Friday, February 27, 2015

Five Golfers Set For a Major Breakthrough in 2015 #golf

Golf for Beginners is always on the lookout for insightful opinions and, when Craig Simpkin wanted to share a blog on five of the top professional golfers set for a breakthrough this year, how could we resist? Here is Craig's take on a few golf pros that you may, or may not, have heard of and why these players have what it takes to win.

Enjoy the article!

With both the PGA and European Tours now in full swing, we’ve cast our net far and wide to find the players ready to take on Rory McIlroy for golfing dominance in 2015 and challenge the World Number one in the markets for this year’s majors.

Rickie Fowler

You could argue that Rickie Fowler has already made his breakthrough on the pro circuit following an incredible amateur career. Currently ranked 12th in the overall World Golf Ranking, Fowler has been a major tournament contender (tied for 5th-2014 Masters) but has yet to find himself in the winner’s enclosure. Rickie's clothes show spunk - this could well be his year.

The American is the only player in golfing history to record top-5 finishes in all of the four majors, while enjoying ten top-10 finishes in all during a fantastic 2014 campaign. His performances at the Open Championship and the PGA Championship, where he finished two shots behind eventual winner Rory McIlroy, highlight just how close he is.

With only one PGA Tour win to his name, Fowler has enlisted the services of Butch Harmon to help take his game to the next level. That could well be the added ingredient he needs to complete a winning recipe.

Jordan Spieth_Rickie Fowler
Jordan Spieth / Rickie Fowler

Jordan Spieth

It’s fair to say that Jordan Spieth announced his arrival on the golfing scene with aplomb in 2013/14, and so this year he’ll be hoping to go from ‘hot young prospect’ (and hit with the ladies) to bonafide major winner.

Spieth was within a whisker of becoming the youngest Masters champion in history at Augusta – leading the field by two shots at one point during the final round. He was eventually usurped by Bubba Watson, and, at just twenty-one, is the tournament’s youngest ever runner-up.

A flash in the pan? No chance! In November, Spieth won two tournaments, shooting a course-record at the Australian Open to win by six clear shots, and then just one week later he shot a mind-boggling -26 to claim the Hero World Challenge in Orlando.

Shane Lowry

The latest player off the Irish conveyor belt of talent is Shane Lowry, and the 27-year-old enjoyed his best year on the tour to date in 2014 with seven top-10 finishes securing him a tenth-place finish on the Race to Dubai ladder.

His finest hour came at the BMW PGA Championship, where he carded -13 to finish in second place - one stroke behind the champion McIlroy. That performance was the catalyst for a catalogue of top twenty finishes – including T-9 at The Open - that would fire Lowry into the world’s top 50.

Hideki Matsuyama

Another young gun making waves is Hideki Matsuyama. With top-10 finishes at three of the majors to date, the 22-year-old is already showing that he has the technique and belief to remain in the mix for big tournaments heading into the final day.

In 2014, Hideki secured his first win on the PGA Tour at the Memorial Tournament in Ohio and that helped him rise up the world rankings to a heady 13th position. 

With six other top-25 finishes in Tour events last season, Matsuyama clearly has the all-around game to make a more sustained breakthrough in 2015.

Branden Grace

South African Branden Grace has started the 2014/15 campaign like a runaway train; lifting two trophies – including a sublime -19 to triumph in the Qatar Masters - and finishing in the top-20 in three others.

They say that winning becomes a habit, and Grace is certainly displaying all the hallmarks at the moment. His numbers are up in 2015 too; he’s added an average of ten yards to his drive and his ‘greens in regulation’ stat is at 75% - a career high.

While his record in majors isn’t the best – he’s only achieved one top-25 finish in his career thus far – there’s enough evidence to suggest that the improving Grace now has the belief to kick it up a notch and become a major player on the tour.

About Craig Simpkin

Craig is a UK-based freelance writer and keen golf enthusiast whose
work can be found at Unibet and the Sabotage times, amongst many other sites

Do you agree that one of these five golfers will make a major breakthrough this year? Voice your opinion on Twitter @Golf4Beginners or on this blog!

Monday, February 23, 2015

Autographed Book Giveaway by Author James Ross - Shari's Shot

Intrigue, shaken not stirred, craftily blended into the backdrop of a high-end private golf course - my kind of chicanery! I am currently in the middle of the sixth book in a series written by accomplished writer James Ross whose previous works include Pabby's Score and Opur's Blade.

Shari's Shot book cover

A brief excerpt of Shari's Shot can be read on James Ross's website but, suffice it to say, I'm hooked...and you can be too! In brief, the setting is "Prairie Winds Golf Course which sits high atop the Mississippi river bluffs east of St. Louis." The cast of characters include a real estate tycoon, his spendthrift wife Shari Daniels-Donnelly (title character) as well as a cast of dramatis personae who build suspense and discord among the Missouri elite.

Ross is giving away several autographed copies of Shari's Shot on - giveaway dates are Feb 23 - Mar 18, 2015 with copies ready to be won and enjoyed!

Enter to win today and post your comments about the book on this Golf for Beginners blog page!

A note about author James Ross: 

When he is not writing, Jim is out looking for a golf game around town or traveling to some warm weather destination to enjoy life. A graduate of the University of Missouri - Columbia, Jim is a licensed real estate broker and resides in the suburbs of St. Louis.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

@ATTProAm and Pebble Beach Cultivate Camaraderie, Generosity and Robot Technology #ATTBlogger #ATTProAm

This past week at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, there were several stories in place other than professionals and teams playing for the win: one story was about a foursome's journey to uncover what really goes on behind-the-scenes at one of the most exciting golf events on the PGA Tour.

Probably the most memorable part of the journey was interacting with celebrities and professional golfers up-close-and-personal, something that most people dream of including this blogger (one day I will meet Phil Mickelson!)

Blushing teenager Katie Horsford received her wish to meet her hero Jordan Spieth. "The AT&T National Pro-Am is special because it brings together pros and amateurs and celebrities and people like us who are fans."

Dan McLaughlin hopes to play here one day as a professional and "Getting a glimpse of what the players are doing to prepare for this tournament is huge for me."

Celebrities are customary at the AT&T National Pro-Am but charitable giving is an avenue in which this tournament shines its brightest, having raised over $120 million dollars during its thirty-year tenure. The Foursome visited one of these charities, the Veterans Transition Center of Monterey County, which supports homeless veterans and their families.

"Before I came here, I had no idea a golf tournament could have this type of impact on a community," said Tiffany Fitzgerald of Black Girls Golf. "It's pretty inspiring."

Foursome member Tim Lang, a Marine who lost his leg during an explosion, felt a personal connection, "It's just a great example of veterans helping veterans, leaving no one behind."

From being led on a personal tour of Pebble Beach by the course historian to tackling the latest technology at the Golf Academy, the Foursome, and those interacting via social media, received a perspective that very few get to watch. Each member of the group received four lessons with different instructors...and a robot!

"What surprised me most today is where technology has taken golf," mentioned Katie who, as part of the Foursome, was given a very special lesson with a robot "instructor" at the Pebble Beach Golf Academy and Practice Facility. "There's a robot that can make you swing like a specific golfer."

"I was kind of afraid of the robot, said Tiffany Fitzgerald, "because you have to let everything go - you have to let it control you." Although it may sound frightening, when Tiffany was asked to hit a golf ball afterwards with her eyes closed in a simulator, the results were outstanding (check out her swing in the video below!)

Foursome member, Tim, made the most of the tech within the practice facility, "The robot's pretty strong - you can't fight it," continuing with "golfers really love technology because it gives them the edge over their competitors."   ... hashtag awesome, Tim!

The experience shared by the foursome is now in the history books but, thanks to the internet, can be remembered with the click of a mouse. A parting confession from Tiffany recounts, "I came to Pebble Beach to share my experience with others and help get other people excited about golf and I think I did that." You sure did, Tiff and we thank you for giving fans an insider's look at this awesome tournament!

Walk inside-the-ropes with this video of the Foursome at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am:

This post is in partnership with AT&T. All opinions are my own. Voice your opinion on this blog or on @Golf4Beginners.

Friday, February 13, 2015

AT&T Calls Up Larry the Cable Guy for Laughs on Pebble Beach @ATTProAm #ATTProAm #ATTBlogger

What golf course is on the bucket list of celebrities and amateurs alike...a course which evokes images of untamed beauty; the stuff of legends, drama, thrills and wonder? If you said Pebble Beach Links, then you hit the golf ball on the sweet spot!

Celebrities are more than willing to discuss their game, the course and more leading up to this week's AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am golf tournament.

NCIS:Los Angeles actor and golfer Chris O'Donnell recently told ET Online that there is "nothing I want more than to win this tournament someday."

For stars like Larry the Cable Guy (@GitRDoneLarry), Chris O'Donnell and Bill Murray to pro golfers like David Duval joining in the fun with corporate amateurs like Jesse Singh (@JesseSingh), the excitement has just begun.

Event chatter, sunrise photos and golf course selfies are popping up all over Twitter, Facebook and Instagram like highly lofted lob wedge shots from the players and AT&T Fan’s Eye View Foursome members @KTHorsford, @Black Girls Golf, @TimLangGolf (taking this photo of @TheDanPlan) ...and why not? These are three of the most beautiful courses in the world and this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for many - expect the cameras to be clicking all weekend long!

Larry the Cable Guy says, "Hopefully I'll surprise Y'all and play good," and he's right on target.

Pebble Beach is not a golf course for beginners and a caddie is highly advisable as distances are confounding, the wind toys with your ball and the greens...well, the greens are undulating and deceptive and, although they will probably only run at only a "10" on the stimpmeter, they can run as high as "12" for the U.S. Open!

Having played Pebble Beach in November in the Legends Invitational, I would like to share a few tips that I took home with me - to make the Pebble Beach experience and score as rewarding as possible.

- Listen to your caddie - nothing is as frustrating as thinking you know your club distances or the yardages as stated on the markers. Distances are not always what they appear to be and bunkers or water may interfere with your shot. It is the caddie's job to inform and enhance your golf experience.

- Play it safe - although it is fun to go for the green, look for other avenues that might yield better returns. For example, on Hole #1, don't cut the dogleg on the right; Pebble Beach website says "it doesn't pay" - it plays longer than you think.

- Visit the Pebble Beach website and read the hole-by-hole course tour before you play! These tips are invaluable and will start you thinking about strategy instead of leaving your game and score up to chance.

- If possible, enjoy the majesty of Pebble Beach the day before you play the course. A friend of mine told me, if possible, I should walk the course in advance to get the nerves and breathtaking views out of the way so that I can concentrate on the game - it worked!

Pebble Beach

Get Ready for Hole #1: Spend time on the Pebble Beach driving range and on your short game before heading to the links and be prepared for a crowd to gather around you as you tee off. They will applaud if you crush it down the middle but the silence will be deadening if you top the ball. You will feel as if you are on Tour, which can make even the best amateurs a little weak-kneed!

Get ready for the 18th Hole! The iconic 18th hole is probably the one that fills most players with fear, anticipation, joy and amazement. It is easy to get swept up in the scenery or your score from previous holes and not concentrate on this 543-yard, par-5 finishing hole and, you want to finish strong, don't you?

Chris Dunbar, Head Pro at Pebble Beach, tells us to be very aware of swirling winds on 18. Aiming your shot to the right of the trees still leaves a right-to-left shot to about 100-yards. As for the green? Your putt will want to pull towards the ocean - "a one-putt could easily turn into a three-putt."

The goal is to have fun when you play golf and the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am is the Candyland of Events so it should be interesting to see who else shows up on Twitter with the Foursome!

I will be engaging with the Foursome all weekend on Twitter @Golf4Beginners and sharing some of their greatest moments from celebrity sightings to what's new at the Pebble Beach Golf Academy (Sam Lab...Robots...?)

Follow along using hashtags #ATTProAm, #ATTBlogger, and, of course, visit @ATTProAm for videos, live interviews and more!

This post is in partnership with AT&T. All opinions are my own.

photo credit:, @BlackGirlsGolf, @TimLangGolf

Thursday, February 05, 2015

AT&T Technology Scores a Hole in One at Pebble Beach #golf #ATTProAm

When you hear the name Pebble Beach, what comes to mind? Being one of the fortunate few who have played this renowned golf course, I would immediately say the magnificence of the place, from crashing surf to finely manicured fairways and greens makes memories that will last a lifetime.

For professional golfers like Phil Mickelson who has won the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am a staggering four times, "it’s a special place for me, an emotional place… my grandfather having caddied here… the overall importance of the tournament to the game and how much I love the place." Only Mark O'Meara has more wins at this tournament (five wins).

AT&T Pebble Beach Pro Am

What makes Pebble Beach so magical?

Some might say the magic lies entirely in the golf course, others might refer to the history and how famous crooner Bing Crosby gave fans a peek into the mystique back in 1947.

Improved visibility and worldwide knowledge of the tournament can be traced to when AT&T became the title sponsor in 1986 and brought the Pro-Am to the masses via television - a very powerful and recognizable brand began broadcasting to hundreds of millions of households worldwide and allowed everyday folks the ability to watch celebrities and amateurs play golf on a storied course.

Today, technological advances through social sharing will bring even more visibility to the AT&T National Pro-Am. A group of golfers, known as the Foursome, will be converging upon Pebble Beach to bring a fan's perspective to the tournament. As an #ATTBlogger, I will be covering the event as well, adding my unique perspective through @Golf4Beginners on Twitter!

The foursome will get to go where very few have gone before - walk the course, go behind-the-scenes at the tournament, basically show fans what it is like to walk the hallowed fairways of Pebble Beach, utilizing the AT&T Network and HTC devices to document their journey and share via their social properties.

Who are the Four? Getting to know the foursome:

AT&T Pebble Beach Pro Am Foursome

Their names may sound familiar if you have a Twitter or Facebook account.

Tim Lang is a former Marine who discovered golf after having his leg amputated from an explosion (we thank you for your service). His passion for the sport has led to speaking engagements, motivation of other disabled veterans and, most importantly, the self-confidence that he lacked after his service. @TimLangGolf

Tiffany Fitzgerald is a pioneer for black women who play golf, starting the organization Black Girls Golf as a way to help black women feel more like insiders in corporate America, gain confidence in themselves and fall in love with the sport of Golf. Keep up to date with Tiffany's experience on Twitter @BlackGirlsGolf and on her Facebook page.

Dan McLaughlin can be said to be the average golfer...but not really. Not many golfers work as hard as Dan on their games - he has spent 10,000 hours on learning the sport, documenting his journey every step of the way. "The Dan Plan" proves that hard work and persistence makes you a better player and that it's the journey, not the end result that pays dividends. Go inside the ropes with Dan @TheDanPlan on Twitter and on his Facebook page.

Katie Horsford is definitely not your average 17-year-old but, at one time, was just like any kid who was trying to find her way in the world. After taking up golf and realizing she was good at the game...very, very good at the game, she became an inspiration for other teens and offers guidance through The First Tee Program. Katie will be providing her commentary from the unique perspective of a teenager using her Twitter account @KTHorsford and on Instagram.

AT&T will be providing updates on @ATTProAm and via the #ATTProAm hashtag and the Foursome will carry the ball on social media. I will be following along and engaging with members of the Foursome throughout the week on Golf4Beginners and via Stacy Solomon-Golf4Beginners on Google Plus so join in the conversation at #ATTProAm, ask questions and enjoy the Pebble Beach experience!

The AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am will be played February 9-15, 2015 on Pebble Beach as well as two additional courses to round out the on-course excitement; Spyglass Hill rated one of the top twenty publinks in the country via Golf Digest and Monterey Peninsula Country Club Shore Course.

To get an inside look at their journeys, make sure to follow the hashtag, #ATTProAm and via their Twitter handles:


This post is in partnership with AT&T. All opinions are my own.