Molinari Aces 16th at Waste Management Phoenix Open

Earlier in the day, one of the announcers in the Golf Channel booth mentioned that it had been three years since the last hole-in-one on the 16th hole at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, and he predicted that we we’re going to see one today.  Francesco-Molinari-006Well….so be it.  Francesco Molinari successfully carded a ONE just about an hour later.

It’s one of the most coveted tickets in golf, and the loudest!  Fully enclosed, the 16th  hole at the TPC Stadium Course is reminiscent of Roman times, where gladiators competed for their lives in order to satiate the audience’s thirst for bloody spectacles of glory by the competitors.

Albeit a little less bloody, Tour pros at the 16th are subject to boos for missing the green, boos for missing a birdie putt, but they will also be treated to raucous roars of approval for landing close to the pin. In a sport where quiet is the operative word, the 16th at TPC Scottsdale serves as the antithesis to the norm.  A crowd of 15,000 spectators were on hand to watch Francesco Molinari as he took his turn on the 16th.  At 133 yards, the players can  practically throw the ball on the green.  A fluid swing turned into a watch-full eye of the ball’s flight.  The ball landed just a few feet right of the pin, did a little side-spin, and ever so slowly, inched its way to the center of the cup.  NICE!

Molinari reacted with a huge smile, and thrust his arms up in the air encouraging the roar of the celebration for his hat trick.  Beer cups immediately came flying out of the stands in approval, punctuating the landscape.  And, true to the sponsor of the event, Waste Management, the mess was quickly cleaned up in ready anticipation of perhaps another, calculated to be 2,500 to 1 odds, shot at the cup.

Crowd anticipation of what Molinari would do with the ball-keep it or throw it to the crowd-was heavy as he lifted it from the cup.  True to the fans, and typical of Molinari being a class act he did the right thing, and donated it to the fans.

USGA TO HONOR BARBARA NICKLAUS WITH 2015 BOB JONES AWARD

Award to be Presented at Ceremony During 2015 U.S. Open Championship
Photo courtesy of Jim Mandeville Nicklaus Companies
Photo courtesy of Jim Mandeville Nicklaus Companies

The United States Golf Association (USGA) has announced that Barbara Nicklaus is the recipient of the 2015 Bob Jones Award.

Presented annually since 1955, the Bob Jones Award is the USGA’s highest honor. It recognizes an individual who demonstrates the spirit, personal character and respect for the game exhibited by Jones, winner of nine USGA championships.  Often referred to as the “First Lady of Golf,” Mrs. Nicklaus has skillfully used her influence as the wife of 18-time major champion Jack Nicklaus for nearly 55 years to generate attention for youth-related charitable causes and volunteerism.

 

“Barbara’s generosity of spirit and deep respect for the game have touched the lives of countless families throughout the world,” said USGA President Thomas J. O’Toole Jr. “Her dedication to support players and spouses, and advocacy for multiple causes, are worthy of our highest honor. She has been the rock for arguably one of the game’s greatest champions, while raising a family and devoting her heart and soul into what she believes in. We are proud to bestow this award upon her to recognize her lasting contribution to the game.”

Their desire to encourage youth participation in golf led to the formation of the Barbara and Jack Nicklaus Junior Golf Endowment Fund, which supports junior golf programs at the local, state and national level for children who otherwise might not be introduced to the game.

Mrs. Nicklaus currently serves as the chairman of the Nicklaus Children’s Health Care Foundation, whose mission is to provide charitable support for activities that advance and enhance the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of childhood diseases and disorders. The foundation, which also supports not-for-profit programs and projects aimed at pediatric health care and health-related services, has raised more than $32 million since its inception in 2004.

In 2010, the foundation became the lead charity of the Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide, a PGA Tour event founded by the Nicklauses in 1976, with the intention of giving back to local charities as one of the Tournament’s primary objectives. To date the event has generated more than $23.5 million in donations to Central Ohio charities, including more than $13 million to Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio.

Mrs. Nicklaus’ involvement as co-chairperson for the charity that organizes The Honda Classic on the PGA Tour has also benefited the foundation. Funds generated through the event in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., have been instrumental in opening the Nicklaus Outpatient Center in partnership with Miami Children’s Hospital, which is designed to meet the healthcare needs of children and adolescents from birth through age 21.

“Wow! What a truly humbling honor!” she said when informed of the award. “The USGA has been a part of our lives since Jack and I were teenagers, and we have always respected and appreciated their contributions and impact on the great game of golf. To receive this honor from them, one that bears the name of a man who had such a deep impact on our family, is one of the most meaningful recognitions I have been blessed to receive.

“Golf has not only given us an incredible life, it has provided us a vehicle and a means to make a difference in the lives of young boys and girls, and the families who love them. I don’t think our life’s work could ever compare to or repay what the game has given to us. I thank the USGA, the caretakers of this wonderful game, for this extremely kind gesture and honor.”

Mrs. Nicklaus joins a list of winners that includes champions such as her husband, Jack (1975), Francis Ouimet (1955), Babe Didrikson Zaharias (1957), Arnold Palmer (1971), Ben Hogan (1976), Annika Sorenstam (2012) and Payne Stewart (2014), as well as those who have contributed to the fabric of the game in other meaningful ways, including Richard S. Tufts (1967), Joseph C. Dey Jr. (1977), Bing Crosby and Bob Hope (1978), P.J. Boatwright Jr. (1993) and President George H.W. Bush (2008). Mr. and Mrs. Nicklaus are the first married couple to receive the accolade.

The devoted mother of Jack II, Steve, Nan, Gary and Michael, and grandmother of 22, Mrs. Nicklaus continues to work for the causes she holds dear.

The Bob Jones Award will be presented at a ceremony during the week of the 115th U.S. Open Championship, which takes place June 15-21, 2015 at Chambers Bay in University Place, Wash.
For more information about the USGA, visit www.usga.org.

How to Avoid the Top 5 Mistakes Novice Golfers Make

Learning golf is a rewarding but sometimes frustrating experience. It can sometimes seem like you are doing everything wrong when you are first starting out because there is so much to learn regarding technique, rules, etiquette, and more. Novice golfers tend to make a number of common mistakes that can hurt their game, so here are five to avoid.

1. Warming Up Incorrectly

Golf is hard work physically, and numerous demands are made on the body while you play, especially in the back, arms, and shoulders. Enthusiasm is all well and good, but avoid jumping into a game without doing a full warm-up routine first to get your muscles ready.

Arrive in good time do build this important aspect into your routine. Stretch the main muscles of the body gently, walk around slowly to warm the body, then move onto some putting practice before gradually working up to gentle full swings. Golf Digest provides some great tips on warm ups, so try these out to get yourself ready.

Do this every time you play a round, and it is especially important if a while has passed since you last played. If you pull a muscle, especially in your back, you could be out of action for weeks.

2. Practicing the Wrong Shots

golferPractice is so essential for every golfer, but many beginners get it wrong. They focus on the wrong shots, and most of the time they dedicate their practice sessions to using the long irons rather than spend time on pitching.

But the truth is that during a round, you will probably use your putter and wedges for a large majority of the strokes, so practicing your putting and pitching should make up a large part of your practice.

3. Getting the Swing Wrong

So many beginners get their swing wrong, and it can have a huge impact on your game. One of the most common mistakes is to use your arms to swing the club and fail to rotate your body. The power and consistency in the swing is generated by rotating the shoulders and chest, and using just the arms prevents you from getting the most from your swing.

Another problem is gripping the club too tightly. A light grip is best for maximum speed, so make sure your grip is only as tight as you need to control it.

These are the sorts of things you will learn when you get professional help with your golf, such as when you go to an academy like BirdGolf.com.

 

4. Choosing the Wrong Ball

Golf balls can be quite expensive, and you don’t want to go losing them needlessly. But choose the wrong balls and that is exactly what is going to happen, and the cost will add up.

Beginners should use balls that primarily provide distance, and that means choosing a harder ball. The added benefit of these is that they are cheaper in case you lose them.

Once you reach the stage where you can control the ball once it has landed on the green, that is the time to move to a softer, more expensive ball. GolfALot has some great information on the types of balls available if you want to read more.

5. Using an Open Club Face with Wedges

A classic beginner mistake with the wedge is leaving the face open. Wedge shots are usually played from the back of your stance, which makes it easy for the club face to become open. To avoid this, don’t focus on the toe when aligning the club head, and focus instead on the leading edge.

Also be careful about your legs. The legs should be still when using wedges because short swings do not require much work from the legs. Instead focus on using your hands and arms to power wedge swings.

Improve Your Golf Today

Apart from the above mistakes, one of the greatest mistakes a beginner can make is failing to take lessons. Sure, you can learn a lot yourself just through practice, but there is no substitute for professional help, whether you go to a dedicated academy or hire someone at your local club. Try to arrange this as soon as possible because this way you can avoid picking up bad habits that can be hard to get rid of.

Keith Graham is a self-admitted golfing fanatic and avid blogger. When he’s not walking the course, he’s home writing about it to help new golfers learn the game. Look for his posts on a variety of today’s top websites and blogs.