the course,” says Ed Kageyama, PGA General Manager of Ka’anapali.  “Parents can play a few holes in the morning, spend the rest of the day doing family activities and come back later during their vacation to finish the round. 

“Golf My Way” isn’t for everyone; the serious golfer wants to play all 18 at once. But the casual golfer is a different story. On the first day, players tee off on No. 1, but to complete the round golfers may tee off on a different hole – until all 18 holes are completed. The golfer can play three holes over six days, six holes over three days or any combination they chose – whichever best suits their time availability.

For more on Family Golf Month or to learn how you can get involved, click here.

Photo by Enrique Berardi/LAAC

Top-ranked amateur Niemann one back at LAAC in Chile

By Nick MentaJanuary 21, 2018, 8:44 pm

Argentina’s Jaime Lopez Rivarola leads the Latin America Amateur Championship at 5 under par following a round of 3-under 68 Saturday in Chile.

The former Georgia Bulldog is now 36 holes from what would be a return trip to Augusta National but his first Masters.

"The truth is that I crossed off on my bucket list playing Augusta [National], because I happened to play there," Rivarola said. "I've played every year with my university. But playing in the Masters is a completely different thing. I have been to the Masters, and I've watched the players play during the practice rounds. But [competing would be] a completely different thing."

He is followed on the leaderboard by the three players who competed in the playoff that decided last year’s LAAC in Panama: Joaquin Niemann (-4), Toto Gana (-4), and Alvaro Ortiz (-3).

Click here for full-field scores from the Latin America Amateur Championship

Chile’s Niemann is the top-ranked amateur in the world who currently holds conditional status on the Tour and is poised to begin his career as a professional, unless of course he takes the title this week. After a disappointing 74 in Round 1, Niemann was 10 shots better in Round 2, rocketing up the leaderboard with a 7-under 64.

“Today, I had a completely different mentality, and that's usually what happens in my case," Niemann said. "When I shoot a bad round, the following day I have extra motivation. I realize and I feel that I have to play my best golf. The key to being a good golfer is to find those thoughts and to transfer them into good golf."

Niemann’s fellow Chilean and best friend Gana is the defending champion who missed the cut at the Masters last year and is now a freshman at Lynn University. His second-round 70 was a roller coaster, complete with six birdies, three eagles and a double.

Mexico’s Ortiz, the brother of three-time Tour winner Carlos, was 6 under for the week before three back-nine bogeys dropped him off the pace.

Two past champions, Matias Dominguez and Paul Chaplet, sit 5 over and 7 over, respectively.

The winner of the Latin America Amateur Championship earns an invite to this year’s Masters. He is also exempt into the The Amateur Championship, the U.S. Amateur, U.S. Open sectional qualifying, and Open Championship final qualifying.

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McIlroy gets back on track

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 21, 2018, 3:10 pm

There’s only one way to view Rory McIlroy’s performance at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship:

He is well ahead of schedule.

Sure, McIlroy is probably disappointed that he couldn’t chase down Ross Fisher (and then Tommy Fleetwood) on the final day at Abu Dhabi Golf Club. But against a recent backdrop of injuries and apathy, his tie for third was a resounding success. He reasserted himself, quickly, and emerged 100 percent healthy.

“Overall, I’m happy,” he said after finishing at 18-under 270, four back of Fleetwood. “I saw some really, really positive signs. My attitude, patience and comfort level were really good all week.”

To fully appreciate McIlroy’s auspicious 2018 debut, consider his state of disarray just four months ago. He was newly married. Nursing a rib injury. Breaking in new equipment. Testing another caddie. His only constant was change. “Mentally, I wasn’t in a great place,” he said, “and that was because of where I was physically.”

And so he hit the reset button, taking the longest sabbatical of his career, a three-and-a-half-month break that was as much psychological as physical. He healed his body and met with a dietician, packing five pounds of muscle onto his already cut frame. He dialed in his TaylorMade equipment, shoring up a putting stroke and wedge game that was shockingly poor for a player of his caliber. Perhaps most importantly, he cleared his cluttered mind, cruising around Italy with wife Erica in a 1950s Mercedes convertible.

Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

After an intense buildup to his season debut, McIlroy was curious about the true state of his game, about how he’d stack up when he finally put a scorecard in his hand. It didn’t take him long to find out. 

Playing the first two rounds alongside Dustin Johnson – the undisputed world No. 1 who was fresh off a blowout victory at Kapalua – McIlroy beat him by a shot. Despite a 103-day competitive layoff, he played bogey-free for 52 holes. And he put himself in position to win, trailing by one heading into the final round. Though Fleetwood blew away the field with a back-nine 30 to defend his title, McIlroy collected his eighth top-5 in his last nine appearances in Abu Dhabi.

“I know it’s only three months,” he said, “but things change, and I felt like maybe I needed a couple of weeks to get back into the thought process that you need to get into for competitive golf. I got into that pretty quickly this week, so that was the most pleasing thing.”

The sense of relief afterward was palpable. McIlroy is entering his 11th full year as a pro, and deep down he likely realizes 2018 is shaping up as his most important yet.

The former Boy Wonder is all grown up, and his main challengers now are a freakish athlete (DJ) and a trio of players under 25 (Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm) who don’t lack for motivation or confidence. The landscape has changed significantly since McIlroy’s last major victory, in August 2014, and the only way he’ll be able to return to world No. 1 is to produce a sustained period of exceptional golf, like the rest of the game’s elite. (Based on average points, McIlroy, now ranked 11th, is closer to the bottom of the rankings, No. 1928, than to Johnson.)

But after years of near-constant turmoil, McIlroy, 28, finally seems ready to pursue that goal again. He is planning the heaviest workload of his career – as many as 30 events, including seven more starts before the Masters – and appears refreshed and reenergized, perhaps because this year, for the first time in a while, he is playing without distractions.

Not his relationships or his health. Not his equipment or his caddie or his off-course dealings.

Everything in his life is lined up.

Drama tends to follow one of the sport’s most captivating characters, but for now he can just play golf – lots and lots of golf. How liberating.

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Crocker among quartet of Open qualifiers in Singapore

By Will GrayJanuary 21, 2018, 2:20 pm

Former amateur standout Sean Crocker was among four players who qualified for the 147th Open via top-12 finishes this week at the Asian Tour's SMBC Singapore Open as part of the Open Qualifying Series.

Crocker had a strong college career at USC before turning pro late last year. The 21-year-old received an invitation into this event shortly thereafter, and he made the most of his appearance with a T-6 finish to net his first career major championship berth.

There were four spots available to those not otherwise exempt among the top 12 in Singapore, but winner Sergio Garcia and runners-up Shaun Norris and Satoshi Kodaira had already booked their tickets for Carnoustie. That meant that Thailand's Danthai Boonma and Jazz Janewattanond both qualified thanks to T-4 finishes.

Full-field scores from the Singapore Open

Crocker nabbed the third available qualifying spot, while the final berth went to Australia's Lucas Herbert. Herbert entered the week ranked No. 274 in the world and was the highest-ranked of the three otherwise unqualified players who ended the week in a tie for eighth.

The next event in the Open Qualifying Series will be in Japan at the Mizuno Open in May, when four more spots at Carnoustie will be up for grabs. The 147th Open will be held July 19-22 in Carnoustie, Scotland.

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Got a second? Fisher a bridesmaid again

By Will GrayJanuary 21, 2018, 1:40 pm

Ross Fisher is in the midst of a career resurgence - he just doesn't have the hardware to prove it.

Fisher entered the final round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship with a share of the lead, and as he made the turn he appeared in position to claim his first European Tour victory since March 2014. But he slowed just as Tommy Fleetwood caught fire, and when the final putt fell Fisher ended up alone in second place, two shots behind his fellow Englishman.

It continues a promising trend for Fisher, who at age 37 now has 14 career runner-up finishes and three in his last six starts dating back to October. He was edged by Tyrrell Hatton both at the Italian Open and the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in the fall, and now has amassed nine worldwide top-10 finishes since March.

Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

Fisher took a big step toward ending his winless drought with an eagle on the par-5 second followed by a pair of birdies, and he stood five shots clear of Fleetwood with only nine holes to go. But while Fleetwood played Nos. 10-15 in 4 under, Fisher played the same stretch in 2 over and was unable to eagle the closing hole to force a playoff.

While Fisher remains in search of an elusive trophy, his world ranking has benefited from his recent play. The veteran was ranked outside the top 100 in the world as recently as September 2016, but his Abu Dhabi runner-up result is expected to move him inside the top 30 when the new rankings are published.