The 2017 PGA Tour has started and there's much to look forward to.
There's the return of Tiger Woods being just one of the many unknowns for the 2017 season. Will Jordan Speith or Rory McElroy will another major? Can Phil Mickelson at age 45 be able to continue to compete at a high level? There's lots and lots of possibilities.
There is one significant rules change.
In place in 2017 as a "local rule" but expected to become a permanent rule in 2020 when the Rules of Golf are officially reviewed and modified. The rule is that any ball accidentally moved while on the putting green should be replaced with no penalty to the player who accidentally may have caused it to move.You may recall this past Summer Dustin Johnson was charged with moving his ball in the early part of his last round of the US Open. Johnson claimed that he never saw his ball move but reviewing in slow motion, the replay did catch his ball moving ever so slightly.
The rule change should eliminate some of these television replays that sometimes create controversial rules decisions of did or didn't the ball move.
I recently attended a PGA instructional seminar in Sacramento.
One of the speakers was Stan Utley, a former tour player who is considered one of the best putting gurus in the world. Utley has a down home folksky type of personality and shared a number of fun stories from his time as a player and instructor on the tour. One story that he shared was about Cory Pavin. Pavin ,a US Open winner and always considered one of the best putters of his era, made an appointment to see Utley at his teaching facility in Arizona. Already knowing that Pavin had been a very good putter during a long successful professional career, Utley immediately asks Pavin why he traveled so far to see him.
Pavin replied that his "wife made him." She was tired of hearing him complain about his putting. Pavin also brought with him 21 different putters. Utley, not sure where to start said "let me watch you hit a few putts."
According to Utley, after two putts Utley diagnosed that Pavin was using his shoulders too much in the stroke. Pavin's natural stroke involved more arms and wrists rather than shoulders. After Pavin's second practice putt, Utley walked over to Pavin and held his right shoulder and told Pavin to hit another putt. Pavin stroked it , he then immediately looked up to Utley and said "that's it!"
The feeling that Pavin was missing was back. Pavin then picked up his 21 putters and went home.
On the subject of developing good players Utley said something I had never heard before: A consistent golfer will never shoot low scores. You have to be aggressive to make birdies, and with being aggressive high scores may come as well.
The Lemoore Golf Course Players Club is now accepting new memberships and 2017 renewals. For an annual fee of $120, Players Club members receive a dozen Titliest PRo v1 golf balls, a Northern California Golf Association handicap, a guaranteed 18 hole green fee rate seven days a week of $20, and discounts on monthly play and range balls cards and access to Players Club and NCGA tournaments.
Little Linkster junior golf clinics for 2017 begin Saturday, Feb. 5. Clinics run weekly at 10 a.m.. Juniors ages 5-14 are welcome. No equipment is necessary. Cost is $25 per month, per child. Juiniors learn the basics of the game, full swing, chipping, putting and etiquette.
Also available for juniors is the more extensive Lemoore Junior Travel League. Junior golfers meet twice a week with a season long commitment. Contact director Gerry Mercer 707-2964 for more information.
The Lemoore Golf Course maintenance crew this winter has conducted an extensive tree pruning program. Over 16 tons of branches and limbs have been removed from existing trees to promote long lasting health and beauty. Lemoore staff have also been working on sand trap drainage to improve bunker ability throughout the coming year. A new hole number four putting surface has been resodded and is almost ready for play. The golf course is running a $15 per green fee special for the remainder of January.