More odds, ends from the world of golf

Contributing Columnist

Sophie Gustafson hit a perfect wedge on the 14th hole at Mission Hills. It happened on a Tuesday. The ball bounced twice and then dropped into the hole. A tournament official approached Gustafson at the conclusion of the round and informed her that she had won a year’s supply of Oreos. Not surprising because the tournament was the Kraft Nabisco Championship. Problem is Gustafson is a nut when it comes to calories and weight. As a result the player made a deal with the sponsor and settled for a year’s supply of chewing gum.

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Are you aware that two companies, Softspikes and Champ, dominate the worldwide market for plastic golf cleats? They compete with each other on the professional tours and in the retail area.

Here are a few interesting facts:

1. At the recent Arnold Palmer Invitational, 25 percent of the players wore metal spikes. The actual number of players who use metal spikes on the PGA Tour is less than 35 percent.

2. Phil Mickelson has won The Masters three times with three different kinds of Champ spikes. He wore metal once, a hybrid metal once and plastic once.

3. Tiger Woods won 71 times on the PGA Tour while wearing Champ metal spikes. He topped it off at the Palmer Invitational by wearing Softspikes plastic cleats for the first time.

4. Bill Haas won a $10 million bonus in the 2011 FedEx Cup shootout with Hunter Mahan wearing Softspikes.

5. Steve Stricker changes Champ plastic spikes every two weeks. The manufacturers suggest changing spikes every 20 to 30 rounds.

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Then there is the famous, or infamous, story of Roberto De Vicenzo in the 1968 Masters. De Vicenzo signed his scorecard for a higher score on Augusta’s par 4th hole. He signed for a four when he actually made a three. Rather than playing Bob Goalby in an 18-hole Monday playoff for the green jacket, De Vicenzo finished one shot back.

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Sam Snead always told the story of his 1939 U.S. Open. In position to win his first U.S. Open at the Philadelphia Country Club, Snead needed only a par on the 18th. However, he thought he needed a birdie. As a result he played aggressively and ended up with a triple bogey. He never did win a U.S. Open.

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A reader sent the following question:

My fellow competitor chunked his ball into very wet rough, and when we got to where we thought it had landed, there were two balls there. My friend said he was going to have to rub off some mud to identify his ball, but when I looked he has all but completely cleaned it. My friend said that once you lift a ball, you are allowed to clean it. Is he right?

While Rule 21 does state that a ball may be cleaned when it is lifted on or through the green, there are exceptions. According to Rule 21b, when a ball is lifted to be examined (under Rule 12-2), it may only be cleaned to “the extent necessary for identification.” Assuming that your friend didn’t need to examine every dimple on his ball to determine that it was his, he was in violation, and that cost him a one-stroke penalty.

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