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Golf Week

Golf Life: Your favorite golf memory? This one’s a Sandy to remember

By: Ran Morrissett
(Editor’s note: While most golf courses in the United States don’t officially allow dogs, perhaps they should on occasion.)
My favorite memories on a golf course – bar none – come from evening rounds at the James River Course of the Country Club of Virginia several decades ago. Four of us – my two brothers, Dad and myself – were golfers. One – Mom – was strictly there for moral support and she was joined by another female:
Sandy, our dog.
Sandy was a mix, part collie, part something else (perhaps fox?) and weighed a little over 30 pounds. As soon as we saw her at the S.P.C.A., we snagged her. During the summer months from the late 1970s to the early 1980s, Dad would conscientiously get home for a quick dinner, and then we would all pile into his car. Sandy liked to be last so that she could then bound up and sit on someone’s lap to allow her long snout and tongue to hang out the window.
Once en route to the course, something caught her eye and she sprang out through the open window as we rounded a bend. People think chasing a white ball is insane; try jumping out of a car moving 25 mph!
We tried to be on the first tee no later than 6:15 p.m. as we knew the front nine would be empty.
Sandy would hover close by and when Dad addressed his drive, she’d get on her mark and then shoot off the moment he made impact. Dad was never fazed, and his focus always amazed us.
We never brought a leash and Sandy ran free. On the odd occasion, she might scare up a deer or two but generally she would chase squirrels and birds, alas with no success. That didn’t stop her from trying though. A few of the holes brushed up along some wetlands and sometimes she would reek to high heavens. The car ride back turned into a debate of who had to wash her.
We never had a problem with her or a complaint. The affable, long time Head Professional, Bill Smith, had no issue. This was Norman Rockwell type stuff; there was no need to alert the authorities that a father, mother and their three children and dog were out having fun.
As Sandy grew older and we took her to the vet, the doctor was always impressed by her leanness and muscle mass, especially her haunches. We attributed much of this to the miles and miles she covered on the course, likely four or five times the distance we did.
Alas, all good things come to an end and since the late 1980s, dogs are no longer allowed. Nor are they allowed on most courses in the United States. There are all kinds of reasons, some litigious, but to the surprise of no one, common sense still prevails in the United Kingdom.
On our first family trip there in 1983, we were standing high on the hill of the Turnberry Resort and looking across the rumpled links ground. We saw a few dog walkers, which prompted Mom to remark, ‘Wouldn’t Sandy love to be here – she would have such a grand time!’ It makes me sad, in part because neither Sandy nor Mom is still with us.
At the posh Sunningdale Golf Club outside London, the sight of a dog loosely tethered to a pull cart is a frequent one. One of the great moments in the game comes when you reach the halfway house behind the 10th green on the Old and New Course and near the 10th green on the New. Various golfers and their dogs convene for yummy sausage rolls with brown sauce while the dogs lap up water from the provided bowls.
The sense of camaraderie is palpable – and isn’t that what every golf club yearns for?
In 1990 we pulled in to Royal West Norfolk Golf Club and saw a dog waiting for his owner to assemble his trolley and then off they went for a quiet 2 ½-hour walk over those ancient links. Why would a club come between a golfer and his best friend? In the United Kingdom, the answer is that clubs largely don’t. It’s called civilization. If you need a lot of rules for your members, you either have too many members or the wrong ones. The Brits have it right.
Today, I live in North Carolina and on occasion, my wife and our two dogs accompany me for an evening four to six holes at Southern Pines Golf Club. I am appreciative that I belong to a place that likes to see its members enjoying the facilities. Sandy would like it too.
(Morrissett is a Golfweek contributor who works with our team of course raters. He’s also the editor of GolfClubAtlas.com.) Gwk
Originally published by Golf Week

Golf Digest

Fix Your Grip By the Weekend

By Matthew Rudy
Fundamentals are called fundamentals because if you get them wrong you’ll have a hard time hitting good shots.
The grip might be the most basic fundamental–it’s the only link between you and the club–but it’s the one thing many players get totally wrong.
There are plenty of elaborate descriptions about how to put your hands on the club, but top New York teacher Michael Jacobs uses a simple comparison familiar to almost everybody to get his students doing it right.
“Stick out your left hand and hold the club like you would a heavy suitcase,” says Jacobs, whose new book, Elements of the Swing, was released last week. “If you picked up a suitcase, you wouldn’t take the handle diagonally across your palm. You’d let it rest in the creases of your fingers where they attach to your palm.”
Next, add your right hand to the grip slightly palm up, running the handle along the top crease in your palm and curling your fingers around the underside. You can rest the little finger of your right hand either on the left forefinger or in the channel between the forefinger and middle finger, or interlock the little finger and forefinger together, Jacobs says. Using a ten-finger grip, with all ten fingers on the handle, isn’t as common, but that works just fine as well.
“Not every ‘classic’ golf tip you hear is necessarily still relevant now, but this one is still true–there’s no reason not to have a great grip,” says Jacobs, who is based at Rock Hill Country Club in Long Island. “If you start with a bad one, you’re going to have to make compensations in your swing from the beginning. You want to be able to transmit the force you create with your body as efficiently as possible to the clubhead, and a good grip is an important part of that.”
Originally published by Golf Digest

Golf.com

Dave Pelz’s 10 truths about putting

DAVE PELZ Thursday, July 12, 2018
I could talk for weeks about my 50-year infatuation with all things putting. But I figured I’d just give you the CliffsNotes instead.
1. Putting is important.
Regardless of skill level, putting accounts for approximately 43 percent of your total strokes, taking into account your good putting days and the ones where you’re ready to snap your flatstick over your knee. Lower this percentage and your scores will go down. Allocate at least one-third of your practice time to becoming the best putter you can be.
2. Aim is critical.
You can’t dominate with your putter if you don’t know how to aim it correctly, or how much break to play. Nail these fundamentals first.
3. Keep your stroke “on-line” through the impact zone.
If you hook or cut-spin your putts, your chance of success goes down. If your putts roll off the face in the same direction your putter is heading immediately after impact, that’s good. If your putter moves one way and the ball another, you’ve got problems.
Dave Pelz wants to share his putting truths.
4. Face angle is even more important than stroke path.
And not insignificantly — it’s six times more important. Even if your path is good, unduly opening or closing the face at impact spells doom.
5. You’re only as skilled as your impact pattern.
Catching putts across the face produces varying ball speeds. Find one impact point. My recommendation: the sweet spot.
6. Putts left short never go in.
When you miss, your putts should end up 17 inches past the hole. If you roll them faster, you’ll suffer more lip-outs. Roll them slower and the ball will be knocked off line by imperfections (footprints, pitch marks, etc.) in the green.
7. Proper putt speed comes from proper rhythm.
At our schools, we incorporate rhythm into pre-putt rituals, then carry that same rhythm through the stroke. Rhythm is the harbinger of consistency. You’ve got to find your own, and groove it.
8. Putting is a learned skill.
Having the “touch” in your mind’s eye to know how firmly to stroke a putt (so its speed matches the break), and then also having the “feel” in your body to execute that touch is gained only through experience and solid practice. See No. 1.
9. Be patient.
Sometimes poorly-struck putts go in and well-struck putts miss. Sometimes badly-read greens compensate for poorly struck putts. Results can confuse golfers when they don’t understand the true fundamentals of putting. Having the patience to learn to be a good putter is an incredible virtue for a golfer.
10. Putting is like life.
You don’t have to be perfect, but you can’t do any of the important things badly. My advice? Believe in yourself. Becoming a great putter isn’t easy, but it’s possible (Phil Mickelson, at age 48, is enjoying the finest putting season in his career). Maintain a good, hardworking attitude as you work through items 1 through 9. I’ve seen success stories happen thousands of times. Everyone is capable of improving.
Originally published by Golf.com

Golf Digest

5 approach shots every golfer needs to master

By Michael Breed
Good golf is about playing as many par 3s as you can. What does that mean? In addition to the actual par 3s on the course, your goal should be to have a reasonable “par 3” to the green after your tee shot on par 4s (or second shot on par 5s). If you drive it in the water or out-of-bounds, you don’t get to play a par 3. But from 150 in the fairway, you should be thinking, I can make 3 from here. — With Peter Morrice
Driving is the first step in the process, but given at least a decent drive—assuming you’re playing the right set of tees—it’s really more about what you do next. Think about it: What’s the most important shot on a par 3? It’s the shot to the green—the approach shot—because that’s what determines if you’ll be scoring or scrambling.
Let’s look at five common situations you face after your tee shot. I’ll give you some playing tips and the swing keys for each one. Use my par-3 strategy, and you’ll play every hole better.
1) IN THE FAIRWAY FOCUS ON TEMPO AND SOLID CONTACT
If you don’t hit a lot of fairways, you probably feel oddly anxious when you do find one. First, don’t rush up to your ball and then have to wait. Stroll the last 50 yards or so. Hogan used to prepare for his rounds by driving to the course at half speed. Point is, let your mind and body slow down. Next, a good word to focus on is “complete.” Think about completing the backswing and getting to a full finish. That means turning your body back and through (top), letting the swing take some time. Nerves usually speed things up, with the hands and arms taking over. Smooth tempo and a full motion will help you hit the ball flush—and follow up that piped drive.
2) FROM THE ROUGH PREDICT THE QUALITY OF THE STRIKE
Shots in the rough test judgement as much as skill. Some lies allow any shot; others require caution. Here’s a system I use to read them: Imagine there’s a sock stretched over your club-head, and the thickness of the sock determines how crisply you strike the ball. A buried lie, where you get a lot of grass interference, is like hitting with a thick sock—a dead thud. Maybe you have to just pitch that one out. A medium lie is like a thin sock, so you might be able to play to the green. For most rough lies, you need a steeper angle of attack. Play the ball back and hinge your wrists sooner in the backswing (right). Also, open the clubface a little to help it slide through the grass. Don’t lift the ball out. Elevate the clubhead on the backswing, not on the through-swing.
“TO ESCAPE ROUGH, HINGE THE CLUB UP FOR A STEEPER ATTACK.”
3) FAIRWAY BUNKER SWING MORE WITH YOUR ARMS
The No. 1 key to playing out of fairway bunkers is hitting the ball first. Let’s assume you can easily clear the lip in front of you. Some of the swing keys from the rough work here, too, because you want to make a little steeper downswing. Positioning the ball slightly back from normal, opening the clubface, and hinging your wrists early are good points, but the shifty sand underfoot requires a couple more. Add flex in your lead knee—that will keep your weight forward and promote ball-first contact. Also, grip down on the club for control. Overall, think of the swing as more hands and arms and less body turn (left). Because you’re taking power out of the swing, it’s a good idea to use one more club, as long as the lip isn’t an issue.
SAFETY FIRST: NEVER RUN A RED LIGHT
One way to look at approach shots is to use a traffic-light analogy: red, yellow and green. Green means take dead aim. You like the lie, the distance, the shot. Red is a no-go situation usually requiring a punch-out or lay-up. Yellow is a judgment call, and these can turn to green when you’re feeling good or need to play aggressively—like when you’re down late in a match. But reds should never turn green, and this is where a lot of amateurs get into trouble. So hope for green lights, be cautious on yellows, and hit the brakes on the reds.
4) DOWNHILL LIE TILT YOUR BODY WITH THE SLOPE
Of all the uneven lies you get, downhillers are the toughest. The reason is, you feel like you really have to help the ball into the air—and that’s a killer. The first step is to widen your stance and flare your lead foot for balance. Then, grip down on the club to counteract the lowering action of getting into a wide stance. The big key is tilting your hips and shoulders more with the slope (left). You’ll never get them to match the angle of the hill, but that’s the feeling. A little more flex in your lead knee will help level your hips to the slope. What you shouldn’t do is play the ball back in your stance, like a lot of people think. That only makes you hit the ball lower—on a shot that’s already going to fly low. Instead, position the ball up in your stance and open the clubface to boost trajectory.
“GOING DOWNHILL, PLAY THE BALL FORWARD TO HIT IT HIGHER.”
5) FROM TROUBLE PLAN FOR THE NEXT SHOT
OK, this last one isn’t an approach shot, but I bring it up because many golfers try to turn it into one. When you hit a drive off the grid, have the discipline to just get back in play. Grab a wedge, and make a simple up-and-down swing. Three factors to consider: (1) You want a level lie in the fairway for your next shot. (2) Give yourself room for error on the recovery—don’t hit it into trouble on the other side. (3) If possible, play to a yardage you like. You probably want a full swing with one of your wedges, not something in between. As with all these shots, be smart and keep the technique simple.
MICHAEL BREED runs his golf academy at Trump Golf Links at Ferry Point, New York City.
Originally published by Golf Digest

Golf.com

Five of the most unusual golf course settings in the world

By Evan Rothman
Uummannaq
Greenland
It’s not pronounced “you maniac,” but maybe it should be. Nor is Uummannaq, a small island in Greenland, a traditional golf course; a “greens committee” would be oxymoronic, given there’s no grass, simply ice and snow, and you roll the rock on “whites” (yeah, that’s what they call the greens).
Royal Thimpu Golf Club
Thimpu, Bhutan
Talk about rare air. Overlooking the Tashichho Dzong Buddhist monastery and fortress, Royal Thimpu GC rests more than 7,700 feet above sea level and is believed to be the highest course in the world. Cows and dogs are not uncommon sights on the fairways and greens of this remarkably scenic nine-hole par-35.
Brickyard Crossing
Indianapolis, Ind.
Winning the Indy 500 at the “the Brickyard” (aka the Indianapolis Motor Speedway) is straightforward—go fast and make a lot of left turns. Navigating this Pete Dye layout, which features four holes inside the famous racing oval, offers somewhat more complex fare—and many thrills of its own.
Ile Aux Cerfs Golf Club
Mauritius
Island greens? Meh. An island course? That’s rare. Ile Aux Cerfs GC isn’t a course on an island—it essentially is the island. Reached by boat and composed of 18 holes of Bernhard Langer–designed golf, it sits in the largest lagoon off the island-nation of Mauritius.
Merapi Golf Course
Yogyakarta, Indonesia
If golf next to an active volcano brings to mind a pairing with Pat Perez after he three-putts, you haven’t seen Merapi GC throw a fit. The course is nestled in the shadow of Mt. Merapi, and when that last erupted, in 2013, dust and ash rocketed nearly a mile skyward. When these contents returned to terra firma, they blanketed the adjacent countryside, including the course. Lift, clean and place—or, better yet, just run for it.
Originally published by Golf.com

Pull yourself out of that rut and hole more putts By Cameron McCormick Was your performance in 2016 slightly less than satisfying? I know it’s not enough to hear it happens to everyone from time to time. You want to shake off the year of stubs, lip-outs and three-jacks before golf season rolls back around and you’re racking up missed putts again like a kid catching Pokémon. Well, if you really want to fix this flat-stick fiasco, you’re going to need a bit more than a 30-minute session rolling balls into those tiny golf cups. I recommend a full reboot. Here I’m going to give you four ways to pull yourself out of that putting rut. Sometimes only one of these will do the trick, but be prepared for the reality that you might need all four. Best get started. —With Ron Kaspriske1.) BENCH YOUR PUTTERIf you’re the kind of golfer who talks to a putter, gives it a good spanking when it isn’t performing, and even threatens to back the pickup truck over it in the parking lot, it’s time for the “we need to take a break from each other” conversation. Bench your putt-er for something different. Use a blade? Switch to a mallet. Always preferred heel-shafted putters? Try a centershaft. Everything from club length to grip circumference is up for consideration. Go get fitted (View: Your Ultimate Guide To Finding A Better Game). The big switch works for two reasons. First, there are no bad memories with a new putter. It’s a new day. Second, assuming the old one isn’t now residing in a scrap-metal yard, you’ll make it just jealous enough that it will perform its best when you rekindle your relationship. 2.) REALLY BENCH YOUR PUTTER“It’s not you, it’s me” won’t fly as a break-up excuse after the second Tinder date, but it’s probably true of your relationship with the putter. It showed up ready to bury every five-footer—but sometimes you didn’t. You need a refresher on mechanics. So I suggest you practice putting with your sand wedge. It’s not as crazy as it sounds. A good stroke is propelled by the shoulders and requires minimal hand or wrist action. To get the ball rolling with a wedge, you have to make that kind of stroke hitting the ball at its equator with the leading edge (above). This type of practice elicits precision and is good for the ol’ ego. You’re more apt to forgive yourself for a miss, which helps reduce those anxious feelings that turn you into a puddle of goo when the putts actually count. 3.) GRAB AND GOYou’ve held your putter the same way for so long the grip is starting to look like one of those training clubs that has grooved channels for your fingers. It’s time to switch it up, because what you’re doing, as they say here in Texas, is as pitiful as a three-legged dog. The easiest switch would be to flip hand positions so the higher one is lower. But I think you should take it a step further. Get crazy with it. Try the saw, the claw, the paintbrush, the non-anchored belly grip. Sometimes all you need is a dramatically different way of holding the club to reset your brain and start rolling the ball the way you used to. 4.) HIT SOME BOMBSOn the putting green you need to be more Picasso than Pythagoras. In other words, knowing the math behind a putt is important (speed, slope, etc.), but don’t let it squelch your right-brain artistry. You probably aren’t crunching numbers when you ball up a piece of paper and try tossing it into the garbage. You just use your feel. My suggestion? Go deep. Find the longest, craziest putts on a green and try to make them. Even putting from well off the green will help you get your feel back. You know you have to hit the ball hard, and you know it’s going to break, but when you try these long-distance putts, you become less concerned with the mechanics and tap back into the hand-eye coordination you thought you lost. Another benefit? It will free up your stroke. No more trying to steer them in. You’ll putt without fear of missing. Reboot complete. Cameron McCormick is Jordan Spieth’s instructor and teaches at Trinity Forest Golf Club in Dallas. Source: golfdigest.com

Much like he did last summer, Francesco Molinari snuck up on everybody on Sunday at Bay Hill. Trailing by five strokes entering the final round, the reigning Open Champion shot an eight-under 64 to capture the Arnold Palmer Invitational, his third career PGA Tour title, all of which have come in his last 12 starts.

Molinari, who teed off 10 groups ahead of the leaders, got off to a hot start, making three birdies and no bogeys on his first seven holes. Just as it looked like he’d cool off at the par-4 eighth, where he badly missed the green with his approach, Molinari played a deft chip that found the bottom of the cup for another birdie. He made four more on the back nine, including a 43-foot bomb at the 72nd hole that wound up ultimately giving him a two-stroke win over Matthew Fitzpatrick, who shot a final-round 71.

“I don’t know, I’m just super glad,” said a shocked Molinari, who just put new clubs in the bag this week. “First week as a Callaway player, so happy to see that the switch I made wasn’t as crazy as some people thought. The clubs are good for me and I showed it this week.

“It’s great, to do it here, to get it done here at this place knowing that my wife and the kids were watching back home, it’s just a special, special one.”

By far the best club in the bag was Molinari’s putter, which he used to hole 146 feet of putts on Sunday, the most in his career. The 36-year-old from Italy called it his “best putting round ever,” a bold statement with the way putted on Sunday at Carnoustie to win his first major. While Arnie’s event isn’t a major, it felt just as good as one for Molinari.

“Incredible, it’s high up there with the best wins I’ve had. He [Arnold Palmer] was a special player but most of all a special person and a global icon for the game. For someone like me coming from Italy, he and Jack [Nicklaus] were up there as gods, so to win here is truly special.”

Fitzpatrick wasn’t able to close out his first PGA Tour victory, but he did finish alone in second. Sungjae Im, Tommy Fleetwood and Rafa Cabrera Bello tied for third. As for Rory McIlroy, it was another final-round dud. The Northern Irishman shot an even-par 72 to finish in a tied for sixth.

Source: golfdigest.com

An Update From Tri Cities Golf Club:

Tri Cities Golf Club is excited to announce Eddie Brown as our new General Manager/PGA Head Golf Professional!

Eddie has over thirty years of experience in the golf industry. He earned his PGA Membership in 1993 and became Head Professional at several different courses in the Myrtle Beach area that his management company had acquired. He joined the Golf Academy of America in Myrtle Beach as an instructor in 2005 where he was the Associate Director and Lead Instructor for all golf operations academic classes. He comes to us with a wealth of knowledge and experience in all areas of golf operations and we know he will be an asset to our team.  We are excited about the 2019 season and we encourage everyone to come out to the course, introduce yourself, and get to know Eddie!