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Scott Cranfield, the PGA Golf Professional, has provided a simple video to show how you can practise your full swing at home on a wet spring evening.
2016 is a truly once in a lifetime year for golf. First of all, the usual four majors have been generously increased to six with the additions of the inaugural Olympics golf tournament. And of course, the absolute pinnacle of match play golf, the Ryder Cup, is back as Europe head to Hazeltine National to defend their crown for the fourth successive time.
Lots of golf enthusiasts will already have their calendars marked and fridges stocked up in anticipation of these special moments. But just in case you’ve had your head buried in a bunker recently, or you’re relatively new to the sport, we’ve rounded up all of the key dates and talking points we can expect from golf in 2016.
The Masters – April 7-10
Host: Augusta National, Georgia
Previous winner: Jordan Spieth
Our tip: Jason Day
Hosted at the iconic Augusta National, The Masters is the first major of the year and the unofficial start of the season for the world’s leading golfers. All the winter’s work and adjustments to their games are targeted to be ready for this.
To win at Augusta you must have immaculate accuracy as Jordan Spieth showed last year with his victory here. The greens are super quick and unforgiving if you miss the line even by a smidgen.
There will be a few contenders at Augusta this year, the big three of Spieth, Mcilroy & Day won’t be far away of course. Outsiders being the inform Englishman Danny Willet and the somewhat surprisingly still major-less Swede, Henrik Stenson.
We’re tipping Jason Day to continue his fabulous form here, but don’t be too surprised to see Jordan Spieth pulling on another green jacket.
U.S. Open Championship – June 16-19
Host: Oakmont Country Club, Pennsylvania
Previous winner: Jordan Spieth
Our tip: Rickie Fowler
Oakmont is the host of the 2016 U.S. Open Championship, which is a course that makes for a thrilling tournament. The chances are that whoever wins at Oakmont will most probably be over par, which always makes for a worthy winner.
The fact that it’s so hard to go around here under par means that the winner will have to grind out those pars time after time whilst keeping mental stability when the odd errant shot comes along.
Will that mean that the pure determination of a major loss golfer like Rickie Fowler or Henrik Stenson could do it? Or even an evergreen par collector like Jim Furyk, either way, it’ll sure be interesting.
We really like Rickie Fowler and with four top 5 finishes in the majors last year, maybe 2016 is his year!
The Open Championship – July 14-17
Host: Royal Troon, Scotland
Previous winner: Zach Johnson
Our tip: Danny Willet
The Open Championship is always the hardest major to predict, the winner is usually determined by the tee time you get on the Thursday and Friday. As The Open is played in Britain, the weather and therefore, conditions fluctuate massively throughout the day whereas in America they are much similar.
So in that case, we’re going to have a stab at a newcomer to the major winning party. Sergio Garcia, Henrik Stenson and Brooks Koepka will not be far away from the top here at Royal Troon. But our pick for the week is the Englishman in the form of his life, Danny Willet.
USPGA Championship – July 28-31
Host: Baltusrol, New Jersey
Previous winner: Jason Day
Our tip: Rory Mcilroy
Distance will be a huge factor in who wins the PGA Championship this year, Baltusrol is a big course with several huge par 4’s going into the 500-yard mark. Out of the only two par 5’s on the course, one of them is a monster 650 yarder! So it’s fair to say whoever wins there this year will have to be an excellent ball striker.
There are many contenders that fit that bill, one being Henrik Stenson, mentioned a few times above, but he tends to finish 2nd more often than not. Justin Rose will be another, never too far from the top of the major leaderboards, he loves the big occasion and has performed brilliantly at the majors in recent years.
But our tip, is none other than Rory Mcilroy, we’re expecting big things from Rory this year, and with his well-renowned length off the tee. We can’t see Rory being too far away.
Rio 2016 Olympics – August 11-14
Host: Olympic Golf Course, Rio de Janeiro
Previous winner: n/a
Our tip: USA (Jordan Spieth)
On the face of it, an Olympic golf tournament at a purpose-built course in Rio de Janeiro sounds brilliant. However, the tournaments restrictions of no more than four representatives from any country mean that many elite players are set to miss out. This even led world number six golfer, Adam Scott, to refer to the Olympic golf tournament as an ‘exhibition’.
The restrictions mean that if the male event was held today, only 35 of the 60 Olympians would be from the world top 100. Top 10 golfers such as Patrick Reed and Jim Furyk would miss out, along with British Open champion Zach Johnson.
That being said, there will still be a whole host of elite players desperate to get their hands on an Olympic gold medal. We’re tipping Jordan Spieth to take home gold in Rio.
Ryder Cup – September 30 – 2 October
Host: Hazeltine National, Minnesota
Previous winner: Europe
Our tip: Europe
The Ryder Cup needs no introduction, a truly special event in the sporting calendar, “where legends are forged”. Team Europe head to Hazeltine in September full of confidence after 2014’s obliteration and aim to make it four consecutive wins and eight wins out of the last nine over Team USA.
Europe will be well aware, though, that this year’s Ryder Cup will be no easy task. As always the US team will be full of World top 10 players with a point to prove after three consecutive defeats. We’ve seen in the recent tournaments that Team Europe’s friendship and comradery on the course has been much tighter than the US teams which many have used as the prime reason why Europe are on such a roll of consecutive wins.
With September being so far away and lots of things can and will happen between now and then, it’s very difficult to predict what will happen at Hazeltine. However, with Europe’s brilliant strategy they’ve got going in recent years, it’s very hard to look past a fourth consecutive Ryder Cup victory!
Or is there more to this year’s Masters than Jordan Spieth, Rory Mcilroy and Jason Day? Mark Townsend and Dan Murphy from National Club Golfer give their opposing views…
Says Mark Townsend
“This seems an odd thing to be so confident about given that, in 13 appearances, our Great Triumvirate have ‘only’ got one Green Jacket between them. This is overlooking the time that Jason Day had to withdraw with an injured ankle in 2012. Remember that? Me neither.
“My order of preference would be 1) Spieth 2) Rory and 3) Day which is pretty much how the bookies see it. All are comfortably in single figures, then we go down to Rickie Fowler at 16s. This is all a bit reminiscent of how the Masters was priced up in the noughties, when nobody could win unless their name was Tiger or Phil.
“Which is pretty much how it played out with the dynamic duo winning five of six tournaments from 2001 onwards.
“And there is so much to like about our modern-day heroes. Spieth, second and first in just two trips to Georgia, could turn out to be the greatest Master ever. In among all the hoopla of possible Grand Slams, Spieth began the year proper with the joint-best opening two rounds in Major history. Charley Hoffman started 67-68 and trailed by five.
“Rory’s record at Augusta, in comparison to the other two, looks ordinary at best. His T15 in 2011 masks the misery of a four-shot lead on Sunday morning – two months later he won the US Open by eight shots (over Day) – and last year, with all eyes pinned on him ticking off a career Grand Slam, the Northern Irish maestro appeared to be heading for an early exit.
“He turned in three over, on the cut mark, and ended the week 15 shots better and in fourth place. He’s fine, he can do it round there and maybe with Messrs Spieth and Day getting their fair share of questions before the Thursday this will be the breakthrough year.
“Which leaves Day who has two top-three placings here and, were it not for Charl Schwartzel’s four-birdie climax, would have played off for the title with countryman Adam Scott. Day himself finished three-three.
“Two years later he led with three holes to play only to drop a couple of shots.
“You can’t fluke a Green Jacket. My thinking is that you have to have suffered in some shape or form before you win one and, when you have won one, that makes it all the more likely that you will win another.
“Throw in the fact that these three are by far the best in the business, tick off tournaments for fun and have banks of positive memories (even Rory) here then I find it very difficult to look elsewhere.”
Says Dan Murphy
“Even in the era when Tiger Woods was at his dominant best, there was a season – 2003 to be precise – when the Major champions were Mike Weir, Jim Furyk, Ben Curtis and Shaun Micheel.
“The great thing about betting on golf, and what keeps us all scouring the odds, is that long shots can and do contend for the big tournaments.
“Last year alone, there were juicy each-way returns to be found in the likes of Hideki Matsuyama (Masters), Branden Grace, Cameron Smith (both US Open), Marc Leishman, Jordan Niebrugge, Danny Willett (all Open) and Anirban Lahiri (PGA). So to suggest that the Masters is a three-way contest before a ball has been struck is plain folly.
“I’ll start with two left-handers who are almost certain to contend.
“Between them, Bubba Watson and Phil Mickelson have won five of the last 12 Masters. If you are getting superstitious, every one of them has come in an even-numbered year. In fact, only one right-hander has won the Masters in an even-numbered year since 2002 (Trevor Immelman in ‘08 if you must know).
“I’m telling you here and now that Watson (B, not T) and Mickelson should be the first two names on your betting slip.
“The possibilities beyond them are almost endless. How about Dustin Johnson, who made three eagles and 18 birdies last year en route to finishing T6th? Or Justin Rose, joint second alongside Mickelson with an aggregate score that would have won the Masters in just about any other year?
“It would be great for golf if Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy and Jason Day were to go on to dominate golf over the next decade. But forgive me for being unconvinced we are quite at that stage just yet. The record books are full of fine players who won a Major or two and were tipped to win several more but the truth is this is extremely difficult to pull off. Only 13 men in history have won more than five Majors.
“Winning a bunch (as our American friends like to put it) of Majors takes a concerted effort. Probably a decade. Of the latest Big Three, only McIlroy has won a Major in more than one season.
“All we can really say for sure about the other two is that they were significantly better than the rest for most of the 2015 season.
“So if you’re offering me the field, I’ll bite your hand off. And the drinks are on me when Bubba romps it.”
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Q: Who won the US Masters in 1986 for a record sixth time?
Simply email your answer to email@example.com with details of the prize, your name, membership number and contact number. The prize draw will take place on 2nd April 2016.
We are offering 10 members the opportunity to win a Golfers Club umbrella. Simply email firstname.lastname@example.org with details of the prize, your name, membership number and contact number. The prize draw will take place on the 2nd April 2016.