2017 has been a wild year. We’ve recently been very happy (Tiger Woods and the Hero World Challenge), but it’s been a long road (complete with the 45th President driving a golf cart across a green).
But that’s okay, because now that 2017 is almost over, we can look forward to another year of health, happiness, and golf. But before you break open the champagne and take aim at your mother-in-law with that confetti popper, let’s reflect on the Top 5 golf highlights from 2017:
1. Actual “New” Golf Club Tech
Every year, at least one of the major club manufacturers release a club, and every year they brag about how it goes further, straighter, spins more (or less), and guarantees better shots than last year’s model. But when you peel back the skin, it turns out it’s the same club with some new paint.
Well, Callaway changed things up this year and kicked off 2017 with a bang. The Epic and Epic Sub Zero were the first time in a while that a new release driver came with some meaningful technology. While the name could’ve been better, Jailbreak technology was (ironically) epic, as everyone who touched them picked up some ball speed and distance.
Callaway continued to hog the spotlight with additional Epic releases (the Epic irons and the Epic Star driver), until TaylorMade released the P790 irons. While TM didn’t really pioneer the way with Speed Foam, it was the first time since PXG launched the 0311 irons in mid-2016 that someone came out with a “forged” iron with a filling (although the P790s have recently spent more time in the courtroom than on the golf course).
Cobra wound up the year with the King F8 and F8+, which debuted an industry first, 100% CNC milled driver face. What’s so special about that? Well, the milled faces result in greater manufacturing consistency and tighter tolerances, thereby allowing thinner faces which are much closer to the USGA’s limit (i.e., the face is a launching pad). This also saves some weight and helps reduce spin.
Where to start? At the beginning of 2017, Tiger announced that he would be playing in four events at the start of 2017. Golf fans were ecstatic, but it was very short lived.
Unfortunately, the former No. 1 didn’t even make it through February. But that didn’t stop him from staying in the headlines. In May 2017, Tiger was arrested for a DUI. Fortunately after that Tiger laid low and almost immediately after he finished coaching USA’s Team in the Presidents Cup, Tiger gave the people what they wanted in late August: chipping video, some iron and driver swings, and even his infamous stinger.
Mid-November, PGA pro’s like Rickie Fowler and Dustin Johnson both had the opportunity to watch Tiger in action and commented on his progress. And while he didn’t win the Hero World Challenge, golf is exciting again and now everybody and ready to see him take on the field in 2018.
3. International Competition
While no where near as intense as Patrick Reed in the 2016 Ryder Cup, the U.S. team manhandled Nick Price and the International Team. Despite the competition being held at an incredible venue–Liberty National with the NYC backdrop–the competition itself left a lot of us wanting more.
Some commentators went as far as saying that the Presidents Cup is “dead” and that the whole competition needs to be “fixed.” Then again, since 1994 the International Team has only one the Cup once…
4. Sergio Joins the Greats
Sergio Garcia turned professional in 1999 and, until this year, was awarded the prestigious award of the “Best Player Without a Major.” Yikes.
Well, all that changed for Sergio in April when, after fighting through a sudden death-playoff, he was finally able to slip into a green jacket. For anyone keeping score, it took Sergio 74 major championships to finally establish himself among golf’s best players.
However, Sergio did something that many would view as very peculiar. After winning the Masters in April, Sergio parted ways with TaylorMade in October after 15 years. It didn’t take very long to replace the clubs he won the Masters with, because in November Sergio debuted a bag stock full of Callaway’s finest sticks.
While it’s nice that Sergio has found a new home, some reports have made it seem that he was shown the door by TM. But that shouldn’t be so surprising when you consider their current stable of staffers: Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy, Jason Day, Justin Rose, Jon Rahm, and some old guy named Tiger Woods. He also got married….. Woohoo
5. Justin Thomas
Everybody knew he was going be good, but this good and this quickly?!
If anything is clear about the young guns, it’s that 1) they’re fearless and 2) they’re unstoppable when they’re in the zone. Just look at Brooks Koepka at the U.S. Open or Jordan Spieth at the Open Championship. Well, instead of dominating just one event, Justin Thomas won 2017.
Coming right out the gates in January at the Sony Open in Hawaii, Justin Thomas became the 7th player to shoot a 59 and the youngest player to shoot below 60. In June at the 2017 U.S. Open at Erin Hills, Thomas tied the U.S. Open single-round record with a 63. In August, Thomas won his first major at the 2017 PGA Championship at Quail Hollow Club.
JT then went on to win the 2017 Dell Technologies Championship at TPC Boston. That victory really put him with some elite golfers, as JT joined Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods, and Jordan Spieth, becoming the fourth golfer to win five times, including a major, in a single PGA Tour season.
Shortly after, JT’s runner-up finish at the Tour Championship at East Lake Golf Club made him the 2017 FedEx Cup champion. Oh yea, that last achievement also netted him a $10 million bonus.
Cover Image via Instagram
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