Jack Nicklaus

Jack Nicklaus dominated golf for three decades and is golf’s most decorated champion.

Nicklaus 1972“The Golden Bear” doesn’t need much of an introduction to anyone familiar with the game of golf. Many have considered him the greatest to have ever played the game. He is very simply, the most decorated golfer of all time. After joining the professional ranks in 1962 he amassed an impressive 73 PGA titles, including 18 major championships. If it weren’t for a certain player named Woods we could only dream of someone with such dominance in our era.

Jack began his career with a lofty goal and a worthy opponent. “Jones is the greatest golfer who ever lived and probably ever will live,” said Nicklaus in 1960. “That’s my goal. Bobby Jones. It’s the only goal.” And that is what he became, a Bobby Jones. The greatest of his era.

Driving: Distance vs. Accuracy

What do the numbers behind driving tell us? Lower scores? More winnings? The answers may surprise you a bit.

Damn technology today. It is making the game obsolete. Or is it? Guys on tour are hitting the ball longer and scoring lower and winning more money. Or are they? This issue has been a hot button for a while and only seems to be getting hotter. Companies, ruling bodies, snooty chairmen, and golf giants like Jack Nicklaus and Greg Norman are lining up on sides blaming golf balls, equipment, and the tides… well, maybe not the tides, but you get my drift.

This week I’m going to look a little closer at a couple numbers to see which means more money and lower scores: driving distance or driving accuracy? Is a longer ball better for a PGA Tour player than a straighter ball? Let’s find out.

Preview: BMO Financial Group Canadian Women’s Open

Meg Mallon defends her title at the BMO Financial Group Canadian Women’s Open.

Meg Mallon has been busy defending several championship titles these past few weeks. The U.S. Women’s Open, the Jamie Farr Owens Corning Classic and this week’s Canadian Women’s Open have kept Mallon in the spotlight. A tie for 13th and then a tie for 7th respectively has Mallon itching to see if she can successfully defend at least one of her three victories of 2004.

With a five-year history, a purse of $1.3 million and $195,000 going to the winner it would be interesting to see if a Canadian will ever hold this trophy on their own soil.

British Open Preview

The oldest major championship in golf returns to the historical Royal and Ancient Golf Club at St. Andrews where Tiger Woods lapped the field in 2000.

british_open_logo.gifJust a few weeks removed from the U.S. Open at Pinehurst, it is now time for the British Open. The Open Championship will be played on the Old Course at St. Andrews, one of the most famous courses in all of golf. The list of winners at St. Andrews reads like a “who’s who” list of golf greats and includes names such as Bobby Jones, Sam Snead, Jack Nicklaus (twice), Seve Ballesteros, Nick Faldo, and most recently Tiger Woods.

A Quick Nine With ‘The Ball Jack Wants You To Play’

How does today’s state-of-the-art golf ball stack up against a comparable ball from the mid-1980s? Let’s just say there’s a great distance between the two.

There’s a rumor that’s been going around the equipment biz that a major golf ball manufacturer has crafted a unique response to Jack Nicklaus’ continued complaints about how far today’s balls travel. The company – which hasn’t been positively identified, but I’m 99.9 percent sure it starts with a “T” and ends with “itleist” – made a limited run of golf balls manufactured to mid-1980s specs. The balls are stamped “RIP Distance” on one side, with the inscription “This is the ball Jack wants you to hit” on the other.

In the name of due diligence, Lawrence Donegan of The Guardian newspaper in the U.K. came across some of these rare old-school golf balls and had PGA European Tour player Gary Orr try one side-by-side with the new Pro V1. Read on to find out what happened.

Wie Qualifies For Match Play at U.S. Amateur Public Links

Michelle Wie fired rounds of 76 and 72 – 148 is 8 over on the par-70 course – to qualify for match play at the Men’s Public Links. If she wins, she’ll advance to The Masters.

One week after missing the cut at the PGA Tour’s John Deere Classic, 15-year-old Michelle Wie has made the grade at the U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship. Wie finished at 8-over-par 148 to make the two-round cut by a stroke at Shaker Run Golf Club in Lebanon, Ohio. Now she and the rest of the field will duke it out in match play. Wie will take on Will Claxton of Swainsboro, Georgia at 11:18 a.m. ET on Wednesday. Claxton tied for 8th at 140 over two rounds of medal play. Anthony Kim of Norman, Oklahoma won medallist honors at 4-under-par 136. See all the scores here.

At stake, aside from the pride of winning one of the USGA’s top events, is an automatic entry into next year’s Masters Tournament. That would create another spot in the history books for Wie, who today became the first woman to qualify for a men’s USGA championship.

Vokey Spin Milled Wedge Review

Bob Vokey is a renowned wedge maker, and in 2005 he introduced a spin-milled variation that adds spin but retains the shape and playability of the classic wedge line.

Vokey Spinmilled 250Next to putters, wedges may be the single most personal clubs in a golfer’s bag. Wedges come in a variety of shapes. They have different lofts, different finishes, different grooves, different bounces, different soles, and different weights.

For the better player, wedges are the truest scoring clubs. Every shot from 125 yards and in is hit with a wedge, including full shots, chip shots, sand shots, flops, pitches, and more. Tom Kite was one of the first players to put a third wedge in his bag, and today quite a few Tour players have as many as four wedges. Players may switch drivers or irons every few weeks – or even week to week – but wedges sometimes last for years in a player’s bag.

The wedge game is dominated by a few players: TaylorMade with their RAC wedges (specifically their Y-Cutter RAC wedges on tour), Cleveland with their CG10 and 588 wedges, and Titleist with their Bob Vokey designs. Relative newcomers (and “regular” clubmakers) like Callaway, Ping, and Mizuno are making inroads as well, typically with golfers who play the same manufacturer’s irons.

Padraig Out of the Open

Padraig Harrington has withdrawn from the 2005 British Open due to the death of his father, Paddy.

Padraig HarringtonPadraig Harrington, two-time winner on the PGA Tour this year, has withdrawn from the British Open at St. Andrews due to the death of his father. More information is available here.

Paddy Harrington, a former policeman and an affable fellow, has been ill since February when throat cancer was found once again. Paddy had a bout with throat cancer three years ago as well. Some say the death is a blessing, as Paddy has been clinging to the last threads of life for quite some time. Those close to Padraig know that he is happy his father hung around long enough to see him win on the PGA Tour, but he’ll be saddened by never yet having won a major.

The Sand Trap would like to wish the Harrington family all the good in the world, and the best of friends and support in these trying times.

Photo Credit: © AP.

The British Open Breakdown

This week’s article talks about everything you need to know but may not want to hear about the British Open at St. Andrews.

Thrash TalkThe old course at St. Andrews is often referred to as the home of golf, and it’s always special when the Open Championship is played there. This year will be no different, and I am here to tell you who will contend and who will pretend. When St. Andrews hosted the British Open in 2000, the players got the best of the course throughout the week. Tiger Woods etched his name into the record books with his brilliant performance. Woods finished with the lowest score in relation to par in British Open history (-19). He also won by an astounding eight strokes. Who will walk away British Open champion this Sunday? You are going to have to keep reading to find out what I think.