A Primer on Byron Nelson

In honor of the HP Byron Nelson Championship, I thought I would post a quick primer on Byron Nelson, one of the greatest golfers to ever walk the fairways of the PGA Tour.
Byron Nelson

In 1945, Byron Nelson won 18 of 35 PGA Tour events (and finished 2nd seven times), including an 11 tournament win-streak. It’s a record that’s as unlikely to ever be matched or beaten as anything else in sports.

And while it receives less attention, Byron Nelson’s streak of 113 “cuts made” is second only to Tiger’s 145. The difference is that in Nelson’s era only the top 20 in a tournament received a check, which the current record books define as a “cut made”. So in reality, Nelson finished in the top 20 113 times in a row. Continue reading

2011 PGA Tour winning balls

Titleist had yet another big year on Tour, including wins at the US Open (McIlroy), Tour Championship (Haas).  But while they may dwarf everybody else on tour, other brands picked up some big wins as well.  In particular I hadn’t realized that Taylormade  snagged 5 wins with the Penta this year:

1. Titleist Pro V1x – 21 wins

2. Titleist Pro v1 – 6 wins

3. Tayormade Penta – 5 wins

4. Nike One Tour D – 3 wins

5.  Callaway Tour i(z) – 2 wins

6. Srixon Z-Star XV – 2 wins

7. Bridgestone B330s – 1 win

How does your favorite golf ball stack up? Can anybody make a dent in Titleist’s numbers for 2012?

“That’s an eight-pound ham in a five-pound can”

Golf Rules Officials
Earlier this year, the NY Times has posted an interesting article on PGA Tour rules officials. It discusses some interesting aspects of a largely thankless job, including the hot button issue of slow play:

“When we’re trying to get 156 players this week, which means there is going to be 26 groups on 18 holes,” White said. “You’re going to wait. Play is going to be slow. Those are the facts. People say we aren’t doing our job?”

Cracked Mickey Bradley, who was riding in White’s cart: “Twenty-six groups on 18 holes? That’s an eight-pound ham in a five-pound can.

I guess these guys don’t ever play at public golf courses. 26 groups on 18 holes? I think I hear the worlds tiniest violin. Try 36+ groups at any public course around the country on Saturday morning and see if you still think 5+ hours for 2-3 professionals to play 18 holes is an acceptable pace of play.

Of course, tour officials do walk away with some great stories:

One rules official described an exchange several years ago between another official, since retired, who was asked by a player who had just been fined for uttering an obscenity, “Can I be fined for what I’m thinking?” The official said no. The player quickly replied, “Good, then I think you are a no-good” and he finished his sentence with an obscenity. He was fined again.

Derek Franks is a guest blogger at the Scratch Pad. For more posts visit his blog 72strokes.com.

Why was Ian Poulter in such a hurry?

In a tournament earlier this year, Ian Poulter sprinted from the 17th tee all the way to the green, putted out, and then teed off on 18 while his playing partner Dustin Johnson was still on the green and Phil Mickelson’s group was just walking off the 18th tee.

Why the rush?

By putting a ball in play on the 18th, Poulter and Johnson were able to finish their round even though the horn sounded to end play. If the horn had sounded while they were still playing the 17th, they would have had to show up for a 7:30ish tee time this morning, play one hole, and then hang around for a few hours to start their 4th round.

I think DJ owes Poulter a drink for getting him a few extra hours of sleep this morning.

Derek is a guest blogger on the Scratch Pad. To view more of his daily posts, visit 72strokes.com

North Korea has its first ever golf tournament

This April North Korea held it’s first ever amateur golf tournament (for foreigners only). The organizers were swamped with applications from Korea, Japan, and the US. Over 200 golfers applied for 30 spots in the tournament.

The tournament was be held at the Pyongyang Golf Complex (18-hole par 72), the only course in the country open to North Koreans. British businessman Richard Shears was one of the players. He writes about his experience:

When the day came for the golf tournament, fortified by a breakfast of pickled cabbage and sauteed pork, we set out in groups for the first tee. There, we were amazed to find we’d been provided with a number of attractive young Korean women dressed in formal blue and white uniforms who would serve as our caddies.

The fairways were like light rough and extremely narrow. By the end of the day, I had been left way down the field – in spite of the attempts by my caddy, Miss Nim, to suggest in her very limited English what club I should use on each hole.
And as I missed each easy putt, she smiled sweetly and clapped politely.

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How many states have you played golf in?

We’re glad to welcome a new guest blogger at the Scratch Pad! 72strokes.com is a golf blog run by Derek Franks, where he shares thoughts on golf happenings, equipment, and the tour. We’re glad to have him with us, and will be sharing some of his best posts with you. To date we’ve written a lot about golf around the world – what about right here at home?

US Map

This past December, Michigan resident Ed Ronco completed the 50-state checklist by playing a round at the Royal Kaanapali in Maui. He came up with the idea 7 years ago after realizing that he had already played in 23 states.

Through the use of creative routing of family vacations and several golf-specific trips, Ronco was able to bag every state. Alaska and Hawaii were two of the tougher states to cross of the list, mostly due to the travel/cost involved.
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