Top Tours

U.S. Open exemptions available during European Tour’s UK Swing

Participants in the European Tour’s new UK Swing will have even more to play for following confirmation that ten spots in the 2020 U.S. Open Championship will be available for the highest placed finishers in the mini order of merit after the first five events.

The UK Swing begins at the Betfred British Masters hosted by Lee Westwood at Close House, near Newcastle, from Wednesday July 22 to Saturday July 25, and will launch the European Tour’s Golf for Good initiative, which underpins all events for the remainder of the 2020 season. As part of the initiative, a mini order of merit will run for all six events in the UK Swing, with the top ten sharing an additional £250,000 to donate to charities of their choice.

Coronavirus upsets qualification system

The USGA has confirmed that the top 10 aggregate points earners in the mini order of merit that are otherwise not exempt at the conclusion of the fifth event – the Wales Open at Celtic Manor – will be exempt for the rescheduled U.S. Open at Winged Foot Golf Club on September 17-20.

The traditional U.S. Open sectional qualifying events, including the European qualifier at Walton Heath in June, were cancelled this season following the upheaval in the global golf calendar due to the global Covid-19 pandemic, with the field now comprised entirely of exempt players.

After the European Tour resumes with two events in Austria – the Austrian Open on July 9-12 and the Euram Bank Open on July 15-18 – the action switches to the UK and the Betfred British Masters.

That is followed by the English Open at the Forest of Arden Marriott Hotel & Country Club and the English Championship at Hanbury Manor Marriott Hotel & Country Club, before The Celtic Manor Resort in Newport hosts back-to-back European Tour tournaments – the Celtic Classic and the Wales Open. The UK Swing then concludes with the UK Championship at The Belfry.

Opportunity for European Tour players

Keith Waters, European Tour Chief Operating Officer, said: “Throughout our discussions with the USGA, it was clear that they shared our desire to offer European Tour players an opportunity to earn places in this year’s U.S. Open. We thank them for working with us to create this new exemption category encompassing the first five events in the UK Swing.

“The UK Swing mini order of merit already offers an additional incentive through the Golf for Good initiative, and we are pleased that players now have more to play for, with places available in the second Major Championship of the season.”

“We are grateful to the European Tour”

John Bodenhamer, USGA senior managing director, Championships, said: “The U.S. Open qualifier in England has historically featured a very strong field, and we felt it was important to provide an opportunity for players throughout Europe to earn a place in this year’s championship.

“We are grateful to the European Tour for the wonderful collaboration that allowed us to create this exemption category for the 2020 U.S. Open.”

Press release by European Tour

PGA Tour Top Tours

PGA Tour Statement on positive Covid-19 tests at the Travelers Championship

Commissioner Jay Monahan talked to the media on Wednesday afternoon after the news about several positive Corona-tests on the PGA Tour became known. He revealed plans to improve the measures the PGA Tour already took to prevent the spreading of the virus.

PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan on the state of the Tour

THE MODERATOR: We’ll go ahead and get started. We’d like to welcome our PGA TOUR Commissioner, Jay Monahan, to our virtual press conference here at the Travelers Championship on Wednesday.

Jay, appreciate you taking the time with us. We’ve got several media members on the line who are eager to hear from you.

We will open it up to questions, but would first turn it over to you for a brief statement, PGA TOUR update, if you will, from you.

COMMISSIONER JAY MONAHAN: Thank you, Amanda, and thank you to everybody that’s on this call. I was eager to have this conversation with you.

So we have been working since March to develop a comprehensive health and safety plan that would be considered a best practice among professional sports leagues.

While we’ve been thorough in building and implementing a program that mitigates as much risk as possible, we knew it would be impossible to eliminate all risk, as evidenced by the three positive tests this week.

We need to use these developments as a stark reminder for everyone involved as we continue to learn from an operational standpoint. We’re making several adjustments to our health and safety plan as noted in the memo sent to players this morning, and we will continuously reinforce to all players, caddies, staff members and support personnel on property at PGA TOUR events to adhere to social distancing and other safety professionals that further minimize risk.

So for this week, as I said, we’ve had three positive tests: Cameron Champ, PGA TOUR player; Ken Convoy, caddie for Graeme McDowell; and Ricky Elliot, caddie for Brooks Koepka.

At the Utah Championship on the Korn Ferry Tour, we have had no positive tests.

I will also note that for positive COVID-19 tests with arrival testing complete today, we’ve had 2,757 total in market tournament tests over three weeks with seven positives.

Now just a quick overview of the withdrawals from this week’s Travelers Championship field:

Cameron Champ withdrew after testing positive for COVID-19 on Tuesday.

Graeme McDowell with grew out of an abundance of caution after his caddie, Ken Convoy, tested positive for COVID-19.

Brooks Koepka withdrew out of an abundance of caution after his caddie, Ricky Elliot, tested positive for COVID-19.

Webb Simpson withdrew out of an abundance of caution. He has been tested twice and has not tested positive for COVID-19 this week.

And Chase Koepka withdrew out of abundance of caution; neither he nor his caddie, Dan Gimbel, have tested positive for COVID-19.

So that’s where we stand as of Wednesday afternoon, and I’m happy to answer any questions you might have.

Q. One of the obvious questions — and you just outlined the numbers obviously, the percentage of positives is very low, and I know I did ask you this after — after — after Colonial when you came out with nothing. As — as there’s been a slight rise, is there a number that you have in mind that you consider an outbreak, or just a range, in other words, where it becomes a concern. You know, is — is today a concern or are you still looking at this as a positive; this is such a low number? And is there a number or a range of a number that you would — you would — you would begin to elevate concern?

COMMISSIONER JAY MONAHAN: Well, you’re right in that it is a low number, and it’s a low number on a percentage basis. But every number hurts.

So I think for us, as we look at where we are now, three weeks in and on the eve of our final round of the Travelers Championship, I think we all need to remind ourselves that we’re all learning to live with this virus, and we all need to learn to live with this virus, both as individuals, as family members and certainly within our businesses.

It’s pretty clear that this virus isn’t going anywhere. And so that’s why I go back to the weeks that preceded our return; the amount of work that we spend to develop our health, safety and testing protocols, to he had wait our players and constituents on them, to be here at this point in time, you know, we are excited to get into the Travelers Championship this week.

I tell you, Mark, and I addressed some of this in a memo to our players, we are just going to continue to refine and get better and better and identify ways where we can further mitigate my risk. That’s something I think I said when I was with you guys in Fort Worth, and it’s something that we continue to do.

Going back directly to your question, you know, we are playing in two markets today. We’ve had three positive tests this week. I think everybody should expect that you’re going to have more tests as we go forward and we are going to be very sensitive to the specifics of every single test. But going to be spending a ton of time making sure we reinforce the strong protocols we have.

Q. Quick follow. There was a report out there that Ricky Elliot had actually retested today and it came back negative. Are you aware of that situation, and because that was a positive, is that still considered a risk?

COMMISSIONER JAY MONAHAN: Ricky and Brooks are not going to be here this week, and I can’t get into the specifics of anybody — any individual test, but I wouldn’t — I don’t think any of us should be surprised based on the nature of the virus that someone would test positive and then test negative.

Our medical advisors, our medical experts, you know, have suggested to us that based on the timing and the incubation period, you could have scenarios like that.

So I wouldn’t be surprised to hear something like that that had happened, based on what we’ve learned from our medical advisors.

Q. Do you have a position even privately whereby it would not be viable to continue with this or other tournaments on the grounds of reputation, if not health and safety?

COMMISSIONER JAY MONAHAN: Listen, I think that there is — that’s something Ewan, that you’re mindful of every minute of your working life. The brand and safety of our players are — the safety of our players is our No. 1 concern, and our brand is our greatest asset.

The amount of time, Ewan, that we put into the plan that we developed; the plan we’ve executed; the dialogue we’re having with our board, our Player Advisory Counsel; the feedback we’re getting with our players; everything we are doing we are doing in concert with our membership; and based on our board call on Monday night; based on our Player Advisory Council call on Tuesday night; based on conversations that myself and our team members are having with our players, we feel a great responsibility to inspire people and to be in their living rooms on Saturday and Sunday — Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

We feel like we’re on a path that’s going to allow us to continue to sustain our return to golf, but rest assured, there won’t be many sleepless nights; there usually are. When you’re working in a world of uncertainty, these are the things you worry about. But also rest assured that the PGA TOUR will always do the right thing as it relates to our players, our fans, our constituents and make sure we create the safety environment possible.

Q. It sounds like the memo to the players, you outlined a couple of differences in the protocols. Can you tell us what’s different now going forward?

COMMISSIONER JAY MONAHAN: Yeah, so we, again, and in conversation with our player directors, chair of our PAC, Charley Hoffman and ultimately on our PAC call, we together all agreed that there were a few adjustments we needed to make.

One is when you’re part of the charter protocol, you obviously get tested on Saturday; you learn the results on Sunday night; you’re on the charter on Monday.

We’re going to add additional testing upon arrival in the following week’s tournament market so that everybody that’s arriving it going to the same testing protocol.

We will move our player instructors inside of our testing bubble, and they will be subject to the same testing protocols.

We will have our fitness trailer on site next week. One of the things that we’ve identified or we want to eliminate is players going to off-site gyms, having our physio trailers here will help that. All of our players entering those physio trailers will be wearing masks.

We have developed a program, a stipend program, for players on our tours, if they were to test positive during the week or during competition, and to be able to be eligible for those protocols, we’ve just reconfirmed for our players, you must follow our protocols in order to qualify for the stipend.

So those are four of the things that we’ve talked about. But I think it really comes back to, Bob, it’s like the game itself. You’ve got to always go back and look at, you know, work with your instructor.

In our case, look at the manual; if we can properly socially distance, if everybody when they are inside is wearing a mask, and doing all of the things we’ve outlined from the outset, if we continue to stay true to what we’ve set, we feel like, again, we are going to be in a position to sustain our return.

Q. Real quick. If you find that a player or caddie is not following your guidelines like you would like, I understand there is the ability for you to sanction them or fine or whatever it might be. What are we looking at there? What are those possibilities and how would that play out?

COMMISSIONER JAY MONAHAN: All of us have an extraordinary responsibility to follow those protocols. For any individual that does not, there will be serious repercussions, and I’m not going to get into the specifics of it.

But everybody knows and needs to know that our future, our ability to sustain this business and to impact the communities where we play and to create so many jobs is contingent on our ability to follow those protocols.

So when we have instances where someone hasn’t, they will be dealt with, and as I said, the consequences will be significant.

Q. I’m wondering how the national climate affects your decision-making, even if the TOUR numbers stay somewhat where they are, as you see cases are surging in various states that you’re going to be visiting or down the road, how much is too much, just within the United States as a whole, where you say, “We can’t sustain our bubble no matter how hard we try”?

COMMISSIONER JAY MONAHAN: Alan, so we are sitting here in Hartford, Connecticut, and in the weeks that preceded our arrival here, one, as I said throughout every market we go to, we are an invited guest.

As we come back to Hartford in an environment of COVID-19 with all of us dealing with COVID-19, our team had to work with local and state government and health officials to get our health and safety program supported and approved and ultimately to get the permit to be able to play here. We are doing that over the course of our schedule as we go forward.

And I mean, we all have to be looking at what’s happening market to market to market. That’s what we are doing, connected to both our tournaments, and obviously if based on where we are with I think now 27 states seeing a rise, it’s a concern that we’ll continue to closely monitor.

But for us, I go back to the fact that we’re here, and we’re here with the full support of local and state officials and I know that the government — the governor just a couple hours ago reaffirmed his support and is excited to see us get the Travelers Championship underway.

Q. Is it safe to say, though, that you’re concerned about what’s happening nationally?

COMMISSIONER JAY MONAHAN: Yes. I don’t think — I don’t think there’s anybody that isn’t taking a close look and has some concern.

But I’m also, as I said earlier, I think the reality is that we all have to live — you know, learn to live in an environment of COVID-19. I’m concerned but I’m also confident in the program and protocols we’ve put in place, and our ability to be able to sustain the PGA TOUR and give our players opportunities on both of these tours over the course of the year; so long as we continue to be as diligent as we intend to be.

Q. I know you’ve been reluctant to list a tipping point over the last couple of months, and even so far today, but is there a point when you get to enough positive cases within the bubble where you say, “Hey, look, we need to curtail this, we need to shut it down,” and if so, is there a specific number, or how do you determine that?

COMMISSIONER JAY MONAHAN: I think that we — Jason, on that front, where I go back to where we are right now, and the system that we have in place, and there are all kinds of scenarios that could play out.

We feel like we’ve tried to contemplate all of those scenarios in creating the program and the protocols that we have such that if you are going to have positive cases, there can — they are contained or they are containable, and we are going to avoid that scenario.

But if you start to — I mean, there certainly are scenarios where if you had a significant number of positive tests, or you could play scenarios where that would come into play and you’d have to be thinking along those lines.

But for us, we’re confident with the plan we have and we are very hopeful that we are not going to be in that position.

Q. I know that you’ve been very serious and everybody on your team has been very serious about dealing with this. Do you feel like everyone that’s been inside the bubble the last 2 1/2 weeks are as serious as you are?

COMMISSIONER JAY MONAHAN: Alex, I think that this has been a big adjustment for everybody and I think everybody’s intentions have been very, very, and everybody has taken their responsibility seriously. I don’t question that at all.

I think when you get into the environment of the tournament with no spectators here, with very few people here, with people that are around you having tested negative, I think over the first couple weeks, we’ve seen some instances where, let’s say we’ve gotten a little bit lax or away from protocol.

Full disclosure: I’ve done it myself, and I think that’s the kind of tightening that we need to do in order to make sure we continue to be in a good position to move forward.

Given the number of people, the number of players and caddies that we have, you know, it’s hard to generalize where we are. There are some conversations we’ve had to tighten things up, but I feel really good about the level of commitment and support.

I’ll tell you, we were — I mentioned our policy board call and our PAC call on Tuesday night, and you know, our four player directors and Charley Hoffman penned a letter to our players, I thought very — in a really direct and powerful way, just talking about both the opportunity we have and the responsibility we have, and I think we are all — like the game itself. The rules of the game, the values of the game, I think it’s being applied to the way we are handling our testing program. And that’s the standard we’re going to hold ourselves to.

Q. Just to follow up. In about three weeks for the first time since this all happened, the Memorial is going to have fans, even though it will be a reduction from what they would normally have. Are you still comfortable having 8,000-plus fans at a golf tournament knowing what you know now about COVID?

COMMISSIONER JAY MONAHAN: Alex, I will tell you that our team working closely with Dan Sullivan and the Memorial Tournament have been — Dan has done an outstanding job architecting and developing a plan that is, you know, very thoughtful in the way that we would introduce fans to that venue; so thoughtful that it’s been supported by local and state officials.

We’re confident in that plan, but like every tournament going forward, we’re continuing to look at what we’re learning now and start to think forward of how we are going to plan for all the subsequent events.

But we are looking forward to reintroducing fans at the Memorial tournament, but rest assured, we are only going to do it if we think it’s a health — a healthy and safe environment for our players, our caddies, our staff, and also for those fans that would be attending, and we think we’ve considered all those factors.

Q. Two quick questions. First, are you awaiting any more test results this afternoon that could potentially impact the field of this event?

COMMISSIONER JAY MONAHAN: We are not awaiting any additional test results.

Q. Secondly in conversations with health officials or experts, what does this look like exponentially, you know, X number of days or weeks from now for the TOUR in testimony of what the statistical data tells you; in other words, where, you know, within the last six days, there have been a handful of positive tests, be it caddies, players or people within their quote, unquote, bubble. I’m curious how you look at it two, three, four weeks down the road from now?

COMMISSIONER JAY MONAHAN: We tend to look at it day-to-day before we get into several weeks down the road, because while we’ve completed our testing protocol so far this week, obviously we have other measures that our players, caddies and staff will take between now and the end of play on Sunday. That’s something that we will continue to be focused on executing.

And then as it relates to going forward, I think it’s important that you understand and that we convey that our team, myself, we are spending a lot of time talking about where we are.

You know, when you go through the contact tracing and when you think about individuals that tested positive, and you think about the environment, you know, what are some of the additional things we can do to mitigate risk, and you’ve heard me say that probably too many times.

But that has been our focus, because if we focus on that, we feel like we put ourselves in a position where we can have a controllable number of — we can have a controlled environment or a controlled number of cases or positive cases going forward.

We can’t wait for the number. We have to be proactive in doing everything we can to keep that positive number as small as possible, and that really is just about executing our health and safety program.

Q. Along those lines, did you anticipate further changes than what was outlined, just given the nature of all of this?

COMMISSIONER JAY MONAHAN: The way we operate as a business is we are always seeking improvement and seeking ways that make everything that we do better, and you know, we have said from the outset that this plan that we developed in close concert with our medical experts was a plan that we thought was, you know, that is as safe and responsible as we can probably be.

But yeah, we will probably continue to make adjustments. That’s why we are here on site. We are talking to players. We are looking at things with our own eyes. We are talking daily as a team about what we are learning. When we complete our event, we are reconvening our board. We are talking to our PAC.

We are trying to — we are doing this together. You know, we are all in this together. And so I think I think it if it’s — correctly executed, we think it puts us in a better position. But the changes we made this week we feel are a very good step in addition to what we’ve already identified.

Q. I was just curious, Justin Thomas sort of opened the door or suggested the idea today of stricter enforcement around things like social distancing — curious if you get to a point where you will issue players warnings and penalties for players who are not adhering to these safety protocols.

COMMISSIONER JAY MONAHAN: You broke up for some of that, Luke, but I think I got gist of your question.

Justin is one of the 16 members of our Player Advisory Council, and I think that we have full support from our Player Advisory Council and our board to make certain we are doing everything we can to enforce the protocols that we have established, and I have every intention of doing exactly that.

Q. If it’s true that Ricky Elliot tested positive and a second test then came back negative, does that raise the question whether the tests themselves, the testing procedure, is good enough?

COMMISSIONER JAY MONAHAN: No, it doesn’t put that into question at all. We’ve spent a lot of time with our medical advisors and experts, and as I said earlier, testing really is a factor of where you are in the incubation period.

So if that, in fact, were to have happened, that is something that we would be — we would have expected versus be surprised by.

Q. We’ve seen the players fist-pumping, high-fiving, standing next to each other on the tee box. Do you think — did I break up there?

COMMISSIONER JAY MONAHAN: Yeah, you did. Sorry. You started with fist-pump.

Q. We’ve seen the players fist-pumping high-fiving, standing next to each other on tee boxes; going out to dinner, we hear, as well. Do you feel let down by the players?


Q. Back when the PGA TOUR announced the restart, it was acknowledged that the optics of all this was going to be really important. You wanted to set an example and show that sport — have you felt satisfied with the optics so far that you’ve seen, and do you feel you’re presenting the example that you would want to the rest of sport?

COMMISSIONER JAY MONAHAN: You know, I think you’re never satisfied, but — and I would say, David, that we’re three weeks in. Really, two and a half weeks in, and this has always been about a sustained return.

So I am very comfortable, very pleased, very confident in the health and safety program that we have, even though we’ve had positive tests. In this world, I think that that’s an expected outcome. We’ve learned a lot. We are continuing to refine, and to the point you’re making about a responsibility, anybody that’s leading a business, whether you’re in sport or any other business, any other industry, it’s all about trying to live in this world and be able to sustain your return in a world of COVID-19.

I sincerely feel like we are on the right path in that regard, and you know, there’s a tremendous level of attention and intensity to our actions, and it will continue to be so. We never said we were perfect. Some of the things that you’ve seen, you know, I thought myself — we just have to keep getting better and better and better as we go forward, but it is not from a lack of attention, a lack of communication or a lack of collaboration we have with the great players that are on the PGA TOUR and Korn Ferry Tour.

Q. Given the developments over the last five or six days with testing, what keeps you guys from testing every day?

COMMISSIONER JAY MONAHAN: Well, there’s two things. Just the practical side of it is, you know, one of the things that we committed to, Doug, when we committed our testing protocol was to not take away resources from every community where we are moving to and where we are playing. And so there’s a finite number of supplies we could get at that point in time.

Secondly, when you go back to our medical advisors, as we have done, and this is something we continue to talk to them about, and you look at CDC guidelines and you look at the expectation of any businesslike ours that’s reopening, testing every other day is a sound and accepted protocol for the environment that we’re in.

Q. And secondly, should the public or anyone be surprised when there’s more tests and they come back positive next week?

COMMISSIONER JAY MONAHAN: No, listen, I think this is the reality of what we’re all, you know, we’re all living under. For us, we are doing everything we can to make that not be the case.

But I don’t think — I don’t think anybody should be surprised. I’m certainly hopeful we won’t. But to be able to say that we’re going to not have any cases, and to be able to look you in the eye across the television screen orphan and say we’re not going to have any cases would be disingenuous because we are all learning as we’re going.

But again the team that we have around us that’s guiding us is putting us in a position to make us stronger — take a strong program and make it stronger and stronger.

THE MODERATOR: That concludes today’s press conference with the Commissioner. We would like to thank the media on the line and Commissioner Monahan, thank you so much for your time today.

COMMISSIONER JAY MONAHAN: Thank you, everybody.

PGA Tour Top Tours

PGA Tour: Bryson DeChambeaus pre round interview prior to the Travelers Championship

Bryson DeChambeau talks to the media prior to the start of the Travelers Championship 2020 on the PGA Tour.

PGA Tour: Bryson DeChambeau pre-round interview

THE MODERATOR: I’d like to welcome in Bryson DeChambeau to our virtual press conference here at the Travelers Championship. You’re coming off a T8 at the RBC Heritage last week and you’re going for your sixth consecutive top-10 finish of the season. Can you talk about the confidence in your game right now and what has allowed you to play so well.

BRYSON DECHAMBEAU: Well, I think my golf swing, the ability to repeat motion has increased over the past year, and even through quarantine as I gained speed, I figured out some cool little things that allowed me to repeat motion a little more consistently. It doesn’t mean it happens all the time, but it’s definitely been a lot more lately.

Q. I just wonder, how do you characterize these two weeks because you’ve been knocking on the door for two straight weeks here. Obviously haven’t crossed the line you want to cross, but where is this on the level of positive, and I have a follow-up question after this.
BRYSON DECHAMBEAU: Well, I think this golf course suits me a little bit better. I can use the length to my advantage on the front nine and there’s a couple holes on the back nine I can do the same. It was pumping into the wind today on 12, I still got it down the hill over the bunkers. 13, I hit driver, 5-iron in. And so for me — well, on 15 I hit hybrid. 17, I tried to go for the green out here. I got it over when I achieved 198-mile-an-hour ball speed, but it’s just not worth it. But it was fun trying to attempt to do things that I just never thought were possible.

Q. The first two weeks have been pretty challenging with your added length because of the fact that it’s been so tight and with doglegs and whatnot. Do you feel is it a little more liberating out here as you just played this practice round, for kind of letting it go a little bit?
BRYSON DECHAMBEAU: Yeah, I definitely feel like I can let it go a lot more. Like I said, on 17, I just thought I’d give it a go and give it a rip, and I was able to get it over after like three or four tries. But it’s not worth it, obviously. I’d have to achieve 200- to 205-mile-an-hour ball speed every time to be able to hit it over with that wind. So I’m still going to play it normally. But it’s fun attempting to do things that I’ve never done before, and having iron shots into holes that just didn’t even make sense to me a year ago, there’s no way I could do that. So it’s a different golf course for me this year. I feel like it suits me pretty well, and hopefully I can take advantage of those holes that I can hit it really far on.

Q. What’s your level of confidence that you’re going to turn one of these into a win at some point? Obviously the last few weeks you’ve been there.
BRYSON DECHAMBEAU: Yeah, I’m just going to keep giving myself chances. I play it as a numbers game. I keep giving myself opportunities, it’s eventually going to happen. And shoot, if it doesn’t, it doesn’t. I’m obviously not doing something right at that point, so I’ve got to figure out how to be more consistent in whatever it is that’s going to allow me to get over that edge. But right now I’m just playing a numbers game trying to be the casino.

Q. Everyone is asking you about your driving, rightfully so, but I’m actually curious about your putting because in the space of one off-season a few years ago you jumped from 145th on TOUR to 32nd, and you’ve kept it there in that vicinity. It’s sort of this amazing breakthrough, and I’m just curious what went into that change from your perspective? What did you begin working on? What was the shift that you underwent that you decided I need to sort of solve this problem and then you did?
BRYSON DECHAMBEAU: Yeah, so it was a lot of understanding how to launch the ball off the green, and we used some devices that allowed me to understand how to get the ball rolling in a better way, and then going to arm lock really helped me control my starting lines a lot more consistently than any other method that I’ve ever used. So that combination. Also hitting my putts two feet past the hole, not trying to die it in, those three things just allowed me to reach this new level and gain this confidence, and I guess you could say this sensitivity to error that’s in this higher level where I just feel like I’m less sensitive to error, and it just allows me to be more consistent over the course of time. So it’s been those three things, and the SIK putter has helped a lot, the DLT technology, having a really stiff shaft, LAGP, obviously I’ve got the big shaft in it now, and we’re just still trying to improve it and make it more stable, more consistent so it comes on line every single time the way I want.

Q. I’m just asking about a lot of guys had an option and a chance to play one of their early starts as a pro or even as an amateur at the Travelers. I know it was further in for you but you are one of those young guns they’ve given a chance in the past and they continue to do so. Could you talk about in general getting those early chances and what that means to a young guy’s career?
BRYSON DECHAMBEAU: It’s massive. I don’t know if I’d be here without those starts. I obviously wouldn’t. I mean, getting those seven starts or however many starts I got allowed me to get to the finals immediately, and that was massive. I went and won my first event, and the rest is history from there.

But having that start, that little jump start I guess you could say, not having to qualify, not having to Monday qualify through those qualifiers was big for me to be able to have a consistent opportunity out here. It allowed me to gain more knowledge, more understanding about what to do, how the weekend feels, getting to meet my heroes and go, okay, they’re just people, let’s just play. Just getting comfortable out here was a big deal, and those seven starts were instrumental in my success.

Q. The idea of picking a potential young up-and-coming star, do you think it’s a good future thing for the TOUR itself?
BRYSON DECHAMBEAU: Absolutely. It’s definitely a way to keep it young, first off, and I’d also say give it to kids that are willing to try and be the best. You look at their career and you look — or you look at what they’ve done, and you go, okay, these guys have succeeded in this amount of events. Let’s give this guy an exemption because he deserves it. Not because of some play on — there’s a bunch of other things that happened, obviously, that I won’t talk about, but give a kid that’s willing to work hard, willing to try and be the best that opportunity, that was me growing up, and I can’t thank everyone that gave me an exemption enough because I wouldn’t be here without them.

Q. Bryson, we’ve seen the hours you’ve put in on the golf course, and I’m guessing it’s probably just a tiny fraction of what you actually do. My question is are you — not that you’re worried, but how do you prevent burnout? I’m talking about short-term. It’s got to be tiresome.
BRYSON DECHAMBEAU: Burnout for me is when I don’t have anything else more to learn in the game of golf, and I don’t think that’s going to happen anytime soon. The reason why people get burned out is because they don’t feel like they have in the hope to go forward or keep going forward or there’s no inspiration for them to keep moving forward. I still have not reached No. 1 in the world, I still have not won a major. I hope to achieve those goals soon. When those goals hit, does that mean I’m going to give up? No, not at all. There’s still a lot more room for improvement. For me, I want to try and be — that’s, again, why I went on this journey of hitting it far because it did get boring for me for a little while, and I said, you know what, I need to make it interesting; I need to spice things up for myself. I was able to do that in the off-season and then during the quarantine. That prevented me from getting tired of the game. Definitely people have talked about that to me, but for me, when I stop learning is the day I’ll obviously burn out I feel like.

Q. When people have talked about Tiger changing his swing four times after winning majors, I get a sense you can relate to that.
BRYSON DECHAMBEAU: Well, I haven’t won a major yet, but —

Q. Except for that part, yeah.
BRYSON DECHAMBEAU: But yes, I’ve won five times. I’ve changed my golf swing somewhat dramatically from a swing speed perspective. I’ve retained most of the alignments that I have in my golf swing, so you can still see faint images of when I was younger of what I used to do. Look, it’s always a pursuit to get better, and I feel like I understand why Tiger kind of did what he did because he always wanted to be better. He just did, and that’s him. He’s such a competitive guy and wants to kick the crap out of everybody, that I think he wanted to spice things up and see if he could get even better. That’s what I’m trying to do. Whether it plays out or not, I don’t know, I’m just giving it my best.

Q. Simple question for you: What are your goals for this season?
BRYSON DECHAMBEAU: My goals, for sure I want to get to over 195 at least one time on TOUR. I think that would be pretty cool, for ball speed. I’d also say winning a major, winning multiple times this season, having a chance to win the FedExCup. Those are all goals that everybody aspires to, but for me, at the end of the day, I’m just going to try to do my absolute best every single day. That’s what I’ve said from day one, and I’ll stick to it, but there are long-term goals out there for sure.

Q. I know with the single length clubs you thought that might be something revolutionary, and it really — I don’t think it has achieved what you thought would happen —
BRYSON DECHAMBEAU: Well, that’s your perspective.

Q. Right. You know, you’re still the only one on TOUR using them —
BRYSON DECHAMBEAU: Yeah, absolutely. Well, look, here’s the reason. I personally think everybody that’s on TOUR has had great success using what they’ve done, building their game with their clubs, totally cool. I don’t think that I foresee one-length clubs changing — being consistent on the PGA TOUR for a little while. The reason I say that is it’s going to take a generational shift. You’re going to have to give these clubs to kids and they’ll experience how much easier it is to start out that way and to play the game in that manner. If you give them variable length clubs after that, they’re going to be like what am I doing, why am I playing with these different clubs. But because it’s been the social norm for so long, it’s just — this is the bleed-out on the TOUR. This is what you see. It’s a result of that.

So it’s going to take 20, 30 years before you see a lot more people having success with it that are playing on TOUR and staying on TOUR.

Q. But how about with what you’ve done with your body? Do you think a lot of players, there will be a lot of copycats who starts trying to do what you’ve done to gain speed and distance?
BRYSON DECHAMBEAU: I’m sure there will be people trying to do it. I’m not one to speak in another person’s space. I can only speak for myself. And when I say that I’m going to keep pushing the limits, I’m going to keep doing that. I’m going to see how far, how fast I can get and how straight I can hit it. As a result of what I’ve done, I think it’ll affect some people. I still think at the end of the day, people are going to be like, I just want to play my own game, do my own thing and do my best with it. I think a result 10, 20 years down the road, 100 percent there’s going to be a lot of people that are hitting it close to 400 yards, there’s no doubt.

Q. Do you plan to play both weeks at Muirfield?
BRYSON DECHAMBEAU: Not right now. I just plan to play the Memorial, the second week, as of right now.

Q. Just wondering your thoughts on how they could make the place look different or be a little different from week to week.
BRYSON DECHAMBEAU: That’s a great question. I do not know that answer. I’m sorry. I wish I could give you an answer there.

Q. I’m curious if over the years, I know you were just mentioning that you’ve changed your swing around a lot, but have you ever had one swing thought that you found yourself continuing to go back to over time, something that’s kind of worked for you? I know you talk a lot about end range of motion stuff, how it relates to that.
BRYSON DECHAMBEAU: Yeah, and I didn’t come up with that stuff until later, until the past couple years. But one of the things that’s been consistent throughout my career has been this ulnar deviation or unhinging sort of thing. I’ve always believed in that. I just felt like I could square the face way easier that way. There’s a lot of physics that does prove that to be true. But that’s been my biggest thing in life is trying to reduce variables, and I felt like this was a big one, the ulnar deviation, being able to control the radius of the club and where it’s at in the course of the ground. So I just feel like I’ve been really good with that.

THE MODERATOR: Bryson, what are your thoughts on the PGA TOUR honoring the front-line and healthcare workers through the caddie bib program?

BRYSON DECHAMBEAU: Well, it’s amazing what they’re doing. They are the people that have allowed us to play out here, and we are grateful to have them, and I’ve had a couple the past couple weeks and read through them, and last week Mrs. Keller had six years of service, and that’s certainly inspirational. I haven’t even been out here for six years. So definitely an inspiration every week, and I get to read over it and play for them. It’s pretty cool.

Q. I think it was Hogan, and you would know, who once said, Every day you don’t spend practicing, someone else is getting better.

Q. So in the early stages of the pandemic, did you find yourself checking other states’ state-at-home orders to see if anyone had an edge over you?
BRYSON DECHAMBEAU: Well, I wasn’t checking other states, but I knew that if I could start working out my body every single day, I’d be better the next day, and other people would be behind. I knew that people — not everybody was working out every single day, and I thought that if I could do that every single day through quarantine, I’d come back a different person, and I did, and I hope that it’s given me an edge. I think it’s given me an edge. I’m going to keep continuing to work out every day and just see where it leads me. But for sure that’s one of my favorite quotes in life. Every day you aren’t practicing is another day somebody else is getting better than you.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you for your time, Bryson, and good luck this week.

PGA Tour Top Tours

PGA Tour: Defending Champion Chez Reavie prior to the Travelers Championship

Chez Reavie, winner of the Travelers Championship 2019 talks to the media before his title defense at the 2020 PGA Tour event.

PGA Tour: Chez Reavie on the Travelers Championship

THE MODERATOR: We’re happy to be joined by the winner of the 2019 Travelers Championship, Chez Reavie. Chez, if we could just get an opening comment on your return to TPC River Highlands.

CHEZ REAVIE: Yeah, it’s great to be back. Obviously I have good memories here. The people are great here. It’s a little strange wearing a mask everywhere inside, but it is what it is, and I think we’re all embracing it.

THE MODERATOR: What did that win mean for you in terms of your career coming 11 years after your first win on the PGA TOUR? What did that mean to you?

CHEZ REAVIE: Yeah, you know, it was everything. I had been slowly building my foundation over the years and had a couple chances to win but wasn’t able to pull it off, and just kept working hard, and fortunately last year was the year I broke through and got another win.

THE MODERATOR: You’re joined in your feature grouping this week by fellow Arizona State Sun Devil Jon Rahm as well as FedExCup leader Webb Simpson. How does it feel to be a part of one of those groups this week?

CHEZ REAVIE: Yeah, you know, it’s awesome. Jon and I are good friends. We play a lot of golf back home in Arizona, so it’ll be fun to go out and play with him.

Q. You must be happy that this tournament is staying at the same time of year, like it didn’t move, and it’s the first one obviously since coming back. How much of a difference will that make?
CHEZ REAVIE: Yeah, you know, I don’t know how much of a difference that makes. I guess the weather is supposed to be good. We have a chance of rain, I think, tomorrow, but yeah, you know, it’s kind of — the first week back to normalcy I guess for us a little bit. We still have to wear masks and take all the proper precautions, but yeah, it is nice to come back here and see everybody I saw last year and left on such a good note.

Q. Obviously this place is always going to have a special place in your heart, and any course you shoot a 63 on, there’s going to be good memories there. What is it about the course and this tournament that just makes it so appealing on the schedule?
CHEZ REAVIE: You know, I think it’s a great week. It’s a great golf course. You’ve got some really tough holes and then you’ve got some scoring holes. If you get the ball in play off the tee, there are a lot of holes you can make birdies on, and then there’s a few tough holes you’re just trying to play smart and make some pars. It’s a great golf course. You’ve got to shape it both ways. If you hit the ball off line it can punish you, so it’s just a lot of fun to play.

Q. I want to talk about maybe the most grueling shot on the course, which is the 15-and-a-half hole and trying to hit that umbrella. Will you take a crack at that this year?
CHEZ REAVIE: Oh, yeah, absolutely. I take a crack every year. I haven’t hit it on the umbrella yet. I’ve come close a couple times, so hopefully this will be my year for that.

THE MODERATOR: We appreciate the time, Chez, and best of luck in your title defense.

Ladies European Tour

LET reveals brand refresh pushing towards the future

The Ladies European Tour (LET) has launched a fresh logo, new website and tag line, Raise Our Game, capturing the ambition of the new LPGA-LET joint venture partnership and a shared desire to keep moving women’s golf forward.

The brand refresh includes a short film created in-house, capturing the passion and potential of the LET players, celebrating their hard work, dedication and perseverance. 

Narrated by Solheim Cup star Suzann Pettersen and with a script written by multiple LET champion Meghan MacLaren, it focuses on the hard work and determination it takes to achieve goals, inspiring women and girls to pursue their passion and realise their potential through the game of golf.

Talented writer Meghan MacLaren, who wrote the script, said: “I loved working on this project and it was great to play an active role in the new direction of our Tour. This is an exciting time for the LET and for women’s golf and to see the growth potential as we look ahead to the future for the next is very fulfilling. I’ve always worked hard to raise my game and I’m proud to be a Member of a Tour which gives us the opportunity to raise our game further.”

Meghan’s script focuses on the fierce commitment required to compete at the highest level and highlights the importance of the friends, family and wider community of tournament promoters, sponsors and media who together lay the path to drive women’s golf forward: 

It starts with something we can’t define.  

It’s a dream, but we’re too young to know what it is, where it might take us.

Our family, coaches, friends… they know. On cold winter mornings and warm summer nights, they help us shape it into something we believe in.

Sometimes we lose it. Sometimes we stop believing. Sometimes we wonder if it’s all really worth it… but we don’t stop.

Because in every new city that embraces us and every new partner who invests in us, on every Monday that promises and every Thursday that threatens to take away – we have a chance to find it again. A chance to believe again. A chance to make each moment our own.

But it’s yours too, because you’re there by our side, guiding the way. You helped create it.

So it’s time to believe, in all of our dreams.

Together, let’s raise our game.

Suzann Pettersen, one of the most iconic European golfers of all time, who holed the winning putt at the 2019 Solheim Cup, said: “I wouldn’t be where I am without the LET and I’m excited about the next chapter of the Tour’s history as it looks to provide even more opportunities for women and girls in the game. I’m thrilled to narrate this inspirational video, re-branding the new LET. The future is bright for the LET and its Members.”  

LET Chief Executive Alexandra Armas said: “This brand refresh expresses our excitement about the LET and its future, how passionate and proud we all are to represent this strong new brand and that we are in this journey together with our partners, determined to create greater opportunities for the women who play golf today and for the ones that will follow in the future.

“It has been an unprecedented and eventful start to the new decade. In January, we announced a record-breaking schedule and we were extremely excited about the 2020 season. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, it has been a challenging time for us of late, but we are now focused on the long term.

“This is not only the time to preserve tournaments in 2020 but to build the future that we’re so excited about moving forward for women’s golf. 2020 is a building block to a bigger and better 2021, 2022 and beyond. Together, let’s do all we can to raise our game.”

PGA Tour

PGA Tour: Webb Simpson about his win at RBC Heritage

THE MODERATOR: I’d like to welcome the champion of the 2020 RBC Heritage, Webb Simpson, into the press conference room. What a Father’s Day for you, Webb. Congratulations on your victory. Can we get some comments?

WEBB SIMPSON: Yeah, thrilled to death to be sitting here as the champion for many reasons. I’m RBC Ambassador, so that makes it special. I love this golf course. I love this area. I’ve never quite gotten it done here. I was close in 2013, losing to Graeme McDowell in the playoff. So it feels great.

Honestly, the last kind of ten holes were a blur because guys are making birdies, we’re trying to finish before night comes, and so to finish with five birdies like that was really special, especially after going kind of yesterday and the first 10 holes, 11 holes today not making putts. To see the putts go in when I needed them, that was really fun to see the ball going in the hole.

Q. You were chasing daylight here a little bit. Talk to us about the delay and what it was like to go back and try to finish.
WEBB SIMPSON: Yeah, the TOUR did a phenomenal job. They didn’t know the storm was coming. It kind of came out of nowhere. And then we’re looking at daylight, how late can we play? 8:45, 8:50. We kind of figured out we’ve got to start by this time to get it done, and when they came out and said, go warm up, they only let us warm up for about 20 minutes, which is what we wanted. Sometimes warmups can be too long, and we run out of daylight. They did a great job of getting us back out there so we could barely get it done.

Q. Webb, congratulations. Just with your familiarity here and as different as things have been this week, how much did your knowledge of this place help you be comfortable today, as crazy as it was out there?
WEBB SIMPSON: I think it helped a little bit, but not as much as it would have in April. I think I know the golf course a lot better — you know, more firm, overseeded. We took a lot of new notes this year, especially around the green, and I hit different clubs off the tee because the fairways are softer.

So I don’t know if my course knowledge helped as much as just being in contention lately a few times and kind of enjoying that and kind of knowing my body and how far shots are going to go and controlling my breathing. That was what I was thankfully leaning on those last few holes.

Q. What were your conversations with Paul when those putts were going in there? You know, those three birdies that kind of separated you. What were you all kind of talking through during that time?
WEBB SIMPSON: Nothing different. I mean, he’s really good at kind of sticking in the system of one shot at a time, one hole at a time. So we’re not getting too excited. We might get excited if I’m four, five, or six up, but guys were right there. Abraham Ancer was playing awesome, Tyrrell Hatton, so many guys were playing great, Daniel Berger. So we knew we had to keep making birdies. We still had a job to do.

Q. Webb, you obviously played well out here before, having been in the playoff. You played here a lot. Does that factor in at all on Sunday afternoon? I know they’re a little bit different greens than what you have experienced in April, but you seem to have a familiarity with the greens. Does that help you at all?
WEBB SIMPSON: For sure. I think the little nuances of not going all the way back to the pin on 14. 17, the ball seems to release more than most greens. I think those things from 11 years here really helped. Because when you know certain facts like that, it helps you to be more confident in the club you’re choosing because some holes I’m flying an 8 iron to the hole. 17, we were trying to land it ten yards short of the hole. So that, I think previous knowledge, like I said there in 14, really helps me be more confident in my club selection.

Q. And the birdie putt on 17 seemed to seal it for you, but did it feel different because there wasn’t the roar that you would probably expect in that situation?
WEBB SIMPSON: Maybe a little bit, but in the moment, you — you know, for me, my process was the same. It felt just as good to make it, but, yeah, that would have been — there would have definitely been some momentum building from the crowd, I think for a few guys. Not just me, but a few guys there on the last few holes, because a lot of guys were making birdies.

Q. Congratulations, Webb. Just your thoughts on becoming the first guy in maybe forever to win on Father’s Day two different tournaments. How special that is for you? And I think they said on TV that you wear yellow on Father’s Day, it’s your dad’s favorite. Can you talk about that a little bit?
WEBB SIMPSON: Yeah, definitely really special. I feel like I won the THE PLAYERS on Mother’s Day after my dad passed away, and that was really special, especially it had been 3 1/2, 4 1/2 years since I won. That was an emotional win. U.S. Open on Father’s Day, I’ll never forget calling my dad after on the way to the press conference, and when he picked up the phone, he just was laughing. That’s kind of what he did when he was happy, he would just laugh. So I’m going to miss that laugh today for sure.

But I thought a lot about him. This morning I thought about him, and when I was on the golf course, I thought about him. Yeah, I started wearing yellow on Sundays in his honor. Yellow is his favorite color. My kids know that. Whenever they give me a card, it’s always in yellow crayon or yellow marker. So still feeling my dad all around me from memories. He loved golf. He would have loved watching today.

Q. And if you could tolerate my lame golf question, of all the birdie putts you made on the back, which was so critical, I’m curious about the shot you hit on 15, the second that set up that two-putt.
WEBB SIMPSON: Yeah, that was a great number for me. It was a really similar number to yesterday. I hit the same club, hit a 5 wood, had a pretty good lie. I knew anything left of that pin was an uphill two putt. It was basically the same shot I hit yesterday, just a little further left.

Yeah, that kind of — that was a big drive to hit because, if you don’t hit it in the fairway, you’ve got to lay up, and that wedge shot is pretty tough today to that pin. It was a big drive and a big second shot.

Q. With a leaderboard that tightly packed, there are so many surges. Even just walking the back nine looking at the leaderboard, it’s amazing how the narrative kind of shifts in your mind. Oh, this guy’s at 20 now. This guy’s at 19. Are you aware of that when you’re playing? Is there a sense of momentum shifts? And is there any sense that, when you surge, it has to be at the right time? Not that you can really plan that, but really you were the last one to surge, and you ended up winning.
WEBB SIMPSON: I think it’s at both ends. It’s both staying in your own lane, worrying about yourself, but also you’ve got to know what’s going on. I think, had I not looked at the leaderboards, I would have thought 20 was enough, but I’m looking there on 12, I looked at the leaderboards, and then the next leaderboard, maybe we have one on 13, but I was just amazed tons of guys were shooting low scores and making birdies.

So that made me, not change a whole lot, but just attack a little bit more and make sure that all my putts were getting to the hole. I left a couple putts short on the front, but I made sure I didn’t do that on the last seven holes.

Q. Webb, just one broad one. I remember when you won THE PLAYERS a couple years ago, you went to No. 20 in the world, and you talked about that desire to want to kind of stay there and improve. Going up to, I think, No. 5 now, how proud are you of yourself from taking that win at the THE PLAYERS and still moving forward, I guess?
WEBB SIMPSON: Yeah, I think I said it then, Justin Rose is kind of my inspiration. He seems like he’s always there every week. He works hard at his craft, and I just thought, you know, I have good weeks. I make it to the TOUR Championship. I’ve won a few times. But I really have a desire to be in that top 10 or 15 guys in the world ranking all the time and have chances to win, not just twice a year, but as many times as I can.

So that led me to just look at every part of my game, whether it’s working out or the mental approach, and see if I can get better. That was three years ago probably. So, yeah, to your question, it feels great to see the hard work pay off and see that the process I’ve put in place is working.

But we’re nuts. We always think we can get better, and I think there’s room to grow.

Q. Did it take winning for you not to be asked about Bryson?
WEBB SIMPSON: Maybe so. I’m fine talking about Bryson. We can talk about him, whatever you want to talk about.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you for your time and congratulations again.


Accessibility first

Change in golf is a hot topic. Social transformations influence the demands of the golf market and of the golf clubs themselves. The approaches to mastering the challenges ahead are as unique as every club itself. Golf Post talks to the people managing golf clubs and shows how they envision the sport in the future. To learn more about the wide variety of golf courses in Europe, read our article series on Golf Post, the digital home for golfers.

Golfcentrum Amsteldijk

Located in Amstelveen on the outskirts of Amsterdam, Golf Amsteldijk is a 30-minute ride from the very center of Amsterdam and it takes 20 minutes from Amsterdam Airport Schiphol. The club is embedded in a rather idyllic scenery on the border between urban and rural environments.

The fully-fledged 9-hole golf course with a-status was built next to the river Amstel. It was designed by Alan Rijks and opened in 2012. A main characteristic of this course is it’s abundance of water hazards given the course’s location in a typical Dutch polder landscape. Few trees hold back the wind that can be quite strong at times and forms a challenging environment for the long game. “Yes, our 9 hole course very unique and fun to play, but our main business is practice, coaching, and training”, explains Nick Verschoor operational manager at Golf Amsteldijk.

Focus on being a training center

In fact, Golf Amsteldijk puts its focus more on being a golf training center open to everyone than on running a golf course. The vision was an accessible golf center, where golfers can develop in every facet of this sport without going on a professional course straightaway. This was Tineke Loogman’s vision. Loogman herself is missing her left hand. She trained a lot and made up for lack of strength and lack of balance. Soon she played at a high level in the European Disabled Golf Tour and even won it in 2006. She is the owner of the Golfcentrum Amsteldijk, which is quite possibly the largest golf practice facility in Europe.

The bunker game can be trained in a special facility or on an a-level 9 hole course near the capital of the Netherlands. (Photo: Golfcentrum Amsteldijk)

Golf Amsteldijk offers „9 Golf Worlds“ dedicated to the different disciplines of the sport. “Every aspect of golf can be trained”, says Verschoor. A 300-meter long driving range has many targets at different distances. The world of chipping has over forty tee-off points with nine targets at a distance of 15 to 81 meters. Next to a pitching and a separate putting area of 5000 square meters, there is a special bunker training facility and many other options like 9 hole par 3 course for training purposes next to the a-level 9 hole course mentioned before. Except for the latter, you don’t need a handicap (the Dutch license to play is called “golfvaardigheidsbewijs“) and for the training facilities you don’t need to bring balls: “This is a unique service, but all golf balls you need to train are included”, says Verschoor, “we want to be a very accessible club and organize trial courses to give an affordable opportunity to try if golf is your sport.”

So, Golf Amsteldijk is specialized in golfer acquisition and tying them onto the sport and it holds pre-set 9 hole tournaments that count towards your handicap. “If golfers want to experience an 18 hole tournament, they have to go somewhere else. But if they want to play 9 hole or train their game again, they are always welcome back”, says Verschoor.

The golf course is located in a typically Dutch polder landscape. (Photo: Golfcentrum Amsteldijk)

However, the attitude towards accessibility or low-threshold access is impressively reflected in the golfing education of children. 70 children take part in each training program that place in summer (March to October) and winter (November to February). “We developed these programs in the past years. Our teaching pros are particularly qualified to work with minors and we connected to many schools in the neighborhood to present our services to them”, explains Verschoor and adds: “To be honest, the project didn’t work that well in the beginning. We started with less than 15 participants. It took a lot of time and effort until the people got familiar with the idea and valued it in the end.”

Today the golf school at Golf Amsteldijk is well-known in the area and contributes its part in rejuvenating the sport. As always it needs some stamina introducing new ideas to society but in the end, it pays off. There’s still a long way to go, Verschoor is convinced, if the Netherlands wants to catch up with Great Britain or the US. “I’ve been to the UK recently. People of all ages play there. The average age in the Netherlands is much higher.”

People are preferring 9 hole golf

But there are some general tendencies in the Netherlands that imply a change in golf. “People are preferring 9 hole golf. They can’t fit a long 18 hole round into their schedule anymore. Be it because of other leisure activities, be it because of work, in the end, people do not want to invest so much time in golf anymore.” This is why an extension on the golf course at Amsteldijk is no option at the moment.

Instead of expanding Amsteldijk intensifies the member-club-relationship. Next to small persuasive deals Amsteldijk offers a golf trip abroad once a year. “2019 some of our golf professionals organized a trip and a tournament in Cadiz in Spain and many members joined in. 2020 we’ll go to Morocco”, says Verschoor.

Verschoor and Amsteldijk don’t work in a trial-and-error method. In order to meet all requirements, they collect and analyze data concerning how many people are using the facilities, when, and where. In addition, Amsteldijk analyses the interdependency of people using the Golfcentrum and visiting the restaurant. “We hope that our data analysis systems will offer more and broader packages in the future”, says Verschoor. Because it is of utmost importance to monitor reliable data on customer trends. Verschoor is aware of the fact that his club is located almost perfectly on the outskirts of the Dutch capital. Many projects may work very well because the catchment area is densely populated and very good connected to public infrastructure, yet still embedded in rather idyllic scenery.

Golfcentrum Amsteldijk is embedded in a rather idyllic scenery on the border between urban and rural environments. (Photo: Golfcentrum Amsteldijk)

Based on meaningful data the Golfcentrum decided to use the winter for implementing urban offers by making some expensive but important changes to its facility. Golf Amsteldijk now comes with a new restaurant and Top Tracer Range.

The previous restaurant had a good reputation and therefore slightly more non-golfing customers in the past already, but still, Golf Amsteldijk decided to renovate the Brasserie 10. “The restaurant won’t only re-open with new furniture, it is supposed to be an open place for everyone, golfing and non-golfing guests”, says Verschoor. The center of the new restaurant concept is a warm and welcoming atmosphere and a good price-performance ratio.

Freshly renovated is the restaurant Brasserie 10. (Photo: Golfcentrum Amsteldijk)

A recently started highlight is Top Tracer Range. Even though it’s out of season, all 10 bays are fully booked most of the time. “Top Tracer suits us very well. Firstly it is an excellent training device and secondly, it is a lot of fun. I think tracking technology is key to golf in the future and we want to be part of that”, says Verschoor. But, he adds, “Amsteldijk still focuses on golf training. Although Top Tracer attracts young people who have never played golf before, the main function remains sporting progress.” Both improvements of this winter correspond to the club’s philosophy of easy or low-threshold access to our sport.

Golf Amsteldijk celebrates the beginning of the new season with the public every April. “We call it the ‘Kick-off Dagen’ (Kick-off Days). It means free entrance for everyone, free trial lessons, workshops and demos with our pros, club fitting offers and a lot of fun”, says Verschoor. Because of the measures due to Corona, the feast had to be cancelled in 2020. “We’ll celebrate 2021 all the better for that,” says Verschoor. Now, after the lockdown golfing is possible at Amsteldijk since mid-May, the restaurant re-opened on the 1st of June 2020.

Thanks to all these efforts Amsteldijk is a growing and developing club. “Because of our monthly membership options, our numbers are decreasing in winter and increasing in summer. But the all-season comparison over the years shows that we are growing constantly”, Verschoor explains. The club has roughly 1600 members, about 200 of whom have a full membership. Full membership means that you have access to all the facilities and the 9 hole golf course all the time and may use the Top Tracer Range twice a month for free. Golf Amsteldijk offers further membership models in different price categories. “A full membership doesn’t make sense for every golfer, so why shouldn’t we offer other possibilities”, Verschoor asks rhetorically. Golf Amsteldijk is a good example of how to integrate an open and welcoming culture into a successful golf concept.

(Text: Benjamin Reeve)

Highlights Tours

RBC Heritage: Rory McIlroy after making the Cut

Q. Rory, what was the difference between today and yesterday?
RORY McILROY: It was a little more comfortable off the tee, put the ball in play a little more, and then once you do that around this golf course, you’re going to give yourself chances. The greens are small, and you’re not hitting very long shots into the green.

Yeah, just giving myself chances to hit iron shots within birdie range and was able to convert a few. I played the easier holes better — you know, birdied the three par 5s, birdied the 9th, picked off a couple more. So just a solid day.

When I got myself out of position, I got myself back into position and relied on my short game to bail me out a few times on the back nine when I needed to, but overall just a much better day. I think, whenever you see — going out there this afternoon, I knew I needed at least 66. So having a number in your head definitely focuses your mind, and you know what you need to do.

Q. Did you hear about Nick Watney, and your reaction?
RORY McILROY: Yeah, he texted me actually because we had a chat on the putting green before I went out to play.

Q. This morning?
RORY McILROY: Yeah, but we were at a distance. He was just saying, look, I hope I didn’t get too close to you. He feels badly that he was here today at the golf course. I said, look, it’s fine. You never know. So I said to him, if I was in your position, I probably would have been here too. Look, at this point, you just have to concentrate on getting better and getting healthy.

But, yeah, look, it sucks for him especially. You know, if you contract it, that’s fine, but then it’s the fact that who have you come into contact with, and who you might have exposed and stuff. Look, we’re still in the middle of a pandemic. Until this thing’s over, we all just have to stay vigilant and keep your distance and wear our masks if we’re going out in public and keep washing our hands.

Q. When did you get the text?
RORY McILROY: Well, as soon as I finished. Yeah, I looked at my phone, and there was a text from Nick. I think he just wanted to tell me personally instead of, obviously, having to read it through the news. So I appreciate that.

Q. Jordan was just here, and he said this was kind of a matter of when, not if.
RORY McILROY: Yeah, for sure, if you look at the statistics. I read a thing today that — look, by the end of the year, there’s going to be 200,000 deaths in the U.S. alone from COVID-19. So to think that us on the PGA TOUR, none of us were going to get it was very — I don’t think anyone thought that. I think the consensus was someone is going to get it at some point, and Nick’s the one that’s got it, and he’s self-isolating and doing what he has to do.

Yeah, it’s a shame, but the show goes on. We’ve got 36 holes to play at this tournament.

Q. Do you still have confidence in the program now?
RORY McILROY: Oh, yeah, for sure. Yeah, when I do the things I’m supposed to do and I’m at the tournament site, I feel very safe, yeah.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

PGA Tour Top Tours

PGA Tour: Rory McIlroy interview before RBC Heritage

Rory McIlroy talks to the media prior to the start of the PGA Tour’s RBC Heritage in Hilton Head Island.

Rory McIlroy talks with the media before the RBC Heritage (PGA Tour)

THE MODERATOR: We’ll go ahead and get started with Rory McIlroy at the 2020 RBC Heritage. Rory, you’re making your first start at Harbour Town since 2009. How does it feel to be back?

RORY McILROY: It feels good to be back. Yeah, it seems like a lifetime ago that I was here last, week after my first Masters in ’09.

Yeah, I’ve watched it a lot on TV over the years, and you sort of know all the signature holes, I guess, but there was a few holes — I played a few holes yesterday, and there was a couple on the front nine that I didn’t really recall, and then I’m going to go right after here and play the back nine. There’s a couple on that side that I sort of need to get familiar with again. But, yeah, it’s good to be back.

Look, it’s a different schedule. I played Colonial for the first time last week, playing here for the first time in 11 years. But, yeah, excited to just be able to play golf tournaments again and get back at it. Excited for a great week.

THE MODERATOR: We’ll take some questions from the media.

Q. Rory, I got a couple for you. What did you experience last week as far as dealing with the COVID-19 that will help you go forward this week?
RORY McILROY: I don’t know, I think the first couple days last week in Colonial felt somewhat normal. I mean, I think Thursday, Friday — you know, it felt a little different over the weekend, like when we were in contention, in materials of it was very quiet and obviously not much atmosphere out there. But in terms of like dealing with it and dealing with the daily routine of temperature checks and all that sort of stuff, it’s totally fine.

I think the plans that are in place are very, very good. I’m sure everyone’s doing their best. I certainly don’t want to expose myself and test positive and put anyone else in danger, but also, selfishly, I don’t want to test positive because I want to keep playing golf, I want to keep playing in these tournaments. So I’m trying to do everything I can to limit my exposure and obviously not catch or spread the virus.

Q. And I’ll ask another question I’ve asked of everybody. Would you gain 30 to 35 pounds to gain 20 miles per hour ball speed?
RORY McILROY: No. I actually feel my best when I’m lighter. I was probably at my lightest at the start of the season, sort of that California swing, at Torrey Pines. I remember weighing myself at Torrey on the Sunday morning before going out to the final round, and I was like 155. I think that’s half of Bryson now.

Yeah, I feel better when I’m lighter. I feel more supple. I feel like I get a little more speed. Yeah, I don’t feel great when I gain weight.

Q. The restart, obviously, has been trickier for the Europe-based players for all the logistical reasons that everyone knows. Do you appreciate their play? And what do you think of their losing World Golf Ranking points as they try to figure out how to navigate this new normal?
RORY McILROY: Look, personally, I — if I were in their shoes and I was asked to come over to the states and shelter in place or quarantine for two weeks before these tournaments, I would have done that because we’ve got — I mean, if you really care about your career and care about moving forward, you should be here, I think. Last week was 70 World Ranking points for the winner, this week 74.

And I get there’s different variables and families and stuff involved, but we all have the means to rent a very nice house in a gated community in Florida and — you know, it’s not a hardship for two weeks to come over and quarantine. I mean, it’s fine. My caddie Harry came over and did it. He stayed in our guest house. The two weeks flew by.

Yeah, I honestly don’t understand the guys complaining because there is a solution to it. You can come over here and do what needs to be done.

Q. A quick follow. One of your Ryder Cup teammates said the problem is a three week — if you come over for three weeks, it amounts to a nine-week block because you have to quarantine two weeks, then if you were to go home, it’s two weeks, then when you come back, it’s two weeks. So if you have young children or whatever, that’s the trick, I guess. Do you appreciate that dilemma?
RORY McILROY: I do appreciate that, but it’s not as if — you know, most kids, it’s sort of the end of the school year. I know a few kids that went back to school. Again, you can bring your family with you. We all have the means to do that.

Look I don’t quite — it might seem a little harsh, but I don’t get that mindset, especially if you care about your career and you want to advance.

Q. I was going to ask you, what’s sort of been the practice arrangements and accommodation arrangements this week between you and Harry? I guess you and Harry, as you mentioned last week, shared a house in Fort Worth, and you had a downstairs basement with his sort of golf driving simulator. What’s the arrangement this week, and who are you sort of practicing with this week?
RORY McILROY: Same thing. So Harry and I are sharing a house. We’ve obviously spent the last, whatever it is, 3 1/2 weeks together. So, obviously, we’re — we get tested, and we’re both negative. I feel like it’s a safe option. So just Harry and I sharing a house again this week.

Then practice-wise, I haven’t really — I played nine holes yesterday, and I joined Jhonattan Vegas and Emiliano Grillo and Branden Grace, but I’m going to go play nine holes later today, but I haven’t arranged anything. It’s sometimes nice just to get out there on your own, especially if you want to see a new golf course that you haven’t seen in a while, just to sort of go about your business with your caddie and learn a few things about the course.

Q. Hi, Rory. Obviously, you’ve been in a position to win a few times this year and have had a disappointing Sunday. At what point do you sort of dismiss — like last Sunday, for example — as just one of those days, and at what point does it sort of become a thing in the back of your head that you’re aware of?
RORY McILROY: I wouldn’t say that Sundays this year have been disappointing. I mean, I played — maybe Bay Hill, I would say was disappointing, and obviously last week, but that was just more annoying, like I played crap. That was really it. Like it wasn’t as if it was anything to do with the position I was in or I got off to a really bad start and got into the rough on the front nine and hit decent shots that ended up in a bunker or a bad lie or whatever and just sort of — it’s one of those things where the momentum just started going the other way.

No, look, it’s fine. I played okay last week. It was a good gauge to see where I was at and what I needed to practice and what I needed to do going into the next few weeks. Obviously disappointing not to shoot a good one on Sunday, but it was fine. I learnt quite a bit from it, and hopefully those lessons I can put into practice this week.

Q. Nick Faldo said in the commentary that it doesn’t look like you’ve got a plan when things are going wrong. Were you made aware of that comment afterwards, and do you think that’s an unfair comment?
RORY McILROY: I didn’t hear that, no. Look, commentators are put in positions where, look, they have to say something. They’re not just going to sit there and be silent. I respect Nick a lot. Nick’s been really good to me growing up, as a junior golfer and even into the professional level. Look, I get the position he’s put in with commentary where you just have to say something, you have to make a comment. I’ve learned very quickly out here that you don’t take anything personally and you just move on.

Q. Rory, you’ve had kind of two weeks now to get used to this new normal at tournament sites, but you guys are creatures of habit. What’s been the one thing that you’ve had to switch up that’s maybe been the most different for you?
RORY McILROY: Honestly, there hasn’t been that much. I mean, there hasn’t really been anything that has been that different. I sort of like it. It’s quiet. You can get from A to B and not get stopped 20 times. It’s sort of — look, we all miss the fans, and the fans make the atmosphere, but at the same time, it’s sort of nice to be able to just go about your business and not have to worry about something that should take five minutes, having to give yourself 15 or 20 minutes to do just because of just getting from A to B. You know what it’s like at tournaments and stuff.

I haven’t really switched up that much. There hasn’t been anything that I would say that I would change. It’s sort of been nice.

Q. I just wanted to ask about Bryson. You played with him on Sunday. What was that like? Were you expecting that? Did you expect to see that transformation? Was it much different to what you saw from him before?
RORY McILROY: Yeah, I mean, obviously, at the start of the year, he came out, and he was a bit bigger. You could see he was getting a bit of speed and stuff, and he was hitting it a long way. But he hit a couple drives on Sunday that Harry and I just looked at each other, and we’re like, holy shit, that was unbelievable.

He hit one into the wind on 11. I hit a really good one and probably hit it like 315, 320. He must have flew my ball by 40 yards. He hit it like 370, 375 into the wind. It was crazy. It was nuts. It’s unbelievable.

I mean, it’s impressive what he’s doing. There’s going to be courses where it works, and there’s going to be courses where it won’t. I can’t see him hitting that many drivers this week, for example. But, look, he nearly won on Colonial, but Colonial you can always miss it on one side. It’s not as if — I feel like Colonial, there’s maybe only trouble on one side of the hole a lot of times, where obviously somewhere like here, Hilton Head, you’ve got trouble on both sides. So there’s not really a bailout anywhere, where it felt like last week you could sort of — even though Colonial is a traditional golf course, there is always one side you could miss it if you wanted to hit driver.

Look, it’s impressive. He’s big. He’s sort of gone down a path, and he’s obviously very — he’s got a conviction, and he’s following it. That’s what he’s done. He’s always thought outside the box and thought a little differently to most people. He’s really put his mind at wanting to get longer, and he’s definitely done that.

Q. Is there no doubt that he’s the longest now, do you think?
RORY McILROY: I’d still say Cameron Champ. It seems with Cameron, it’s a lot more — it’s smoother speed. It’s not quite as much of an effort as Bryson’s putting into it. But he’s getting there.

Q. Just kind of curious, back to the Sunday thing for you. When you are in contention on Sunday, which you put yourself there so often, what’s different for you that day? Is the adrenaline running a little bit more? I don’t know how much you analyze that kind of thing, but I’m just curious, what is different for you on that Sunday for those final 18 holes?
RORY McILROY: Nothing, I don’t think. There shouldn’t be anything different, I guess. Yeah, no, I — geez, you’re going out there trying to shoot a good score, and that’s about it. That’s what you try to do every day. Some days you play better than others. Geez, I remember going into the — like everyone kept asking me about Fridays six years ago in 2014 when I had bad Fridays. Geez, a few Fridays in a row where I didn’t play well. I don’t think it’s this thing.

So, no, I try to go out there every day and shoot the best score I can, and the best score I could shoot on Sunday was 74. Hopefully, tomorrow I go out and try my best and shoot something a bit lower than that. Just each day, just try to go out there and do your best.

Q. Does it become more disappointing when the one bad round is on a Sunday? Or could you make the argument, if you had that bad round, if you shoot the 74 on Friday, maybe you’re not in position for Sunday, right?
RORY McILROY: Yeah, I mean, not really. Like every day’s the same. Again, I always say winning is — there’s a lot of randomness to winning golf tournament as. It’s not just about — like there’s other things that happen, and you looked at what happened on Sunday. There’s so many guys in contention. Putts slip out. Putts slip in. Like there’s so much stuff that happens. You just have to go out there and focus on yourself and, again, try to shoot good scores.

It’s not like I’ve necessarily shot bad scores on Sundays. I got off to a couple of bad starts in some final groups, but I still was able to come back and shoot scores in the 60s. So, no, I’m not worried about anything.

Q. Just one quick unrelated thing, with a little bit of a weird silver lining to these last — these first four tournaments, to some degree, is the fact that all of you guys are obviously jonesing for the competition, and the fields have become so strong to some of these tournaments that normally don’t draw the kinds of fields they’re drawing right now. How much do you think that helps you even — you and everybody else, particularly the top guys — when most of the big guys are there? It has a little bit of a — at least in terms of the feel, the Major Championship feel?
RORY McILROY: Yeah, it does. It feels great to look down the range and see all of the top players in the world here, or most of the top players in the world here. That is, it’s a good feeling. That’s what we all want. We all want to play against the best fields week in, week out. I guess, as you said, it’s silver lining to all this is that it seems like all the top guys are going to play a little more often going forward, and that’s a good thing for the TOUR and for us and for the people at home that are watching.

Q. Rory, no positive tests last week. Apparently, that’s going to be the case again this week. What do you make of that? What were your expectations? Any worries about complacency going forward?
RORY McILROY: Yeah, I think, as the lockdowns start to lift — people have called it like this coronavirus fatigue or whatever, where people could become a little more complacent or sloppy, but, again, I think — you know, most guys out here, their careers really matter to them, and they’re going to do everything they can to make sure that they’re safe and the people that they’re coming in contact with are safe.

Again, it doesn’t surprise me because I feel like the plan has put in place here has been very good. So, yeah, it’s great to hear that two weeks in a row there’s no positive tests. That’s what we just have to keep doing, but like as I said, just because things are starting to lift and it’s getting a little more normal doesn’t mean that we just stop doing what we’ve been doing over the last 12 weeks. We still need to stay pretty vigilant.

European Tour

European Tour and Challenge Tour to resume in Austria

The European Tour and the European Challenge Tour will resume their 2020 seasons with back-to-back dual ranking events in Austria in July.  

The Austrian Open at Diamond Country Club, from July 9-12, will mark the return of the Challenge Tour’s Road to Mallorca after a five month pause following the global outbreak of Coronavirus. It will be followed by the Euram Bank Open at Golf Club Adamstal, which remains in its original slot on the calendar but now begins a day earlier, taking place from Wednesday July 15 to Saturday July 18.

Both tournaments will have prize funds of €500,000 and will be dual-ranking events with the European Tour, which fully resumes its 2020 season with the Betfred British Masters Hosted by Lee Westwood at Close House from July 22-25.

It will be the third consecutive year the Euram Bank Open has been part of the Challenge Tour schedule, with Darius van Driel of the Netherlands and Callum Hill of Scotland winning in 2018 and 2019 respectively.

Jamie Hodges, Head of the Challenge Tour, said: “We are pleased to announce the resumption of the Challenge Tour season with the Austrian Open at Diamond Country Club and the Euram Bank Open at Golf Club Adamstal, two dual ranking events which will take place in consecutive weeks in July.

“Our measured approach to the 2020 season has mirrored that of the European Tour and we have been informed each step of the way by our Medical Health Strategy, led by our Chief Medical Officer Dr Andrew Murray, aligned to individual government safety advice.

“Part of this strategy is to play, wherever possible, in clusters in one territory and we are therefore grateful to the Austrian Golf Federation and the two venues, Diamond Country Club and Golf Club Adamstal for their support in making these events happen.

“We will continue to be guided by the European Tour’s Medical Health Strategy and we will announce details of subsequent 2020 Challenge Tour events in due course.”

 Ben Cowen, the European Tour’s Deputy Chief Operating Officer, said: “These two dual ranking events provide vital playing opportunities for our members following the enforced period of inactivity since March. 

“We are therefore grateful to both Diamond Country Club and Golf Club Adamstal, as well as the Austrian Golf Federation, for their support and we look forward to visiting Austria ahead of the European Tour’s full resumption with the Betfred British Masters at Close House the following week.”

Christian Guzy, President of Diamond Country Club, Atzenbrugg, said: “We are celebrating our tenth anniversary with the European Tour this year and Diamond Country Club has a history of exceptional moments at the various events we have hosted. For example, the tournament ten years ago was staged at short notice, and two years ago we held the world´s first Shot Clock tournament. Accordingly, we enjoy the trust of those individuals who are responsible for the European Tour.

“Due to the Coronavirus crisis, this year´s event also takes place under very special conditions. There are official regulations, which we will strictly comply with. Nevertheless, we want to hold the tournament to the fullest satisfaction of the Tour and the players. I would also like to thank the political decision-makers in Austria, whose measures were a great contribution in ensuring golf was one of the first sports to resume. The tournament will be a good showcase not only for Austria, but also for the state of Lower Austria.”

Franz Wittmann, President of Golf Club Adamstal, said: “I am pleased, that we have become part of the European Tour with the EURAM Bank Open in Adamstal, and that together with the Diamond Country Club in Atzenbrugg, Austria will be a pioneer in international top-class golf in Europe following the suspension due to Coronavirus crisis. This is comparable with Formula 1, as Austria will stage the first two successive races. In our country we can be very proud of that. I hope, that with this restart we can also mark a significant return for golf. For me personally I wish, that as many Austrians as possible will be represented on the leaderboards of both tournaments.”

Dr. Peter Enzinger, President of the Austrian Golf Federation, said: “Especially in these unprecedented times, it is a great sign and a well-earned accomplishment for golf in Austria, that the European Tour and Challenge Tour will restart their seasons after this enforced break with two events on Austrian soil. With so much time pressure it was not easy to accomplish, but the co-operation with the European Tour and the Austrian Ministry of Sports during this preparation process has been outstanding and successful.

“We are very much looking forward to having these events and Golf Club Adamstal and Diamond Country Club, together with the Austrian Golf Federation, will again be perfect hosts and European Tour partners.”

The Challenge Tour’s resumption will be five months after Christian Bezuidenhout won the Dimension Data Pro-Am to conclude three consecutive weeks in South Africa at the start of the 2020 Challenge Tour season. Bezuidenhout’s victory at Fancourt Golf Estate in February followed wins for JC Ritchie, his fellow South African, in the Limpopo Championship at Euphoria Golf Club and Sweden’s Anton Karlsson in the RAM Cape Town Open at Royal Cape Golf Club. 

On the European Tour, the two dual ranking events in Austria precede the Tour’s full return at the Betfred British Masters at Close House, which launches a six-week UK swing, alongside the  English Open at the Marriott Forest of Arden, the English Championship at Marriott Hanbury Manor, the Celtic Classic and the Wales Open at The Celtic Manor Resort and the UK Championship at The Belfry. 

All European Tour tournaments played in 2020 will be underpinned by the Tour’s Medical Health Strategy and its ‘Golf for Good’ initiative.