Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Pray FORE! Grace (Part 2)

Last week, I posted about Grace Shin, a golfer here at UCO recently diagnosed with ALL Leukemia.

She has seen such great support through social media posts and constant encouragement through text messages.

Now, it's time for us to help her family out too.

If you've ever been to the hospital for stitches, or taken a ride in an ambulance, you know how expensive medical bills can be.

Imagine receiving 24 hour treatment, and living in that hospital bed for weeks. That's what the Shin family is going through as we speak.

Of course they don't mind. They will do whatever it takes to get Grace the best treatment possible!

So my question is, why shouldn't we?

Someone way more creative than me designed these t-shirts, which are $20, and go directly to the Shin family to help offset medical costs.

Our golf team was sent the link a couple of days ago, and we already have a few guys wanting to buy the shirt. I've also seen other people post on social media about it, and it has generated a lot of interest.

As the post says, you contact Michael Bond, the women's golf coach, to buy a shirt. You can also reach out to anyone on the women's golf team, many of whom have already tweeted out the same picture.

You can either spend $20 on yourself, or you can spend $20 to help save a life.

Your choice.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Prayers for Grace

This is a blog meant for golf news and updates, but sometimes, there are more important things in life.

This post won't contain a bunch of pictures, or cool stats, or fancy predictions.

This...this is close to home

Grace Shin, a sophomore from Union High School in Tulsa, and a member of the women's golf team, was diagnosed with acute leukemia over the weekend, and began a 24-week chemotherapy treatment yesterday.

We have guys on the golf team who are close to her, and give us daily updates on the treatment, and each day will be a battle.

I don't know Grace very well, but from what I've seen and what I've been told, she is a fighter, and she will not stop fighting until she wins.

And from what I've seen on social media, and throughout the athletic department at UCO, she has a big team fighting right along side her. #PrayersForGrace

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

A Tradition Unlike any Other

Ladies and gentlemen...it's time.

It's time for pimento cheese sandwiches.

It's time for green jackets.

It's time for Amen Corner.

It's time...for the Masters.

It's the best week of the year, therefore, I apologize in advance for the length of this post. Sorry, I'm just excited! Golf's premier tournament, and 1st major, begins Thursday at Augusta National in Georgia.

Well, Masters week technically began on Sunday, with the annual Drive, Chip and Putt competition, featuring boys and girls from 7-15 from all across the country competing in golf's version of Punt, Pass and Kick.

Tonight is the annual Champions Dinner, a dinner exclusively for prior Masters champions. The dinner is hosted by the defending champion, who in this case is England's Danny Willett. Willett has the difficult task of putting together the menu for the night, although it looks like he did a pretty good job.

The festivities continue Wednesday in the annual Par 3 competition, a chance for players to bring their families onto the 9-hole par 3 course and relax before the biggest week of their season. Be careful though, no player who has won the Par 3 event has gone on to win the Masters.

The real fun begins Thursday morning.

The ceremonial opening tee shot from "The Big 3" will be one short this year, as Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player will be without The King, Arnold Palmer. This will be the 1st Masters since Palmer passed away last year.

After those tee shots, the tournament officially begins. Here's your look at the course, the contenders, and who I think will put on that famous jacket Sunday evening.

The Course

I don't think my words can effectively describe the beauty that is Augusta National, so see for yourself.


Just in case you're wondering, there are SEVERAL famous holes at Augusta. So here's a brief dialogue on those.

Amen Corner: The most famous 3-hole stretch in the world, the long par-4 11th, dangerous short par-3 12th (ask Jordan Spieth,) and famous risk reward par-5 13th, were famously dubbed Amen Corner because if you made it out at even par, you have to say "Amen!"

15 and 16: Another risk-reward par-5 at 15, and the picturesque par-3 16th, each have their fair share of thrilling moments, including Jack Nicklaus's famous iron shot in the '86 Masters, and Tiger Woods infamous chip that hung on the lip for what seemed like hours, then fell.

The Contenders

Defending Champion: Danny Willett

Talk about a Cinderella story.

Willett literally came "out of nowhere...to lead the pack...at Augusta," (gotta love Caddyshack.) Of course, everyone remembers Jordan Spieth's collapse on the dangerous par 3 12th. However, Willett played fantastic on Sunday, firing a 5-under 67. Willett hasn't made much noise since that win, but it's hard to forget about the defending champ.

Jordan Spieth

The aformentioned Spieth certainly gave the Masters to Willett last year, but let's not forget how much success he's had there the past 2 years. Aside from the 12th on Sunday, Spieth has been far and away the best player on the course each year, and that likely won't change this year. Spieth is the best putter in the world, so you better believe he will be in contention again on Sunday.

Dustin Johnson

The #1 player in the world, Johnson can't be touched if he is making ANY putts. His length, and his new dedication to his wedge game makes him an impossible force. However, the course doesn't necessarily fit his game. Johnson loves playing a high cut off the tee, but Augusta is set up for a draw on the majority of holes. That's not to say Johnson can't do it, because he has proved this year he can win multiple ways, but that's something to keep an eye on.

Rory McIlroy

Another young gun who hits it a mile, Rory has had success at Augusta, and could've had a green jacket if not for a second-9 collapse on Sunday back in 2011. Rory hits it a long way, and has the touch around the greens to be in contention just about anywhere, including the Masters. McIlroy lacks the green jacket to complete the career grand slam.


Phil Mickelson

Hard to consider a 3-time Masters champion a sleeper, but Phil has struggled a bit as of late, and missed the cut last year. His ball striking has been an issue, but Phil is the best short game player on the planet, and if he can find a groove with his irons, he has a chance.

Jon Rahm

He is everyone's favorite sleeper pick, and there's a reason for it. Rahm has burst onto the scene this year, already having a win under his belt, and multiple events has been in contention. He has the firepower to win at Augusta, but this being his first Masters, can he handle the nerves?

My Winner: Rory McIlroy

There's a formula for success at the Masters. That's why the same guys are in contention each and every year.

1. You need to be long off the tee. Not astronomically long, but longer than average.
2. Big high draws are a plus off the tee(fades for lefties.)
3. High approach shots make things much easier, as the Augusta greens are hard and fast.
4. Speaking of greens, you MUST be able to putt well to have a chance. The best putters in the world are generally the ones in contention.
5. Finally, it is absolutely imperative that you take advantage of the 4 par-5's. They aren't overly long, and are generally birdie holes. Take advantage, because there aren't many other opportunities out there.

Factoring all of these keys in, my winner this year is Rory McIlroy. The defending FedEx Cup champion has played well thus far, with 3 top-10s in 4 events, and he has a solid track record at Augusta. He's a long high ball hitter, and if his putter gets hot, he's the best player in the field. I like Rory to complete the career grand slam this week.

Have fun watching, and feel free to comment on who you think will put on the green jacket this year!

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

In a League of His Own

When you do something in golf that Tiger Woods hasn't done, you're doing something right.

Over the weekend, Dustin Johnson rolled through the golf version of March Madness, culminating with a 1UP victory over Jon Rahm to claim the Dell Match Play down in Austin. I say it's March Madness because the PGA Tour goes through a 64-player bracket, much like the NCAA Tournament.

It may as well been a one man event.

Johnson, already the #1 player in the world, proved that ranking by earning his 3rd win in as many starts, and in the process becoming the 1st player to win all 4 World Golf Championships (Match Play, HSBC, Bridgestone, and Mexico Championships) in a career. Tiger has the most, but he never won the HSBC.

And he knocked off golf's hottest rookie to do it.

Rahm, already a winner on TOUR earlier in the year, dominated through the early portion of the bracket, with his closest match coming in a 3 and 2 (meaning up by 3 holes with 2 to play) win over Bill Haas in the semis.

Johnson had the gas pedal flat on the floor early, starting 5UP thru 8 holes, in what looked like a blowout.

But in a match-up with this much firepower, anything can happen.

  Rahm cut into the deficit early on the back, then won 3 of 4 holes from 13-17, getting back to 1DN heading to 18. But Johnson, being the top player in the world, shut the door on 18 to seal the deal.

The TOUR heads south to Houston for the the Shell Houston Open for the final tune-up before the best week of the year...Masters week.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

From the Range to the Round

Let the Big Dog Eat

I think the biggest thing I've learned about this golf blog is that you have to be interesting to be seen. I started out writing generic tournament previews and recaps, which are fine, and I will continue doing that. But in order to gain followers and popularity, you have to be unique. Golf can be viewed as boring by some people, so you have to constantly find ways to make it interesting, even to people who don't care much for it.

Equipment Malfunction

I kind of mentioned it in my first answer, but instead of focusing strictly on the PGA Tour, I've started to implement articles on college golf, both men's and women's. I think that makes my blog a little more unique, especially since I play on the team. It kind of gives an inside perspective into college athletics.

The Back 9

I'm going into sports broadcasting, so having a blog on sports gives me a certain level of "expertise" in the subject (even if my golf game says otherwise.) I also think it's unique, as it isn't a popular sport(football, basketball) and it isn't a popular local team that would otherwise get lost in the clutter. The blog is something I can attach to my resume to show that I have more than just basic knowledge.

"Competitive Golf is Played Mainly on a Five-and-a-Half Inch Course, the Space Between your Ears"

I would say it has caused me to think more creatively. Early on, I was pretty dry and boring, which matched people's opinion of the sport. That isn't fun to read. So I have done my best to think a little more outside the box when I write, because I know there are people out there who couldn't care less about golf. So my writing is what will keep them interested.

The Next 18

I think the biggest things are to be original, and be creative. Original meaning don't just do what everyone else is doing. I could've very easily written a blog on the Thunder, or OU athletics. But I felt like there were so many of those, mine would just be white noise. Next, being creative means making something boring something fun. Golf doesn't have big collisions, or heart-stopping drama. Not to everyone. To me, there is nothing like a guy coming down the 18th fairway, knowing he needs a birdie to tie, and attacking a dangerous pin dangling behind a lake. That is drama, and that is how I latch readers to my writing.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

UCO Women's Golf Needs Attention

We've focused a lot on the PGA Tour here, and for good reason.

The casual golf fan likely doesn't care about the Web.com Tour, or the European Tour, or the Adams Tour, or unfortunately, the LPGA Tour.

I bet these girls care about it though.

The UCO women's golf team works just as hard as the men's team, plays some of the same courses, and works out just like any other golf team, yet they don't get the recognition they deserve.

Well let's change that.

The girls took part in the Diffee Ford Lincoln Invitational at Kickingbird Golf Club, beginning on Monday. Here was their lineup for the event.

1. Marla Souvannasing
2. Makena Mucciaccio
3. Grace Shin
4. Sydney Roberts
5. Anna Pool

If you were outside on Monday, you knew how HORRIBLE the wind was. Only 13 of the 86 players in the field shot in the 70s, and UCO had three of them.

Freshman Sydney Roberts led the way, shooting 76 to put her in a tie for 5th in the individual standings. Marla Souvannasing and Makena Mucciaccio both shot 79. As a team, the Bronchos were in 2nd place, six shots behind Southwestern Oklahoma.

The real fireworks happened on the back 9 on Tuesday.

Roberts, who came into the final round seven shots back, fired a 4-under 31 on the back 9, pulling off a huge comeback to win the individual crown by a shot. Roberts had an eagle and two birdies on her final 9 en route to a 2-under 68.

Roberts big back 9 rallied the rest of the Bronchos, and they too came back to win the team title, beating 1st-round leader SWOSU by three shots.

Mucciaccio shot a 2-over 72 to finish T-7th, while Souvannasing shot 75 to finish 13th.

THESE GIRLS ARE GOOD. And for how well they perform, I think they should get the publicity they deserve. Congrats girls!

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Equipment Blogs and Purchasing

Back in the old days, golf was played with wooden clubs, made by a handful of manufacturers, and used by everyone. Today, there are so many brands and styles to choose from that it can get a little overwhelming. 

That’s where golf equipment blogs come in handy. People begin these blogs to provide club reviews, suggestions, and information on what the professionals use. However, these blogs can provide a slanted look on what clubs are best for each individual.

Even though golf blogs provide great insight into equipment, they also make the buying process more difficult.

People have become so obsessed with what professional players use that they just buy it for that reason alone. Websites like Golf WRX, The Sand Trap, and My GolfSpy were created to give golfers a look into professional equipment, while also providing “expert reviews” on the biggest name in the club industry. 
Golfers will go out and spend hundreds of dollars on clubs just because their favorite pro uses them, instead of buying the clubs best fit to them. That is my biggest problem with golf blogs, is that most of the reviews are tailored to the person using them. While they can be great for information, I’m not sure they work well for purchasing decisions.

The ability to use the Internet has both helped and hurt the golf industry, in that it allows amateur golfers to find out information on clubs, but it also doesn’t provide them with the perfect club for them. Golf blogs are great for chunks of facts, but if you want the best clubs for you, go get fitted by a golf pro.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Former Cowboy Corrals Honda Classic

Orange power indeed.

Former Oklahoma State Cowboy Rickie Fowler, well-known for his lack of success in finishing off golf tournaments, finally proved the critics wrong over the weekend in Florida, winning The Honda Classic by 4.

Fowler was previously 0-4 in closing out tournaments in which he held the 54-hole lead, and it looked like we were heading that way early in the final round on Sunday.

Rickie had a four-shot lead coming into the final round, but a tee shot into the water on 6 and into the trees on 9 trimmed his lead to 1 heading into the back 9.

Fowler responded with some timely putting, and this dart on the tough 16th.
That all but sealed the deal for Fowler's 4th professional victory.
Speaking of orange power, former Poke Morgan Hoffman finished T-2nd, 4 shots behind Fowler. Florida Gator Billy Horschel and Martin Kaymer finished T-4th, and defending champion Adam Scott finished T-14th.

Rickie's win continued a trend of a youth movement on TOUR. 11 of the 15 winners this season are in their 20s. Players like Justin Thomas, Jordan Spieth, Jon Rahm, and Hideki Matsuyama are consistently topping leaderboards, removing any worry about the state of golf post-Tiger Woods.

This week, the TOUR heads to Mexico City for the World Golf Championships- Mexico Championship. The tournament relocated form Trump National in Doral.

A typical WGC field is on-hand this week, as you have to be in the top 50 in the world rankings, or high up in the FedEx Cup rankings to qualify. All of the top 50 have committed to the event, including new #1 Dustin Johnson, Jason Day, Fowler, Phil Mickelson, Jordan Spieth, defending champion Adam Scott, and Rory McIlroy in his first event back from injury.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Broncho Golf Update

Let's take a break from the big boys and talk a little college golf.

As my bio states, I played quarterback on the UCO football team for 5 years. We won a lot of games, made a lot of memories, and formed relationships that will last a lifetime.

This past fall was my last season, and before it started, I saw an opportunity when it was over.

I played a lot of competitive golf over the past few summers, and wanted to try playing on our school team. We had graduated quite a few guys, and got a new coach at a time that didn't allow him to go out and recruit.

We were hurting for players, and I wanted to help.

I went and talked to Coach Fosdick before fall camp, and told him my intentions. I told him about my competitive golf, my situation with football, and my drive to get better in the sport. Lucky for me, he liked the idea!

So after my final college football game in early November, I hopped in with the guys in workouts and practice, and now it's like I've been there all along!
A post shared by T.j. Eckert (@tj.eckert) on

Okay, enough about me. Who really cares about that stuff anyway?

Earlier this week, we had our first tournament of the spring season down in San Antonio. I unfortunately didn't play well enough to qualify for this event, so I stayed home and supported through my cell phone. The guys that did make it were:

1. Eli Armstrong
2. Zander Hughes
3. Nick Pierce
4. Wesley Jackson
5. Alberto Ruiz Nava

The guys stopped outside of Austin first to visit the headquarters for Edel Golf, which is home to custom-made putters and the unique single-length irons that are becoming the hot new item in golf. They also said hi to our incoming recruit, Nico Edel, who committed to UCO a while back.

After getting fit for putters and single-length irons, it was time to get down to business. The guys played a practice round at The Dominion Country Club on Sunday to get ready for what was supposed to be 54 holes over the next 2 days. Record rainfall cut the event to 36.

We finished the 1st round in a tie for 4th in the 16-team field. Berto led the way, shooting +1 73, with Nick shooting +2 74, Eli and Wes +3 75, and Zander +4 76. Bert ended the day T-11.

The next day didn't go quite as well.

The tough Bermuda greens made it hard for anyone to have confidence in their stroke, and a brutal back 9 caused scores to balloon.

Berto and Eli found a way to push through, shooting solid even par 72s, and Bert finished in T-4 in the individual standings. As a team, we finished T-5, which would be a good tournament for most teams, but not so good for a team with the expectations we have for ourselves.

It's early, and this is the 1st tournament of the spring, but we are going to work even harder now to get to where we know we can be.

Monday, February 20, 2017

DJ Dominates LA

It looks like prior history is rather important this season.

Last week, we talked about how Jordan Spieth had great success at the AT&T Pro-Am in previous years. He went on to dominate the field in his first win of the season.

This week, everyone talked about how successful Dustin Johnson has been at Riviera, even though he has never won.

We can forget about that last part now.

In a 36-hole Sunday finish, DJ lapped the field, nearly broke the tournament scoring record, and climbed to the top spot in the Official World Golf Rankings.

Pretty nice Sunday.

Johnson started his day with a 3rd round -7 64, to enter his 2nd 18 of the day with a 5-shot lead. He would widen that margin to 9 at one point, until settling for an easy 5-shot victory with a closing even-par 71.
Image result for dustin johnson genesis open

DJ also became the 20th player to become the #1 player in the world, taking over for Jason Day, who held the spot for almost 50 weeks.

Other notable finishes include Justin Rose T-4, Adam Scott T-11, Jordan Spieth T-22, and Phil Mickelson T-34.

The TOUR heads across the country this week for The Honda Classic at PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. Adam Scott is the defending champion, and will look to become just the second player to defend their title in the event, along with the great Jack Nicklaus.