It's January 1, 2021. My goodness. The PGA Tour season has been upended and honestly, I've haven't followed much, with the exception of Masters week in November. So as I'm sitting at home, pondering how I can benefit from a new year on the calendar, it reminded me of one of my favorite (and maddening!) golf pastimes - Fantasy Golf!! With the odd PGA Tour year and remembering there was a "Fall season" I wasn't sure if I was coming in too late, but it turns out there are some leagues starting in the next few weeks!
I first went to look for one of my favorite fantasy golf web sites, www.buzzfantasyleagues.com. I didn't remember my password but I found my way back in and was happy to see the free league is starting at the Sentry Tournament of Champions (Jan 7), so sign up now! They also have their "Make the Cut" Challenge. You pay $4.95 for 1 entry or $7.95 for 2, and all you do is pick one player that must make the cut each week to stay alive. You only get to pick players once, so there is some interesting strategies. I'm in for 2!! I haven't played for a few years, but I remember it being fun! They also have a platform for private leagues, too.
I added the NBC Sport Fantasy App on my phone (Sports Predictor) but there is not fantasy golf set up yet...all it says is it will be back in 2021.
PGATour.com also has Free Fantasy Golf - their next segment (Segment 2) starts also with the Sentry Tournament of Champions. You can have up to 3 different teams with your login.
So I'm in for 2 leagues so far, Buzz and PGA Tour, but I'll be ready to into NBC Sports/Golf Channel when they get up and running.
Of course you always find fantasy golf on the daily betting sites like Draft Kings and Fan Duel. I think they occasionally have free games, but these are mostly betting sites.
If you know of any other free leagues that would be fun to join, please share!!
Let's see what 2021 Fantasy Golf has in store for us!
This used to be one of my favorite times of year thinking about golf dreamers...the Q-schoolers. Write a check, make it through 3-stages, sometimes competing against current Tour players who need to keep their Tour card, and you might find yourself playing your way onto the PGA Tour.
But all that changed back in 2013...they eliminated the PGA Tour Q-school and instead used the "developmental Tour" (which has has many names over the years, currently the Korn Ferry Tour), to determine the next batch of players who would advance to the the big dance.
So I got all excited! Now I can follow another Q-school! Go dreamers! But, alas, my dreams were crushed when I found out that this year's Korn Ferry Tour has been carried over into 2021 due to the Covid-19 tournament cancelling and shuffling of dates. So no new players joining the PGA Tour and no new fresh faces joining the Korn Ferry Tour either.
So instead, I decided to delve into the Korn Ferry Tour a little and see what I could learn. First, I'm going to be honest, I thought Korn Ferry might be an agricultural company...but I wasn't even close! Korn Ferry is an "organizational consulting" firm that helps businesses all over the world, including the PGA Tour. They do have a link to their connection to the PGA Tour here.
Pgatour.com's Adam Stanley gives a good summary of what to expect in 2021 for players working their way to the PGA Tour (The 25).
I next went to the 2020 money list to see the players who competed this last year. Most of the names were not familiar to me, but there were a few that caught my eye. I'll have to read more to learn why some players enter only a few events and others are seemingly in all of them. Noticed that Luke List, played 1 event, and won it! And, only made $133K. What a stark contrast to the PGA Tour.
So events "re-start" in February 2021 and will culminate in August where the next 25 players who advance to the PGA Tour will be announced. Feeling like I'm going to need to learn a little more about these players to get prepped to cheer on some dreamers.
I'm still sad about no Q-school, but it's good to know there is still a way to make golf dreams come true, even it it is by ferry, Korn Ferry that is.
Last night someone threw this quote at me: "No growth in the comfort zone.".
And, well, it bothered me.
My argument being that sometimes knowing your zone, or being in your lane, is where courage can be developed rather than stepping out of it for the "hope" that you might find success by taking risks.
Then my mind went to the Masters (and why wouldn't it?!)....two golfers, with two very different golf stories, but both owning the coveted Green Jacket.
It's hard for me not to think about Phil Mickelson and the Masters. With 3 Green Jackets in his closet (2004, 2006, & 2010) when you think of Phil and Augusta National I'm guessing it won't take long to think about 2010, #13, and the shot out of the pine straw that led to an eagle and a Saturday run that ultimately led to a 2-shot victory over Lee Westwood. Want to see it again? Sure you do!
Heck, when you think about Phil, it's almost automatic that your brain thinks of shots that no one else would pull off. He's the ledge walker on the golf course and while it's always fun to tell his tales of flop shots and eagles, we find out that's not the only way to win a Green Jacket.
The headline in Golfweek Magazine in 2007 was, "2007 Masters: Unknown Zach Johnson wins the Masters"
It's funny for me to read now, since Zach is a 12 time PGA Tour winner with 2 Majors, 5 Ryder Cup appearances, and 4 President's Cup qualifications. But back then, with 2 wins on the Nationwide Tour and one PGA Tour win in 2004, it wasn't like Zach Johnson was on anyone's radar to take home a Green Jacket...especially when Augusta National is known to favor the long hitters.
In 2007, Zach Johnson's driving average at Augusta was 265 yards...according to the Golfweek article, there were only 3 other players in the field to make the cut with a lower average, and 2 of those were Seniors. So how in the world would an unknown from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, find himself in Butler Cabin, accepting a new addition to his wardrobe on April 14, 2007?
He had the courage to play in his zone.
I think a statistic that most folks who love golf will remember about this Masters and about Zach is that he never went for any par-5 in 2...and over 4 days he birdied the par-5's 11 out of 16 attempts. He assessed his talents, he knew what he was good at (hello short game!), and while just about everyone else was taking chances in the hopes for an eagle, Zach rose to the occasion and let his strengths do the talking instead.
While some may argue that in order to win the Masters you have to take chances, I think Zach Johnson proved that sometimes staying in your zone instead of reaching out for the unknown,can also lead to the sweet taste of success.
It seems to me there's room for all kinds of growth in the comfort zone - honing skills and using the talents and gifts already acquired creates a level of confidence and courage to strategically assess what it takes to find success. It doesn't have to be about risk taking or "being uncomfortable".
Sometimes it can be about practice, patience, and playing to your strengths....in golf and in life. Enjoy the comfort zone!
October in Minnesota...for some, this time of year is when you're trying to get those last rounds in before the snow blankets the fairways, and, for others, golf season was buttoned up not long after kids go back to school and the sun sets not long after dinner
This October, for me anyway, has a different meaning. One of my favorite golfing pals unexpectedly passed away this weekend and I'm hoping that remembering him here, now, will help fill the hole in my heart.
While I'll battle tears as I write, I'm already smiling thinking about Butch. I met him when I worked at our local course in the mid 90's. He would drive up in his sea green Ford Probe and often times play golf alone in the afternoons. A few times back then I played with him...I'll be honest - he intimidated me...he was quiet, but also direct...and a good golfer. But he always welcomed me to play along if I could find a few free hours.
Butch was a great supporter of the course and our little restaurant. I remember one year, at the end of the season, we were trying to get rid of our last inventory and he bought bread and lunch meat, even though he probably didn't need it. That's who he was.
I got to know him a lot better after being invited into the most exclusive foursome I knew...after our friend Looper passed away I was invited to be the new 4th with Butch, Coach, and Super. I cried then, too, when they asked me - filling Looper's shoes was a big ask, but I've never felt more welcome or included. It is something I will cherish for the rest of my life.
Playing with these three, I learned a lot about golf games...and negotiations. I swear, it may have been more fun for them than the actual golf!! The trash talking was relentless and often there would be fake pity for injuries or lack of playing. Butch was classic for reminding us all that he NEVER got to play...he may not even know where his clubs are or maybe they were sold in a rummage sale. But miraculously he would show up, early of course, and the smooth swing was right there, too.
For the record, I was never part of the negotiations...my partner, Super, was well, a master. Watching Coach and Butch put together their offers together was fantastic - and while Butch might appear intimidating, he was always the one who would end up caving in to Super's offers and Coach would just shake his head. It was hilarious.
I found some old emails that summed up our group...2011:
Butch: "Good for me I'll pick up everybody, we'll figure out a time, do we have time for range to warm up? I say we get there about 6:30am"
Super: "Warm up- What is that?"
Coach: "Butch, Please don’t respond to their e-mails…I don’t want you to agree to any negotiations they may throw out there."
Super: "Why does it have to turn adversary before we start. Can’t we all just get along."
Butch: "I say we get a couple a side...we go to Lutsen we win, we go to Fortune Bay we win...looks like this is our last time to Giants Ridge... In a few years there'll be no where else they can try"
Me: "Partner, Just an FYI - Butch was knocking the "low round ever on the Lake 9" door when we played last week. I on the other hand took a quad and triple in my round last week at Enger."
Butch: "Double, double, double, bogey finish, golf is an 18 hole game & I have 18 holes in in 2011"
Super: "May I suggest we meet in the Lakeview National parking lot at 6:15 AM or is Butch picking us up at our houses so Coach is not late? Negotiating can NOT start until 7:00 AM"
Butch: "I will pick my partner up at his house at 6am, the opponents don't get the premium service
In 12 hours the fun begins:"
I love this. So much.
For the record...I'm pretty sure Super and I won that year!! I distinctly remember hitting a drive left into some trees and it kicked right out into the middle of the fairway - I knew it was Looper helping me out!!
In the past couple of years, schedules and health issues did make us miss playing together - but Butch played with us last year in a football fundraiser - it was some of the worst rain I'd ever golfed in, but we had a blast!!
I'm heartbroken that we didn't have one more time...one more time to see that smooth swing, that putting stroke (his putting stroke was a little Steve Striker like!), his walk...which at times looked like he was stiff as a board, and his smile.
I will smile more when I think of him, after the shock of this wears off...and I'll remember that being together is what matters...I'm beyond blessed for the times we golfed, talked, laughed, and appreciated life and our friendships.
I will leave with this...from 2013 as we are trying to find a date to play. From Butch to me:
"I'll believe it when I see it. "Your partner" is so full of hot air, I can't stand it!
I'll play anytime, anywhere.
Well not really but I'm all for playing. Remember I played a total of 3 rounds in 2012. Rusty does not begin to describe..."
I'll miss you forever.
I don't know about you, but I smile every time I see a commercial for The Masters. It is a week that I love...even though I've never been there. Now is the time that I start checking the The Field (or I should say the Invitee list)...who's in and who needs to win to get there.
Just this morning I read an article on Golf Digest about the Mid-Amateur champion who also happens to be a fire fighter. Dreamers, I love them.
I'm smiling right now thinking about last year's Masters - Garcia, Rose, playoff, and yet another standing ovation in my living room. A green jacket means an invitation for life. Awesome.
Also today I checked out the field for next week's Houston Open...the last chance for a PGA Tour winner to get into the field. I smiled from ear to ear when I saw Steve Stricker in the Houston field, because, while I know it's a long shot, I still want to see Stricker with a green jacket!! (he was one shot off of getting into the top 12 last year to get an automatic invitation!)
How do you get to Augusta and play for a Green Jacket?
QUALIFICATION FOR INVITATION
Then we're down to the Houston Open...I just read a tweet from Ian Poulter that he will contemplate playing in the Houston Open on Tuesday since his loss at the Match Play didn't move him up enough on the OWGR. Interesting times!
Right now there are 83 players qualified to tee it up at Augusta National, including 6 amateurs. Fourteen are first time invitees. I couldn't help but scan the field for players I'd hope would be there but currently aren't. Obviously tops on my list is Steve Stricker, but a few other players I'd love to see on the first tee would include Bill Haas (currently #73 on the OWGR), Brandt Snedeker (#76), Lee Westwood (#89), and Luke Donald (#186).
Of the players in the field, Jordan Spieth qualified with the most options...7 of them...then it was Rory McIlory with 6. In the field are 20 former Masters Champions...13 of which are using that as their only qualifying options to get an invitation. It's hard to believe that Tiger Woods is one of them. Another 13 past champions have indicated their are not taking the option of being in the field.
There is so much that I love about the Masters I know I'll be writing more between now and then...but until then, I'll keep watching the OWGR and the Houston Open to see the final field...then it's the magic of figuring out who might win!
Azaleas, pine straw, Rae's Creek, patrons....I can't wait for those...oh, and maybe some great golf shots by some of the greatest golfers in the world.
If you love it as much as I do, I'm guessing you've got the countdown going, too. Masters Week, I can't wait to see you again.
We closing the curtain on 2017 and I'm thinking back into my golf world for the year...and while I don't normally swing a golf club for half of the year, I do think about golf, a lot. Where's what I was thinking about and experiencing in golf in 2017.
January - Justin Thomas!! If you were a fan of Jordan Spieth, you couldn't help but hear about Justin Thomas...the friend/buddy of Jordan. But Thomas set his own stage in January by winning the Tournament of Champions and the Sony Open! This was also my month of recharging on Fantasy Golf! If only I had know about Justin Thomas!! I'm a fan of Buzz Fantasy Leagues and especially the Make the Cut Challenge...made it through January!
February - Jordan Spieth gets a win at the AT&T and I remember loving the blue pullover he wore...then saw it live and in person at a PGA Super Store! February was also a visit to the Minnesota Golf Show! An entire convention center full of golf stuff? Um, yes please!! I did purchase some golf items, including more Ryder Cup things...I was still in Ryder Cup euphoria from the fall. Rickie Fowler also gets a win in February! And this was the first week I missed a Yahoo Team entry. But still alive in the Make the Cut Challenge!
March - Dustin Johnson had a 2 win month and I was also introduced to Adam Hadwin (I want to say Had-a-win!) Had pretty much given up on Yahoo Fantasy Golf but was still alive in the Make the Cut Challenge - we're down to 5...but then, on March 31, Patrick Reed misses the cut and I'm out...DANG IT! Proud of the top 5 finish. This was also the month Steve Stricker realized he had to qualify to get into the US Open - and he signs up!
April - Oh, Masters...how I love you!! But first, it was the Lexi Thompson penalty calamity at the ANA Inspiration - a 4-stroke penalty assessed during the final round for a ball that was not replaced in the same spot the day before and spotted by a TV viewer!! She was notified on the 12th hole of the final round and I was glued to the finish! And while she didn't win, she gave it her all and found herself a whole bunch of new fans. And it started quite the dialogue on how rules should be interpreted!
But now, back to the best week of the year...The Masters!! Thank you Sergio and Justin Rose for an amazing final round!! It was so fun to watch as always - AND because Steve Stricker was in the top 4 in the '16 US Open he was in the field and finished T16!! (SO hoping for a T12 which would have given him an automatic invite in 2018. He was in the featured group on Sunday on Masters.com so I was in heaven! AND I won an awesome Birdie Ball Putting Green - it was super awesome!! And it was thanks to Justin Rose because no one had picked Sergio. We're less than 100 days until this year's best week of the year!!
Oh I can't forget to mention the moving opening ceremonies...the first one without Arnold Palmer. I cried.
May - without Q-school, the US Open Qualifiers are where you can find golf dreamers, and they started in early May. I love to follow all the Minnesota players looking to find their way - and with the US Open in Wisconsin, it would be awesome for some MN players to get there! May was also the first time I played golf...yes!! We had a slow start to the golf season due to weather (again), but it's always heaven for me to put on golf shoes, have tees in my pocket and make that first putt. Yes!!
June - Weather was a big factor in being able to play golf - rain showed up on days I could play and then work was busy so I missed out on several days of joy...but we had a few days out on the course with great friends in June and it was time to ramp up for some fun summer golf scrambles!
The US Open brought some good stories - Phil not playing due to his daughter's graduation and long-baller Brooks Koepka winning his first Major at Erin Hills by 4 shots. I was rooting for the Amateurs as well as Steve Stricker, who finished a respectable T16 along with Matt Kuchar.
Speaking of Phil - there was the Phil/Bones split...oh say it isn't so!! Boy, did that light up the Twitter world! I have to say, I'm loving Bones as a commentator! In other PGA thoughts, Speith looked to be struggling a little in May with 2 missed cuts, but then came out and won the Traveler's in June to put the doubters back in their places.
July - July was a fun month of golf for me even though I didn't get to play as much as I had hoped to - a rainy day on July 12 at the Mesaba Country Club was a roller coaster that ended with my teammate making an AWESOME putt to tie - one of my favorite shots of the year! And I also ran into Kevin McHale...if only I had my phone!! One of my other favorite days is the Hot Ball - one of my favorite formats!
Jordan Spieth won the British Open in July, crushing my dream of Matt Kuchar getting his first Major...the shot from the practice area - just wow! It was fun to watch!
August - August is usually a blur for me - work is busy and also trying to get in some fun golf scrambles! There was definitely some fun, and the Cloquet 2-person scramble may have been my best golf of the year...I had to blog about that day! We had more rain filled golf days, but still managed to have fun!
Justin Thomas came through again in August and claimed the PGA Championship - it was an impressive week and fun to see him win again. But he wasn't done!! He also took home the Dell Technologies event at the TPC in Boston at the end of the month - what a stellar season!!
September - an impromptu text got 6 of us together for the Steve Anderson memorial golf scramble - it was such a treat to play with a great crew of golfers - we had a blast all day and then found out we tied for first place! Which meant a playoff on the Par-3 - we ended up 2nd, but it was a great day with great guys. I hope we do it again!
The following weekend we headed for Cannon Falls for another great weekend of golf - while I didn't play awesome, I had a blast and the course was beautiful!! On day 2 we played the six-dollar game and that may have been even more fun!! This weekend totally reminded me that golf friends are the best friends, even if you only see them a few days a year!
Another impromptu text had me golfing in a scramble in Silver Bay - you can't say no to Wade! It may have been the longest round of my life, but it was a super fun day!! So many laughs, some really great shots, and excellent strategery by Wade. And I won a new FitBit there! YES!
The Wilderness Fall Ladies day is also a fun one!! It was freezing that day, we played pretty horrible, but it's something I look forward to every year.
The PGA Tour goes into Play off Season in September, and while I was busy and not watching a whole bunch of golf, we learned again about Xander Schauffele, who had already won earlier in the year and then came home with the Tour Championship, beating Justin Thomas by 1 shot. I need to read up on him!
October - this time last year I was in Ryder Cup heaven, but I was still pumped up about this year's President's Cup - with Captain Steve Stricker, how could I not be? It was fun to watch and awesome to see team USA take home the win - I know there was some second guessing of making Phil a captain's pick, but I couldn't have been happier!! GO USA!!
I was able to get a fun round in at Enger Park with some favorite golf friends and it, too, reminded me, we do not spend enough time together! My game had been slipped since July, but I could really feel it towards the end of the season - I was feeling 1-2 clubs shorter and my driver was only, OK. I think it was the effects of just not playing or getting out int he evenings and practicing - a goal for 2018!
November & December - while golf free for me, there was the little news of Tiger coming back. And while it was just one event, we'll see what 2018 has in store for us. For me, I've got to get my predictions together this weekend start ramping up for another year of Fantasy Golf.
Here's hoping for more sunshine and more golf in 2018 - Happy New Year!!
For the past several years I've posted a Crystal Golf Ball predictions list around the time of the Tournament of Champions in January, and then, around the holidays I check back in to see how terrible I did - there have been some doozy years, and I think one that was actually pretty good! I pulled up my post from January, and without further ado, here's how the golf year went based on my predictions...
My tradition is to start with the Majors...and with that my favorite week of the year...The Masters.
My heart swells just thinking about it, but I haven't had great luck at all picking a winner here...probably because of my tendency to go with Heart Picks here. But I think I can say not many people would have put Danny Willett in a green jacket in January a year ago. But for 2017 I'm going with current #2 player in the world, Rory McIlroy. In the last 3 years he's finished T10, 4th, and T8, and while new clubs may be in his bag, I'm feeling like this may just be the year for a green jacket. If not Rory, I would like to see my 2015 pick, Justin Rose, to be in the mix.
This was a great Masters!! Congratulations to Sergio!! Rory finished T7, which wasn't an awful pick - although he was never really in the mix. I will call the Justin Rose "in the mix" prediction a win with his great Sunday and playoff drama. Looking forward to 2018 already!! (PS, Matt Kuchar was T4!
It's Thanksgiving morning - sunny but cool in Minnesota. The Minnesota Vikings will be on TV in a bit and a wonderful turkey dinner awaits this afternoon.
It's a time to be grateful. For family, friends, and moments to remember.
Golf makes me grateful almost all of the time. ..I've looked back on things I've written and I can't help but smile over all of the experiences and memories golf has given me. Writing this blog today happens because some folks in Texas, who had a golf web site, invited me to write a weekly blog. I couldn't have been more grateful for the email from David at tees2greens, who said that there is a blog spot for me if I wanted one - I'm sure he had no idea what a gift he had given me.
In 2 days it's November...that means my golf season is officially over, the new PGA Tour season has already started, there are 50 new PGA Tour players who graduated from the Web.com Tour, the Q-school to get into the Web.com Tour has started, and as I've just read, Tiger Woods has announced his "comeback".
For the first time in quite some time, there are no golf shoes in my car...last weekend cleaning the car was on the agenda and that meant it was time to pull out my golf inventory...usually at least 3 pairs of shoes, dozens of golf balls, towels, clothes, random head covers, half empty water bottles, and tees, lots of tees. The golf season was a fun one for me, but due to "life", I may have played the least amount of golf in a season in over 5 years. When I could play the weather was crummy, and when it was nice, other commitments took over. But the times I did play had all the things I love about golf!
While still waiting for Steve Stricker's call to be an assistant captain, I was excited to hear who the 2 captain's picks would be for this year's President's Cup.
To keep the context, the following players qualified via points for the top 10 spots: Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Rickie Fowler, Daniel Burger, Brooks Keopka, Kevin Kisner, Patrick Reed, Matt Kuchar, and Kevin Chappell.
Just outside of the top 10 were: Charley Hoffman (11), Brian Harman (12), Jason Dufner (13), Gary Woodland (14), Phil Mickelson (15), Brendan Steele (16), Brandt Snedeker (17), Bill Haas (18).
I love golf and I love to write, so I can't think of anything better than having a happy place like this to write about golf to my heart's content. Thanks for joining me!