2014 Payne Stewart Award

“This year marks the 15th anniversary of the Payne Stewart Award, which is presented annually to a player who exemplifies Stewart’s steadfast values of character, charity and sportsmanship. Stewart, an 11-time winner on the PGA TOUR and World Golf Hall of Fame member, died tragically the week of the TOUR Championship in 1999. At the time, Southern Company was the sponsor of the event, and a year later, the PGA TOUR created the Payne Stewart Award to honor his legacy. Southern Company, the Official Energy Company of the PGA TOUR, has sponsored the award since its inception.” (PGATour.com)

Awarded on 9 September 2014, this year’s winner is Sir Nick Faldo. An accomplished golfer, Sir Nick won 39 times world-wide, which included six Major Championships. Additionally, Sir Nick holds the record for the most appearances and most points won at the Ryder Cup.

In 1996, Sir Nick launched the Faldo Series to offer opportunities to male and female golfers under the age of 21 from around the world. There are over 7,000 participants each year and this charity has produced some notable young players such as Rory McIlroy, Yani Tseng, and Nick Dougherty.

“My main reason for starting the Faldo Series was to try and give something back to the game that has given me so much.” 

In 1998, Sir Nick Faldo received the Order of the British Empire. In 2009, he was invested as a Knight Bachelor for his services to golf. These are just two of the many awards Sir Nick has received through the years.

Sir Nick Faldo joins the company of great men like Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Byron Nelson, and Tom Watson. All have dedicated their lives to improving the world around them and happened to use golf as their venue. However, something tells me that these great men would have used something else if golf was not available.

Congratulations to Sir Nick Faldo for being awarded the 2014 Payne Stewart Award!

I am a grateful golfer! See you on the links!



Course Management in Golf

Play the shot that makes the next shot easy.

Tommy Armour

Course management is a familiar topic in golf. To manage your golf game is challenging, depressing and rewarding all at the same time. We have all played rounds of golf where nothing seemed to go well and others where mistakes could not be made! Most of the time, the difference between a final score of 75 or a 78 is course management. Like chess, playing golf requires a player to think at least two shots ahead before taking a swing.

Hitting the best club to set up his next shot.

Hitting the best club to set up his next shot.

Focusing on your shot at hand is obviously the first step to course management. Proper execution of this shot is critical to low scores. When I talk about execution, I do not mean contact of the ball (although this is very important also). What I mean is executing the shot that best sets you up for the next shot. Sometimes that means hitting your 3-wood as close to the green as possible on a par 5 or laying up to 100 yards to have a full shot over a hazard. The most interesting aspect of course management is that it is different for every player! The reason for the differences are that each player shapes the ball differently and hits each club different distances. Therefore, their course management has to be different.

Trying to advance the ball too far usually spells trouble!

Trying to advance the ball too far usually spells trouble!

However, before hitting the first shot, determining what the next shot should be will help with club selection, how to play the shot, whether to punch the ball out of the woods, or try to hit the ball 75 yards down the fairway around a tree. Every shot has infinite variables that are hard to list. The most important thing to consider is what you are planning for the next shot. This part of course management is really what sets up how a round of golf is played. Not staying focused on the next shot is where most amateurs run into trouble!

Under a tree

Under a Tree on the 15th Hole. Managing this shot properly will be the difference between par and double bogey!

There are three simple rules I follow to make my next shot easy. I use these rules as the basis to scoring well or at least trying to score well.

  • When in the fairway, always go for the green if in range! Greens In Regulation or GIR is the most important statistic in golf. Personally, I would rather play a short chip or out of the sand then to have a 30 or 40 yard chip to the green.
  • When hitting from the rough, I use my hybrids. I cases where players are not using hybrids, then use an iron. I know many players will suggest that if the lie is good then hit a wood, but the higher percentage shot is to hit a hybrid or iron.
  • When playing out of the woods, do not get greedy! The moment I try to squeeze an extra 10 or 15 yards out of a difficult shot, disaster strikes! Taking my medicine is the safe play! This does not mean that I do not try and find the most advantageous exit from the woods, it means that I have to be smart about setting up my next shot!

I am sure there are many other rules that players use to keep their score low. Depending on the competition, others rules will come into play, but for most amateurs trying to break 100, these three rules are plenty.

This is my approach to course management. Do you have anything to add?

I am a grateful golfer! See you on the links!


TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola

It is finally here! The TOUR Championship will start at 1145 am at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta, Georgia.  The prize money is a paltry 8 million dollars and the winners take is 1.4 million dollars. Not a bad payday for four days of pressure packed golf. The top 30 players in the FedEx Cup standings will slug it out for the 10 million dollar grand prize as the FedExCup Champion. The four-week grind has taken its toll on some of the players, but it all comes to an end on Sunday.

If at the beginning of the year, you were asked to pick the top six players heading into the Tour Championship, there is little doubt it would not be similar to the current standings.

  1. Chris Kirk
  2. Billy Horschel
  3. Bubba Watson
  4. Rory McIlroy
  5. Hunter Mahan
  6. Jimmy Walker

Except for Rory McIlroy and maybe Bubba Watson, the rest of the players would not be leading contenders heading into this weekend’s tournament. I would consider the three different winners over the past three tournaments as journeymen players. Only Rory McIlroy and Bubba Watson are Major winners in 2014. So, the question that needs asking is: Are the points during the season really worth anything? Is it time for an new format? If the winners of the last three tournaments can vault to 1st, 2nd and 5th, maybe the hype of the FedExCup standings is a bit over-rated.

On a side note, Dustin Johnson is ranked number 30 in the FedExCup standings and cannot play in the tournament. Personally, he should have been removed from contention when he took a leave of absence and let Stuart Appleby play. It does not make sense that Johnson is still on the list….or am I missing something?

There is no doubt that this weekend’s tournament will provide some exciting golf. The pressure of playing in this weekend’s tournament will take its toll on many players. Unfortunately, many of the journeyman players will have difficulty shooting four solid rounds of golf in a row and it will cost them the title.

The players to watch this weekend are the usual favourites. If you ask 100 golf analysts, Rory McIlroy will be the player to beat. Why not, he is the world’s number one golfer; he has a steady game; and he handles pressure very well. Added to the mix of players to watch are Bubba Watson, Jim Furyk, Adam Scott, and Matt Kuchar. They are steady and always have the potential to score low over four rounds of golf.

Rickie Fowler

Rickie Fowler – The Grateful Golfer’s pick as TOUR Championship and FedExCup winner for 2014

However, none of those mentioned above are my pick for the Tour Championship. This week Rickie Fowler will step out from the shadows and into the light of great golfers. He is going to win this tournament and will play head to head with Sergio Garcia on the final day! Both of these players are poised and ready to raise the Tour Championship Trophy over their heads! Fowler has played the most consistent golf in the Majors (except for McIlroy) this year. And it is time for him to shine.

Most years, the TOUR Championship is the end of the golfing season for most professionals. However, the Ryder Cup is only two weeks away. So for some of these players, the TOUR Championship is just a warm up for the greatest head-to-head golf championship going, the Ryder Cup. However, before they get to all the fun at Gleneagles, they must focus on the tournament on hand.

I am a grateful golfer! See you on the links!