Well, we made it to June – The weather has turned – the courses are all ready – the leagues have
started – and, the time is right to play, and…to win?! So let’s get started. You grab the clubs, and we here
at Golf Plus will help with…a new contest!
In between you going out to your favorite course to enjoy some great golf, look through this month’s
edition of this paper for the answer to this question: Who won last month’s (May ’18) 45th edition of “The Player’s Championship” played at the beautiful Pete Dye designed TPC Sawgrass Golf Course?
Got it? Ok, Now – All you have to do to win FREE rounds of golf to one of our great region courses is to call # (219)588-9796 on Saturday, June 23rd at 9:00AM. The first (5) callers will win (2) FREE rounds of golf – including cart – to one of the wonderful golf courses who generously donated the prizes. Just leave your first name and a return phone number – and (if) you are a winner, you will receive a return call by Sunday evening, June 24th. That’s all – if you don’t hear back – five people must have beat you to the voicemail. So, you’ll have to wait…hint…four our next contest – coming soon. The winner’s names will appear in the July edition of Golf Plus. Good luck with your game, and good luck with the contest!
Around the tours: Since our last publication.
Starting with the LPGA – New Zealand’s Lydia Ko celebrates her 21st birthday with a win at the LPGA Mediheal Championship – this is Miss Ko’s 15th career victory, making her the youngest (man or woman) to win 15 times on any tour. The following week, 2017 rookie of the year, Sung Hyun Park won the rain-shortened Volunteers of America LPGA Texas Classic; Ariya Jutanugarn became the 16th woman (in 16 events) to win on the LPGA Tour this season with her victory at the Kingsmill Championship – an event that saw Ms. Sherman Santiwiwatthanaphong of Thailand finish tied for 7th (and join our “All Name” team – for sure!). Closing out May with a win was Australia’s Minjee Lee – a very possible future #1 in the world.
The Men’s European Tour was also quite active – starting with Sweden’s Alexander Bjork getting his 1st ever title at the China Open in Beijing; a team event – the “Golfsixes” was held in St. Albans, England where the team from Ireland (Paul Dunne & Gavin Maynihan) won this fun format (music, shot clock, etc.); the Sicilian Open followed, with another Swedish golfer – Joakin Lagergren – getting his 1st title; the half stroke play – have medal play inaugural “Belgian Knockout” was played the next week where Spain’s Adrian Otaegui continued his fine play – and took home the trophy; and closing out the month, Italian veteran Francesco Molinari won the 64th European PGA Championship in Surrey, England.
The Champions Tour – opened May with – surprise! – Germany’s Bernhard Langer winning the Insperity Invitational at the Woodlands in Texas for the 4th! time – earning him his 37th career Champions victory – and giving him at least one victory in each of the (12) seasons he has played with the senior set; the 1st senior major of the year – the Regions Tradition – held in Birmingham, Alabama – was won by the stylish Spanish golfer – Mr. Miguel Angel Jimenez; and, another major – the 79th Senior PGA Championship – held in nearby Benton Harbor, Michigan – was won by England’s Paul Broadhurst.
The Men’s U.S. PGA Tour – held the 70th edition of the Zurich Classic in suburban New Orleans, Louisiana – now a team event with (80) teams competing, and where veterans Billy Horschel & Scott Piercy bested the field; the next week saw Jason Day get his 2nd title of the year at the Wells Fargo Championship in Charlotte, North Carolina; after that – the 45th “The Player’s Championship” was held in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, where veteran Webb Simpson won for the 1st time in nearly (5) years; the tour then moved on to Dallas, Texas for the 65th AT&T Byron Nelson Tourney – where (21) yr. old tour rookie Aaron Wise got his 1st PGA Tour win; staying in Texas – the Fort Worth Invitational (held for the 71st time) was won by England’s Justin Rose – the Olympic gold medalist – who, in capturing his 8th PGA Tour title – moved to #3 in the world.
More – Much More – About The Tour’s
The tours – all – worldwide – are doing better than ever…some things that have moved that needle – and some that are going to move it further – include: Increased distance off the tee…you may ask – How does that improve the tours? Well, one short answer is that – we all love to watch our athletes do extraordinary things – in all sports – and in golf, it’s really cool to watch the best of the best launch long (extra long) drives off the tee.
Exhibit A: In (1994)-2017, golf Hall of Fame inductee Davis Love III led the Men’s PGA Tour with a (284) yard average marked drive off the tee. Currently, there are 15+ players on this same tour averaging (310) yards or more off the tee; 15+ players on the Champions Tour averaging (285) yards off the tee; and on the LPGA Tour, 15+ players are averaging (270) yards or more off the tee!
Now, it’s not just their talent – it is their talent (plus) today’s equipment…the ball is more consistent, the clubs have improved so much over the last couple of decades, - it’s amazing – but also, the “swing knowledge” of the players – (launch angles, how to maximize/minimize spin ratios, etc.) – help immensely, as well as, better course conditioning – (increasing roll-out, etc.) – and above all – lack of fear!
You see – the players today – by the time most professional golfers hit the major circuits – their “pay” is pretty well guaranteed through some big $ sponsor contracts. This allows them to “let it fly” a little easier, and therefore getting it out there to the max of their ability. Now, to be sure not every player on the world’s tours play this way – many are more concerned with keeping their status on the tour – but this extra cash in the bank – unlike tour players of the past – does affect many players’ approach to the game – equaling – among other things – increased distance off the tee.
- More “young blood” on all the tours also has moved this needle. If you watch the average age of the tour winners on all the worldwide tours, you will notice that it has dropped dramatically – creating new and attractive stars that kids (of all ages) have embraced. *Have you ever noticed how many youngsters have decided to wear orange to golf tournaments? You know why? If you follow golf coverage at all – Rickie Fowler! and the rest of the young tour stars are also helping to get more juniors involved in the game – helping to the point where now there are approx. 1,200 “First Tee” junior programs in the U.S. – a program that started only (20) short years ago! And this new blood is keeping the interest in professional golf’s prize money needle moving, with both the PGA & LPGA Tours seeing an increase of 75% during this decade.
- And yes, the “Tiger effect” is still ongoing. Even though Tiger is now (42) years of age – and not someone youngsters watched in his prime – his name is still out there for kids – kids who have heard of his legend. Evidence – Tiger’s Nike hat sales are up 840% since his latest return to competition! T.V. ratings are thru the roof when he plays on the weekend – (which he has done a few times this year) – helping him change his pre-2018 position of number 1,100+ in the world standings -to- now 80th. His name is still gold when it comes to the golf merchandising/sales of golf - *See Taylormade Golf & Bridgestone golf equipment sales increases – products he plays & promotes.
- And now, another “needle mover” is about to emerge in the golf world – a move that should bring thousands – if not – hundreds of thousands of golf fans to the game…What could it be? How about legalized gambling on professional golf events! Something many thought would never happen. In a game run by the most conservative governing body(s) in all of sport – legalized gambling? …but yes, it’s coming – and it will definitely affect viewership of golf events, etc. – just imagine the “drop” bets - # of fairways hit per round, # of putts made, longest drive per round – it goes on & on – this is going to generate big revenues for gaming facilities – big (additional) T.V. viewership for telecasts & as always – big viewership equals more jobs in all of the golf industry! Stay tuned.
- Should golf have made this move? Heck yes! High water raises all boats – more money coming into the game through more advertising dollars is good for everyone – including the more than (2) million! people who earn their living manufacturing, selling, shipping, etc. – golf products principally produced right here in the U.S. – (and) to be sure, this conservative-leaning leadership in our game will make sure that this new venture will be carefully “watched” and regulated. *Watch for this coming soon to a sports betting site, or a sports betting book in Las Vegas & elsewhere – should be a big win-win!
- Just a couple more: With his finish (T-11th) at the Players Championship – (25) yr. old Justin Thomas moves past Dustin Johnson – (who held the position for over a year) – to become the #1 payer in the world – Congrats – to both!
- And if you love to watch great golf – in person – the LPGA is giving you a couple of chances to see the best women golfers in the world – this month – in our area – first at the Meijer LPGA Classic in Grand Rapids, Michigan (June 14th-17th) – and then – the Women’s PGA Championship will be held – (even closer) – in Kilder, Illinois (June 26th – July 1st).
- One more – I always pick the “Majors” on the Men’s Tour – thank goodness gambling on golf is not legal yet! *My picks have not been too great! Anyway, my pick for this month’s U.S. Open, being held at Shinnecock Hills CC – Dustin Johnson! Whenever he gets knocked down – he seems to get right back up!
Happy Father’s Day! Sunday, June 17th is Father’s Day – I know you won’t – but don’t forget Dad! Rounds of golf, golf gift certificates, (or) gift certificates for golf equipment from one of our region golf facilities/golf stores – make great gifts! -or- my favorite, go on out with Dad – and join him for a day of golf – Dad will love that – and you will both be creating memories – lasting memories – give it a shot – you will thank me later. Either way – Dad deserves the best – Sunday, June 17th & every day!
Special thanks this month: To Mike & Kathy Modrzejewski for all their continuing help & kindness – to all you great Dad’s out there – and to my daughter for the great gift I am assuming she has already sent my way!
(And) if you have a suggestion for a feature article you would like to see covered -or- if you just want to chime in – please contact me at our e-mail address: email@example.com or leave me a voicemail at (219)617-3276, and to read past golf course reviews – or to just visit Golf Plus newspaper online – visit our website at golfplusonline.net.
Lastly: I received a lot of fun feedback concerning the story I included last month with regards to Mr. Moe Norman – a great golfer who was known as “Pipeline Moe,” and was also known as maybe the best striker of a golf ball – ever! And a man who was “eccentric” to the extreme! So, since you liked last month’s story so much – (if you did not read it, you can always go to golfplusonline.net – Golf Reviews – and read it there) – here are a couple more documented “Moe-isms.”
Story #1 – Playing with the great Sam Snead, Moe pulled out his driver on a hole, which had a wide creek that crossed the entire fairway at a point that Mr. Snead warned Moe that he could not carry – to which Mr. Norman said, “I’m not trying to carry the water.” – and then – Moe proceeded to land! his ball squarely on the bridge that went across the creek – carrying his ball forward – and safely onto the fairway past the hazard!!
Story #2 – Mr. Norman – up (3) shots on his opponent on the last hole, and all but assured of victory – became…Moe-like? – Wanted to make things interesting? Who knows? – but what he did was; after hitting the last green, a par four, safely in (2) shots – purposefully putted his ball off the green into the greenside bunker?! Where he successfully got up & down – winning by one stroke! Oh my, Oh Moe! And believe it or not, there are so many stories like this, documented & otherwise – you could fill volumes! All my best to all you great Dad’s out there!
See you next month - Pete