Back in 2009, the International Olympic Committee voted to re-introduce golf as an Olympic sport back into 2016 and 2020 Summer Olympic games. The 2016 Summer Olympics are being held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil for the first time in 116 years for the women and 112 years for the men.
A total of 60 players from 41 nations qualified for the men’s and women’s events based on International Golf Federation rankings. While some male players who qualified elected not to attend and compete, many female players are excited to participate to help generate more interest in women’s golf. Team USA for the women will be represented by Lexi Thompson, Stacy Lewis and Gerina Piller with most of the Top 10 World Ranking females also participating, including #1 Lydia Ko, #2 Brooke Henderson and #3 Inbee Park.
The women will compete Wednesday, August 17 through Saturday, August 20. Follow coverage on Golf Channel at 6:30 a.m. EDT Wednesday through Friday and at 6 a.m. EDT on Saturday.
The event takes place at the Olympic Golf Course at the Reserva de Marapendi in the Barra da Tijuca zone, designed by golf course designer Gil Hanse, with assistance from World Golf Hall of Famer Amy Alcott. The format will be a 72-hole individual stroke play competition. Since it’s an individual rather than a team competition, in the event of a tie for first, second or third place, there will be a play-off to determine the gold, silver and bronze medal winner.
The men played last week and the gold, silver and bronze medals went to Justin Rose, Henrik Stenson and Matt Kuchar. Team USA was represented on the men’s side by bronze medal winner Matt Kuchar, Bubba Watson, Rickie Fowler and Patrick Reed. Other notables in the field included Sergio Garcia and 2016 Masters Champion Danny Willett.
The course will become a public facility after the games and the hope is it will be used to welcome new golfers to the game in Brazil and grow the game in South America.
Good luck to Team USA – bring home some medals!
On the eve of the 2016 Olympics, you'd be forgiven for thinking the first female golfer to win a gold medal could be Lexi Thompson, Lydia Ko or Inbee Park.
In fact, it turns out that honor went to an American art-student over a century ago!
According to The A Position, "the date was 1900 and the sport of all things was golf. Paris was the site and this was only the second modern Olympiad and the first that included women. Unlike today’s event, the contests were held over several months. Believe it or not, they included motorcycle racing, croquet, cricket, and golf."
"An American man, Charles Sands, won the the 36-hole men’s competition contested on October 2, 1900. The next day the women played 9-holes for their contest. An American art student, 24-year old Margaret Abbott and her mother Mary decided to enter. Margaret had viewed an ad for a golf tournament and she and her Mom decided it would be fun to play in it. Margaret fired a 47 and won the contest while her Mother finished a respectable 7th. As fate would have it, Abbott was only in Paris to study art. She actually thought that the event had something to do with the World’s Fair that was also taking place there. She wasn’t even aware that this was an Olympic contest."
Not only was Ms. Abbot the first female golf champion - but she was America's first female olympic champion in any sport.
For the full story, be sure to check out The A Position.
One of the many great things about golf is that players of all abilities are able to compete against each other. The USGA Handicap System allows players of varying abilities to compete on an equal basis using their handicap index.
In order to establish a handicap index (or handicap), you must join a licensed golf club or golf association and post adjusted gross scores. After five 18-hole equivalent scores have been posted, you will receive a handicap index. As you continue to post your scores from each round, the handicap index is calculated using the best 10 of your last 20 rounds.
The handicap index compares a player’s scoring ability to the scoring ability of a scratch golfer on a course of standard difficulty based on yardage and other obstacles that affect scoring. This number is a decimal rounded to the nearest tenth (i.e. 17.3) and is used to convert to a course handicap (i.e. 19).
Your handicap index represents your ability on a course with a slope rating of 113. Some courses have slope ratings below 113 (meaning an easier course) and more difficult courses will be higher than 113. The higher the slope rating, the more difficult the course will play. To account for different slope ratings, a player will convert a handicap index to a course handicap using a course handicap chart. This table is available at each facility and is generally posted in golf shops, locker rooms or near the handicap computer.
You are required to post your adjusted score any time you play in stroke play or match play. According to the USGA Handicapping Manual, this includes “scores made in match play, in multi-ball, or in team competitions in which players have not completed one of more holes or in which players are requested to pick up when out of contention on a hole.”
Scores that may not be posted include rounds where you played fewer than seven holes; scores played on a course that has an inactive season (winter in most northern/cold climate states); competitions that require less than 14 clubs or specify only certain clubs may be used (i.e. irons only or wooden shafts only); and when playing alone.
Since the last part about scores from a round played alone is new for 2016, there has been some confusion about the term “playing alone.” We have been asked:
Q: If I play a round of golf with people other than EWGA members, should I post that as a round that was played alone?
A: No. The new USGA new rule that makes rounds played alone ineligible for use in calculating Handicaps applies ONLY to rounds that you played completely by yourself, with no one else. All other rounds, whether they are played with EWGA members or not, even those played with perfect strangers, should be posted and NOT as played alone.
Since playing a round of golf alone doesn’t meet the definition of “peer review,” these scores are not acceptable for posting. If you are accompanied during a round with a fellow competitor, opponent, caddie, marker for a tournament or friend in a golf cart, it is not considered playing alone.
DID YOU KNOW that your skin is your largest organ?
Yes, it is considered an organ and you certainly know it when something goes wrong and you itch, chafe, or burn. Most people don’t take the care they should (men, take note!) and often, dry, rough skin is the result.
Golfers can be especially susceptible to skin problems because of over-exposure to the sun and wind, to pesticides which can transfer to your ball, your clubs, or your clothing, to plants and weeds in strange places while looking for a lost ball, to reactions from newer tech fabrics, and to…
As we all know, the quickest way to lower your score on the golf course, is to practice the short game. Yet many golfers prefer to hit golf balls at the practice facility or play 9-holes rather than practice putting. When practicing, remember putting is all about distance control - so it's more important to get comfortable with this, before worrying about which way a putt will break.
To begin on the practice green, roll golf balls to different holes with your hand rather than with a putter. This will help you get an idea of the speed of the green.
Once you have a feel for roll and speed, you can work on reading greens. This begins as you walk toward the green. Look for big slopes and pick a place where you want the ball to finish (hopefully near the hole.) Again, roll a ball toward a hole and see if it does what you thought it would. Now hit the putt and watch the ball to learn what it does. Reading greens is based on practice and experience - so take 30-minutes each week during your golf season to practice putting.
Some good drills include practicing from one putter-length from the hole (probably a 3' putt since most putters are 34"-36" long.) See if you can make 10 putts in a row from this length. Once you master 8 or 9 out of 10 putts, move to two putter-lengths and try to make 7 or 8 out of 10. If you miss a putt, go back to one putter-length and try for 10 again. This builds confidence in your putting and is much more productive that standing at one side of the practice green and hitting giant lag putts at holes from 30' away.
When you transition to the golf course greens, your goal is to have two putts or less, so make sure you give the first putt a chance to make it close to the hole so you have an easy second putt. Practicing speed and distance control will help you achieve that goal.
You can probably recall a round of golf where you putted well, maybe even made a few long putts and commented that you “liked the greens.” This is probably due to the fact that the green speed – which is the condition of putting as it relates to ball-roll distance – suited your putting stroke.
The speed of a putting green is measured by using a Stimpmeter – a tool used invented by the USGA and used by golf course superintendents to make a standard measurement of the relative speed and uniformity of the putting greens. If a green has a long ball roll when measured with the Stimpmeter, it is considered fast and if the green has a short ball roll, it is considered slow. Its purpose is to keep the greens as consistent as possible throughout the golf course.
While a golf course superintendent tries to maintain that consistency in the green speed, it’s important to know that green speed changes all the time. Even if you play the same course multiple times a week or during the month the green speed is likely to change. Green speed not only changes from month-to-month, or day-to-day, but even within the day from hour-to-hour due to the weather environment and how the grounds staff maintains the green.
Weather and environmental conditions like temperature, humidity, the sun, moisture, type of soil, time of day, etc. all affect the speed of the green and how the ball will roll. If you play early in the morning when dew is present on the greens, they will roll slow. As the temperatures increase during the day and the greens dry out, the speed of the green increases. How the greens are maintained will affect the ball roll as well, depending on the type of mowing height, rain or irrigation on the greens, if the greens are rolled and how much fertilizer, topdressing and aerating is done to the greens.
Knowing that the green speeds vary from day-to-day will help you on the course. Take time to visit the practice green before you play to get a feel for the green speed. Hit some long putts and watch how they roll. If your ball traveled well past your target, you may need to adjust for fast greens. The opposite is true if you hit a putt that doesn’t get to the target – you may be playing on slow greens. Take this knowledge to the course and be prepared to adjust your putting stroke if the green speeds change during your round.
As part of the EWGA theme for July “Mentor New Golfers Month” we are pleased to partner with The First Tee for a third consecutive year. The two national organizations are proud to come together to help increase female role models and mentoring opportunities.
Many EWGA Chapters and The First Tee chapters are partnering to host events throughout the year to support mentoring activities, especially during July as both organizations focus on a Mentoring theme during July.
With EWGA Chapters in 108 communities throughout the United States and approximately 170 The First Tee chapters nationwide, the partnership is a great way to increase female participation through a welcoming, non-intimidating environment. For the past two years, EWGA Chapters nationwide have worked with their local chapters of The First Tee through a variety of events to mentor young golfer participating in The First Tee Chapter events.
Last year, more than 35 EWGA Chapters partnered with their local The First Tee chapter to conduct special events for female participants and contributed more than $21,000 to support The First Tee. In addition to traditional nine hole playing opportunities where EWGA members could mentor young women, some activities included hosting a golf fashion show, collecting golf equipment for the youth to use, a girls night out on the golf course and even hosting an LPGA Tour player at an event.
The EWGA is proud to help The First Tee’s “Growing Girls Through the Game” initiative that will positively impact the lives of countless young women who would not otherwise have the opportunity to grow through the game of golf.
Another opportunity to mentor new golfers on the course is through the EWGA Grads to Golf program, designed to introduce MBA or graduate students to the game of golf. EWGA Grads to Golf is a six week program that combines classroom presentations with hands-on golf instruction. It also includes a Clubhouse Orientation designed to make a new golfer comfortable at the facility and on the course. The program culminates with a Graduation Scramble – where local EWGA members are paired with the students for a 9-hole on course event. This is a great opportunity for both on-course as well as off-course mentoring. To start or help with a local program, contact Le Ann Finger, EWGA Director of Player Development.
We all enjoy playing golf for a number of different reasons, but the best one is introducing someone new to the game and helping them navigate the golf course as their mentor. Have fun!
(Photo Credit: The First Tee)