Furman reverses course; men's team stays alive

By Ryan LavnerFebruary 25, 2014, 4:02 pm

The Furman men’s golf team has been saved – and likely not just in the short-term. 

The Greenville, S.C., school, which announced Feb. 7 that it was discontinuing the men’s team after the 2014 season because of budget cuts, reversed course Tuesday and said that the program would remain active.

“It’s a great day, filled with a lot of emotions,” 18-year head coach Todd Satterfield said by phone. “This is a testament to our alumni and how much they love this golf program. For everyone to get behind it has been incredible. Golf is a pretty close-knit community, and it’s great to feel that again.” 

Last week, GolfChannel.com reported that there were signs of optimism surrounding the program. Six alumni, led by eight-time PGA Tour winner and former Furman player Brad Faxon, sent a proposal to fellow alums, family and friends outlining a plan that would keep alive the men’s program. The original plan called for the group to raise nearly $300,000, which would cover the team’s operating expenses for the next two years. Athletic director Gary Clark said in an email that the funds would need to be available as they head into the next school year, but that the supporters are “well on the way to reaching the short-term goal.” After that, they would need to fund an endowment that would keep the program afloat for the foreseeable future, though no deadline has been set.

In a statement released Tuesday, interim president Carl Kohrt said the plan provides the “necessary financial support to sustain the men’s golf program at a highly competitive level while allowing the university to retain the cost reductions realized by the board’s original decision.”

Satterfield added that he is confident that this is not just a short-term fix but also a long-term solution: “I really feel like the trustees would not have done it if it wasn’t going to continue. They don’t want to revisit it in four to five years.”

Wrote Clark, the athletic director, in an email to GolfChannel.com: “We are very confident that the synergy being created among the many stakeholders helping move our men’s golf program forward will not only be a long-term solution but a model for other sports at Furman.”

Furman is facing a financial hardship, estimated to lose about $6.3 million in the 2014-15 fiscal year. The men’s golf team, which sits outside the top 125 in Golfstat’s rankings, has one of the smallest budgets in the Southern Conference – about $400,000, which includes salaries, travel and scholarships. It’s also worth noting that the Paladins have 13 conference titles, more than any other school. 

“We are all proud alums of the Furman golf program, and none of us wanted to see it discontinued,” Faxon, a 1983 graduate, said in a release. “So we talked with university officials, and discussed what we could do to bring the program back. … The outpouring of support from Furman alumni and the golf community has been amazing.”

An online petition began circulating within hours of the news that the program would be cut. It was started by 2006 graduate T.J. Blandford, and it soon had more than 2,500 signees.

Blandford was one of the six alums on the proposal, along with Faxon, Frank Ford (1974), Cordes Ford (1998), Jeff DeLoach (1999) and Rob Langley (2005).

“This plan allows both sides to achieve a win-win,” Langley said in the statement. “The golf alumni are re-energized and committed to doing everything possible to strength the men’s golf program for the long-term, which includes driving successful fundraising campaigns to support the program.”

It’s not the first – and likely won’t be the last – time that alumni have rushed to help a program marked for elimination. In 2002, it appeared that the Minnesota men’s golf team would be cut before a last-minute reprieve from boosters, who raised more than $1 million to preserve the program for another year. Incredibly, the Gophers went on to win the NCAA title that year.   

When the announcement was made Tuesday, the Paladins were – quite fittingly – on the course during their spring opener, the John Hayt Invitational in Jacksonville. 

Sophomore Wehman Hopke was beating himself up after a 4-foot miss on the 14th hole when Satterfield approached.

“I’m going to tell you something right now that’s going to make you feel a heck of a lot better,” the coach told him. 

Sure enough, Hopke lit up at hearing the news, the bogey now an afterthought.

“The guys have a little bounce in their step now,” Satterfield said.

After a tumultuous 2 ½ weeks ended in smiles, why wouldn’t they?

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The Social: G.O.A.T., after G.O.A.T., after G.O.A.T.

By Jason CrookJanuary 23, 2018, 6:00 pm

Tom Brady compares himself to Tiger Woods, who coincidentally is returning to the PGA Tour this week, Jordan Spieth hangs out with some decent company and kids these days ruffle some feathers with their friendships.

All that and more in this week's edition of The Social.

Well, it’s finally Farmers Insurance Open week and Woods has been spotted practicing for his official return to the PGA Tour on Thursday.

Some thought this day might never come after a 2017 filled with mostly downs for the 14-time major champ.

But as he has taught the golf world time and time again, you just can't count Tiger out.

So even as Jon Rahm attempts to overtake Dustin Johnson for No. 1 in the world this week at Torrey Pines, all eyes will be on one of the greatest we've ever seen do it, even if that guy is ranked No. 647 in the world.

Speaking of greatness …

There’s not many who can just offhandedly compare themselves to Tiger, but if anyone gets a pass, it’s Tom Brady.

The 40-year-old New England Patriots quarterback led his team back to the Super Bowl for the second straight year despite playing the AFC title game with a cut on his throwing hand.

When asked about it after the Patriots come-from-behind victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars, Brady answered, “I think it's kind of arrogant to say it bothered me when we had a pretty good game, so I wouldn't say that. It's like when Tiger Woods said, ‘That was my C game’ and he won the tournament.”

So there you have it. A 40-year-old Brady is winning AFC Championships with his C game. Good luck, Eagles; you’re going to need it.

Also, if for some reason you wanted an update on Justin Thomas' life, it's still awesome:

Yeah, that's last year's PGA Tour Player of the Year hanging with Cy Young winner Cory Kluber in a suite at the Patriots game and teasing us with a possible #SB2K18 cameo.

Curtis Strange likes his competitive golf straight up, hold the friendliness.

This, according to Curtis Strange.

The two-time U.S. Open champ took to Twitter during the CareerBuilder Challenge to vent his frustration regarding the constant chit-chat and friendliness between Rahm and Andrew Landry:

This, of course, makes sense in theory. But good luck watching golf – or really any sport – from here on out. Sure there will be a few old school guys who buck the trend here and there, but for the most part, it’s really hard to share a private jet/dinners/vacations/(insert awesome thing here) with someone, and then completely turn off the friendship coming down the stretch of a big tournament.

Damn millennials. They ruin everything.

By now you've all seen that poor Philadelphia Eagles fan who lost his battle with a subway station pillar (from multiple angles), so instead here is a video of a man attempting to stand on an egg. Bet you can't guess how that goes.

Tony's gonna stand on an egg

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Seriously if you haven't seen the video of that Eagles fan, here's your last chance in this column. You'll be glad you did.

Jordan Spieth, Michael Phelps and Bryce Harper walk on to a golf course … there’s no punchline, that actually happened last week in Las Vegas.

Was the whole thing just a big advertisement for Spieth’s new Under Armour shoe? You bet.

But that doesn’t make the optics of three of the biggest superstar athletes on the planet teeing it up for a round any less awesome.

Off to the next. #Spieth2 #TEAMUA

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The trio has three major wins, five All Star Game appearances and 28 Olympic medals between them, and there they were over the weekend just fake laughing for the camera and driving around individual golf carts with their own personalized logos on them.

Just guys being dudes. Nothing better than that.

Matt Kuchar. Still good at golf. Still overly polite. This according to European Tour pro Eddie Pepperell who had the privilege of hitting on the range next to Kuuuuuch in Abu Dhabi last week.

That image is burned into your brain forever now, thanks Eddie. From now on when you think of Kuchar you're going to think of those Sketches ads and "oopsies."

Which, I suppose is better than a, "Did you get that?"

Blayne Barber's caddie, Cory Gilmer, collapsed and hit his head while at a restaurant at the Sony Open and has been mostly unconscious in the neurological intensive care unit ever since.

The outpouring of love and support from the golf community has been overwhelming on social media, and a GoFundMe page has been set up to help with the mounting medical costs for Gilmer and his family.

Check out the link below for more info or to donate to a worthy cause:

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Top-ranked amateur wins LAAC, earns Masters invite

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 23, 2018, 5:38 pm

Joaquin Niemann walked Augusta National Golf Club as a patron last year. He’ll be a competitor in 2018.

Niemann, the top-ranked amateur in the world, shot 8-under 63 Tuesday at Prince of Wales Country Club in his native Santiago, Chile, to win the Latin America Amateur Championship.

And with the title, both redemption and an invitation to the Masters Tournament.

Full-field scores from the Latin America Amateur Championship

Niemann finished runner-up in last year’s LAAC to fellow Chilean Toto Gana. He followed Gana around Augusta grounds, watching as his best friend played two rounds before missing the cut.

Niemann, who was going to turn professional had he not won this week, started the final round one back of Mexico’s Alvaro Ortiz. Niemann was sluggish from the start on Tuesday, but then drove the 313-yard, par-4 eighth and made the eagle putt. That sparked a run of five birdies over his next six holes.

Niemann was bogey-free in the final round and finished five shots clear of Ortiz, at 11 under.

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Judges Panel, Host Announced for Wilson Golf's "Driver vs. Driver 2," Premiering This Fall on Golf Channel

By Golf Channel Public RelationsJanuary 23, 2018, 4:15 pm

‘Driver vs. Driver 2 Presented by Wilson Currently in Production; Sports Broadcaster Melanie Collins Returns to Host

Morning Drive: Driver vs. Driver 2 Judges Announced

Golf Channel and Wilson Golf announced today the panel of judges and host for the second season of Driver vs. Driver, the innovative television series that follows aspiring golf equipment designers as they compete for the opportunity to have their driver idea or concept transformed into the next great golf driver from Wilson. The show is currently in production and will premiere this fall.

Joining judge Tim Clarke, President of Wilson Golf, are two newcomers to the series: 9-time National Hockey League (NHL) All-Star and current NHL on NBC hockey analyst Jeremy Roenick – an avid golfer with a single digit handicap and a self-described golf equipment junkie; and PGA Professional, golf coach, equipment reviewer and social media influencer Rick Shiels.

“Golf is a big passion of mine, and personally I enjoy learning about new equipment and concepts,” said Roenick. “To be able to see this side of the business in how equipment is developed first-hand is fascinating. Being a part of the process in reviewing driver concepts and narrowing them down to an ultimate winning driver that will be sold across the country is a tremendous honor.” 

“Jeremy, as an avid golfer, and Rick, as a coach, equipment reviewer and golf professional, bring incredible, real world insights and different perspectives to the show and this process,” said Clarke. “I’m excited to work alongside these two judges to push the boundaries of innovation and bring a next-generation driver to golfers around the world.”

Sports broadcaster Melanie Collins returns as the host of Driver vs. Driver 2. Currently a sideline reporter for CBS Sports’ college football and basketball coverage, Collins hosted the inaugural season in 2016 and formerly co-hosted Golf Channel’s competition series, Big Break.

Production for Driver vs. Driver 2 began in the fall of 2017 and will continue through the summer, including this week at the PGA Merchandise Show. The series is being produced by Golf Channel, whose portfolio of original productions include interview series Feherty hosted by Emmy-nominated sports personality David Feherty, high-quality instruction shows School of Golf, Golf Channel Academy and Playing Lessons and a slate of award-winning films.

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Tiger Tracker: Farmers Insurance Open

By Tiger TrackerJanuary 23, 2018, 4:00 pm

Tiger Woods is competing in a full-field event for the first time in nearly a year. We're tracking him at this week's Farmers Insurance Open. (Note: Tweets read, in order, left to right)