Tag: golf

My predictions for the World Golf Championships Match Play golf event

Starting several hours from now, 64 of the top male golfers in the entire world will converge on Austin, Texas for the playing of the World Golf Championships-Dell Technologies Match Play, or WGC Match Play for short. The tournament is unusual by professional golf standards, as, instead of using stroke play, in which the lowest number of strokes wins, match play, a head-to-head format of golf in which the golfer shooting the lowest score on each hole wins the hole, and the golfer winning the most holes wins the match, is used.

Barring schedule changes due to weather and/or other factors, the format of the WGC Match Play is as follows:

  • On Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, round robin matches, with all 64 golfers, each of which were drawn into one of 16 pools of four golfers on Monday and are scheduled to play a single 18-hole match each day, are played, with each player playing the other three players in his pool at some point during the first three days of the event. Only the winner of each pool advances to the elimination portion of the event; the winner of each pool play match receives one point towards determining the winner of each pool, whereas both golfers receive half a point for a halved (i.e., tied) match in pool play.
  • On Saturday, the 16 golfers who qualify for the elimination portion of the event will play a round of 16 match, with the winners of those playing in quarterfinal matches later in the day.
  • On Sunday, the four golfers advancing out of the quarterfinal matches will play in morning semifinal matches, with all four semifinalists playing in the afternoon. The semifinal winners will play each other for the WGC Match Play championship and the Walter Hagen Trophy, whereas the semifinal losers will play each other in a consolation match for third-place.

For pool play, here are my predicted winners:

  • Group 1 – Dustin Johnson
  • Group 2 – Emiliano Grillo
  • Group 3 – Lee Westwood
  • Group 4 – Hideki Matsuyama
  • Group 5 – Jordan Speith
  • Group 6 – Justin Thomas
  • Group 7 – Jon Rahm
  • Group 8 – Bernd Wiesberger
  • Group 9 – Patrick Reed
  • Group 10 – Tyrrell Hatton
  • Group 11 – Russell Knox
  • Group 12 – Charl Schwartzel
  • Group 13 – Thomas Pieters
  • Group 14 – J.B. Holmes
  • Group 15 – Brandt Snedeker
  • Group 16 – Tommy Fleetwood

I predict that Patrick Reed will win the WGC-Match Play title.

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Donald Trump acts like an arrogant fool on Feherty

It’s not an everyday thing for Golf Channel to air political programming, but they recently aired an interview of presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump. The interview was conducted by former professional golfer and Golf Channel/NBC on-course golf announcer David Feherty (last name pronounced FAIR-et-ee) for the interview show Feherty.

I watched the interview so you didn’t have to, and let’s just say that, if one were to judge someone by how they act around people that they like (Feherty wore Trump socks  while interviewing Trump), let’s just say that Trump is an arrogant fool, because that’s how he acted around Feherty.

When Trump was asked by Feherty how his presidential bid was doing, Trump touted favorable poll numbers and claimed that he hadn’t spent any money on his campaign yet (in reality, he’s spent nearly $62 million on his campaign so far). When Trump was asked by Feherty whether or not he thought of himself as an asshole, Trump touted favorable poll numbers. When Feherty listed a number of adjectives that me and other critics of Trump use on a regular basis to criticize him, Trump responded by saying, “but other than that, they like me.” Trump even went as far as to call his real estate properties “presidential”.

Oh, and Trump made a shockingly offensive statement during the interview. Trump said that racial profiling was “necessary”. Racial profiling is, in the 21st century, very common in America, and it contributes to racial tensions in America in a big way. Racism and racial profiling is never necessary, and it is always inappropriate.

Even when he’s around people that he likes, Donald Trump is an arrogant fool who only cares about himself and his ego.

Did the USGA learn from its video review mistake from last month?

AUTHOR’S NOTE #1: Since the U.S. Women’s Open golf championship is one of many women’s golf tournaments used to determine qualification for the women’s golf tournament at the Games of the XXXI Olympiad in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, International Olympic Committee (IOC) country codes for players in the U.S. Women’s Open are noted in parenthesis following the first mention of their full names below the divider.

AUTHOR’S NOTE #2: Anna Nordqvist’s last name is pronounced nord-KWIST


On the second of three holes played in yesterday’s three-hole aggregate playoff for the U.S. Women’s Open golf championship at CordeValle golf course in California (the playoff used holes 16, 17, and 18, in that order), Anna Norqvist (SWE) touched sand while addressing her ball, which was at rest and located in a bunker. Normally, when a player illegally grounds his/her club in a bunker or water hazard in a golf event, he/she will call a penalty on himself/herself. However, in Nordqvist’s case, it was not visibly obvious to her that she had illegally grounded her club in the bunker, and, in fact, only a FOX camera showing a close-up of Nordqvist’s address of the ball showed that Nordqvist had, in fact, touched sand while addressing her ball in a bunker. The USGA conducted a video review, and, after both players in the playoff had started playing the final hole of the playoff, they were both notified of the penalty assessed to Nordqvist for breach of Rule 13-4, which prohibits a player from, when his/her ball is at rest in a bunker or water hazard, touching water, sand, the ground, or loose impediments with the club, except when striking the ball itself. The penalty for breach of Rule 13-4 during stroke play, which was used for all four rounds of regulation and the three-hole aggregate playoff, is two strokes on the hole which the breach of the rule occurred. Brittany Lang (USA) went on to win the U.S. Women’s Open by three playoff strokes; had Nordqvist not been assessed a penalty, Lang would have still won, but only by one playoff stroke.

Here’s the video of Nordqvist grounding her club in the bunker:

I believe that the U.S. Golf Association (USGA), which sanctions the U.S. Women’s Open golf championship and some other golf tournaments, including the U.S. Open golf championship, did a far better job of handling the video review in regards to the Nordqvist grounded club situation in the U.S. Women’s Open than the Dustin Johnson moved ball situation that occurred during the final round of regulation in the U.S. Open, which is also sanctioned by the USGA. In that scenario, Johnson’s ball moved on the 5th green at Oakmont County Club in Pennsylvania, and he was initially given no penalty, since a rules official on-course ruled that he had not caused his ball to move. However, Johnson was notified several holes later that his score on the 5th hole was under video review, and it was after his round that he was notified that he had incurred a one-stroke penalty for causing his ball to move on the green without actually taking a stroke. This caused nearly everybody with an interest in golf to criticize the USGA for their handling of the Dustin Johnson moved ball scenario, and rightfully so, since Johnson was not notified of the penalty until after he had completed his round, even though the moved ball situation occurred less than halfway through his round.

If you were to ask me whether or not the USGA has learned from its video review mistake, the short answer would be yes.

Why 4K/UltraHD/2160p television will never become the common standard of American television

You may have heard about 4K, Ultra HD, or 2160p television (they’re all the same thing, and I’ll refer to it as 4K in the rest of the blog post for simplicity). Next month, television viewers with a 4K television set, DirecTV satellite television service, and the right DirecTV programming package and equipment will be able to watch a special feed of The Masters golf tournament that will provide coverage of holes 11, 12, and 13 of the Augusta National Golf Club’s main golf course in 4K. The Masters is an interesting choice for the first live 4K television broadcast in U.S. history that I’m aware of, since The Masters has historically been behind the times when it has come to golf broadcasting technology and practices.

There are several reasons why I believe that 4K will not become the standard format of American television broadcasting, or, for that matter, video broadcasting and streaming in general:

  • Most 4K televisions are very large – I live in a house that is approximately 1,000 square feet in size, and it would be difficult to fit a 4K television in any of the three rooms we currently have 720p/1080i-capable HDTVs. Very few 4K-capable television sets are smaller than 40 inches, and many of them are much larger than that.
  • Making 4K-compatible computer monitors (especially the case for laptops), tablets, and smartphones is very difficult, if not impossible – These devices have screens that are much smaller than the screen of a typical 4K television set. Try fitting 8,294,400 pixels on a smartphone screen, and you’ll get a general idea of what I’m talking about.
  • Our television infrastructure was built for 720p, 1080i, and 1080p, not 4K – Transmitting a 4K television signal takes up a lot more of the available bit rate than 720p, 1080i, or 1080p. If it’s even possible to transmit 4K over-the-air, transmitting an over-the-air 4K signal would take up most, if not all, of a 6 MHz over-the-air digital television transmission channel’s bit rate, leaving no room for over-the-air subchannels in any format. Cable and satellite television providers use most or all of their available bitrate to provide hundreds of 720p, 1080i, and 1080p channels and other viewing options, so it would be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to provide more than a few 4K options to their viewers.
  • It would require faster internet connections to stream 4K video over an internet connection – I have an internet connection that provides roughly 18 megabytes per second of combined upload/download speed, and I have little trouble streaming 720p, 1080i, or 1080p video. However, streaming 4K video would require a considerably faster internet connection.

While 4K will probably become commonly used in some practices, such as movie theaters and video games, to expect 4K to become the television industry standard for broadcasting television is laughably absurd.

Donald Trump erected a phony Civil War monument at his golf club in Virginia

Donald Trump erected a phony Civil War monument at his golf club in Virginia

While I’d never support an overt racist like Donald Trump for president or any other public office, one thing that I have in common with Trump is that I like the sport of golf. Although I’ve never played on a regular golf course (I’ve played miniature golf a couple of times, and I’m absolutely terrible at it), I’ve come to like the sport of golf enough that I’ve started watching the four major men’s golf tournaments (The Masters, U.S. Open, The (British) Open Championship, and PGA Championship) on television each year.

However, unlike me, who has never owned, built, or designed a golf course, Trump owns many golf courses, two of which are located at Trump National Golf Club in northeastern Loudoun County, Virginia (TNGC DC).

There are three phony claims made by Trump, both of which involve TNGC DC.

You only need to bring up TNGC DC’s website to find the first phony Trump claim involving TNGC DC: the golf club is not actually located in Washington, D.C., as Trump himself claims on TNGC DC’s website in a signed statement on the front page. However, the course is located in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area, as Loudon County, Virginia is part of the DC metro area.

For the other two phony claims from Trump, you’ll need to actually play one of the courses at TNGC DC, although this article from The New York Times gives a partial description of the location where the second and third phony claims can be found. Between the 14th hole and the 15th tee of one of the two courses at TNGC DC (the NYT article did not specify which course), there is a monument that commemorates a Civil War battle that didn’t happen:

Between the 14th hole and the 15th tee of one of the club’s two courses, Mr. Trump installed a flagpole on a stone pedestal overlooking the Potomac, to which he affixed a plaque purportedly designating “The River of Blood.”

“Many great American soldiers, both of the North and South, died at this spot,” the inscription reads. “The casualties were so great that the water would turn red and thus became known as ‘The River of Blood.’ ”

The inscription, beneath his family crest and above Mr. Trump’s full name, concludes: “It is my great honor to have preserved this important section of the Potomac River!”

There’s actually two phony claims made by Trump on that monument. The first phony claim is Trump’s claim that he preserved the section of the Potomac River that runs next to TNGC DC, which is false, since Trump had hundreds of trees chopped down as part of the renovation of TNGC DC, which Trump purchased in 2009. The second phony claim is the claim by Trump that a large number of casualties occurred at the location where the monument is located. As historians who are experts on Civil War battles in Northern Virginia will tell you, this is a false claim:

The club does indeed lie a stone’s throw from Rowser’s Ford, where, as an official historical marker notes, Gen. J.E.B. Stuart led 5,000 Confederate troops including cavalry across the Potomac en route to the Battle of Gettysburg.

But no one died in that crossing, historians said, or in any other notable Civil War engagement on the spot.

Donald Trump has a habit of telling tales that are taller than the trees that he had cut down when he renovated TNGC DC. Even his monument on one of his golf courses at TNGC DC includes inaccurate claims!

My proposed projected scoring system for projecting golf scores in stroke play tournaments

AUTHOR’S NOTE #1: The blog post includes underlined numbers to indicate that the numbers that are underlined are repeating decimals.

AUTHOR’S NOTE #2: The projected scoring system described below is not to be confused with the “most likely score” method that is part of the U.S. Golf Association (USGA) handicap system and designed mainly for recreational golf.


Unlike most sports, it’s not fair to end a round of a stroke-play golf tournament early because of bad weather or some other condition that prevents the round from being completed on its scheduled day. That’s because it wouldn’t be fair to allow one golfer to play fewer holes than another golfer in the same tournament, as, depending on the scores being set by the golfers playing the entire course, it would either be a huge advantage or disadvantage to the golfer playing fewer holes. Also, because each round of a stroke-play golf tournament is usually scheduled for most of the available daylight hours on a given day, and golf courses don’t have artificial lighting of any kind to allow for nighttime play, any suspension of play for a significant length of time will invariably result in golfers who were among the last to tee off not being able to complete their rounds before darkness.

However, a projected scoring system, in which a mathematical formula is used to project an full-round score for a golfer who is unable to complete the full round due to the suspension of play, would eliminate the unfairness associated with ending a round of a stroke-play golf tournament early. At least one sport that I know of, cricket, uses a projected scoring system for some events. In One Day International (ODI) and List A limited-overs cricket matches, the Duckworth-Lewis method, a mathematical formula that produces a projected result if the second team to bat cannot complete their innings due to bad weather, darkness, or some other reason, can be employed in certain situations.

In order to speed up stroke-play golf tournaments (most, but not all, professional golf tournaments use the stroke-play format) that are affected by bad weather or other conditions resulting in play being suspended before the completion of a round, I’m proposing a projected scoring system that can be used if a round is suspended after all golfers have completed at least 12 holes on an 18-hole golf course (at least 6 holes played by all players for 9-hole courses), but before all golfers complete the round, and play cannot be restarted later in the day.

If a golfer had completed a hole other than the final hole he or she was scheduled to play, but had not yet hit his or her tee shot on the next hole, at the time of suspension of play, the formula used to calculate a golfer’s projected score is p/f = s/c, in which p is the projected score relative to par for the round, f is the number of holes in a full round (this is universally 18 for professional tournaments), s is the score relative to par for the holes completed, and c is the number of holes completed. Since p is the variable, one must solve for p in order to get a projected score relative to par. Should p be a number with one or more decimal places, it shall be rounded to the nearest whole number. Should p be a non-whole number ending in .5 or greater, it should be rounded away from zero (i.e., 1.67 is rounded to 2, while -1.67 is rounded to -2). Should p be a non-whole number ending in anything less than .5, it should be rounded towards zero (i.e., 1.33 is rounded to 1, while -1.33 is rounded to -1).

After the projected score relative to par is calculated, the second step involves assigning projected birdies or projected bogeys to holes that the golfer did not play because of the suspension of play. The formula used to determine how many projected birdies or projected bogeys should be assigned is |p| – |s| = b, in which |p| is the absolute value of the projected score relative to par, as rounded per the rounding rules that I described in the previous paragraph, |s| is the absolute value of the score relative to par for the holes completed, and b is the number of projected birdies or projected bogeys to be assigned. The variable in this formula is b, and whether or not p is positive or negative, not |p|, is used to determine whether to assign projected birdies or projected bogeys.

Here’s how the assignment of projected birdies and projected bogeys for each golfer would be conducted:

  • Should b be zero, projected pars shall be assigned to all holes that the golfer did not play prior to the suspension of play.
  • Should p be a negative number, b be a non-zero number, and the number of birdies to be assigned is less than the number of holes the golfer did not play (i.e., b < (fc)), a number of projected birdies equal to b shall be assigned to the easiest b holes that the golfer did play, and projected pars shall be assigned on all other holes that the golfer did not play.
  • Should p be a positive number, b be a non-zero number, and b < (fc), a number of projected bogeys equal to b shall be assigned to the most difficult b holes that the golfer did not play, and projected pars shall be assigned to all other holes that the golfer did not play.
  • Should p be a negative number, b be a non-zero number, and the number of birdies to be assigned is equal to number of holes the golfer did not play (i.e., b = fc), projected birdies shall be assigned to all holes that the golfer did not play. Should p be a negative number, b be a non-zero number, and b > (fc) but 2b < (fc), a number of projected eagles equal to b – (fc) shall be assigned to the easiest b – (fc) holes that the golfer did not play, and projected birdies shall be assigned to all other holes that the golfer did not play. Should p be a negative number, b be a non-zero number, and the number of birdies to be assigned is twice the number of holes the golfer did not play (i.e., 2b = (fc)), projected eagles shall be assigned to all holes that the golfer did not play.
  • Should p be a positive number, b be a non-zero number, and the number of bogeys to be assigned is equal to number of holes the golfer did not play (i.e., b = fc), projected bogeys shall be assigned to all holes that the golfer did not play. Should p be a positive number, b be a non-zero number, and b > (fc) but 2b < (fc), a number of projected double bogeys equal to b – (fc) shall be assigned to the most difficult b – (fc) holes that the golfer did not play, and projected bogeys shall be assigned to all other holes that the golfer did not play. Should p be a positive number, b be a non-zero number, and the number of bogeys to be assigned is twice the number of holes the golfer did not play (i.e., 2b = (fc)), projected double bogeys shall be assigned to all holes that the golfer did not play.
  • Should p be a negative number, b be a non-zero number, and the number of birdies to be assigned is more than twice the number of holes the golfer did not play, one shall use the formula a = b/(fc), in which a is the number of projected strokes under par divided by the number of holes the golfer did not play, to calculate how many strokes under par should be assigned to each hole. Should a be a whole number, the number of strokes that shall be assigned to each hole that the golfer did not play shall be the par of the hole minus a. Should a be a fraction, a shall be rendered as an improper fraction in which the denominator shall equal (fc), the numerator shall be divided by the denominator in order to yield a quotient with a remainder, the number of projected strokes on the easiest number of unplayed holes equal to the remainder shall be the par of the hole minus the sum of a rounded down to the nearest whole number and one, and the number of projected strokes on all other unplayed holes shall be the par of the hole minus a rounded down to the nearest whole number.
  • Should p be a positive number, b be a non-zero number, and the number of bogeys to be assigned is more than twice the number of holes the golfer did not play, one shall use the formula a = b/(fc), in which a is the number of projected strokes over par divided by the number of holes the golfer did not play, to calculate how many strokes over par should be assigned to each hole. Should a be a whole number, the number of strokes that shall be assigned to each hole that the golfer did not play shall be the par of the hole plus a. Should a be a fraction, a shall be rendered as an improper fraction in which the denominator shall equal (fc), the numerator shall be divided by the denominator in order to yield a quotient with a remainder, the number of projected strokes on the most difficult number of unplayed holes equal to the remainder shall be the par of the hole plus the sum of a rounded down to the nearest whole number and one, and the number of projected strokes on all other unplayed holes shall be the par of the hole plus a rounded down to the nearest whole number.

To determine which holes projected birdies and bogeys are to be assigned, either average scores relative to par for each hole (counting only those who completed their round and if at least eight players completed their rounds prior to suspension of play), each hole’s handicap rating, or the lengths of the holes can be used.

For golfers who were playing a hole at the time of suspension of play, two separate projected score calculations are made. The first calculation, called the calculation for completed holes, treats the golfer as if he or she did not tee off on the hole he or she was playing at the time of suspension of play. The second calculation, called the calculation for played holes, treats the golfer as if he or she recorded a score of the number of strokes he or she made on the hole he or she was playing at the time of suspension of play, plus one stroke. The calculation that results in the higher score relative to par is the calculation used for the projected score for a golfer who was playing a hole at the time of suspension of play, then the calculation and assignment of projected birdies and bogies is done using the projected score calculation that results in the higher score relative to par.

Had this system been in use in the 2005 PGA Championship at the par-70 Lower Course at Baltusrol Golf Club in Springfield, New Jersey, the final round would have been not restarted on Monday (as it was in real-life), projected scores would have been used for several golfers who did not complete their rounds on Sunday due to play being suspended, and the tournament would have been declared over on Sunday. This is because all golfers had played at least 12 holes (in fact, all golfers played at least 13 holes) prior to play being suspended on Sunday. I’ll use two real-life examples from that tournament in order to explain how the projected score system works.

In the 2005 PGA Championship, Steve Elkington (who finished in a tie for second place with Thomas Bjorn in real-life with a final round of 1-over-par 71 and four-round tournament score of 3-under-par 277) had finished the 15th hole and was one over par for the round at the time final round play was suspended on Sunday. Had projected scores instead of Monday play been used to determine the outcome of the 2005 PGA Championship, here’s how Elkington’s projected score would have been determined:

p/18 = 1/15
p = 1.16, rounded to 1
|1| – |1| = 0
Projected pars on all holes not played by Elkington prior to suspension of play
Projected final round score of 1-over-par 71 for Elkington
Projected tournament score of 3-under-par 277 for Elkington

In the 2005 PGA Championship, Phil Mickelson (who won the tournament in real-life with a final round of 2-over-par 72 and four-round tournament score of 4-under-par 276) had made three strokes on the par-4 14th hole, but had not yet holed out on the 14th hole, and was two over par for the round, and four under par for the entire tournament, at the time final round play was suspended on Sunday. Had projected scores instead of Monday play been used to determine the outcome of the 2005 PGA Championship, here’s how Mickelson’s projected score would have been calculated:

Calculation for completed holes
p/18 = 2/13
p=2.769230, rounded to 3

Calculation for played holes
p/18 = 2/14
p=2.571428, rounded to 3

Calculation for completed holes used to project Mickelson’s score
|3| – |2| = 1
Projected bogey on hardest hole not completed by Mickelson prior to suspension of play
Projected par on other four holes not completed by Mickelson prior to suspension of play
Projected final round score of 3-over-par 73 for Mickelson
Projected tournament score of 3-under-par 277 for Mickelson

The next example that I’ll give is a completely fictional example that takes place on a fictional par-72 golf course in the first round of a stroke-play tournament. Because of a late-afternoon thunderstorm that hit the golf course after Bogey McSandtrap (the name of the fictional golfer) finished the 12th hole of his round (McSandtrap began his round at the 1st hole), and all players in the first round were able to complete at least 12 holes prior to the suspension of play due to the thunderstorm, projected scores were used to determine first-round scores for McSandtrap and the other golfers who did not finish their rounds. The fictional golf course has a total of 16 par-4 holes, a par-3 8th hole, and a par-5 12th hole. McSandtrap did extremely poorly in the 12 holes that he played, taking a whopping 104 strokes to complete the first 12 holes of the golf course, or 56 over par. Based on average scores for each hole relative to par among those who completed their rounds prior to the suspension of play, of holes 13-18 (all par-4 holes), 18 was the most difficult (average score of 4.74), followed by 14 (average score of 4.38), 17 (average score of 4.33), 13 (average score of 4.04), 16 (average score of 3.85), and 15 (average score of 3.72). Here’s how McSandtrap’s projected score would be calculated under this fictional example:

p/18 = 56/12
p=81
|81| – |56| = 25
25/(18 – 12) = 25/6 = 4 R 1
Projected quintuple bogey (five-over-par for the hole) on hole 18 for McSandtrap
Projected quadruple bogey (four-over-par for the hole) on holes 13-17 for McSandtrap
Projected first-round score of 81-over-par 153 for McSandtrap

My projected score method cannot be used in all situations. A notable example of an instance where my projected score method couldn’t have been used was the second round of the 2015 Open Championship at the Old Course at the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews, Scotland, which was suspended twice on Friday (first suspension due to heavy rain; second suspension due to darkness) and once on Saturday (due to high winds), with play being suspended on Saturday for nearly 10 1/2 hours! However, in regards to the second suspension of play, projected scores couldn’t have been used in that scenario since a number of golfers were waiting to play the 11th hole at the time play was suspended. However, if play has to be suspended for any reason after all players have completed at least 12 holes of a round of golf, and the round can’t be resumed later in the day, using my projected scoring system is a great alternative to finishing the round on another day.

My list of America’s top 10 state parks

While our national parks contain some of America’s most prized natural features, some of America’s most beautiful landscapes and historical landmarks are located in state parks. Sadly, our nation’s state parks are often unappreciated by the public and by politicians, as many states have severely cut, or even eliminated, public funding to state parks in recent years.

I’m going to list my ten most favorite state parks in the entire country. In order to qualify for consideration for this list, a “state park” is a park, forest, recreation area, historical site, or other type of area administered by a state government agency that is responsible for the operation of state parks.

#10: Bethpage State Park, New York

Bethpage State Park, located near Farmingdale, New York on Long Island, is not your typical state park. Instead of natural beauty, Bethpage consists of five 18-hole golf courses. Bethpage’s Black Course, one of the most difficult golf courses in the entire country, hosted the 102nd and 109th U.S. Open golf championships in 2002 and 2009, respectively. In addition to golf courses, Bethpage State Park also has a polo field.

#9: Crater of Diamonds State Park, Arkansas

Arkansas is home to the only publicly-accessible diamond-bearing site: Crater of Diamonds State Park, located in the Ouachita Mountains near Murfreesboro, Arkansas. Tourists can search for diamonds in 37.5-acre plowed field in the park.

#8: Starved Rock State Park, Illinois

Located along the Illinois River near North Utica, Illinois, Starved Rock State Park is proof that Illinois has some impressive natural wonders. Outcroppings of soft sandstone provide some very impressive geography, including cliffs, canyons, and waterfalls.

#7: Custer State Park, South Dakota

Named after U.S. Army Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer, who was killed at the Battle of the Little Bighorn in 1876, Custer State Park includes some of the majestic terrain of South Dakota’s Black Hills, the scenic Needles Highway, and a heard of free-roaming bison.

#6: Lost Dutchman State Park, Arizona

While Arizona’s Superstition Mountains are located in a federally-administered national forest, you can get an impressive view of the mountains from nearby Lost Dutchman State Park. The park includes desert scenery and hiking trails that lead into the national forest. The park gets its name from the legend of the Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine.

#5: Washington Monument State Park, Maryland

Believe it or not, there are actually three monuments to George Washington, our nation’s first president. The most famous Washington Monument is run by the federal government and located in Washington, D.C., and there’s also a Washington Monument in Baltimore, Maryland. However, a lesser-known Washington Monument is located west of Boonsboro, Maryland, in Washington Monument State Park. The Boonsboro Washington Monument is the oldest of the three, having been completed in 1827, The monument sits near the top of Monument Knob, one of many peaks on South Mountain, a long ridge that extends from Maryland into Pennsylvania.

#4: Red Rock Canyon State Park, California

Located at the southern end of the Sierra Nevada near Cantil, California, Red Rock Canyon State Park provides some of the most beautiful desert scenery you’ll find anywhere. Cliffs, buttes, and rock formations provide a spectacular landscape that has been featured in many movies.

#3: John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, Florida

Located near Key Largo in the Florida Keys is John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, an underwater state park in Florida. Named after conservationist John Pennekamp, the park features coral reefs and associated marine wildlife.

#2: Blackwater Falls State Park, West Virginia

Located near Davis, West Virginia, Blackwater Falls State Park provides some of Appalachia’s most splendid scenery. The park gets its name from the 62-foot Blackwater Falls, where the tannic acid-darkened water of the Blackwater River flows into Blackwater Canyon.

#1: Copper Falls State Park, Wisconsin

While Wisconsin Dells and Door County state parks are far more famous, Wisconsin’s Copper Falls State Park, located near Mellen in the northwestern part of the state, is what I consider to be Wisconsin’s most beautiful state park, and my favorite state park in the entire country. The Bad River and Tylers Forks, a tributary of the Bad River, flow over a series of waterfalls within the park. The park also includes Loon Lake, trails, a campground, and a ton of opportunities for recreation.

State parks provide this country with natural scenery, historical landmarks, and wonderful recreation opportunities. They deserve more funding and public support.

Did Phil Mickelson bet on himself losing golf tournaments he played in?

Professional golfer Phil Mickelson, known for his aggressive, daring style of golf and his right-wing political views, has been found to have been involved with an illegal gambling ring:

Nearly $3 million transferred from golfer Phil Mickelson to an intermediary was part of “an illegal gambling operation which accepted and placed bets on sporting events,” according to two sources and court documents obtained by Outside the Lines.

Mickelson, a five-time major winner and one of the PGA Tour’s wealthiest and most popular players, has not been charged with a crime and is not under federal investigation. But a 56-year-old former sports gambling handicapper, acting as a conduit for an offshore gambling operation, pleaded guilty last week to laundering approximately $2.75 million of money that two sources told Outside the Lines belonged to Mickelson.

Gregory Silveira of La Quinta reached an agreement with prosecutors and pleaded guilty to three counts of money laundering of funds from an unnamed “gambling client” of his between February 2010 and February 2013. Sources familiar with the case said Mickelson, who was not named in court documents, is the unnamed “gambling client.” Silveira is scheduled to be sentenced Oct. 5 before U.S. District Court Judge Virginia A. Phillips and faces up to 60 years in prison, though the sentence will likely be far shorter.

Although the full identity of the “gambling client” has not been officially revealed, the initials of the “gambling client” were listed in court documents as P.M., and ESPN is reporting, citing unnamed sources, that the “gambling client” is Phil Mickelson.

While Mickelson is probably not going to face federal criminal charges due to the nature in which illegal gambling rings are prosecuted at the federal level in the United States (federal prosecutors only go after illegal gambling enterprises and the individuals running them, not individual bettors in illegal gambling enterprises), this raises a series of questions regarding Mickelson’s role in the illegal gambling enterprise:

  1. Did Phil Mickelson bet on golf tournaments?
  2. If the answer to question #1 is “yes”, did Mickelson bet on golf tournaments in which he was a competitor?
  3. If the answer to questions #1 and #2 are both “yes”, did Mickelson deliberately lose golf tournaments that he bet on?

To answer those questions, the PGA Tour, the United States Golf Assocation (USGA), the R&A, the Professional Golfers’ Association of America (PGA of America), the Augusta National Golf Club, and any other golf sanctioning bodies in which Phil Mickelson played sanctioned golf tournaments in should conduct an investigation in order to determine whether or not Phil Mickelson deliberately lost golf tournaments in order to receive monetary payouts from Gregory Silveira’s illegal gambling operation.

U.S. Open golf championship shaping up to be one of the most memorable in decades

Normally, I don’t watch golf tournaments, but I made an exception for this year’s U.S. Open championship, largely due to FOX heavily promoting their coverage of the tournament during NASCAR Sprint Cup Series automobile races that I watch on most weekends (NASCAR’s top series has an off week this week).

What those watching the U.S. Open have seen over the last three days has been one of the greatest first 54 holes of a major golf championship in history.

The biggest story of the tournament hasn’t been Tiger Woods missing the cut. The biggest story isn’t the difficulty and physical demands of the Chambers Bay golf course, where the tournament is being held this year. The biggest story isn’t Jordan Spieth trying to win the second leg of golf’s grand slam (winning The Masters, the U.S. Open, the (British) Open Championship, and the PGA Championship, the four major men’s golf tournaments, in the same year). The biggest story isn’t FOX covering a major golf tournament for the first time.

All of those stories I listed in the above paragraph are big stories of this tournament, but the biggest story of the tournament has been Jason Day, an Australian who is 10th-ranked professional golfer in the world, collapsing from benign positional vertigo on his final hole of the second round of the tournament, then coming back in the third round and shooting a round of 68 (2 under par) to tie Spieth, Dustin Johnson, and Brendan Grace for the championship lead at 4 under par after 54 holes. Day’s third round performance was absolutely phenomenal, especially when one considers that Day was not physically well throughout his third round.

Tomorrow’s final round of the U.S. Open golf championship is shaping up to be one of the most intriguing final rounds of a major golf championship in a very long time. Should two or more players tie for the lead after all players are finished with their final round, an 18-hole playoff would be played by those tied for the lead on Monday.