On a short par 3 over water, the tee box was placed with an overhanging tree on the line to the pin. I moved the left tee marker a few feet so that the tee shot could be hit without obstruction. This was done before everyone teed off — in fact, my opponent played first and I hit second. What is the correct penalty? This has sparked a huge debate in my men’s league. —JASON WRIGHT, VIA E-MAIL
Jason, the fact that you ask what the penalty is — rather than if there’s a penalty — suggests you know you’ve done wrong … and you have. (Admitting that you have a problem, however, is the first step toward recovery of your honor.)
Tee markers are fixed — yes, even poorly positioned ones. Under Rule 8.1a, if you move one to gain a potential advantage by improving the conditions affecting the stroke, you must take the general penalty, which is two strokes in stroke play or loss of hole in match play. (Other players could likewise be subject to penalty if they knowingly took advantage of your maneuver.)
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We’re keeping it fun with some presidential golf facts!
- Donald Trump
Has won 19 club championships. Handicap Index reported to be 2.8
- John F. Kennedy
Despite chronic back pain, averaged 80.
- Dwight D. Eisenhower
Installed a green outside the Oval Office; member at Augusta National. Became friends with Arnold Palmer.
- Gerald R. Ford
Despite a clumsy image, a legitimate 80s-shooter. He also played with Arnold Palmer.
- Franklin D. Roosevelt
At 39, polio robbed him of a powerful golf swing
- George W. Bush
His handicap reported to dip under 10, post-presidency. He gave up golf during his presidency at the start of the Iraq War.
- George H.W. Bush
Once got his handicap down to 11. Favorite exclamation on the course was “Power outage!” when putts fell short
- Bill Clinton
Can break 90, especially using his “Billigans”
- Barack Obama
The lefty plays hoops and golf, more than 330 rounds during his two terms.
- Ronald Reagan
Didn’t play often or well (best was low 90s)
- Warren G. Harding
Struggled to break 95
- Woodrow Wilson
Played over 1,000 Rounds in office but almost never broke 100. He even enlisted his Secret Service agents to paint his golf balls black so that he could practice in the snow.
- Richard M. Nixon
He shot 79 once and quit the game
- Lyndon B. Johnson
Played with senators to secure votes for the Civil Rights Act of 1964
- Calvin Coolidge
When he vacated the White House, he left his clubs behind
It’s not quite golf season across the entire country, but we do know that everyone across the country is thinking about golf, golf season, and just how much they love playing golf. Here we offer the 12 reasons we all love golf:
Golf promotes freedom on a playing field with few boundaries.
What other game is played on 200 acres or more? Baseball, softball, football and soccer fields all have defined, rigid lines. So do tennis and basketball courts. Ice rinks have walls. Nascar has fences. For goodness’ sake, bowling alleys have gutters, how intimidating is that?
Yes, in golf you’re supposed to play the holes where the short grass is, but it’s liberating to know that you do not have to. (And probably won’t.) You’ve got this immense open space to play in. Play the holes any way you choose — just meet us on the next tee afterward.
The gear is cool.
It’s amusing, entertaining and even educational to get lost in all of golf’s little details: the dozens of different clubs, a glove, a ball marker, tees, green repair tools, interchangeable spikes, custom grips, shaft flexes, head covers, rain gear, global positioning equipment. And then there are the nicknames for this inner society’s tools: big dog, flat stick, belly putter, cavity back, hosel, kickpoint, camber, off-set, niblick, mashie, brassie, bounce, flange. I doubt that even the C.I.A. has this much fun naming its secret paraphernalia.
Golf is serendipitous.
Where else can you get sand in your shoes, pond water on your socks, ketchup on your shirt, sweat on your cap, mud in the cuffs of your pants, blisters on your hands, a farmer’s tan and a frog in your bag? And like it. If you make birdie on the 18th hole, you will spend the rest of the day excessively explaining how you acquired all the sand, water, ketchup, sweat, mud, blisters, color and the stowaway frog.
Golf has the best views.
O.K., so some baseball stadiums have good views of city skyscrapers. The rare college football stadium will glimpse a pastoral campus. Our indoor arenas increasingly all look alike and now they are louder than an airport runway. If you fish, hike, surf or ski, maybe you have an argument on this subject, but compared with all the mainstream sports, golf has no equal in terms of the setting. There are hundreds of golf courses that jut into the ocean, hundreds more that wind through forests, hundreds more with majestic mountain views and hundreds more that flow through parkland valleys.
Stand on the 18th tee at Pebble Beach, a few feet from the Pacific Ocean with the spray from the waves landing softly on your shoulders, and you will never again wax poetic about the Citgo sign behind the Green Monster at Fenway Park.
Golf is played with a host of wildlife partners.
Deer, turtles, foxes, woodchucks, rabbits, chipmunks, squirrels, moose, beavers, trout, bass, hawks, blue heron, eagles, geese, ducks, robins, blue jays, toads, armadillos, turkeys, otters, gophers, lizards, butterflies and even alligators.
They come with the golf course for free.
You’ve heard of runner’s high? Golfers have their own version and it takes place on an uncrowded golf course, walking quietly around the green landscape, proceeding at any pace you choose.
Arriving alone and joining another group.
A completely different experience, this is more like a blind date, but it almost always ends up better since it doesn’t matter if you ever see your newfound partners again. You meet the most fascinating people with this little leap of faith and you are witness to the most bizarre approaches to playing the game. Who needs reality TV? Just walk into a pro shop on a busy Saturday and announce you’re a single.
Looking for lost balls in the woods.
I’m always amazed what I find in the woods. Like one boat shoe. Why and how did that get here? I’ve found a pocket calculator. A hat and sunglasses. Maybe I’m watching too much “NCIS,” but I try to reconstruct the scene:
O.K., guy tries to hit his second shot from the woods but it strikes two other trees and lands in some swampy moss. Disgusted, he throws down his hat (sunglasses were on the brim). Still, he takes an awkward stance in the swamp and swats at the ball, which soars onto the green to land two feet from the cup. In his follow-through, however, he loses his balance and falls backward. Boat shoe sticks in moss and calculator falls from pocket. He doesn’t notice; he’s shuffling down the fairway to make that par putt.
There is the crisp sound of a club face contacting the golf ball with no grass in between. The muted “thunk” of a well-played bunker shot. The soft, little plunk heard from the fairway when an approach shot lands on the green. The clatter of clubs in the bag bumping along the fairway, a practiced cadence of leisure on the move. There is the silence that follows a shot from the woods, the audio proof that your ball escaped without striking a tree. There is the sound of surprised, astonished laughter when you sink a 60-foot putt over hill and dale.
Auditory delights are par for the course.
Anyone can play golf.
It doesn’t matter if you are particularly tall or strong, all body types can succeed. Look on the PGA and L.P.G.A. tours, where the top golfers come in all shapes and sizes. It doesn’t matter what part of the world you are from. Age doesn’t much matter, unless you want to be a touring pro. Even a lack of flexibility or athleticism can be counteracted with savvy and skill around the greens. Over the years, I have lost much money to the 60- or 70-year-olds at my home course who have the precision of surgeons from 100 yards and in. Just being a good putter will make you a good golfer. And who can’t putt a little white ball into a little hole?
You can, and should, play with your family or male and female friends.
The fact that men, women and children can play golf equitably on the same golf course is one of the game’s greatest benefits. It is the perfect blend of social event and exercise. And there’s something about golf’s humbling nature that brings everyone together. No one is immune from embarrassment, and that is liberating to the family dynamic.
The chance of a hole in one.
In what other game, in what other walk of life, can you perform something that in that moment is as good as it can be? The average person cannot go to a major league ballpark and hit a grand slam to win a game, but when the average person makes a hole in one, it is a shot that no one, not Phil Mickelson and not Jack Nicklaus in his prime, could have done better at that moment in that place. The chance of, and quest for, perfection is what keeps golfers coming back.
You gotta love that.
Source: NY Times
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The question over whether you should putt with the flagstick in has sparked plenty of debate. The one thing missing until now has been any real science.
Partnering with California Polytechnic State University-San Luis Obispo professor Tom Mase, a Ph.D in mechanical engineering and a member of the Golf Digest Hot List Technical Advisory Panel, we sought to find out if it is in fact true that putting with the flagstick in is always better than not. While Mase’s research is preliminary, the takeaway is pretty clear: The benefits of the flagstick are at best inconclusive and may in fact prevent off-center putts from going in more often than they would if the flagstick were removed.
In other words, hold on to your DeChambeau.
(Bryson DeChambeau, you’ll recall, seemed fairly unequivocal in his assessment of golf’s new rule that allows players to leave the flagstick in while putting. He said in January at the Sentry Tournament of Champions: “After the testing we’ve seen, and what we just did out there now, absolutely, I’m going to leave it in. I’m going to do it until I can see that it messes me up. For the most part, we’ve seen it to be a benefit and not a detriment. That’s from anywhere.”)
Mase’s study, conducted at Cal Poly’s golf practice center at Dairy Creek Golf Course with help from men’s coach Scott Cartwright and women’s coach Sofie Aagaard, used a putting device called the Perfect Putter to roll putts at a speed slightly faster than minimum holing speed. (The theory being that holing speed, approximately two-and-a-half feet past the hole, is not affected by the stick being left in the hole.) The Cal Poly study examined straight and breaking putts that crossed the hole at the upper third, the middle of the hole and the lower third.
Mase released a video of the test conducted last week.
The results showed that with a breaking putt entering the hole from the low side, keeping the flagstick in prevents some putts from being holed. With the flagstick out, those putts are holed every time.
The study also showed that the coefficient of restitution for the flagstick is relatively low, and that direct impacts with the stick, regardless of the type, tend to stop the ball fairly quickly, helping it to finish in the hole every time at a speed that sends the ball five to seven feet past the hole. Further tests of the different flagsticks showed that fiberglass sticks—those most commonly used on the PGA Tour—were the most forgiving, but while multi-diameter and tapered aluminum pins rejected putts that otherwise would have been made, even the fiberglass pin caused more putts to have been missed than were made with the flagstick out.
Off-center flagstick strikes on the low side of the hole tended to shoot the ball off farther away, hence the problem with balls rolling toward the hole on the low side.
Still, for putts entering on the high side, leaving the flagstick in wasn’t such a sure thing, either. While nine out of nine putts were made with the flagstick out, each of the three types of flagsticks yielded less than perfect results for high-side entry putts. For the multi-diameter aluminum stick, there were only seven makes. Same for the common fiberglass flagstick. But for the tapered aluminum stick, it got worse: only two of the nine putts were holed. That’s a difference of 78 percent between flagstick out and flagstick in.
In an earlier test from a longer distance, Mase found that straight-in putts were made 100 percent of the time with both the flagstick out and the flagstick in. On low side entry, putts were holed 80 percent of the time with the flagstick out, but only 56 percent of the time with the flagstick in.
Mase, who will continue to run further tests on the flagstick-in/out question at Cal Poly’s golf practice center, found the testing results surprising, given the current attitudes some tour players have expressed.
“While the sample is very small on this data, I believe it represents well what is happening here,” he said. “Low-side putts will definitely be hurt by having the pin in. Putts entering the center will be made with or without the pin. High side entering putts is a little bit of a pin type dependent problem. However, high-side hole entry without the pin performs best.
“The results are intriguing and perplexing. At first, I bought into the pin helping always. But it is too easy to set up a low-side entering putt that is made 100 percent without the pin and not close to 100 percent with any of the three pins tested.”
Your move, Bryson.
Source: Golf Digest
As all golfers know, a game of golf is both mentally stimulating and physically challenging. Golf may not be considered a physically demanding sport, but one round will likely mean you are outside and moving around, walking at a pace of 6-7km, for several hours at a time and constantly using your brain for the many mental challenges you face. There are many stated health benefits of golf, from scientific and anecdotal sources, but just how good is the game for the body and mind?
Seven health benefits of golf
- Heart health – any form of physical exercise helps get the blood pumping to your heart. Walking, carrying your bag and swinging all increase your heart rate and blood flow. Your risk of a stroke and diabetes are reduced, and there can be positive effects on reducing blood pressure and harmful cholesterol, especially if combined with a healthy diet and lifestyle. The Norwegian Golf Federation (NGF) found that during an 18-hole round, a player will have an average heart rate of 100 beats per minute, over a two to five hour period
- Brain stimulation – regular daily walking strengthens the brain’s memory circuits. Clive Ballard, director of research at the Alzheimer’s Society, says: ‘Whether it is going for a jog or walking the golf course, keeping physically active is a great way to keep your heart and your brain healthy. By keeping active you make sure your brain has a good, strong blood supply, which is essential to help it function better now and in future.”
- Weight loss – the golden number of steps per day needed for weight loss is 10,000. An 18-hole round easily exceeds this recommended number, especially when you walk and do not use a golf cart. The Norwegian Golf Federation (NGF) found that recent research projects (referring to those in Norway, Japan, Germany, the US and Sweden) revealed that a male golfer burns around 2,500 kCal during an 18-hole round, and female players burn approximately 1,500 kCal (read 9 Holes for Better Health – in Norwegian)
- Reduces stress – the pleasure of walking in fresh air, socialising, with an added mental challenge means golf releases endorphins, the natural mood-enhancing chemicals in your brain, which make you happy and relaxed
- Improved sleep – exercise and fresh air are a powerful combination for improved sleep. Walking the course will give you a good workout. Regular exercise helps you sleep faster and remain in a deep sleep for longer. Sleep helps your muscles rest and repair
- Low injury – golf is a low-impact activity in the sense that one walks on a soft, gently rolling surface. More mature players find this attractive as they can burn calories with a low risk of injury
- Live longer – a Swedish study by the Karolinska Institutet led by Professor Anders Ahlbom, found that golfers have a 40% lower death rate, which corresponds to a 5-year increase in life expectancy (read Golf: A game of life and death – reduced mortality in Swedish golf players)
“The health benefits of golf are far greater than most of us seem to believe, and may have a much greater and broader impact on our wellbeing than we may have realised. Considering how well a good golf facility can appeal to people of all age groups, golf is a wonderful way to encourage exercise,” says Edwin Roald, EIGCA Council member.
In addition to the scientific research above, the NY Times ran a story in July 2015 following two studies which found there are many health benefits of golf: “A walk in the park may soothe the mind and, in the progress, change the workings of our brains in ways that improve our mental health.” (read this blog post).
Golf carts are not a fundamental part of the game
The use of golf carts is widespread and it can be all too easy to jump in a cart rather than take a leisurely stroll. While golf carts are useful in terms of enabling the elderly and people with disabilities to enjoy golf as a form of recreation, their extensive use has likely contributed, as much as anything else, to golf‘s apparent elitist image. Whenever possible, golfers should say no to a cart and play golf on foot, as it was meant to be played, and reap the rewards of the health benefits of golf.
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