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Jan 07, 2016 | 10:46 am

The Caddies Awaken

One of the larger pieces of off-course golf news to watch for in 2016 will be the “Caddies Lawsuit” against the PGA Tour. For the unenlightened among us, a group of more than 80 PGA Tour caddies have filed a class action lawsuit against the PGA Tour in hopes of gaining certain privileges, two of which are healthcare and pensions. Currently caddies are deemed independent contractors hired by the player themselves, meaning the Tour is not their employer and is therefore not responsible for either of those employee benefits. The next layer of the class action suit addresses the fact that caddies are required to wear bibs displaying Tour sponsor names without the caddie receiving any compensation. The caddies are prohibited from displaying sponsors of their own. The proposed class would include hundreds if not thousands of caddies, threatening the PGA Tour with hundreds of millions of dollars in damages. The legal process is chugging along slowly, but keep your eyes on this case in 2016. Depending on the judge’s finding in the case, we may be seeing some noticeable changes coming to the Tour.

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Jan 06, 2016 | 09:55 am

Hawaiian Spirits

Kapalua's Plantation Course on the island of Maui, host site for this week's Hyundai Tournament of Champions on the PGA Tour, celebrates its 25th anniversary this year. The Buzz caught up with co-designer Bill Coore about the origins of the course. His partner, Ben Crenshaw, was in Hawaii playing Kapalua's Bay Course with Mark Rolfing, who brought Crenshaw up to look at the site. "He called me afterward and said, 'They're thinking about doing this course. It's really pretty. The land rises gently from the sea.' So I've got this picture in my mind—this was before you could text photos—and I fly out to see it. Mark takes me up there and the severity of the slopes and elevation changes leave me a bit speechless. I certainly didn't see any gentle slopes and Mark says, 'Well, we were up here in the evening and had a couple of Coronas.' I said, 'How many Coronas did you have?'" Coore adds with a laugh. After getting the job and coming up with a masterful routing that negated many of severe terrain features, "It rises gently from the sea" became a running joke during construction. Well, they don't call him "Gentle Ben" for nothing.

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Jan 05, 2016 | 08:55 am

Luck of the Irish

As we ready ourselves for the first PGA Tour event of 2016, here’s a last look back at the best shot on last year’s European Tour. Throughout December the European fans voted, and the winning shot (ironically played on American soil at the WGC Bridgestone Invitational) came from Shane Lowry.  The Irishman came to the final hole with a one-stroke lead but pulled his drive into the rough where he was dead-stymied by one of the thousands of tall trees that line the holes of Firestone Country Club. “It was actually a pretty horrific lie,” said Lowry. “It was sitting down in a hole, almost like someone had stood on it, but it was where the crowd had been walking. I said to my caddie Dermot, I’ll try and hit sand wedge and just get it down to the front of the green. I pulled it a bit too low and it went into the tree. The rest is history.” Check it out. 

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Jan 04, 2016 | 10:27 am

New Year, New Clubs

Along with the ball dropping in Times Square, one sure sign of a new year is pro golfers changing their equipment affiliations. Common as it is, today’s announcement from PXG—the one-year-old club company started by billionaire Bob Parsons, founder of GoDaddy.com—is noteworthy for the number and names of players who will be swinging PXG clubs this year. Eight PGA and LPGA notables are making the switch: Zach Johnson (last year’s Open Champion, shown above), Billy Horschel, Chris Kirk, James Hahn, Charles Howell III, Cristie Kerr, Alison Lee, and Gerina Piller are joining Ryan Moore, Rocco Mediate, Beatriz Recari, and Sadena Parks in the PXG stable. That’s a dozen pros with 55 tour wins, including three majors. “Having some of the best golfers in the world want to play our clubs in competition is absolute validation that we’ve done something incredibly special,” said Parsons. PXG offers a full line of clubs, driver to putter: You can read more about them in the January issue of our digital magazine HotLinks, which is available by clicking here.

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