Jazz Janewattananond before the PGA

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23 year old Jazz Janewattananond has been a revelation at the PGA Championship and is currently 2nd, although 7 shots behind Brooks Koepka. The European Tour player turned pro at 15 years of age and has won 7 professional titles including 3 on the Asian Tour. He is pictured here on the right when he took time out to be a Buddist monk in Thailand in 2016.

On his bag this week is the only Bethpage Black caddie Jack Miller, who is a frozen foods manager in a supermarket he opened up the store every day at 5.30am.

Jazz says of his experience this week

“This is my first time on the East Coast and it’s next level. It’s so different. I love it. People keep shouting, ‘I love you.’ They love me here.”

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Loopers the movie

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Look out for Loopers, a new documentary about caddies narrated by Bill Murray will be released on DVD on June 7.

 

 

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Gary Player and the future of golf in South Africa

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Niall Horan’s golf management company sponsors new mixed tournament

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Pop star Niall Horan’s golf management company Modest! Golf announced on Monday that they are partnering with ISPS HANDA to bring a new type of tournament to Northern Ireland. The ISPS HANDA World International will take place August 15-18 at Galgorm Spa and Golf Resort and Masserene Golf Club. The event was previously the Northern Ireland Open on the Challenge Tour schedule.

This tournament will be made up of male Challenge Tour professionals and female professional golfers frim the LPGA, Ladies European Tour, Asia and Australia. There will be 300 players to start and a cut after rounds two and three. The €500,000 purse will be divided equally between the men and women. European Tour Chief Executive Keith Pelley said that this new tournament perfectly fits the Tour’s core values of innovation and inclusivity.

The announcement of this male and female tournament comes three months after the ISPS Handa Vic Open in Australia which was co-sanctioned by the European Tour and the LPGA Tour and the exciting Jordan Mixed Open in March which was tri sanctioned with thr Challenge Tour, Staysure Tour and the Ladies European Tour, the first time that men, women and seniors played together. The picture shows Niall Horan, Charley Hull, Keith Pelley, Dr Handa and Kirsty Gallacher.

Niall Horan said

“We got into golf with the aim to help and develop the next generation of player. By supporting a tournament like this exciting new World Invitational we are to bring that goal to fruition,” Horan said, according to the Euro Tour. “Myself and the entire Modest! Golf team are delighted to be partnering with ISPS HANDA, a wonderful organization who are synonymous with promoting the game around the world and helping to bring people together through sport.”

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Sung Kang’s 61 helps him win the Byron Nelson Classic

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South Korean Sung Kang claimed his maiden PGA Tour victory at the Byron Nelson Classic after a rain delay which meant him completing nine holes of the third round on the Sunday morning. He closed with a round of 67 after birdies at 8,9,10 and 16. He putted superbly all week, 2nd in the statistics in this category. But his stellar round on Friday ewas a -10 61 which had 10 birdies and no bogeys, something Jordan Spieth described as “absurd”.

Brooks Koepka’s 4th place in the event is another great showing going into his defence of the PGA Championship this week at Bethpage Black.

Kang previously hit the headlines at last year’s Quicken Loans tournament after a controversial drop which his playing partner and the ShotLink volunteer nearby insisted was taken nearer the hole than where the ball entered the hazard.

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Mental Health Awareness Week: Golf memories

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It was great to see the R&A supporting another Golf Memories group which assembled this week at Royal Portrush GC, where the Open Championship will be played in July. Golf Memories is a support group for people living with dementia which started with a group meeting just before last years Open in Carnoustie. In Scotland it is a project which is part of Sports Heritage Scotland and led to a further meeting at St Andrews and another at TPC Sawgrass in America. Lets hope that this spreads to other sports facilities. The purpose is to trigger memories and reconnecting individuals living with the condition to their interest in the sport.

I undertook some training a year or so ago with the Dementia Friends organisation and our trainer illustrated how resourceful people living with the condition can be. One lady who did not speak very often insisted on tapping her fingers when in the company of other people. Eventually it was discovered that during World War II this lady had worked for the Government at Bletchley Park and what she was doing with her finger tapping was communicating to them in morse code. Remarkable.

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Mental Health Awareness Week: Study shows golf’s unique ability to help people feel better

This week is Mental Health Awareness week in the UK and once again sports research company Syngenta have produced a fine piece of work highlighting the mental – as well as physical – benefits that playing golf can bring.

With one in six adults in the UK suffering from the more common mental health issues of depression and anxiety, this is a massive health burden which needs resolution. Physical activity is the strongest, most natural antidote, and golf’s unique contribution is that it offers mental stimulation as well as its playing environment in nature. While golf can be an individual sport, it is mostly social and the club environment can link people up to play together and forge new contacts and potential friendships.

The well presented Syngenta study highlights the impact of being in the open air and sunshine on a person’s well being.  Interracting with nature can be one of the easiest ways to restore and support good mental health. Sedentary living has been called the new smoking – for its damaging impact on our health.

One of the case studies in the report is a teenager who has experienced depression. It is interesting the link that this young man makes between how he has felt and the overuse of technology and social media. The expert psychologist who provides commentary in the report comments that digital media can lead to multitasking which generates stress and negative emotions and ends up lowering productivity. She says that over use of social media not only leads to social isolation – with peoples heads being locked into a virtual, rather than the real, world – and this is leading to a loneliness epidemic.

Getting in to golf’s green spaces has a positive impact on human psychology and physiology. You manage stress better when you are around green space, the parasympathetic nervous system changes and mood, strategic thinking and creativity improve. Is it any wonder that golf has been used for years as the place business people use to discuss deals, its very sensible!

Being around a green environment will relieve depression and anxiety and anger and improve mental fatigue. Being outdoors in the natural light, particularly in winter, will lift mood immediately. Golf has a unique position as a sport too as it is a series of mental challenges to be solved and involves actively using the brain to think strategically.

The teenager in the report says “golf gives me an excuse to put down technology and forget about it. I need that time away from it”.

There are compelling arguments in this report but I had a slight nagging uneasiness,when I read it. And that is selling golf as a social sport. This is something where everyone who loves golf needs to do better, in creating a welcoming environment. Because what vulnerable people do not want is to feel rejected or be told “I know your circumstances and you have no business being here amongst us, your social superiors”.

It is time that people who demonstrate that kind of attitude were told to leave golf, to move on to something else, because there are people out there who need golf and they need it to be populated by people who are warm, open and friendly and most of all non-judgmental.

 

 

 

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