10. ‘Happy Gilmore’ signs to play college golf with Ball State

During the 2023 NLI Signing week, a familiar name was added to the Ball State men’s golf roster. One of Indiana’s top high school golfers, Happy Gilmore, committed to play for the Cardinals next year. No, this isn’t the Happy Gilmore you remember from the 1996 film. Born Landon James Gilmore, he was given the nickname ‘Happy’ when he won a long drive competition at the Pepsi Little People’s Golf Tournament around the age of 9. Nonetheless, we wish Mr. Gilmore good luck as he takes on his college golf career.

9. Trees falling at the 2023 Masters

A series of unfortunate events: 3 trees ended up falling on the course of the 2023 Masters tournament. Fortunately, no one was hurt by the falling giants. Due to inclement weather, the uprooted pine trees fell where the crowd was watching along the 17th tee. Two of the trees were acting as support for the third, causing all three to tumble. It was a close call, but only some chairs were effected by the crashing pines.

8. Tiger Woods returns to golf after injury

After an ankle injury caused him to withdraw from the Masters at Augusta National back in April, fans weren’t expecting to see Woods back out competing for a while. A few days later it was announced that Woods underwent a subtalar fusion procedure on his right ankle. There was no timeframe given for when Woods would be healed enough to get back out on the course. By November, Woods popped back up at the Hero World Challenge, surpassing expectations. His goal is to play one tournament a month through the 2024 season. Teaming up with his son Charlie at the PNC Championship, Woods was able to prove that his surgery was successful and he is indeed back on track.

7. Lilia Vu becomes No. 1 in Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings

It has been a successful year for LPGA superstar, Lilia Vu. The cherry on top of her 2023 LPGA Season was becoming the latest player to win the Rolex Player of the Year Award. Vu is the first American to be the Rolex Player of the Year since Stacy Lewis in 2014, and is the 26th different player to earn the award since its inception in 1966. Along with her win at The ANNIKA at the beginning of November, Vu’s remarkable 2023 Tour season included three additional victories and three additional top-10 results.

6. Gordon Sargent earns a PGA Tour card while still in college

Gordon Sargent, a 20-year-old junior at Vanderbilt University, became the first player to earn his PGA TOUR membership via the PGA TOUR University Accelerated program. The tour’s Accelerated endeavor was announced last year, bestowing an avenue for college underclassmen to earn tour membership. Players earn points based on their accomplishments in college, amateur and professional golf. Sargent won’t be eligible to pick up his membership until the end of the NCAA Championship in May, but he’ll keep his status through the end of the 2024 season and the entire 2025 season. For more, check out our article here: College Golfer Earns a PGA Tour Card Through New Program.

5. Rose Zhang wins first LPGA tournament after turning pro

After announcing she would be going pro in late May, Rose Zhang jumped right in to her professional career. After having a record-breaking amateur career, which included the most weeks as World No.1, Zhang was ready to make a name for herself in professional golf. She entered her first tournament, the Mihuzo Americas Open on the LPGA Tour, with many not expecting her to win. She became the first player to win on the LPGA Tour in a professional debut since Beverly Hanson in 1951. Since then, she has become the only competitor in the tour’s history to finish in the top 10 in all three of her major starts.

4. New college golf scoring system fails, leaves everyone scrambling

After a bumpy transition to the new college golf scoring system, Spikemark, college golf has finally seen the light at the end of the tunnel. The NCAA announced that Clippd, a leader in the golf technology industry, will provide NCAA golf scoring and ranking services, taking over from Spikemark. Spikemark had approached Clippd for assistance after their program failed to do what it was intended to. College golf’s longstanding scoring and ranking service, Golfstat, was replaced with Spikemark in what now seems to appear as a rushed transition. Immediately there were issues. There were some intricacies that were foreign to those who had grown so accustomed to the old way, and Spikemark’s site was slow with load times, often crashing and prompting people to coin the nickname, “Spinmark.” Now, Clippd has already been able to publish more than 75% of all Division I college golf tournaments this fall on the website, with a significant number more in the database being validated. There is hope for the future of college golf due to the contribution by Clippd.

3. Team Europe wins 2023 Ryder Cup

During the first week of October, the 2023 Ryder Cup took place at Marco Simone Golf and Country Club in Guidonia Montecelio, northeast of Rome. The team captains were Luke Donald for Europe and Zach Johnson for the United States; Donald replaced Henrik Stenson, who was removed from the role by the European Tour after joining LIV Golf. The top thirteen players in the Official World Golf Ranking played in the event. Winning 16.5 to 11.5, Europe officially reclaimed the Ryder Cup. Tommy Fleetwood won the key half point in the 11th match against Rickie Fowler. Despite a surge towards the end of the final day, the American team was outplayed by their European counterparts.

2. Jon Rahm, amongst several others, join LIV Golf

LIV Golf has been acquiring more and more professionals to join the 2024 roster. Jon Rahm is the latest pro to confirm the switch to LIV. There is a handful of others expected to join the 2024 tour, with more likely to hop aboard once the 2024 season commences. Rahm became arguably LIV’s biggest-ever signing in December of 2023. He turned professional in 2016 and went on to win the 2017 Farmers Insurance Open on the PGA Tour. He has acquired 20 professional wins over seven years, including two Majors (the 2021 US Open and The 2023 Masters). At just 29 years old, Rahm has already made a name for himself and intends to continue to do so with LIV Golf.

1. Golf Ball Rollback

The USGA and the R&A – golfs governing bodies – announced their plans to roll back the golf ball. They have announced their plan to change the rules to roll back distance in golf (and not just for elite players). This new precedent could potentially make most popular golf balls, played both professionally and recreationally, non-conforming. The revised plan which is intended to begin in 2028, states that for a golf ball to be deemed conforming and be legal for play, it will be tested using a robot that swings a titanium club at 125 mph. For more, check out our article here: Golf Ball Rollback Plan Announced by USGA and R&A.

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