Happy Campers

By Adam BarrJune 24, 2006, 4:00 pm
PUEBLO, Colo. -- Occasionally, I get to cover the match play portions of some of the U.S. Golf Association championships. Its one of the most pleasant parts of my job. This week, its the U.S. Womens Amateur Publinx Championship at Walking Stick Golf Course here.
I like majors, but this is quite a switch from last weeks assignment at Winged Foot. Less crowds, less media, less hype, no badges, no parking shuttleyou get the idea. And some of the big-time colleagues I meet at the mens majors scoff when I say how much I like the lesser USGA championships. Senior Womens Open? Amateur Publinx? Dont they shoot, like, a hundred and play six-hour rounds?
Nope. They come to play. They get it done. They dont blame caddies, snarl at photographers, or slam clubs. Its solid, interesting match play golf.
But the main reason I like these events is the kids. I see them everywhere, often girls of 10 or 11 or 12, following matches, watching in the shade of a tree as the action goes by. Looking intently at form, function, strategy. Planning their golf careers and wishing.
A 13-year-old and two 14-year-olds made it to match play in this event. They had to start somewhere.
A golf camp, perhaps?
It seems we are a day-camp nation. Once the kids are out of school, we are in a mad rush to keep them occupied, and for that reason the day camp industry thrives. Science camp, volleyball camp, basketball, soccer, you name it ' three or four hours every morning for a week or two. Line up a few of those and you can help your kid avoid summer boredom without overscheduling the little tyke. You hope.
There are golf day camps too, and Little Tyke Barr (aka Joseph) was signed up for the one at our home course, Windermere Country Club, outside Orlando. By the time I dropped him off for the Wednesday session, he was a couple days into it and having a ball. That morning, there were at least 20 kids of various ages putting and chipping, and many said hello to him.
O.K., Kiddo, theres your clubs. Be sure to pay attention to Mr. Brad. Mommy will be here to pick you up.
Dad! Dont go yet! Let me show you how I can chip.
I smiled. My wife and I are a golf-crazy couple, and we have hoped for a long time that Joseph would make it a golf-nutso family. But we didnt want to push ' after all, he likes basketball and soccer too ' and perhaps we have erred on the side of underpromoting.
But apparently, it has worked. He chips pretty well, and his putting is coming along. Hell beat his Dad in, oha few months, right?
Main thing is, he was having a blast. Thats thanks largely to the work of Mr. Brad, Brad Latimer to us big folks. Hes the head pro at our club, and he runs the kids program every summer. Five-year-olds and up can come. And no matter how good a teacher you may be, as a parent you need to just back away sometimes.
Its good for the kids to relate to other kids in their age group and actually play golf with them, instead of just hitting balls, Latimer said. And its good for them to see older kids and how they have progressed. The 8-year-olds teach the five-year-olds where to stand, what club to use, and a lot more.
When choosing a golf camp, parents should look for on-course time, Latimer says.
Until somebody gets on the course and understands why you have to hit a particular shot, the shot just wont make sense, Latimer said. Thats true for adult beginners as well.
To manage that on-course time and deal with young attention spans, Latimer and his lieutenants keep the kids moving. Fifteen to 20 minutes of short game, perhaps a half hour on the range, then on to the next stop, with course time last in the three-hour daily curriculum. Plenty of water breaks, and drills punctuated with brief, impromptu hitting contests.
But isnt there a babysitting element to all this? How do you keep it fun while getting some learning in? How do you keep them coming back?
Keep reminding them of all the positive things theyre doing, Latimer says, with not a little emphasis. If they hit a bad shot, find something positive ' the finish, the stance, something they did right. And dont make it up.
Who wouldnt want to learn like that?
Of course, there is a safety element too. Latimer and his staff can get through a whole week without a kid catching a clubhead under the chin. Thats because there are rules: 10 to 12 feet away when swinging, and only at the designated times. If someone gets wild, Brad chalks a one-foot smiley-face circle onto the turf, and thats where that kid must stay to hit until he settles things down.
And if anyone backswings at the wrong time or place, I just take his club, Latimer says. We rarely have any problems after the first day.
Latimer seems to have the perfect personality for this job. Surely he must have had, what, 11 or 12 younger siblings, right?
Nah, he says. Im an only child. Its just that I like kids. Nothing they do seems to bother me.
What would bother him is a kid losing a chance to come to golf -- or come back to it. Coming back led to Brad to a life in the game.
'When I was a kid, I played in a tournament and ran out of balls, so I had to quit,' Brad said. 'I cried all the way in, and I really didn't play for a long time.
'But seven years later, when someone asked me to play, I had mostly fond memories of the game,' he said. 'I had been playing other sports, but when I came back to golf, I stayed.'
And now it's his career, and a fulfilling one. As for the children he teaches now, Brad is realistic about the many reasons people play the game.
'My goal is not to produce little Tigers, but to create an environment in which junior golfers can learn and have fun,' Brad says. 'But more than that, I want them to have the tools to become good golfers if they want to. I want them to be able to play together, to root for each other. So even if they go on to other sports -- as so many kids do -- when they get a chance to return to golf, they have the same kind of fond memories I did.'
Until Brads canonization, hell be continuing with his teaching at Windermere, both kids and adults. And the kids day camps, whether at private clubs like Windermere or at First Tee chapters or at muni courses all over North America, will continue to bring kids to the game, one at a time.
Because we all have to start somewhere.
Email your thoughts to Adam Barr
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How to watch The Open on TV and online

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 19, 2018, 5:40 am

You want to watch the 147th Open? Here’s how you can do it.

Golf Channel and NBC Sports will be televising 182 hours of overall programming from the men's third major of the year at Carnoustie

In addition to the traditional coverage, the two networks will showcase three live alternate feeds: marquee groups, featured holes (our new 3-hole channel) and spotlight action. You can also watch replays of full-day coverage, Thursday-Sunday, in the Golf Channel app, NBC Sports apps, and on GolfChannel.com.  

Here’s the weekly TV schedule, with live stream links in parentheses. You can view all the action on the Golf Channel mobile, as well. Alternate coverage is noted in italics:

(All times Eastern; GC=Golf Channel; NBC=NBC Sports; GC.com=GolfChannel.com or check the GLE app)

Monday, July 16

GC: 7-9AM: Morning Drive (stream.golfchannel.com)

GC: 9-11AM: Live From The Open (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)

GC: 7-9PM: Live From The Open (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)

Tuesday, July 17

GC: 6AM-2PM: Live From The Open (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)

Wednesday, July 18

GC: 6AM-2PM: Live From The Open (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)

Thursday, July 19

GC: Midnight-1:30AM: Midnight Drive (stream.golfchannel.com)

GC: Day 1: The Open, live coverage: 1:30AM-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

GC.com: Day 1: The Open, Spotlight: 1:30AM-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/spotlight)

GC.com: Day 1: The Open, Marquee Groups: 4AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/marqueegroup)

GC.com: Day 1: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 4AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/3holechannel)

GC: Live From The Open: 4-5PM (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)

Friday, July 20

GC: Day 2: The Open, live coverage: 1:30AM-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

GC.com: Day 2: The Open, Spotlight: 1:30AM-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/spotlight)

GC.com: Day 2: The Open, Marquee Groups: 4AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/marqueegroup)

GC.com: Day 2: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 4AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/3holechannel)

GC: Live From The Open: 4-5PM (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)

Saturday, July 21

GC: Day 3: The Open, live coverage: 4:30-7AM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

NBC: Rd. 3: The Open, live coverage: 7AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

GC.com: Day 3: The Open, Spotlight: 4:30AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/spotlight)

GC.com: Day 3: The Open, Marquee Groups: 5AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/marqueegroup)

GC.com: Day 3: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 5AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/3holechannel)

GC: Live From The Open: 3-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)

Sunday, July 22

GC: Day 4: The Open, live coverage: 4:30-7AM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

NBC: Rd. 4: The Open, live coverage: 7AM-2:30PM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

GC.com: Day 4: The Open, Spotlight: 4:30AM-2:30PM (www.golfchannel.com/spotlight)

GC.com: Day 4: The Open, Marquee Groups: 5AM-2PM (www.golfchannel.com/marqueegroup)

GC.com: Day 4: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 5AM-2PM (www.golfchannel.com/3holechannel)

GC: Live From The Open: 2:30-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)

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The Open 101: A guide to the year's third major

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 19, 2018, 5:30 am

Take a look at some answers to frequently asked questions about The Open:

What's all this "The Open" stuff? I thought it was the British Open.

What you call it has historically depended on where you were. If you were in the U.S., you called it the British Open, just as Europeans refer to the PGA Championship as the U.S. PGA. Outside the U.S. it generally has been referred to as The Open Championship. The preferred name of the organizers is The Open.

How old is it?

It's the oldest golf championship, dating back to 1860.

Where is it played?

There is a rotation – or "rota" – of courses used. Currently there are 10: Royal Birkdale, Royal St. George's, Royal Liverpool and Royal Lytham and St. Annes, all in England; Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland and St. Andrews, Carnoustie, Royal Troon, Turnberry and Muirfield, all in Scotland. Muirfield was removed from the rota in 2016 when members voted against allowing female members, but when the vote was reversed in 2017 it was allowed back in.

Where will it be played this year?

At Carnoustie, which is located on the south-eastern shore of Scotland.

Who has won The Open on that course?

Going back to the first time Carnoustie hosted, in 1931, winners there have been Tommy Armour, Henry Cotton (1937), Ben Hogan (1953), Gary Player (1968), Tom Watson (1975), Paul Lawrie (1999), Padraig Harrington (2007).

Wasn't that the year Hogan nearly won the Slam?

Yep. He had won the Masters and U.S. Open that season, then traveled to Carnoustie and won that as well. It was the only time he ever played The Open. He was unable to play the PGA Championship that season because the dates conflicted with those of The Open.

Jean Van de Velde's name should be on that list, right?

This is true. He had a three-shot lead on the final hole in 1999 and made triple bogey. He lost in a playoff to Lawrie, which also included Justin Leonard.

Who has won this event the most?

Harry Vardon, who was from the Channel Island of Jersey, won a record six times between 1896 and 1914. Australian Peter Thomson, American Watson, Scot James Braid and Englishman J.H. Taylor each won five times.

What about the Morrises?

Tom Sr. won four times between 1861 and 1867. His son, Tom Jr., also won four times, between 1868 and 1872.

Have players from any particular country dominated?

In the early days, Scots won the first 29 Opens – not a shocker since they were all played at one of three Scottish courses, Prestwick, St. Andrews and Musselburgh. In the current era, going back to 1999 (we'll explain why that year in a minute), the scoreboard is United States, nine wins; South Africa, three wins; Ireland, two wins; Northern Ireland, two wins; and Sweden, one win. The only Scot to win in that period was Lawrie, who took advantage of one of the biggest collapses in golf history.

Who is this year's defending champion?

That would be American Jordan Spieth, who survived an adventerous final round to defeat Matt Kuchar by three strokes and earn the third leg of the career Grand Slam.

What is the trophy called?

The claret jug. It's official name is the Golf Champion Trophy, but you rarely hear that used. The claret jug replaced the original Challenge Belt in 1872. The winner of the claret jug gets to keep it for a year, then must return it (each winner gets a replica to keep).

Which Opens have been the most memorable?

Well, there was Palmer in 1961and '62; Van de Velde's collapse in 1999; Hogan's win in 1953; Tiger Woods' eight-shot domination of the 2000 Open at St. Andrews; Watson almost winning at age 59 in 2009; Doug Sanders missing what would have been a winning 3-foot putt at St. Andrews in 1970; Tony Jacklin becoming the first Briton to win the championship in 18 years; and, of course, the Duel in the Sun at Turnberry in 1977, in which Watson and Jack Nicklaus dueled head-to-head over the final 36 holes, Watson winning by shooting 65-65 to Nicklaus' 65-66.

When I watch this tournament on TV, I hear lots of unfamiliar terms, like "gorse" and "whin" and "burn." What do these terms mean?

Gorse is a prickly shrub, which sometimes is referred to as whin. Heather is also a shrub. What the scots call a burn, would also be considered a creek or stream.

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Four players vying for DJ's No. 1 ranking at Open

By Ryan LavnerJuly 18, 2018, 8:41 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Four players have an opportunity to overtake Dustin Johnson for world No. 1 this week.

According to Golf Channel world-rankings guru Alan Robinson, Justin Thomas, Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka and Jon Rahm each can grab the top spot in the world ranking.

Thomas’ path is the easiest. He would return to No. 1 with either a win and Johnson finishing worse than solo third, or even a solo runner-up finish as long as Johnson finishes worse than 49th.

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

Twenty years after his auspicious performance in The Open, Rose can get to No. 1 for the first time with a victory and Johnson finishing worse than a two-way tie for third.

Kopeka can rise to No. 1 if he wins consecutive majors, assuming that his good friend posts worse than a three-way tie for third.

And Rahm can claim the top spot with a win this week, a Johnson missed cut and a Thomas finish of worse than solo second.   

Johnson’s 15-month reign as world No. 1 ended after The Players. He wasn’t behind Thomas for long, however: After a tie for eighth at the Memorial, Johnson blew away the field in Memphis and then finished third at the U.S. Open to solidify his position at the top.