by Jeff Rude

One competitor in the third annual Diamond Resorts Invitational field stands out. You can tell that by listening to LPGA player Gerina Piller. And by looking.

Piller happens to be the lone pregnant golfer among the 84 contestants in the DRI, a tournament featuring 52 celebrities from sports and entertainment, 28 PGA Tour Champions players and four LPGA regulars.

If you are wondering what it’s like playing golf five months’ pregnant with your first child, Piller playfully will tell you. And she sounds as if she wants someone to give her strokes.


A call for finesse

You are so right on, it is scary (“The death of finesse: It’s a different game,” Jan. 9).

This past year’s U.S. Open at Erin Hills was a case in point. The course is about 20 miles from my home office in Milwaukee, and I have played it a few times. Although in my mid-to-late 60s, I can still get it around. When I played it the first time, I felt that someone would bludgeon this course, and they all did.

One only hopes that the members of Shinnecock Hills will bring back shotmaking and finesse into play this June for the Open.



Number of holes that competitors in the R&A’s second annual 9 Hole Championship will be able to play at Carnoustie on Saturday, July 14, before the storied Scottish links plays host to the British Open the next week. A group of 42 men and women will compete in pairs in a Stableford format on the first four and last five holes at Carnoustie’s Championship Course. Competitors will adopt the “ready golf” standard of play.


Formed: An alliance between 59 regional golf associations and the U.S. Golf Association. The Allied Golf Associations will administer the USGA handicap and course-rating systems within defined geographic areas. They also will serve as their communities’ primary resource for USGA championship qualifiers, governance and facility support, the USGA said. 



The Grill Room Golf Show powered by Vertical Groove Golf 

Bob Bubka and Jay Randolph discuss Dustin Johnson’s victory at the recent Sentry Tournament of Champions and preview this week’s Sony Open in Hawaii. The show will include features and interviews with Pete McPartland, Sentry’s president and chief executive officer, Golf Channel announcer Mark Rolfing and Bill Rees, the general manager of Kapalua Villas Maui.


18Birdies, a golf-technology startup, has signed PGA Tour player Tony Finau to a sponsorship deal, the Oakland, Calif.-based company announced. 18Birdies claims to be the fastest-growing golf app and has attracted investors such as World Golf Hall of Fame member Ernie Els, Milwaukee Bucks coach Jason Kidd and venture capitalist Peter Gotcher.


Billy Casper Golf has been selected to manage golf operations at Castle Oaks Golf Club in Ione, Calif., the company announced. Castle Oaks, a 1994 Brad Benz design, is regarded as one of the top public-access courses in Northern California.


Operation 36 Golf will exhibit at the 65th PGA Merchandise Show on Jan. 23-26 in Orlando, Fla., the company announced. Operation 36, founded by PGA professionals Ryan Dailey and Matt Reagan in 2009, provides a platform for player-development programs. It is being used at 180-plus facilities, with more than 7,000 golfers participating.


Eye Putt Pro will exhibit at the 65th PGA Merchandise Show later this month in Orlando, Fla., the company announced. Eye Putt Pro, a training aid, will be featured at the Inventors Spotlight and in the New Product Zone at the Orange County Convention Center.


Ahead will introduce its Kate Lord women’s summer/fall line at the PGA Merchandise Show later this month in Orlando, Fla., the company announced. Ahead also will exhibit its men’s line, headwear and accessories at the Orange County Convention Center.


EGull, developer of the eGull pay app, announced an education session to be held at the PGA Merchandise Show later this month in Orlando, Fla. The one-hour session “Time is priceless: Learn how to grow the game and revenues one hole at a time,” will begin at 2 p.m. Jan. 25 at the Orange County Convention Center.


January 10-13
Women’s amateur: South Atlantic Amateur
Oceanside CC, Ormond Beach, Fla.
January 11-14
PGA Tour: Sony Open in Hawaii
Waialae CC, Honolulu
European Tour: BMW SA Open
Glendower GC, Ekurhuleni, South Africa
January 12-14
European Tour: EurAsia Cup
Glenmarie GC, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Celebrity: Diamond Resorts Invitational
Tranquilo GC at Four Seasons Resort, Orlando, Fla.
January 15-19
Women’s amateur: Ione D. Jones/Doherty Championship
Coral Ridge CC, Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
January 18-20
Champions: Mitsubishi Electric Championship at Hualalai
Hualalai GC, Kaupulehu, Hawaii
January 18-21
European Tour: Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship
Abu Dhabi (United Arab Emirates) GC Tour: Bahamas Great Exuma Classic
Sandals Emerald Bay (Emerald Reef), Great Exuma, Bahamas
PGA Tour: CareerBuilder Challenge
Stadium Course, La Quinta, Calif.

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