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Because it involves the reduction of activity to some dead mathematical formula, the giving of handicaps has always been a difficult problem to solve. In golf this difficulty has been further accentuated in the failure to perceive that a round of golf is not a continuous performance such as a race, but is divided into 18 separate parts. MAX BEHR



NY Times On Golf Real Estate: "Fewer Golfers, but Some Lush Courses Are Coming Back"

You have to wade through the usual backstory of why golf real estate failed when the economy crashed, but Nick Madigan's New York Times story does reach a  somewhat positive point by noting the improvement at some facilities devoted to golf real estate.

While the story does not address the specifics at the places succeeding as much as I'd hoped, it's the facilties focusing on service and re-imagining themselves as family-driven places that Madigan says are succeeding. Unfortunately, exclusivity is also part of the success recipe.

The Boca West Country Club’s heavy investment in its facilities, Ms. Tanzer said, “is a perfect example of adapting” to the changing economics of golf. “They’re spending a fortune on making the place family-friendly,” she said. “It’s a home run.”

At Boca West, where it costs new members $70,000 to sign up, Jay DiPietro, the club’s 78-year-old president and general manager, suggested that the troubles besetting some of his competitors could be blamed on poor management and on their focus on “the business of selling houses.” But he operates on a different principle, he said.

“We’re in the people-pleasing business,” he said. “These people paid a lot to be here.”

In any case, Mr. DiPietro said, the golf industry was vastly over-supplied with courses. “It was just waiting for a recession to knock the hell out of it,” he said. “The recession separated the boys from the men.”

Oliver K. Hedge, who appraises golf course properties for the real estate brokerage firm Cushman & Wakefield, said the golf industry had “made great strides” in shaking off underperforming courses in the last few years.
“A lot of clubs that have closed really should have closed,” Mr. Hedge said. “Florida is a good microcosm of the nation because we’re so dense with golf courses.”

Many of the closures, he said, have involved public and semi-private courses, the latter a reference to clubs that have an active membership program but that let non-members play for a fee.


Solo Posting Golfers: The New Outlaws?

Gary McCormick examines the USGA decision to demand peer review of all scores posted for handicap purposes and equates the updated decision to the mid-70s gas crisis when the speed limit was changed without any change in enforcement.

Check out the full piece, but this point sort of makes one wonder why, outside of being consistent with the R&A, why the USGA made the change:

The word from our area’s regional golf association, the Northern California Golf Association (NCGA), is that they have received no indication from the USGA, as of this writing, as to how the new rule is to be enforced. While golfers who are members of a club will have their postings scrutinized by the club’s scoring committee, players who are members of “e-clubs”, or who are posting scores for rounds played outside of club events or at other courses, will have no such scrutiny and scores will not be vetted on the basis of the new rule.

What I foresee happening after January 1, 2016 is the establishment of a sort of off-kilter dichotomy – reasonable, honorable golfers who post honestly tabulated scores for those solo early-morning or after-work nine hole rounds, or the rare solo 18-hole round, though scrupulously accurate in their accounting, will become scofflaws when they post their scores online, as many will still do, for their local association’s handicap committee to use in assessing their GHIN rating.

So now many of us will become outlaws; honest, and dishonest, all in the same action – and all because the USGA has decided to reverse a practice which had been in effect for decades.


USGA Responds By Clarifying What It Means To Play Alone

The comment section is fairly telling, as are the poll results with 73% of you saying it was just fine for lone wolves to post a score for handicap purposes (thanks as always for voting).

Perhaps sensing the chatter a day after announcing that golfers must have full peer review to post a score, or maybe after seeing Golf Canada immediately announce on Twitter they were not going to adopt Section 5-1e vi of the USGA Handicap System Manual (Will Gray reports and here's the Tweet), the USGA sought to highlight some FAQ's.

What constitutes not playing alone?

As long as someone accompanies the player during the round (e.g., fellow competitor, opponent, caddie, marker for a tournament, friend riding along in a cart) the player is not playing alone.
How many holes can a player play alone to post the score?

The player must be accompanied for at least seven holes for a nine-hole score or 13 holes for 18-hole score.

This is consistent with Section 5-1 and the minimum number of holes played under the Rules of Golf.

For the holes played alone (not accompanied), the player would treat these as not played under the Rules of Golf and post according to “par plus” any handicap strokes the player is entitled to receive.

I'm pretty sure that's not going to help, especially judging by the Facebook reaction documented by Keely Levins. Then there's the reaction to the USGA on Twitter.


Jordan Spieth: He Pulls Carts, Too

Not only did Jordan Spieth see out the sandbelt's two finest courses to check off his bucket list, but he played them as you should play them: with a pull cart.

Thanks to the Down Under sources who sent in this photo of Spieth pulling his AT&T tour bag around the great Royal Melbourne, which I wrote about for The Loop and used to advocate again for the joys of pulling your bag around instead of taking a motorized cart.


New Euro Tour Chief Vows To Crack Down On Slow Play

In contrast to Commissioner-Slow-Play-Penalties-Give-Me-The-Willies, new European Tour chief Keith Pelley has sought to differentiate himself by voicing his disdain for slow play. You may recall that Tim Finchem has openly suggested that actual enforcement of the rules (and leading to penalties) bugs him and he's also questioned the desire to play faster, citing in epic out-of-touch fashion how you don't want to play fast around Cypress, Augusta and Pine Valley. But Pelley? He's declaring a "personal war."

The Golf Paper's Adam Ellis reports.

Ironically, his announcement in Dubai yesterday came just 48 hours after an incident in the final hour of the BMW Masters in Shanghai, where Spain’s Sergio Garcia was involved in a 15-minute discussion with a referee over where he should drop his ball after hitting it into the lake beside the 18th green at Lake Malaren.

“Slow play drives me mad,” said Pelley.

“I have had the chance to talk to a number of players at all levels – the elite, the medium and low-ranked players – and one of the things that keeps coming up, and which we are going to address, is slow play.
“We are going to be the leaders in dealing with slow play.

“I cannot tell you what that means from a concrete perspective right now, but I have had significant dialogue with Martin Slumbers from The R&A, and they are in violent agreement that it is something we need to deal with.

Violent agreement! I guess that means you haven't brought up how the ball going too far leads to deadly backups.

There is a conference call next week with The R&A. We will participate in it and do this in cooperation.

“I can tell you that when we sit here next year we will have a completely different philosophy on slow play. Slow play is a critical part of our game and we will address it.”

Good luck with that, especially judging by the quotes of Martin Slumbers, new R&A head man, talking about the release of the R&A's report discussed in St. Andrews this week. From a report by Phil Goodlad & John Barnes, Slumbers talking:

"Maybe we need some marshals out on the course to help find balls," he added. "Maybe we need to play over shorter formats, nine-hole golf; playing off tees that are further forward, not cutting the rough as thick and deep as possible.

Not cutting the rough as thick and deep as possible? I don't even know where to begin with that, but I suspect explaining to him that rough is a product of offsetting modern distances might be lost on the R&A's head man?

"But the key thing is getting people aware and recognising that playing reasonably quickly and getting a move on isn't just good for their game but fair to everybody out on the course."

Enforce those time pars!


"Brighter days await MacKenzie-designed Sharp Park Golf Course"

Brad Klein says better days are ahead for Alister MacKenzie's Sharp Park, a much-needed municipal course in a grand setting that is now essentially the target of one environmentalist.

Multiple court decisions have gone against that figure, setting the stage for property and golf improvements to take place that will not only make Sharp Park critter-friendly but also golfer-friendly.

Klein provides this update on the design component:

Richard Harris, who with fellow attorney Bo Links is co-founder of the S.F. Public Golf Alliance, reports that architecturally detailed restoration plans “are now being developed by Tom Doak, in collaboration with Jay Blasi.” Preliminary construction estimates for the work, involving greens, tees and bunkers, are in the $8 million range, plus soft costs for permitting, and likely would take 3-4 years to complete. Work on the project is being funded through a partnership of the S.F. Public Golf Alliance and the privately funded Alister MacKenzie Foundation.


Spieth Arrives To Defend Down Under, Takes In Sandbelt's Finest

Just when you think the year is slowing down, there's Jordan Spieth arriving in Australia early to hang out at the Sandbelt courses, work with his instructor and caddie and in general, prepare for 2016. As we discussed on Golf Central, the sense of urgency is impressive.

Mark Hayes with the details of Spieth's early Australian Open prep, and Martin Blake with the best from Spieth's press conference including where he's displayed the Stonehaven Cup.

The relaxed tone of his press conference suggests the 22-year-old is refreshed and rejuvenated from the mini-combine of the last week where he played "bucket list" courses Kingston Heath and Royal Melbourne. Also noteworthy is a new look from Under Armour. Multiple colors! Woohoo!

The full press conference (he talks Sandbelt golf at the 7:30 mark, the importance of the Olympics at 17:30):


Poll: USGA Takes On Rogue Loner Score Posters! 

There are a number of ways to read the USGA's announced changes to the handicap system. While some are rejoicing at the end of vanity handicappers existence (well, the lone poster type), others feel this will result in even fewer golfers carrying a handicap.

Before a poll, the full release:


FAR HILLS, N.J. (Nov. 23, 2015) – In tandem with the 2016 updates to the Rules of Golf, the United States Golf Association has announced revisions to the USGA Handicap System™, effective Jan. 1, 2016.

“The USGA Handicap System is constantly evolving to ensure that the System works for the game today and tomorrow,” said Steven Edmondson, the USGA’s managing director of Handicapping & Course Rating. “As we examine the game domestically and globally, these revisions support the integrity and reliability that millions of players around the world expect of this System. We continue to explore substantive changes as we work toward a World Handicap System in the years ahead.”

Six significant changes are among those noted in the upcoming edition, which will impact approximately 10 million golfers who hold a Handicap Index® issued throughout the U.S. and 32 licensed associations, federations and unions around the world. Those highlighted changes include:

    •    Definition of a tournament score: Additional guidance is provided to Committees conducting competitions regarding the definition of a tournament score, placing greater emphasis on “significant events.” The definition excludes fundraising events and regular league play, in favor of designated competitions such as a member/guest or club championship, local amateur tournament or national qualifying and competition. (Section 2: Definitions)

    •    Adjusting hole scores: A revised decision provides clarity for acceptable scores in limited situations where the player has not played a hole(s) under the Rules of Golf, but his or her score would be sufficiently accurate for handicap posting purposes. Three areas covered under the examples include: 1) where the Local Rule is not in effect, but a player chooses to use a Distance Measuring Device or preferred lies; 2) where a player does not wish to cause undue delay; or 3) where the situation is outside of the player’s control, such as an incorrectly marked golf course.  (Section 4: Adjusting Hole Scores)

    •    Posting scores when a player is disqualified: To improve alignment with the Rules of Golf, the revised Handicap System is clearer about what scores are acceptable when a player is disqualified. In general, a score is acceptable for handicap purposes even when a player fails to hole out, or apply a Rule that affects the rights of another player. If the disqualification breach is determined to provide an advantage for the player, the score is deemed unacceptable for handicap purposes. (Section 5-1: Acceptability of Scores)

    •    Anchoring and posting: A new reference concerns a player who anchors the club while making a stroke during a round and fails to apply the appropriate penalty or an adjusted hole score (Section 4-2). Since the score would not be reflected as playing under the Rules of Golf, it would be unacceptable for handicap purposes. (Section 5-1: Acceptability of Scores)

    •    Playing alone and necessary peer review: To further support the key System premise of peer review, scores made while playing alone will no longer be acceptable for handicap purposes. This change underscores the importance of providing full and accurate information regarding a player’s potential scoring ability, and the ability of other players to form a reasonable basis for supporting or disputing a posted score. (Section 5-1: Acceptability of Scores)

    •    Committee responsibilities: In an effort to assist the Handicap Committee with its responsibilities, this revision addresses a player with a temporary disability or permanent disability who has a Handicap Index that is no longer reflective of his/her current potential ability. In the particular instance cited, the Committee will no longer assign a local handicap (denoted with the letter “L” for local use only), but instead will issue a (temporary) modified Handicap Index (denoted by the letter “M”). This change supports the portability of a disabled player’s handicap, so that it can be used outside the player’s home club. (Section 8-4c: Handicap Index Adjustment by Handicap Committee)

An overview of these changes with more detailed information will be provided at before the end of 2015. The complete USGA Handicap System Manual will be posted to the same site, and it will be available for purchase at, on Jan. 1, 2016

As promised, a poll. Was it reasonable to allow solo score postings as part of maintaining a USGA handicap?

Was it reasonable to allow solo score postings as part of maintaining a USGA handicap? free polls


DeChambeau Looking Like An Amateur In Dress Only

And that's a great thing!

As U.S. Amateur champion Bryson DeChambeau prepares for his second week of pro golf in Australia, the second place finisher at the Australian Masters is pulling on the heartstrings of longtime golf fans by actually dressing like the way amateurs playing in pro events used to dress.

Instead of wearing corporate-logoed and scripted clothing, DeChambeau is sporting his Walker Cup team uniforms and maintaining a trend of golf-appropriate clothing.

Before he slipped into contention Sunday, DeChambeau grinded out a 72 Saturday and spoke to Ian Ransom of Reuters after his round. Not much new ground was covered for those fascinated by DeChambeau's uniform-length clubs and interest in The Golfing Machine, but it's still a good read.

Golf Channel has added an encore presentation of the 2015 Australian Masters won by 56-year-old Peter Senior, Tuesday at 2 pm ET.


Forward Press: No Shortage Of Spieth & An Apology To Readers!

This week's Forward Press previews the unofficial Jordan Spieth week, as the 22-year-old Texan shows up Down Under all week and on Fox Thankgiving day.

That, plus news of a Australian Masters replay and my deepest apology for a huge oversight last week. Huge! I hope I can win back your trust.


Lydia Joins The Likes Of Beth, Annika and Nancy

She's moving to first name status with a player of the year award after winning Rookie Of The Year in 2014, and while she held off an admittedly nervous Inbee Park who was playing to clinch HOF status (and did), it's still easy to root for Lydia Ko.

Bill Fields captures the scene and the affection for Ko at the CME finale in Naples.

The Player of the Year honor burnishes Ko's stunning career. Already the youngest winner of an LPGA event (2012 CN Canadian Women's Open) and a women's professional major championship (2015 Evian Championship), Ko becomes the youngest to be named POY.

She is only the fourth LPGA golfer to be top player the year after being top rookie, joining Nancy Lopez (1978-79), Beth Daniel (1979-80) and Annika Sorenstam (1994-95.) Lopez stands alone in winning both awards in the same year, 1978. On the PGA Tour, which has given a rookie award since 1990, Tiger Woods (1996-97) is the only person to pull off the back-to-back achievement.

"Awesome," Ko said of the select company she joined. "Beth, Annika, Nancy, they are legendary players. Their legacies are here with us. What they have done for the women's golf and LPGA, what they are still doing, they are an inspiration. To put my name along with those three amazing players, it's a huge honor. In a way, I'm still thinking, 'Hey, am I deserving to be along those names?' "


CEO Of Rory McIlroy: No More Mistakes, Next Decade Mine

Rory McIlroy, CEO and Chairman of Rory McIlroy, Inc, reiterated after winning the Race To Dubai that he won't be making the same mistake with his empire going forward.

The fighting words have to be music to the ears of tour commissioners and fans who have suspected the CEO wasn't taking the job as seriously as he should have been. But a focused, no-more-kickabouterering McIlroy should put fear in his opponents.

Iain Carter reporting after McIlroy's win Sunday capped off a strange year marred ultimately by his soccer-injury prior to The Open.

"I had a big lead in the world rankings and you see Jordan and Jason play the way they did. Fields are so deep, you can't let up at all.

"Tagging along with that, you know, this is my time to capitalise on my career. The next 10, 15 years is my time.

"I really can't be doing silly things like playing football in the middle of the season to jeopardise even six months of my career. It's a big chunk where I could make some hay and win a major or two.

"I won't be making those mistakes again next year."

Someone learned his lesson! Look out world...

The European Tour posted this video from the week of Rory's pre-round approach.


Video: Okay, We'll Let You Go Ivor Robson

Easily the most famous first tee announcer the game has ever known is hanging up his mic and can drink the tallest glasses of water he likes, as Ivor Robson worked his final event Sunday in Dubai.

The European Tour did a swell job saying goodbye to the distinctive voice. But is there any greater compliment than the spot-on impersonations by players who aren't exactly supposed to be taking notes at the time Robson was usually clearing his throat, saying "I'll let you go" and then announcing their names

These all kind of speak for themselves...


And this August feature from Michael Collins was excellent too, particularly Adam Scott's impersonation.


Conduct Unbecoming: PGA Tour Players Playing Daily Fantasy

SI/'s Pete Madden reports that PGA Tour players were advised way back on September 24th that daily fantasy sports sites were illegal in some states and any use of them would fall under the conduct unbecoming category.

Madden writes:

The Tour’s memo, however, raises questions about its own relationship with daily fantasy sports. In March, the Tiger Woods Foundation announced a partnership with DraftKings in which the company would be designated the “Official Daily Fantasy Sports Partner” of the Quicken Loans National and the Deutsche Bank Championship.

“DraftKings will bring the action to the next level,” said Rick Singer, Tiger Woods Foundation president and CEO, at the time.

When reached for comment, Tour spokesman Ty Votaw said there are no plans to further review that relationship.

"We did not find any issue with DraftKings’ sponsorship of those events that conflicts with the ban on sponsorships of our players," Votaw said. "That sponsorship does not give DraftKings any rights over what Tiger Woods can wear on his body or on his bag."

While I'm no fan of Commissioner Finchem's aversion to gambling, which has put the PGA Tour behind in the fantasy sports world, it's pretty clear that the efforts of the current daily fantasy sites is almost entirely rigged against the customer and a scam.

John Oliver's Last Week Tonight segment on them does a nice job of pointing that out:


Wentworth Members Pondering Court Challenge To New Owner?

CNN Money's Jim Boulden says the Wentworth membership met Friday to discuss how to battle their new owner, who wants to run most of them off and just days after European Tour Chief Keith Pelley suggested the BMW there is not necessarily the tour's flagship event.

Fun times at Wentworth!

Boulden writes:

Wentworth residents are meeting Friday to discuss how to proceed, and they could go to court.

"There are distinct legal implications in their actions. Failure to listen will bring Reignwood into disrepute and be a terrible case study for China-UK relations," local resident Nigel Moss said in a statement.

Wentworth club told CNNMoney that as a private member's club it won't discuss its new demands.


Rio Olympic Course Handed Over; AP Still Mocks Golf In Rio

You'd think that finding out Olympic athletes might get sick because of the disgusting waters would have quieted the assault on golf in Rio. But AP's Stephen Wade continues to mock the idea of a course in the Brazilian host city even as it marches ahead toward an actual opening.

A hand-off ceremony of the golf course from the developer to the organizing committee was as ceremonial as you can get, but that didn't stop the AP from covering it with its decided attitude that golf doesn't belong in Rio (neither do events in natural bodies of water so contaminated that athletes may get ill).

AP's Wade twice tweeted his story with (two!) attempts to liken golf in Rio to building a bullring in Finland. I'll give you a moment to absorb that metaphorical mastery. Oh wait, it made the story too.

The legacy for the sport is unclear.

Few people play golf in Brazil, and Paes has acknowledged the game probably has little future in the South American country. Some have compared building a golf course in Brazil to setting up a bullring in Finland.


"In Brazil I don't think there's much legacy for a golf course," Paes said. "I've always said that. I don't think this is something Brazil is very famous for, delivering courses. It's not a popular sport in Brazil. But there are some things you need to do when you deliver the Olympics."

Carlos Nuzman, the head of the Rio de Janeiro Olympics, contradicted the mayor just minutes later.

"It's a big legacy," Nuzman said. "It's a public golf course. There are a lot of young kids — boys and girls — who want to participate to develop golf. It's a chance for golf in a new region of the world to be developed."

The sure winner is probably the developer Mauro, who is building the course with private money. It follows the pattern of other Olympic projects in Rio, where large real estate interests have moved in. Another is the nearby Athletes Village — 3,600 high-end apartment units — that will be sold off after the games.

Mercifully, AP's Doug Ferguson will be covering Olympic golf and he won't muddle his lede with some bizarro agenda.

I'm sensing if Stephen Wade covered the final round of the men's golf, his lede would look something like this:

Golf's future in Rio remains uncertain, but that didn't stop Jordan Spieth from holding off Rory McIlroy, Jason Day, Vijay Singh, Adam Scott and Rickie Fowler in sudden death to capture the first Olympic gold medal in golf since 1904.

Anyway, looks like a nice casual handoff ceremony...


Old Guys Rule Files: Peter Senior (56) Wins Aussie Masters

When Peter Senior last won the Australian Masters the Internet, largely an unknown U.S. government-owned system, was accessed by new dial-up services America Online and Prodigy. They mailed CD's to let us gain access. Oh, and Jordan Spieth was two.

Twenty years later and with wins in five decades, including the Australian Senior Open, Senior is again the Australian Masters champion, holding off the likes of Andrew Evans, Bryson DeChambeau, John Senden and Adam Scott with a clutch 8-foot par putt on his final hole.

Matt Murnane with the first report for the Sydney Morning Herald, though I suspect we'll get some fun reads putting his incredible win into perspective.


Video: Most Interesting Man's Warm-Up With A GoPro

I'm sure when the grade school teachers of the European Tour's social media expert Jamie Kennedy see him strapping a GoPro to Miguel Angel Jimenez, they will gush with pride. All so that we can see the most interesting man warm up! The subtitles were a nice touch, too.



Reminder: Day 2 Of Bones And Woody From St. Simons Island!

As mentioned this week in the Forward Press, this was an opportunity for fresh voices. And a new energy they brought!

Jim "Bones" MacKay and John "Woody" Wood immediately delivered a different vibe than the usual former golfer-turned on-course reporter. Day two starts at 1 pm ET on Golf Channel as the two loopers hit the course for RSM third round coverage.

Bones and Woody assessed day one with Steve Sands.

There was also a fun bit set up in advance where Bones told a story from the 1993 Ryder Cup involving Davis Love.


Casey Shuns European Ryder Cup Chances For America, Family

He'll be blasted and no doubt treated like a leper by some on the European side, but Paul Casey has been fairly consistent throughout the saga about his desire to stay closer to his new home, new family and to protect a career that has gone sideways once before.

Still, the decision to stick with the PGA Tour and not play enough European Tour events to be eligible to play at the 2016 Ryder Cup is clearly not sitting well with Captain Darren Clarke.

From Ewan Murray's Guardian report:

“It is obvious that representing Europe in the Ryder Cup is not on Paul’s priority list, which is disappointing, but I wish him all the best for the future,” Clarke said.

“For me the focus is firmly on the players who are committed to the European cause as we move towards Hazeltine and I look forward to working with these players over the next 10 months.”

Brrrr...who says the planet is getting warmer?