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Books
  • 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 Golf Book: Twenty Years of the Players, Shots, and Moments That Changed the Game
    The Golf Book: Twenty Years of the Players, Shots, and Moments That Changed the Game
    by Chris Millard
  • 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

Good players have the power to think while they are competing. Most golfers are not thinking even when they believe they are. They are only worrying. HARVEY PENICK

 

    

Thursday
Dec182014

If Golf Is Still An Olympic Sport In 2024 & The U.S. Hosts...

...then Los Angeles is the leader in the clubhouse!

I know, I know, golf has to survive its appearances in 2016 and 2020, but as the USOC announced it was moving forward with a bid to host the 2024 in the United States for the first time since 1996, the four bidding host cities have made their initial presentations for what appears to be a decent shot at landing the Olympic Games.

Boston 2024 specified no golf course for the competition, but did suggest that Franklin Park was a potential venue for....equestrian and the pentathlon. Next.

The Washington D.C. pitch also does not commit to a course, but a proposed bill to revitalize a run-down waterfront with a new stadium would include beefing up Langston Golf Course, which could host the golf in the D.C. vision.

San Francisco's 2024 push
includes a commitment to Harding Park. The course hosts the 2025 Presidents Cup after it hosts the 2020 PGA Championship. Zzzzz...

And Los Angeles, which hosted games in 1932 and 1984, has Riviera Country Club as its golf venue according to Beth Harris. While the annual Northern Trust Open site is a shell of its former architectural self, it's still one of the elite courses on the PGA Tour and far superior to anything mentioned above.

So based on golf, and a host of other reasons in this Guardian assessment from Bryan Armen Graham, might as well give LA the nod now.

Wednesday
Dec172014

Will Normalizing Cuba Mean More Golf On The Island?

As the United States and Cuba move to officially "normalize" relations, developers will understandably be looked to for their thoughts on bringing resort golf back to the country where there were once two Donald Ross courses.

But before everyone gets excited about the Bandons of the Caribbean, Golfweek's Bradley Klein says it'll take a while to get the infrastructure up to modern standards before any serious development takes place.

The one hopeful sign of development, now more than 15 years old, is Varadero Golf Club, which was designed by Canadian Les Furber. It was home to the European Challenge Tour Grand Finals in 1999 and 2000.

Varadero sits on a peninsula that is pinched by Cardenas Bay to the south and open waters to the north. It's land that would be the envy of any course architect, only 90 miles east of Havana. But access roads to Varadero still betray considerable neglect. They also reveal that the obstacle to development of such dramatic land is basic infrastructure – mainly highways and utilities. Eventually that will come. And when it does, the coastal region will become a haven for luxury-goers, mainly from Latin America – the same folks who have been parking their surplus capital and Rolls Royces in Miami.

Wednesday
Dec172014

This Explains Why Tiger's Going Into The Restaurant Business...

SI's Michael Bamberger files a story subtitled "How Tiger's Brand Remains Lucrative" and considers how business off the course remains strong for Woods.

If I were his accountant I'd strongly recommend against starting a restaurant (they're a very tricky investment!), but Bamberger says that the upcoming venture strikes at one of Tiger's core values: hating when others make money off of his fame. You know, writers, caddies, teachers, broadcasters and even bars.

Woods’s website shows five courses in various stages of construction where he is involved as a designer. A massive bar and restaurant near his South Florida home called the Woods Jupiter is expected to open in 2015. It might be hard to imagine Woods as a backslapping restaurateur in the tradition of Mickey Mantle, but people who know him say he got tired of filling the Dirty Martini in Palm Beach Gardens and getting nothing out of it. When he arrives at the Martini, his presence gets tweeted out and within an hour the bar is packed by gawkers and drinkers, credit cards in hand.

Wednesday
Dec172014

Video: Clarkie Joins The Bryan Brothers At Pinehurst

A golf shot trickster who is a little over a year removed from having a tumor removed and is now cancer free, Clarkie Carroll joined up with the Bryan Brothers on a cloudy Pinehurst day to hit some shots. I could do without the music but otherwise good stuff...

Wednesday
Dec172014

Good (But Depressing) Read: The Economist On State Of Golf

2014 was the year editors across the country commissioned with alarming and now annoying regularity, a "what's wrong with golf" feature that covers consistent ground: the economy, takes too long, course closures, millennials, etc...

This December, 2014 story by The Economist does not actually cover much new ground but is the most artfully crafted and intelligent recounting of all the issues and potential bright spots. I'd like to mention the author's name, but the publication inexplicably leaves it off this website version. (If a print subscriber can pass along the name, it'd be greatly appreciated.)

A sampling...

Society today is not as friendly to golf as it once was. Men who disappear on Saturdays and palm off child-rearing to their wives have more to worry about than a high handicap. Some clever golf gluttons have tried to interest their kids in golf, in order to justify a weekend round while still getting parental points, but fathers these days are more likely to be taking their children to various sporting activities than taking part in their own. Mr Owens at the Trenton Street Golf Course thinks that the high rate of divorce across America also keeps men from golf, because weekends are when they get to see the children.

Bringing in and retaining players below the age of 45 is more difficult than at any time in living memory. Millennials in America expect, if not instant gratification, at least near-term rewards. Golf’s pay-offs can feel elusive. Dan Wald of the Boston Consulting Group, who advises sports businesses, says that golf video games actually decrease the chance of getting a young person to play golf, because hitting a ball smoothly down a real fairway is so much harder than on a virtual one. Golf has more competition for people’s leisure time than ever before.

Wednesday
Dec172014

Geoff Ogilvy's Perfect Course...

He does not name an existing perfect course but I'm pretty sure North Berwick would be qualify based on the criteria if not for the weather.

A couple of highlights from his piece written with Brendan James and posted at Golf Australia's site, starting with this, which ought to irk the folks at some of the world's elite courses who think they've kept their courses up with the times.

For me then, the perfect course is probably a combination of all the best features of, say, the top courses on the rankings. Ideally, I’d amalgamate the common attributes of Pine Valley, Oakmont, the Old Course, Shinnecock Hills, Royal Melbourne, The National Golf Links, Augusta National and Cypress Point.

With one or two exceptions, these courses are not generally that difficult until the weather turns nasty or the pins are placed
in really tough spots. That makes them – again generally – playable for golfers of all standards.

There’s width to the fairways, and without any real difficulty found around the greens. Everybody can have fun.

Fun … that’s important. What the top professionals find difficult, the average amateur finds relatively easy. In other words, the further the average guy gets from the hole, the harder golf gets. For the pros, the game gets harder the closer we get to the hole, generally anyway.

As for the atmosphere...

My perfect course will also be part of a welcoming and friendly environment. There will be no cart girls, but there will be a Sunningdale-type halfway house where sausage sandwiches will be available. There will be a small range where you can hit a few 5-irons before you wander to the 1st tee, carrying your own bag. At the end of the round, you will be able to get your own car from the carpark and you will be able to walk around with your dog on a leash if you so wish. I don’t know why we don’t do that in Australia.

In other words, on my perfect course there will be no wasted manpower, no wasted energy and no wasted money.

Speaking of which, my perfect course will be playable with a half-set of clubs. Don’t get me wrong though, I want to be able to go out with my 14 clubs and have a great time. But I also want to be able to play in three hours with four clubs and have just as much fun. My perfect course will cater to whatever version of golf you want to play.

I'd concur, except for the leash. Let the hounds roam!

Tuesday
Dec162014

America's Ryder Cup Effort Lacks An Overpaid Leader!

I certainly get the point of Alex Miceli's chat with Jay Bilas this fall regarding America's pitiful Ryder Cup performances (thanks reader Paul), as Bilas points to USA basketball as a model. In particular, the appointment of a leader to run USA Basketball in the form of Jerry Colangelo.

The PGA of America lacks such an infrastructure with its Ryder Cup. With Richard Hills, managing director of Ryder Cup Europe, the U.S. opponents have such an undisputed leader.

Hopefully for American interests, after the PGA’s proposed task-force meetings, Ryder Cup officials will get down to the fundamental question: Who is our leader?

Don't we have enough already?

Tuesday
Dec162014

Tiger's Still Battling Flu Symptoms As He Opens First Design

Tiger Woods finally opened a new course after many false starts and stops, yet the writers invited to attend could not look past the state of Woods's health.

Bob Harig for ESPN.com:

Woods began the day by giving a clinic on the driving range and acknowledging it was the first time he had hit balls since Dec. 7, during the final round of the Hero World Challenge. That weekend, Woods was ill and he said he still has a form of the flu that plagued him then.

"I've been a little under the weather and haven't touched a club since last week," said Woods, who figured he has lost 15 pounds. He said doctors told him his lingering illness is simply a bad case of the flu.

Steve DiMeglio filing for USA Today noted the long-time-coming aspect for Woods Design, finally fulfilled at Diamante in Cabo San Lucas.

"We knew this day would come," Woods said.

Others had doubts.

Three previous projects by Woods – in Baja Mexico, Dubai and North Carolina – were upended by the economy or developer problems with finances.

Then Hurricane Odile provided another obstacle and pushed back the opening back six weeks. Finally the day arrived.

"You always want to have a first some time," Woods said.

Ron Green Jr. in his Global Golf Post write-up says the course is pretty private but may have some lodging to help folks get access at some point.

Diamante, just a short drive from the popular downtown area in Cabo San Lucas, is a private resort community perched on the edge of the Pacific. Woods has a house at Diamante which limits golf to property owners and guests who rent within the resort. Plans are under way to add a small number of hotels within the resort in the near future.

Golf.com updated its gallery with some Tweeted grand opening photos, but otherwise the images coming out of Cabo showed very little of the course.

Green Jr. ran the Tiger Woods Twitter account and shared some images, as did others. A few highlights, starting with this scene of the first tee and crowd.

The 7th holes plays through some dunes or faux dunes and looks interesting. 


The entertainment dressed as OB stakes in honor of the new course.

Great to see Tiger interacting with the media for a few holes. A good time was no doubt had by all who were invited.

 

Tuesday
Dec162014

Brad Fritsch Cruises To Web.com Tour Q-School Win

I'm still sentimental for Q-School in December and at least the Web.com Tour Q-School gives us a sneak peak into the future, though it was a PGA Tour player from 2014 who dominated after finishing 151st on the ResetCup Points List.

Kevin Prise with the story of Brad Fritsch's dominant performance after deciding late to play (with some status already secured) and missing an important family event.

Perhaps the only negative of Fritsch’s week was that he had to miss the wedding of his brother Stephen, who got married Saturday in Ottawa.

“Unfortunately I had to miss, but this was my job for next year on the line, so I figured I had to come here,” said Fritsch. “I talked to him (Saturday) morning beforehand; I just congratulated him and apologized for not being able to be there, but he knows what the deal is.”

Here is the full PGATour.com breakdown of qualifiers and their status for the Web.com Tour. Notables include runner up Andrew Landry, Ted Purdy, Brock Mackenzie, NCAA Individual Champion Cameron Wilson and Pepperdine great Jeff Gove.

Tuesday
Dec162014

Oh Dear Video: Bubba's Christmas Vision For His Fans

Not many things leave me speechless as nearly a decade of blogging has exposed my precious to eyes to all sorts of madness, but Bubba Watson's new Christmas video has left me speechless. As it did my colleague Alex Myers, who kindly didn't know what to make of it.

Part bad dream, part nightmare, we get a glimpse of Bubba's solo career post-Golf Boys (if they've disbanded...Hallelujah!). Uh, enjoy. Or analyze. Or page Dr. Freud. Take your pick...

Tuesday
Dec162014

Search For Rory's Lost BBC Award Begins

The shock phase has flown right by the grieving stage to the all important nationality phase, reports Harriet Crawford in the wake of Rory McIlroy's lost BBC Sports Personality Of The Year Award.

Crawford writes:

Matt Jones, one of the teaching professionals at Lough Erne Golf Club, did not think nationality was to blame for McIlroy's second place: "I'm English myself living over here and I don't think it was down to him being from Northern Ireland that stopped him winning."

But he did decide he is more Irish than British.

In the buried lede of the year...Peter Millar lives!

Peter Millar, a member of Holywood Golf Club, said that McIlroy could still win in the future.

"I just don't know why he didn't win over people more. But he is more focused on playing golf than winning personality prizes - I suppose it would be another nice thing to win but he has plenty of opportunities to win; he's young."

Monday
Dec152014

Phil Fired Up His Jet In The Name Of America's Ryder Cup Future

Let's face it, 99% of the world couldn't care less about the Ryder Cup Task Force's findings. What we really want to know? Who showed, who phoned it in and who complained about the sliders.

Brian Biggane talked to Jim Furyk for a Palm Beach Post item and we at least learned that Phil is serious about the Task Force. (I'm just assuming he flew in his jet. Big limb...)

Furyk, 44, made the drive of four-plus hours both from and back to his home in Ponte Vedra Beach, near Jacksonville, for the occasion. He said others present included Phil Mickelson, who made the trip from his home in San Diego; Tiger Woods, Raymond Floyd, PGA of America executives Derek Sprague and Pete Bevacqua. Rickie Fowler, on vacation in the Bahamas, participated by phone as did Steve Stricker, who was in Naples, and Davis Love, in Orlando.

And we also learn who gets the fun task of putting all of these egos under one roof...or on the conference call. Who else?

Furyk said Julius Mason, the Senior Director of Communications and Media Relations for the PGA of America, has everyone’s schedule and is working to arrange the group’s next meeting. He said that may happen at Torrey Pines in early February, where Woods, Mickelson and others typically begin their season.

Monday
Dec152014

No More Mom Jeans: Tiger Makes Houston Design Stop

Jenny Dial Creech reports from Houston on Tiger's latest construction visit at Blaketree National, where the principle developer still goes with the sweater over the shoulders look while Tiger sheds his mom jeans to help with fuel economy for a Nike rain or track suit motif. Who said he wouldn't break new ground in the design world?

While this private project is for the beautiful people, at least we know it will set a good example in at least one way: a par-3 course aimed at the kids.

"One of the neatest things to me is the little playground. I grew up on a par-3 course, and the longest hole out there was maybe 120 yards. I remember hitting driver, 7-iron on those holes because I couldn't get there.

"Playing a golf course like this is so much fun. If you listen to the players who have had a chance to play Augusta, one of the things they talk about is the par-3 course and how neat that is. There are little hidden gems. That, to me, will be fun for all levels. You'll have the kids play, you can have adults play and have a blast and play multiple times."

Tiger touched on his game and modern carry distances.

"The big guys, ... their number is 320 in the air. The game has changed a lot. In 1996, I was the second longest guy behind Daly and I averaged 296. To be in the top 15 on the tour, you have to average over 300 yards. The game has changed dramatically and the courses have gotten so much longer. 7,500-yard golf courses seem short to us. I carried a ball 323. To me that's exciting because I haven't had that in years.

He also mentioned the release patterns, but expanded on why his short game is so bad.

"I am very excited about my game. Except for my short game, that's a bit of a mess. I was caught in between two techniques and so my release pattern is different. My bunker game got infinitely better, whereas my pitch game got worse.

"That will take some time to iron things out, but I know from about 40 yards out and on, my game got a lot better. So I need to work on the other stuff with my new release pattern."

Monday
Dec152014

Michael Breed Moves Academy To Trump Ferry Point

The host of The Golf Fix is moving his namesake golf academy to Trump Ferry Point, adding a little more intrigue to the much-anticipated Jack Nicklaus-designed public facility opening in late spring 2015.

Luke Kerr-Dineen reports:

Michael Breed added, "I'm honored to partner with the Trump Organization on this incredible opportunity to bring my academy to a world-class facility located just minutes outside of Manhattan. Trump Golf Links at Ferry Point is truly an unbelievable course and I'm confident we will experience great success."

Most recently Michael was the Director of Instruction at the Michael Breed Golf Academy previously located at the Manhattan Woods Golf Club in West Nyack, NY. Formerly, Michael was the Head Golf Professional at Sunningdale Country Club for 12 years from 2001 -- 2012. His experience includes five years as the Head Golf Professional at Birchwood Country Club and Assistant Professional positions at Deepdale Golf Club and Augusta National Golf Club.

More importantly, will this get The Donald on The Fix?

Monday
Dec152014

Royal & Ancient Captain's Daughter Killed In Sydney Siege

According to Liz Burke and Emma Reynolds reporting from Sydney, one of the two hostages killed in the siege on a cafe where they'd been held hostage was barrister Katrina Dawson, mother of three.

Dawson is the daughter of recently-selected Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews Captain Sandy Dawson. Deepest condolensces to Mr. Dawson and family in this truly horrific time.

According to Sharri Markson in The Australian, "Dawson had been having coffee with a colleague from Eight Selborne, a friend who is understand to be about midway through her pregnancy."

Sunday
Dec142014

Rory's Grow-The-Game Award Goes To A Billboard Driver

Talking to The Guardian's Ewan Murray about the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award that had yet to be handed out, Rory McIlroy saw his likely win as a chance to reset the golf-is-for-old-people discussion.

Talking about his hopes for winning for a golf world (apparently) clamoring for its first BBC award since Faldo in 1989...

“So it’s understandable, but at the same time it would be a great thing for golf if I was to win. It would transcend across all sports and not just stick to the golf community.

“It could be an inspiration to young kids to pick up a set of golf clubs and go and play. It would be a huge honour for me but I think it would be a pretty big thing for golf.”

McIlroy's hopes for the award, voted on by the public, were dashed as Professional Billboard Driver Lewis Hamilton was named BBC Sports Personality of the Year (SPOTY). Hamilton won by 86,000 votes in a 620,932 vote poll, so the British public is not as smitten with young McIlroy as the various scribes, players and Twitterers who took to social media to condemn the vote. 


However, continuing the driver theme, the people voted European Ryder Cup Captain Paul McGinley Coach of the Year.

And if it's any consolation for Rory, the Daily Mail said you looked handsome as you walked the red carpet.

Sunday
Dec142014

Johnny: Ryder Cup Task Force "Grasping At Straws"

Adam Schupak quotes PNC Father/Son participant Johnny Miller on a variety of topics, including Johnny's view that Tiger has "one great fight left" in him.

There was this on the Ryder Cup task force Task Force "Task Force":

“They are definitely grasping at straws. You have to sort of admit that Europe is a better team…Medinah could’ve turned it around. I mean, I wanted to throw up for about a week. We had that Ryder Cup. It was just brutal to see that happen. That probably still haunts guys like Stricker, Tiger and Furyk."

Rex Hoggard spoke to Tom Lehman about the group's recent conference call and you'll be glad to know that Tiger, Phil and Ray Floyd not only didn't snooze off, they "took charge." Merica!

“Tiger took charge. Raymond took charge, Phil took charge. We have guys who are very confident, very smart and sure of themselves. Somebody is going to step up and be the leader of this thing and that’s what we need,” said Love, the 2012 captain.

“I can tell you that Tiger, Furyk and Stricker have been blowing my phone up since the meeting. It’s not like we had a meeting and said we’ll see you again in February. Everybody is excited and engaged.”

Sunday
Dec142014

Insanity Redefined: Aus PGA Uses Same Playoff Hole 7 Times

I understand that it's a cliché to wheel out the "definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result" line.

But you'll recall the difficult par-4 18th hole was used four agonizingly dull times last month to decide the Race To The CME Globe, ultimately captured by Lydia Ko.

But the Australian PGA topped that with a nightmarish seven trips over the dreary 18th at Royal Pines.

Greg Chalmers ultimately prevailed over Adam Scott (and Wade Ormsby who bowed out after three times down 18).

I understand that tournament directors decide to play the finishing hole over and over again because of the crowd having gathered and the corporate tents are likely to be pleased to have a playoff come to them. But way too many courses finish on long, boring par-4s that rarely involve risk-reward situations that separate elite players from the merely great.

So please, stop this new tradition now before anyone has to sit through such a playoff again.

Seven times!

Saturday
Dec132014

Review: The Fox Sports Golf Debut

There must have been a reason Joe Buck opened Fox Sports' first golf telecast with an apology and a "we're not worthy" tribute to CBS, NBC and Golf Channel's production teams. Perhaps someone saw their practice runs and knew day one televising golf was going to be rough around the edges. And it was rough but not without promising signs.

Buck got off to a rough start trying too hard to be funny while Norman was more focused on telling the golf story, with only occasional discussions of himself (Click to enlarge)Fox kicked off their foray into golf with a four-hour Franklin Templeton Shootout telecast featuring a few moments of fresh twists on golf broadcasting and one compelling exchange thanks to cameraman bullying from Billy Horschel and Ian Poulter toward (I wrote about for this for The Loop). Mostly though, the telecast glitches reinforced the well-oiled nature of the incumbent golf networks, with way too many jarring cuts, announcer over-talking (especially when audio engineers picked up conversations) and a rough start for lead man Joe Buck.

Pretty much everything dreaded when USGA moved its championships to Fox Sports was evident in the initial telecast. Way too much Fox bringing attention to themselves and not enough golf. Cheesy attempts at hipster status (Buck declaring "There's some Fox attitude!" the first time rock and roll was used to commercial). And dated looking graphics employing the chunky Fox font while the Fox logo was on screen at all times yet inexplicably not given a watermark finish. (Branding baby!)

One of a few slightly elevated rear view shots that helped show off the shot players faced. Note the upper right Fox logo. (Click to enlarge)The on-screen logo blends in to a stadium setting but on a golf course? Not so much. And remember, every USGA event highlight of the next 12 years will have that logo. Pretty garrish.

The telecast also displayed glimpses of everything golf fans could hope for with the naming of Mark Loomis as coordinating producer: some fresh efforts to use drones for filming holes more tactfully (not just flying down the center as fast as possible), some excellent rear camera views to better show off course architecture, and most intriguing of all,"Fox Labs" attempts to show green contours and hole locations better.

The all-male announce team, without Holly Sonders, who starts in 2015, had a mixed day. The guys were clearly amped up early on, with nearly everyone talking too much without actually saying anything. They talked over player-caddy or player-player chats, and tried too hard to let you know they were all bonded buddies having a great time. Brad Faxon, who settled in as the day went on, was the worst over-talking culprit while Buck was almost relentless in his attempts at coolness. I'm a huge Buck fan on baseball, but his style seemed out of his element while it was Greg Norman, prone-to-windbaggery and self promotion, who mostly came off more focused on telling the tournament story instead of making the telecast about Fox's debut. (Well, there was the completely unnecessary review of that morning's 5K run for the Shootout's cause, which Norman hosted.)

Spotters were in a camera shot, not the first time cameras were obstructed by people (Click to enlarge)Steve Flesch had a strong start at the 16th hole announcer, with a pleasant style reminscent of Mark Rolfing or Gary Koch. Scott McCarron was not offensive but also not much of a presence as an on-course reporter the way Maltbie or a Pepper can raise the bar, and instructor E.A. Tischler seemed in over his head (or perhaps he was announcing from two feet under water?). Still, his instruction content was short-and-sweet compared to the bizarre call to compare Faxon and Norman's short games which then led to more lame banter for the next half hour when players were hitting wedge shots.

Faxon also had a tendency to talk quietly at times, so when he said Justin Leonard was married to Amanda with four children, it sounded like Justin Leonard was married to a man with four children. Still, talking too much is a minor offense, whereas Buck just couldn't help himself with lame jokes, attempts at coolness or suggestions that anyone besides this reviewer or friends and family were paying attention:

- "Quit squeezing me Greg" after they showed Ultimate Fighters which then led to Greg praising how chiseled the guys were

- "We're going to take a break, gather our thoughts, loosen our ties and get ready for the back nine in Naples" even though they came back on camera had not loosened their ties

Fox Labs produced this green circling the hole to some effect (Click to enlarge)- Suggesting Twitter had erupted ala the Kardashian rear-end photo when he said David Fay was the USGA Executive Director, not the former. I could find no such Tweets, which likely means the Far Hills red phone rang. Or worse, there was an in-person production truck visit.

Former Executive Director Fay came in handy with ruling situations, particularly on the 17th hole dispute when the entire team shined. Ironically, because the group sounded like their adrenaline rush had worn off by hour three, they wisely zipped up to let the hard work of sound and camera folks do the storytelling. That silence only made Buck and Norman's post-shot comments stronger. There was a slightly sarcastic reference by Norman to Poulter as "sunshine," which told you all you needed to know about Norman's thoughts on Poulter's childish behavior (without embarrassing the lad). The 17th hole moment also proved Fox can handle the inevitable controversial situations that will arise at the USGA events they will cover.

On the production side, there were way too many jarring cuts from shot to shot without dissolves or wipes, a couple of incidents of people in shots who were not players (including two Fox spotters in case), and someone telling announcers the wrong information a few times (Norman as architect of the course gracefully corrected an initial declaration that they were headed to 10, while Buck had to mop up a declaration that they were headed to commercial break when they weren't).

A high-contrast look at the 18th green contours seemed to have potential but late day shadows dulled the effect (Click to enlarge)As promised, Loomis delivered several compelling shots with a gently rising shot that took you from behind ground level to 40-or-so feet above the golfer, allowing the viewer to take in the hole. Drone shots were also adeptly employed, captured by folks who wisely started low, then raised the elevation without rushing down the fairway. With the course's interesting design features and its architect in the booth, there was plenty to look at and analyze.

And finally, for "fresh and innovative" the "Fox Labs" unveiled a high contrast attempt to show green contours to minimal-but-promising effect when used on a green without corporate chalet shadows interfering. There was also a larger green circle around the cup to better show where the hole was located. All in all, both touches were just innovative enough to show promise.

But as expected, Fox has a long way to go before they can declare themselves at the level of the other networks. As Saturday's telecast reminded us, competence in golf broadcasting is underrated and freshness overrated when you're too often making the telecast about your network instead of the tournament at hand. Granted, I understand this was their historic first go and that was to be noted, but it's a Fox tendency to let you know they are the cooler network and in golf, there is no interest in cool. We just want to see golf and be enterained.

Friday
Dec122014

Trevino: “You can't name me a guy with a plus record that's playing the Ryder Cup right now.”

The PNC Father-Son starts Saturday and former major winners and their kids tee it up for the annual event where they also get to reminisce, misremember and gossip.

Lee Trevino had the recent Ryder Cup on his mind, reports Adam Schupak. He's not exactly touting the "body of work" from America's top players.

"You look statistically: Tiger (Woods, who did not play this year) has a minus record, Mickelson has a minus record. Furyk has got a (10-20-4) record. (10-20-4)! You see what I'm telling you? A (10-20-4) record. I know he's a hell of a player, but he's got a (10-20-4) record. He's a minus-10. (Trevino, on the other hand, sported a 17-7-6 mark.) You can't name me a guy with a plus record that's playing the Ryder Cup right now. (Jordan) Spieth has one now, and then (Patrick) Reed, yeah, he's got a 3-1, right? They're rookies. But you give me a veteran that's played in three or four Ryder Cups, and not one has a plus. You can't win that way. You cannot win."