Handling Augusta National-like elevation changes

By Tyrus YorkApril 7, 2014, 5:00 pm

Last year, I was fortunate enough to visit Augusta National during the Masters for the first time. After watching the tournament on TV every year, seeing the golf course in person was incredible.

With the invention of high-definition television, viewers at home are getting a more realistic perspective on how magnificent Augusta National is as a golf course.

But even with this new technology, it is difficult to see how much elevation change there is on the course.

Approach shots to elevated greens, uneven fairways and undulated putting surfaces are just a few of the challenges that the best players in the world will face this week in the year’s first major championship.

Here are some keys to consider when dealing with various situations that involve elevation changes:

• When hitting an approach shot to an elevated green, it's important to make the proper adjustment to your yardage. Most players know that an elevated green will effectively add yardage, but how much do you add? The easiest way to determine the proper yardage is to use a range finder that adjusts for slope. However, they are illegal to use in competition. But there’s nothing wrong with using one in a practice round and mapping out the approach shots that you know you’ll likely have.

• Make the proper adjustment for an uneven lie. When the ball is above or below your feet, understand that the more loft your club has the more you need to adjust your aim. Knowing exactly how much you need to adjust requires experience. Most driving ranges have only flat surfaces to hit from, so try asking the staff if there is an area where you could practice uneven lies. If not, schedule more time on the course to drop a few balls down to practice shots from uneven lies.

• When I was at the Masters last year, it amazed me just how many times players would intentionally come up short on their approach shots. They would then make the easy chip and putt to save par, while players that would hit the green and be just past the hole would often 3-putt for bogey. At Augusta especially, it’s no good if your ball is above the hole. Most courses are designed the same way, with greens that slope from front to back, but slower green speeds make shots that go long less penalizing. If you’re dealing with fast greens, do everything you can to keep your approaches below the hole.

For more tips from Golf Channel to help you manage difficult shots, click here.

Lexi 'applaud's USGA, R&A for rules change

By Randall MellDecember 11, 2017, 5:15 pm

Lexi Thompson’s pain may prove to be the rest of golf’s gain.

David Rickman, the R&A’s executive director of governance, acknowledged on Golf Channel’s "Morning Drive" Monday that the new protocols that will eliminate the use of TV viewer call-ins and emails to apply penalties was hastened by the controversy following Thompson’s four-shot penalty at the ANA Inspiration in early April. The new protocols also set up rules officials to monitor TV broadcasts beginning next year.

“Clearly, that case has been something of a focus point for us,” Rickman said.

Thompson reacted to the new protocols in an Instagram post.

“I applaud the USGA and the R&A for their willingness to revise the Rules of Golf to address certain unfortunate situations that have arisen several times in the game of golf,” Thompson wrote. “In my case, I am thankful no one else will have to deal with an outcome such as mine in the future.”

Thompson was penalized two shots for improperly returning her ball to its mark on a green during Saturday’s round after a viewer emailed LPGA officials during Sunday’s broadcast. She was penalized two more shots for signing an incorrect scorecard for her Saturday round. Thompson ultimately lost in a playoff to So Yeon Ryu.

The new protocols will also eliminate the additional two-shot penalty a player receives for failing to include a penalty when a player was unaware of the penalty.

Shortly after the ANA Inspiration, the USGA and R&A led the formation of a video review working group, which included the PGA Tour, LPGA, European Tour, Ladies European Tour and PGA of America.

Also, just three weeks after Thompson was hit with the four-shot penalty, the USGA and R&A released a new Rules of Golf decision decision (34-3/10) limiting video evidence in two ways:

1. If an infraction can’t be seen with the naked eye, there’s no penalty, even if video shows otherwise.

2. If a tournament committee determines that a player does “all that can be reasonably expected to make an accurate estimation or measurement” in determining a line or position to play from or to spot a ball, then there will be no penalty even if video replay later shows that to be wrong.

While the USGA and R&A said the new decision wasn’t based on Thompson’s ANA incident, LPGA players immediately began calling it the “Lexi Rule.”

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PGA Tour, LPGA react to video review rules changes

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 11, 2017, 1:32 pm

The USGA and R&A announced on Monday updates to the Rules of Golf, including no longer accepting call-ins relating to violations. The PGA Tour and LPGA, which were both part of a working group of entities who voted on the changes, issued the following statements:

PGA Tour:

The PGA Tour has worked closely with the USGA and R&A on this issue in recent years, and today's announcement is another positive step to ensure the Rules of Golf align with how the game is presented and viewed globally. The PGA Tour will adopt the new Local Rule beginning January 1, 2018 and evolve our protocols for reviewing video evidence as outlined.

LPGA:

We are encouraged by the willingness of the governing bodies to fully vet the issues and implement real change at a pace much quicker than the sport has seen previously. These new adaptations, coupled with changes announced earlier this year, are true and meaningful advances for the game. The LPGA plans to adopt fully the protocols and new Local Rule as outlined.

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Sharma closes on Monday, wins Joburg Open

By Associated PressDecember 11, 2017, 12:43 pm

JOHANNESBURG – Shubhankar Sharma won his first European Tour title by a shooting 3-under 69 Monday in the final round of the weather-delayed Joburg Open.

The 21-year-old Indian resumed his round on the eighth green after play was halted early Sunday afternoon because of storms. He parred that hole, birdied No. 9 and made par on every hole on the back nine.


Full-field scores from the Joburg Open


Sharma finished at 23-under 264, three strokes ahead of the pack, and qualified for next year's British Open, too.

''I actually wasn't going to come here about a week ago ... so I'm really happy that I came,'' said Sharma, who shot 61 in the second round. ''I don't think I'm ever going forget my first time in South Africa.''

Erik van Rooyen (66) was second, three strokes ahead of Shaun Norris (65) and Tapio Pulkkanen (68).

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Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 11, 2017, 12:30 pm