10 things you should know heading into the heart of the golf season, from the biggest events, to Jordan Spieth's future, to that age-old question: Why do golf balls have dimples?
Q: I pay some attention to golf but I’m not a hard-core fan. Tell me things I should be aware of as we head into the meat of the golf season.
A: OK, here you go.
1) Golf will be an Olympic sport this August for men and women for the first time in more than 100 years.
2) The three remaining men’s majors this year will be played on pedigreed, traditional courses: U.S. Open, June 16-19, Oakmont Country Club outside Pittsburgh; British Open, July 14-17, Royal Troon, Scotland, and PGA Championship, July 28-31 Baltrusrol Golf Club Springfield, New Jersey.
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3) The PGA Championship has been moved up from August to late July because of the Olympics. Expect to hear complaints about majors being clustered too close together.
4) The KPMG Women’s PGA Championship at Sahalee Country Club June 9-12 is going to be a big deal. It is one of five LPGA majors and last year 99 of the top 100 women in the world were among the 156 competitors. It probably will have a stronger field than the U.S. Women’s Open because the Open, as part of its mission, reserves berths for amateurs.
5) This is a Ryder Cup year, with competition scheduled Sept. 30-Oct. 2 at Hazeltine Golf Club outside Minneapolis. Europe has won the past three Ryder Cups and six of the past seven. Davis Love III is the U.S. captain and there is urgency for a U.S. victory.
6) Anything Tiger Woods, 40, does will be news. His body is in a pattern of heal-and-break down, heal-and-break down. He skipped The Masters and it will be a surprise if he wins another PGA Tour event. One reason is that there are so many good young players in every field. They can thank Tiger for making the sport so attractive and lucrative.
7) Will Jordan Spieth recover from blowing a five-stroke lead at the Masters last week?
One reason to root for Spieth is his caddie — former Pierce County science and math teacher Michael Greller. The Spieth-Greller duo appear to be as much a team as any player-caddie duo on the tour. Greller was honored as caddie of the year in 2015.
8) John Daly turns 50 later this month and will be eligible to play on the Champions Tour, including The Boeing Classic Aug 26-28 at TPC Snoqualmie Ridge. Long-hitter Daly, who won two majors, is unpredictable on and off the course and is one of the sport’s true characters.
Rick Reilly once wrote: “Daly is so human it hurts. There is nothing that doesn’t happen to him, no weakness he doesn’t have, no demon he doesn’t duel every day. No athlete comes today with higher highs and lower lows than John Daly. If Psychology Today ever runs a centerfold, he’d be it.”
9) The campaign to attract more people to golf with the “Just Play Nine” campaign continues. Common complaints about golf are that it takes too long and is too expensive. Playing nine holes obviously reduces time and cost.
10) The United States Golf Association’s ban on “anchored putting” went into effect in January. You can still use a “broomstick putter” or a “belly putter” but no longer can it be anchored against the torso. Victories in majors by golfers with anchored putters were Keegan Bradley, 2011 PGA Championship, Webb Simpson, 2012 U.S. Open and Ernie Els, 2012, British Open.
Bernhard Langer, who in 2010 won the U.S. Senior Open at Sahalee and Boeing Classic at TPC Snoqualmie Ridge with an anchored broomstick putter, was expected to be a golfer who would struggle with the new rule. However, he won a Champions Tour event earlier this year putting in the no-anchoring style and at age 58 was in the hunt at the Masters for three rounds.
Q: In 2011, Sunset Hills Memorial Park in Bellevue announced it was going to open Golf Memorial Park where golfers could be buried or have their ashes interred. How many golfers are at rest there?
A: I counted 12 on a recent visit. The golf section of the large cemetery includes a nicely maintained green complete with flagstick and a large sand bunker. I had never broken into the smile at a cemetery until I visited the Golf Memorial Park section of this large cemetery east of I-405.
The inspiration for the golf section of the cemetery occurred when a Sunset Hills manager saw people spreading a loved one’s ashes on a golf course.
Q: What shot do you most want to watch at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship at Sahalee Country Club June 9-12?
A: The downhill tee shot on the par-3 17th hole. This hole has water, sand and history. It was here in the 1998 PGA Championship that Vijay Singh made par from the left bunker and Steve Stricker bogeyed from the same bunker to give Singh a 2-stroke lead on the way to victory.
Another favorite Sahalee shot is the tee shot on the par-3 fifth hole where not only is there water and sand but more exposure to wind.
Q: What is the future for Wayne Golf Course in Bothell?
A: Wayne appears safe for three years. The conservation group Forterra (formerly Cascade Land Conservancy) rescued the back nine from development and has agreed to purchase the front nine from its private owners.
The City of Bothell, King County and the group OneBothell have three years to purchase the property on the front and back nines from Forterra for a cost that probably will run more than $11 million. Bothell soon will begin soliciting public suggestions on what should be done with the Wayne property.
Keeping it as a golf course will be one option but the availability of open-space and park grants to pay for the property is sure to be a factor in the decision. The Sammamish River runs through the course.
Q: Can I change golf balls during a hole?
A: Only in certain situations can you change balls.
In general you are expected to play out the hole with the ball you hit from the tee. This means that you can’t play an old ball over a water hazard and then switch to your putting ball when you get to the green. Also, when you take free relief from cart paths or ground under repair, you can’t change balls as long as the original ball can be easily retrieved.
The most obvious times you can use another ball are if you lose your ball or it is out of bounds. Another situation is if the ball is in a water hazard or you decide it is unplayable. In those two situations, even if you find and can retrieve your ball you can use another ball. A third situation is if you notice that the ball is damaged. In that situation, you are obligated to show your opponent that the ball is damaged before you change it.
Between the play of two holes, you can always change balls. It is good etiquette to tell your opponent whenever you change balls.
Q: Why do golf balls have dimples?
A: Because the dimples decrease the drag on the golf ball as it flies and also increase the lift. I’ve read that a ball with dimples goes at least twice as far as a ball without dimples would go.
The Web site Today I Found Out explained, “In simple terms, the dimples more or less scoop the air and direct it inwards towards the back of the golf ball. This effectively increases the net air pressure in the back of the ball, which reduces the drag.”
Q: What are some things I might not be aware of?
A: Here are a few.
• There are devices called Swingbyte and now Swingbyte 2 that weigh less than an ounce, attach to any club shaft, and provide digitized feedback through a tablet or smartphone about things such as swing path and club speed.
• If arrangements are made before time, a public-course player often can play a private course by paying a greens fee. Your options are likely to be to play at an off-peak time on an off-peak day. Make the arrangement by speaking to the head pro of the club you want to play. What prompted this item was seeing how often Royal Oaks Country Club of Vancouver shows up on top 10 lists for Washington. A call to Royal Oaks confirmed that such arrangements can be made. Reminder; You must conform to any club’s dress code or a private course will politely say “sorry” and send you on your way.
• Some public courses are offering the new sport of FootGolf, which is playing golf by kicking a soccer ball into an oversized hole. The sport fits well on par-3 courses and “the green” is a hole cut in fairway grass.