May 07, 2015 | 02:38 pm

Caddie Day

One of the great traditions at THE PLAYERS is the Championship Caddie Competition where the loopers try to carry the water instead of the bag at the par-three 17th. Each year during the Wednesday practice round, the caddies grab a club from their boss's bag and take a swing at the infamous island green in the name of charity—and a few prizes for the winning caddie. The players stuff bills in a donation box with all the proceeds going to the Bruce Edwards Foundation (Tom Watson's caddie who died of ALS in 2004), which the PGA Tour started matching last year. The players also make a contribution to a prize fund for the caddie who hits it closest to the pin. The winning caddie also get a nice money clip and a VIP parking spot right near the clubhouse for the rest of the week. Michael Hartford, who caddies for Pat Perez, took top honors with a shot to 3 feet, 7 inches, a video of which Perez posted on Twitter.

Caddie Proximity
1. Michael Hartford (Pat Perez) 3 feet, 7 inches
2. Ernie Rose (George McNeill) 5 feet, 1 inch
3. Mike Downey (Brian Stuard) 8 feet, 3 inches
4. Dermot Byrne (Shane Lowry) 8 feet, 4 inches
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May 06, 2015 | 03:44 pm

League Play

Just in time for the PGA Tour's premier event, The Players Championship, the tour is introducing a new fantasy league that uses real-time stats for the first time just like those for major sports. Using the tour's proprietary ShotLink system, the league is the first golf one to award points based on a player's stats like in football and baseball fantasy leagues. Participants choose six players (four starters, two bench wamers) and accrue or lose points based on six categories: score, driving, approach, short game, penalties, and FedEx Cup points. For example, rounds under 65, drives more than 300 yards, approaches from 200+ yards to 10 feet or less, and putts holed from 25 feet of longer get five points, while a double bogey, drives of less than 240 yards, three-putts from 15 feet, and penalty drops from a water hazard are minus three points. You can only use a player three times during each of the two, 10-tournament segments. The first segment runs from The Players through the John Deere Classic in July. Finally a reason to care about the FedEx Cup!

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May 05, 2015 | 08:38 am

High Profits

The golf business may be a bit in the doldrums, but at least one area is on the rise, so to speak—golf course videography. With the cost of drone cameras coming down and technology improving, more and more photo-entrepreneurs are getting into the game, as public courses and resorts begin to see the benefits of marketing hole-by-hole aerial fly-overs (accessible digitally) to players in search of an edge as y encounter new courses. (They’re even legal when used during play, under rule 14-3.16.) Meanwhile, private clubs and golf communities are going for longer–length drone videos, hoping to entice new members and home buyers. The UK is leading the way with two companies—Fairway Flyovers and Flyover Eighteen—already having filmed dozens of courses, the latter group using Peter Alliss voiceovers. 

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May 04, 2015 | 06:41 am

An Artful Open

When the U.S. Open tees off at Chambers Bay outside Seattle in mid-June, it will be the first time our national championship has come to the Pacific Northwest. But it will be the eighth consecutive year that artist Lee Wybranski has painted the tournament's official poster. And even though Wybranski—who has created every official Open poster since Torrey Pines in 2008, plus posters for British Opens, PGA Championships, and many other events—comes from Philadelphia and now lives in Flagstaff, Arizona, he says he has a special affinity for links golf and the Robert Trent Jones Jr.-designed course. “I love links golf. Not only for playing and looking at the course, but to me golf by the water on sandy turf is where the game makes the most sense.” The site gave him a lot to work with: “The water, the numerous bunkers on the course, and the lone fir that sits behind the 15th green were my bare minimums to include. Plus, I love diagonal compositions, because they provide a great deal of depth and drama and really pull your eyes in.” Wybranski will be on-site during the Open signing copies of the 24x36-inch poster in the main merchandise tent. If you can’t get there but still want an autographed copy, it is available for $36 from the USGA Shop or through Lee's website, where you also can find his other tournament artwork from over the years.

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