Thursday, February 23, 2017

Virginia Derby Grimes Named Captain of the 2018 USA Curtis Cup Team

(FAR HILLS, N.J.) - The USGA announced that 1998 U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur champion Virginia Derby Grimes, of Montgomery, Ala., has been named captain of the 2018 USA Curtis Cup Team. A biennial competition between top female amateur golfers from the United States and Great Britain and Ireland (GB&I), the 40th Match will be contested June 8-10 at Quaker Ridge Golf Club in Scarsdale, N.Y.

Virginia Derby Grimes
A member of the victorious 1998, 2000 and 2006 USA Curtis Cup Teams, Derby Grimes owns a 4-0-1 record in foursomes, which is tied for the second-best record in Match history. She is one of 10 women on either side to go undefeated while playing in at least four foursomes (alternate-shot) matches.

“Virginia is an incredibly accomplished and well-respected player,” said Pam Murray, chairman of the USGA Women’s Committee. “Her individual Curtis Cup record speaks for itself, and we are proud and excited to welcome her as captain of the 2018 Team.”

Derby Grimes won the 1998 U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur with a 4-and-3 victory over Robin Weiss at Champions Golf Club in Houston, Texas, and was runner-up to Corey Weworski in the 2004 championship. She was a member of Alabama’s winning team in the 1997 USGA Women’s State Team Championship and earned medalist honors in the 1995 and 1997 U.S. Women’s Amateur Championships.

“To captain the 2018 Curtis Cup Team and represent the United States and the USGA is both an honor and a privilege,” said Derby Grimes. “Having the opportunity to play on three winning Curtis Cup Teams remains one of the most gratifying accomplishments of my career. My captains – Barbara McIntire in 1998, Jane Booth in 2000 and Carol Semple Thompson in 2006 – all made lasting impressions on me, and I hope I am able to continue that tradition by sharing my perspective and passion for this game that continues to teach me so much.”

A 1987 Auburn University graduate, Derby Grimes was a member of Auburn’s women’s golf team in 1985-86 and served as the team’s coach from 1991-94. Auburn recognized Derby Grimes in 1998 by renaming its women’s golf tournament the Auburn Tiger-Derby Invitational. The tournament, which has not been played since 2008, will be restarted in 2018 as the Evans-Derby Experience to also recognize former Auburn coach Kim Evans. In 2004, Derby Grimes was inducted into Auburn’s Tiger Trail, which honors outstanding athletes, coaches and administrators.

Derby Grimes served on the USGA Women’s Committee in 2003-04 and was inducted into the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame in 2004. The Alabama native is a five-time Alabama Women’s Amateur and three-time Mississippi Women’s Amateur champion, and also won the 1987 and 1996 Women’s Southern Amateur Championships and the 1998 and 2006 South Atlantic Amateur Championships, known as the Sally.

The GB&I Team won the 2016 Curtis Cup Match at Dun Laoghaire Golf Club in Ireland, while the USA won the 2014 Match at St. Louis (Mo.) Country Club. The USA leads the overall series, 28-8-3.

The 2018 Curtis Cup will be the second USGA championship conducted at Quaker Ridge, which hosted the 1997 Walker Cup Match, won by the USA. Founded in 1915, Quaker Ridge originally featured a nine-hole course designed by John Duncan Dunn. In 1916, A.W. Tillinghast was commissioned to redesign seven holes and create 11 new holes. The course opened in its current configuration in 1918, and Robert Trent Jones (1965), Rees Jones (1993) and Gil Hanse (2009-12) have overseen modifications.

For more information about the USGA, visit usga.org.

Keswick Hall & Golf Club Earns Prestigious Forbes Five-Star Award

Venerable Virginia Resort Honored for Outstanding Experience for Third Consecutive Year

(CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va.) – Keswick Hall & Golf Club – the esteemed 600-acre boutique resort set in the scenic hunt and wine country of central Virginia – has earned the prestigious Forbes Five-Star Award in recognition of its exceptional level of luxury and service for the third year in a row.

This is the 59th annual list of Forbes Travel Guide’s Star Rating winners – the global benchmark for hotels, restaurants and spas. The publication uses a team of anonymous expert inspectors to evaluate more than 500 criteria at properties in 162 destinations across 42 countries. The scoring system weighs the quality of the facility at 25 percent and the service at 75 percent with a strong focus on graciousness, thoughtfulness and a sense of personalized service.

Keswick Hall & Golf Club is one of just 175 hotels to earn Five-Star status. Of the three Virginia properties to make the esteemed list, it is the only full-service resort. In addition to world-class accommodations, it features multiple dining options and a variety of on-site leisure activities including golf on the 18-hole, Pete Dye-designed Full Cry course.

“Being honored with the Forbes Five-Star Award for the third consecutive year indicates we are satisfying our goal to pamper our guests with a gorgeous property, world-class resort amenities and stellar customer care,” says Greg Sligh, President and Managing Director. “We endeavor to create the ultimate retreat for those seeking the ‘best of the best’ in a resort experience.”

Keswick Hall & Golf Club’s elegant 48 guestrooms and suites offer a full range of top-of-the-line amenities including premium bedding and linens, luxurious bath items, complimentary high-speed Internet access, snacks and beverages, and other in-room convenience and entertainment options. The Spa offers a full menu of soothing and relaxing treatments to enhance the experience.

Keswick Hall & Golf Club’s acclaimed Fossett’s restaurant features superb seasonal menus accented by classic cooking techniques and Southern inspiration. The dining experience is enhanced by the restaurant’s floor-to-ceiling windows providing spectacular panoramic views of the estate’s rolling landscape and beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains on the horizon. The hotel maintains its own “Chef’s Garden,” providing an ample supply of year-round produce and herbs.

The region is home to Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello, the University of Virginia and numerous outdoor pursuits, drawing history buffs, wine lovers, sports enthusiasts and nature seekers year-round. Keswick Hall & Golf Club features newly refreshed upscale accommodations, spa services, fine dining at Fossett’s, and myriad amenities. Highly decorated, it has attained Condé Nast Traveler “gold” status, and is one of Travel + Leisure’s 500 “World’s Best Hotels.”

For more information on Keswick Hall & Golf Club visit www.keswick.com or call 434.979.3440.

UCLA Bruin Golfers Have U.S. Amateur Edge at Bel-Air Country Club

The Riviera Country Club and Bel-Air Country Club Will Host, August 14-20

(LOS ANGELES) - A winding five-mile stretch along iconic Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles leads from one historic golf club to another for the 312 competitors who will tee it up in the 117th U.S. Amateur Championship this August.

And the fact that Bel-Air Country Club and The Riviera Country Club will serve as stroke-play co-hosts for the United States Golf Association’s oldest and most prestigious amateur championship is enough to get the adrenaline flowing every time the UCLA men’s golf team practices during the season.

That’s because every UCLA golfer who qualifies for the 2017 U.S. Amateur will have a wealth of course knowledge and strategic advantages over his fellow competitors.

“We play Bel-Air two to three times a week, and we probably play Riviera a couple times a month,” said Derek Freeman, in his 10th season as the Bruins golf coach. “So we know the courses extremely well ... I think any of our guys on our team will have a great opportunity (to advance) if they qualify. That knowledge would definitely be an advantage.”

That will be especially true at Bel-Air, which has been the primary home course for UCLA golf teams for more than 50 years, not surprising considering that longtime Bel-Air head professional Eddie (“Little Pro”) Merrins also was UCLA’s golf coach from 1975-88.

Designed by the renowned George C. Thomas and William P. Bell and opened in 1927, Bel-Air Country Club is a 6,729-yard, par-70 layout with world-class routing that expertly weaves through four different canyons. There are tunnels to navigate and a distinctive white swinging bridge leading from the tee box on the par-3 10th hole that traverses a huge ravine on the way to the green. Fittingly, the elevated tee on the par-5 first hole features distant views of UCLA campus buildings across Sunset Boulevard.

The course previously was the site of two other USGA championships – the 1976 U.S. Amateur and the 2004 U.S. Senior Amateur - and has been the scene of colorful history through the years. Katherine Hepburn, Alfred Hitchcock, Conrad Hilton and Ronald Reagan all had homes on the course and, according to published reports, Howard Hughes once landed his private plane on a fairway to impress Hepburn, who was taking a lesson from one of the pros. The next day, Hughes was no longer a member.

“It’s a very interesting place, because you really have to know the golf course well to score well,” Freeman said. “It’s not to say you can’t go there and play well if you’ve only played it one or two times, but it’s got so many nuances because it’s tucked up in the canyons. The poa annua greens are very difficult, too – and that’s the defense of a course that’s not overly long with today’s technology and the way these young guys play.

“The key to the course is you have to drive it in the fairway. And if you do that, you have to control your second shot and hit it on the proper part of the green ... If you find yourself in difficult situations on the golf course – the wrong part of the green, the wrong part of the fairway and you miss it in the wrong spot – it just becomes a very difficult golf course really quick.”

UCLA junior Tyler Collier, the most experienced player on his team and a two-time U.S. Amateur qualifier, is looking forward to trying to qualify again, especially because of the familiar venues. He says his Bruins teammates are excited about the opportunity, too.

“It’s a topic of discussion that comes up quite a bit just because everybody wants to make it this year; everybody wants to play Bel-Air and Riviera,” Collier said. “I believe everybody on the team will try to qualify; no reason not to.”

Everyone who qualifies will play one round of stroke play at Bel-Air and one round of stroke play at Riviera, and then the top 64 advance to match play at Riviera. Local qualifiers in Southern California will be conducted in July at courses such as Hillcrest Country Club in Los Angeles, Oakmont Country Club in Glendale, Mission Viejo Country Club in Orange County and Western Hills Country Club in Chino Hills. Players in the top 50 of the World Amateur Golf Ranking are automatically exempt.

“For anyone on our team who makes it, it’d be a huge advantage, because we get to play Bel-Air a few times a week when we’re home (during the season),” Collier said. “We know the course better than anyone else who’s going to be playing in the championship. We know all the hole locations and all the breaks in the greens, so that would be an advantage for us. Course knowledge off the tee and around the greens is very important at Bel-Air.”

Another advantage for UCLA qualifiers, depending on tee times assigned, is knowing how to play the course under different conditions.

“In my opinion, the draw for the U.S. Amateur is going to be really critical for success,” Freeman said. “When you play Bel-Air in the morning, as opposed to the afternoon, there’s a big difference. In the morning, when it’s cooler, it plays longer and more difficult. In the afternoon it gets much warmer and the ball goes a lot farther, so the course plays much shorter. And so I think there’s an inherent advantage if you get a late tee time at Bel-Air in the afternoon.”

Collier echoed his coach’s sentiments.

“We usually play (practice rounds) at Bel-Air at 7 a.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays, when the course plays longer and softer than it does at 1 p.m.” he said. “So if you play a practice round early (in the U.S. Amateur) and then get a late tee time, you’re going to be playing two completely different golf courses.”

The course record at Bel-Air is 61 by USC’s Tom Glissmeyer during a 2008 team qualifying event. Former Lakers star Jerry West still holds the back-nine record of 28 while shooting a round of 63 in 1970. Collier, whose career-low at Bel-Air is 64, says the toughest holes on the course are the 200-yard par-3 10th, which can play as much as 30 more yards uphill; the 442-yard No. 2 and 438-yard No. 4, both par-4s; the 228-yard, par-3 13th and the long and narrow 584-yard, par-5 14th.

“And there’s a creek that runs through the middle of the back nine,” Freeman said. “It comes into play on five holes and can cause you problems.”

Of course, Collier and his Bruins teammates – including sophomores Cole Madey and freshman Hidetoshi Yoshihara -- know all of the quirks and nuances at Bel-Air. That’s why they are all hoping for another “home game” in August.

“I think all of our guys will have an extra incentive to qualify,” Freeman said. “Tyler (Collier) works very, very hard on his game, and I think he’s got a great chance to make it and take advantage of knowing the course so well. Cole has been getting better and better each week; he’s going to have a great opportunity to make it. And then there’s Hidetoshi; even though he’s a freshman, he’ really starting to play some nice golf and I can see him having an opportunity.”

Yoshihara previously qualified for the 2015 U.S. Amateur while at Woodbridge High in Orange County, where he won the CIF state championship as a senior.  Collier qualified twice for the U.S. Amateur – in 2014 at Atlantic Athletic Club, where he shot 76-81 and missed the cut for match play, and in 2015 at Olympic Fields in suburban Chicago, where he shot 73-77 and missed the cut again.

But Collier, a transfer from Oregon State, says those were beneficial learning experiences for him.

“I’d say I learned about myself and my game,” he said. “In those (championships), I wasn’t far off, but I was putting too much pressure on myself and trying to do too much. The first two days (of stroke play), you’re not trying to win the golf tournament; you’re just trying to get in the top 64 (for match play). I understand that now.”

All of the UCLA players also understand they will have a home-course advantage if they qualify for the 117th U.S. Amateur Championship. They would love to make that familiar five-mile drive down Sunset Boulevard in August (Aug. 14-20 to play for the prestigious Havemeyer Trophy which has been won by some of golf’s greatest players such as Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Phil Mickelson, Tiger Woods and Bob Jones.

U.S. Amateur tickets are available online at www.usga.org/usam. Tickets are $20 (single-day grounds) and $75 for a weekly pass. Military personnel and students receive free admission with valid ID.

French Lick Resort, Callaway Announce New High-Tech Golf Fitting Studio

(French Lick, IN) – French Lick Resort, the award-winning golf destination in Southern Indiana, and Callaway Golf, one of the leading golf equipment manufacturers, is bringing the “Money Ball” of golf analytics to the French Lick Golf Academy.

The new Callaway Golf Fitting Studio at French Lick Resort is a high-tech fitting studio providing innovative and comprehensive swing analysis and club-fitting for resort guests and golfers of every skill level.

“We are very excited to be partnering with French Lick Resort and bringing the same experience with high-optic launch monitors, shot-analysis software, and OptiFit technology we use to fit Tour pros like Phil Mickelson, Henrik Stenson and Jim Furyk,” said Luke Williams, Callaway’s senior director of fitting. “This kind of customized fitting process is proven to benefit and improve golfers of all abilities.”

The Callaway Fitting Studio looks at no two golf swings the same, which is why custom club-fitting has become the leader in game improvement. Having properly fitted golf equipment, golfers will see immediate improvement with their scores through better ball contact and ball flight.

Leading the way in this numbers process is the use of state of the art technology, Flightscope launch monitors, which uses 3-D Doppler radar tracking to measure 27 different variables related to golf balls, clubs, and swings. This includes such things as ball speed, club-head speed, distance, spin rate, face angle, and club-head path, to name a few, which all lead to golfers having the best custom clubs and ball to fit their swing, and having a better understanding of their game and how far they hit golf shots.

Once your custom analysis is completed, the onsite Callaway club-fitting experts will dial in the precise club specifications using OptiFit technology with length, loft, lie angle, shaft material, shaft flex, shaft flex-point, grip size and grip material, to help golfers realize immediate and significant improvement without changing your swing.

Once golfers determine the best clubs for them, the custom-fit department at the Callaway headquarters in Carlsbad, Calif., will build the precise set, which can be overnighted for delivery within days of the fitting.

“Callaway Golf has been synonymous with excellence in the golf industry and to be able to bring them to our resort is a great opportunity,” said Dave Harner, director of golf at French Lick Resort. “To be able to experience the Callaway Fitting Studio and go through this innovative process of game improvement is a wonderful amenity for our guests and golfers in the region to experience.”

For more information about the Callaway Fitting Studio, visit http://cmp.callawaygolf.com/custom-fitting/.

The Callaway Fitting Studio at French Lick Resort is located at the Valley Links Course. For more information and to make fitting appointments call (812) 936-8042 or visit www.frenchlick.com.

PING Signs In Gee Chun, Two-Time LPGA Major Winner

(PHOENIX) – PING announced the signing of LPGA star In Gee Chun, #4 in the Rolex World Ranking, to a multi-year agreement. The South Korean was the runaway LPGA Rookie of the Year last season and will tee it up at this week’s Honda LPGA Thailand, Feb. 23-26.

As a PING pro, the 22-year-old earned her second LPGA major crown last season at the Evian Masters at 21 under par, the lowest winning total in major history, men’s or women’s. She also captured the U.S. Open in 2015, the year she became the first player to win majors during the same calendar year on three separate tours: the LPGA Tour, LPGA of Korea and LPGA of Japan

“In Gee has been playing at an elite level since she turned pro in 2012, but it’s still amazing that she’s only 22 and has already won 13 times worldwide,” said PING Chairman & CEO John A. Solheim. “As her multiple major titles demonstrate, she has a tremendous all-around game and her consistency is what any player looks for. It seems like if she’s not winning she’s always in the mix on Sunday. We welcome the continuation of our relationship with In Gee and we look forward to watching her compete in the coming year.”

In her bag: G LS Tec driver, G Stretch 3-wood, G hybrids, i irons, and a Scottsdale TR Anser 2 putter.

“For me, PING clubs are the absolute highest quality, and this gives me complete confidence,” Chun said. “Confidence is important because I have to be able to hit all kinds of shots. PING’s equipment is the best and they have knowledgeable people who make sure I’m fitted with the product that works best for my game. I feel very glad to be with PING and am excited for the year ahead.”

As part of a multi-year agreement, Chun will use a PING staff bag, showcase the PING logo on the side of her hat and play a minimum of 11 PING clubs, including a PING driver and PING putter.

Financial terms and the length of the agreement were not disclosed.

LPGA Founders Cup Tournament Returns to the Valley

2017 LPGA Founders Cup Newly Renamed

(SCOTTSDALE, Ariz.) – Bank of Hope Founders Cup, the only LPGA tournament in Arizona, will be held March 14-19, 2017 at Wildfire Golf Club at JW Marriott Desert Ridge Resort & Spa. The tour features a full field of LPGA players who will compete for a $1.5 million purse and broadcast in 151 nations across the globe. This is also the first year Korean-American bank Bank of Hope is the title sponsor. Notable golfers attending may include 2016 winner Sei Young Kim, Cheyenne Woods and Stacy Lewis.

The LPGA Founders Cup was created in 2011in Scottsdale to honor the 13 women who started the LPGA in 1950.

“The Founders Cup was developed to remember and reinforce the philosophy of making the game better for the next generation of female golfers," said LPGA Commissioner Mike Whan.

WHAT:
LPGA Bank of Hope Founders Cup

WHEN:
March 14, Professional Practice Rounds 8 a.m. – 4 p.m.
March 15, Official Pro-Am 7 a.m. – 5 p.m.
March 16–19, Tournament Play 7 a.m. – 6:30 p.m.

WHERE:
Wildfire Golf Club at JW Marriott Phoenix Desert Ridge Resort & Spa
5350 Marriott Drive
Phoenix, AZ 85054

This year, Sei Young Kim earned her 4th title on the LPGA Tour and finished 27-under par winning the 2016 Founders Cup Championship title. Kim finished at 27-under par, matching the LPGA’s lowest 72-hole scoring record set by Annika Sorenstam in 2001. Cydney Clanton hit the only hole-in-one at the tournament earning herself a 2016 Kia K900.

For more information on purchasing tickets and tournament updates, visit http://www.lpgafounderscup.com/ticket-information.

Product Review: ShoeTips

When I first began to play golf, it was such a simple game ... See the ball, hit the ball. As with life, the game became more complicated over time. From “head down, eye on the ball” to “right elbow in,” “pivot,” “rotate” and more. Swing thoughts often got in the way of actually playing the game.

How can a golfer be expected to enjoy the game while having to remember so many different things? ShoeTips is here to help.

A simple, but ingenious concept, ShoeTips are basic tips that slide into position at the base of your laces. There are 18 swing thoughts from which to choose:
Back and Thru
Breathe - Focus
Stay Down
Impact
Commit - Trust
Visualize
Soft Hands
Tempo
Balance
Smooth
Posture
Feel
Turn
Finish
Ball Position
Alignment
Hit Down
Swing Plane

Any one of these tips could be straight from the pages of your last lesson. Take what the pro told you to the course for reinforcement.

Did the pro tell you something else? No worries ... the back of each plate is white, making it simple to write down what the pro said with a permanent marker and you have a customized lesson.

For those posting handicaps or playing in a tournament, you may want to avoid the laces and use the handy bag tag instead. This way you won’t be stepping on the toes of the USGA and committing an infraction of the Rules of Golf.

Make your shoe tops the last thing you look at before turning your focus to the ball. Free your mind and start playing golf like you did when you were a kid. See the ball, hit the ball, and play better golf with ShoeTips swing thoughts.

Order yours at shoetipsgolf.com.