We all need to get away. Of course, there are sometimes where that is impossible. Work or family just doesn’t allow you to get to the course or can’t take that golf vacation at that moment.
Well, I have put together a list of some of my favorite golf webcams that you can use to ‘mentally’ get away for a moment before you have to concentrate on your job, the wife or your kids. This is not a complete list, but these are some of the ones I like and visit when I need to escape my day. I tend to lean toward links courses. But you will find some from different parts of the world in this selection. From the Augusta of the UK (Sunningdale) to Iceland, there is a little bit of everything in these selections.
Click on the pictures to be taken to the live webcam pages.
This will be a very special week on the PGA Tour and in the Greenbrier Valley of West Virginia.
Devastating rain and floods washed away the town of White Sulphur Springs and most of the Greenbrier Resort’s golf courses last year around this time. What was usually a beautiful green valley nestled between the mountains became a muddy torrent of water from Howard Creek, as the water from the 10 inches of rain in the area rolled down the mountain sides and collected in the usually calm creek.
The historical rains forced the cancellation of the Greenbrier Classic last year. After the flood waters subsided, the Greenbrier’s TPC Old White Course a mess. Burt Baine, VP of Golf Operations, and his golf staff were shocked at what they saw. Tons of dirt, silt and debris littered the golf course. The sod was contaminated and grass would not grow back, bunkers were nothing more than exposed drainage systems, and trees were uprooted from the flood.
Today, players will arrive back at the Greenbrier for the re-birth of the Old White Course and this year’s Greenbrier Classic. They will see a golf course, while the layout is for the most part the same as the Charles Blair McDonald design it, that has come a through a year-long renovation and restoration to get it ready just for this event. In many ways, the golf course staff had to start from scratch to rebuild the Old White. Green complexes and bunkers had to be totally be built.
The Old White is truly a gem of a design. Only a few PGA Tour events get played on get played on classic old-school designs such as the Old White. It is not a course which one will overpower. Players must plod and plan their way around this 7200 yard, par 70 layout.
The first unique hole the players comes across is the 3rd…the Biarritz Hole. At 200 yards from the back tee, players will hit anything from a 9 iron to a hybrid/fairway wood on this hole. Why is that? The green measures around 70 yards in depth and features a 4 ½ foot deep gully that runs through the middle of the green. The long slender green is surrounded by bunkers. When the pin is located on the back of the green, players will have to fly their long irons all the way to the back tier to avoid having to putt through the gully.
The other par 3 on the front nine if also one of my favorites. The Redan Hole, modeled after the 15th hole at North Berwick in Scotland. Playing as long as 230 yards to the middle, this green slopes from right to left and from front to back. Players must account for release when figuring out what to hit. A large deep bunker protects the left side, making par a challenge if you find your ball there.
The 13th is a difficult par 4. Running along the base of the mountain, it measures 489 yards from the back tee. Avoiding Howard Creek on the left and finding the fairway is imperative. As you come down the fairway and the green comes into view on the right, you will now realize why they call this the ‘Alps’ hole (modeled after a hole at Prestwick in Scotland). A large mound (would be a dune if you on a links course) guards the front right of the green. Mishit your shot or misclub, you can easily find your ball ‘in the mountainside’ guarding the hole. A slick green that runs from back to front also doesn’t make getting a par here easy either.
Very rarely will a course end on a Par 3, but the Old White does. From the tee, it looks very simple and beautiful. With the clubhouse in the background, the 170-yard hole crosses Howard Creek (not coming into play) and sets built into small hillside. It is the green complex which makes this finisher a challenge. With a pronounced hogback running in a horseshoe shape through the green, you must find the right distance to put your ball on the proper tier. If you don’t, especially when the hole is in the front, you will face a difficult two putt.
Having played this course several times, I am looking forward to its rebirth this week. It is a classic gem that I always find enjoyable to play and worthy of its Top 100 ranking in the US.
There are so many training aids in the golf market that it can make you head spin. Even worse, many of those training aids are worthless. I will not take the time to tell you which ones I feel are worthless, but I will talk about some putting aids that are absolutely spot on to help with your putting.
Phil Kenyon is the putting guru of European golf. He is the David Orr of Europe, working with many European Tour players on improving their putting.
He has developed Visio Putting (www.visioputting.com), a line of putting aids designed using Phil’s expertise and insights from his experiences of working some of the best players in the world.
One of my favorites is the Visio Mi Putting Template. It was just recognized as one of the best new training aids in golf and this is one well worth all the plaudits it is receiving. Available in four different putting arcs (from 12-21 degrees), it gives the player both kinesthetic and visual feedback on your path and face angle. You can work on every facet of the putting stroke, including speed, face rotation, direction, aim, path, etc. It is also very portable and can be set up anywhere without much hassle. Using this template shows the student what needs to happen during the stroke. Unlike other putting aids (like a putting arc), the template does not force the student to move the putter without any constraint from the aid itself.
Should you wish, using the holes in the template, you can place tees along the arc if you are a player who needs to physically constrain your stroke in one manner or another. Tees can also be placed at the end of the template to give you a ‘putting gate’ effect to show the accuracy of your start line.
I was introduced to these templates by David Orr in December and I immediately started using them with our golf team at William & Mary. They are without a doubt one of the best training aids that has come out in a long time.
Stop by Visio’s website to check out the Mi Putting Templates and the other training aids. I would also recommend the Start Line Trainer that just came out in the last few months. The pricing is very reasonable and they do ship to the US.
'Cultivate attention because attention is currency.' --Chris Brogan
The Ladies European Tour drew a good bit of attention this week with the debut of Paige Spiranac. The Instagram and internet sensation was playing in her first professional tournament at the Ladies Dubai Masters. Having played golf at San Diego State, Paige turned professional in August and was invited as a sponsor's exemption to the tournament field. She was a decent player at SDSU, but not a national champion or All-American. Instead, she has been branded as the 'Hottest Athlete in the World' (unofficial, of course) because of her presence on Instagram and Twitter. She has 547,000 followers on Instagram and probably has the largest presence on social media of any female golfer. She had not played an event on the LPGA or Futures Tour prior to the debut in Dubai this week.
Of course, her lack of tournament results and credentials drew the ire of many in the field and in the golf world. European Tour professional Henriaetta Zuel said, 'It’s really embarrassing for women’s golf. Social media narcissism is not a criteria [for entry into the tournament].' Golf writers and international media criticized her for unfairly profiting from her social media presence. It even produced this editorial cartoon in the Irish Examiner
What these critics do not understand is that as a sponsor (in this case Omega and Dubai Tourism) can invite anyone of their choosing because they are putting up the money for the event! It's not like Omega invited my dog to play in the tournament (despite not having an Instagram account, she is the prettiest dog on the internet). Paige shot 77-79 to miss the cut...not bad in her first professional event against some of the best players in the world. No matter what her result was for the week, inviting Spiranac was a stroke of genius for the sponsors of the tournament.
What was the largest benefit of her playing in this event? ATTENTION. Outside of major championships, when was the last time a Ladies European Tour (heck maybe even LPGA) event has this much spotlight? She brought more attention to this tournament than it would have received had she not played. This is what sponsors pay for! It is well within their right to have someone play in their event which they feel can bring a return on their investment in the tournament.
But people like Paige are going to help draw more people to golf, especially among millennials. The golf population is getting old and it needs an infusion of youth. People that millennials can identify with through the internet draw them into the game. Despite not having won a tournament yet, Spiranac is good for the game. Until Rickie Fowler started winning events, he was the cool kid, wearing the flat bill caps and loud colors. But the kids loved him...and still do no matter how many events he wins! Spiranac with continued practice and competition could develop into the LPGA's Fowler... and that would be a great thing for their tour! More attention for that tour will help them develop more sponsors and more money. That's Marketing 101. When the players are competing for more prize money, I don't think they will be criticizing players like Spiranac...because players like her can help elevate the visibility of that tour.