Golf A to Z
We spell out just 26 things we really love about the game right now.
A - ARNIE
The emperor has no clothes. But the King has plenty. This just-launched line of Arnold Palmer golf attire revives fashions the King made famous in his playing days, from the fitted pants and crimson color schemes he favored in the 1950s to the subdued palette of the ’70s, when Arnie leaned toward wide-collared shirts and his preferred hue was gray. arniewear.com
B - BANDON PRESERVE
Why pay attention to a new 13-hole, par-3 course in the middle of nowhere? Because Ben Crenshaw and Bill Coore, two of the game’s most acclaimed architects, designed it. And because it’s the fifth layout at Bandon Dunes Resort, a coastal Oregon retreat that already boasts four courses on Golf Magazine’s Top 100 list. bandondunesgolf.com
C - CHAMBLEE
As in Brandel Chamblee, the whip-sharp Golf Channel analyst, and one of the rare talking heads in the industry who’s not afraid to tell it like it is. Take his proclamation that Tiger Woods “ruined the greatest swing and the greatest physique in golf history.” Words that swept across the sport like a breath of fresh air.
D - DAN PLAN
Golf is a game of infinite hope, and Dan McLaughlin is driven by its promise. Two years ago, having never played a full 18 holes before, the then 30-year-old quit his job as a commercial photographer and embarked on a full-time, quixotic quest: to qualify for the PGA Tour by 2016. With help from a golf pro, a strength trainer, and a nutritionist, McLaughlin has made practice his new profession, and he has improved (he recently shot 80 for the first time). Whether he makes the Tour might not really matter. The goal, he says, is to “inspire others to start exploring the possibilities life affords them.” Follow his progress at thedanplan.com.
E - EXPECTORATION
Spit happens. At least it does for reigning PGA champion Keegan Bradley, whose pre-shot emissions have prompted a debate over whether his habit is a breach of etiquette. Some Brits are in a snit over Bradley’s spit; after the recent Northern Trust Open, where Bradley expectorated his ways into a playoff, several international commentators insisted he apologize. Which Bradley did, noting on Twitter that his spitting is a “reflex” that “I’ve got to try to conquer.” Given Bradley’s strong play, he’s apt to get a lot of TV time this season. In other words, expect the issue to, um, come up again soon.
F - FRIENDLY GAMBLING GAMES
Nassaus. Barkies. Shambles. Scrambles. There’s no end to the games you can play against your buddies. Next time out, try a round of “gruesomes,” a two-against-two match in which teammates hit then play from the worst
of their two results. Ugly golf has never been such fun.
G - GREEN GOLF
Drought-resistant grasses. Energy-efficient clubhouses. Sophisticated water filtration systems. After years of being blasted as an environmental bogeyman, golf has staked a rightful claim as an eco-friendly sport. Thanks to initiatives like Golf & the Environment, a joint effort by Audubon International, the United States Golf Association, and the PGA of America to further improve golf’s environmental practices, a growing number of former critics have come to see the true nature of the game. golfandenvironment.com
H - HOLE IN ONE
Statistics say that for the average golfer, the odds of making one are roughly 12,000 to 1. For PGA Tour pros, they’re better, somewhere in the range of 3,000 to 1. But the thrill can’t be distilled into cold, hard numbers. That’s the beauty of the hole in one. We never know where or when it’s going to happen, which means the next shot could be the one.
I - IONIZED PERFORMANCE SHIRTS
You’ve heard of energy bars. But energy shirts? The ionized fabric in Energy Athletic shirts is a patented material that transfers ionic energy through a negatively charged electromagnetic field. Ideally, you’ll have more strength and stamina while playing and recover quicker after your round. wearenergy.com
J - JESSICA KORDA
With the LPGA Tour increasingly ruled by international players, American hopes lie with the likes of Korda, the daughter of former tennis star, Petr Korda. She won her first event early this year at 18 years old. Along with Lexi Thompson, she gives fans on the home front cause for excitement in the coming years.
K - KENTWOOL GOLF SOCKS
Fewer blisters. Less abrasion. You think that socks don’t matter. Then you tuck your feet into these wool cocoons, with their soft natural textures and cooling fibers. Suddenly you’re walking in a whole new world. kentwoolsocks.com
L - LAG PUTTING
Go ahead and bang your driver till you’re blue in the face. A faster way to lower scores is by learning how to lag putt — and a good way to do that is to listen to Dave Pelz, the short-game wizard who has helped guide Phil Mickelson to four majors. On putts of 35 feet or longer, Pelz says, imagine a 6-foot circle around the cup, and try to roll your first attempt into that region. From there, the odds of a three-putt drop dramatically, along with your final score.
M - MULLIGAN
They say that golf is like life. If only life gave us do-overs, too.
N - NULLARBOR LINKS
It stretches about 850 miles from the tips and takes three days to play, if you keep up your pace. It’s the world’s longest golf course, and it extends across the wilds of the Australian Outback. Put it on your bucket list. nullarborlinks.com
O - OLYMPICS
It won’t happen this summer in London, but golf returns to the Olympics in 2016 after a century-plus absence. Though the host city, Rio de Janeiro, lacks a venue, at least it has a course architect, Gil Hanse. Known for modern-classics like Castle Stuart in Scotland, Hanse just won the Rio gig over such headliners as Jack Nicklaus and Greg Norman.
P - PERSIMMON
Walk with us through the misty rings of time, to an age before the dawn of titanium and graphite, when “woods” were really woods, and golfers played the game as it was meant to be. Back in that golden era, drivers were fashioned from persimmon, a lost clubmaking art that lives on only in a couple of spots in the country. One of those places is Louisville Golf, a Kentucky company that shapes its clubs according to tradition. Even as equipment hurtles through the Space Age, nothing can replace persimmon’s look and feel. louisvillegolf.com
Q - Q-SCHOOL
A notorious trial by fire, it’s also a hot topic as Tour officials prepare to transform the event. Traditionally, the top 25 finishers — ties included — in the year-end exam have graduated to the PGA Tour. But under a just-approved plan that goes in place in 2013, that potential for advancement goes away, and Q-school will serve solely as an access point to the Nationwide Tour. Critics of the plan say that it will put an end to great Cinderella stories. But this year, at least, Q-school goes on, unaltered, so you’ve still got a chance to watch the dreamers at the ball. pgatour.com/qschool
R - RORY MCILROY
After McIlroy’s final-round meltdown at the 2011 Masters, some pundits wondered whether the young star really had the inner steel to make good on his boundless promise. He responded by running away with the U.S. Open in Bethesda, Md., before going on to top golf’s world rankings. Any other questions?
S - STACK & TILT
Weight forward at address. Right leg straight at the top of the backswing. Both are fundamental to Stack & Tilt, a convention-busting approach to the swing that has found a firm foothill in the sport. It’s not for everyone. Critics claim that it’s bad for your back. But don’t tell that to top-ranked Luke Donald, who incorporates elements of it in his game. Or Tiger Woods, who’s got some Stack & Tilt in his rebuilt swing. Or Michael Bennett and Andy Plummer, the two primary proselytizers of the method. The two teaching pros spread their gospel through schools in Florida and New Jersey, and a new online academy. stackandtilt.com
T - TIN CUP
Not the movie, but a nifty stencil you can use to mark your ball with a personalized logo. A lucky shamrock, say. Maybe a raging bull. Choose from more than 100 designs. Or customize your own. tin-cup.com
U - UNITED STATES AMATEUR CHAMPIONSHIP
In a game renowned for its fat tournament purses, this tradition-rich event stands for something purer: a hard-fought competition for a field of A-list players, with everything but money on the line. This year’s championship takes place Aug. 13-19 in Colorado. usga.org
V - V1 HOME
Watching your swing on video is like listening to your voice on tape: not always pretty, but very educational. Imagine all the sobering lessons you can learn by downloading this video swing-analysis system, which lets you see your swing alongside that of your favorite Tour player. v1golfacademy.com
W - WORLD GOLF TOUR
So you didn’t qualify for this year’s U.S. Open at the Olympic Club in San Francisco. You can still play the course under tournament conditions on this innovative gaming website, which replicates the layout in stunning realism, down to the last wrinkle on every lightning green. wgt.com
X - ODYSSEY METAL-X 2-BALL PUTTER
The Odyssey 2-Ball is the best-selling putter of all time, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be improved. This latest iteration represents a great leap forward, with a urethane-backed aluminum face that gives you a soft feel and a smooth, consistent roll. The classic 2-Ball shape returns; it’s an optical blessing, made for easy alignment. Bonus: The new sleek black finish reduces reflections, even in bright sunlight, so if you ever have good reason to glare down at it, at least the putter won’t glare back.
Y - YANI TSENG
The Taiwanese-born star, having taken up residence in Florida (in a home she bought from Annika Sorenstam), has taken the golf world by storm. The youngest player ever, male or female, to win five majors, she continues her dominance in 2012 by reeling off three victories in her first five events. By the time you read this, odds are she’ll have notched a few more.
Z - ZEN GOLF
One of the best-selling sports psychology books of all time, Zen Golf: Mastering the Mental Game is exactly what it sounds like: a thoughtful guide to staying in the moment, and getting the most out of your game. To mark the 10th anniversary of its publication, its author, Joseph Parent, has launched streaming audio and video complements to the book. Settle into a lotus position, click on his website, and transcend the limits of your game. zengolf.com