Golf Accepts All Players

Anyone can play golf. It is a sport that regardless of you physical abilities, you can grab a set of clubs and hit the links. Like all activities, the desire to play is the limiting factor. If someone does not want to loop the course, no amount of persuasion is going to drag them to the first tee. And yet, golf patiently waits for them to change their mind. Continue reading

Is The US Open Actually Open?

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The Merion Golf Club, Ardmore, Pa, is hosting the 2013 US Open.  For the 113th time, this elite tournament is garnering the attention of the world.  The 156 player event traditionally captures the golf world like most majors.  Unlike other professional tournaments, the United States Golf Association totally controls the US Open.  This arrangement begs someone to ask if their selection process to enter and win this prestigious tournament fair or are the cards stacked in favour of a small elite group of golfers?

The USGA will set the specific rules to their championship, ranging from how the course will be laid out and the course conditions to include the length to the treacherous and famous rough. “The rough should be of sufficient height to provide a significant problem … The USGA believes that the penalty for straying off the fairway should be about one-half stroke.  The desired height of the rough depends on the type of grass involved…  (approximately) 3 and 6 inches, except that there is a strip of rough about 6 feet wide just off the fairways … Less punitive rough would be advisable for most club competitions as it increases the time spent searching for balls and leads to slower play.”  Their exacting standards have caused many a player to self-destruct during the final round.

This year’s entrants include representation from approximately 17 different countries, 76 exempt players, 5 amateurs, and a slew of hopefuls.  This year, the US Open starts on Thursday, 13 June 2013 and ends on Father’s Day, Sunday, 16 June 2013.

“Each year, thousands of competitors enter the U.S. Open. They are professionals and amateurs, teenagers and seniors, All-Americans and walk-ons, teachers and firemen. No matter their background, what they have in common is the dream of teeing it up in the national championship.”

There are some qualifying rules before any golfer can try their hand at winning the US Open.  First, all entrants must have a handicap index of 1.4 or less.  This means that they must shoot 1 shot over the course rating 10 times out of 20 rounds.  This is a very difficult feat except for the best of the best.  This year, qualifying started with an 18-hole local tournament at 111 sites around the United States.  Those excited qualifier winners advanced to sectional competitions around the United States, the United Kingdom, and Japan, to compete with exempt players in a 36-hole marathon. After all is said and done, the field for the US Open is set.

So far, all seems fair for those players wishing to raise one of the most valued trophies in golf.  With all this openness, has anyone actually been successful enough to enter the qualifier and win the tournament?  The short answer is yesKen Venturi, 1964 and Orville Moody, 1969.  Other important points include 5 amateur champions who won the US Open eight times.  The oldest winner was Hale Irwin at age 45, the youngest winner was John J. McDermott aged 19, the youngest competitor was Andy Zhang aged 14 and the oldest competitor was Sam Snead at age 61.  Most US Open wins was 4 by four players; one being an amateur…maybe you heard of him, Robert Tyre Jones Jr. Better known as Bobby Jones!

To answer the original question: Is the US Open Actually Open?  The answer is an undeniable yes! The process to qualify is fair, yet challenging.  They allow anyone who has the skill to step up and swing their way to victory!  It is a difficult challenge, but over 9000 golfers felt they had what it takes to win this year’s US Open.

To get ready for the US Open, Major has a top twenty moments in US Open history that will put you in the mood for more action.  The Bleacher Report has some odds set out that may help and Major has power ratings out for those interested in picking the winner.

Golf is a passion and I am a grateful golfer.  See you on the links!

Dogs On the Golf Course

Today was interesting on Osprey Links.  As I walked around the mosquito infested course, I tried to focus on making good contact.  The weather and course conditions have prevented me from playing much to date, however that is soon to change.  While playing today I had 14 good holes.  (I changed my thinking from 4 bad holes – thanks Norman Vincent Peale)  I hit the ball relatively well, but nothing fantastic yet.  Well I digress.

On the 16th tee box, a gentlemen and Bella asked if they could join my friend and I for the last three holes.  Of course, we let him because I am always grateful to meet new people. The interesting thing about this request is Bella is a dog.  She is quite beautiful, quiet, and very well behaved.  My friend and I are both animal lovers and enjoyed both their company.  Bella did not cause any problems, nor her master, during the rest of the round.  I know some may be thinking that a golf course is no place for a dog, however it is a tough call.

So here is my question, should dogs be allowed on a leash on the golf course?

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

The Fifth Major

Official Logo of The Players Championship

The Players Championship played this weekend is lauded as the Fifth Major.  It is the only significant tournament owned and administered by the PGA Tour.  The majors all have different sponsors.  The Masters is owned by the Augusta National Golf Club; the U.S. Open by the United States Golf Association (USGA); The Open Championship by The R&A, and the PGA Championship by the Professional Golfers’ Association of America (PGA of America).

This tournament was created in 1974 and Jack Nicklaus won the inaugural tournament.  This tournament has a short history, but gathers an elite field every year.  The tournament runs every year at about the same time with the final round being played on Mother’s Day.  It has a permanent home at TPC Sawgrass since 1982 at the stadium course.

Having the reputation as the Fifth Major is very tough.  The Players Championship is a very young tournament, but has some great highlights.  Tom Alter, PGATOUR.COM, outlines 40 history shots that capture your imagination.  One of the favourites was in “2007 – In the third round, Phil Mickelson’s tee shot at the 10th hole found a fairway bunker. His only shot to the green was through a small gap in the trees. The leader couldn’t win the tournament with this one shot, but he could lose it. So “Phil the Thrill” threaded his approach shot through the trees and onto the green. Climbing out of the bunker, he said to his caddie Jim “Bones” McKay, “I didn’t want to tell you what I was doing.” Mickelson went on to win the first PLAYERS in May by two shots.”  There are many more great stories and are worth a read.

Every tournament has great memories.  If one researched enough, they could find enough great shots to fill a book.  It could be the fact that it has the richest prize money of any tournament.  Or that the winner receives 600 Fed Ex points for winning like the other Majors.  Or that the field is made of the top 30-50 players in the world. Ultimately, this tournament has plenty to offer and continues to be elevated into the top five tournaments of the year.

The greatness of The Players Championship can be supported in the facts on many levels.  However, what is the ultimate driving force that makes it the Fifth Major?  It is RESPECT.  The respect it receives from the players.

In an article by ESPN.COM, on Tuesday Tiger Woods is quoted, “We have our four major championships, and that’s that, …….But if there was going to be another one, this would be it. This is the best field that we have.  We have guys from all over the world playing and, next to the PGA, probably one of the deepest and stiffest fields we’ll face.”

USA Today Sports penned “The Players just gets bigger and bigger,” two-time Players champion Davis Love III said. “The PGA Tour has done a great job in making this our major, the players’ major, and it’s a special tournament.”

The New York Daily News quotes the number 2 in world, “It’s funny,” said Rory McIlroy, who has missed the cut all three times he’s played here.  “It’s a golf course where you look at the field and you’re like, ‘Anyone can win.”

The majority of the golf world respects the Players Championship as an elite tournament.  The players themselves are eager to try their hand at one of the toughest competitions of the year.  As stated by the players, this tournament has proven year in and year out that it is a top tier professional golf tournament.  It is time to give The Players Championship its due and make it the Fifth Major!

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