The Beach House, Holiday Inn Resort, my Home on Hilton Head Island!

The Beach House, not your ordinary Holiday Inn … The RBC Heritage, not your ordinary tournment on the PGA TOUR… Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, an extraordinary tourist destination! Good to see some old friends & meet some new ones!   (Facebook Post,

Olympic Golf is Back and it’s Great!

Gold Medalist Justin Rose and his Gold Medal in the evening of Sunday, August 14th, 2016 in Rio at the Olympic Golf Course!

With Olympic Golf Gold Medalist Justin Rose and his Gold Medal in the evening of Sunday, August 14th, 2016 in Rio at the Olympic Golf Course!

Olympic Golf is Back and it’s Great!

There is only one Olympic Gold Medalist, Champion Golfer of the World for the next Four Years.

For the women that one golfer is South Korea’s Inbee Park. For the men that one golfer is Great Britain’s Justin Rose.

Olympic Golf is an Olympic Sport once again after ending a dormancy of 112 years with a beautiful and spirited rendition of men’s and women’s competitive golf at the Rio 2016 Summer Olympics.

The competitions were held on the newly constructed Olympic Golf Course, locally known as the Reserva de Marapendi, in Barra da Tijuca, an upscale suburb in the city of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The golf course, just a raw playful sandbox three years ago, was designed by the talented architect Gil Hanse and his right hand man Jim Wagner. They partnered with World Golf Hall of Famer member Amy Alcott to insure as fair and challenging a test for the women as what was conceived for the men. Their consultation and the resulting design—a combination of Scottish Links and the Australian Sandbelt–was brilliant and should receive an Olympic Gold Medal along with golfers Park and Rose.

With Matt Kuchar at sunset after he shot a final round 63 to capture the Bronze Medal for the USA!

With Matt Kuchar at sunset after he shot a final round 64 to capture the Bronze Medal for the USA!

The men competed first. They qualified by standing in the Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR) over the previous two years, ending July 11th. There were male golfers from 34 countries. By virtue of the limits of four golfers in the OWGR Top 15 and two per country beyond that, 10 countries had one golfer, 23 countries had two golfers and the United States had four qualifiers- Bubba Watson (OWGR No. 6), Rickie Fowler (7), Patrick Reed (13) and Matt Kuchar (15). The field of 60 golfers, first playing in threesomes all four days of the 72-hole stroke play event, was the perfect size to insure an intimate and personable presentation of golf to the world.

Australia’s Marcus Fraser started strong. Opening with an 8-under par 63, followed by a 69 put him into contention but a 72-72 weekend left him without an Olympic Medal. Kuchar rose to the occasion with a sensation 63 in the final round locking up the Bronze Medal early on with a final margin of four strokes. Reed had his best day on Sunday posting a 64 and finishing T11, a meaningless designation in Olympic terms. Despite an opening 73, Bubba came back with a pair of 67s and then a final round of 70 to finish T8, six strokes out of a playoff. Rickie shot a 64 in the third round but did not manage to break par in the other three and finished T37.

Olympic Golf Medalists: Center Gold- Justin Rose; Left Silver- Henrik Stenson; and Right Bronze Matt Kuchar.

Olympic Golf Medalists: Center Gold- Justin Rose; Left Silver- Henrik Stenson; and Right Bronze Matt Kuchar.

Perfect for television, the head-to-head battle between Sweden’s Henrik Stenson and the likable Justin Rose for Olympic Gold began with Justin leading by one stroke starting the final round. That one stroke lead remained throughout the first nine holes with both players 3-under par for the day. Stenson birdied the par-5 10th hole to draw even and then took the lead when Rose bogeyed the par-4 13th hole. The lead continued to vacillate between the Brit and the Swede with a Stenson bogey on the par-3 14th hole and a Rose birdie on the par-4 15th hole. Stenson birdied the short par-4 16th hole, both parred the par-3 17th hole and the Olympic Gold Medal all came down to the par-5 18th hole as designed.

A brilliant chip by Rose, quite reminiscent of his world debut as a 17-year old in the 1998 Open at Royal Birkdale, was the difference in podium spots. This one didn’t go in but it was close enough for a tap-in birdie and for the Olympics’ top prize as Stenson failed to make his birdie putt to force a playoff.

Afterwards, when asked about his Olympic experience, Rose responded “I just think for me, what was hardening was hearing comments from guys who really weren’t in contention, who spoke positively, about it being one of the best golfing weeks of their lives says it all.”

“Obviously winning the Gold Medal is an incredible experience, but for me it was deeper than just the podium; it was the wonderful spirit here in Rio, which I think speaks to the bigger picture of what a success it’s been.”

That Rio 2016 Olympic Golf success will live on with Rose for the next four years. Rose carries the Olympic Gold Medal on his person all the time and even took it out of his golf bag and put it around his neck to tap in to finish at The Barclays two weeks later back in the States.

With Inbee Park, Women's Olympic Golf Gold Medalist and her Gold Medal after she won on Saturday, August 20th in Rio at the Olympic Golf Course.

With Inbee Park, Women’s Olympic Golf Gold Medalist and her Gold Medal after she won on Saturday, August 20th in Rio at the Olympic Golf Course.

The women’s competition was equally as exciting but just the opposite of the men’s. Inbee Park started strong and continued strong to walk to the highest level on the Olympic podium to be crowned with with an Olympic Gold Medal. A race for the Silver Medal ensued early in the final round between China’s Shanshan Feng and New Zealand’s Lydia Ko and lasted all day right down to the final group. Another brilliant chip and tap-in birdie on the 18th hole by Ko secured the Silver Medal. China’s Shanshan Feng won Bronze by one stroke over a disappointed and heartbroken threesome of America’s Stacy Lewis, China’s Amy Yang and Japan’s Harukyo Nomura.

Park’s testimony to Olympic Golf was as heartfelt as Rose’s when she said “this is definitely one of the special moments in my golfing career and in my whole life. It feels great. Obviously representing your country, winning the gold, it’s so special. It’s just really all I’ve wanted. I’m just happy.”

With Gil Hanse at the 2016 Golf Olympics, who designed the Olympic Golf Course with input from World Golf Hall of Famer Amy Alcott.

With Gil Hanse at the 2016 Golf Olympics, who designed the Olympic Golf Course with input from World Golf Hall of Famer Amy Alcott.

While Lewis led the American contingent based on a second round 63 and a final round 66, it was really Gerina Piller, playing in the final group with Park and Ko, that looked like she would win an Olympic Medal for the United States. Unfortunately her putter cooled off and she struggled to post a final round 74 and finish T11. The other American lady Olympic golfer was Lexi Thompson who started the final round with an eagle and shot 66 to finish T19.

Like the men golfers, the women golfers came from 34 countries with 11 countries with one golfer, 21 countries with two golfers, the United States with three golfers and Korea with four golfers. Russia’s   Maria Verchenova shot a crazy 62 in the final round, including nine birdies and an ace on the par-3 4th hole, to set the new Olympic course record.

The International Golf Federation, led by President Peter Dawson, Vice President Ty Votaw and Executive Director Anthony Scanlon, staged as near perfect golfing competition as could be. Each competition endured one bout of rainy weather yet the golf course remained firm and fast. There was wind to remind us of golf’s Scottish heritage, history and tradition. No wind, no golf. The setup of the golf course, including closely mowed fairways that were lined by Brazilian forever wild, tee and hole locations was brilliantly done.

With Gil Hanse in January 2014 on what was then a well-designed sand box. Truly a life experience to come back 2-1/2 years later to see the golf course completed and witness the 2016 Golf Olympics!

With Gil Hanse in January 2014 on what was then a well-designed sand box. Truly a life experience to come back 2-1/2 years later to see the golf course completed and witness the 2016 Golf Olympics!

The golf course design itself was divine. On a fairly flat piece of land that sloped from pure sand to the protected low restinga wetlands, the aerial views of the treeless links led to the nearby ocean and were magnificent. The par-71 course opens each nine with a par -5 and finishes with a reachable though not always nor easily reachable par-5. In fact the finishing four holes were designed for the exciting and entertaining Olympic finishes witnessed in Rio. The long and difficult par-4 15th. The short par-4 16th that Stacy Lewis drove yet missed the 15-foot eagle putt. The well bunkered and curvy green on the par-3 17th brought drama that brought out the competitive and fun Spirit of Olympic Golf.

As it turned out, there was nothing like Olympic Golf in golf today. While golf is a worldwide sport, Olympic Golf was widely watched around the world. More importantly, more governments are now actively supporting the growth of golf because it is an Olympic Sport.

As for the future, there remains an Olympic Oddity that the decision of whether golf continues to be an Olympic Sport beyond Tokyo 2020 will be made before Olympic Golf reappears there in four years.

The 120 golfers that came and competed in Rio reignited the Olympic Spirit of Golf.

Olympic Golf is Back and it’s Great!

Congratulations to Inbee Park and Justin Rose, Olympic Gold Medalists, Champion Golfers of the World for the next Four Years.

This article was first published on Bruce Vittner’s Southern New England Golfer (Pg. 25 of Fall/Winter 2016 Issue).


Golf…The Game with a View

Golf…The Game with a View

Do you know what golf course this is and where it is located?

Do you know what golf course this is and where it is located?

The beauty of golf…

Feast your eyes on some of the most beautiful golf courses around the world. Play along with others to win great prizes awarded weekly.

The game of golf…

The Where’s Waldo of golf. Guess what course is featured each week, make your guess, and you will be entered to win free stays, plays, clubs and more.

Golf…The Game with a View

Daily Updates from “Down Under” on the “Golf Journey to Australia”

2014 DSGO: Bernard Langer’s Sunday 66 Wins the Dick’s Sporting Goods Open!

Bernard Langer was bogey-free and in possession of the trophy at the Dick's Sporting Goods Open.

Bernard Langer was bogey-free and in possession of the trophy at the Dick’s Sporting Goods Open.

Yesterday was a memorable day, today was even more exciting as World Golf Hall of Fame member Bernard Langer shot a 6-under 66, passed four golfers and eked out a come-from-behind one-shot victory over Wood Austin and Mark O’Meara in the 2014 Dick’s Sporting Goods Open!

I know I am biased because this is my hometown and I was already a golf fanatic (no surprise there) at age eleven when the first professional golf tournament took place at En Joie Golf Club. Butch Harmon, of the Tiger Woods’ coach fame, won that 36-hole Broome County Open satellite event. Then it morphed into the BC Open, Johnny Hart style, via Alex Alexander’s leadership, for the next 36 years. Now it is celebrating its eighth year as the Dick’s Sporting Goods Open on the Champions Tour. Don’t we all wish we could change as easily and get better as the years go by as the golf tournament in Endicott, New York or its champion Bernard Langer does!

Running into retired B.C.H.S. (I know that dates me) language arts teacher Joe Maughan was awesome. The Triple Cities was a great place to grow up and is a great place to live today.

Running into retired B.C.H.S. (I know that dates me) language arts teacher Joe Maughan was awesome. The Triple Cities was a great place to grow up and is a great place to live today.

This is something like the 125th PGA TOUR event I have attended in seven seasons out on tour. With an engineering background I like to think I can be objective at times, hopefully, when I need to be. This is a good golf tournament for the players, the golf fans and the community. No doubt about that as is evidenced by three PGA TOUR awards the last two years including the highest Champions Tour distinction, the President’s Award. The PGA TOUR doesn’t just throw the word ‘President’ around either. Like when the President’s Cup debuted in 1994 or when the tour presented President George H. W. Bush with a Lifetime Achievement Award, its highest honor, in 2009. The Dick’s Sporting Goods Open is a spectacular, sensational and superior sporting and entertaining event!

There is the Monday Qualifier that serves to give credence to the inclusion of ‘Open’ in the tournament’s title. Granted this Champions Tour event is not as ‘open’ as the BC Open was back in the days prior to the all-exempt tour with the rabbits qualifying at IBM CC on Monday. I remember one year hanging around for a playoff and carrying a bag for a golfer that was only thinking about getting back home to taste some of his mother’s cooking. He didn’t make it as a player in the BC Open and neither did I as a caddie.

Clothing color-coordinated Saggy dancing with Nancy Lopez and a young girl.

Clothing color-coordinated Saggy dancing with Nancy Lopez and a young girl. Photo Credit: DSGO

Tuesday is Practice Round day with the pro-am pairing party in the evening. The pro-ams on Wednesday & Thursday are first rate and offer an intimate connection with the touring pros. I remember one Fuzzy Zoeller story taking 20 or so fans out for a drink to a local bar and the tab was only thirty dollars. maybe that is why he decided to get into the high-end vodka business. This year Nancy Lopez was here for a Ladies Golf Clinic on Wednesday and ended up dancing with a little girl and my high school catcher Dave Pessagno. Saggy is the one who nicknamed me ‘Rock Candy Andy’ and as you can see in the picture is a color coordinated kind of guy.


Ben Witter's golf clinics are always a big hit, no pun intended!

Ben Witter’s golf clinics are always a big hit, no pun intended! Photo Credit: DSGO

Ben Witter did a Junior Golf Clinic on Wednesday and followed that up with an amazing Power Golf Show after Saturday’s Round Two. was here to do a Small Business Summit on Thursday even though this is the Champions Tour. I guess the Triple Cities is still the ‘Valley of Opportunity’ as much today as in the heydays of Endicott-Johnson Shoes and I.B.M. I see it now on Facebook and Twitter, ‘which way EJ?’  The Friday Night Concert featured the Zac Brown Band and drew over 20,000 fans to the golf tournament and the 18th fairway or a corporate tent with a view after t Round One concluded.

Then there was the golf. It has never been any better or more ‘EnJoie-able.’

Olin Browne opened with a 65 and followed with a pair of 69s on the weekend to finish T4.

Olin Browne opened with a 65 and followed with a pair of 69s on the weekend to finish T4.

In Round One, Olin Browne posted an early 7-under 65 that was only tied later in the day by John Cook. Browne became the fifth player to win on the, PGA TOUR and Champions Tour when he won the 2011 U.S. Senior Open, his only age 50-plus win. ‘OB’ spoke of the cycles in golf: “Winning is hard, it’s really hard… all you can do is show up, keep making some putts, hit some good shots, and when it is your turn, it’s your turn (to win).” asked about his preparation for the Dick’s Sporting Goods Open he responded, “I really worked on my preparation last week. I went fishing with my daughter for three days and hung out at the beach.” Playing with Ed Stack, son of Dick’s Sporting Goods founder and CEO since 1984, he didn’t contribute on one hole, evidently saving all his birdies for Round One.

John Cook finished his round off with back-to-back birdies in the second to last pairing to tie Browne for the lead. It was a comfortable pairing with Jeff Sluman (67) and Jay Haas (71). It is amazing to me that ‘Cookie,’ with 11 regular tour wins and 9 on the Champions Tour has not won a major on either tour. He was sidelined for 10 weeks early in the season after slipping on carpet at home and literally cracking his back. The recovery did not require surgery only rest and he came back rusty. Is he ready for the weekend at the Dick’s Sporting Goods Open and the home stretch of 10 straight tournaments in a row with only one off week?

Kevin Sutherland's historic 65 is now a part of 'the Tradition of Champions' at the Dick's Sporting Goods Open.

Kevin Sutherland’s historic 65 is now a part of ‘the Tradition of Champions’ at the Dick’s Sporting Goods Open.

Well Saturday’s second round was all about Champions Tour rookie Kevin Sutherland making history as the first to shoot 59 on the senior over-50 circuit. The one-time winner on the regular tour is in the 59 club with the original ‘Mr. 59′ Al Geiberger, Chip Beck, David Duval, Annika Sorenstam, the only woman to do so, his buddy Paul Goydos, who with fifteen other golfers watched the grand finale on the 18th green, Stuart Appleby and Jim Furyk.

Sutherland took a one-stroke lead over Steve Lowery (66-65), two strokes over John Cook (65-67), three strokes over Scott Hoch who shot Saturday’s second best round, a 64, five strokes worse (69-64) and four strokes over the ever present, consistent and competitive Bernard Langer (67-67).

On Sunday, early in the round, there was no MoJO in the last group- Sutherland, Lowery & Cook a combined 4-over through five holes.

Woody Austin 5-under through nine holes, Bernard Langer 3-under through three holes take the lead. Defending champion Bart Bryant 6-under through twelve holes, Dick Mast 3-under through eight holes are one back with Kevin Sutherland and Steve Lowery.

Bernard Langer was one stroke behind heading to the back nine on Sunday at En Joie GC and came away the champion.

Bernard Langer was one stroke behind heading to the back nine on Sunday at En Joie GC and came away the champion.

As I headed out to watch the leaders play the back nine, Langer birided No. 9 to go 4-under for the day and in a first place tie with Lowery who rebounded with birdies on Nos. 7 and 8. Woody Austin and Dick Mast were in second one stroke back. There were nine golfers at 11-under including Kevin Sutherland who was 3-over through eight holes versus 9-under yesterday.  All in all there are 19 players within five strokes of the lead.

Lowery birdied No. 9 to take the lead at 15-under par. Langer matched him with a birdie at No. 10. Lowery birdied No. 11 to go one better to 16-under. Langer, one group ahead of  Lowery in the last group, birdied the par-3 14th to match him again. Lowery’s fate was sealed on the 14th with a poor iron tee shot that found the water and resulted in a double bogey. Langer, with a par on the 15th saw the news on the scoreboard and knew he needed three pars to beat Woody Austin who posted 65, the best round of the day (matched by Chien Soon Lu), and had the clubhouse lead at 15-under. Langer did just that to conclude a bogey-free tournament and win for the fifth time this season.

Dick's Tim Myers presents the trophy to champion Bernard Langer.

Dick’s Tim Myers presents the trophy to champion Bernard Langer.

Jim Kelly, the legendary golf broadcaster of the Senior PGA TOUR on  ESPN was the Master of the Awards presentation on the 18th green. It felt more like a Closing Ceremony of the Olympics as he recapped the great week and tied all the moving parts together- Tim Myers and the sponsor Dick’s Sporting Goods, John Karedes and his tournament staff, Albert Nocciolino, the President of the Broome County Community Charities, Rocco Greco, the golf course Superintendent and his crew, the spectators and finally the 1,600 volunteers. All in all, a fitting ending to the best tournament ever held at En Joie Golf Club.

Cordoba Golf Club, Home of El Gato & El Plato

Argentina, without a doubt is the “home” of golf in South America! No different than St. Andrews, Scotland is the “home” of golf for the world. After all the Golf Channel Latin America has their studios in Buenos Aires. The only World Golf Hall of Fame member south of the US border is the great Argentine golfer Roberto De Vicenzo who lives near Ranelagh Golf Club south of country’s capital. If Argentina is the “home” golf in South America then it follows that in the modern era, Cordoba Golf Club is the “home” of golf in Argentina. When you arrive at Cordoba Golf Club you quickly realize it is the “home” of El Gato, Eduardo Romero and El Plato, Angel Cabrera.

Being invited to play Cordoba Golf Club through El Plato, Angel Cabrera’s charity foundation and having the opportunity to meet and interview El Gato, Eduardo Romero was quite an honor and privilege. On top of that I staying at the quaint five-guest room La Casa Grande literally across the street from the tenth green. For now this amazing experience is captured in the following pictures, broken up into three albums- the golf course, El Gato & El Plato and the great amateurs to play out of Cordoba Golf Club like Roberto Monguzzi. More words and videos (interviews and beauty shots) to come! Enjoy!

The golf course of Cordoba Golf Club:

no images were found

El Gato & El Plato:

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Great amateurs of Cordoba Golf Club:




Capturing the Spirit of Golf in Guatemala

CLICK here for Andy’s Video Recap of six-night Guatemala visit.

CLICK here to visit La Reunion in Antigua, Guatemala.



More videos, pictures, & posts coming… what would you like me to write about?



U.S. Open at Merion Tipsters

We are all looking for that one magical tip that takes our golf game to the next level. The same holds true for the 146 professional and 10 amateurs in the field at the 113th U.S. Open at Merion Golf Club.
Remember Lee Westwood thinking it would be putting a 61-degree lob wedge in his bag courtesy of a tip by fellow countryman and Ryder Cup champion Ian Poulter? Dr. Bob Rotella likes to get inside the golfer's mind and give tips like "play to play great, don't play not to play poorly."
Did you see Michael Breed's arm throw tip for playing the shortest short hole at Merion, the 155-yard par-3 13th? There are a million tips out there but what tip would it take to get Lee Westwood, Steve Stricker and Luke Donald that coveted major championship they so desire?
Maybe that tip will come from a couple Philadelphia area PGA pros Lou Guzzi and Dom DiJulia who are intimately familiar with the challenges Merion poses and Golf Magazine Top 100 Teachers. Featured in Golf Magazine's recently published Big Book of Basics along with five other elite instructors, their chapters can help competitors tackle the difficult U.S. Open course.
It all starts on the tee. Guzzi—a two-time PGA Teacher of the Year in the Philadelphia Section who teaches out of Talamore Country Club in Ambler, PA—stresses the need for pros to have a pre-shot routine that is as unwavering as Merion’s demands.
“To hit more fairways and really keep the nerves in check, it is very important that you keep your pre-shot routine consistent,” Guzzi said, citing Chapter 1. “They’ll need to work on feeling the club they are about to hit, working on their breathing and relaxing to establish that consistent routine.”
It is imperative that players keep the visual of the hole they are playing out of their minds because “there are too many intimidating holes out there and those intimidating visuals can really lock them up from swinging the club smoothly and freely.”
“Preparation and a consistent pre-shot routine is key. They have to know the shape of their shot, trust their aim, and that gives them the best opportunity to find the fairways at Merion.”
From there, it all ends up on the green, where DiJulia said the process is key to mastering the greens of Merion. A PGA Master Professional from Jericho National GC in New Hope, PA, DiJulia said putting successfully on U.S. Open greens goes far beyond technique and encompasses the process that all good putters employ.
“I guarantee the U.S. Open winner will have his own very clearly definable ‘Process’ that addresses each of the challenges we discuss in Chapter 5,” DiJulia said. “To keep it quick and simple, a great putter will—at a minimum—see the slope, see the curve, sense or feel the speed, get set and go.”
DiJulia said, along with a clearly defined process, there is one element found in all successful putters.
“To win a major, controlling the speed of putts is an absolute must,” he said. “So this year’s victor will have a putting stroke that includes the fundamentals most important to controlling speed. There are two and both involve consistency.”
The first is tempo. Back in the 1990s, DiJulia taped a few U.S. Opens. He ran back the tapes hundreds of times with a stopwatch and timed every putt several times, seeking the "right” tempo. What he discovered is there was no “right” tempo; the best putters rather had a consistent tempo while the worst putters had an inconsistent one.
The second is acceleration. According to DiJulia, all great putters have both effective and consistent acceleration. The eventual winner at Merion will produce a rhythmic, consistent speed on both e ends of the putt.
“Consider getting onto a highway with your car,” he said. “Effective putters don’t squeal their tires by giving their stroke too much gas all at once and they don’t risk their back bumper by getting on the highway so slowly that they will get hit from behind. Putting at Merion—or anywhere—requires you find an acceleration style that works for you on all putts and stick to it.”
In other words, it’s a process and whether you are one of the 156 golfers teeing it up at Merion this week or a mere amateur like me, Golf Magazine's Big Book of Basics can help. I will be watching and listening to hear if the names Lou Guzzi and Dom DiJulia pop up on the NBC, ESPN or Golf Channel broadcasts the next four days.

About the Book:


By GOLF Magazine’s Top 100 Teachers

Edited and Introduction by David DeNunzio, Managing Editor–Instruction, Golf Magazine

Time Home Entertainment Inc.

Publication date: October 23, 2012

$32.95 hardcover

Source of Rozella quote:
Guzzi and DiJulia quotes provided by BZA Public Relations release on 6/7/13.

PLAYERS, Volunteers & Educators

The Players Championship, Volunteers & Educators all at TPC Sawgrass
By Andy Reistetter, 5/5/13
The world knows The Players Championship is coming to Ponte Vedra in Northeast Florida next week for the 40th edition of what may one day become golf's Fifth Major. The Players 2013 boasts the strongest field in golf by virtue of its size, professional purity and international pedigree. With a permanent home on the Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass where the PGA TOUR world headquarters are located beyond the first green, this is the club championship of the world's best golfers. The blended brand of Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and others, like Masters Champion Adam Scott, combined with The Players is the modern equivalent of what Bobby Jones built at Augusta National in the early 1930s.
Born in 1934, by age forty in the early 1970s, The Masters filled out a friendly foursome of Majors. The oldest being, The British Open (first played in 1860) along with two other American golfing competitions, The United States Golf Association Championship (U.S.G.A., first played in 1895) and the Professional Golfers Association of America Championship (P.G.A., first played in 1916). Somewhere in those first 40 years, with the advent of golfing television in the early 1960s and the Big Three- Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player the four majors we know today came into being.
Why is there a reluctance to add a fifth major? It could be as simple as the number 4 and the nature of the foursome in golf. While only a number, so too is 18 for the number of holes on a golf course and 12 being the number of eggs we typically purchase, it does account for a custom in golf.  Perspectives and precedents do change over time. One can play 9 holes and buy half dozen eggs too. The Western Open, today's vagabond playoff event, preceded the P.G.A. and was widely regarded as a major in the early 20th century. The reason why it never became official seems to be lost in the annals of golf history.
Another debate is that, if golf is a game of the world, why would another major be added in the United States, rather than in Southeast Asia where the growth of the game today rivals that of America in the 1920s. With golf being played in the Olympics in South America in 2016, golf is being reseeded and may grow where it has not in the past. Perhaps the number of majors someday will be seven, one for each continent?   
Although the game of golf is a physical one there is a spirit of it, and behind it, which sustains our interest and engagement with the game. It entertains us, refreshes us and creates an enjoyment we cannot find in another sport or activity. Though a business to some, the self-growth, social, and charitable aspects of the golfing environment is what makes us a golfer and these are surely present at TPC Sawgrass and The Players Championship.
The spirit of volunteering and supporting local charities is what brought the PGA TOUR to Northeast Florida in the first place. The Jacksonville Open dates back to right after WWII with Sam Snead winning the first two events in 1945 and 1946. Officially the current volunteer organization that teams up with Matt Rapp, Executive Director of The Players Championship, dates back to 1965, the year Bert Weaver won and Chairman John Tucker wore the Red Coat. Once The Players came to Ponte Vedra for good in 1977 the Jacksonville Open ceased to exist but the spirit never died it only became broader and deeper.
"Hello neighbor," is a familiar greeting as the 2,100 volunteers come into TPC Sawgrass to pick up their volunteer packages in the weeks preceding The Players Championship. Many live in the immediate Northeast Florida area but others live throughout the United States. Some even come from faraway foreign countries like Switzerland and Argentina to serve for the benefit of local charities. Since coming to Florida's First Coast, The Players have raised $52.8 MM for charity.
Though the volunteers give they also receive as evidenced by the experience of Mike Kelly, a gallery marshal on the 18th hole. He felt like he was a part of history a few years ago when President George H.W. Bush (No. 41) came to his hole during the Military Appreciation Day festivities. With the Lifetime Achievement recipient in a golf cart amidst a military progression up the 18th fairway and an F-16 flyover Mike took home a life time experience that day, one he will never forget.
On a more personal level, a young boy of seven years went home with something he will likely never forget last year. Mike and the other marshals have a tough job ushering the players as they emerge from the tunnel under the 17th green grandstands to the 18th tee box. Amidst the surge of gallery yet intent on maximizing the tournament experience for youth the marshals create an alley for the players to pass.
With the youngest ones front and center on the rope line. Mike worked with a seven-year old boy on Friday instructing him on the proper closed fist pump greeting to acknowledge the players as they walked by. The kid went home and practiced in front of a mirror and came back on Saturday to connect with Phil Mickelson who also gave him a golf ball. For an encore on Sunday the kid received a ball from Tiger Woods. The mother so excited for her son and his growing confidence that she asked for a picture of him with Mike.   
On a larger scale there is other impactful work being done mostly behind the curtain of professional golf at The Players and other PGA TOUR events. There are military job fairs, baby showers for military moms-to-be, day-long forum and networking events for female business leaders and even education conferences that focus on improving the learning experience for our children.
Looking back years from now, golf's biggest impact may be widely felt through its focus on education. The Players made a 10-year, $50MM commitment that is well underway and ahead of schedule with over $11MM contributed the first two years. What is unique is that it is a cohesive public and private initiative that includes another $50 MM of private capital that transforms the teacher and administrator school organizations for the benefit of the students as they prepare for college or career.
Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, the happy reformer, gave the keynote speech at this year's Champions for Education Conference held at the Clubhouse at TPC Sawgrass. The initiative is an intricate, dynamic and all encompassing futuristic plan for Jacksonville and Duval County public schools that is being built upon a base of solid improvement in recent years. As a unique opportunity to transform public education and dramatically improve student achievement it may well turn out to be the recipe for other school districts in America.
 The Players Championship, Volunteers & Educators all at TPC Sawgrass… are you ready for the 40th The Players this week?

2013 PLAYERS Preview

2013 PLAYERS Preview: All the Best to Play TPC Sawgrass!

I don't know about you but I am getting excited about THE PLAYERS Championship!

Maybe the reason is defending champion Matt Kuchar. It has been nice seeing the American flag waving proudly above Champions Circle for the last year. After all it had been five years since the last American win by Phil Mickelson in 2007. Since Mickelson's win there was the excitement of Sergio Garcia's playoff win, Henrik Stenson's Sunday 66 to win, little Timmy Clark win the biggest event so far in his career and another playoff win, this one by K.J. Choi and his steely putting stroke. What drama there will be on the Pete Dye designed Stadium Course with the world's best professional golfers playing in what amounts to their club championship, golf's fifth major.

Happening very soon after the thrilling victory of 2004 PLAYERS champion Adam Scott at Augusta National in the Masters somehow 2013 seems to be developing as a milestone year in the history of golf. Scott became the first Australian to win the Masters. He also finished T15 last year in the PLAYERS and may be destined to join World Golf Hall of Famer Jack Nicklaus (who has won three), 2013 Hall of Fame Inductee Fred Couples, Steve Elkington, Hal Sutton, 2012 United States Ryder Cup Captain Davis Love III as multiple winners of the PLAYERS.

Love was the last to repeat as a winner in 2003. Perhaps, instead of Scott, it will be Mickelson or Tiger Woods to notch their second PLAYERS victory. Since Woods' victory in 2001 his best finish has been 8th in 2009. Disappointing for the fans, the now 36-year old World No. 1 has withdrawn twice and finished T40 in the last three years. Tiger credits another W/D at the WGC at Doral last year as the turning point where he stopped playing hurt and focused on getting healthy. He went on to win three times last season. With another three Ws this season in six events, he is coming off a T4 at the Masters despite a miss-drop. The No. 1 ranked player in the world, Woods will be well rested with three weeks off since the Masters and is the guy to beat, even at TPC Sawgrass which is not one of his favorite courses like Torrey Pines, Bay Hill or Firestone CC.

Outside the competitive golf arena, this PLAYERS will be the best one ever from a fan and family fun perspective. Entertainment is pretty much nonstop after the golf each day. Dierks Bentley, fresh from his Locked & Reloaded Tour with Miranda Lambert will be center stage on the lawn in the back of the Clubhouse on Wednesday. Extra-Curricular "Lot Parties" (additional ticket required) that benefit charity will feature Tishamingo, Moors & McCumber (not 1988 PLAYERS Champion Mark but his nephew Kort), Jo Dee Messina, Darryl Worley and Yacht Rock from Atlanta. The 2012 PLAYERS set a new charitable giving back record of $6.5MM. 

The PGA TOUR and the PLAYERS provide all active duty, Reserve, military retirees and dependents with complimentary admission to the tournament all week. They offer significantly discounted admission to non-career military veterans. Youth 18 and younger are admitted free of charge when accompanied by a ticketed adult- there is no limit, soccer team with paid coach allowed. Plus if you carpool there is a "Four for Free" parking incentive.

New in 2013, fans can bring in their own food (no beverages) in clear plastic bags. In addition there are two new upgraded, permanent restroom facilities with a place to fill up water bottles and cups with chilled, filtered drinking water. The $89 Family Plan includes two adult grounds tickets, unlimited youth admission and two $10 concession vouchers. Now that is fan and family friendly!

After watching the practice round on Monday, but be sure to attend (or watch on Golf Channel) the Induction Ceremony of the World Golf Hall of Fame in the evening in nearby St. Augustine. Fred Couples (two time PLAYERS champion in 1984 and 1996), Colin Montgomerie (won record eight European Tour Order of Merit titles), Willie Park, Jr. (Scottish golfing legend, won the British Open twice, joins his father in the Hall of Fame, Willie Park, Sr., winner of four British Opens), Ken Schofield (Executive Director of the European Tour from 1975 to 2004) and Ken Venturi (1964 U.S. Open Champion and 35-year CBS Sports broadcast commentator and analyst) will join 141 other members enshrined with golf's highest honor.  

Whether you experience it in person or watch the action on the Golf Channel and NBC Sports, the 40th edition of THE PLAYERS is destined to be the best ever!


Poignant PLAYERS Pointers:

1.       Check out the Taste of JAX and Club 1791 (year Jacksonville was founded) between the 11th green and 12th tee. It's an indoor climate-controlled lounge with comfortable seating and large, flat-screen TVs. The best and favorites of Jacksonville's cuisine- Indochine (Thai and Southeast Asian), Metro Diner (Classic American) and Pele's Wood Fire (Modern Italian-American) are featured.

2.       The Women's Pavilion is making its national debut at THE PLAYERS. Located next to the 16th tee it is an engaging experience especially for female spectators interested in learning more about their overall well-being. Men are welcomed too.

3.       Don’t forget the past proven popular venues headlined by the Stadium Village and PwC First Tee Challenge. Located behind the 18th green close to the Clubhouse, the Stadium Village is a 16,000-square-foot, air condition public fan zone complete with a 1/3-scale replica of the 17th hole. Tee one up and see if you can hit the island green!

4.       Other past proven popular venues to visit- Wine & Dine on 9 (it is on the 9th fairway, golfer's left towards the 5th green), The Oasis between the 9th and 18th tee boxes, The Patio (adjacent to the 10th tee near the Women's Pavilion), and The Grove (behind the 16th green and 17th tee). Confused? It's simple, when hot, hungry or tired, look for in the trees for shade and you will find one of these cool, satiating and refreshing places open to the public. For more hospitality, there is The Turn, The Benefactor and Patriots' Outpost with the proper credentials.  

5.       Check out the McKenzie Noelle Wilson Foundation Kid Zone near the Nicklaus Gate way behind the 17th tee near The Grove. It features a "Game Truck" with eight HDTVs (six inside, two outside) with four controllers so 32 kids (or adults) can play Xbox360, Wii & PS3 as they like. Patented, reliable fun; you will likely be renting this truck for your or your kid's next birthday party. There is also a putt-putt course, arts and crafts and the loving memory of McKenzie, a vibrant and vivacious 15-year-old who passed away from a rare and sudden illness on August 17, 2010.

6.       On Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, parking is free in the general lot and no parking pass is required.

7.       The backdoor via CR210/Nocatee Parkway is the fastest, least congested path to the tournament. The A1A route from the Butler Expressway will be greatly improved with unprecedented cooperation amongst area officials. They went to the Masters and picked up any and all tips from observing the I20 and Washington Road operation. Sorry no pimento cheese sandwiches will be sold at THE PLAYERS.

8.       There are shuttles from downtown Jacksonville from Wednesday through Sunday. There is a designated cab service and a Bike Valet (not motorcycles, this is not Daytona Beach Bike Week).

9.       If you can't make it to the World Golf Hall of Fame Induction, visit their pavilion within the Stadium Village. Thee you will see memorabilia from seven PLAYERS champions that are Hall of Fame members along with course designer Pete Dye and former PGA TOUR Commissioner Deane Beman.

10.     Engage in social media and join the excitement at the 17th hole tweeting or texting closest-to-the pin guesses for each group. Votes will be displayed on the massive video board along with your creative tweets. See your name up in lights.

11.     If a local resident or in town early run the back nine of the Stadium Course in THE PLAYERS 5k with Donna on Saturday morning and then demo (if you still have the energy) the industry's newest equipment on the driving range afterwards until 5 p.m.

12.     My favorite, come see the latest version of the PGA TOUR Wives Golf Classic where the wives play golf and the husband professional golfers caddie for them. The event takes place on the Dye's Valley Course at 1 p.m. Tuesday afternoon. I wonder if Angie Watson can work the ball as much as Bubba did to win last year's Masters?             

13.     Another favorite occurs on Wednesday on the 17th hole with a caddie competition honoring the memory of Bruce Edwards, Tom Watson's longtime caddie and friend who passed in 2004 from ALS. The players and caddies switch roles and the caddies get an opportunity to play the famous island green hole.

14.     Wear PINK on Sunday in honor of Mother's Day.  There will be a "PINK OUT" in celebration of mothers and in support of breast cancer research. Tree Island on the 17th hole will be "pinked out" with 3,500 pink vinca flowers and 200 Hawaiian Ti plants. Even the Sawgrass Splash, THE PLAYERS signature cocktail and the golf balls at the PwC 17th Hole Challenge will be pink on Sunday.

15. Last but not least, come back for the Tour Championship in September on Dye's Valley Course at TPC Sawgrass. That is the grand finale of the four-event Tour Finals. With no more direct passes from the Qualifying Tournament (now feeds the Tour), the only way to get to the 2014 PGA TOUR is to be one of the Top 25 on the Tour Money List after the 21 Regular Season events or be one of the Top 25 cumulative money earners for the four final events. Two winners of a regular season event held on Dye's Valley the last three years, David Mathias and Russell Henley, will be competing in the 2013 PLAYERS Championship and may be the first professional to win on both golf courses. Caddie Michael Carrick has won on both- in 2011 with Gavin Coles (won the other event in 2011) and with Tom Kite when he won the 1989 PLAYERS.