《USGTF News》2017年1月期




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The USGTF National Office staff would like to wish you a Happy New Year for 2017. It proved to be a great year for the game of golf. The number of rounds played in 2016 through August, according to the National Golf Foundation, were up over 2015, and 2015 showed many positive signs in itself. So it appears that our industry continues to rebound from the economic downturn of the past few years.
The USGTF continues to evolve and grow, with divisions in coaching, fitness and nutrition, management and sports psychology. In addition, instructional materials and resources continue to be updated regularly to keep up with current trends in teaching and coaching. These materials and resources can be accessed through our website atwww.USGTF.com, or you may call the National Office at (888) 346-3290 or (772) 335-3216.

Tournament champions for 2016:
United States Golf Teachers Cup: Mark Harman
United States Professional Hickory Championship: Andrew Marshall
World Hickory Open: Sandy Lyle
Southwest Region Championship: Bruce Sims
Southeast Region Championship: Carlos de Barros
Northeast Region Championship: Bob Helm
Central Region Championship: Charlie Henry
Kelly Cup: Team Michigan
The 7th annual United States Professional Hickory Championship will be held Monday, February 20, at Temple Terrace Golf & Country Club in Tampa, Florida. The entry fee is $100 and the tournament is modeled after the 1925 Florida Open at the same course, which featured the greats of the game at that time, including Gene Sarazen and Walter Hagen. Clubs will be provided for a modest fee for those who do not have them. For more information, please visit www.USProHickory.com or email Mike Stevens atams1127@msn.com.
Information on USGTF national and regional events for 2017 will be made available shortly.


Facebook and Twitter are two mainstays of social media, and the USGTF is active on both fronts.  You can find the USGTF on Facebook atwww.Facebook.com/USGolfTeachersFed, and on Twitter atwww.Twitter.com/USGolfTeachers. USGTF members can also take advantage of a great member resource atwww.USGTFMembers.com, where information is updated on a regular basis regarding USGTF activities, and members can weigh in with their opinions and observations on the password-protected site.

The USGTF’S newest division, the International Golf Fitness & Nutrition Association, has been well received. To further promote the division, a discounted rate of $199 is available for all USGTF members through February. Please use the checkout code golf199 to receive the discount. The program was designed by nationally-renowned fitness and nutrition expert Michael Brantl. This program is a must for all golf teaching professionals and professional coaches who wish to take their teaching, and their own games, to the next level. The website is www.USGTFFitness.com.


All right, you might be asking yourself, “Who’s Jim Benepe?” It might surprise you to learn he’s a winner on the PGA Tour, and to this day he might be the most anonymous champion the past three decades. Benepe is a classic example of “whatever happened to…?”

A Wyoming native, Benepe showed great promise at Northwestern University in Illinois, winning the Big 10 championship and earning All-American honors. After a solid career in golf’s minor league ranks, Benepe received a sponsor’s exemption to the 1988 Western Open, at the time a prestigious event just below the majors. Playing in his very first event on America’s main tour, Benepe surprisingly found himself in the winner’s circle when stalwart veteran Peter Jacobsen unexpectedly double-bogeyed the final hole to lose by one stroke.

Benepe was never able to again find the form that propelled him to victory, and just four short years later in 1992, his tour career was basically over. He did make a comeback in the early 2000s with limited success, and shortly thereafter returned home to Sheridan, Wyoming, where today he works in the corporate world as a sales executive. But for one week in 1988, Benepe was the best player in the world, something that no one can ever take from him.


Mike Stevens, USGTF Southeast Region director and founder of the Florida Hickory Golfers, extends an invitation to any member attending the PGA Show to participate in the FHG outing at Orlando’s Dubsdread Golf Course on Friday, January 27, 2017. This is a great chance to experience the game as it was played on a course designed for play when hickory-shafted golf clubs were in use. Dubsdread was opened in 1924 and is one of the area’s best municipal layouts. The FHG has clubs available for first-timers along with reproduction balls that were common at the time. If you are interested in participating, contact Stevens at ams1127@msn.com. Tee-off starts at 10:30 with a cost around $35. Golf balls are an extra $10 a sleeve.

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Unless you don’t follow professional golf’s majors at all, you are undoubtedly familiar with Dustin Johnson’s one-stroke penalty at the U.S. Open this past June at Oakmont. Fortunately, the penalty did not alter the outcome of what was a sterling performance by this year’s champion.
To recap, Johnson placed his putter next to his ball on the green, and when he went to place the putter behind the ball, the ball moved very slightly, but visibly. Johnson called in a rules official, explained his version of events, and was told to putt the ball from its new position. On the 12th hole, Johnson was informed that he may receive a penalty, which the USGA did levy at the end of the round. The USGA ruled it was more likely than not Johnson’s actions caused the ball to move. The problem, as I outlined in an editorial in the July 2016 e-newsletter, was that Romain Wattel had a similar situation earlier in the day, where he addressed his ball and then the ball moved some six seconds later. The USGA ruled in his case the time lapse was long enough to say it was more likely than not Wattel did not cause the ball to move.
I stated back then, was if you were going to take a position that the ball could move at any time on its own on those greens, then you had no way of assessing with any percentage of certainty Johnson’s culpability. The USGA, in my view then and one I still hold, is that Johnson should have been assessed no penalty.
The USGA was universally scorned, not only for the ruling, but for the way it handled the ruling. To the USGA’s and R&A’s credit, they have in recent years been making Rules changes to add more fairness and equity. In response to the Johnson situation, a local rule has been introduced saying that a player who accidentally causes his ball to move on a putting green is now absolved from penalty, and the ball is to be replaced. The problem with this new rule is that it now violates the time-immemorial principle of not moving or not causing your ball to move except through making a stroke. The USGA has completely thrown out this sacred (in my opinion) principle, all because it couldn’t get the Johnson ruling correct.
Too many of our authorities in government, business, sports, or any endeavor for that matter, seem to overreact regarding happenings in their respective realms, and here we see another example of this. The rule and corresponding Decision should have been changed, yes, but changed to state that if it is unknown with any certainty the player caused his ball to move, then no penalty will be assessed.
Simple. And it still honors the principle of not moving your ball.
By Mark Harman, USGTF National Course Director, Ridgeland, South Carolina

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