New contract language phrase of the year: no kickabouts before a major.
A Sky report on Rory McIlroy rupturing his left ankle ligaments during a "kickabout" with friends over the weekend.
He's not ruling out The Open at St. Andrews.
One must take time to know the Old Course in all its moods. One must study the subtleties of its terrain and its curiously shifting winds. One must find its hidden snares and one must approach it without preconceptions of what a golf course should be. To be down the middle may mean nothing there; that may be quite the wrong place. To be long may mean nothing in less length is shrewdly used. To be able to play a few shots perfectly is not always enough; one must at times have the full repertoire. ROBERT HUNTER
New contract language phrase of the year: no kickabouts before a major.
A Sky report on Rory McIlroy rupturing his left ankle ligaments during a "kickabout" with friends over the weekend.
He's not ruling out The Open at St. Andrews.
Alex Myers has a nice wrap-up on Robert Streb's amazing Greenbrier Classic run using his 56-degree Vokey to hole huge back nine putts, only to get into the three-man playoff with a replacement putter where he never got the chance to use the backup blade.
The wrap up from The Loop and video of one of Streb's wedge-putts, this one at the 13th hole:
Danny Lee bested David Hearn in the playoff, earning both spots in The Open Championship. James Hahn and Greg Owen also earned spots.
The SI/golf.com Confidential roundtable tackled The Donald this week and the reaction wasn't pretty.
With the golf world moving its attention to the Scottish Open (where Trump is rumored to be a future site host) and The Open (possible future Trump Turnberry date), the issue won't go away for the four families that issued a statement lightly scolding the Presidential candidate for his less-than-inclusive comments.
The entire thing is worth reading as always, but this was particularly fun:
LYNCH: Trump's conduct calls to mind a zoo chimpanzee that delights in throwing its feces at anyone unwise enough to pause and pay it attention. One can't really be surprised at the actions of the chimp, but it does make one question the judgment of those willing to stand next to it in their smart blazers, hoping not to get spattered during the spectacle.
BAMBERGER: Insufficient. You get thrown out of the NBA for far less.
PASSOV: For now, that statement is sufficient. Donald Trump has been very good for golf in the past several years. During a time of waning popularity, he has helped prop it up with mostly positive publicity. He's such an easy target right now. Let's give it a little time to see if he clarifies, retracts or otherwise amends his position on the country of Mexico and its citizens. Otherwise, there's going to be massive collateral damage between Trump and the USGA, PGA of America and the PGA and LPGA Tours.
VAN SICKLE: Trump will get enough sanctions in the court of public opinion, which will shortly end his pretend presidential run.
SENS: It's the milquetoast response of an industry that would probably like to forget that Trump has become such a major player in it. Whether he actually believes everything he says is hard to gauge, because his entire brand is built on drawing attention to himself, no matter how much ridicule he attracts. Trump the person and Trump the persona have become so intermingled that you wonder whether he even knows where the line between them lies. In terms of the Tours and the USGA, the right response would be a distancing of business relations. But the most satisfying response would be if the entire world ignored him. Trump can withstand all kinds of other sanctions. But he might not be able to endure that.
The opener is all on Old Tom Morris, who made the first hole into what we've come to know as one of the game's great starts with its wide fairway and green guarded by the burn. Old Tom widened things out to the right in course modifications that also included some bizarro burying of old ships to shore up the course from flooding (let's agree to not go there).
And the second hole features two new absurd jacuzzi bunkers on the epic green that I am happy to predict will make this hole play easier (scoring average-wise) in The Open (here are the 2010 averages). Give modern players definition where they didn't have it before and you almost guarantee making things easier for them.
Here's a fascinating look at Tiger's swing on the 2015 Greenbrier Classic's range and then on the course by CBS's Peter Kostis.
Take a look:
AP’s Brian Bakst has obtained emails, notes and other documents that demonstrate a wariness by Minnesota state officials.
It seems--shocking as this may seem--they are weary of putting up as much as $2 million worth of security overtime and other costs related to the Ryder Cup in exchange for private chalets or other promotional considerations.
Although their efforts fell short — the Legislature concluded its session after passing a budget without any money for the prestigious tournament — organizers are expected to continue to push for state assistance before next year's event.
Their pitch — detailed in a private meeting held days before lawmakers adjourned their 2015 legislative session — ran from $600,000 to $2 million depending on the state's involvement and willingness to absorb security costs. Potential benefits would range from the use of a private chalet for tourism and business promotion to Minnesota-themed ads run on international TV to hundreds of event tickets.
Michael Bamberger pays tribue to Dolphus Hull, aka Golf Ball, who caddied in a different era.
In his prime, he ran Calvin Peete’s golf game, just as surely as Jack Welch ran G.E.
He had a long, fruitful, volatile relationship with Raymond Floyd—and Raymond’s wife, Maria—going back to the 1960s. “I fired him six times,” Floyd once told me. “Maria hired him seven.”
The caddie-player relationship was different then. The caddie was less of a technocrat and more attuned to the emotional state of the golfer. At least, Golf Ball was like that, as was his running mate, Herman Mitchell. You could fit three Balls in Mitch, who caddied for Lee Trevino for years. They were Mutt and Jeff, but they both could play and they both had the empathy gene—the ability to really understand another person’s plight—embedded in their DNA
It's not a major or even a professional event, but perhaps something even worse for the Trump organization's future: a paying customer. The L.A. Galaxy Foundation's annual event at Trump National Los Angeles to benefit the Hispanic Scholarship Fund is no more.
Tom Hoffarth reports in the L.A. Daily News on the lucrative event pulling out of its annual day following Donald Trump's comments about immigrants and his thoughts on the "mealy-mouth joint statement" by the PGA Tour, USGA, PGA of America and LPGA Tour.
It continues an ominous trend of companies and individuals trying to find higher ground as Trump’s tongue continues to tie up his business dealings.
So what’s the next FootJoy to drop?
It might seem like it’s a slam dunk for The PGA of America to yank its Grand Slam of Golf scheduled for October at the Trump estate. Along with it goes the PGA Junior League Golf Championship set as the lead-in event. And then put Trump on notice that they’re about to rethink the 2022 PGA Championship that’s scheduled to be played at his self-named New Jersey course.
The game that values sportsmanship and self-regulation of rules — written or otherwise — still can’t put the pencil to the scorecard until it fully gauges how its sponsors will react. That’s just how business, and life, really works.
**NASCAR is the latest entity to distance itself from Donald Trump, pulling a year-end awards ceremony from Trump Doral.
He's got the first two legs of the Grand Slam. Yet, perhaps because he's been on vacation, there has been too little chatter about where this feat puts Jordan Spieth's year headed into St. Andrews.
Five before him have technically had a "chance" to win the modern Grand Slam of golf, only three men legitimately had a shot. As Victor Mather presented the Grand Slam story a week ago in the New York Times, Ben Hogan's opportunities in 1951 and 1953 were compromised by scheduling.
That leaves Arnold Palmer in 1960, Jack Nicklaus in 1972, Tiger Woods in 2002 and now Jordan Spieth in 2015 with a chance to win the Grand Slam after winning the first two modern majors.
Pretty heady company.
In 1951, Ben Hogan took the first two majors. But he would have faced a significant hurdle for a Grand Slam: The British Open started a day after the P.G.A. ended. After sustaining terrible injuries in a car crash in 1949, Hogan played a light schedule, and in the end he elected not to compete in the last two majors.
In 1953, after once again winning the Masters and the U.S. Open, he did travel to Scotland to play in the only British Open of his career. He won, but once again could not play in the P.G.A. because the events overlapped. That was the only time a Masters and U.S. Open winner also won the British Open. It was Hogan’s ninth, and final, major victory.
Though the victory was front-page news, there was not much hand-wringing over his missing the P.G.A.; the modern concept of the Grand Slam would not solidify in the public’s mind until the early 1960s.
Arnold Palmer, who often spoke about his desire to win the Grand Slam, won the first two legs in 1960. He came close in the British Open that year, losing to Kel Nagle by a stroke.
Jack Nicklaus’s turn came in 1972. Like Palmer, he missed a British Open win by a stroke, losing to Lee Trevino.
After Palmer and Nicklaus, it took 30 years and the emergence of another of the game’s greatest golfers to get another Masters-U.S. Open winner. In 2002, Tiger Woods won his seventh and eighth majors and went into the British Open alive for the Slam. But he shot an 81 on Saturday in terrible conditions, and wound up tied for 28th.
As for the "other" Grand Slam won by Bobby Jones in 1930, he kicked it off with a 7&6 win at The Old Course over the vaunted Roger Wethered.
The highlights show him hitting quite the miraculous Road bunker recovery...
**For those in the If-Tony-Lema-Can-Show-Up-At-St.-Andrews-sight-unseen-then-Jordan-can-too, class, I give you Tony Lema after his win in 1964:
He was far more useful to me than a club. Without his help I doubt if I could have won it. It amazed me the way he just put the club in my hand.
That's Lema on his caddie Tip Anderson. Yes, that Tip Anderson.
As Donald Trump digs in with rapist slurs directed at immigrants despite losing several business partnerships and receiving a light scolding from four of golf's five ruling families, the NY Times' Ginia Bellafante considers Trump Ferry Point, public-private partnerships and the backlash to Donald Trump.
But how likely is it now that the United States Open, so dependent on corporate sponsorships, will be scheduled on a public course named for someone who said he is committed to building a wall at the Mexican border to keep out drug dealers and “rapists”? Although you could argue that none of his comments could have been anticipated, getting blindsided by craziness from Mr. Trump is like landing at a monastery only to be surprised that it’s quiet.
A day after Mr. Trump told the Golf Channel that he had “tremendous support from the golf world because they all know I’m right,” the country’s major professional golf associations issued a joint statement saying, “Mr. Trump’s comments are inconsistent with our strong commitment to an inclusive and welcoming environment in the game of golf.”
That followed the move on the part of NBC Universal to sever ties with Mr. Trump on his television projects and an announcement from the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce that it would no longer consider Trump hotels as sites for two conventions next year that make up the largest meetings of Hispanic business leaders in the country.
“He has no idea what’s coming,” the organization’s president, Javier Palomarez, told me. “The Hispanic community is really galvanized around this.”
Fortune's Daniel Roberts dredges up Trump's February comments suggesting that golf should be more aspirational than inclusive, something he's stated on many occasions. Though I've always found those comments to be more anti-Grow-The-Game initiative driven than anything sinister suggesting a hatred of the poor.
Still, with the upcoming presidential campaign likely centering on income inequality, the comments will get plenty of play.
But more problematic in the short term for Trump or paragraphs like this:
Attention could soon turn to some of Trump’s golf partners, including the PGA and Cadillac. The PGA entered into an official partnership with Trump last year. Cadillac is not a Trump sponsor but has naming rights to the WGC-Cadillac tournament, which was held this year at Trump National Doral, his course in Miami. Cadillac has a huge operation in Mexico: The Cadillac SRX is made there and accounts for some 40% of Cadillac’s U.S. sales. Cadillac had no comment for this story.
His feels did not feel far off, or so Tiger claimed after a shocking 66 in the Greenbrier Classic opener that had the former World No. 1 sounding pretty confident in the state of his game.
Karen Crouse in the New York Times reports.
Woods returned this week with a head of steam too weak to move a ball off the tee, and opened with a 66 on Thursday. Go figure. It was his best first-round score in 22 months, and, at four-under, it equaled his lowest score relative to par this year.
“I know people think I’m crazy for saying that, but I just felt like I wasn’t that far away,” said Woods, who dismissed the notion that he had proved anything to anybody with the good start.
All that mattered to him was that he was four strokes behind the pacesetter, Scott Langley.
“Forget you guys and everybody else out there,” Woods said, laughing. “It’s about winning golf tournaments and putting myself up there consistently.”
He's back! Until he's not.
Steve DiMeglio's report implies that Tiger actually cleared his head instead of trying to get more technical.
“ … I didn’t touch a club for a while (after the U.S. Open). Took my kids down to Albany, and we were down diving in the water every day all day pretty much. It was nice to have a summer break with them like that, especially after the way I played.”
With all that's going on in with golf's stars, a judge's decision to throw out a ruling against Golf Channel went largely unnoticed.
The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Golf Channel acted in good faith taking Stanford Financial's sponsorship money as advertising and will not have to pay Stanford's victims, who included Henrik Stenson and Vijay Singh.
Allen Stanford is a few years into his 110-year prison sentence.
A video posted by PGA TOUR (@pgatour) on Jul 1, 2015 at 11:29am PDT
Shifting back to the days of black and white images and people who could deliver the killer of all killer lines, let's move past the Bobby Jones wins at St. Andrews. Let's even zoom by his surprise return in 1936 (Shop signs: Closed because "our Bobby is back").
Because the 1958 World Amateur brought a physically deteriorating Jones and his brilliant mind back for one final visit. By day he was captaining his team, but by night he was at Younger Graduation Hall becoming the second American to receive the Freedom of the City.
Sid Matthew takes it from there in this 2008 Golf Digest story.
Little did Jones know that the only other American to be conferred such an honor was Benjamin Franklin.
As 1,700 people filled the hall, Jones feared he might get up before the throng and draw a blank. Provost Leonard spoke of the town's desire to welcome an "old and dearly beloved friend... not only as a distinguished golfer but as a man of outstanding character, courage and accomplishment well worthy to adorn the roll of our Honorary Burgesses." The provost explained that an Honorary Burgess had the rights "to catch rabbits, to take divots, and to dry one's washing upon the first and last fairways of the Old Course."
It was now Jones' turn to speak. He had previously been lifted to the stage with his heavy metal leg braces rattling like swords in a loose saber. It would not have been impolite for him to speak sitting down. But Jones did the unexpected. He grabbed the table in front of him with gnarled hands and literally pulled his body up until he stood stooped over the table. There were gasps from the spectators. Jones' son, Bob III, was sitting just behind his father. The son coiled in readiness should he need to catch his frail father.
Not only is the speech golf's most cinematic moment, but and the impromptu "Will ye no' come back again?" sung outside the hall ensured there'd be no dry eyes in the house.
I wish we could watch the entire speech online, but this snippet will have to do. Get your Kleenex on stand by. Here is an ESPN featurette with the best line ever delivered to appease a home crowd, while genuinely meaning what this magical place meant to his rich, full life:
**Thanks to reader Lindsay for this link to the National Library of Scotland's 6 minute version of the Freedom of the City ceremony.
Mario Diaz of PIX11 New York says New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has issued a statement that the city will be looking into its relationship with Donald Trump at Trump Ferry Point. The news comes not long after NBC and Macy's announced they were parting ways with Trump, while four of golf's five American families sought to distance themselves from their high profile partner.
The recently-opened Trump Ferry Point is operated by Trump's company but was financed and is owned by the city.
Mayor Bill de Blasio telling PIX11 News the following in a statement, “We are reviewing Trump contracts with the City. Donald Trump’s remarks were disgusting and offensive, and this hateful language has no place in our city,” said Mayor De Blasio, who then added, “Trump’s comments do not represent the values of inclusion and openness that define us as New Yorkers. Our Mexican brothers and sister make up an essential part of this city’s vibrant and diverse community, and we will continue to celebrate and support New Yorkers of every background.”
Writing for GolfDigest.com, Joel Beall says if golf is smart (ha!), the sport should be questioning its playing partners. Especially now as Trump digs in on his comments.
How should the PGA of America address the paradox of its Grand Slam host holding an event in a town (Los Angeles) that has a 48.3 percent Latino population? And what about the International Federation of PGA Tours continuing to play at Trump’s Doral course, one that currently bans any Univision employees from the premises?
Roy Johnson, reacting to the golf reaction, writes that "it was a pretty tepid and measured response, clearly battered into submission by lawyers, but beneath the spongy wording is one clear point: Golf can't afford to to be "Shoal Creek'ed" again, not at a time when play nationwide is stagnant and corporations -- and their dollars -- flee at any hint of any discrimination based on race, ethnicity gender or sexual orientation."
And he notes:
Clearly, Trump was right in saying he has invested heavily in the golf industry, but we'll soon find out whether his dollars bought him immunity from the same fate that has befallen his Miss USA pageant and clothing line.
Its quick joint statement was merely a safe tee shot. Now the golf industry must do as it did in the wake of Shoal Creek and declare that it will no longer play at clubs clearly tainted by Trumps tainted, twisted view of the world.
**Kevin Manahan of the Star-Ledger calls the statement by the "spineless four" and says Trump is "a walking, talking Shoal Creek." He points to past statements by Trump about golf as an aspirational game, which Trump has repeated often in not viewing various grow-the-game initiatives as productive.
The statement is, frankly, laughable.
Here's what they're committed to: Issuing weakly-worded, attorney-washed statements that poorly feign indignation while protecting a narrow-minded billionaire they're in bed with.
But if Trump's remarks about Mexican "rapists" weren't enough, he also doesn't believe golf should be inclusive. So, he spits in the faces of the LPGA, PGA Tour, PGA of America and USGA there, too.
Before entering the race, the GOP presidential candidate told Fortune magazine in February that golf should be for the rich elite.
Trump wants a limited number of courses (his, of course) with exorbitant greens fees that would naturally drive up the cost -- and price regular folk out of the game.
**Despite the statement, note this headline that ran in the LA Times: "PGA, USGA, LPGA stick with Donald Trump despite controversial comments"
Tiger Woods was asked about Jordan Spieth's decision to play the John Deere Classic instead of the Scottish Open or practice rounds at the Old Course (ala his arrive-early U.S. Open preparation).
The golf cognoscenti and the fine readers of this site are lauding young Spieth's loyalty while I think it's the first really poor choice made in the handling of Spieth's career. Most of the greats (and eventual Open Champions) have gone early for various reasons. And most of the time that was without a Grand Slam on the line. The chances of winning at the Old Course greatly improve for Spieth if he and his excellent caddie spend time acclimating to the nuances, wind directions and complex putting surfaces, especially since he's shown an incredible ability to process information better than people twice his age.
Spieth should be most concerned though that his competitors are encouraging the move. Tiger Woods today, asked at the Greenbrier Classic endorsed the move (even though Tiger will arrive the weekend before, and he has two Open wins at the Old Course).
Will Gray reports:
“I think it’s great for him to play, get the playing feels, keep the playing feels going,” Woods said Wednesday at The Greenbrier Classic. “Whether you’re playing here or overseas, doesn’t really matter, (as) long as you have your feels. Feels travel.”
Your honor, I have nothing further at this time. Oh wait, the witness is still talking...
“I think he’s played enough links-type golf courses. He did all right at Chambers (Bay),” Woods said. “He’s played the British Opens before. St. Andrews will be a little bit different, there will be a lot to learn in a short time. But he’s young, and he can spend the energy playing 18 holes every day and be fine.”
Hopefully a practice round isn't fogged out like last time, because young Spieth's going to need all three practice rounds to get ready.
**Even John Deere Classic tournament director Clair Peterson sounds like he expected Spieth to take up his possible once-in-a-lifetime chance to best prepare for a Grand Slam by skipping the Deere this year.
John Strege reports for The Loop.
“Whatever Jordan feels is best for him we’re happy to accept,” Peterson said. “If he would have contacted us and said, as some have argued, he felt like it was going to be difficult for him to be competitive at the [British] Open and still come to the John Deere, we view our relationship as a long-term relationship, we would have been fine with that.”
What's the next level beyond a non-denial denial? A denial that makes the story worse? Double bogey denial?
With the National Enquirer suggesting a Tiger Woods-Amanda Boyd (Dufner) fling with nary a shred of evidence, the story likely would have remained where many other Enquirer stories have gone: into thin air. Sure, the publication got the big one right, but they've reported just as many incorrect Woods stories and like many of those over the last few years, this one would have faded quickly too.
Except that Tiger agent Mark Steinberg opened the topic up by suggesting something any golf fan of the last Presidents Cup knows to be false. Talking to Golfweek:
"I couldn’t deny this more vehemently," Steinberg said. "There is less than zero strand of truth to it. 100 percent false. 100 percent fabricated and zero credence. Absolutely, unequivocally untrue. They are not even acquaintances. It’s absolutely ridiculous."
Is unequivocally untrue a double negative?
Anyway, he left the acquaintance part out of his denial to Golf Channel.
“The report is categorically false. Absolutely zero truth to that ridiculous rumor.”
Considering there are photos of Amanda Boyd around Woods during Presidents Cup play, and knowing how the teammates and partners interact, to say they are "not even acquaintenances" does not add up.
Steinberg also has said in the past that he was not aware of his client's private life, so his views on who Tiger knows and does not know could be questioned. David Dusek wrote back in 2010 for golf.com:
Speaking on the eighth and ninth fairways as fans walked by, Steinberg said that he was in Southern California when the car accident took place outside Woods's home in Windermere, Fla. He denied knowing that his client was having multiple affairs, and spoke with disbelief about the number of women who have come forward to say they had relationships with Tiger.
While he didn't wake up all Jack Waltz-style with a thoroughbred's head in his bed, Donald Trump has received a decent slap-down from four of the five families. (Don Payne of the Augusta Corleones wisely has stuck to the family business of olive oil and never ventured into Trump territory even though Sonny Ridley has begged him to give Donald a membership.)
Here is the statement issued following Trump's comments yesterday to Tim Rosaforte and from the PGA Tour, PGA of America, USGA or LPGA Tour. Each is in business or has been in business with Trump properties (Official partnershps with the R&A at Turnberry and European Tour at Trump International could happen at some point, too.)
"In response to Mr. Trump's comments about the golf industry "knowing he is right" in regards to his recent statements about Mexican immigrants, we feel compelled to clarify that those remarks do not reflect the views of our organizations. While the LPGA, PGA of America, PGA Tour and USGA do not usually comment on Presidential politics, Mr. Trump's comments are inconsistent with our strong commitment to an inclusive and welcoming environment in the game of golf."
I don't want to be picky, but no threat of pulling an event from a Trump hosted course? Or consideration given to such a concept?
Still, it's a start in perhaps reminding Trump that it's nothing personal, just business.
How will Donald reply?
The PGA Professional National Championship wraps up Wednesday at A.W. Tillinghast's restored Wissahickon course at Philadelphia Cricket Club. (Nice gallery here.)
Long on the list of many ranking the courses most in need of restoration, the Keith Foster-led project appears to have masterfully grown in by Dan Meersman and team based on today's telecast.
The course was a breakthrough design by Tillinghast and impacted other Philadelphian's like George Thomas. Oh, and Tillinghast's ashes were spread in Wissahickon Creek.
Two New Yorkers, Ben Polland and Grant Sturgeon, are tied for the lead heading into the final round. John Dever reports. Golf Channel coverage begins at 2:30 pm ET.
Let's take a brief break from the historic films (oh there are more!) to savor this very millennial-friendly Old Course at St. Andrews flyover posted by the R&A.
It's a bit scattered and non-sensical in the route taken (including heading over holes that are not even on the Old Course). But the piece is educational on a number of levels.
First, watch the initial move down the 18th so you can get a good look at the first hole to the Road hole green, a configuration used when the course is played in reverse.
Also note the boundaries, which play such a role here (except of course when the R&A places a tee on the other side of one of them because the ball goes too far). They are all to the right of the golfers, so a righty with a pronouced draw or a lefty with the ability to cut the ball on cue can alleviate many fears pretty easily. (Paging Bubba Watson!).
Mostly, just soak up the many intricate bumps and bunkers that make the place endlessly fascinating and nuanced.
(PS - Here is a Golfweek roundup of Tuesday's Open qualifying where a nice mix of young and old made it to St. Andrews. And a tip of the cap to Monty for flying back from Sacramento to Woburn for a go at qualifying. He finished T15.)
The R&A flyover: