Golf has a history with dogs that dates to the origins of the game in Scotland. In the United States, we’ve been a little slower to adapt dogs into our golf culture, at least as we play the game. Superintendents and golf professionals, though, have realized that work can be so much more enjoyable with a friendly pup in tow. We couldn’t agree more.
These are a selection of our favorite golf dogs we’ve encountered over the past couple months. And in honor of National Make a Dog’s Day, thanks to the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America for the help, we bring you some of the best furry friends we’ve come across.
20 years after golfer Payne Stewart’s tragic death, son Aaron carries his legacy
Aaron Stewart spent his summers on the road as a PGA Tour kid. The behind-the-scenes visits at the Columbus Zoo during the Memorial Tournament stand out among his favorite memories as well as the “music man” under the big tree on Hilton Head Island.
He grew up on tournament golf.
It’s not surprising that Stewart would want to follow in the footsteps of his father, Payne, a three-time major winner and sporting icon. A humble Aaron calls it more of a blessing than an expectation that he’s now back in golf. The former SMU player (just like dad) was recently named vice president of sports marketing for Diamond Resorts and executive director of the LPGA’s Diamond Resorts Tournament of Champions.
Oct. 25 marks the 20th anniversary of the day Payne’s tragic death played out on television screens across the country. Four months after Payne won the U.S. Open at Pinehurst, a private Learjet carrying the golfer and five others crashed near Aberdeen, South Dakota, after flying on autopilot for several hours.
“The fact that this is 20 years is pretty crazy to me,” said Aaron. “To think that amount of time has gone by.”
Aaron said he recently did an interview for PGA Tour radio with his sister Chelsea, who works for AT&T, and they talked about how their dad would’ve gotten along in today’s PC society. Imagine trying to control him on Twitter, Chelsea said.
“It never came from a mean-spirited place,” said Aaron of his father’s jokes. “Everybody knew that’s Payne having a good time. He was able to get away with it.”
Aaron, 30, looks a lot like Payne. People tell him that all the time. They also tell stories, and Aaron never tires of hearing them. The Stewart family still keeps in touch with many of the PGA Tour families Aaron and Chelsea grew up with.
After completing the program, Stewart landed a job that had over 400 employees reporting to him.
“He was special,” said Flaskey of Stewart taking on such a hefty role at a young age.He grew up on tournament golf.
After several years as National OPC Program Manager and Regional Marketing Director, Stewart and his wife, Naiara, took a break from work to travel the world, an adventure that had long been in the making.
They visited 40 countries that year, spending the most time visiting family from their mom, Tracey’s, native Australia.
One of the reasons Flaskey created the Diamond Resorts TOC was to focus on a younger demographic. Millennials account for 12 percent of Diamond’s total membership.
“We know millennials want to travel,” said Flaskey. “They want to get out there and go.”
When Aaron and his wife returned to the U.S., they decided to move back to Orlando, Florida. He returned to the company in March as Director of National Partnerships.
The 2020 Diamond Resorts TOC takes place Jan. 16-19 on Tranquilo Golf Course at Four Seasons Golf and Sports Club Orlando. Winners from the last two seasons are invited to play alongside sports stars and celebrities. Eun-Hee Ji won the 2019 edition along with former Atlanta Braves pitcher John Smoltz.
The tournament, which averaged 15,000 fans over the weekend in its debut, aims to be the biggest party on tour. To that end, there will be three concerts in 2020. While LPGA pros compete for $1.2 million over 72 holes, the celebrities vie for their own $500,000 purse using a modified Stableford format. The event has raised $3.5 million for children’s healthcare.
With the LPGA adding a second stop in south Florida after the TOC – the Gainbridge LPGA at Boca Rio – the field at Tranquilo might be stronger in 2020. Michelle Wie’s victory at the 2018 HSBC Women’s World Championship makes her eligible for the season-opener should be healthy enough to compete.
Part of what attracted Flaskey to bring back a TOC format to the LPGA was the fact that it’s an earned event. In Stewart, he has found a man who is uniquely qualified to lead it.
“We just think that growing up in a lifetime of golf brings credibility to our event,” said Flaskey of Payne’s only son. “It helps us really take it to the next level.”
Golf For Beginners: So You Want To Play Golf
We get it. Golf can seem terribly complicated to the uninitiated. So many rules, so many different kinds of clubs.
That’s where this online beginner’s guide comes in. To those who know nothing about golf, our goal is to shepherd you through this uncertainty. What kind of clubs do you need? How do you practice? When do you know that you’re ready for the golf course? The way we see it, the only dumb questions about getting started in golf are the ones you’re afraid to ask, or worse, the ones for which you can’t find an answer.
No doubt, the right equipment always helps, but it’s not as if you’ll need to empty your savings account to get started. Instead, focus on finding the sort of equipment that will allow you to develop your imperfect skills with minimal expense. There’ll be plenty of time to go after the latest, hot products on the market (and when you do, make sure you start your search with one of our top 100 clubfitters, but at the beginning, make learning — and not buying — your priority.
1. You only need a few clubs: You’re allowed to carry as many as 14 clubs in your bag, but you won’t need nearly that many when you’re first learning. Instead, start with a driver, a putter, a sand wedge (it’s the club that has an “S” on the sole or a loft of 54 to 56 degrees) and supplement those with a 6-iron, an 8-iron, a pitching wedge, and a fairway wood or hybrid with 18-21 degrees of loft. These are the clubs that are the most forgiving and easiest to get airborne. You can find used and new titanium drivers for as little as $75 and putters for much less than online, but most larger golf and general sporting goods stoes also offer racks of discounted and/or used clubs.
2. Don’t guess — try before you buy: If you’re an absolute beginner looking to buy clubs, go to a larger golf shop or driving range and ask to try a 6-iron with a regular-flex and a stiff-flex shaft. (Generally, the faster and more aggressive the swing, the more you will prefer a shaft that is labeled “S” for stiff.) One of the two should feel easier to control. That’s the shaft flex you should start with for all your clubs. Once you get serious about the game and are able to make consistent contact, a clubfitting will enable you to get the most out of your equipment.
3. The more loft, the better: Unless you’re a strong and well-coordinated athlete experienced with stick and ball sports (baseball, softball, hockey, tennis, for example), opt for woods that have more loft. Why? The extra loft generally means it will be easier to get the ball in the air and also can reduce sidespin so shots fly straighter. So go for drivers with at least 10 degrees of loft and fairway woods that start at 17 degrees, not 15 degrees.
4. Take advantage of clubs made for beginners: Some types of clubs are easier to hit than others. For one thing, you’re better off with hybrids instead of 3-, 4-, and 5-irons. And irons with wider soles (the bottom part of an iron) will alleviate the tendency for the club to stick in the ground when you hit too far behind the ball. Also, with more weight concentrated in the sole, the iron’s center of gravity will be lower and this will help shots launch on a higher trajectory. Generally, a more forgiving iron will feature a sole that measures about the width of two fingers (from front edge to back). If an iron’s sole measures less than one finger width, you only should be playing it if you’re paid to do so.
5. Choose the right ball: Buy balls on a sliding scale based on how many you lose in a round. If you’ve never played before or lose two sleeves or more a round, buy balls that cost around $20 a dozen (if you can’t decide between one brand over another, try putting a few to see how they feel coming off the putter face). When you cut the number of lost balls back to maybe three to five balls a round, buy balls that cost less than $30 a dozen. Only if you’re losing less than a sleeve a round should you consider the $40 a dozen balls.
SOURCE: Golf Digest