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  • Lines of Charm: Brilliant And Irreverent Quotes, Notes, And Anecdotes from Golf's Golden Age Architects
    Lines of Charm: Brilliant And Irreverent Quotes, Notes, And Anecdotes from Golf's Golden Age Architects
  • The Future of Golf: How Golf Lost Its Way and How to Get It Back
    The Future of Golf: How Golf Lost Its Way and How to Get It Back
    by Geoff Shackelford
  • Grounds for Golf: The History and Fundamentals of Golf Course Design
    Grounds for Golf: The History and Fundamentals of Golf Course Design
    by Geoff Shackelford
  • The Art of Golf Design
    The Art of Golf Design
    by Michael Miller, Geoff Shackelford
  • Alister MacKenzie's Cypress Point Club
    Alister MacKenzie's Cypress Point Club
    by Geoff Shackelford
  • The Golden Age of Golf Design
    The Golden Age of Golf Design
    by Geoff Shackelford
  • The Good Doctor Returns: A Novel
    The Good Doctor Returns: A Novel
    by Geoff Shackelford
  • Masters of the Links: Essays on the Art of Golf and Course Design
    Masters of the Links: Essays on the Art of Golf and Course Design
  • The Captain: George C. Thomas Jr. and His Golf Architecture
    The Captain: George C. Thomas Jr. and His Golf Architecture
    by Geoff Shackelford
Current Reading
  • The Forbidden Game: Golf and the Chinese Dream
    The Forbidden Game: Golf and the Chinese Dream
    by Dan Washburn
  • The Early Days of Pinehurst
    The Early Days of Pinehurst
    by Chris Buie
  • Arnie, Seve, and a Fleck of Golf History: Heroes, Underdogs, Courses, and Championships
    Arnie, Seve, and a Fleck of Golf History: Heroes, Underdogs, Courses, and Championships
    by Bill Fields
  • The Magnificent Masters: Jack Nicklaus, Johnny Miller, Tom Weiskopf, and the 1975 Cliffhanger at Augusta
    The Magnificent Masters: Jack Nicklaus, Johnny Miller, Tom Weiskopf, and the 1975 Cliffhanger at Augusta
    by Gil Capps
  • His Ownself: A Semi-Memoir
    His Ownself: A Semi-Memoir
    by Dan Jenkins
Classics
  • Golf Architecture in America: Its Strategy and Construction
    Golf Architecture in America: Its Strategy and Construction
    by Geo. C. Thomas
  • The Course Beautiful : A Collection of Original Articles and Photographs on Golf Course Design
    The Course Beautiful : A Collection of Original Articles and Photographs on Golf Course Design
    Treewolf Prod
  • Reminiscences Of The Links
    Reminiscences Of The Links
    by Albert Warren Tillinghast, Richard C. Wolffe, Robert S. Trebus, Stuart F. Wolffe
  • Gleanings from the Wayside
    Gleanings from the Wayside
    by Albert Warren Tillinghast
  • Planet Golf USA: The Definitive Reference to Great Golf Courses in America
    Planet Golf USA: The Definitive Reference to Great Golf Courses in America
    by Darius Oliver
  • Planet Golf: The Definitive Reference to Great Golf Courses Outside the United States of America
    Planet Golf: The Definitive Reference to Great Golf Courses Outside the United States of America
    by Darius Oliver
Writing And Videos

The golfer who does not take himself a caddie at St. Andrews denies himself the wine of the country. HERBERT WARREN WIND

 

    

Wednesday
Oct012014

Baltusrol Designated National Historic Landmark

Congratulations to the host of the 2016 PGA Championship and many other majors.

For Immediate Release...

BALTUSROL GOLF CLUB RECEIVES NATIONAL HISTORIC LANDMARK DESIGNATION
Statement by Joseph Tato
President, Baltusrol Golf Club

SPRINGFIELD, N.J. (October 1, 2014) - On behalf of the members of Baltusrol Golf Club, we are honored to be designated a National Historic Landmark. Our membership recognizes the importance of this designation and that it is bestowed only after a thorough, exhaustive analysis by the Department of the Interior's National Park Service Landmarks Program. Baltusrol's Dual Courses, completed in 1922 and known as the Lower and Upper Courses, are truly historic accomplishments and important designs of Golden Age golf course architect A.W. Tillinghast.

We recognize that with this designation comes responsibility. Over the years, our membership has worked to maintain and preserve the design integrity of our Tillinghast courses. One of our Club's responsibilities is the stewardship of our golf courses and Clubhouse consistent with Baltusrol's distinct place in American golf history. We also recognize our responsibility to maintain appropriate environmental standards, so that our courses will be preserved and enjoyed by future generations.

We are grateful to have been designated a National Historic Landmark, and to join Merion Golf Club, Oakmont Country Club and Pinehurst as the only golf courses to achieve landmark status. We thank the National Park Service and the Department of the Interior which understood the importance of maintaining our historic site for future generations. In addition, I would like to acknowledge and thank Baltusrol's Communications & Club History Committee, and in particular our Club Historians Rick Wolffe and Bob Trebus, for their persistent efforts and diligence, and the Boards of Governors, over the last ten years in making this honor a reality.

Wednesday
Oct012014

Video: Today In Back9 Network's Bid To Not Gain Viewers

The comedian Matty Blake and Ahmad Rashad filmed this spot and it was posted online to get you to call your cable provider to beg for the Back9 Network to appear on your network. Ahmad drinking gamers will be sad to learn there were not references to Tiger, MJ or Barack, but Christmas can't come every day!

Something tells me this will not motivate many to pick up phones except to the Defense Department to nominate it for clip most likely to cause a prisoner to crack.

Wednesday
Oct012014

Inevitable Overreaction: Evans Scholar Suspended

Predictably, there has been a terrific overreaction in Columbus and beyond to the body slam of an on-field rusher who turned out to be an Evans Scholar.

**Update: above headline modified as the Dispatch story and another AP story reported that his scholarship has been lost but as reader John below noted, the Evans people have issued a statement announcing their investigation and the young man's status pending that outcome. Hopefully cooler heads will prevail. Continue original post...

In a comical-if-it-weren't-so-overblown story from the Columbus Dispatch, Allison Manning reports on Anthony Wunder's court appearance and the news that he is no longer in the Evans Scholar program as a result of a few minutes of stupidity that will now haunt him from life. He forgot that Ohio State football is a religion and any crime pertaining to it carries special circumstances, even though the body slam was more than enough punishment.

According to his attorney...

Collins said that Wunder was told yesterday by the Evans Scholars program that Wunder has lost his scholarship with the program.

Collins also said that Wunder is no longer living in the Evans Scholars house.

Collins, however, said that Wunder remains enrolled at Ohio State. He is a fourth-year student in a five-year engineering program, Collins said.

The nonprofit Evans Scholars Foundation gives academic awards to college students who have served as golf caddies.

Wednesday
Oct012014

It Could Have Been Much Worse Files...Mickelson National Edition

Longtime readers know of my affinity for peculiar golf course names and, in particular, the grabbing of any old title and slapping National on its backside, as if that'll class the joint up. So the recent news of a Mickelson National sounded like another doozy until you heard what the developers were originally going to call the to-be-built course west of Calgary.

From John Strege's report:

The course originally was going to be known as Copithorne Club, named for the original landowners of the property. But people had trouble spelling Copithorne, Ehlert said, which made it problematic on the branding front.

“We thought it would be much easier having a name that people could find,” Ehlert said. “We were talking to Phil’s team and said, ‘what if he was Phil’s name associated with it?’ They contemplated it and agreed to it. We believe there will only be one Mickelson National in Canada.” Or likely anywhere else, for that matter.

And there was this quote, for your roll-back-the-ball clipping files.

“We’re not set on 8,000 yards,” Ehlert said. “When Phil gets on site, it ould end up being 7,600 yards. The original routing ended up being almost 8,000 yards. But whether it’s 7,600, 7,700 or 7.800 yards, whatever it is, first and foremost it will be a course that the members play every day.”

Wednesday
Oct012014

Hazeltine In 2016 Won't Be Hazeltine As We Know It

Thanks to reader Phil for Michael Rand’s Star Tribune story talking to 2016 Ryder Cup general chair Patrick Hunt who reveals the committee’s dilemmas (subdued or not closing ceremony?) after visiting the Ryder Cup at Gleneagles.

And he drops a bombshell for those of us planning on Hazeltine National’s famous 16th serving as a key hole in match conclusions.

On the course, the most interesting aspect is that Hazeltine will reroute how the course plays. Players will start on what have traditionally been holes 1-4, then jump to 14-18, then back to 10-13, before finishing on 5-9.
With fewer players in the field than in a traditional tournament, that layout allows for better flow, Hunt said.

“It allows more people to be on the closing holes and to get off the golf course,” he said.

Tuesday
Sep302014

European Tour Allowed McGinley To Influence Tourney Groupings

Many admire Captain Paul McGinley's attention to detail but does there become an eye-roll, oy-vey, get-a-life, winning isn't everything moment?

After reading Doug Ferguson's story about the European Tour allowing the captain to control early round pairings to help players from say, Team Lake Nona, get to know those playing the actual European Tour, is, a tad excessive.

Graeme McDowell and Victor Dubuisson playing together in the French Open was no accident.

McGinley wanted them for foursomes at Gleneagles, and they wound up winning both their matches.

"I was able to get Victor and Graeme on the same page," he said. "I controlled the draws on the European Tour during the summer, and every time Graeme came to play in Europe, he played with Victor. They didn't know what I was planning, but I had planned that they would be partners."

Tuesday
Sep302014

Video: Ahmad Rashad Drinking Game Grand Slam!

The Back9Network officially launched on Monday, and former Morning Drive host and Pastel HOFamer Ahmad Rashad stopped by "The Turn" to promote his cleverly titled show, "Ahmad Rashad."

Rashad was asked about his dream foursome (why didn't I think of that!) and the infamous name dropper managed to get in nods to Tiger, MJ and recent golfing buddy Barack Obama...all in one segment specially wrapped for the Ahmad drinking gamers and bingo boarders who've missed him.

For your consideration...

 

Tuesday
Sep302014

PGA 'O America Sounds Ready To Blow Up Its Ryder Rules

In separate conversations with Rex Hoggard of GolfChannel.com and Mark Lamport-Stokes of Reuters, PGA of America President Ted Bishop wisely admitted to the organization already re-thinking their approach to the Ryder Cup after a series of hiccups that may have tainted the USA experience this year, starting with a premature points cut-off, maybe premature captain's picks and Captain Tom Watson's old-school approach.

Interestingly, the man most mentioned as wanting to at least have a say in the captaincy structure going forward, Paul Azinger, didn't return a call when Bishop phoned before Watson was picked.

From Hoggard's report:

Before that, Bishop said he spoke with many former captains, including Davis Love III, Corey Pavin and Lanny Wadkins. He even reached out to Paul Azinger, the last winning American captain in 2008, but “never heard back from him.”

It also sounds like the PGA's desire to have a former major winner pilot the team is no longer a requirement.

“That decision will be made by someone other than me, but at this point the slate is totally clear. Why wouldn’t you consider him?” Bishop said. “A Ryder Cup captain doesn’t have to be a major champion. We have to get over that. We have to look for guys who are not afraid to roll their sleeves up and take a blue collar approach like McGinley did and Azinger did.”

Before Bishop went back to work on Tuesday afternoon, he offered one final thought that seemed apropos considering the criticism Watson and the PGA has received in the aftermath of last week’s blowout.

“I think the PGA of America is willing to change from a certain stand point,” he said. “We are willing to try to put all the appropriate pieces into place to collectively make a good decision going forward.”

From Lamport-Stokes we learn Bishop's view that the captain's picks might need to move to after the Tour Championship and his take on Mickelson's viewpoint about captains, which, at least publicly, isn't quite as shocked as you might expect.

"You know what, that was no surprise to me because I had a very similar conversation with Phil when we played together in the pro-am at the Scottish Open back in July at Royal Aberdeen.

"I had asked Phil a question about his perception of the Ryder Cup and he gave me the same answer that he gave on Sunday night, so it's clear to me that he feels very strongly about that."

Bishop, whose PGA of America organization represents more than 27,000 golf professionals, felt Mickelson's biggest mistake was not to speak out earlier, and in private with Watson.

"It would have been nice if he had maybe conveyed those feelings to Tom before the Ryder Cup rather than after the Ryder Cup," said Bishop. "And I wish he wouldn't have done it in that venue on Sunday night, but it is what it is.

Tim Rosaforte discusses what Mickelson’s message to the PGA of America and Tom Watson and captures some of the emotions involved for the various folks and also clarifies why Mickelson was not on the team jet (well, something about business meetings which is jargon for, I don't want to be on the same plane with a bunch of people I shouldn't have to fly to the Ryder Cup with).

Tuesday
Sep302014

Tiger's Going Into The Restaurant Business...

Apparently he hasn't watched Midnight Run in a while, otherwise Tiger would recall that restaurants are a very, very tricky business.

Kristin Hunter
in the Palm Beach Post reports on his forthcoming, The Woods Jupiter: Sports and Dining Club, set for an early 2015 opening.

“I envision a place where people can meet friends, watch sports on TV and enjoy a great meal,” Woods said in a statement. “I wanted to build it locally where I live and where it could help support the community.”

Design plans are still being finalized for The Woods Jupiter, but the 5,900-square-foot restaurant will have a “prime location” in the new development, next to the amphitheater and marina.

It’ll include outdoor seating and also have its own valet roundabout to accommodate patrons, developer Nick Mastroianni II said Tuesday.

Tuesday
Sep302014

Today In PGA Tour Sponsor News: Cadillac In, Humana Out

Ron Kroichick reports that the 2015 World Golf Championships-Cadillac Match Play will be sponsored by the automobile maker, also the sponsor of the World Golf Championships-Cadillac Championship in March at Doral. It is believed this is a one-year deal.

The press release also resolved television coverage, with NBC/Golf Channel taking what used to be a CBS week on the schedule when the Wells Fargo was played.

As part of this announcement, Golf Channel and NBC have also been announced as host broadcasters of the event. Golf Channel will air the first three days of round-robin play live in primetime Wednesday through Friday. On Saturday, Golf Channel will air the Round of 16 live on Saturday afternoon leading into NBC’s coverage of the quarterfinal matches live in prime time on Saturday night. On Sunday, Golf Channel will air live coverage of the semi-final matches leading into NBC's live coverage of the championship and consolation matches on Sunday afternoon.

In a big surprise, Humana will be ending their sponsorship of the tournament formally known as the Hope, bowing out after 2015 despite an agreement that Larry Bohannan reports, was signed through 2019. Even more bizarre is what a good fit the company and event seemed to have, arguably the best "synergy" of sponsor, event theme and host (Bill Clinton) on the PGA Tour. The Clinton Foundation remains involved.

From Bohannan's report, see if you can translate the corporatespeak:

But Humana, based in Louisville, Ky., and the tour say that a changing business environment for the healthcare company led Humana to exercise an opt-out clause in the deal after the 2015 event, to be played Jan. 22-25 at three courses in La Quinta.

"Humana's business is changing rapidly. As we continue to shift toward a direct-to-consumer focus, we have to align our marketing and sponsorship commitments to areas that are the best fit for our business, brand and members," Tom Noland, senior vice president for corporate communications for Humana, says in a statement that will announce the end of the sponsorship deal Monday.

Monday
Sep292014

Follow-Ups To Mickelson-Watson Squabbling

Tim Rosaforte, who reported being in contact via text message with Phil Mickelson Saturday night of the Ryder Cup, writes in Golf World that Mickelson learned of his Saturday afternoon benching after warming up and via text message by Captain Tom Watson.

Granted, Jose Maria Olazabal had trouble communicating such things in 2012, but the idea that Mickelson wasn't worthy of an explanation or even prepared that he might be benched all day might explain what inspired Sunday's press conference comments.

Alan Shipnuck's assessment of Watson's work in contrast to that of Paul McGinley is less than gentle.

Watson made little effort to get to know his charges or do any team building beyond a few get-off-my-lawn speeches. He was a remote and disengaged figure in the run-up to the Cup, and once the competition began, he had little understanding of how his players were feeling, physically or emotionally. (It didn’t help that two of his vice captains -- Ray Floyd, 72, and Andy North, 64 -- are decades removed from playing the Tour and the third, Steve Stricker, 47, is now a part-timer.)

While Watson’s counterpart Paul McGinley, 47, was meticulously prepared, having spent years seeking the counsel of his players over long dinners and b.s. sessions on the range, Watson seemed to be making up his pairings willy-nilly. A series of botched decisions for the Friday-afternoon foursomes had a cascading effect that led him to bench his putative team leader, Phil Mickelson, and Bradley, the guy who could have been the team’s emotional juggernaut, for both Saturday sessions. (To that point they had teamed to go 4–1 in the Ryder Cup.) These proud major champions were understandably wounded by the slight, but according to a team insider, what left them more upset was the heartless way Watson delivered the news.

Shipnuck also writes about his inability to talk to PGA of America President Ted Bishop following the press conference regarding the selection process and shares this about Watson.

A veteran of multiple U.S. teams told me in the aftermath, “A lot of s--- went on behind the scenes that people don’t know about. It will all leak out eventually. People talk about Hal Sutton and Lanny Wadkins, but Watson is going to be remembered as 10 times worse.”

John Hawkins puts Mickelson's remarks into context and believes that long term the candidness will benefit the American side.

Not only does this apply to Watson, whose shortcomings as both a captain and communicator turned PGA of America president Ted Bishop’s outside-the-box experiment into a bust, but Mickelson himself. In offering such a candid and visible assessment of the 2014 captain, Philly Mick was roasted by several prominent voices for violating the very essence of appropriate team conduct.

What happens in the team room stays in the team room, or so we’re led to believe. The funny thing about media – some of us chastise guys like Mickelson for talking out of school, then lick up every last crumb, no matter how dirty.

Some of my favorite golf journalists, including Golf Channel teammates Rex Hoggard and Tim Rosaforte, have referred to the U.S. news conference as one of the most awkward moments in Ryder Cup history, and I certainly wouldn’t disagree. It was hard to watch and impossible not to, if you know what I mean.

Perhaps it was also necessary, or at the very least, a much-needed attempt to shake up a system that has produced lousy results for far too long. Bishop chose Watson himself. Why is there no committee for such an important appointment? As I wondered here a couple of weeks ago, why are the U.S. captains’ picks made almost a month before the actual matches – before the final two FedEx Cup playoff events?

Robert Lusetich calls Mickelson's comments "a graceless mutiny of one" and feels players should not need to be invested in the matches via gimmicks like a pod system.

Mickelson -- who always needs to be the smartest guy in the room -- recounted how great Paul Azinger was as captain because he got players "invested in the process."

I could stop right there and say, if you're not invested in the process anyway, then don't play. You're representing the United States, and if you can't get up for that does it matter who captains?
Mickelson went on to say Azinger's tactic of splitting the 12 players into three pods of four -- and giving them a lot of autonomy within those groupings -- was the key.

"He had a great game plan," Mickelson said. "We use that same process in the Presidents Cup and we do really well. Unfortunately, we have strayed from a winning formula in 2008 for the last three Ryder Cups, and we need to consider maybe getting back to that formula."

In other words, Phil likes to have his voice heard, and Tom Watson didn't listen.

Monday
Sep292014

Darren Clarke Zooms To Front Of '16 Captaincy Race As Padraig Declares He Is Now "Less Keen" For Job

Brian Keogh on Padraig Harrington's surprising remarks upon seeing the great and thorough job done by Paul McGinley has made him less enthused about pursuing the job as he still feels his game is good.

Harrington, a vice captain in 2014, was looming as a possible candidate along with Miguel Angel Jimenez for the 2016 job after fulfilling assistant driving duties last week at Gleneagles. Both would be hugely popular captain's to American crowds while Darren Clarke--despite reports saying he'd be popular here--does not have nearly the name or recognition of this year's vice captains.

From Keogh's report:

While he still wants to be captain, Harrington admitted: "I’m less keen than I was before. It does make you less keen. It is a lot harder than you think. There is a lot goes on.

The new captain will be chosen by the three immediate past captains — McGinley, Jose Maria Olazabal and Colin Montgomerie — with the input of European Tour Chief Executive George O'Grady and a nominee from the Players Committee.


Keogh has a separate item on Paul McGinley assuring those who cared that he will not go out of his way to torpedo Clarke even though the 2012 Open Champion backed Monty for the 2014 captaincy. But McGinley also is far from committing to Clarke for his vote.

“Darren has been a vice captain along with many other guys, as well, too. So we will see where that all evolves and I certainly won't have no issues whatsoever with that.

“I'll make a professional decision based on the views of people that I respect.”

The new captain will almost certainly be named next January under a new system designed to avoid the politics that marred the 2014 captaincy race.

Monday
Sep292014

Hooray For Holywood! Police Called To Investigate Ryder Flag

According to BBC’s Mark Simpson, police in Rory McIlroy’s hometown of Holywood responded to a call about a massive European Union flag on display for a Ryder Cup viewing party.

It seems a neighbor thought it was something else...

The flag-waving golf fan, who did not wish to be named, said: "I was having a house-warming party and decided to put up the European flag for the Ryder Cup.

"I was tidying up on Sunday morning and two police officers arrived. They didn't seem to know what the flag was themselves.

"I said 'it is a European Union flag for the Ryder Cup'.

"They said there'd been a complaint about it being some sort of Arabic flag.

"I just laughed. In the end they were laughing too. It was crazy."

Okay, so the branding outreach hasn't gotten to everyone yet.

Monday
Sep292014

Video: Body Slammee Is An Evans Scholar

Now America, let's not overreact and revoke a scholarship because he's stupid, perhaps drunk and a former caddy, but thanks to reader Kevin for noticing that Saturday's gone-viral recipient of a tremendous body slam tackle is an Evans Scholar!

Henry Molski's report on Anthony Schlegel, Ohio State Strength and Conditioning coach, with one of the better handlings of a fan rushing the field.

Not my favorite angle but it gets the job done...so enjoyable!

Monday
Sep292014

Azinger Not Ruling Out Captaincy; Wants PGA To Blow-Up Model

Paul Azinger went on a 10-day motorcycle trip and Steve DiMeglio opens his story recounting that image after talking to former Ryder Cup Captain Paul Azinger about his willingness to not "rule anything out" regarding a return engagement.

DiMeglio writes:

"I'm not going to rule anything out," Azinger, the last victorious U.S. captain in the Ryder Cup, said on Monday.

His phone started blowing up with text messages and voice mails shortly after the U.S. team's post-match press conference.

Sounding like a well rehearsed politician, Azinger is using this unexpected (or was he expecting?) this opportunity to leverage changes in the PGA of America's selection system. He is cleverly backing them into a corner that no doubt has the folks in Palm Beach Gardens thrilled!

"But my goal is the bigger picture. It is time for the PGA of America to recognize the great disconnect and formulate the same business model for selecting a captain as it does for selecting its president and officers.

"Europe consistently repeats a philosophy of leadership that every captain has learned from the captains in the past. It is an approach that is comfortable and familiar. The U.S. approach is less comfortable and completely unfamiliar to every repeat player. The players have to adjust to a completely unique system to the previous two years."

Permanent pods!

Monday
Sep292014

Video: Double Eagle To Win At Pebble Beach!

Way to go First Tee grad Christopher Meyers on double eagling the world famous 18th at Pebble Beach to cap off a win in the Pro-Junior division of the Champions Tour's Nature Valley First Tee Open. John Cook won the regular tournament competition.

According to Ron Kroichick writing for the San Francisco Chronicle, the shot was a 4-iron from 203 and is believed to be the first double eagle in a tournament in Pebble’s 95-year history.

The shot to the traditional final round hole location:

Monday
Sep292014

Oh No! GMac Wants McGinley To Smooth Things For Clarke

Now that he's patched things up with Rory McIlroy--well, until Rory's lawyers drop a few more requests for personal info--you'd think Graeme McDowell might have gone quietly as sort of the utility man that was the other Team Europe MVP after Justin Rose.

(BTW, I just don't know what else to say about the Getty Images shot posted at the Daily Mail featuring The Litigators, McIlroy and McDowell, other than I'm moved to see Northern Irishman proudly holding up a defaced flag of their home nation.)

Instead, GMac used Sunday's euphoria to ask Captain Paul McGinley to set aside his differences with Darren Clarke, who we recently learned backstabbed the current captain, and smooth the way for the Northern Irishman to be the next European Captain, even though he falls on most people's lists somewhere between Monty and a hologram of Henry Cotton, especially with huge personalities like Miguel Angel and Paddy waiting in the wings.

From an unbylined BBC report:

"Darren and Paul should put their differences aside," said McDowell.

Darren needs to spend some time talking to Paul about the way he [McGinley] has conducted himself this week.

"Paul commanded a huge amount of respect in the team room and was the best captain I have ever played under by far and that's no disrespect to any of the other captains."

So why not Paul again?

Sunday
Sep282014

Meanwhile In Other Captain-Player Drama News, Faldo Hastags Himself As "#sadlyaUseless Captain

The luckiest man in the Phil Mickelson-Tom Watson brouhaha would seem to be Nick Faldo, who stepped in it Friday with his Sergio Garcia "useless" comments, then dug in by backing up his assertion, then did his best to apologize for the words not coming out right by succumbing to the perils of "live telly," reports James Corrigan in The Telegraph.

Corrigan writes:

García was asked whether he had heard from Faldo. “I have not. I really wouldn’t expect it anyway, but I’ve had it [congratulations] from everyone on this table [his team-mates] and a lot of other people and that’s really what means a lot to me,” said the 34-year-old, whose five Ryder Cup wins means he has now surpassed Faldo’s record as a player.

Faldo Tweeted after the Team Europe win...

 

Sunday
Sep282014

Another Lawsuit As Back9Network Finally Launches

Monday, September 29 is launch day for golf’s second network and I expect all DirecTV subscribers to chime in with some initial thoughts about the programming.

Jon Lender in the Hartford Courant reports on another legal entanglement for the “state-sponsored” net in Connecticut. This time it's former executive VP Robert Abbott, suing for breach of contract.

Sunday
Sep282014

Roundup: Mickelson & Watson Publicly Litigate The Captaincy!

You knew near the end of NBC's telecast when Phil Mickelson mentioned Paul Azinger's name in his post Ryder Cup interview that we might be headed for an entertaining post-Ryder Cup debate over the merits of Tom Watson's work.

If it was only that quaint!

Before we get to the analysis, let's go to the tape, with the transcript highlights first. I don't want anyone who missed this reading without context!

First note that Mickelson was responding to a question and not bringing this up on his own. Of course, there was so much detail!

Q. Anyone that was on the team at Valhalla, can you put your finger on what worked in 2008 and what hasn't worked since?

PHIL MICKELSON: There were two things that allow us to play our best I think that Paul Azinger did, and one was he got everybody invested in the process. He got everybody invested in who they were going to play with, who the picks were going to be, who was going to be in their pod, who -- when they would play, and they had a great leader for each pod.

In my case, we had Ray Floyd, and we hung out together and we were all invested in each other's play. We were invested in picking Hunter that week; Anthony Kim and myself and Justin were in a pod, and we were involved on having Hunter be our guy to fill our pod. So we were invested in the process. And the other thing that Paul did really well was he had a great game plan for us, you know, how we were going to go about doing this. How we were going to go about playing together; golf ball, format, what we were going to do, if so-and-so is playing well, if so-and-so is not playing well, we had a real game plan. Those two things helped us bring out our best golf. And I think that, you know, we all do the best that we can and we're all trying our hardest, and I'm just looking back at what gave us the most success. Because we use that same process in The Presidents Cup and we do really well. Unfortunately, we have strayed from a winning formula in 2008 for the last three Ryder Cups, and we need to consider maybe getting back to that formula that helped us play our best.

Q. That felt like a pretty brutal destruction of the leadership that's gone on this week.

PHIL MICKELSON: Oh, I'm sorry you're taking it that way. I'm just talking about what Paul Azinger did to help us play our best. It's certainly -- I don't understand why you would take it that way. You asked me what I thought we should do going toward to bring our best golf out and I go back to when we played our best golf and try to replicate that formula.

Q. That didn't happen this week?
PHIL MICKELSON: Uh (pausing) no. No, nobody here was in any decision. So, no.

Far more damning for Watson than any debate over pods or picks or Paul is the idea that he limited his communications. This is a pro-bono week for the players while everyone else makes a lot of money off their backs. A great leader at least pretends to hear what these players are thinking because (A) they are here on their own time and (B) common sense dictates it. If Watson failed as miserably as Mickelson implies, then he probably is in for criticism.

Now for the Captain's reply.

Q. Can you tell us what you think of what Phil said about Paul Azinger?

TOM WATSON: I had a different philosophy as far as being a captain of this team. You know, it takes 12 players to win. It's not pods. It's 12 players. And I felt -- I based my decisions on -- yes, I did talk to the players, but my vice captains were very instrumental in making decisions as to whom to pair with. I had a different philosophy than Paul. I decided not to go that way. But I did have most of them play in the practise rounds together who played most of the time in the matches. I think that was the proper thing to do. Yes, I did mix-and-match a little bit from there, but again, you have to go with the evolution of the playing of the match and see who is playing the best and who to play with whom, and that's what I did.

Indeed you did! Loved this suggestion that the players weren't in shape. Also note that he says he consulted his players but mostly his vice captains.

Q. Every two years the two captains come in and say the hardest part of their job is benching people. Four years ago with all the problems at Celtic Manor, we had everybody playing in every format. Would you like to see that as part of the game? Seems to have 12 of the best players in the world and each time having four sitting in each session.

TOM WATSON: Yes, I would. I would like to see the change in that format. Then everybody knows they are going to go 36 holes and then everybody knows that they have to be in shape to play. That's one of the important decisions that I may have missed is playing, say, Jimmy Walker for four straight rounds, two 36-hole matches. And if that wasn't up to my decision, then every player wouldn't understand that.

There's some great stuff from Jim Furyk after that, including some nice salty language and an endorsement of Watson and Mickelson. Diplomatic stuff, though no one spoke up to contradict Phil, which might be noteworthy, though the circumstances were tough.

Here's the tape from GolfChannel.com of the Mickelson remarks (overseas readers let me know if this works):

Now for the analysis.

Rex Hoggard called it one of the "most awkward moments in U.S. Ryder Cup history" in his reporting of the press conference.

Gene Wojciechowski's take on the sequence.

Asked, in essence, if the players were part of Watson's management process, Mickelson said, "Uh, no. No, nobody here was in any decision. So, no."

It was a stunning moment. No USA player has played in more Ryder Cup matches than Mickelson. So when he questioned the logic of Watson, and by association, 2012 captain Davis Love III and 2010 captain Corey Pavin -- and does so in a public setting and not long after the latest loss -- it carried considerable weight.

The 65-year-old Watson stared wearily ahead as Mickelson spoke. Asked if he thought Mickelson was being "disloyal," Watson said, "Not at all. ... That's OK. My management philosophy is different than his."

It was bizarre, odd and surprisingly candid. But most of all, it was revealing. If Mickelson felt this way, how many others on the team shared his feelings?

Martin Samuel of the Daily Mail, as only he can write

There was a war; an American, and not particularly civil, war. At the post-Ryder Cup inquest, Phil Mickelson sat on the right wing of the top table and took down his captain Tom Watson as brutally as any field assassin.

That he did this in cool, measured, very reasonable tones typical of the man only added to the brutality. It was a polite destruction; a highly restrained mugging; a thoroughly decent battering.

Jason Sobel called this "a passive-aggressive coup on Watson's captaincy" and writes, "In the demure world of golf, this was the verbal equivalent to Reggie Jackson brawling with Billy Martin in a dugout or Latrell Sprewell going for the throat of P.J. Carlesimo."

Tim Rosaforte revealed that he texted with Phil Mickelson Saturday night, initially off the record, about Phil’s displeasure with the lack of team communication and followed up with both Mickelson and Paul Azinger. Here’s his report with Steve Burkowski on Live From Downton Abbey.

John Strege on Brandel Chamblee calling this “close to a one-man mutiny” and took on Phil’s generation, even defending the Phil-Tiger pairing at Oakland Hills.

“If you’re looking for a reason why the United States continues to lose, you just saw it in one man. Phil Mickelson. Phil Mickelson, along with the best players of that era, have so corrupted the experience of the Ryder Cup for their fellow competitors by not having records anywhere near what they should, given their rank in the game.

“Players of an era who are the best go to the Ryder Cup and show off. And not goof off. Phil Mickelson in 2004 changed clubs at the Ryder Cup the week of. And the day before, he went to practice to another golf course. This is yet another example of not coming together as a team.

Here is a (sadly) truncated clip of Chamblee discussing Mickelson.

Gary Van Sickle also took Mickelson to task, saying the press conference summed up why the USA keeps losing, though Van Sickle does acknowledge Watson's "questionable pairings" and the Captain's likening Saturday to actors who hadn't “acted well enough to earn the standing ovation at the end.”

Phil Mickelson should know that. He did know that. He knew exactly what he was saying and what he was doing.

Tom Watson’s team lost the Ryder Cup but he didn’t break The Code. Phil Mickelson did. With no code, there’s no team anymore. Maybe the Americans aren’t really a team. Maybe they’re not at all like the close-knit band of brothers they battle every two years.

And maybe it’s time to reconsider what other element the Americans’ last eight Ryder Cup losses had in common.

Phil Mickelson.

Strege with Johnny Miller’s remarks that captain’s don’t matter much, but revealing Tweets from Jason Dufner and Billy Horschel that would imply players feel differently. All are on the Azinger bandwagon.

Alistair Tait and Alex Miceli's report on the presser included this on PGA of America president Ted Bishop's reaction.

“It was disappointing to hear some of the things said in the press conference, we were a team all week,” Bishop said. “There is no set winning formula, except the players playing better on the golf course.”

Michael Collins and Bob Harig found the entire thing bizarre, in this fun video roundup of the Phil-Watson squabble.

I translated for GolfDigest.com what they said and what they meant courtesy of a secret algorithm.