Saturday, September 20, 2014

Would You Pay to Play One of America's 10 Most-Expensive Golf Courses?

How much are you willing to pay to play golf? What's the highest green fee you've ever paid for a round of golf?

The most-expensive green fee I've ever paid is $120, although the most I've ever paid for golf is $480. I'll explain the apparent contradiction in a minute. First, here's a list of the 10 highest green fees in the United States.

10 Most-Expensive Green Fees at USA Golf Courses

1. Shadow Creek, Las Vegas, $500
2. Pebble Beach, California, $495
3. Pinehurst No. 2, North Carolina, $450
4. Whistling Straits (Straits course), Wisconsin, $430 ($370 green fee plus mandatory $60 caddie fee)
5. Greenbrier Resort (TPC Old White), West Virginia, $395 ($375 green fee plus $20 forecaddie fee)
6. Doral (Blue Monster), Florida, $390
7. Spyglass Hill, California, $385
8. French Lick (Dye Course), Indiana, $380 ($350 green fee plus $30 forecaddie)
9. TPC Sawgrass (Players course), Florida, $375
t9. Wynn Golf Club, Las Vegas, $375

This ranking, and the green fees cited, come from an article on GolfAdvisor.com. Go read it, it contains good information about the fees in question.

Note that the fee cited are peak fees. You can play these courses for less during the offseason, at twilight times, and in other circumstances when the courses are, for one reason or another, discounting fees. But at their peak fees, those are the 10 highest-priced golf courses in America.

Would you pay that much to play any of them?

Back to my opening: I once paid $480 to play golf, but the green fee was only $120. What happened is this: After 10 years I had left a job and moved from a mid-size city to a big city, one that has a PGA Tour event. The old job had provided an old-style pension (since, like most traditional pensions, eliminated). I had been there 10 years. The rule was, if you left your job before reaching a certain level of vestment in the pension, the company automatically cashed you out. So I had a lump sum cash payment coming, which I expected would be a pretty good chunk of change. Ten years, after all.

It turned out to be a whopping $480. What a disappointment. But I turned it into something good: I was now living in a city with a PGA Tour golf course, a fancy resort course. I had three golf buddies back in that smaller town who (like myself) had never played anything but municipal courses at that point. So I decided to blow that measly pension payment paying for my group of four to play a fancy, exclusive, big-city, PGA Tour golf course.

And we did. We had a good time, I was happy I did it. But the fact is, none of thought that fancy course was really worth it. We all commented that we'd have been happy just playing another, cheap municipal. It was about the camaraderie, the joy of the game and the friendships, being out in the sun and fresh air. The $120 course was nicer than we'd ever played, it was an experience, but other elements of the experience outweighed the "wow" factor of the golf course.

I've never paid more than $80 to play golf since. I just can't justify the expense. So as much as I'd love to see Pebble Beach in person, or Pinehurst No. 2, or TPC Sawgrass, I would never pay those green fees to play them. Put me on my local $24 municipal on a nice day with good friends and I'll be just fine, thank you very much.

So that's my answer to the question: No, I wouldn't pay those fees to play one of America's 10 most expensive golf courses.

Would you?

Friday, September 19, 2014

Booty Patrol: Sandra Gal

You have to love an LPGA golfer who has very long legs and occasionally wears shorts or skirts so short or tight that she later apologizes after certain prudes complain. Well, you have to, at least, if you're a fan of golf hotties. And Sandra Gal is a golf hottie.

Here's a screengrab she recently shared on Twitter:

The capture is from an appearance Gal recently made on German television, in which the host challenged her to knock vases off a shelf by chipping golf balls at them. You won't be able to understand the dialogue (unless you speak German), but who cares: watch the video for that dress, those legs and that booty.

And as long as we're on Booty Patrol with Sandra Gal, here are a couple images Gal has generously shared on Instagram:

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Driver Used By Sam Snead for 17 Years Going to Auction Block

If you have a spare $250,000 (or more) lying around, you can be the proud, new owner of a driver that was used on the PGA Tour for 17 years by Sam Snead.

Yep, back in Snead's day you didn't trade in your driver every other weekend for the newest release by your club sponsor. You found a persimmon driver you loved, you stuck with it. And Snead stuck with his baby for 17 years, from 1936 through 1953.

The auctioneers, Heritage Auctions, say that this driver was used by Snead in more than 100 victories - many, obviously not all of them, PGA Tour wins. How did Snead get the driver? He took it out of the bag of fellow pro Henry Picard.

In a letter dated Nov. 12, 1993 (and in which he repeatedly misspells Picard's name), Snead told the story of the driver:

In 1936 I was signed with Dunlop, along with Henry Pickard (sic). We were at a tournament on the practice tee when I spotted this driver in Pickard's bag. I took it out and tried it and felt it and really liked it. Pickard said I could have it because it was too big for him. Pickard said that a club maker for Wilson by the name of Gansky made it.

At that time, some of Dunlop's clubs were made by Wilson.

Pickard said that he had paid $5.25 for it. I paid him that amount and took it with me.

I proceeded to win over 100 tournaments, including two Masters, one British Open and two P.G.A. Championships with this driver. I also won many long distance driving contests with it.

A few years after buying the driver, Pickard wanted to buy it back, and I said I wouldn't sell it for a million!

Description: Made by Wilson, name of Sam Snead and Wilson on head, Plain sole plate, dark brown head with black insert, head is cracked in neck with an added screw in the neck, also has an added screw in end of shaft on bottom of head and has lead weight in back of head.

I, Sam Snead, attest that the above-written information is true and accurate.

[signed] Sam Snead.

The letter is part of the auction lot. While Snead says in the letter he wouldn't sell it for a million dollars, his heirs are certainly willing.

Why did we say it would take at least $250,000 to win the driver? Because that's the minimum opening bid. Follow the auction here.

Last year, another auction of multiple Snead memorabilia brought in more than $1 million total.

Stacy Lewis' Terrible Topped Shot at 2014 Evian

Hey, it happens even to the best of us. What happens? This happens:

Yep, that's LPGA major championship winner and No. 1-ranked Stacy Lewis hitting one of the worst shots you'll ever see a tour professional hit.

The shot happened during the 2014 Evian Championship, and during a third-round 73. Lewis' reaction says it all: Ohmigodwhatthehellhappenedthatwassoembarrassing!

But there's a bright side: We can all honestly now say that we've hit fairway woods better than Stacy Lewis.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Where's Win McMurry? Probably Somewhere in a Bikini

Where is Win McMurry? The winsome blonde broadcaster has been absent from the Golf Channel for a while now, and hasn't popped up in any other (regular) TV role as I write this in September of 2014.

But don't feel bad for Win. Judging by her Instagram account (@WinMcMurry) she's busying having a fantastic time that can be summed up in three words: beaches, bikinis, cocktails.

So what happened to Win McMurry at the Golf Channel? Why is she no longer employed there? Nobody seems to know (except those who aren't talking). I reached out to Golf Channel via email and a network spokesperson replied simply that "Win's contract was not renewed at the end of 2013." The spokesperson added that the network "wish(es) her the best in her future endeavors."

So Win was out as a full employee of the Golf Channel as of 2014 (I believe she did still appear on the network in spots afterward, probably on a per-piece basis). Is it just a coincidence that McMurry began posting bikini pics in January? Maybe not!

McMurry's Twitter account is now @WinMcMurry, but it was @WinMcMurryGC until early June of 2014. Perhaps there was still a chance, even to that late date, that McMurry and Golf Channel would work out a new deal? Who knows. It's suggestive, however, that she didn't remove the "GC" and mentions of Golf Channel from her Twitter profile until then.

And so what - aside from beaches, bikinis and cocktails - has Win been up to lately? She has been seen on television - she's filled in at least once (maybe more - I don't watch much ESPN) for Michelle Beadle as cohost of ESPN's Sports Nation.

And she's been making personal appearances, such as at the Myrtle Beach World Amateur golf tournament.

If you're like me, you miss Win McMurry at Golf Channel. She's talented, and clearly easy on the eyes. You would think that finding another job in television - and probably a prominent one - is something that Win will be able to do.

So why the delay? There are many possible explanations. But maybe she just wanted a little time away. Maybe she just wanted to spend a little time on beaches, in bikinis and sipping cocktails.

Thanks for sharing, Win. Win McMurry in a bikini is always a win-Win proposition.

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Thursday, September 4, 2014

Ben Hogan Slow-Motion Swing Videos

Want to watch Ben Hogan's swing in slow motion? Of course you do! And below we present multiple videos of Hogan's swing in slow motion.

But before we get to the slo-mo swings, let's first watching Hogan swinging in slow motion. What's the difference? In the later videos, Hogan swings at full speed and then the video is slowed down on playback. But in the first clip here, the tape is running at full speed but it is Hogan who is swinging in slow motion.

The quality of this clip is horrendous, but if you read my colleague Bogey McDuff's post entitled The Secret Society of Hogan Bootleggers, you'll know why.

This clip was taken on a home movie camera by friends of Hogan who were watching him at Seminole Golf Club in Florida, the Atlantic Ocean roaring in the background. As Bogey explained, that home movie footage was, for many years, a holy grail for golf instructors, passed around via VHS copies that got progressively lower-quality with each copying.

But finally, one of those copies popped up on the web. Here it is:

Hey, we told you the quality was terrible. But it's still amazing to watch a Hogan who was obviously advanced in years demonstrate his slow-motion practice routine.

This is an outtake from the same video, a tiny bit better quality (but still terrible), that shows a down-the-line view as Hogan swings in slow-motion:

Here are some more slow-motion videos of Ben Hogan's swing. In this one, the maker the video has taken various Hogan clips and slowed them down to highlight Hogan's transition move:

The next one has outtakes of Hogan from a 1965 Shell's Wonderful World of Golf episode. The maker of this video shows a few repetitions of Hogan's swing at full speed, and then again in slow motion. (And unfortunately, added some weirdly inappropriate rock music.)

And here's an ultra-slow-mo Hogan swing, from start to finish:

The above super slo-mo swing is taken from the following clip, in which Hogan himself talks about the golf swing:

I believe this is the same swing as the two videos above, but this video is nice and crisp, in color, and while in slow motion is at a little faster speed than the super-slo-mo one above:

Here's another super-slo-mo Hogan swing, this one filmed from behind, looking down the line:

The next video includes both regular speed and slow-mo, and Hogan's swing is seen from various angles (it includes voice-over narration):

We'll end with another one like the one we started with: In this clip, it is Hogan who is swingly slowly, rather than a full-speed swing being shown in slo-mo: