The Memorial Tournament Preview

This year’s stop in Dublin, Ohio will prove to be an exciting one thanks to newly furrowed bunkers and a star-studded field.

Memorial LogoThe PGA Tour is making its traditional stop in Dublin, OH two weeks prior to the U.S. Open. This shady suburb of Columbus is home to Jack Nicklaus’ Muirfield Village Golf Club. This year the PGA Tour will find a few changes at Jack’s place. For the first time, Nicklaus himself has opted not to play in his event, Tiger Woods has decided to prolong his mourning hiatus and begin preparation for the U.S. Open, and perhaps most important to the players in the field, Nicklaus and the PGA Tour have decided to furrow the bunkers in order to penalize players for finding them instead of providing a reprieve from the rough.

Memorial Journal, Day Two – Seeing and Being Seen

A whole lot of images from Tuesday at The Memorial at Muirfield Village.

The Memorial TournamentTuesday at The Memorial is mainly about two things: the induction ceremony for the year’s honorees and the clinic Jack Nicklaus and selected PGA Tour golfers put on for the benefit of a small crowd. This year, Bubba Watson pounded drives out of (Jack’s) sight and José Maria Olazabal demonstrated his tremendous wedge game.

Of course, neither of those events are particularly newsworth, so I ventured onto the course to take a slew of pictures. A few gigabytes heavier, I returned with a helpful dose. I’ve hand selected a few for you here. Yes, this version will be light on the commentary and heavy on the imagery, so click through and wait just a bit for the images to load. I hope you find the wait worthwhile…

Messy Month of May

As good as April was for the PGA Tour, May was that much worse.

Thrash TalkThe month of May for the PGA Tour has come and gone, and it’s time to move towards the U.S. Open at Winged Foot. That’s definitely a good thing because the past month has been less than spectacular for this golf fan. The Masters was awesome once again at the beginning of April, and I figured things would continue to pick up heading into the summer.

Unfortunately for golf fans, that wasn’t the case. The Wachovia Championship was the first tournament of May, and it lived up to the hype. The great course and strong field made for another great finish at Quail Hollow. Jim Furyk outlasted Trevor Immelman in a playoff en route to claiming victory. That was the only high point on the PGA Tour this past month.

Memorial Journal, Day One – Muirfield Village’s Defenses

Muirfield Village is no pushover. Not only does the course throw 7400 yards at players, but it throws sand, water, elevation changes, and tricky greens, too. Players will have their hands full this week!

The Memorial TournamentMuirfield Village Golf Club, Jack Nicklaus’ home course in Ohio and host of The Memorial Tournament since 1976, is a playground. Nicklaus designed and built Muirfield Village, and it’s no coincidence that the tournament to which it plays host is called the “Masters of the Midwest” – many believe Nicklaus modeled much of Muirfield Village after the famous host course of the actual Masters, right down to the diagonal peanut-shaped par-three twelfth green over water.

Like Augusta National, Muirfield Village has four primary defenses: a meandering creek that sometimes widens into a pond, changes in elevation, lots of sand, and deceptive, sloping greens.

This photo essay examines the first three of these defenses. For the latter, why, simply know that last year in the first round, I watched Jesper Parnevik four-putt from 35 feet on the relatively mild second green.

PGA Tour, Nicklaus Experiment with Furrowed Bunkers at Memorial

Brows are furrowed over “Jack’s New Rake” at Muirfield Village. Furrowed bunkers have returned to the PGA Tour, at least as a one-week trial.

The Memorial TournamentI’ve long argued for making bunkers on the PGA Tour penal. Too many good golfers, particularly on par fives, aim for bunkers and prefer a lie on the beach than any in greenside rough.

That may all change soon if the PGA Tour’s experiment this week at Muirfield Village during The Memorial Tournament proves successful. The Tour is trying out a new rake that gently furrows bunkers this year, and the early feedback is that it’s working.

The PGA Tour has, to this point, only talked about acting on their threat to do something about the bunkers, but in place of fine-toothed rakes, contestants (and their caddies) will find widely spaced and long-toothed rakes made of wood. The result: less consistent lies and tougher shots.

Headcovers: Art Form, Fashion Statement, Personal Expression, or Unnecessary Evil?

Headcovers do more than keep your woods from scratching up and banging around. They tell the world a lot about yourself.

Bag DropFirst I have to make a couple confessions: I am a headcover freak. And, yes, I know headcovers are probably unnecessary, if not a hassle to deal with. But to me they are a fascinating anachronism that has lived on far longer than their necessity would dictate. Why is that? And where do you stand on one of the burning issues in the game today?

Volume Sixty-One

The latest iteration of Hittin’ the Links is sure to be a pleaser.

This week is another hodgepodge of links for your enjoyment. Everything from hollow golf balls that spin less, travel farther, and stop faster, to animal headcovers (à là Tiger), to Stetson golf hats that are crushable, it’s as random as random gets.

Please enjoy this week’s links.

Golf Talk [Episode 024]

Darren Clarke, Lorena Ochoa, Michelle Wie, Tiger Woods, Ian Woosnam, Luke Donald, and more.

PodcastTiger Woods is skipping The Memorial, Michelle Wie gears up to qualify for the U.S. Open at Canoe Brook, and Darren Clarke does the honorable thing. Also, is Lorena Ochoa the best female golfer in the world? This week we talk about that, the 2007 FedEx Cup, Ian Woosnam and Luke Donald, and a whole lot more.

You can subscribe to the RSS feed for our podcasts here or download Episode 024 as an MP4 file. For those who want to subscribe to us in iTunes, click here.

For this week’s Show Notes – links to articles we discuss in the show and additional information – just read on.

Alpha RX and V5 Hi-COR Hybrids Review

Alpha has jumped into the hybrid market with two offerings. As a small golf club company in a big company market, Alpha has developed quality clubs for years. The RX and V5 Hi-COR hybrids continue that trend.

Alpha V5 Rx Hybrid SolesAlpha is the little company that could, and we’re happy to have a few more clubs for review. Normally a big player on the Long Drivers of America (LDA) circuit, Alpha introduced two new hybrids this year: the RX and the V5. We won’t see the big boys swinging these off the tee in the long drive tournaments, but you might see them pop up in bags of both high and low handicappers at your local club.

Don’t dismiss these clubs because they aren’t from TaylorMade or Titleist. Golf Digest mentioned the Alpha C830.2 (reviewed here last October) in their Hot List last year. Long-time readers will remember that I was surprised at the quality of the C830.2, but even the stellar driver could not temper my wonder at Alpha’s first foray into the hybrid market. After all, they’re known for their drivers, but hybrids are another beast entirely.

After a bit of testing, I’m happy to say that their hybrids match the level set by their drivers. Read on for more…