By Josh Dawsey
West Palm Beach, Fla. — President Trump golfed with professionals Tiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus on Saturday, ending the longest stretch of his presidency without a round at one of his courses.
The White House is usually reluctant to confirm the president is golfing. But on Saturday, aides alerted reporters that Trump was at his course in Jupiter, Fla., with Nicklaus and Woods. They even ushered journalists inside the club for a peek.
The president later shared a photo of the trio on social media, and a Trump Organization official bragged about the matchup, noting that Woods and Nicklaus design courses for the company.
Trump has spent more than 150 days at his golf courses since becoming president, playing significantly more than his predecessors, whom he had mocked for golfing too much. Aides used to worry about how much time Trump spent playing but have largely accepted it. They say the president is calmest when he’s on the greens.
He is a talented player by many accounts, usually breaking 80, though he sometimes takes mulligans. Par for most courses is 70 or 72 shots.
“The first nine holes I played with him, he shot even par,” Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) said in a 2018 interview. “He beat me like a drum.”
Taylor Funk, son of golfer Fred Funk, said the president shot in the upper 70s when he played with him. “He hit a lot of great shots,” Funk said. “Flop shots and putts, up and downs. He kept up with me and my dad.”
Trump is speedy too, often finishing 18 holes in three hours by playing through other groups and driving on the edge of the green — a no-no, except perhaps when one owns the course. He is surrounded by a Secret Service detail, which expedites his movement. (A round takes between four and five hours for most golfers.)
The Washington Post reported in 2015 that playing partners said Trump often cheats. “When it comes to cheating, he’s an 11 on a scale of one to 10,” sportswriter Rick Reilly said in that story.
The president has denied this.
He usually wears a “USA” hat and often orders two chili dogs after nine holes, playing partners say. He likes to quiz fellow golfers about current events. He’s complained about the Mueller probe and regaled partners with stories of his life as a single man in New York.
He swears when he makes a bad shot or splashes in the water and complains about his chipping game, players say.
He talks nearly nonstop.
“We talked about the tax bill and how it got done, about North Korea, we talked about anything he wanted to talk about, what his fights were, what he liked least and most about his day,” Sharon Funk, Fred Funk’s wife, said in a 2018 interview. “We talked about his tweeting. He said, that’s his way of getting to the people. Every person he plays golf with, I think they talk to him about his tweeting.”
“He would talk about anything,” Taylor Funk added. “He’d say, ‘Do you think I’m doing a good job on that?’ ”
Trump also loves to quiz famous golfers about their travails, their favorite shots and how they learned the game. “Most of the questions he had were about golf. What made Tiger so good? What made Jack so good? Who was better?” Taylor Funk said.
He regularly goes off on asides about golf in Oval Office meetings. A former aide to Paul D. Ryan said the former speaker of the House would have had a better relationship with Trump if he understood golf and had been able to talk about it. One of the president’s most trusted aides, Dan Scavino, was his former caddie. He often watches golf at the White House, in a dining room off the Oval, and asks professionals such as Funk or Woods how he could improve his game.
How he finds his playing partners is shrouded in mystery — but is a combination of various methods, from people his organization sponsors to elected officials. He rarely plays with White House aides other than Andrew Giuliani, the son of Rudolph W. Giuliani, his lawyer.
Trump shocked Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe by having so many impromptu chats with members on the course and driving his cart so quickly and all over, according to people familiar with their round. Then, the protocol-obsessed Japanese were surprised to be served a buffet lunch with hot dogs.
When the president was in Europe last summer, he frustrated aides and lawyers by demanding to visit his Scottish golf course for two days in the middle of the trip, according to current and former administration officials.
Trump often plays with friends or members of his club. Sometimes, the president will call a famous golfer or celebrity and invite them over. A regular partner is Albert Hazzouri, a dentist who did not respond to a request for comment but who stressed his ties with Trump when trying to get a license in Florida.
When Trump plays with private citizens, the White House does not release the names or acknowledge that he is playing at all, though video footage taken through the shrubs has captured him. Aides say on occasion, members at his clubs have given the president bad ideas they’ve had to thwart.
There’s another reason for the caginess. The president “insisted on trying to maintain the public perception that he was always working,” former White House staffer Cliff Sims wrote in his book, “Team of Vipers,” explaining why the White House rarely says he golfs.
Trump is proud of his courses, often describing how he designed the bunkers, turns and the intricate features in detail. “He shows how he took out trees, put in traps. He loves to describe how he developed the courses,” Graham said in a 2018 interview. “He really likes showing them off.”
But they’ve also gotten the president in trouble. The Trump Organization has come under fire for employing undocumented immigrants at his clubs and misappropriating Civil War history at one course, among other things.
Ethics experts have suggested it is unethical for the president to return so often to his greens because doing so promotes his business and allows people to effectively buy access. In a tweet, the good-government organization CREW called Trump’s tweet of himself with Woods and Nicklaus “an ad for his side business.”
“A few years ago, it was impossible to imagine a president using official statements” this way, the organization wrote. “Now it’s just an average Saturday.”
An experiment with three golfers revealed the practice can make a difference. Just not the one you might expect
By Sam Weinman
few months ago Golf Digest set out to answer a question almost as old as the game itself: does alcohol make you play better, or worse? The experiment and resulting video with three too-eager participants, was illuminating, comical, and fairly conclusive: a little bit of “swing oil” has some residual benefits owing to a decrease in tension and inhibition. Too much, however, leads to deteriorating focus and coordination, and then you just stop caring about advancing the ball at all.
A subsequent experiment with marijuana yielded similar results: some weed might take the edge off and loosen up your swing, but anything more than a little becomes counterproductive.
That brings us to our recent experiment exploring the effects of meditation, structured like the first two, but also plenty unique. Here, too, we submitted three golfers of varying playing ability to a series of golf tests while interspersing the influence of an outside element—beers and tokes became 15 minutes of meditation. The difference is that while meditation does induce some immediate physiological effects and boasts several long-term health benefits, we’re still talking about a rather nuanced exercise that is difficult to quantify. And if you really wanted to measure it well, best to do it over a few months instead of a couple of hours.
Still, a few hours is what we started with one day this summer, and I, along with colleagues Keely Levins and Ben Walton, was selected as one of three golfers who would spend the day hitting golf shots and meditating to see what type of difference we’d see. Although Keely and Ben had limited experience with meditation, I’d recently begun dabbling in no small part because mindfulness, as it’s also known, has been hailed as perhaps the best way to temper the freneticism of our modern lives. And no doubt I was a worthy candidate: a digital editor who spends his days tethered to one electronic device or another, a father of two high-energy boys, and someone who can overthink everything from family dynamics to what club to hit off the tee. As I said in the video, I first told my wife that I thought meditation would help because, “I run pretty hot during the day.”
“No,” she corrected me. “You run hot all the time.”
So in terms of how a few minutes of meditation a day can calm the mind and harness focus, I was already sold. What I hadn’t explored, and what we sought to discover that day, was how it might affect one’s performance on the golf course. Plus, we saw it as an opportunity to debunk misconceptions about meditation — what exactly it is, what you do, and why it might mesh well with the mental and emotional demands of golf.
The day was broken into segments of three different golf challenges—driving for distance, approach shot accuracy, and putting—followed by brief sessions with meditation teacher Jonni Pollard. Pollard is the founder of a meditation app, 1 Giant Mind, and a personal mentor to a roster of clients that includes corporate executives and professional golfers. With a clean-shaven head, an Australian accent, and an affable manner, he spent the day convincing us of the ways meditation can not only help us think clearer on the golf course, but at work and home as well.
Among Pollard’s central arguments is that for all our technological progress, the human body has remained virtually unchanged from man’s earliest days fending off regular physical threats, which is why we process stress the same whether it’s an unpleasant email or a bear attack. This disconnect between how we live now, and the biological constraints of our bodies and brains, can explain why we often feel scattered so much of the time, and why even the mundane stresses of everyday life can elicit profound physical reactions.
“This is the little glitch in our system,” Pollard said. “We are entrenched in a dysfunctional state of defensive living because the way we’re living now is so far removed from how we’ve biologically evolved.”
What does this have to do with our ability to hit a drive in the fairway? Plenty, actually, because the same forces that leave us feeling frequently disjointed also factor into our performance on the course.
Almost every golfer has to negotiate the chasm between the shots he’s capable of producing, and the those he actually hits. We’re too quick, we’re too distracted, we’re worried about the pond on the left—when the result falls short of our potential, it often emanates from somewhere between the ears. By contrast think about the time you mindlessly hit a shot on the range and it soars perfectly off the clubface; or when you rake in a conceded putt from afar without even trying, and it rolls straight into the hole. It’s precisely because you “weren’t thinking” that it worked out so well.
This, Pollard said, this is where meditation can make a difference.
“What it does is it hits factory restart and restores our natural capability,” Pollard said. “Our natural capability is there and we need to allow it to be there, so what is the thing that’s inhibiting it? From my perspective it’s the hyper stimulation of the thinking mind.”
Which is not to say that each meditation session sets you on a path to a truer golf swing. Not exactly at least. As the afternoon unfolded, my driver carry improved, but my approach shots were looser, and my putting stayed about the same. To think of meditation as some type of performance enhancer in deep-breathing form is to misinterpret the underlying machinations at work. As Pollard said, when you meditate for 20 minutes, focusing on your breath or a mantra and allowing outside elements to recede into the background, it’s similar to doing a set of bench presses at the gym. The act itself may make you stronger, but it’s really repetition and time that allows the effects to take hold
“The conversations I like to have when talking about meditation is one, it’s really wonderful to alleviate short term the symptoms of stress,” Pollard says. “But also it creates the internal infrastructure for us to be able to become resilient in this life, rather than feel like life is taxing you.”
Beyond technical improvement, what we really detected was an underlying sense of calm, noteworthy on what could have been a stressful day. Although Keely played college golf, Ben and I were not used to the strain of having every shot measured so precisely. Throw a handful of cameras and a crew of about 10 into the equation, and under normal circumstances I’d question if I could even draw the club back. But after each session with Pollard we began to mind the attention less, and distractions subsided.
“It became easier to be over the shot,” said Keely. “I had this odd sense of detachment to where it was going, like I didn’t want to look at the result. Not every shot was great, but there was some freedom and ease in not feeling painfully invested in how straight my drives were flying.”
This is what Pollard means when he describes the “infrastructure” meditation helps construct. Scientific studies of meditation have shown that the practice strengthens the pre-frontal cortex portion of the brain responsible for concentration, focus and problem solving while shrinking the amygdala section that triggers our panicky “fight or flight” response. So even though I didn’t hit the ball markedly better that day, the ingredients were all there to do so—I was more focused, less fatigued, not nearly as wrapped up in the shot I just hit or the one still to come.
And therein lies the real breakthrough, because golf is nothing if not an opportunity for self-sabotage. You start a round poorly, you stress over wanting to play better. You start out playing well, you wonder how long it will last. Pollard and other meditation experts like to say that the practice improves “present moment awareness,” which is a variation of the old golf cliche of “taking it one shot at a time.” Roll your eyes if you must, but think about how much easier the game would be if your mind were free of competing narratives and you just played.
Our Max Adler played a round of golf last year with Sadghuru Jaggi Vasudev, a spiritual leader with millions of followers and a surprising affection for golf. Adler attended one of the guru’s workshops to better understand how Eastern practices like meditation can translate to athletic performance. Sadghuru, too, emphasized the value of getting out of your head.
“People trip on their own minds,” Sadghuru said. “They need to create a little distance between what they think and what they do.”
So, to get back to the original question: Does meditation help you become a better golfer? The short answer is yes. The longer answer might be encapsulated by an experience from a few weeks after our session with Pollard, when I developed a wicked case of the shanks.
For about 10 days in the heart of the golf season, I had a hard time hitting an iron or wedge without the ball screaming off the hosel right into some unspeakable place. Golfers who’ve experienced the dynamic know no more maddening affliction, and in the grips of it, I couldn’t hit a simple 30-yard pitch without panicking. Then I recalled an exercise we learned with Pollard for right before address. We’d stand behind the ball, place both hands on the grip of the club, and take in a deep breath before proceeding. For an entire round, I did this over every shot —a mini-meditation session that attempted Pollard’s version of “factory restart.” My head clearer, my breath slower, the panic receded, and solid contact soon returned.
So if you’re asking, no, I don’t think you can measure the efficacy of mediation by saying it will drop this number of strokes from your score. But what I have noticed is that it can work to flush out our worst instincts—both on the course and everywhere else. I, for one, need all the help I can get.
Rose had a three-shot lead shrink to a single shot when he opened with three bogeys in five holes, and Jon Rahm made birdie on the par-5 sixth. Rose answered with a bold play on the next hole for a short birdie, restored his lead at the turn and then kept in front of Scott, who birdied his last four holes for a 68.
Rose finished at 21-under 267 for a two-shot victory, becoming the first player since Peter Jacobsen in 1995 — when the South and North courses at Torrey Pines were 700 yards shorter — to post all four rounds in the 60s at this event.
“The offseason was short and sharp,” Rose said. “I didn’t know how I was going to come out. It’s awesome to play that well this week.”
He won for the 10th consecutive year worldwide, including his gold medal at the 2016 Olympics, and expanded his lead at No. 1 in the world. His 10th victory on the PGA Tour gave him the most among English players, breaking a tie with Nick Faldo.
“He’s the No. 1 player in the world, and he’s showing why,” Scott said. “Even when he was a little off, he kept it together.”
Scott, making his debut at this tournament, didn’t make a birdie until the ninth hole and missed a 20-inch par putt on the front nine. He was flawless on the back, however, and kept the outcome in doubt until the end.
Rose holed an 8-foot par putt on No. 15 with Scott in tight for birdie to keep his lead at three shots. On the par-3 16th, Rose holed a 30-foot birdie putt, and then Scott rolled in his birdie from 20 feet. Scott pulled within two by hitting his approach to a foot on the 17th.
Scott badly missed the fairway on the par-5 18th and had to lay up from a bunker, and Rose stuffed his wedge into 3 feet to wrap it up. The Australian figured he lost his best chance on the front nine, when Rose was dropping shots and he couldn’t make a move.
“Just was a little shaky and I wasn’t solid tee-to-green,” Scott said. “He never really was under much pressure. By the time I got it sorted out, it was too late.”
Hideki Matsuyama closed with a 67 and tied for third with Talor Gooch, who shot 68 to match Rose with four rounds in the 60s. Gooch, who finished fourth last week in the Desert Classic to get into this event, earned a spot in next week’s Phoenix Open. He is playing this year on conditional status.
Rahm was never a factor after pulling within one shot with that birdie on No. 6, which turned out to be the only one he made all round. He shot 72 and tied for fifth with Rory McIlroy (69) and defending champion Jason Day (67).
Tiger Woods had to settle for his own version of winning. Starting the final round 13 shots behind, Woods wanted to get into double figures. He birdied his last two holes for a 31 on the front nine to shoot 67 and finish at 10-under 278.
Rose failed to convert a 54-hole lead in the BMW Championship late last year in Aronimink, and he had a 3-6 record on the PGA Tour when leading going into the final round. He struggled with his swing early, missing tee shots to the right and missing the green from the fairway on No. 5, and his putter looked shaky.
But he delivered big birdie putts on No. 7 and No. 10, short-game shots that took stress of his putter on consecutive holes on the back nine.
He won with a new set of clubs having signed an endorsement deal with Japan-based Honma. Rose also won without his regular caddie, Mark Fulcher, who had a heart procedure last week. Rose used Gareth Lord, the former caddie of Rose’s longtime Ryder Cup partner, Henrik Stenson.
Rose now heads to the Saudi International for a meeting of four of the top five players in the world.
1. Keep Your Hands Low
Limiting the height of the followthrough will effectively reduce the height of your shots. The lower the hands, the lower the ballflight. Moving the ball back in your stance or choosing a stronger club and trying to swing easy are other ways to accomplish the same thing, but they’re less reliable and more difficult to execute. Instead, keep your hands low in the finish (compare the two photos at right), and the trajectory of your shots will be lower.
2. Give Your Spine The Forearm
Make sure you’re on-plane at the top of the swing to guarantee solid ballstriking and increased accuracy. Notice in the photo at left how my right forearm is parallel to my spine, my left wrist is flat and my elbows and arms form a tight triangle. These are indications that I’ve rotated my shoulders into the backswing perfectly.
3. Use Your Body For Power
Every good golfer knows that power comes from the body, not the arms. To learn to power the club with your body instead of your arms and hands, put the club behind the ball at address, with your body in a dead-stop position. Without taking a backswing, try to drag the ball into the air. If you’re a player who uses his or her hands to control the club, you’ll probably struggle at first. However, you’ll quickly find that once you start moving the club with your body, you’ll begin to get the ball in the air more consistently. This helps you turn fully through the ball on the downswing.
4. Hinge For Power
Amateurs have problems hitting crisp iron shots due to two fatal flaws. First, the takeaway tends to be too low to the ground, which delays the proper hinging of the wrists until too late in the backswing. Second, in a misguided effort to create power, the arms tend to swing too far in the backswing. This causes a breakdown in posture and usually leads to a reverse pivot. These flaws cause mis-hits and a lack of distance and control.
Several simple steps can be taken to gain control over the length of the swing in order to create more solid contact. At setup, a 45-degree angle should be present between the left arm and the clubshaft. This starts the swing with the wrists already hinged halfway to the necessary 90 degrees. During the takeaway, the hands should stay close to the ground while the clubhead moves up quickly. The goal is to get the left thumb pointing at the right shoulder as soon as possible. You’ll know you’ve achieved the proper wrist hinge when your left arm is parallel to the ground and the clubshaft is perpendicular to it. This sets the wrists much earlier in the backswing, eliminating the need to swing the arms too far at the top. The tendency to lose posture and reverse pivot will be removed with this more compact golf swing.
Creating the proper wrist hinge in the backswing will lead to noticeably better ballstriking and, as a result, more consistent distance and direction on all iron shots.
5. Give Your Slice The Elbow
Some players like John Daly swing with their elbow flying out, while others like Sergio Garcia keep it in, proving that it’s possible to hit great shots with either method. However, my biomechanical studies indicate that the flying right elbow position favors a fade ballflight while a tucked right elbow promotes a draw. If you struggle with slicing or have always wanted to develop a power-rich draw, then the right elbow may hold the answer. Plus, when you let the right elbow fly, it has the tendency to raise the right shoulder skyward, which almost always causes an over-the-top move during the downswing and an array of bad results.
The key for long-term success is to eliminate the faulty shoulder tilt and right elbow position at the top. The most efficient right elbow position for keeping slices at bay and promoting a draw is on or just inside the seam running down the right side of your shirt. When you place your right elbow in this general area, it allows the shoulders to turn level to the spine, making it much easier to drop the club inside on the downswing for maximum power and improved control.
6. Solid Plane = No Slice
An open face at the point of contact can cause a slice. So, too, can a faulty swing path, even if your clubface is square to the target at impact. Slicers’ swing paths tend to come too much outside in (hookers, vice versa). All golfers need a path that comes just slightly from the inside. Try the Box Drill. Take the top half of a golf ball box and stand it on its side. Align the box parallel to your target line as shown. Strive to groove a path that allows the shaft to pass just over the box. For slicers, set up the box on the same line, but just forward of the golf ball. Don’t hit the box!
7. Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down
Hookers need to stop the clubface from closing too soon. To do this, adopt a thumbs-down approach to impact. In the photos at right, you clearly can see the red side of the paddle with both my thumbs pointing down toward the ground. This type of movement slows the closing of your clubface, thus eliminating shots that curve to the left. In the second photo, the blue side of the paddle shows. This thumbs-up position is what slicers need to attain (a closing of the clubface).
8. No Flips
“Flippiness” (the dreaded early release) occurs if your body gets too far in front of the golf ball. When this happens, your club will drastically lag, usually with an open face. Instinctually, your hands will work to close the face at impact. This level of timing is difficult even for the pros to execute on a consistent basis. What usually happens is the clubhead races in front of the shaft and strikes the ball with an open or a closed face, and typically on an ascending arc. In baseball, if you get too far in front, you’ll hit the ball to right field, unless you flip the wrists. The same is true in golf. You need to establish a firm left side to keep your head behind the ball and stop the flip. Photography by Warren Keating
Enemy number one: Your body is out of position or out of balance. Your body senses this, so your hands take over to try to get the clubface squared at impact. However, this adjustment usually takes the form of a flick or flip of the wrists.
Fixing The Flip
Set up to an impact bag (or an old duffel bag stuffed with towels), push the clubhead into the bag and set your body into a good impact position. The lead arm and shaft should form one straight, vertical line with the head back. Make sure your lead leg is braced and that your hips are turned slightly open. Hold this position to create the proper feel.
Although it’s tempting to hit chips indoors, all it takes is one broken lamp to realize that golf is an outdoor activity. Nevertheless, you can improve your chipping technique within the friendly confines of your own living room with the help of a wooden dowel or broken golf shaft.Take the dowel and place it through the hole on the top of the grip on a pitching wedge. Push the dowel roughly eight to 12 inches down the butt end of the shaft (a little Vaseline may help the dowel slide easier through the clubshaft). Two to three feet of the dowel should extend outward from the top of the grip.
Now, practice your chipping motion, making sure that your left wrist remains rigid as the clubface passes through the impact zone. If your left wrist breaks down (a flaw that can cause a lot of short-game misery), you’ll feel the protruding portion of the dowel hit against your left side. In addition to guarding against wrist breakdown, the dowel will also help you to establish the proper hands-forward position at address—a crucial factor for clean contact.
The dowel also will force you to keep your hands moving forward and swing the club down the target line in the followthrough. Once you master this drill, you’ll be able to get up and down with the best of them.
As you perform these drills, you’ll begin to see the value of other everyday items in helping you improve your game. Don’t be afraid to experiment—you may just develop the next must-have training aid.
10. Stay In Your K
Even good golfers with sound, grooved swings come untracked now and then, especially if they lose the flex in the back leg trying for distance. If you stiffen your back leg during the backswing, your body will likely tilt out of balance, making it tough to re-flex the knee just the right amount in time for impact. If you can play some great golf, but consistency is your problem, it might be that you need a dose of Special K. Here’s how it works.
At address, the Special K is the angle formed in your back leg by the upper and lower leg. The manner in which you stand to the ball determines in large part how well you maintain your Special K during your swing.
The best advice is to establish an athletic, ready-to-move setup. Create this posture by bending forward from the hip sockets and back from the knees. When your back leg is flexed correctly, it creates room for your arms to swing and aligns the joints, one on top of the other. You should be able to draw a line from the top of the spine through the tip of the elbow and then from the tip of your knee down through the ball joint of your foot.
Keeping The K
To keep your swing level, this angle should be maintained from address to just after impact. A good way to experience what it feels like to keep the Special K while you swing is to look in a mirror while you take practice swings. Start with the setup position shown in the photo, below left. Hold it steady, then look in the mirror to connect the sight and feel of the correct back leg flex for that position. Next, swing to the top. Again, hold that position and use the mirror to see if you maintained the angle in your back leg.
Even Adam Long wasn’t certain where he stood after hitting his approach into the Desert Classic’s final hole.
Winning wasn’t at the top of his mind when he teed off in Sunday’s final group with Phil Mickelson and Adam Hadwin. A top-10 finish, and a spot in next week’s event, would have been nice.
Long was an afterthought in a final group that included a World Golf Hall of Famer and a Canadian playing in front of countrymen who flock to the California desert in the winter.
Long was just a 31-year-old rookie making his sixth PGA TOUR start. And then he was the champion. He won in a way that most players can only dream of: by making a 15-footer for birdie on the last hole.
Long arrived at the final hole tied with Hadwin and Mickelson. After hitting his drive into the right rough, Long hit his 175-yard onto the green. That’s when he asked his caddie to confirm that he shared the lead.
“I wasn’t 100 percent sure. I didn’t care. I had nothing to lose,” Long said.
The stage was set for him after Hadwin’s bunker shot stopped inches from the hole and Mickelson barely missed a long birdie try. Mickelon’s miss helped Long see the line for his career-changing putt. His 65th stroke of the day found the bottom of the hole.
Long, who was 20 over par in his previous five PGA TOUR starts, shot 26-under 262 on the Desert Classic’s three-course rotation. He shot 63 in the first and third rounds, then fired a 65 that was Sunday’s second-lowest score on PGA West’s tricky Stadium Course. Long, who started the final round three shots behind Mickelson, chipped in twice on the back nine. He didn’t make a bogey.
“I just kept plugging away and it was kind of the Phil and Adam Hadwin show for most of the way,” Long said. “Everyone was chanting Phil’s name most of the way and there are a lot of Canadians down here. I was just in the background.”
Not when it was time for the trophy ceremony. He was the last player left on the 18th green. Before the win, he was an alternate for next week’s Farmers Insurance Open. Now THE PLAYERS Championship, Sentry Tournament of Champions, Masters and PGA Championship are among the events he can add to his schedule.
Long leapt to 12th in the FedExCup standings. He started the week ranked 205th, ahead of just 13 players. The win was worth 500 points.
He began this week with just four FedExCup points after missing the cut in four of five starts this season. His best finish was T63 at the Safeway Open.
“He hit shot after shot and putted great, had a couple chip-ins and did what you had to do to win,” said Mickelson, who owns as many major titles (5) as TOUR starts Long had made before this week.
Hadwin was still three shots ahead after Long’s chip-in on the 12th hole. Hadwin played the final six holes in 1 over, though, while Long birdied half of the remaining holes. He holed a 5-footer for birdie on 14 before holing another chip on the next hole.
Then he birdied the last hole, an incredible finish for a player who admitted that just receiving the text with his final-round tee time gave him nerves.
Long didn’t look intimidated, though, when he birdied Sunday’s first two holes.
“Birdieing those first two really calmed a bit, like, ‘All right, I got this, I can compete, I can play, I belong,” Long said.
He’d spent nine years as a professional waiting for this moment. His only TOUR start before this season came at the 2011 U.S. Open. That was the same year that he won his only previous professional title, the Woodcreek Classic on the now-defunct Hooters Tour.
He estimates that the winner’s check was $25,000. He played his first Web.com Tour season the following year but finished 127th on the money list. He didn’t get back on that tour until 2015. He never doubted that he could make it, though.
“I wasn’t doing great, but I never really doubted it,” he said. ”I still wanted to play and I still loved it and I still wanted to see how good I could get.”
He became a PGA TOUR winner on Sunday. And it was worth the wait.
5 Tips To Help You Keep Your Golf Resolutions in 2019
The new year has arrived and a lot of you golfers out there might be uttering the words, “new year, new me.”
Most of us make New Year’s resolutions and, unfortunately, most of us fail to see them through for all 365 days.
If your resolution involved improving your golf game in 2019, here’s a list of things you can do every day/week — even if you’re in the bitter cold like a lot of folks right now — to help you achieve those goals.
And, once it warms up in your area, you can take all five of these drills outside.
5. Exercise. Yeah, we know. That’s what we should be doing every day anyway, right? But when it comes to golf, you don’t want to be tight. There are a number of stretches you can do right from your desk while reading emails that will benefit your arms, shoulders, neck, back, hips and legs for golf season.
Even better, place one of those handy, elastic, tension bands in the top drawer of your desk.
4. Take 100 swings per day in your house or garage… without a golf ball. The best players in the world visualize the shot they want to hit before they hit it. With a drill like this one, you’re going to be forced to visualize, because there’s no ball there to hit. If you’re able, place a mirror in front of you and pay attention to the positions of your address, takeaway, the top of your swing and impact position as well as follow through. Do it in slow motion. Become an expert on your swing.
3. Work on your chipping. Can’t do it outside? No worries. You can purchase a chipping net, or even put down a hula-hoop as a target. Get a few foam golf balls and a tiny turf mat to hit the balls off of.
Will it produce the same feel as a real golf ball? Of course not. But what it will do is force you to focus on a target and repeat the same motion over and over. After a long layoff, “touch,” is the first thing that goes for all golfers.
This will help you to work on some semblance of touch all winter long.
2. Practice your putting. Anywhere. All you need is a putter, a golf ball, a flat surface and an object — any object — to putt at. If you’re so inclined, rollout turf can be purchased for around $20 with holes cut out.
Since the greens are where you’re going to take most of your strokes, doesn’t it make sense to dial that in whenever possible? It can be fun too. Does your significant other, roommate, or child play? Have regular putting contests.
The feel you gain during those sessions may not seem like much, but man will they come in handy when your season begins on the real grass.
1. Make a weekly appointment with your PGA Professional. Even in areas of the country that are suffering through the cruelest of winter conditions, you can always find a place to hit golf balls inside. Contact your local PGA Professional to find out where places like this in your area exist. You might be surprised at all the options you have.
With your PGA Professional in tow, you can work on your swing throughout the winter months and keep your game sharp. How nice would it be to be on top of your game as soon as the courses in your area open in the spring?
There are times when we all make this game too complicated. That’s why I started this article with a simple thought: Send it, then hole it. I’m not saying golf is easy, but I find that if you simplify your keys to executing all the main shots, you’ll stop playing golf swing and start playing golf. The goal is to advance the ball and drop it in the cup in as few strokes as possible. That’s really hard to do if you’re bogged down with swing mechanics. Instead, have a clear plan for what you want to do on the next shot, get your alignment right, and then make a swing or putting stroke that’s smooth and balanced. I guarantee if you keep it that simple, you’ll give yourself a better chance of playing good golf. On this page, I’m going to give you some keys to hitting all the main shots. Easy stuff to remember so you can put more focus on your round and not your swing. Like my coach, Col Swatton, says, “Understanding that the golf course is where you should play, and the range is where you practice, is your first step to lowering your scores.” — With Ron Kaspriske
PUT YOURSELF IN POSITION FOR A GOOD DRIVE
With a driver, I’m thinking only about hitting the ball as hard as I can in the center of the clubface. If you want to do the same, remember these keys before you take the club back: 1.) Get in a good setup. Start with a wide stance, a slight knee bend, your weight equally distributed on both feet and not in the toes or heels, and let your arms hang naturally as you tilt toward the ball from the hips. 2.) Always check ball position. If it’s too far back in your stance, it will kill your chance of the club coming into it square and on the correct path. The same is true if it’s too far forward. I like the ball lined up just inside my left heel. 3.) Think, slow takeaway. A lot of amateurs take the club back too fast, and that causes them to decelerate on the downswing. Do the opposite. By keeping my tempo smooth and taking it back slower, I can be aggressive through the ball without my timing being off.
TREAT YOUR IRONS WITH CARE
No matter what iron I’m swinging, my process stays the same. Here are my keys: 1.) Set up neutral. I want to hit the ball high, low, left and right, so I try to be as neutral as possible with my setup and grip. If you set up to hit only one type of shot, that’s fine, but you might struggle if the situation calls for something other than your stock ball flight. 2.) Shorten your swing. Good iron play is about hitting down on the ball with the center of the face. I find that’s easiest to do if you go with a three-quarter shot instead of a full swing. Put the ball an inch back in your stance, cut your backswing down, and focus on solid contact—not hitting it as hard as you can. The ball will go five to 10 yards shorter than with a full swing, so remember to club up. 3.) Finish like a statue. To improve your tempo and rhythm, make a swing that lets you get into a balanced, wraparound position.
“IRON PLAY IS NOT ABOUT POWER. IT’S ABOUT PRECISION. PUT SOME SMOOTH IN YOUR SWING.”
GO BIG AROUND THE GREENS
Whether it’s a fringe chip or a pitch in tall grass, my three short-game keys don’t change. 1.) Focus on a spot in front of the ball. To avoid hitting it fat, you want the low point of the swing to be after it strikes the ball. This technique will help you get a nice, clean strike. 2.) Minimize wrist action. My chipping and pitching swings don’t have a lot of hinge. In fact, there’s very little elbow or wrist bend all the way through the shot. That makes it easier to make good contact and keep the clubface square with the target. 3.) Use the big muscles. It’s tempting to hit these shots using mostly your hands and arms, but your consistency will improve if you put some body into the shot. My shoulders rotate toward the target on the downswing, and my sternum is in front of the ball by the time the club strikes it.
PUTT WITH COMMON SENSE
My process on the greens has helped me become one of the best putters in the game. This is one area where the right type of practice will allow you to focus on line and speed when you play.
My keys: 1.) At address, get your eyes directly over the ball, and make sure your hands aren’t leaning the shaft too much forward, back, in or out. Your eye-and-hand positions greatly affect accuracy. 2.) Focus on path and face. A smooth-and-controlled stroke will help make sure the face is square with your putting line at impact. If you can’t roll it on the right line, nothing else matters. 3.) Overestimate. Amateurs often fail to give their putts enough break or speed to reach the hole. Varying your putting scenarios in your warm-up will help get a better feel for line and speed that day. But when in doubt, overestimate both. Give every putt a chance to go in, and you can bet some of them will.
Six days into 2019 and there’s already a new World No. 1 in men’s golf. Brooks Koepka needed to finish in a two-way tie for eighth or better at the Sentry Tournament of Champions to hold on to the top spot that he had occupied for the past six weeks. But an opening-round 76 at the Plantation Course at Kapalua made that highly unlikely. Subsequent rounds of 70-73-69 left Koepka in 24th place.
Replacing Koepka is Justin Rose, who moves to No. 1 for the fourth time since he first ascended to the spot last September after the BWM Championship. That week, Rose earned the No. 1 ranking despite losing in a playoff to Keegan Bradley at Aronimink Golf Club. This week’s rise comes despite the fact that Rose skipped playing at Kapalua.
Had Rose competed in Hawaii, Koepka potentially could have held on to the top spot. But with Rose staying home, Koepka was in charge of the two men’s fate.
It’s the 10th time in the last 35 weeks that the No. 1 ranking has changed hands, the most volatile period since the OWGR’s inception in 1986.
Rose had the chance to knock off Koepka twice in the last month but fell one stroke short of passing him at the Hero World Challenge and the Indonesian Masters.
Neither Koepka or Rose are in the field next week at the Sony Open in Hawaii.
The end of the year is a time to look back and evaluate all that transpired in the previous 12 months, and though the internet is littered with “best of” lists, let’s be honest: a decent share of our assessments are based in regret—things that could have happened, that nearly happened, but in the end did not. Or, worse, terrible things that completely go against our greatest hopes. A year gone by is a graveyard. But the year ahead? That’s a sown field! Anything could happen, anything could grow, and it is far more fun to look forward with optimism than to look back in judgment.
So now that the calendar has flipped, let’s put an end to our sad reconciliations with 2018, and let our imaginations run wild. What follows are the 10 greatest things that could happen in golf in the coming year. Will they all transpire? Will any of them? The answer is, you can’t prove that they won’t.
1. There will be at least one incredible final round duel at a major
Like it or not, golf is the most anticlimactic spectator sport, and the major finishes we got in 2018 were typical. Rory McIlroy blowing up at Augusta and brief salvos from Jordan Spieth and Rickie Fowler fizzing out; Brooks Koepka snuffing out the field at the U.S. Open; Spieth laying a Sunday egg and nobody rising to Francesco Molinari’s challenge at the Open; Koepka snuffing out the field at the PGA. Real drama, good drama, is a rare commodity. The last really good two-man duel we had was probably Henrik Stenson vs. Phil Mickelson, but this year, let’s hope for even more. Let’s hope for something Arnie and Jack never quite gave us, and ditto for Tiger and Phil. Let’s hope the two best players in the world, whoever they are, face off in a Sunday showdown that lives up to and exceeds the hype.
2. Bryson DeChambeau will win a major championship
It’s time to face reality: Aside from Tiger Woods—who holds the title in perpetuity—Bryson DeChambeau is the most exciting person in golf right now. With Rory smack in the middle of his “pick-your-favorite-polite-synonym-for-choking” phase, and Spieth still mired in his technical woes, DeChambeau is the man who could rescue us from the Koepka doldrums. What sets him apart is that he has the game and the personality—he’s part brilliant scientist, part egotist, part snake-oil salesman, and all showman. He loves the stage, and judging by the polarizing reactions he provokes, the stage loves him back. It would be terrific for golf if he broke through at a major in 2019.
3. Tiger Woods will win a major championship
4. One of the new “Big Four” will win another major
A lot of major talk, I know! But majors really tend to overshadow everything else, especially in a non-Ryder Cup year, so you’ll have to deal with it. Earlier this year, I calculated that there are four young(ish) players with a faint-yet-not-entirely-unrealistic hope of reaching the vaunted 10 major mark: Koepka, Spieth, McIlroy and Justin Thomas. If you believe as I do that golf is better when familiar faces are winning majors, and better yet when at least one or two is chasing some kind of historical mark, than you should want one of these guys to take home another trophy.
5. The USGA will somehow top themselves in the “infuriate everyone” department
Watching professional golfers rage against the USGA for the most petty grievances imaginable is one of my favorite annual pastimes, and Phil Mickelson’s performance-art piece on the 13th green on Saturday last June at Shinnecock Hills (Title: “The Funniest Way For a Rich Guy to Pout”) was a highlight not just of that year, but any year. It will be incredibly disappointing if the USGA doesn’t up the ante. And frankly, driving a handful of whiners to say “they’ve lost the course” in their most solemn tones isn’t good enough. I want disappearing holes, or six-foot greens, or birds that are trained to pick up errant balls and fly them back to the tee. I want Mike Davis in a jester’s cap, dancing a jig on a raised platform every time a four-foot putt runs 15 feet past. Embrace your identity, USGA!
6. The International Team will win the Presidents Cup
The obvious reasoning behind this is that the Presidents Cup is a bore, it’s not going to be fun until the U.S. stops dominating. Unfortunately, that seems surpassingly unlikely since language barriers on the International side make a mockery of any “team” concept for the “rest of the world”. But I have another selfish reason I’d like to see the Americans stumble: the U.S. needs to hit rock bottom before it can start winning Ryder Cups, and in hindsight, after the Paris debacle, Gleneagles 2014 looks more and more like a false rock bottom. Everything that happened since has been band-aids on a massive festering wound, and until the wound itself is addressed (hint: it’s going to involve a ton of soul-searching and revolves around how we, as a country, conceive of team events in golf), history is just going to repeat itself. Which makes me an accelerationist, I guess, but my motive is genuine: let’s make the reality of team play unbearable until somebody has to fix the problem.
7. The U.S. will not suffer another Ryder Cup defeat
I need at least one thing on this list to come true, OK. This is not cheating, this is preparing for success.
8. The new PGA Tour schedule is going to work out amazingly for everyone
Seriously, I really think it will! The only real problem for the majors was that the PGA Championship lacked a bit of prestige, and from decent slogans like “glory’s last shot” to achingly desperate ones like “this is major!”, nothing really caught on. However, the PGA’s move to May is genius—nobody’s burned out on golf, you can ride those sweet Masters tailwinds, and your stock inevitably goes up … right? No other big tournament suffers for it, either, and in fact the Players benefits from getting to go first. At a time when professional sports leagues seem to be in a constant state of foot-in-mouth, it’s weirdly thrilling to see PGA Tour absolutely nail it, and I hope it’s as good in reality as it looks in conception.
9. Someone extremely cool will emerge
Maybe it’s Cam Champ? I don’t know, but I’m longing for a dynamic figure to throw down the gauntlet this year. Some combination of Tiger and Miguel Angel Jimenez, but young. Someone like we momentarily thought Brooks Koepka might be, until he turned out be either boring or resentful, depending on the day. Someone like Sergio, but without the debilitating neuroses. Someone like Phil, but with an ounce of impulse control. You get the point.
10. The “ball goes too far” brigade will be slightly less tiresome
Look, I’m not saying they don’t have a point. But it’s a little like complaining about how the Internet has destroyed society in 2019—you’re absolutely right, but you’re also years and years too late. Nothing’s changing now, amigos! You’re the proverbial old man yells at cloud meme! Enjoy the bombs!
Raceway Golf Club
HOURS OF OPERATION
In Season (April thru October)
Mon to Fri open 7am to 1 hour before sunset
Sat, Sun & Holidays open 6am to 1 hour before sunset
Off Season (November thru March)
Course will open at 9am to 3pm daily, weather depending!