Wyndham on Monday

Talking with the guys who actually understand microclimate…

Wyndham ChampionshipIt is very dark at 0530 at Sedgefield Country Club and the place is extremely busy. I opened the Tournament HQ and simply watched the activity. Across the street, the greenskeepers are working to reset the pin locations for today’s practice pro-am.

Wyndham Introduction

What you don’t see on TV – behind the scenes at a PGA Tour event.

Wyndham ChampionshipHello world. No, that’s not quite right, I think I’ve heard that somewhere before in the world of golf, but I will quickly move on. I want to thank Erik for taking a chance on letting me try my hand at golf reporting for The Sand Trap. This is really my first time writing about golf and I hope to dig up some interesting stories while I am at the finest PGA Tour stop in the Piedmont Triad area (read Greensboro)!

I am an unabashed golf nut. I first held a club at the age of 23 and somehow I was hooked. I bought some clubs at a Wal-Mart somewhere in Pennsylvania and beat balls around courses in PA from State College to Danville to Erie. I took many (mostly forgettable) lessons and never seemed to get any better than a weekend hacker-duffer. Finally, I ran into the Stack and Tilt crew and things have become so much better for me over the past 1.5 years. I can actually hit the ball. Sometimes with a push-draw! That makes me very happy.

Five Burning Questions for the U.S. Open (That Don’t Revolve Around Tiger Woods)

What are your non-Tiger questions? See if they stack up to ours.

Trap Five LogoWith the conclusion of sectional qualifying last Monday (and Tuesday in some places), the field for this week’s U.S. Open is set. While 156 of the world’s best and/or luckiest players in the world will converge at Pebble Beach, you can be sure that most of the world’s media will be focused on just one of them.

Still the world’s number one player, plagued this year by turmoil on and off the golf course, and a decade removed from arguably the most dominant tournament performance in golf history (at this very tournament and venue),Tiger Woods will be the big story throughout the championship. There is a very good chance that Tiger’s presence will overshadow everything else about the Open. Before things get that bad here at the Sand Trap, here are five of the big questions that should be on any golf fan’s mind heading into Pebble Beach.

Five Interesting Facts about Popular Golf Apparel Makers

Nazi Germany, Jami Foxx’s intimate parts, sibling rivalries, and rewriting of history: golf apparel companies have it all and then some.

Trap Five LogoGolf does not require its players to wear uniforms: the extent of most courses’ dress code is “collared shirt, no denim.” With the relatively loose and inclusive standards of attire, it shouldn’t be a surprise that golf apparel is a broad and competitive market, whose players vary from high-end fashion houses to athletic shoe companies to discount-store private labels.

Very few of these companies started out making golf apparel; the origins of some well-known sportswear brands may surprise you. Here are five such clothing companies and the stories behind them.

Five Successful Pro Golfers (And the People They Aren’t)

You may have heard of Adam Scott, Heath Slocum, Jim Thorpe, and others, but do you know about their dopplenamers?

Trap Five LogoDespite my sometimes obsessive attitude towards golf, I do manage to find the time for other interests. One of my favorite television shows on the air right now is the NBC sitcom Parks & Recreation. A recent story arc on that series is the introduction of auditors who have been sent to solve the budgetary woes of the Pawnee city government. One of those auditors is played by an actor named Adam Scott, who is of no apparent relation to the most recent winner on the PGA Tour.

As far as I know, there’s no specific term for the phenomenon of one person sharing the same name as another person. Seeing as I grew up wondering how my state’s senator also managed to sing with Art Garfunkel, though, there probably should be. Anyhow, here are five players who happen to have identical names (or at least strikingly similar ones) as other noteworthy people outside the golf world. Are the golfers on this list worthy of being considered “the” ones with their respective names over their non-golfing brethren?

Five Innovations that Shaped the Modern Game

Does the laser rangefinder make the list? How about that dastardly solid-piece ball that pros are still willing to use? What about computers, which aid tremendously in designing courses from anywhere?

Trap Five LogoGolf is a sport which, due to the presence of specialized equipment, has been greatly affected by advances in technology over the course of its history. The following five innovations, in one way or another, have left a lasting impact on the game as we know it today.

The Forgettable Five: Unheralded Major Winners of the 2000s

Who’s on this list? Surely you can venture a guess (or two).

Trap Five LogoThis week’s Masters marks the golf’s first major championship of a new decade, which means it’s officially possible to summarize the events of the 2000s. So, how about it?

The previous ten years in golf were dominated by Tiger Woods, who won 12 majors between 2000 and 2009. Underlining Tiger’s singular greatness during the decade (and also the lack of other talent) is the fact that even his supposed rivals could not manage more than three major titles during the same period.

Perhaps the worst indictment of golf in the 2000s beyond Tiger Woods is that these five men all managed to win majors during the decade. Major champions receive five-year exemptions on the PGA Tour and all major championships upon their victory, and these five players have struggled to maintain a presence in professional golf once that exemption expired. None of the following major winners have won on the PGA Tour since their major triumphs, and only one currently maintains full-time exempt status on the tour.

Five Golf Secrets for Beginners

As soon as you declare you are taking up golf, you get hit with dozens of pieces of conflicting advice on how to start. To prevent backspin overload, here are five secrets to help you launch your golfing experience.

Trap Five LogoPeople remember when they had that first “I gotta do golf!” moment. Maybe you were watching golf on TV a couple of weeks ago, and saw the crowd go wild when Ernie Els birdied the 17th at Doral to clinch the CA Championship. Maybe your in-laws gave you a set of irons for your first wedding anniversary.

Once you say yes, the next few weeks can be mind-boggling. People are talking about fairway metals, short irons, up and down, wedge bounce, and other weird things. And, beginners quickly realize how ominous the first tee can be: You have to hit a pesky little white ball while dozens of people watch. How does Ernie do it?

Fear not, golf is quite do-able and fun if you just know the secrets for getting started. Here are five basics I wish people had shared with me when I was a beginner.

Five Major Courses You Can (Afford to) Play

I get just as tired as you do of seeing lists of famous golf courses I’ll never get to play, so here’s a list of the ones you can play – inexpensively!

Trap Five Logo2010 marks a landmark year in the world of golf. For the first time, the three major championships that rotate host venues will all take place on courses that are open to the general public. Pebble Beach Golf Links will host the U.S. Open this June; The Open Championship will be contested at the Old Course at St. Andrews in July; and the season’s Grand Slam will conclude with the PGA Championship at Whistling Straits in August.

However, while anyone can theoretically enjoy a round at any of these courses, it won’t come cheap. At $495 per round, Pebble Beach’s green fees are the most expensive in the world — and that doesn’t include the two-night resort stay required to book a tee time. A round at Whistling Straits during peak season, plus the required caddy, costs $400. Compared to those two, St. Andrews’ going rate of £130 (roughly $200 using current exchange rates) is a relative bargain; but its lottery system of allotting tee times means access can be very hard to come by, especially for golfers making a trans-Atlantic pilgrimage.