You can still get really good without access to a golf course

If you had to draw up the perfect scenario necessary to create a great golfer, one of the first things you’d probably mention would be access to a range and a golf course. Sung Hyun Park, former World No. 1 and defending champion of the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship, wasn’t so lucky. In her first few years playing golf, she barely set foot on the golf course.

“I first started playing when I was nine years old, and I only practiced indoors,” Park said through a translator in her pre-tournament press conference at the KPMG. “It was like a three-meter distance, and I used to hit my shots over there. And playing like that for three years, I probably went on the golf course around four or five times only, which probably means like once a year. And so I always looked forward to going out on to the course and to play.”

If you’re someone who loves golf, but don’t have easy access to a course, there’s hope for you. Park is proof that you can get good—sometimes really, really, good—even if you can’t get on-course as much as you’d like.

We talked to Jason Guss, one of Golf Digest’s best teachers in the state of Michigan, about how you can make a range-centric golf existence work.

“If you’re a good visual person you can create holes on the driving range,” says Guss. Doing something as simple as picking two targets and visualizing a fairway between them can help you create a golf hole in your mind.

“You can get into golf course mode, you can visualize and you can get pretty close to the real thing,” said Guss. Creativity is the key. “You have to be really good at using the boundaries of the driving range.”

While there’s a school of thought that says you should spend more time on the golf course than the driving range to become a better player and course manager, there are benefits to logging big hours on the range.

“I had a lot of complaints back then, not being able to play on the course, and I always wanted to play on the course,” said Park. “But looking back, I think that time on the range definitely helped me . . . sort of establish my swing and my shots.”

Guss agrees there’s a hidden upside.

“You’re working more on technique than feel and playing when you’re on on the range,” said Guss. “So if you’re working on it the right way, you’re going to have a technical advantage.”

Moreover, Guss points out that you can be more efficient with your practice when you’re on the range compared to when you’re on the course from a time perspective. You can hit a lot more golf balls spending an hour on the range than you would if you spent that same hour on the course.

There are also golfers out there who have the opposite problem Park did, with access to a golf course but no range.

“If you only get to be on course, which is how I grew up playing,” says Guss, “you have to make time for technique. You have to say, ‘Today I need to work on my technique all throughout the golf course.’ You have to turn the golf course into the driving range. Go out and say, ‘I don’t care what we shoot today, we’re going to work on our swings on the course.'”

Obviously, the ideal scenario would be to have access to both a range and golf course, but if you’re stuck in a lop-sided situation, learn from Park and be willing to make whatever situation, no matter how imperfect, perfect for your development.

“It’s great to have the advantage of being able to play whenever you want and hit balls whenever you want,” says Guss, “but if you’re one who’s stuck on one side of the equation, you have to learn how to create on-course scenarios on the range or make the range atmosphere as close as you can on the golf course.”

SOURCE:  GolfDigest

 

The basics of the US Open at Pebble Beach

This tournament isn’t the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am

After years of buildup, it’s finally U.S. Open week on the Monterey Peninsula. If you haven’t been following along to know what the tournament is all about, we’ve got you covered.

The United States Open Championship, or the U.S. Open for short, is golf’s national championship, which takes place annually in June. While the tournament appears on the PGA Tour calendar, it’s conducted by the United States Golf Association.

The upcoming U.S. Open and the PGA Tour’s AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am have much in common but they also have many differences.

“Overall, it’s just a bigger event,” said David Stivers, president of Pebble Beach Co. and general chairman of the U.S. Open, about the upcoming tournament.

According to Stivers, the Pebble Beach Golf Links greens will be faster and firmer, the fairways will be narrower and the rough is going to be a lot higher than during the AT&T Pro-Am. The tournament is notorious for incredibly difficult conditions and course setups, no matter where it’s played.

“It’s going to be a typical U.S. Open,” Tiger Woods said June 1 during a news conference at the Memorial Tournament in Ohio. “It’s going to be hard. It’s going to be difficult. And we know that going in.”

Woods, who won his fifth Masters Tournament in April, will play Pebble Beach Golf Links competitively for the first time since he finished tied for 15th in the 2012 AT&T Pro-Am.

The Richard MacDonald U.S. Open Monument Bronze Sculpture 2000 on display near the driving range at the Pebble Beach Golf Links. It had previously been displayed at Peter Hay Golf Course, which has since been transformed in Fan Central. (Vern Fisher – Monterey Herald) 

As one of golf’s four major championships, the U.S. Open brings in many golfers who traditionally skip the AT&T Pro-Am as the sports world focuses its eyes on the prestigious event. The tournament will play host to the top golfers in the world including Brooks Koepka, winner of the past two U.S. Opens and the past two PGA Championships, and 2016 U.S. Open champion Dustin Johnson.

Phil Mickelson, who won his record-tying fifth AT&T Pro-Am title in February, will return to the Peninsula in search of his first U.S. Open title. Mickelson won his first major title in 2004 when he edged Ernie Els for the Masters title. He repeated the feat in 2006 and 2010, while earning his first PGA Championship in 2005. Mickelson won the British Open in 2013, leaving the U.S. Open as the only major championship left for him to complete a career grand slam.

While the top golfers in the world will be on the course, don’t expect to see Bill Murray’s buffoonery or Larry the Cable Guy’s antics at Pebble Beach this week. As opposed to the AT&T Pro-Am, which includes celebrities, athletes from other sports and even the occasional musical performance, the U.S. Open is strictly golf.

Ticket prices and availability outside the U.S. Open Championship merchandise tent in Pebble Beach was open for business to the public on Thursday. (Vern Fisher – Monterey Herald) 

The USGA encourages fans to seek autographs during the U.S. Open, but it is prohibited from the time a player is en route to their first tee until the completion of the player’s round.

In contrast to the AT&T Pro-Am, the U.S. Open doesn’t feature multiple events like the Chevron Shoot-Out or the 3M Celebrity Challenge in the days before the official start on Thursday. Fans will be able to watch practice rounds Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday before the first round tees off Thursday. According to the USGA, players electing to play a full practice round generally begin between 6:45 a.m. and 3 p.m.

Gates open at 6 a.m. Monday through Sunday. For the first and second rounds, play is scheduled to begin at 6:45 a.m. from both the first and 10th tees. According to the USGA, the first starting time for the third and fourth rounds depends on the number of players who make the cut at the conclusion of the second round (the 60 lowest scorers and anyone tying for 60th place). Generally, the first group begins play from the first tee between 8-9 a.m.

The U.S. Open differs from the AT&T Pro-Am in that the cut takes place after the second round like most PGA Tour events rather than the third round.

The 119th U.S. Open will be the sixth held at Pebble Beach Golf Links, with previous ones held in 1972, 1982, 1992, 2000 and 2010. In 2000, the USGA celebrated the 100th U.S. Open at Pebble Beach. This year is a celebration of the 100th anniversary of Pebble Beach. The tournament will return to the course in 2027.

The U.S. Open will be played on one golf course, Pebble Beach Golf Links, as opposed to the AT&T Pro-Am that takes place at Pebble Beach as well as Spyglass Hill Golf Course and the Monterey Peninsula Country Club Shore Course.

As fans walk into the championship grounds they will see Fan Central. The area will feature games, booths, photo opportunities and the 37,000-square-foot Main Merchandise Pavilion.

Out near the course, fans will have a chance to take a photo with the U.S. Open trophy.

With more fans and more corporate hospitality, the championship grounds will be covered with far more structures than during the AT&T Pro-Am.

“We’ve built sort of a mini-city in our little town of Pebble Beach,” Stivers said.

When: Practice rounds, Monday-Wednesday. Tournament play, Thursday-Sunday

Where: Pebble Beach Golf Links

Tickets: (Sold-out Saturday, Sunday)

TV SCHEDULE

Fox SportsThursday-Friday: 4:30-7:30 p.m.Saturday: 9 a.m.-7 p.m.Sunday: 11 a.m.-7 p.m.

FS1Thursday-Friday: 9:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.

LIVE STREAMING

Fox SportsThursday-Friday 9:30 a.m.-7:30 p.m.Saturday: 9 a.m.-7 p.m.Sunday: 11 a.m.-7 p.m.

USOpen.comThursday-Friday: 7 a.m.-6:30 p.m.Saturday: 9 a.m.-6 p.m.Sunday: 11 a.m.-6 p.m.

SOURCE:  MercuryNews

 

Brooks Koepka, coming off 15-day break, has no concerns heading into Canadian Open

Brooks Koepka didn’t touch a golf club for 15 days after he successfully defended his title in the PGA Championship at Bethpage Black on Long Island.

Yet he isn’t the least bit worried about the state of his game in his return to the PGA Tour this week at the RBC Canadian Open.

“It was nice to kind of recharge mentally and kind of try to soak it in a little bit,” Koepka said of his break from the game after winning his fourth major championship in his last eight starts. “I’ll be fine. I’ve taken longer breaks before and come out and played well. I’m not too concerned with it.”

Why should he be?

He has won the past two editions of the U.S. Open and the past two playings of the PGA Championship. In his last three starts, he finished in a tie for second in the Masters, was fourth in the AT&T Byron Nelson and held off Dustin Johnson by two shots to win the Wanamaker Trophy again.

And he’s the No. 1 player in the world.

Whatever his blueprint is, it’s working. Thus, he showed up at Hamilton Golf & Country Club in Hamilton, Ontario, on Tuesday and hit balls for the first time since he left Long Island. Wednesday he played nine holes in the pro-am.

Seemed pretty good,” Koepka said of his form.

So, too, has been the formula he has followed to peak for the majors. He played the week before winning each of his four major championships. It’s a week he uses to build on his rhythm and sharpen his putting stroke.

“It’s a good golf course. It’s definitely going to be a good test,” said Koepka, 29, who is seeking his seventh PGA Tour title. “You’ve got to hit the fairways, and these greens are quite slopey. So you’ve really got to control your spin. I think it’s actually a perfect setup for next week.”

Ahh, yes, next week. That would be the playing of the 119th U.S. Open, where Koepka will try to become the second player to three-peat in the tournament.

“Yeah, that name has come up in the last year,” Koepka said when he was asked if he had heard of Willie Anderson, the Scot who won the U.S. Open in 1901 and then became the only player to win three in a row starting in 1903.

“I know what I’m chasing,” Koepka said. “But it’s just another golf tournament. You can put some outside pressure on. It’s a major championship. I’ll be up for it, I know that. I enjoy a tough test of golf, and that’s what you’re going to get at a U.S. Open. You know that going in. I enjoy it. It’s fun. It’s fun to me to get on those big stages and try to win a golf tournament.

“I know that the odds are against me to win it. There’s a lot of people that can win that golf tournament. You just need to go out and take care of business, and if you don’t, hey, I gave it my all.”

SOURCE:  USAToday