20 Years of Golf: How quickly time flies

By Jason SobelJanuary 16, 2015, 1:25 pm

(Editor’s note: Golf Channel turns 20 years old on Jan. 17. In recognition, we are looking back at golf over the last two decades with a series of articles and photo galleries throughout the week.)

Twenty years ago doesn’t sound like such a long time. Only two little decades. Seems like just yesterday, right? Well, consider these golf-related factoids…

Twenty years ago, the game’s best players were still hitting balata balls with persimmon drivers – and if they opted for a more conservative approach, there was always the trusty 1-iron.

Twenty years ago, Tiger Woods had yet to declare, “Hello, world.” Winning major championships was still but a gleam in the eye of a straw hat-wearing, baggy shirt-clad college kid.

Twenty years ago, an emotional Ben Crenshaw, a mustachioed Corey Pavin and a brawny John Daly were each major champions, while a guy nicknamed Shark won most of the PGA Tour’s major awards.

And then there’s this: Twenty years ago, Golf Channel was born.

If it seems like just yesterday, you can be excused. It’s been a pretty quick two decades.

The brainchild of Joe Gibbs and beneficiary of Arnold Palmer, the network originally branded as “The Golf Channel” was television’s version of a 260-yard carry over water to a small green. In other words, it was the ultimate risk-reward.


20 Years of Golf: Articles and photo galleries


With a vision toward becoming the only network to cover all-golf, all the time, the idea was met with skepticism and reservations. The first tournament on its air was the Dubai Desert Classic, won by Fred Couples, whose cool exterior demeanor shrouding unseen anxiety could have served as a metaphor for the channel.

Since then, golf has grown and Golf Channel has grown right alongside it.

The game’s elite players hit it farther than ever before. Tournament purses are bigger than they’ve ever been. And it can be argued that competition at the highest levels has never been stauncher, with fields much deeper than two decades ago.

Throughout this metamorphosis, Golf Channel has covered each of these issues and so many more from every possible angle. You can argue the points that have been made; you can argue the opinions that have been expressed. But any argument against the unparalleled coverage is easily dismissed.

The game of golf has roots all around the globe. It doesn’t belong to anywhere, though. It lives all around us - in major cities and small towns, in lush green pastures and muddy dirt fields.

St. Andrews bills itself as the “Home of Golf” – and rightfully so, as anyone with a slight knowledge of the game’s history will attest. Augusta National offers its most familiar vistas, Pebble Beach its most beautiful.

Just outside the front doors to Golf Channel’s headquarters exists a sign with arrows pointing in the directions of these three iconic locations and so many other recognizable landmarks. It might not mark a starting point or even some central nervous system, but just like the winner of the first tournament on air, it could all serve as a metaphor for the channel.

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McIlroy 'happy to be back', can 'empathize' with Tiger

By Associated PressJanuary 16, 2018, 3:50 pm

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates – After a long layoff from golf, Rory McIlroy has some newfound sympathy for Tiger Woods.

The 28-year-old Northern Irishman is making a comeback at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship after ending his season early last year. He has not played a round since the final day of the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship on Oct. 8.

McIlroy, a four-time major champion who has slipped to No. 11 in the world rankings, last won the Tour Championship on the PGA Tour in September 2016. He injured a rib in his first outing of 2017 – at the South African Open – and felt its after-effects throughout the year.

McIlroy, who has seven top-five finishes in his last eight starts in Abu Dhabi, said Tuesday he felt mentally low because of his physical issues.

''Honestly, I was excited to be done. I could have shut it down after the PGA Championship very easily and taken the rest of the year off, but I didn't. I played six events after that, played OK and had a chance to win one of them,'' McIlroy said. ''But I was just excited to take that time off and get myself just sort of a re-set.''

Last week, McIlroy also revealed that he has a minor, non-threatening heart condition that needs regular check-ups.

''After that 3-plus months of a re-set, I'm very happy to be back. I felt like I needed it physically and mentally. I just felt like it was a little bit of a sabbatical. I've been out here for 10 years, and I want to get ready for the next 10.''

McIlroy compared his situation to what Woods has been going through.

''I've only been through, maybe, not even 5 percent of what he's had to go through. And you can tell from where he was to where he is now mentally, because of physically where he is ... he's a totally different person,'' McIlroy said. ''Of course, I empathize with him, and I know he was in a dark place there for a while. It's just so great to see him out of that and back and excited to be playing golf again.''

The Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship will be the first of back-to-back events for McIlroy, who is also playing next week in Dubai.

''I think the next two weeks will be a big learning curve, just to see where I'm at,'' McIlroy said. ''I'm obviously coming into the events trying to play as well as I can and trying to compete and trying to win, but I think there will definitely be things I'll have to work on going into that stretch in the States.''

The tournament, which starts Thursday, has attracted some big names, including top-ranked Dustin Johnson, No. 6 Justin Rose, No. 9 Henrik Stenson, No. 14 Paul Casey and No. 15 Matt Kuchar. No. 18 Tommy Fleetwood is the defending champion.

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Pre-tourney caution be damned: Stenson rides camel

By Grill Room TeamJanuary 16, 2018, 3:29 pm

If you were under the impression Henrik Stenson's days engaging pre-tournament hijinks at HSBC-sponsored events were over, then you don't know the Swedish Superman.

Ahead of this week's HSBC Abu Dhabi Golf Championship, the 2016 champion golfer of the year decided to have some fun riding (and pretend-spanking) a camel:

If you can't imagine any reason Stenson wouldn't get on a camel, we will point you to the WGCC-HSBC Champions back in October, when Stenson, Dustin Johnson, Haotong Li and Hideki Matsuyama took place in this hire-wire act:

Two weeks later, Stenson revealed a rib injury, and a report from the U.K.'s Telegraph stated "that not only was the Shanghai caper to blame, but that Stenson is annoyed about being persuaded to do it in the first place."

Stenson brushed back at that report in this Instagram post, saying that his "comment about not being Superman was a sarcastic way of saying that I am susceptible to injury like any other athlete and sometimes these things happen when you least expect them. I was pleased to help promote the HSBC Champions and to continue my string of success at the event and I was never forced to do anything. HSBC is a great sponsor to golf worldwide and I am not happy to see them being made responsible for my withdrawal."

I’m disappointed to have to pre-emptively withdraw from the Nedbank Golf Challenge Hosted by Gary Player, I was looking forward to this important year-end event on the European Tour. At this point I am back home in Orlando waiting to do a scan on my ribs and get the necessary rest. I am still hoping for a quick recovery and have not ruled out playing in Dubai next week at this point. My comment about not being Superman was a sarcastic way of saying that I am susceptible to injury like any other athlete and sometimes these things happen when you least expect them. I was pleased to help promote the HSBC Champions and to continue my string of success at the event and I was never forced to do anything. HSBC is a great sponsor to golf worldwide and I am not happy to see them being made responsible for my withdrawal. The plan as of now will be to participate in the DP World Championship if my body is back to 100%. H

A post shared by Henrik Stenson (@henrikstenson) on

And it would appear he genuinely meant those comments, at least enough to get on a camel.

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Spieth, McIlroy to support Major Champions Invitational

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:25 pm

Nick Faldo announced Tuesday the creation of the Major Champions Invitational.

The event, scheduled for March 12-14, is an extension of the Faldo Series and will feature both male and female junior players at Bella Collina in Montverde, Fla.

Jordan Spieth, Rory Mcllroy, Annika Sorenstam, Adam Scott, Henrik Stenson, Jerry Pate and John Daly have already committed to supporting the event, which is aimed at mentoring and inspiring the next generation of players.  

“I’m incredibly excited about hosting the Major Champions Invitational, and about the players who have committed to support the event,” Faldo said. “This event will allow major champions to give something back to the game that has given them so much, and hopefully, in time, it will become one of the most elite junior golf events in the world.”

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Rosaforte: Woods plays with Obama, gets rave reviews

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:15 pm

Golf Channel insider Tim Rosaforte reports on Tiger Woods’ recent round at The Floridian in Palm City, Fla., alongside President Barack Obama.

Check out the video, as Rosaforte says Woods received rave reviews from instructor Claude Harmon.