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Jun 06, 2016 | 06:23 am

A Long Story

Last week, the USGA and R&A jointly published the results of research on driving distance in pro golf based on data from seven worldwide tours, including the PGA Tour, that goes back as far as 1968. And their conclusion? The pros really aren’t all that much longer. While that might go against everything we think we see from the likes of Dustin Johnson, Bubba Watson, JD Holmes, Rory McIlroy, Jason Day—you get the idea—golf’s two governing bodies are sticking by their findings. Which are, according to their announcement:

  • Between 2003 and the end of the 2015 season, average driving distance on four of the seven tours increased about 1%, or 0.2 yards per year.
  • For the same period, average driving distance on the other three of the seven tours studied decreased about 1%.
  • Looking at all of the players who are ranked for distance on the PGA Tout and PGA European Tour, the amount by which players are “long” or “short” is virtually the same—for instance, the 10 shortest players in that group are about 6% shorter than average, while the 10 longest players in the group are about 7% longer than average. The statistics are not skewed toward added distance.
  • The average launch conditions on the PGA Tour—clubhead speed, launch angle, ball speed and ball backspin—have been relatively stable since 2007. The 90th-percentile clubhead speed coupled with the average launch angle and spin rate are very close to the conditions that the USGA and The R&A, golf’s governing bodies, use to test golf balls under the Overall Distance Standard.

Martin Slumbers, Chief Executive of the R&A, said “it is important in terms of good governance and healthy for the sport to achieve greater transparency on key issues such as driving distance.” Mike Davis, Executive Director/CEO of the USGA said, “Hitting distance is, and has long been, a constant subject of healthy and spirited debate in golf. We want every0ne in the game to have access to the facts… to ensure that our game is both enjoyable and sustainable for future generations." The entire report is available from the USGA or The R&A.

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Jun 03, 2016 | 06:16 am

Father’s Day Finds

In case you forgot—and you wouldn’t do that, would you?—Father’s Day is just two weeks away, Sunday, June 19. Since it’s likely dad will be spending the day watching the final round of the U.S. Open from Oakmont, he’s sure to enjoy some golf-related gifts. Here are a few ideas.

  • The TPC Network of clubs is offering special dad’s day deals—with rounds of golf and other enticements like free drinks and hats—at TPC Deere Run, TPC Las Vegas, TPC Louisiana, TPC Sawgrass, and TPC Scottsdale (shown above).
  • Buy dad a pair of New Balance golf shoes and he’ll receive a free pair of sandals, a $30 value. The deal is at all participating New Balance outlets including golf specialty stores and online: When purchasing the golf shoes, be sure to ask for a coupon for the sandals.
  • BirdieBox has assembled a limited-edition collection of Under Armour golf products—including a shirt, cap, and belt, each in a “soft touch” keepsake box—for $109.99 at Golfsmith stores and online.
  • Check out the Groupon website for deals on local-area tee times and even non-golf gifts. Because you really don’t want to forget dad on his special day.
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Jun 02, 2016 | 09:12 am

First Championship for the Ducks

In case you missed the golf action last night, Oregon beat Texas on the 21st hole of the final match to win the Men’s NCAA National Golf Championship. The matches were covered on Golf Channel, and based on the social media reaction, fans loved watching the tournament. It was refreshing to see a different format, less corporate sponsorship, and collegiate players achieve what for many will be the pinnacle of their careers. Sulman Raza poured in the winning putt for the Oregon Ducks at which point the fans “rushed the court” and dog piled the player right there on the green. The scene was something out of a basketball upset instead of the golf course, and that is one reason it was enjoyed by so many. It was the Duck’s first NCAA Golf Championship.

However, the guy who may have enjoyed it most had one of the best views in the house. He also woke up this morning and realized he was a viral social media star. Who, you ask? The chef at Eugene Country Club, who found his perch on the club’s roof.

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Jun 01, 2016 | 08:25 am

Rising Star

Who's the hottest golfer in the world right now? Jason Day? Jordan Spieth? Nope. It's Ariya Jutanugarn. The long-hitting 20 year old won for the third straight time on Sunday at the LPGA Volvik Championship in Ann Arbor, Mich., blowing the field away and setting a record for a player winning her first three events in the process. It's a wonderfully redemptive story, too, having missed 10 straight cuts last year and actually becoming scared to hit the ball. So just who is Jutanugarn? She's a former top-ranked amateur from Thailand who became the youngest player ever at age 11 to qualify for an LPGA event at the 2007 Honda LPGA Thailand. Her good play continued after turning pro in 2013, but a shoulder injury the same year from a fall chasing her sister around derailed her preordained rise to greatness. But a big boost to her confidence came at the year's first major, the Dinah Shore, which she led after 69 holes, before Lydia Ko nipped at the finish line when Jutanugarn bogeyed the final three holes. After her three straight wins, it doesn't seem like anything can stop her now, however, with her booming drives and soft touch. Don't be surprised if she wins for a fourth time this year at LPGA's next major, the KPMG Women's PGA Championship, June 9-12 at Sahalee.

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