by Dan O’Neill

In 1997, on a crisp November morning in New York’s Central Park, golf enthusiast and former President George H.W. Bush christened a new initiative in golf: The First Tee program.

“I believe it will expand interest in the game,” said honorary chairman Bush, the 41st president, who stood alongside eight-time major champion Tom Watson and PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem that day. 



One in a weekly series of stories about golf gear to run each Wednesday.

By Gary Van Sickle 

The magic ingredients arrive in film canisters, prescription bottles, Ziploc bags, Altoids tins or commando, as I’ll call it, poured straight into the envelope.

What magic ingredients?



Fitness + technology = distance

I remember purchasing a TaylorMade metal driver around 1990. What I discovered, without simulators and launch monitors, was that I suddenly could reach par 5s in two shots. Combining technology advances in clubs and balls has accounted for massive gains in distance since that time.


Accepted: By Shubhankar Sharma, an invitation to play in the Masters, according to Augusta (Ga.) National Golf Club, site of the April 5-8 event. Sharma, 21, has won twice in the past four months on the European Tour: Joburg Open in December and the Maybank Championship in February. He recently tied for ninth in the WGC Mexico Championship after having held the 54-hole lead. Sharma has risen to No. 66 in the Official World Golf Ranking. The Masters will be Sharma’s first major championship.



Number of major championships won among the three players in the 12:46 p.m. pairing off the No. 1 tee Thursday in the first round of the PGA Tour’s Valspar Championship at Innisbrook Resort’s Copperhead Course in Palm Harbor, Fla.: Henrik Stenson (1), Jordan Spieth (3) and Tiger Woods (14). It will be Woods’ third start in the past four weeks as he gears up for the Masters on April 5-8 (tee times). 



The Grill Room Golf Show powered by Vertical Groove Golf

Phil Mickelson won last week in Mexico and, having ended a 4½-year winless stretch, is back in the conversation for the upcoming Masters. Bob Bubka and Jay Randolph Jr. discuss the development. Hot topic: How far is too far in golf, and should the ball be limited? Alex Miceli offers his opinion, and Bubka and Randolph discuss the issue. In the Groove Up! feature, Vertical Groove Golf scores two more top-5 finishes. Also, The Grill Room previews this week’s Valspar Championship.


GolfTec launched its annual March Major Sale this week at the company’s U.S. and Canadian locations, with special rates on its game-improvement programs. ThroughMarch 31, GolfTec is offering a 20-percent discount on swing evaluations, game plans, lesson packs and club fitting.


Tagmarshal reports that Westchester Country Club in Rye, N.Y., is experiencing faster play through the company’s geo-tagging and pace algorithms. Tagmarshal uses small tags clipped onto golf bags or installed on carts to transmit geo-location data.


The Makers Trail 19th Hole will offer fans an elevated view of the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship on May 24-27 at Harbor Shores in Benton Harbor, Mich. Located between the 16th and 17th holes, the platform will highlight wineries, breweries and spirits from southwest Michigan.


Chase54, a golf and lifestyle apparel brand, provided apparel to participants in the recent Warburton Celebrity Golf Tournament in Palm Desert, Calif. The tournament, played at JW Marriott Desert Springs Resort and The Classic Club, raised more than $2.5 million for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.


The PGA Learning Center was honored among the top practice facilities for a 17th consecutive year by the Golf Range Association of America. PGA Learning Center, at PGA Golf Club in Port St. Lucie, Fla., was named a Top 50 Range by the GRAA.


PGA National Resort and Spa introduced two spring golf packages for the resort in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. The Champion Package starts at $399 and includes play on the Champion Course, site of the PGA Tour’s recent Honda Classic. With the Gold Golf, rates start at $319 and include play on the Palmer Course.


Silverado Resort and Spa set the dates for the Johnny Miller Golf Academy’s two-day golf schools. Rates start at $1,352 for the sessions, which are scheduled from March through November at the resort, which Miller co-owns, in Napa, Calif.


March 8-11
European Tour: Indian Open

DLF GC, New Delhi Tour: El Bosque Mexico Championship

El Bosque CC, Leon, Mexico

Ladies European Tour: Investec SA Women’s Open

Westlake GC, Cape Town, South Africa

PGA Tour: Valspar Championship

Innisbrook Resort (Copperhead), Palm Harbor, Fla.

March 9-11
Champions: Toshiba Classic

Newport Beach (Calif.) CC

Symetra Tour: SGIC Kickoff Classic

Feather Sound CC, Clearwater, Fla.

March 15-18
PGA Tour: Arnold Palmer Invitational

Bay Hill Club, Orlando, Fla.

LPGA: Bank of Hope Founders Cup

Wildfire GC, Phoenix

March 16-18
Symetra Tour: Florida’s Natural Charity Classic

CC of Winter Haven (Fla.)

Men’s amateur: Florida Azalea Amateur

Palatka (Fla.) GC

12700 Sunrise Valley Dr, Suite 300, Reston, Virginia 20191
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