“The greens at Winged Food West tumble downhill like a marble staircase”

Winged Foot Golf Club in Mamaroneck, NY is said to be one of the hardest golf courses to shoot low scores on. And quite fittingly it was the venue of this year’s US Open.

As a matter of fact, there was only one single player in the field prevailing in a sense that he managed to stay under par after 4 rounds in great weather conditions: Bryson DeChambeau, the 2020 US Open champion.

If you want to understand what all players went through these days, suffering from bad scores, across the leaderboard, you should watch this video to get a sense for the course characteristics of Winged Food West and potential traps along the way:

I seriously love these “Every Hole” videos of Golf Digest! If you like these too, then go check out their playlist! You’re welcome.

Any by the way: Can you read a Winged Foot green? Check it out here!

What a show, Bryson DeChambeau!

Bryson DeChambeau is the 2020 US Open champion and seriously left the golf world stunned about his performance at Winged Foot Golf Club, NY.

DeChambeau is a phenomenon. He’s special in many aspects and with that I’m not only referring to the positive ones. But you could like him or not, that what he’s shown the world last weekend was truly amazing and outstanding — a great show of golf that will have its place in golf’s history books, no question about it!

DeChambeau, presumably the man with the most unbelievable intentional body transformation ever, won the US Open in style: With smashing drives but only 23 fairways for the whole week he managed to get out of these unfortunate and penalizing rough positions and still got to the red numbers eventually.

And that’s worth mentioning: Of the complete field at this year’s US Open at Winged Food Golf Club, truly a tough track apparently, he was the only one (!!) who shot under par. The only one. Let that sink in for a moment. Yes, US Opens tend to be tough and the rough is always set to make people rather cry, but only one person under par is quite astonishing.

And if this wasn’t enough, he won by a 6-shot margin over Matthew Wolff (E) and Louis Oosthuizen (+2). All in all an incredible performance.

Pure dominance. Here are some very interesting statistics:

Continue reading What a show, Bryson DeChambeau!

Hands up, who’s playing fantasy golf?

If you’re like me, you really love all aspects of the game: The difficulty, the outdoors, the technical aspect, the social aspect, the ability to discuss it, the fact that every course in the world is different and, last but not least, the pro tours which usually tend to be really exciting.

There are other facts, too, but as I have a family I have to settle with the most important ones and leave side aspects to others. One of which is Fantasy Golf.

In case you’re not aware, this is, very similar to other sports, a way to win an online competition by creating week-in and week-out a list of (golf) players that you maintain regularly. The better those play in the next tournament, the more points you earn, i.e. the better you predicted the outcome of the tournament as a whole. Of course players do not play every single tournament, certain course characteristics do more favor a number of certain players and you could also count the current form factor in, in case you are able to assess or anticipate it.

It is really fun and a way to seriously stay connected to the game as you won’t miss a week(end) and get zero points. And there is a social aspect to that game also.

These guys however exaggerate a bit I’d say:

As an example, this is the fantasy golf game of the PGA Tour. Have fun!

Bryson’s new tactics seem to pay off

In the past months Bryson DeChambeau had put up some extra weight in order to get to a physique he could drive the ball farther than everybody else. Did he manage to?

Well, the Charles Schwab Challenge is not over while I write this, so it’s a bit early to assess but from what I saw yesterday and today, it’s fair to say that DeChambeau had quite a transformation in the lockdown weeks. He must have found some weights in his basement to play around with.

So, that transition: It didn’t make him a nice guy or a more bearable guy, not even a faster guy in the sense of pace of play, but he truly looks like Popeye now with huge extra weight on.

Continue reading Bryson’s new tactics seem to pay off

Live TV golf back in the game

After weeks and months of absence, pro golf is back on tour, back on telly and back in our hearts. It was about time, if you’d ask me.

2020 is a crazy year. It has been so far and seems to continue to make its way into history books on so many levels. Life, as we know it, came to a halt and so many beautiful factors of daily things were taken away from every one of us—including golf.

Not only was golf forbidden to play, it was of course also for the professionals, hence there was no live TV coverage for such a long time.

But that changed now. With the Charles Schwab Challenge at Colonial Country Club we have the first of pro event back in live TV. The PGA Tour being first out there, made a good effort with teasing the crowd in social media, as this tournament will–as all the others to come in the near future–be played under some new circumstances: Played without spectators, to start with.

I haven’t had much time to sit in front of the TV lately myself with this new COVID-19 home-office and child-care situation, but I seriously support the idea to bring pro golf back into play and back onto the screen.

I love my golf.tv subscription and can’t wait to see some of the events kicking in here on this side of the Atlantic, starting with a so-called “UK Swing” with six consecutive events in the UK, as announced by Keith Pelley, European Tour commissioner. Please read here.

The BMW Indoor Invitational at Royal Portrush

The European Tour is never shy to test out new things, be it a huge shot clock to incentivize a faster pace, or a new 6-hole team match format with a lot of background noise to attract new people to the sport.

Presumably the same folks came up with a new series of events which are somewhat driven by the fact that people are not able to go outside anymore to play golf following the rather strict COVID-19 rules and restrictions in every state of the world.

What that does is to facilitate Trackman’s functionalities together with a famous course that is played virtually. It’s a professional battle on different grounds than usually but it’s still active golf, playing indoors against a huge screen.

Clearly putting and bunker game is necessary to adapt for the virtual world, but it’s impressive how modern technology can cater to establish a very similar feeling to real life golf. Of course there will never be a real alternative to play outside on real courses but you get close to the feeling anyway when you don’t have access to a course or just simply are not allowed to play.

I believe this is a great way to entertain the golf fan masses, much more than these selfie-like pro tip videos that you saw lately. Personally I could pass on those if you’d ask me.

Oh and by the way, Connor Syme took the lead by two shots:

So what do you think of those virtual indoor tournaments? Yay or nay? And what did you do to get in golf shape this year during lockdown? Anything special to share?

Brexit is done…

717rMnuN-dL._AC_SL1471_.jpg

…and you can think or lean towards which side you want, leave or remain, your choice, but you all have to agree that it’s going to be and look weird when in a couple of months time, 12 Europeans, including English, Scots, Welsh and Northern Irish will enter the stage under the European flag, walking the arena to Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 as the Anthem of Europe, waiving blue-yellow flags and telling reporters how proud they are to play and compete for their continent.

European continent that is, not the European Union – rocking the same flag though.

USA wins 2019 Presidents Cup

Unfortunately I wasn’t able to watch a single second of this year’s Presidents Cup due to private and family commitments.

What I did check however were scores along the way. So I am aware that the USA team has been coming from behind just on the final day Sunday. And I also believe congratulations are in order.

The Presidents Cup always has been an event in the shadow of the Ryder Cup. It was this year when I had the feeling that this event somehow increased its media coverage and found its way to mass media coverage a bit more, compared to the last events, maybe for the wrong reasons though…

This edition of the cup obviously was a kind of special one. Ernie Els, team captain of the Internationals, asked local spectators in Australia to not root for Tiger Woods and his boys but rather cheer for the Internationals.

Then there was the incident with Patrick Reed just days before the tournament and this clearly didn’t calm the waves. On the contrary, I was told there have been many people shouting nasty things towards the US boys, in particular to Reed.

Who’s to blame? Well, it’s a team event and with that comes a certain degree of enthusiasm and volume that can be helpful for one side, but can at the same time be very hurtful for the other. It’s something that golf in general is not very used to.

Unfortunately this might be the topic of the week and will long be in the people’s mind looking back at this event. Generally I take off my hat to the Americans for winning this after they were behind for almost the whole time.

Congratulations! Well done! Can’t wait for the next edition of the Ryder Cup now!

Golf needs more celebrity tournaments

I wanted to write this for quite a while but so many things came jeopardizing it to some extent. But it is as true as it was some weeks back really, when the 2019 Alfred Dunhill Links Championship took place.

dunill-links-logo-1

I doubt it, but in case you are not familiar with the tournament, it’s a proper European Tour event, this year end of September. There is another Alfred Dunhill Championship taking place in South Africa every year, but here I’m talking about the Scottish links variant of the tournament.

There are multiple things that make this tournament so special:

  1. The courses
  2. The players
  3. The vibe

So let’s discuss all that and what it does to golf, the sport, the industry, the marketing and the general public perception as I believe you can’t really underestimate its effect(s).

Continue reading Golf needs more celebrity tournaments

What if Kaymer could putt like Cabrera-Bello

I stumbled over some statistics on the European Tour website the other day and couldn’t resist to do some number crunching. It wasn’t scientifically accurate but interesting nonetheless. Let me give you the basics.

I’m talking about these two numbers:

kaymer_cabrerabello

Being German myself, I feel for Kaymer’s recent plummet and while I wish him well, at the same time I strongly believe he didn’t do himself a big favor to change his swing a couple of years ago while he was in his prime. It was unnecessary (in my humble opinion) and definitely the wrong timing.

But anyway, the story is told, Kaymer kept dropping and dropping in all rankings imaginable.

Looking at the number above (from 17 Nov 2019) 77.9% GIR is a pretty impressive number. On nearly 8 out of 10 holes he puts the ball onto the green in regulation for a birdie putt—which he then mostly misses. Why else would he drop to 68th spot in the Race to Dubai or 118th in the OWGR with 17 tournaments played!

So in other words, he gets the ball onto the dance floor but then fails to execute.

Rafa Cabrera Bello on the other hand shines with a stunning 27.7 average putts per round figure. That’s not more than 1.5 putts per hole on average. Rafa is 21st in the Race to Dubai and 37th in the OWGR with 18 tournaments played.

Now imagine Kaymer could not only put the ball on the green but also putt like Rafa. There’s no easy way to calculate this but by approximation let’s just presume on 14 holes he needs 1.53 and on the rest he’d need 2 putts. That would translate into this staggering calculation:

14 holes GIR + 14 * 1.53 putts + 4 holes with 2 putts (assuming an 18 hole golf course) = 65.42. Even rounded up, Kaymer would still have a stroke average of 66. Rory McIlroy, current 2nd in the world, momentarily has a stroke average of 68.6…

This obviously shows the small likelihood of occurrence, that one player is equally strong in long and short game and at the same time a world class putter, too.

But it doesn’t hurt to dream!