The best 6 months of golf in 2019 are finally upon us

Depending on how you look at it, the new Tour’s been enjoying an exciting start to the calendar year, and it’s about to get even better. Over next 6 months, the golf world will be blessed with major tournament after major tournament (literally), keeping us satiated through August.

Here’s a quick break down of the major schedule in store — plan accordingly:

March — The Players Championship

2018 Winner: Web Simpson
Dates: March 14 – 17
Course: TPC Sawgrass, Florida
Broadcast: Golf Channel | NBC

Everyone’s favorite non major major, The Players Championship, celebrates 45 years in 2019. There has yet to be a back-to-back Players Champion; as of this writing Webb Simpson is sitting at 33/1 odds to be the first, according to betting-directory.com.

April — The Masters

2018 Winner: Patrick Reed
Dates: April 11 – 14
Course: Agusta National, Georgia
Broadcast: CBS | ESPN

The last several Masters Tournaments have been quite dramatic, with Spieth’s now infamous meltdown in 2017 and the tour’s favorite punching bag, Patrick Reed, joining the green jacket club last year. Here’s to another memorable weekend amongst the azaleas.

May — PGA Championship

2018 Winner: Brooks Koepka
Dates: May 16 – 19
Course: Bethpage Black Course, New York
Broadcast: CBS | TNT

Inevitable storylines sure to surface at the PGA Championship: How will Bethpage play hosting its first PGA Championship (foreshadowing the 2024 Ryder Cup)? Will this be the year Jordan Spieth caps his career Grand Slam? Will Tiger better his second place finish last year? … The list is endless.

June — U.S. Open

2018 Winner: Brooks Koepka
Dates: June 13 – 16
Course: Pebble Beach, California
Broadcast: FOX | FX1

The U.S. Open returns to Pebble Beach for a sixth time, but this year is a little more special; the iconic course is celebrating its 100th birthday. Koepka will look to add to his consecutive U.S. Open titles, but others have proven they can go low when the stakes are high, too — 65s are becoming a norm on the U.S. Open leaderboard.

July — The Open Championship

2018 Winner: Francesco Molinari
Dates: 18 – 21
Course: Royal Portrush, Ireland
Broadcast: Golf Channel | NBC

As the oldest, original major championship, it’s hard to find anything new to say about The Open. But 2019 does signify something of a special reconnection as the tournament returns to Northern Ireland’s Royal Portrush for the first time in almost 70 years.

August — Tour Championship

2018 Winner: Tiger Woods
Dates: August 22 – 25
Course: East Lake, Georgia
Broadcast: Golf Channel | NBC

Though also not a major, the Tour Championship is A LOT more important in regards to the FedEx Cup. That’s because players who do not win the Tour Championship will no longer be able to claim the FedEx Cup title. According to a breakdown by CBSSports.com, players will come into the tournament with an assigned score based on their FedEx Cup rankings — the no.1 ranked player will begin at 10-under par, no.2 at 9-under, and so on to the bottom 5, whom will start at even par — setting the stage for a dramatic comeback victory or a total blowout to end the summer swing.

Get your popcorn ready.

Is Bryson DeChambeau becoming his own worst enemy?

How will DeChambeau be remembered when his career comes to an end?

After 9 top-ten finishes in 2018 — including 3 wins — starting off on a hot streak in 2019, and the full embrace of his scientific method, Bryson DeChambeau has cemented his place on the A-list of professional golf. But is he also in danger of becoming his own worst enemy?

Admittedly, this author is not a fan of The Professor, but I’m not a hater, either. The dude’s got style, he’s great with his fans, and he’s been a big part of the not-your-dad’s-PGA image that’s capturing the attention of younger generations. DeChambeau is good for golf, no doubt. I’m not a fan simply because I can’t relate to “the scientific method” approach he uses for the game — show me one average golfer making gains by measuring the barometric pressure and carrying around a protractor. Oftentimes I find it annoying. But he’s not called “The Scientist” for nothing, and he owns it.

What DeChambeau may not be calculating, though, is the power of his celebrity.

Before the buzz of Sergio’s epic bunker meltdown and subsequent disqualification from the Saudi International earlier this month had died down, cameras caught DeChambeau swinging his club in frustration and taking a chunk of turf from the lip of a bunker at Rivera last weekend.

Heat of the moment, yeah; emotional player, who isn’t? No harm, no foul.

But the cameras were at work again at the WGC Mexico Championship at Club de Golf Chepultepec — Bryson, there’s ALWAYS a camera somewhere — catching DeChambeau slamming his putter into the practice green before promptly fixing the damage (and unbeknownst to Rich Beem who was being interviewed by Sky Sports).

“I want to apologize to my fans, fellow players and the staff at Chapultepec for my actions following the round yesterday,” DeChambeau said Friday. “I am an extremely passionate player and I am always working on ways to be better. I am certainly not perfect but I respect the grounds staff and the game of golf and am focused on working harder on this just like I do on my golf game.”

(DeChambeau’s frustrations continued Friday with a +2 73 in the second round, 17 strokes behind leader Dustin Johnson going into Saturday’s round.)

The incident brought back visions of DeChambeau putting the “Mad” in “Mad Scientist” during an even bigger meltdown on the driving range of the 2018 Open Championship at Carnoustie. Point is, that’s three incidents, two of which coming within days of each other, and each broadcasted more widely than the last.

It’s not a good look.

Airing one’s frustrations on a global stage is one thing, but DeChambeau’s approach to the game — his signature — has slowly crept its way into the seemingly everlasting pace of play controversy, and it’s an even worse look. Players and fans are growing more and more frustrated with undeniably slow play on the Tour, and estimating the amount of dew between the ball and the club face, or whatever, during your pre shot routine isn’t going to help you with that argument.

“I think that anyone that has issue with it, I understand, but we’re playing for our livelihoods out here, and this is what we want to do,” DeChambeau said after video surfaced of him working calculations during his pre shot routine during a European Tour event.

That stance won’t work for very long. J.B. Holmes offers the same kind of rebut to critics of his slow play, as do others, and while their names may not be DeChambeau, and they haven’t been officially penalized for it yet, slow play is slow play. The Tour is running out of good excuses for its rampant pace issues, and with a rise in demand for change, you better believe it’ll be looking to make an example out of someone. Being the most famous offender may not be a good thing when that time comes.

Fortunately for DeChambeau, his star status remains strong enough to keep earning him a pass — J.B. Holmes and Sergio are the current poster boys for related issues — but the underlying issues are still there. If DeChambeau’s not careful, his unquestionable celebrity status could be used to redefined him by his less desirable qualities when all is said and done, and that’s much worse than any three putt.

How Tiger’s blasting 180 yard wedge shots, and you can too (maybe)

The Big Cat made his professional debut in Mexico this week, and the storylines are aplenty. But in a Wednesday press conference, Woods brought up an oft overlooked variable courses like Club De Golf Chapultepec present: high altitude ball flight.

“It’s a challenge,” Woods said. “I hit a couple shots with a wedge on the course [Tuesday] that flew 180. On Sunday [at Riviera], I hit a 5-iron from 171.”

See the full press conference here (his 180 yard wedge comments come at 17:00):

That’s, uh, impressive, for sure — and he’s probably not lying.

A recent study cited by golf.com shows players gain around 2.5-yards per every 1,000 feet with driver and high irons, 2.7 yards with a 7-i, and 2.2 yards with a wedge. At 7,835 feet above sea level at its highest point — making Club de Golf Chapultepac the highest course on the Tour circuit, according to the PGA Tour — and players carrying 300+ off the tee at sea level, you do the math.

From an average golfer’s perspective, the same golf.com piece — which also discusses the effect temperature has on ball flight — offers a Chapultepac-specific example:

“Let’s say you’re the same guy who usually carries the ball a respectable 250 yards in 70-degree conditions at sea level, on a calm day. … in 90-degree heat and its overall elevation hovering around 7,000 feet above sea level, and that same 250-yard drive will now fly about 270 yards.”

20 added yards of carry? Yeah, science!

CGB is headquartered just over 6,000 feet above sea level, at the foot of Pikes Peak, and we can attest to the joys of boosted ball flight. Unlike Woods, though, our struggle is figuring out how far the ball is going when we aren’t at altitude, and the results are often demoralizing. After a number of humiliating rounds, we’ve adopted a 2-club rule when playing at sea level: take the club you’d normally play, and club up twice for full swings. This rule is anything but scientific (sorry, Bryson) — and obviously doesn’t apply when you find yourself at, say, 3 or 4,000 feet — but it’s been a good starting point for us to plan shots at different altitudes.

Woods struggled with distance control in his opening round Thursday, finishing even par (71) and 8 shots behind leader Rory McIlroy (click here for the PGA’s live leaderboard). Si.com reports players are hitting the ball an average of 15% longer at Chapultepec, so he’s not alone in his struggles, but he’ll need to figure it out soon to make a weekend run. (Try our 2-club rule!)

For the amateur golf world, if you’ve never seen your ball soar effortlessly through the thin air at high altitude, you’re missing out — talk about golf porn. Most of us probably won’t be roping 180 yard wedges anytime soon, but with a little help from atmospheric pressure, it’s nice to know it’s plausible.

Growing backlash signals the Tour can’t ignore slow play issues much longer

The PGA Tour suffered an early, downright no good, really bad week — and it’s its own fault.

The bad vibes started when Mayacoba Classic winner Matt Kuchar’s compensation for fill-in caddie David Ortiz came to light. Of Kuchar’s $1.2 million purse, Ortiz had requested $50,000 — caddies are often paid more for top-10 finishes — but Kuchar paid him $5,000. Though technically Kuchar did pay Ortiz a bonus, telling golf.com the two had originally agreed to $3,000 to $4,000, the payment caught the attention of social media (and you know how that goes).

“I certainly don’t lose sleep over this,” Kuchar told golfchannel.com, not making things any better.

It didn’t take long for Kuchar to flip his script and apologize to Ortiz, paying him the full $50,000 requested and making a charitable donation to Mayacopa Classic charities — and saving a some face in the process. In hindsight, a minor blemish in an otherwise good start to the season.

Later in the week, with fewer “KOOOOCH” cheers and little more heckling, the attention had shifted to the Genesis Open, but the Tour’s bad week was just getting started. After a tortuous 5.5 hour round and a disastrous finish from Justin Thomas, J.B. Holmes hoisted the trophy for his fifth Tour victory.

No one cared about Holmes’ win. Instead, the Tour found itself in the crosshairs for its rampant pace of play problems and apparent unwillingness to enforce the rules, and Holmes became the face of the issue.

Pace of play isn’t a new problem, and Holmes has never been known to play quickly. The difference now is the right people are voicing their frustration, and have the platforms to make sure a lot more people hear it.

Before the Genesis incident, Adam Scott joined the likes of Brooks Koepka and others in keeping the issue in the headlines, going as far as volunteering to be penalized for slow play so the Tour can set a precedent.

“I’ll take the penalty,” Scott said in an interview with Golf Digest. “The only way it’s going to work is if you enforce it.”

This comes on the heels of Koepka’s now famous “embarrassing” remarks earlier this month.

“Guys are already so slow, it’s kind of embarrassing,” Koepka told the Golf Monthy Podcast. “I don’t get why you enforce some things and don’t enforce others.”

Koepka’s comments came after video surfaced of Bryson DeChambeau calculating the barometric pressure during his pre-shot routine.

“I think that anyone that has issue with it, I understand, but we’re playing for our livelihoods out here, and this is what we want to do,” DeChambeau said.

It’s easier for the “The Scientist” to get a pass for his slow play as he’s established himself a fan favorite, but while Holmes brushes off his slow play as well, he doesn’t share the same distinction.

Unfortunately for the Tour his ugly win combined with the growing backlash created a shit-storm large enough to cast a shadow on the otherwise fun Genesis Open weekend. What’s worse for the Tour: this is a controversy that won’t go away until it actually starts enforcing the rules.

In the same interview Scott said real change won’t happen until tv sponsors step in and that “it’s a waste of time” talking about it. But that’s where he may be wrong.

Yes, sports leagues answer to tv and money contracts. But tv broadcasts, in the long run, answer to the viewers tuning in to see the players play, and talk about playing. Now, with more of the world’s best players speaking out publicly, and more often, the Tour won’t be able to hide from the problem anymore, and let’s hope that means it’s just a matter of time before it does something about it.

TRUE Linkswear is making the best damn golf shoes. Period.

TRUE Linkswear Original

TRUE Original

TRUE Linkswear has a simple ask: Enjoy the walk. And they’ve made it extremely easy.

To say the 10 year-old company is making the best golf shoes money can buy may be bold enough, but I’ll take it one step further and say TRUE Links is also making the best lifestyle shoes money can buy.

I’m not lying, but first I’ll make our case for them on the course.

We were first introduced to the TRUE Originals ($149) and the TRUE Outsiders ($139) two years ago when they graciously sent a few pairs to the CGB headquarters. Both lines tout casual yet athletic designs — clean lines and simple, tasteful features, and just the right amount of edge — but the performance of the shoes is what’s most evident at first look.

Set atop the company’s signature cross life rubber tread is beautiful full grain waterproof leather, layered with a waterproofed Symptax bootie, and coated with a water repelling “system.” All this is to say that, according to the companies website, TRUEs are the highest performing waterproof shoes in the game. The company backs that claim up with a 2-year waterproof guarantee — depending on the model — but they may be selling themselves short.

(For those curious and or concerned about where TRUE’s waterproofing products are sourced, the company places a high priority on health and environmental safety. See this page for more details.)

TRUE_Outsider

TRUE Outsider

Colorado can’t compare to the sogginess of the Pacific Northwest, where TRUE Links was born, but we do have a fair share of elements to deal with on the course all year round. A little more than 2 years in, and after countless rounds in rain, sleet, snow, ice, mud and everything else, our TRUEs are still going strong. Aside from the nicks and creases that come with normal wear and tear my Outsiders perform like new, keeping my feet dry, and happy.

The comfort level is off the charts, mainly due to the wide base sole that lets your arches and toes spread out naturally as you step and swing — particularly important for those of us with wider feet — and the foot-conforming inserts have only gotten more comfortable over time. The sturdy tread proves reliable no matter how wet and slippery the conditions, and moves like tennis or hiking shoes. Strolls down the fairway aren’t interrupted by any rubbing, pinching or other discomforts either. You truly couldn’t ask for more from a golf shoe on the course.

To many, though, golf is more than a game; it’s a lifestyle. It only makes sense a golf shoe company would deliver a product built for the grind on and off the course.

TRUE_Knits

TRUE Knits

We live an active lifestyle off the course — hiking, skiing, camping, sports, etc. — so the TRUE Outsiders and Originals remain a go-to for worry free footwear. My pair is a must for trips to the creek at the local dog park (where the 2-year waterproof test for this review occurred). No matter how much mud and gunk I traipse through, a simple rinse with a damp rag and these shoes and ready to go again.

Other times, though, something a little more relaxed is in order. That’s a perfect time to bring out the TRUE Knits. The Knits’ ($129) design is more in the casual sportswear realm, meaning high points in performance can still be expected on and off the course, and they’re a perfect tennis shoe substitute. Clearly, the Knits are not waterproof, but the polyester material does keep your feet dry in dew-like conditions — and talk about ventilation.

The Knits are effortlessly cool. The design is sleek and sublet at first glimpse, but a closer look reveals a classic wingtip pattern formed into the beautiful material. On more than one occasion I’ve taken my Knits from a business meeting straight to the tee box, and never fail to earn some compliments along the way.

TRUE_OGP

TRUE OG Premium

The TRUE OG Premium ($179) is the company’s latest release. While we have yet to get our hands on them — or feet in them, if you will — the OGP may the best TRUE shoe yet. As noted in the product description, it’s basically the Original design wrapped in a ultra premium vintage brown leather. Given TRUE’s performance track record and the stunning design, the OGP went to the top of our 2019 wishlist immediately.

If you haven’t figured it out by now, know that we have nothing negative to say about TRUE Linkswear’s offerings (except wishing there were even more lines to shop from). With unmatched performance, unquestionable style, and the highest quality materials, TRUE Links is making the best golf and lifestyle shoes. And that’s no lie.

Enjoy the walk.