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Four Golfing Dream Destinations

If you could choose anywhere in the world, where would you choose to golf? I’ve been thinking about that a lot recently. The thing with a dream list is that it just has to be international. As much as I enjoy the many golf courses of the US, if you’re going to create a wish list, you might as well throw some international travel in there. Below are four golfing destinations:

New Zealand

Kauri Cliffs

Kauri Cliffs / Flickr

Kauri Cliffs / Flickr

Situated right on the Pacific ocean, the Kauri Cliffs offer breathtaking views. It’s been the home to the 2003 match between Fred Couples and Michael Campbell and the PGA Tour’s Kiwi Challenge, and has received numerous awards. The course definitely is luxury destination with access to a Lodge and several beaches.

South Africa

Fancourt

Fancourt / Wikipedia

Fancourt / Wikipedia

In 2003, Tiger Woods and Ernie Els duked it out until nightfall over the President’s cup. After the match was closed, the cup was left contested for the first time ever. That yarn right there is enough for any golfing fan to want to visit Fancourt. That the courses are modeled on those of Scotland, were crafted with the consul of Gary Player, and are located in the gorgeous Garden Route is just icing on the cake.

Vietnam

Ho CHi Minh

Dong Nai Golf Resort / Golfscape.com

Dong Nai Golf Resort / Golfscape.com

Vietnam has become a surprisingly popular spot for golfing. No doubt the weight of the USD there is one reason many flock to Vietnam, but there are also a number of timeless factors make golfing there worth it, namely: the variety of stellar courses there, how the beautiful greenery is juxtaposed right next to beautiful beaches, and the outstanding culinary history of Vietnam.

Canada

Cape Breton Island

Cape Breton / GolfTravelAndLeisure.com

Cape Breton / GolfTravelAndLeisure.com

Canada might not seem that exotic of a destination, but just because it isn’t separated by a large body of water doesn’t mean it’s not exotic. That said, Cape Breton is separated by a small body of water. With a history steeped in Scottish culture (it’s in Nova Scotia) Cape Breton has amazing seafood, amazing seafood, and amazing golf. Cabot Links is one course in particular worth exploring.

What would your dream golfing destination be?

Belal El-Atari

Top Players in Golf – Part 2

There are hundreds of professional golfers throughout the world. Some have been competing for many years, while others have only been playing for a few years. With hard work, skill and determination a golfer can be considered one of the top players in the world. Many factors go into determining who is the top player like which tournaments they are playing in and how well they did in said tournament. I previously covered the top 5 players in golf. Although the order may shift according to official rankings, here’s a look at the rest of 2016’s top players.

#6 Henrik Stenson

Henrik Stenson on the golf course.

This Swedish professional golfer comes in at the number six spot. He competes in both the PGA and European Tours. He spent over 100 weeks in the world top ten. His highest ranking was second, but he is ranked the number one Swedish Golfer. One of his many accomplishments is the “historic double” where he won both the U.S. PGA Tour’s FedEx Cup and the European Tour’s Race to Dubai, in the same season. He was the first player to do this.

#7 Adam Scott

Adam Scott on the golf course

The number seven spot is held by this Australian professional golfer. In 2013 he became the first Australian to win the Masters Tournament. In total he has won 29 professional tournaments.

#8 Dustin Johnson

Dustin Johnson on the golf course taking a swing.

American professional golfer, Dustin Johnson currently has the number eight spot. One of his claims to fame is that he has one of the longest drives on the PGA tour. His career high on the list is third, which occured in 2015. One of his top performances came in 2015 in the WGC- Cadillac Championship.

#9 Danny Willett

A close-up portrait photograph of Danny Willet

Coming in at number nine is this English professional golfer. He currently plays in the European Tour exclusively. One of his biggest accomplishments was winning the 2016 Masters Tournament. He is only the second Englishman to achieve this. Additionally he is the first European to win at Augusta National in a very long time.

#10 Justin Rose

Justin Rose on the golf course.

Finally number ten is this English professional golfer. He competes mainly on the PGA tour but he keeps his membership with the European Tour. Between the weeks of November 2007 and July 2008 he was considered in the top ten in the world. One of his best performances was in 2013 at the U.S. Open Championship where he placed first.

Thanks for reading!

Belal El-Atari

Top Players in Golf – Part 1

There are hundreds of professional golfers throughout the world. Some have been competing for many years, while others have only been playing for a few years. With hard work, skill and determination a golfer can be considered one of the top players in the world. Many factors go into determining who is the top player like which tournaments they are playing in and how well they did in said tournament. Although the order may shift according to official rankings, here’s a look at 2016’s top players in golf.

image of Jason Day - Top Golfers by Belal El-Atari

Jason Day via The Guardian

#1 Jason Day

This Australian professional golfer is currently ranked number one in the world. The first time he achieved the number one spot was in September of 2015. He has been in the number one position for eight weeks now. He has competed in a total of 214 events in his professional career, placing first in 11 of them. His best performance was the PGA Championship in 2015 where he placed first and set a new record scoring 20 strokes under par.

Image of Jordan Spieth - Top Golfers by Belal El-Atari

Jordan Spieth via JordanSpieth.com

#2 Jordan Spieth

An American golfer from Texas takes the number two spot in the world. He has been excelling at golf from a very young age. He played his first professional tournament at the age of 16. He won two U.S. Junior Amateur Championships, which has only been done by two people (the other being Tiger Woods). The first time he reached number one in the world was June 2012. In 2015 he was named PGA Player of the Year.

Image of Rory McIlroy - Top Golfers by Belal El-Atari

Rory McIlroy via ABC Local

#3 Rory McIlroy

Currently number three in the world is this Northern Irish professional golfer. He is a member of both the European and PGA tours. He was number one in the world for 95 weeks, when he had the spot. He won his first European Tour in 2009 and a PGA tour in 2010. In 2012 he was the youngest player to reach $10 million in career earnings on the PGA tour. He has been named RTE Sports Person of the Year twice.

Image of Bubba Watson - Top Golfers by Belal El-Atari

Bubba Watson via Turner

#4 Bubba Watson

Gerry Lester “Bubba” Watson, Jr. takes the number four spot in the world. The American golfer is one of the few left-handed golfers in the tour. In 2015 he reached his career-high of number two on the Official World Golf Ranking. One of his best performances was in 2014 where he won the Masters Tournament. He also won the Masters in 2012.

Image of Rickie Fowler - Top Golfers by Belal El-Atari

Rickie Fowler via RickieFowler.com

#5 Rickie Fowler

The number five spot is currently held by Rickie Fowler. In 2007 and 2008 he held the number one spot for amateur golfers for a total of 37 weeks. Once he turned professional, his highest spot has been the fourth spot. One of his best performances came in 2015 where he won The Players Championship.

Thanks for reading!

In my next post I will cover 5 more outstanding golfers.

 

Belal El-Atari

Four Major Golf Tournaments to Look Forward to in 2016

AAC_-_2001_PGA_Championship_-_-15_Highlands_-_retouched

As spring creeps into the days, it announces the arrival for golf once again. The long winter days have forced golfers indoors to the driving range or traveling on the weekends to warmer climates to get their golfing fix in. As a result of these warmer days approaching, it means days on the green, good conversation with friends and world famous golf tournaments. With a copious amounts of choices to watch, how do you narrow which ones to watch? Here are the four that I am looking most forward in the 2016 golf year.

The Masters

Set to play: April 7th – 10th

Location: Augusta National; Augusta, Georgia

Purse: $10,000,000

Eighty two years ago, the first Masters tournament was played at Augusta National. Labelled as one of the top four golf tournaments, it’s smaller than other the others as it’s invite only. With 90 to 100 best golfers in the world playing, the competition is stiff. Last year Jordan Spieth won by 4 strokes and claimed a prize of $1.8 million dollars. As he sets to defend his title, the Masters is full of surprises and excitement.

US Open Championship

Set to play: June 16th to 19th

Location: Oakmont Country Club; Oakmont, Pennsylvania

Purse: $10,000,000

The US Open Championship is the second major tournament where Jordan Spieth is set to defend his crown. Established 121 years ago at the Newport Country Club in Newport, Rhode Island, the US Open also brings out the world’s best players. Throughout the history of the tournament, Americans have won it for the majority of it’s lifespan, but in the past 11 years, only three Americans have taken the title. Since the tournament is not invited only, professional and amateur golfers are allowed to participate. The only guideline is that they must pass a certain set of qualifications.

Open Championship

Set to play: July 14th to 17th

Location: Royal Troon; Troon, Scotland

Purse: $9,300,000

The Open Championship has been around for over 150 years. Required to take place within the United Kingdom, the tournament offers a unique golfing experience. Zach Johnson of the United States is the current champion and is set to defend his title this year. Open to both professionals and amateurs, the tournament is set over 72 hole course that spreads over a four day span.

PGA Championship

Set to play: July 28th to 31st

Location: Baltusrol Golf Club – Lower Course; Springfield, New Jersey

Purse: $10,000,000

The last of the four major tournaments in the PGA Championship. Some argue that winning the PGA Championship is the most lucrative in terms of monetary gain and professional security. Winners of the tournament are invited to play in the other three championships for five years. Taking place on various courses throughout the US, the PGA Championship sets to celebrate their 100th year. Reigning champion Jason Day, of Australia, will return once again in July to play. The championship is usually set to play on Labor Day weekend, but was moved in order to accommodate the return of golf to the Olympics.

For a full list of PGA tournaments click here! Thanks for reading and check back soon for new updates.

The Rise of Golf and Millennials

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Two years ago, the golf industry was rocked with articles stating how the sport wasn’t popular among millennials. After they came out in mid 2014, people speculated that golf was on a decline for various reasons. Outdated, too expensive or too stuffy were only a few reasons listed to why the sport was making it ways out. Yet, as the years since passed, it seems that people jumped the gun. In this current time, many of the world’s best and upcoming golf professionals are millennials.

Jordan Spieth is a 22 year old professional golfer who is ranked No 1 in the world. He is the youngest player to ever win five times in a single season. The last time this occurred was in 1929 when a 21 year old golfer took the elusive title from golfers older than him. As Spieth was set to play over the weekend in the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am tournament, people buzzed about his accomplishments and where he might place.

To drive a buzz about his achievements, the eight thousand attendants of the tournament received Spieth bobbleheads. For those who were not in attendance, they were not left out of the celebrations. AT&T developed numerous comedy videos that started the Spieth bobblehead and put online for everyone to see. Such marketing tactics seem odd for the sport, but it played a small part in a bigger plan to draw the interest of younger golfers.

Ryan Luckey, the assistant vice president of corporate sponsorships for AT&T, spoke to CNBC saying the following, “The PGA Tour is certainly looking to grow their fan base, and we’re seeking to grow our millennial consumer base.”
Back in 2013, up to two hundred thousand millennials are have said to have left the sport. Since then, interest in the sport has been on rise due to the change in marketing and the amount of golf superstars that are millennials. The PGA has seen a 43 percent rise in it’s website traffic and Twitter increased by 39%. 6.5 million millennials are playing golf, which is around 30% of all golfers worldwide.

As a way to get more and more people interested in picking up the club’s, various marketing teams have aimed to change their tactics to please the younger generation. By finding ways that capture millennials interests, there should be a direct correlation in the upward trajectory of more millennial golfers.

As for Jordan Spieth at the AT&T Pebble Beach Tournament? Well, it wasn’t his finest weekend as he placed outside of the top 20. The bigger winner was middle aged Vaughn Taylor.

Happy Birthday Tiger Woods!

man-person-grass-lawn

The professional golfer turns forty today! He decided to celebrate the day despite the lingering questions about his future career that have been circulating the professional circuit recently.  No one has doubted that Woods has been one of the greatest players of all time, but they do wonder if that spark will ever return to the now middle aged player.

Tiger Woods was once ranked at the number one golfer in the world for around seven hundred weeks. Now, the golfer ranks at number four hundred and fourteen – which is quite the drop. He has not won a major since 2008, and a tournament since 2013. It’s hard to picture that he was once the golfer who won the Master by twelve strokes in 1997. However, in the past couple years, Woods has been plagued by numerous injuries, because of which he has to have various back and knee surgeries. As a result of these surgeries, Wood has moved to a new swing – which he has struggled with.

Besides injuries, Tiger has had to deal with the fall out of his marriage for the past several years. In 2009, Woods dealt with a cheating scandal that rocked the mainstream media and the golf world in a way it had never seen before. He addressed the scandal in an interview with Time magazine recently, along with the idea that “he has reconciled himself to not playing again if it came to that”.  However, that was a vastly different tune then to the PGA Tour blog, where he mentioned how excited he was for a return in 2016.

The golf world has noted that it would be a different feel if he was no longer apart of it. After all, the golfer has broken and held many different records, and changed the face of golf for many Americans.

Speaking to VOA News, Kuan Koa – a commentator for Golf Channel, said ““For us, we’ve been seeing him since he turned pro in 1997, won the Master’s at a very young age of 21. He had really brought the game across the globe pretty much because he’s a mixed race, and a lot of people can associate with him.  I think a lot of Asian people see him as Asian,  African-Americans see him as African-American.  Basically he was such a young prodigy, he brought the game of golf to the young crowd.”

For many, the return of Woods is an exciting idea. We can only wait and see what 2016 will hold for the golfer. In the meantime, once again, Happy Birthday Tiger Woods!

Tiger Woods Addresses Bullying

Although a lot of people may still view Tiger Woods as a bad guy, he has made some improvements and manages to help out where he can. Tiger recently wrote a letter to a troubled teen that has been the victim of bullying.

Golf Digest’s very own Ron Sirak has been working with LPGA touring pro Sophie Gustafson, who battles a severe stutter daily. Gustafson works and mentors people who have the same or similar issue as herself.

Gustafson has been working with a high school student named Dillon, who has been the victim of relentless bullying at school. Dillon’s torment almost drove him to drastic actions a few weeks ago, his mother reported. Gustafson has been in correspondence with Dillon’s mother who wrote this email:

“Wanted to give you update. “Things had been going well for awhile. He played football for the first time this year, however, he was teased about his stuttering and quit the team. He has really been struggling lately, feeling lonely due to the really does not have any close friends. On the week of April 16th, he had a bad week, he had been teased about his stuttering. That evening, he attempted suicide. He yelled downstairs ‘Good bye, I love you.’ Me and my husband immediately ran upstairs, his bedroom door was locked, we busted down the door and he was sitting on the window and was getting ready to jump. We were able to grab him and keep him from going head first onto the concrete below.”

Dillon’s mother told Gustafson that Dillon is still a huge Tiger Woods fan and he loves to watch Tiger play. She asked if there was any way that Tiger could be made aware of Dillon’s love and support for the player, as well as Dillon’s story.

Olympic Golf Course Finished!

belal-golf

Some important news for all golfers and fans of golf has just been released. As you may know love to golf and am a huge supporter and fan of golf, so when I heard his news I knew I had to mark down some future dates on my calendar.

belal-golf-courseThe Olympic golf course in Rio de Janeiro is officially finished. Gil Hanse, lead designer for the golf course in the 2016 Olympics, reported on Monday the course finished construction. He also added that the team is in “full grow-in mode.” After numerous setbacks due to lawsuits and various other delays regarding the land and environmental concerns, the team has plowed forward and delivered a great course.

Hanse is extremely optimistic for the outcome of the course and has told sources the project is now running smoothly. After numerous setbacks it’s relieving to hear the course will be ready for the first tee-off of the 2016 Olympics.

Hanse is also very proud of the design. A sprawling and challenging course will not only test athletes but also change the way they play. The course’s last tees were sprigged in early December and the only thing that needs touching up is the driving range with new grass. Neil Cleverly, golf course superintendent has officially taken over this project.

He believes it will be a great addition to the games as golf makes its triumphant return to the world stage. The last time golf was included in the Olympics was in 1904 and has been long overdue for a return.

Nike Golf President Cindy Davis Announces Retirement

According to reports, Cindy Davis (52), announced her retirement as president of Nike Golf Tuesday afternoon. She is the first woman to be named president of a major golf equipment company and still remains the highest ranking female executive in the world of golf.

The person that will be filling her shoes will be announced at a later date according to Nike.

“We thank Cindy for her leadership throughout the years as she has led the development and growth of Nike’s golf business worldwide. Under Cindy’s direction, Nike Golf has steadily delivered profitable growth year after year since 2009,” said Jayme Martin, vice president and general manager of Global Categories, in a statement regarding her retirement.

According to Golf Digest, In Davis’s six-plus years at the helm, Nike Golf has seen its sales hold relatively steady and the company remain one of the game’s leading brands yet still trail TaylorMade-adidas Golf, Callaway Golf and Acushnet. Sales were $725 million in May 2008, and $789 million through the fiscal year ended May 2014. The 2014 numbers were about equal to 2013’s figure of $792 million.

Since 2008, the year Davis took over, Nike staffers have won more majors with their endorsed players than any other company with seven. The list includes Trevor Immelman (2008 Masters), Woods (2008 U.S. Open), Lucas Glover (2009 U.S. Open), Stewart Cink (2009 British Open), Charl Schwartzel (2011 Masters), McIlroy (2014 British, 2014 PGA Championship).

Phil Mickelson Leaves BMW Championship and Other PGA Tour News

The BMW Championship has been in full swing but the race for the 8 million dollar grand prize has come to an end for Phil Mickelson. Mickelson recently withdrew from the BMW Championship after shooting 70-76 in the first two rounds and sitting in 63rd place.

“My primary goal is to rest and prepare for the Ryder Cup,” Mickelson said in a statement. “Without a chance to contend at the Tour Championship, the most important thing for me now is to prepare for the Ryder Cup.”

Phil Mickelson, 44, said that his poor standing in the tournament and the upcoming Ryder Cup are his reasons for skipping the final two rounds of the $8 million FedEx Cup playoff tournament. This will be the first time since the start of the FedEx Cup that Phil Mickelson will not be playing. It will also be the first time in 10 years that he has gone winless throughout an entire season.

It’s clear that some players are okay with forfeiting and some are making money while doing nothing as in the case with Dustin Johnson. Dustin Johnson has been on a personal leave of absence from the PGA Tour for the last month yet will still collect $175,000 in prize money for his “efforts”. I guess this is the professional sports version of getting an A for effort. If so count me in. Johnson finished 30th in the FedEx Cup points race even though he didn’t play a single playoff event and thus qualified for this week’s Tour Championship.He’s entitled to $175,000 for that finish but he will not recieve the $128,000 the last-place finisher at the Tour Championship would earn.