Golf Blog

The 2016 Golf Digest Think Young Play Hard Invitational

After waiting 365 days since the 2015 Golf Digest Think Young Play Hard (TYPHI) Invitational, the time was finally here to return to Las Vegas for more lessons in golf, life, and gambling.  We packed our golf costumes, boarded the plane, and arrived just in time for a warmup round at Southern Highlands.  Our time at Southern Highlands was spectacular and involved hooking a drive into Floyd Mayweather's backyard.  We then hustled off to the Think Young Play Hard kickoff party.  After chipping balls onto floating greens and eating approximately 15-30 chicken tenders, I became aware that an ill advised bet had been established between several of the revelers. The bet was that it was not possible to jump onto one of these floating greens.  This party had officially been kicked off.

The par 5 9th at Southern Highlands.

The par 5 9th at Southern Highlands.

With the opening ceremonies in our rear view mirror, it was time to focus on serious golfing business.  I was fortunate enough to be paired up with World Series Champion, Cody Ross.  We decided it would be proper to plan our parade route and place all of our prize winnings on black in advance of actually winning the tournament.  Sound strategy.

Power foursome makes the turn at Royal Links on Day 1.

Power foursome makes the turn at Royal Links on Day 1.

One of the best parts of the tournament is that there are activities on many of the holes.  There was a $50k hole in one opportunity on the 3rd hole.  Unfortunately, Matt Lemman of Jones Golf Bags would slam dunk an ace on the 14th hole.  There are also plenty of long drive and closest to the pin competitions and a chance to win a GoPro by hitting an actual GoPro out of the bunker to within a circle.  That's an inch from GoPro glory.  I blame the wind.

Next up was the winner take all no limit poker tournament with a $12,000 watch up for grabs,  Naturally, our entire crew busted out early and decided to distract Instagram sensation, Paige Spiranac from her Puttskee session.  I would then attempt to show Paige how to properly model for Golf Digest cover shoots.  

Ross Photo Bomb #1

Ross Photo Bomb #1

Ross Photo Bomb #2

Ross Photo Bomb #2

Unfortunately, our team would come in second place in a sudden death playoff and the winners would be the ones that would be jumping into the pond on the par 3 9th hole.  Congratulations to the champs! 

I never learned anything from a match I won.
— Bobby Jones

With the 2016 Think Young Play Hard tournament behind us, it was time to focus on the post tournament bonus round.  Here are your 2016 participants, folks.

Penalty hat for 3 putts.

Penalty hat for 3 putts.

T Rex hates bogies so much.

T Rex hates bogies so much.

LittleBallBigBall  of Instagram joined us and paid the price.

LittleBallBigBall of Instagram joined us and paid the price.

Although Golf Digest's Carley Strauss had never heard of Blue Steel, she appears to be a natural in the modeling game.

Although Golf Digest's Carley Strauss had never heard of Blue Steel, she appears to be a natural in the modeling game.

After a solid round of even par in some tough winds at Royal Links, Cody and I were near the top of the leaderboard and poised to make a serious run for the title.  More importantly the fine folks over at GolfBoard provided us the opportunity to hang ten on the golf course.  

Cody and I demonstrate Tony Hawk type prowess on the  GolfBoard

Cody and I demonstrate Tony Hawk type prowess on the GolfBoard

"I am pretty good at golf, I am really good at skee-ball, but I am absolutely awful at Puttskee" - Four time National Skee-Ball Champion, one time TYPHI Champion,  Joey The Cat .

"I am pretty good at golf, I am really good at skee-ball, but I am absolutely awful at Puttskee" - Four time National Skee-Ball Champion, one time TYPHI Champion, Joey The Cat.

The final round of the tournament was hosted at Bali Hai Golf Course and would feature me ruining all of Cody's photos.  Cody would not be distracted as he led our team's charge to the top of the leaderboard with an eagle on 15.  I added in a couple of birdies and we found ourselves tied for the lead at -3 at the end of regulation.

Golf Digest's  Ashley Mayo  would get into the Sunblock, the SPF 5000 sunblock, for those that live directly on the sun.  

Golf Digest's Ashley Mayo would get into the Sunblock, the SPF 5000 sunblock, for those that live directly on the sun.  

Good times at the Champions Celebration.

Good times at the Champions Celebration.

Even though Sarah Moodie  (Smooderoo)  weighs about 85 pounds, she actually drove this one over the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino.

Even though Sarah Moodie (Smooderoo) weighs about 85 pounds, she actually drove this one over the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino.

T Rex rolls one in for par.

T Rex rolls one in for par.

Thanks to all of the wonderful people at Golf Digest for putting on a fantastic tournament.  Thanks to the friends that made the trip and thanks to the sponsors who made the 2016 Think Young Play Hard weekend great.  Until next time!

Whether it's for bogie or birdie, 1st or 2nd place, remember to celebrate like hell and #ThinkYoungPlayHard  Photo by Jeremy Lusk.

Whether it's for bogie or birdie, 1st or 2nd place, remember to celebrate like hell and #ThinkYoungPlayHard  Photo by Jeremy Lusk.

Pebble with Paige

Several months ago, the fine folks over at gottaGolf came up with the fantastic idea to run a promotion where the winners would get to play a round of golf with aspiring LPGA star, Paige Spiranac, at Pebble Beach.  A former gymnast turned golfer, Paige has recently wrapped up a successful collegiate career at SDSU.  Over the past 6 months, Paige has also captured the heart of just about every male golfer with an internet connection via her prolific social media presence.  gottaGolf Founder Clint Jarvis says "Paige moves the needle."  Good for us, she can also move the golf ball.  I was just fortunate enough to be the one taking pictures.

As I sat quietly playing Words with Friends on the seating area overlooking the first tee at Pebble Beach, an incoming text notified me that our group was on their way back from the practice tee.  Moments later, I noticed a tuft of blonde hair amongst the departing golf carts and I recognized Paige from her wildly popular Instagram account.  I made my way over to introduce myself to her and the rest of the fortunate winners of the contest.

Paige hits her 2nd into the par 5 2nd hole.

Paige hits her 2nd into the par 5 2nd hole.

Paige says hello and we chat briefly about her upcoming invitation to play in her first LPGA event, the Omega Dubai Ladies Masters.  Paige appears excited and nervous about the opportunity to play in Dubai.  I lean over and ask her, "How about your nerves out here on the first tee at Pebble Beach?"  "I always get nervous on the first tee."  she lets me know.  I also learn that this will be Paige's first round of golf at Pebble Beach.  This is sure to be a lot of fun.

Whatever nervous energy Paige has built up over the past 15 minutes appears to immediately leave her body as she steps up onto the first tee and rips one right down the middle. 

The Approach on #4

The Approach on #4

The group has decided to do a 2 person best ball match.  It's the guys vs the girls.  Girls Team:  Lisa & Paige.  Boys Team: Greg and Justin.  Our group is off and the competition is underway.

After a birdie on #3 by Justin, we reached the 4th hole and the first meeting of the Pacific Ocean and Pebble Beach.  The 4th hole is also the site of Paige's first birdie on Pebble Beach property.  She calmly rolls in a 10 footer and boards the birdie train with poise.

Paige would go on to make a birdie on the 6th and 7th holes as well.  Her shot in the video ends up at about 5 feet from the cup.  What can be a notoriously difficult golf hole in the wind is calm today and we take advantage as Greg rolls in a birdie to match Paige's.  Its her 3rd of the day after 7 holes.

Paige climbs the hill on #6 with a smile.  She would go on to make an easy birdie after almost reaching the green.in 2.

Paige climbs the hill on #6 with a smile.  She would go on to make an easy birdie after almost reaching the green.in 2.

Paige Quick Facts:

  • Outside of golf, Paige is a hockey fan, in particular a Pittsburgh Penguins hockey fan.
  • Paige has tiny feet.  While raking a bunker, I exclaimed "Hey look a tiny baby with tiny baby feet was in this bunker!"  Nope, just Paige.
  • Paige has turned down movie roles in order to focus on golf.
  • Squirrels are Paige's biggest fear as she was attacked by one when she was young...  A convenient excuse for not driving it into the woods.
  • Paige describes herself as socially awkward as she was home schooled until she left for college.  Luckily for us, she is not social media awkward.
  • She has a working theory on how her putter has been blessed by Zac Efron
  • As a child, Paige wanted to be a Bigfoot Hunter.  She wrote an essay on the topic.  "Sasquatch Exists" say's Paige
  • As a kid, Paige was responsible for breaking a boy's shin while playing football.  He mistakenly told Paige that she "hit like a girl" on the previous play.
  • Paige is an accomplished baker in the kitchen,  "I make some bomb ass cookies"
  • She only uses quarters as ball markers and they must be face up.

Holes 4-10 at Pebble Beach are arguably the best 7 consecutive holes in the golfing world and even though several golf balls have nearly found the ocean, all members of our party are accounted for and are thoroughly enjoying themselves.  On hole #9, we roll the Pebble cam and Paige politely reminds Justin that his team is currently 2 down.

Pebble with Paige1-100 (1).jpg
Pebble with Paige1-60.jpg

As our group makes the turn back to the clubhouse, the weather starts to get a little colder and the competition starts to heat up.

As Paige narrowly misses a make-able putt on 13, a deep grimace crosses her face.  Throughout the round, I have noticed just how much Paige does not like to miss putts that she believes she can make. A quality often found in the world's best, her disdain for bogies and missed putts will serve her well on her journey to the LPGA tour.

The match has been pretty close with the girls team up 1 through 15.  As the competition reaches the 16th hole, Paige has a birdie putt to put the girls team 2 up with 2 to play.  It is a pressure packed and intense moment.... wait for the leg kick...

 

After a half on the 17th hole, the girls claim a hard fought 2 and 1 victory.  Only one thing left to do... Host an impromptu photo shoot on one of the most famous tee boxes in all of golf.  

Our group jumped onto the 18th tee box and took to the camera like a moth to a flame.  The electricity flew back and forth between my lens and the faces of our energetic golfers.  On this fine day in November, glory was ours!

After the brief, yet intense photo shoot, the 2 non golfing participants of our group, myself and GottaGolf founder Clint, were given an opportunity to rip a drive down Pebble Beach's famous 18th fairway.  

I did a quick 5 pushups to get warm and proceeded to hit one down the middle.  Prompting a "Hey, the camera guy can play," from our caddie.  Score one for the camera guy!  Next up on the 18th tee was Clint.  Clint hit a high deep fade that headed right toward the expensive houses lining Pebble's 18th fairway.  A hush fell over our group as we braced ourselves for impact.  BLAMMO!  The sound of golfball on roof rang out into the crisp afternoon air.  "No worries," our caddie Matt assured us.  He explained that the homeowner is a "total sweetheart" and is far more likely to bring out milk and cookies than file a complaint.  In hindsight, skipping the pushups may have been Clint's downfall.

Reading putts at Pebble Beach is fun.

Reading putts at Pebble Beach is fun.

After missing a good look at birdie on #18, Paige tapped in for par and a nice round of 71.  "Hey, I think Steph Curry shot 70 on his first round at Pebble Beach."  That comment was greeted with an evil stare.  Confirmation that the competitive fire burns deep within Ms. Spiranac.  Paige will take that competitive fire to the big stage this December and we wish her the best of luck... even though she won't need it.

Head on over to gottaGolf to view all of the photos and videos from the day at Pebble Beach.  Be sure to download the Gotta Golf app as well to discover and share the best golf content from around the world.

Bonus Blue Steel Face-off
Vote below for the winner of the selfie competition from the 18th fairway. Vegas odds has Paige at 375:1
FullSizeRender.jpg