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Professionals complain a lot, I’ve found. They seem to want fairway traps from which they can reach the green, holes that are not too long, rough that is not too deep, greens that are dead-flat…perhaps if I made my living playing golf I would feel the same, but the fact is that if we turn golf into a putting contest, nobody will care and there won’t be a living.



Panic: Golf Is Losing The Millennials It Might Never Have Had!

Sara Germano of the WSJ first wrote about the millennial crisis striking golf, or at least, those who think there is only one generation of people who matter, even if they are saddled with student loan debt and working for Baby Boomers with money and an affinity for golf. Because why go for the folks with money when you can get the ones looking at their phone all day?

Matt Powell of Forbes, who writes about the "culture and business of sneakers,” took the WSJ story and said golf lost the millenials and therefore, is pretty much doomed. By the way, just to recap, the sport is also doomed because two companies got a little greedy, made some bad projections, made even worse decisions, and didn't meet their numbers. This is what accounts for deciding the fate of a $76 billion industry and its future these days, even if the management of a course has nothing to do with the aforementioned behaviors.

Anyway, the structure of the Powell follow up to the WSJ item and complete lack of acknowledgement of golf demographics over the last century--skewing ancient--makes this almost comical reading except that Forbes readers are just as likely to believe this as the fictional athlete earnings nonsense the publication puts out.

With all the bad news in golf, this kind of stuff just doesn't improve the discourse:

The Golf Industry failed to attract Millennials to the game. The National Golf Foundation said there were 400,000 fewer golfers in 2013, with 200,000 of the decline coming from Millennials.  Since Millennials represent 25% of the nation’s population, this decline is devastating to the sport.

So, why don’t millennials play golf?

Golf is too time consuming

Millennials value ease, speed and efficiency in their endeavors. Raised on the internet, “instant gratification” is the expectation.  4+ hours essentially doing the same thing over and over is against the idea of Speed and efficiency.

Golf is exclusive

Millennials are the most inclusive generation.  They want to share their experiences with as many friends as possible.  Golf says, “All of you can play, as long as it no more than four.”  Boomers value exclusiveness. The idea of paying to have the privilege of exclusive membership to play golf is counter to millennial values.

Actually, it's counter to the values of anyone who is not in the upper class with abundant spare time. Sorry, that's not a millenial issue, but an economic one. The rich are richer, the poor poorer.

And when is someone going to write about golf's positive prospects because millions of Baby Boomers are about to retire and need a recreational pursuit to enhance their free time?


Tiger's Playoff Hopes: Without A Win, "Things Get Murky"

The only real intrigue in whether Tiger Woods makes the ResetCup Playoffs lies in how Commissioner Finchem spins the inconceivable notion that the player of his generation is barely eligible for the Tour Finals.

Because as Kevin Maguire explains, Tiger is going to have to play way better than he has to date if he's going to make the ResetCup playoffs.

Coming into this week, Woods has 45 FedEx Cup points. That means he needs some combination of at least 358 points just to squeak into the field at the Barclays. A victory at the WGC-Bridgestone or the PGA Championship should get him a tee time at Ridgewood Country Club. Without a win, though, things get murky.

There are many permutations as to what could happen the next few weeks. For example, say Woods finishes solo 10th in Akron; that'd be good for 78 points, which would leave him 280 shy of the 403-point mark. He likely would need a second-place finish at the PGA Championship (worth 330 points) to make the playoffs.

Granted, the use of ResetCup points as a barometer of anything is pretty silly, as John Hawkins reminds us that the calendar-year schedule's points leader hasn't been in contention for six months and the world top-5 last played great in March.

Just as the snarkiest of cynics feared, the PGA Tour’s 11 ½-month golf season has become a long walk to a small house. Jimmy Walker hasn’t contended on a Sunday in almost six months, yet he still leads the FedEx Cup points derby by a comfortable margin – Bubba Watson is the only player within 500 points of Mr. Dy-No-Mite.

Remember Patrick Reed? He's been missing in action since the WGC-Cadillac Championship in March, yet he just slipped out of the top 10 and remains one spot ahead of British Open champ Rory McIlroy. Same goes for Jim Furyk, who doesn't have a victory in almost four years, yet remains four spots ahead of Martin Kaymer, who won The Players and U.S. Open.

As for Tiger's 15-1 odds this week, Luke Kerr-Dineen tries to explain the inexplicable: why that price for a guy who hasn't registered a top 20 in 2014?

The answer has to do with incentives. Bookmakers do factor in things like recent form when they set odds, but mostly they're just trying to set prices that will entice people into placing a bet.

Put him at 100-1 and I'm enticed!


Clark Won After He Stopped Worrying About Looming Ban

Ryan Lavner with Tim Clark's candid comments after winning the Canadian Open.

The putter anchorer said he's been tinkering too much with his 2016 options and forgot about the present.

“I’ve kind of put it to the back now, and I’m going to just do with what I’ve got now and maybe give it more thought sometime next year,” he said.

That’s the same philosophy adopted by world No. 1 Adam Soctt, who said earlier this month that he hasn’t practiced with the conventional stroke at all since the anchoring announcement last May.

“I thought I’d worry about that when I have to change,” he said.


Reps: Tiger Undefeated In Putt-Putt Against Charlie

Brian Wacker, reporting on Woods' press conference for the Deutsche Bank Championship, which benefits his foundation and which he's not currently eligible for.

The preparation for the next two weeks that will either rescue his season or seal it as his worst ever, included getting in reps against young son Charlie at a Putt-Putt.

“We had a good little time,” he said Monday during a press conference for the Deutsche Bank Championship, which Woods won in 2006 and benefits his foundation. “We toured a little bit and even played a little Putt-Putt, which I won every single time.”

Take that kid!


Poll: Why Not Bernhard Langer For A Ryder Cup Pick?

On Morning Drive today we had a lively chat inspired by Bernhard Langer's record 13-stroke victory in the Senior British Open. I'm of the view that he should be considered for a Captain's pick by Europe's Paul McGinley, Gary Williams scoffed at the notion because of Champions Tour field strength. Bill Fields, a huge admirer of Langer who put the win in perspective here, also thinks it's a reach. (Monty also continued to make a case, Martin Dempster reports here.)

Yet consider the options the Captain has for his three selections among those currently on the outside looking in:

Graeme McDowell - with his French Open win, probably a lock

Thomas Bjorn - playing very well, currently in but could be bumped

Stephen Gallacher - Scotland's hope having a steady year

Miguel Angel Jimenez - great run this spring, has cooled off since

Ian Poulter - Ryder Cup master hasn't had a top 10 since April

Lee Westwood - since Malaysia win, form hasn't been there

Francesco Molinari - T15 at The Open first sign of life in a while

Jonas Blixt - second at the Masters, quiet since

Bernhard Langer - tons of experience, top 10 at Masters, just won a tournament by 13

Remember, you get three votes!

If the Ryder Cup selections were made today, which three would you select? free polls 


Duf: "I wonder what the old-timers think as they're looking down."

As the PGA Championship run-up officially begins, check out Jason Dufner's Golf Digest My Shot with Guy Yocom. The unassuming defending champion displays a much deeper side than you might have imagined based on how he carries himself.

Random choice here from many great bits...he believes in ghosts.

IF YOU LOOK BACK on the remarks of players after they've won tournaments, you'll notice they often mention someone looking down on them from heaven. I believe that. I've definitely felt my grandfather and my father—he passed away in 2001—looking down on me, experiencing what I'm experiencing. Sometimes I wonder what the old-timers think as they're looking down. Is Bobby Jones cringing about technology? What does Ben Hogan think about slow play? Something tells me they're bemused, but not losing sleep over any of it.

Jerry Tarde's Editor's Letter includes some fun insights from Yocom on working with Dufner, from photo editor Christian Iooss on Duf as a model, and Jaime Diaz asked to compare Dufner to Fred Couples. Thankfully, Couples probably won't read this.


"A Golf Hazard on the Way to a Tournament"

Revealing admission here: I've waited until my luggage made it safely out of Heathrow to post Karen Crouse's NY Times story on the perils professional golf bags face when they hit the tarmac at London's major airport.

Crouse writes:

The golfers’ stress level is heightened this time every year because the British Open brings into play London’s Heathrow Airport, which Hunter Mahan’s caddie, John Wood, described as “the Bermuda Triangle for bags.”

On the advice of his caddie, Woodland bypassed London, “and they still didn’t make it,” he said of his clubs. Allowing time for any mishandled bags to catch up was also a factor in Woodland’s decision to move his travel plans up a day.

Now, for professional golfers, shipping clubs via service is not practical, and for many golfers saying goodbye to your close friends for 5 days prior to a big Scottish golf trip is not easy. But after two weeks of dealing with the bag rules and enforcement in Europe, apparently devised and still enforced by old SS officers, moving large luggage to and from has become an entirely miserable, expensive and stressful experience. And that's before finding out if your clubs made it.

While the cost is in the $244 range for a U.S.-to-Scottish journey, Ru Macdonald of the Scottish Golf podcast tells me that Luggage Forward has been getting strong marks from golfers who've used the service for trips to the home of golf.


New Yorker Opens Archives, Golf Related Beach Reads Free!

You never know when the New Yorker might change its archiving policy, but for now everything back to 2007 from the magazine is available online for your reading pleasure

Luke Kerr-Dineen finds some great reads worth opening and pulling up for some summer reading, including David Owen's excellent piece on Askernish.

Three I would endorse, as linked by Kerr-Dineen:

The Ghost Course, By David Owen

Owen, a Golf Digest Contributing Editor, describes the far-flung scene he finds at Askernish Golf Club in South Uist, Scotland.

Rip Van Golfer, By John McPhee

This one might be considered slightly too long for some tastes, but McPhee travels to Oakmont for the week

The Yips, By David Owen

Owen takes a coldly analytical look at the thing that golfers everywhere dreads the most: The yips.


How To Subscribe To Golf World For Free

Golf World ended this week as a print publication after 67 yeras and while the sad nature of that news will not soon go away, the opportunity to receive a free digital version will hopefully help ease the pain.

The sign up is here.


What Strain? Rory’s Lawyers Get Access To Key GMac Details

Rory says there is strain but nothing that can't be overlooked. Graeme McDowell doesn't quite agree. But as Tim Healy reports, Rory McIlroy's lawyers do not care about Ryder Cup team tension as they win a key ruling accessing details of GMac's details with Horizon Sports Management to help make McIlroy's case that his terms were not comparable to his buddy.

From Healy's story:

The golfer alleges the agreement resulted in his paying more than $6.8m (€5m) based on "unreasonable" fee rates and the defendants are not entitled to be paid fees into the future related to his Nike deal.

The Commercial Court heard Mr McIlroy claims undue influence, and alleges Conor Ridge of Horizon made representations to him that he would get similar terms to Graeme McDowell.

Barrister Rossa Fanning said his client had relied on those representations which turned out to be untrue as his client's terms were significantly inferior to Mr McDowell's.

Mr McIlroy was also unaware, either when discussing the representation agreement with Conor Ridge in October 2011 or signing it, that Mr McDowell had a shareholding in Horizon.

The judge yesterday ruled Mr McIlroy was entitled to all documents held by the defendants related to McDowell's involvement with Horizon, including concerning Mr McDowell's shareholding in that company.

Fun times!


Royal & Ancient Opens Woman Vote To All Members

The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews will now open the vote on female members to postal ballot instead of to only those at their Club Business Meeting on September 18th.

The statement:

25 July 2014, St Andrews, Scotland: A postal ballot among members of the Club on a motion to admit women as members will be conducted prior to the announcement of the result on 18 September 2014. This replaces the vote that was previously scheduled to take place at the Club’s Business Meeting on that day. By taking this decision all members can take part in this historic vote.


Jack: "Absolutely" You Must Pick Tiger For Ryder Cup

Sam Weinman on former Captain Jack Nicklaus' take regarding the dilemma (or not) facing Captain Tom Watson as Tiger Woods struggles to regain his form following back surgery.

From Weinman's Loop item:

"Oh, absolutely," Nicklaus said on a conference call Thursday with reporters to promote the PGA Championship. "I couldn't imagine [Woods] not being on a Ryder Cup team, unless he does absolutely nothing in recovering from his game between now and then."


Not April Fools: SI Puts Actual Golfer On Cover!

As the trainers start prepping unis and lockers for the arrival of NFL stars (that's a cover!), July is close enough to NFL Training Camp Preview time that the first of this year's six Johnny Manziel covers could have been used.

But mercifully Sports Illustrated appears to have remembered their heritage of great Open Championship covers and put Rory McIlroy on the front of the "book."

Thomas Lovelock has captured him looking trim and very 21st century. 

Ed Sherman thought the cover took a jab at the PGA Championship by already hyping next year's Masters and Rory's run at the career Grand Slam.


Are The Dick's Layoffs A Statement About The Health Of Golf?

It's been a brutal week for golf industry news and while I'm saddened for the PGA pros losing their jobs at Dick's Sporting Goods, the lede from Darren Rovell's story says the move was made because the retailer was "faced with a decline in the golf equipment industry." 

And while certain sectors of the business are undoubtedly flat or down, the story eventually suggests that the layoffs were in part related to the actions of a company that has since admitted in its own reporting a serious mistake was made:

Dick's said it sold only 2 percent fewer drivers in the first quarter this year compared to the first quarter of 2013 but that the average price of those drivers was down 16 percent. On average, the golf business accounts for about 15 percent of Dick's overall revenues.

As TaylorMade's largest retailer, Dick's was hit hard after it bought all four models of the driver TaylorMade released last year. The glut of merchandise forced Dick's to sell at under the suggested retail price.

Four drivers in one year.

Reckless speculation here, but I'm going out on a limb that Old Tom Morris didn't tell his customers the Long Spoon they bought was outdated just three months after they picked it up at the shop.

Anyway, the PGA of America is taking the news seriously and this is a letter forwarded to me (with name cropped out) of one of the laid off employees of Dick's:


International Crown: Audition For A Possible Olympic Format?

I desperately want to see a team event succeed to pave a path for Olympic golf to get a better format in 2020, and while the LPGA's International Crown debuting this week at Caves Valley is promising, on paper it seems just a tad too complicated for the world to fully understand.

Ron Sirak does a great job telling us all we need to know about the event and explains the two-woman team pool play, with the winner ultimately decided by total points on Sunday after singles matches.

The first three days, each country plays two best-ball matches against every other country in its pool. Points accumulate over the three days: Win = 2; Halve = 1; Loss = 0. The top two countries in each pool advance.

Skipping the playoff stuff here because you need a law degree to understand it...

On Sunday, the five countries will be seeded based on their total points from the first three days. If countries are tied, the following tie-breaker will be used:
    ◦    Total points earned in head-to-head match-up (if they were in the same pool)
    ◦    Total number of matches won in all six four-ball matches
    ◦    Highest-seeded team entering competition

Each country will play one singles match against every other country for a total of 10 matches. Points carry over to Sunday. The team with most points over the four days wins.

Got that?

Anyway, the LPGA is still to be admired for trying to give us something beyond 72-holes of stroke play, so if you have the chance, tune in.

Golf Channel has over 30 hours to explain the format, with Terry Gannon and Judy Rankin anchoring.

Thursday, July 24        11:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. ET (Live)
Friday, July 25            11:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. ET (Live)
Saturday, July 26        3-7 p.m. ET (Live)
Sunday, July 27          3-7 p.m. ET (Live)    


Today In Rory News: Augusta Member Reaches Out, Settlement Talks With Horizon Not Progressing

It's not often an Augusta National member chats to the press, but Phil Casey quotes ANGC member Jeff Knox at length about the mid-am marker's desire to help Rory McIlroy achieve the career Grand Slam next year.

From Casey's report:

"We corresponded on that after the Masters and hopefully that will work out," Knox said. "I'm not sure he needs a lot of my help, he's the number two player in the world, but I am happy to be able to help in any way I can.

"We have left it open-ended, the ball is in his court, but I have his address and I will drop him a note of congratulation on winning the Open."

Rounds of 71 and 77 at Augusta National in April meant McIlroy made the cut on the mark of four over par and, as the odd man out of the 51 players left in the field, had to play with a marker on Saturday.

Two-time former Georgia amateur champion Knox had that enviable role and although McIlroy shot 71 with three birdies in the last four holes, Knox - who holds the course record of 61 from the members' tees – beat him by a single shot despite a bogey on the 18th.

Meanwhile Shane Phelan talks to lawyers involved in the McIlroy v. Horizon suit and it sounds like a trial is still likely.

Sources close to ongoing talks between lawyers for both sides indicated the case is likely to go to a full trial next year.

Those talks, which have been ongoing for several days, have been limited to the issue of documents that may be involved in the case.

There has been no discussion about a possible resolution of the complaint made by McIlroy against Dublin firm Horizon Sports Management.

And Pete Finch works off Ron Sirak's reporting on the potential for Rory's earnings after winning The Open.

Almost all contracts have bonuses tied to winning, and to winning majors," agent Mac Barnhardt of Crown Sports LLC told Golf Digest’s Ron Sirak earlier this year. "And the bonus for winning a major is two to four times higher than for a regular win. So we're talking bonuses from $100,000 to $500,000 per contract."

Sirak continued: “According to one agent who spoke on the condition of anonymity, [Justin] Rose's $1.2 million TaylorMade deal doubled in value after his Open victory. The same agent says [Phil] Mickelson got a $1 million bonus from Callaway for winning the British Open. A second agent says Rose and Masters winner Adam Scott will earn an extra $3 million to $5 million annually for winning a major."


Monty: Langer And I Could Score A Foursomes Point For Euros

Sounds like Monty was in fine form at Royal Porthcawl as the Senior Open Championship kicks off. In the past I might would have lampooned the Captain Emeritus for daring to suggest some of the geezers could help the European Ryder Cup team, but it's hard to argue with him as Langer keeps going, Jimenez is as good as ever and Monty could hold his own with the flatbellies after two senior major wins.

James Corrigan reports for the excellent Telegraph, which I read cover to cover today on my last day in the UK and will miss holding in my hands for another year!

Anyway, Monty on holding their own...for morning foursomes, anyway before afternoon nap time sets in.

“If Langer and I were paired together in the foursomes, we’d feel we could bring a point home for Europe,” Montgomerie said. “We’d need to sit out the fourballs though – we’d be knackered.

“But it is definitely a possibility for a 50-year-old-plus to play and compete.

"Tom Watson proved it at the Open in 2009 and I’m so looking forward myself to playing in the USPGA Championship in a few weeks. If I can play the way I did in the last round of the Senior PGA and the first round of the US Senior Open – two 65s – then I can compete at Valhalla.”

Regarding Porthcawl, this is Wales' big shot at attracting an Open Championship. While the chances are remote now that Portrush is schedule to join the rota at some point, the early reviews from players have been of the rave variety.

Philip Golding, who won the European Senior Tour's Speedy Services Wales Senior Open last year, gives this course overview.

ESPN2 and WatchESPN share the coverage, with ESPN2’s telecasts airing noon – 2 p.m. ET daily.


Video: Rory Wins The Open, Supercut

Michael David Murphy has spliced together all but one of Rory McIlroy's final round shots at Royal Liverpool en route to The Open Championship victory.

The tape...


One And Done! PGA Announces Long Drive Plans

I've got to say, this'll make viewing on the 10th tee Tuesday a lot more fun than it would have been.

And nice touch to be giving the winner a money clip "inspired by" the one Jack Nicklaus won and still uses today.

For Immediate Release, the details about this year's revival of the Long Drive, first announced a while ago:

The 96th PGA Championship at Valhalla Golf Club will host the return of the PGA Championship Long Drive Competition, which originated in 1952 when the Championship was conducted at Big Spring Country Club in Louisville.
During a practice round on Tuesday, Aug. 5, all players will be offered the opportunity to hit one tee shot from the No. 10 Tee.  The ball will have to come to rest in the fairway to be eligible to win the Long Drive Competition.
Awards will be given to the top three finishers with winners receiving a money clip inspired by the one that Jack Nicklaus received in the first of his two consecutive PGA Championship Driving Contest titles in 1963. That year, Nicklaus, using a persimmon driver and wound golf ball, hit a winning drive of 341 yards, 17 inches.
Additionally, through PGA REACH, the charitable arm of the PGA of America, the top three finishers will be provided charitable donations of $25,000, $15,000, and $10,000 respectively, with the funds split equally between the players’ designated charity and the American Lake Veterans Golf Course.  Designed by Jack Nicklaus, the American Lake Veterans Golf Course, in Tacoma, Washington is the nation’s only golf course designed specifically for the rehabilitation of wounded and disabled veterans.
“We’re reviving a PGA Championship tradition that will add fun for both spectators and players during a practice round,” said PGA of America President Ted Bishop. “It is only fitting that this competition returns to the city where it began and a course designed by one of its most storied winners, Jack Nicklaus.”
Harold Williams won the original PGA Championship Driving Contest in 1952, with a 329-yard drive. The competition was discontinued from 1965-73, before returning in 1974 as an open event. The last National Open Long Drive Championship conducted at a PGA Championship site was in 1984 at Shoal Creek Country Club in Birmingham, Alabama.


Video: Colbert On Wozzilroy

I'm still overseas so this won't play here but I'm told this Colbert segment on the break up and wins by Wozzilroy is a keeper.

The setup here from Jon Ackerman at Back9 and the clip: