National Golf Links has a grip on Crenshaw

By Damon HackSeptember 6, 2013, 12:50 am

“How’s your grip?” Ben Crenshaw asks on the other end of the phone, and I start to fumble for words.

This is not why I’m calling the World Golf Hall of Fame member – I want to talk about the National Golf Links of America, site of this weekend’s Walker Cup matches – but I tell him I just shot 41 for nine.

I’m mortified – how does 41 sound to Ben Crenshaw? – but he was only following up on a grip lesson he gave me after we shared a round at Streamsong in January. He wants to know if I’ve been working on it. With Ben, it’s all about the fundamentals.

The same can be said for the golf course Crenshaw calls “one of my favorite places in the world,” a golf course whose fundamentals are so sound it just might be perfect.

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It is the National, a course Crenshaw visits every year, a course that has informed him both as a player and a golf course architect.

“It is a nod to the past, it is a nod to yesterday,” he explains. “I love that clubhouse. It is an ancient, brooding place. The land is brilliant and beautiful. You really feel like you are playing at a cousin to the golf courses of the British Isles. It has such great feeling and character.”

Twenty amateurs will walk these grounds in competition Saturday and Sunday, but NBC’s television cameras will be poised on the course as much as the players.

The first Walker Cup was contested at the National in 1922, 14 years after the club was founded under the leadership of Charles Blair Macdonald, who worked with the engineer Seth Raynor to shape the future of American golf.

“Charlie Macdonald was determined to elevate the face of golf architecture in this country, and he did it in spectacular fashion,” Crenshaw says.

He calls him Charlie. I didn’t see that coming.

“I don’t think I’ve ever played a Charlie Macdonald or Seth Raynor golf course where I didn’t remember the features – the immense bunkers, the rolling greens, the distance and quality of the holes,” Crenshaw says. “There are so many wonderful puzzles in playing the National. Long holes, short holes, fun holes, heroic carries, magnificent greens. I heard it said that there used to be 365 bunkers – one for every day of the year.”

I asked Crenshaw to compare it to its long-time neighbor, Shinnecock Hills, which will host the United States Open in 2018.

“Shinnecock is a sterner test, and it’s ironic that they are right next door,” he says. “Fun is the operative word at the National.”

Over the years it has become rote to describe the National as an ode to the great Scottish links, but Crenshaw believes that notion is a simplification.

“Yes, a majority of the holes are replicas of famous holes overseas, but they have a touch of character that makes them play a little different,” he says. “You play the Alps hole, the 17th, at Prestwick and then you play the third hole at the National, you can see the features, but they are entirely different,” Crenshaw says. “Macdonald put his own stamp of character on them. I, for one, think the Redan hole, No. 4 at the National, is a better hole than the original at North Berwick.”

Crenshaw says he is excited for the teams from the United States and Great Britain and Ireland – “young and impressionable” – to play a golf course that represents the blossoming of American golf.

He predicts that the players from overseas will feel comfortable at the National, just as their forebears did in 1922, despite an 8-4 defeat.

The great golf writer Bernard Darwin covered the event for the Times of London and took a spot on the team when one member fell ill. (He defeated William C. Fownes, the 1910 U.S. Amateur champion, 3 and 1).

Nearly 30 years into his own golf design career with Bill Coore, Crenshaw says he can’t help but reference the National in various ways.

“We think about that course a lot and we talk about its principles,” he says. “Holes that are fun to play, holes that everyone can enjoy, that are spacious, really bold, and that have elasticity.”

How many golfers speak like this, I quietly ask myself, typing furiously as Crenshaw continues. He seems willing to talk about this great romance forever, but I know I should let him go.

“I don’t think there is a prettier site in golf,” he says.

I bid him farewell and reach for my 6-iron.

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Garwood (64) leads Dick's Sporting Goods Open

By Associated PressAugust 17, 2018, 9:53 pm

ENDICOTT, N.Y. - Doug Garwood birdied the final three holes for an 8-under 64 and the first-round lead Friday in the Dick's Sporting Goods Open.

The 55-year-old Garwood had nine birdies and a bogey, playing his final nine holes - the front nine at En-Joie Golf Club - in 6-under 31.

''Drove it well, hit the irons well, pitched well, putted well, thought well,'' Garwood said. ''I got to a point I was just making birdies and I kind of lost track of how it was going,'' Garwood said. ''That's always a good thing.''

He won the 2016 SAS Championship for his lone PGA Tour Champions title.

Full-field scores from the Dick’s Sporting Goods Open

"I haven't been playing great this year, but I've been working hard on my game and things I've been working on are paying off,'' Garwood said. ''My golf, I take it a shot at a time, don't think about too far in advance because you really can't control, you know, the 13th hole tomorrow. It's just about the tee shot on No. 1.''

Michael Bradley and Marco Dawson shot 65, Woody Austin and Clark Dennis followed at 66, and Bob Estes and Tom Gillis were at 67.

''It was a good day,'' Bradley said. ''I've traditionally not driven the ball well here and you've got to drive the ball good here to shoot a good score. I drove the ball well and made a few putts, so that was that.''

Kenny Perry, the 3M Championship winner two weeks ago in Minnesota, had a 68. Bernard Langer and Miguel Angel Jimenez each shot 70. Langer won the 2014 tournament. Jimenez is coming off a victory at St. Andrews in the British Senior Open.

Defending champion Scott McCarron had a 72. Kevin Sutherland also had a 72. He shot the only 59 in PGA Tour Champions history in the 2014 event. John Daly, the winner of the PGA Tour's 1992 B.C. Open at En-Joie, opened with a 73.

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Kaymer: Don't deserve Ryder Cup spot even with win

By Randall MellAugust 17, 2018, 9:50 pm

Martin Kaymer is one of the most decorated Europeans of this generation, and one of the most thoughtfully honest as well, as he is demonstrating yet again at this week’s Nordea Masters.

Kaymer, a two-time major championship winner, has helped the Euros win three of the last four Ryder Cups. He won the singles match that clinched Europe’s historic comeback win at Medinah in 2012.

But with his run into contention Friday in Sweden, Kaymer told Sky Sports TV he didn’t believe that even a victory would make him worthy of playing for captain Thomas Bjorn’s Ryder Cup team in Paris next month.

“Do you think I deserve to be on the game after the way I've been playing, and with just one win in Sweden?” he said. “Is that enough? I don't think so.”

Kaymer shot a 3-under 67 at the Nordea Masters, leaving him tied for seventh, five shots off the lead and in position to make a run at his 12th European Tour title. He is hoping to capitalize on the opportunity in a season that has left him unsatisfied. He missed three of his previous four cuts coming to Sweden and has just two top-10 finishes this year.

Kaymer made some thoughtful observations about the nature of golf’s challenges in the same week that LPGA star Lexi Thompson opened up about a personal struggle to build a life about more than golf.

At 33, Kaymer said he feels as if he’s still just beginning to understand the game’s effect on him. Here is what he shared with reporters about that on the eve of the Nordea Masters:

“I'm on the seventh hole, hopefully. You need some time to get to know and place yourself in the world of golf.

Full-field scores from the Nordea Masters

“In the beginning you can't know, you have zero experience. Then you play around the world and measure your game with the best in the world. Then you see good results and in my case underestimate yourself a little.

“All of a sudden you win a major. You play a vital role in Ryder Cups. You win your second major. Then you need to adjust, because it's sometimes overwhelming and not understandable. It cannot only be talent, you need to ask yourself how you actually got here.

“That realization took me a long time. That's why I would say I'm on the seventh hole, maybe seventh green.

“It's just understanding who you are, what you do, what kind of life you live. For example, when you try to have a relationship with anyone -- it doesn't matter what kind of relationship -- people see you not for who you are as a person but as the athlete, what you have, what kind of success you had.

“I never understood that, because I don't want to be treated that way, but I also understood by now that is who I am, because I am that athlete. I am the guy who makes a lot of money.

“I never wanted to be seen that way, because I was raised different, and I wanted to be normal. But you are not normal when you do what I did. It took me a long time to understand, but now I can handle it better.”

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S.H. Park eyes Indy title, LPGA awards after 'best round of year'

By Randall MellAugust 17, 2018, 9:20 pm

Sung Hyun Park’s hot finish Friday gives her more than a chance to win the Indy Women in Tech Championship.

It gives her a chance to keep Ariya Jutanugarn from running away with the LPGA’s most important awards and honors heading into the final third of the season.

Park’s 9-under 63 left her tied for the lead with Lizette Salas (69) at 13 under overall in the rain-suspended second round at Brickyard Crossing Golf Course in Indianapolis.

“My best round of the year,” Park said through a translator.

Jutanugarn, the Rolex world No. 1, put up a 65 and sits four behind the leaders.

Park is No. 4 in the world rankings and feeling good about her weekend chances.

“I’m going to do really well,” she said. “I feel really good about my game.”

Jutanugarn has won an LPGA best three times this season, including the U.S. Women’s Open. She is dominating, statistically. She leads the tour in money winnings ($2,161,185), Rolex Player of the Year points, scoring average (69.44), putts per greens in regulation (1.72) and birdies (327).

Full-field scores from Indy Women in Tech Championship

Park is looking to equal Jutanugarn’s victory total for the season. Park won the Volunteers of America Texas Classic and also a major this year, the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship.

Park could overtake Jutanugarn as Rolex world No. 1 with a victory, depending on what Jutanugarn does this weekend.

Park shared Rolex Player of the Year honors with So Yeon Ryu last season, with Jutanugarn winning the award the year before.

Notably, Jutanugarn is giving her driver a rare appearance this week, putting it in her bag in both the first and second rounds at the friendly confines of Brickyard Crossing.

“I like the way [the holes] set up, because I’m ab le to hit driver a few holes,” Jutanugarn said. “I missed some, but I hit a few pretty good ones, too.”

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Podcast: Welcome our guest - Tiger Tracker

By Golf Channel DigitalAugust 17, 2018, 7:47 pm

Host Will Gray calls him “The man, the myth, the legend.”

GCTiger Tracker, aka “TT,” makes his highly anticipated first guest appearance in a Golf Channel podcast, pontificating on everything from Tiger Woods’ run at the PGA Championship at Bellerive to the overall nature of Tiger’s comeback and what breakthroughs may lie ahead.

Tiger Tracker, Golf Channel’s mystery man, continues to rigorously protect his identity as the foremost Twitter tracker of all things Tiger, but he does open up on his intense relationship with his growing legion of followers and his “trigger finger” when it comes to blocking those unworthy of his insight.

“I’m more of a lover than a hater of Tiger Woods, but I’m a tracker,” TT tells Gray. “I call it like I see it.”

Tracker goes deep on what he sees as his role in continuing to document Tiger’s comeback, including a sense of kinship in this journey.

“I had 142,000 followers on the Monday of the Bahamas [late last year], and as we speak now, 296,000, more than double in that short span,” Tracker says. “That shows you what he’s been able to do, what we’ve been able to do together. Let’s be honest about that.”

Listen in below: