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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
  • Men in Green
    Men in Green
    by Michael Bamberger
  • Unplayable Lies: (The Only Golf Book You'll Ever Need)
    Unplayable Lies: (The Only Golf Book You'll Ever Need)
    by Dan Jenkins
  • Professional Golf 2015: The Complete Media, Fan and Fantasy Guide
    Professional Golf 2015: The Complete Media, Fan and Fantasy Guide
    by Daniel Wexler
  • The Forbidden Game: Golf and the Chinese Dream
    The Forbidden Game: Golf and the Chinese Dream
    by Dan Washburn
  • 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
  • Unplayable Lies: (The Only Golf Book You'll Ever Need)
    Unplayable Lies: (The Only Golf Book You'll Ever Need)
    by Dan Jenkins

    Kindle Edition

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

Golf is a peculiar game of a peculiar people.  JOHN LOW


    

Tuesday
Apr212015

Strange Times: NY Times On China's Golf Crackdown

With Tiger Woods slated to announced his big Beijing design job on April 23rd, the recent stories out of China about golf crackdowns figure to make the wording of that announcement extra fun!

Thanks to all who sent Austin Ramzy's NY Times story on the crackdown, which leans quite a bit on the reporting and observations of Dan Washburn. (You can also listen to Dan on this episode of State of the Game.)

Dan Washburn, author of “The Forbidden Game: Golf and the Chinese Dream,” said the crackdown was not surprising given the game’s reputation in China as a capitalist pastime and the extent of Mr. Xi’s prolonged campaign against corruption, which has toppled senior party and military leaders.

“This is Xi Jinping’s China, and it’s clear he’s intent on making his mark,” Mr. Washburn said. “Everyone’s a potential target in this ongoing crackdown on corruption, and golf is a particularly easy and obvious one.”

Washburn penned this CNN piece during Masters week with more insights into this utterly bizarre situation that has the government shutting down courses and politicians, but also funding golf because of its place in the Olympic Games.

In Guangdong province, the birthplace of golf in modern China, an investigative team has been formed to crack down on officials who took part in any of nine golf-related activities. There's even a public hotline for reporting suspected golf violations.

Over the past decade, however, not much seemed like it could get in the way of golf's meteoric growth in China. While it's been illegal to build new golf courses in China since at least 2004, no other country has built more of them over the past decade -- not even close.

Beijing would say new construction is banned, while at the same time local governments would line their pockets with the proceeds from the boom. There didn't seem to be too many rules in all of this, but one was especially important: When building a golf course in China, don't call it a golf course. One massive project of note was known as "ecological restoration."

Washburn speaking in this embedded clip:

Monday
Apr202015

Sportscenter Anchor: "Golf telecasts...woefully behind the times"

SI's Richard Deitsch hosted a panel discussion with various sports-TV types about how to improve their product and ESPN Sportscenter anchor John Buccigross delivers a nice rant about golf on television.

Of course, he's airing a common gripe post-Masters about not getting to see all 18 holes of rounds by mega-stars, which is only slightly awkward since his network holds the rights and the folks at Augusta National work on one-year contracts. Though it's not like many disagree with him, especially since the digital offerings this year left a lot to be desired with the normally criticism-reducing Featured Groups.

Anyway, Buccigross on televised golf:


Golf telecasts are woefully behind the times and in need of a major overhaul. Shot tracer needs to be utilized on nearly every swing and way too much putting is showed. Also, every major should have 18-hole, four-round coverage. I can watch every Patrick Kane shift, every Marshawn Lynch carry or every Mike Trout at-bat in every game they play if I choose. I should be able to watch all of Tiger Woods shots at a major on my big, beautiful TV. If I have to shell out $29.99 to watch it I will pay it. Golf is concerned about growing the game yet they restrict access to their best golf courses and restrict access to its best players on television.

I can't watch Tiger Woods or Rory McIlroy play all 72 holes of a major live here in 2015?


We're only two weeks away from the first Fox Sports golf telecast from Olympic Club and while Fox producer Mark Loomis doesn't reveal much new in this interview with Craig Hill, I continue to think the Fox goal of better placing us in the view of the golfer confronted by the architect's canvas will force all network hands to think twice about camera locations.

A: A lot of times golf is covered from the green back to the tee, because that’s where your biggest cameras are. One of the things we’ve put some energy into is figuring out if we can give you a little better look at what the golfer is seeing. Kind of look from the tee toward the green.

I think we are trying to take advantage of some of the new technology … (such as) drones. Audio has always been a staple for Fox and how can we make the sounds of the golf course better.

You always kind of lose the audio on the green. … How can we get on the green and hear a little bit more about what’s going on?

The main focus is, how can we tell the story about what’s going on on the golf course better? Not just come up with cool tricks.

Q: But there will be cool tricks, right?

A: There is kind of an old saying: “There’s nothing new in television. It’s just people doing the same thing in a different way.” I think the answer to that is that we’ll take some of the technology that people have used over the years, like the tracer.

One of the things we’ve talked about is whenever you see a green on your TV it looks flat, whether it is or isn’t. So, how can we do different things to make the greens come to life so you see them the same way you would if you were standing on them?

If you want to call them cool tricks, that is true, but they are tricks for the sake of making the person at home feel like they are getting a better look at the golf course.

Monday
Apr202015

Video: Take That Phil, ASU Golfer Hits Over-The-Shoulder Shot

Nice spot by Golf News Net's Ryan Ballengee of Arizona State men's golfer Mathias Schjoelberg pulling off one I've never seen before, and one I'm pretty sure not many have even considered: over-the-shoulder.

I'm in awe at the handwork required to pull this off (link to Instagram posting in case embed stops working, as seems to happen a lot with Instagram):

Getting good at the shots I'll never need. #golf #golfer #asu #asugolf #sundevils

A video posted by Mathias Schjoelberg (@mathiasschjoelberg) on

And taking inspiration from former ASU golfer and former assistant coach Phil Mickelson, Schjoelberg also has the over the head shot in his repertoire:

Monday
Apr202015

Feherty Hopes Media Doesn't Follow Spieth's Every Move

In advance of his one-man show at the F.M. Kirby Center in Wilkes-Barre, David Feherty talked to Bill O’Boyle about losing one of his crowns, the Masters and his fear the media will do to Jordan Spieth what it apparently did to his man Tiger.

O'Boyle writes:

Feherty said he hopes the media won’t follow Spieth’s every move. He said Spieth and Rory McIlroy are golf’s “two kids on white horses.”

Feherty said Woods played well at The Masters and, at times, not so well — not Tigeresque. And Woods also seemed, well, different than before.

“For a while there I wondered who he was and why this guy was wearing Tiger Woods’ clothes,” Feherty said.

“Tiger has been so incredible for the game of golf. He has generated so much interest and money for golf. And I still believe that when Tiger does play like Tiger, nobody else can win.”

Monday
Apr202015

We Have Visual ID: Chambers Bay Appears Tan, Rested, Ready!

The mystery surrounding this year's U.S. Open site only adds to the next major's intrigue, but it can't hurt to start seeing some views of the course. It's not like we're giving away the ending.

Even if the images below sting a bit seeing the rail line that won't be dropping spectators off as had been hoped, there are tents going up so there's no going back now!

More interesting is seeing how lean the course looks even after some nice springtime storms. From Pierce County's Twitter feed:

And this retweet from Pierce County as well:

Sunday
Apr192015

Video: Sneak Preview Of St. Andrews With Gordon McKie

Thanks to reader Brian for Anna Whiteley's Golfing World chat with Old Course greenkeeper Gordon McKie. Because who isn't ready to get in the mood for The Open at St. Andrews?

Watching this, two things came to mind: McKie and crew appear to have the Old Course appears in amazing condition already (59 watch!), and what cool audio of Jack Nicklaus at the very end talking about winning at the Old Course (and throwing on a coat for the trophy ceremony to boot). There's also some nice aerial stuff from 2010 interspersed.

Because it's never too early to get up for The Open at St. Andrews...

Sunday
Apr192015

Tom Watson Thinks Next Masters May Be His Last

He may not be the best communicator in Ryder Cup captaincy history, but Tom Watson knows class and quietly went about his Masters appearance this year in deference to Ben Crenshaw. And now the 65-year-old, who opened in fine fashion before missing the cut (but made the weekend at this year's RBC Heritage), is hinting that the 2016 Masters may be his last.

Will Gray reports for GolfChannel.com:

"The distance is ebbing away in this old body," he said. "That's something I have to deal with and understand there's going to be a time when I have to hang it up ... The handwriting is on the wall as far as me competing out here against the kids."

Sunday
Apr192015

United Airlines Adds Denver-To-North Bend Flights

In the First World News department...

Golf Blot Staff, one of the game's promising young reporters, says United Airlines will begin a July to October twice weekly flight from its hub at Denver International to North Bend Airport, 45 minutes or so from Bandon Dunes Golf Resort.

Sunday
Apr192015

"That was four-and-a-half years of frustration in that celebration"

You don't normally associate emotional outbursts with Jim Furyk, but it all came pouring out for the veteran after sinking a playoff putt to win in Hilton Head.

Jason Sobel on Furyk's win over Kevin Kisner in the RBC Heritage at Harbour Town.

"That was four-and-a-half years of frustration in that celebration," he admitted.

He admitted something else, too.

He said that his positive spin and unique perspective in the face of adversity weren't so much the byproducts of a sunny disposition -- or at least a keen sense of mental fortitude. The truth is, he simply didn't show his frustration, because that's not in his nature.

"I'm just not real good at sharing my emotions," Furyk said. "I'm good at definitely hiding it. And I was frustrated. I was getting to the point where losing hurts a lot more than winning feels good. I was starting to believe that."

The winning putt from PGA Tour Entertainment:



And as SkratchTV's Tweet noted, it was a premature celebration born out of sheer confidence in his putt or in the Harbour Town grounds crew in producing a pristine surface.

For the Savannah readership, we apologize that you had to miss the putt to get news of all clear on the thunderstorm front, as Deadspin notes (with video of the offending cut-in).

Furyk's entire post-round press conference.

The SI/golf.com gang kicked the topic of Furyk's legacy around in this week's Confidential. This from Michael Bamberger was interesting...easy there on multiple captaincies!

As the last of the independents, although Spieth does things his own way, too. Jim has used intelligence as much as anything to survive all these years. He'll likely finish in the Hall of Fame, and, like DL3 before him, he'll likely captain multiple RC teams. He's not going anywhere. He's a lifer.

Sunday
Apr192015

Video: Sei Young Kim Holes Out To Win

Great stuff from the LPGA's Saturday night finish LOTTE Championship finish: Sei Young Kim drains a long pitch at the end of regulation to force a playoff with Inbee Park, then holes her approach in the playoff. And because the hole plays straight into the sun, doesn't even know it. The AP story from Hawaii.


Friday
Apr172015

Euro Tour Selects Man From Designer Eyewear Ad As Next CEO

It’s a full-fledged, undeniable Friday news dump, which is never encouraging. But the European Tour board found their replacement for the retiring George O’Grady in a Canadian known for orchestrating big TV deals.

Keith Pelley's biography is noticeably light on golf accomplishments, though that’s not always a bad thing. Particularly if he listens to the many golf-aficionados in the organization assembled by O'Grady and who, against most odds, are bringing the European Tour to the Gullane's and Royal County Down's of the world.

Charley Lemay at Golf Magic has the story and the image from a Warby Parker ad. Or is it Lens Crafters?

For Immediate Release:

Keith Pelley unveiled as new Chief Executive of The European Tour
 
The Board of the PGA European Tour is pleased to announce the appointment of Keith Pelley as its new Chief Executive Officer, effective this summer. This follows the announcement in November 2014 that George O’Grady would be stepping down from the role.

Keith has enjoyed an extensive and highly successful career in the worlds of sport and media.  He is currently President of Rogers Media, a media conglomerate in Canada, with responsibility for all lines of the media business, including 51 radio stations, 56 publications, 12 national TV stations plus 42 local stations, 300 digital properties as well as the Toronto Blue Jays, Canada’s only Major League Baseball team.

While at Rogers, Keith helped orchestrate the largest sports rights deal in Canadian history, the first of its kind worldwide, with the acquisition of a $5.2 billion National Hockey League rights deal for 12 years to include all media platforms.

Prior to this, Keith was President of Canada’s Olympic Broadcast Media Consortium where he created and led the media consortium for all broadcast rights holders for the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games, with responsibility for all production, programming, marketing, sales and sponsorship in the run up to and during the Games. Earlier in his career he was CEO of the Canadian Football League’s Toronto Argonauts, during which the team won the championship title in his first year of leadership.

Keith has a deep understanding of the professional athlete, having worked with them for over 30 years across several major sports including the National Football League, National Hockey League, Major League Baseball and the Canadian Football League.

This, combined with his extensive experience in rights management and negotiations; sponsorship creation; television production; marketing; communications; brand development and event management, made Keith the unanimous choice of the Board’s Nominations Committee.

David Williams, Chairman of The European Tour commented: “I am delighted to welcome Keith Pelley to The European Tour as our new Chief Executive.  Keith’s proven track record, extensive experience and outstanding leadership skills in both sport and media will be invaluable as we continue to further develop our strategy.
“Throughout the interview process, it was clear that Keith has an unwavering passion for golf as well as a strong grasp of the challenges and opportunities facing not only The European Tour, but the wider game of golf as a whole.  He knows the game, respects its history and I have no doubt he will bring an innovative approach to the development of The European Tour on the global stage.

“On behalf of the Board I would again like to thank George O'Grady for his extraordinary contribution to The European Tour and professional golf over the last 40 years and we are delighted that he will undertake the role of President of International Relations, ensuring The European Tour will continue to benefit from his knowledge and experience.”

Keith Pelley said:  “I am very honoured to be joining The European Tour as its new CEO at an exciting stage in its development.  The Tour already has a highly regarded reputation and I look forward to building on this using my previous experience in both media and sports to ensure it remains at forefront of the game across the globe.

“Throughout my career in North America, it has been a privilege to work with the best sports organisations, athletes, and media assets.  I am excited to build on these experiences on the international stage.”
George O’Grady, who will continue in the role of Chief Executive until Keith takes office officially, said: “I look forward to welcoming Keith to The European Tour and ensuring a smooth transition as I continue to develop my new role. I am certain that Keith will bring a fresh and business-focused perspective to the Tour.”

Thomas Bjørn, Chairman of The European Tour’s Tournament Committee said: “On behalf of all the players on The European Tour, I am delighted to welcome Keith Pelley as our new Chief Executive. Having spoken to him at length, I know the passion and commitment he will bring to the role as the Tour moves forward. You only need to look at what he has achieved in sports and business to date to see that his record speaks for itself.
“I would also like to place on record how impressed I have been with the process put in place by the Board of The European Tour to select our new Chief Executive. The Nominations Committee, led by chair David Jones, and consisting of David Williams, Damon Buffini, Chris Hanell and Robert Lee, handled the process in a professional and exemplary fashion and shows precisely the trust the players have in the Board.”

Thursday
Apr162015

Masters Putts Made: Jordan 410 Feet, Rory 340 Feet

With the soft launch this year of Masters.com's "Track" feature we were treated to a ShotLink-light system that looked great and allowed us to track players when television wasn't showing them. Or, to see what distances they had off of tees, into greens or on the greens.

While the system did not provide ShotLink-type numbers or hole scatter charts, there was this enterprising use of the data on distances by Brian Keogh at the Irish Golf Desk in considering the issues Rory McIlroy faces in adapting to Augusta National's greens.

McIlroy, in contrast, totalled 86 feet, 71 feet, 101 feet and 82 feet of putts. In other words, he holed 340 feet worth of putts compared to 410 feet for Spieth.

It’s not that the Holywood star putted poorly but any means but while he holed just nine putts beyond eight feet for the week, Spieth holed 16. That's got little to do with McIlroy's overly conservative strategy in a week when soft conditions begged for his usual attacking style.

Thursday
Apr162015

We Are Golf Lobbies For Inclusion In Health Investment Act

Mike Stachura of GolfDigest.com with the specifics of the annual descending upon Washington by various folks in the golf business to lobby the future lobbyists currently buying time in Congress.

This was an interesting little revelation:

The group sought to make inroads yesterday in a number of specific legislative areas. One interesting item is an effort to get golf included as part of the proposed PHIT (“Personal Health Investment Today”) Act. This legislation would allow the use of pre-tax health spending account funds for “physical activity expenses.” Currently, golf is specifically excluded from the legislation.

Making that change requires adjusting some lawmaker’s perspectives about what golf’s impact is on the nation’s economy. We Are Golf cites a direct economic impact of golf of $68.8 billion and nearly two million jobs. Mona also estimates a charitable impact of nearly $4 billion. He notes the PGA Tour gets more attention for its contributions, but it’s local one-day events at golf courses that constitute the vast majority of those dollars. He estimates there may be as many as 144,000 charity golf events annually.

You can read about the PHIT Act here.

Thursday
Apr162015

Fox Sports Happy To Reach Non-Millennials, Except On U-Verse

Greg Connors of the Buffalo News looks at Fox Sports' embrace of non-millennials as it begins covering golf on Fox Sports 1.

Because it seems any live event is better than a rerun, even if it's the U.S. Junior Amateur.

From Bill Wanger, executive vice president of research and programming for Fox Sports, on not being ashamed to attract the demographic dead to most over-35-year-olds.

The live events drive the viewership,” Wanger said, “so we’re going to have about 40 hours of coverage on Fox Sports 1 of just the U.S. Open. You’re talking about eight hours on Thursday and Friday, and all sorts of preview shows, so it’s really important to establish a good base for people to come and check out the channel. 

“And particularly golf, which is a unique audience. It’s a little bit older, more upscale, so it’s an opportunity for those folks to be able to see the network.”

Fox Sports acquired digital rights to the USGA events, as well as broadcast rights. Wanger said that in addition to streaming some of the TV broadcasts online, there will be three digital-only feeds available on Fox Sports Go and through USGA.com.

Awful Announcing's Matt Yoder noted this in analyzing the story:

Seeing Fox Sports 1 publicly yearning to attract golf’s older, upscale audience and have them visit the network is a long cry from the days of #The1ForFun.  The arranged marriage between the conservative golf audience and Fox Sports is one that will bear watching in June considering the golf world’s yearly reaction to Chris Berman.

One area of continued concern: the number of homes Fox Sports 1 reaches. As Awful Announcing noted earlier this week, the Fox-AT&T U-Verse standoff hasn't changed, meaning 4.5 million homes that have Fox Sports 1 are likely to see a darts rerun when USGA events are airing.

Fox's VP of Communications Dan Bell confirmed this when I reached out to Fox about the status of AT&T-Fox relations.

His statement:

“AT&T U-verse has determined it will forgo carriage of dozens of live sporting events on FOX Sports 1.  Unfortunately, U-Verse subscribers have already missed several events, and will miss many more including FOX Sports 1’s coverage of eight USGA championships, including rounds 1 and 2 of the US Open.  U-verse subscribers are encouraged to contact AT&T to request all FOX Sports 1 programming.”

As of February 2015, approximately 84.8 million households in the U.S. receive Fox Sports 1, while 94.3 million pay television households have ESPN, where the U.S. Open weekday coverage aired for 28 years.

Thursday
Apr162015

Video: Spectator Goes Into Lake For Hat, Face Plants In Turf

During the 2015 LOTTE Championship's second round, a completely tanked spectator recovers his hat from a lake but loses his beer can.

And gets a nice taste of the turf.

But he will always have Tom Abbott's call to remember the day he was drunk midday at an LPGA event.

The edited clip:

Deadspin posted a longer grab from the telecast.

Thursday
Apr162015

Living Icon Of The Brand: I Won The Tournament Of Life

Hamish McLachlan chats with Greg Norman about life as the living brand and winning the tournament of life for which they award a green sweater vest, I believe.

Anyway, I can't really do a full takedown of this one because Peter FitzSimons already did in the Sydney Morning Herald. Still, the interview is pretty special on many levels (thanks readers M and M for sending).

About fame:

GN: I’m comfortable with it. Sometimes when you walk into a room though, all you want is a little bit of peace and quiet, and it’s not there. And when you feel like that, you have to really check yourself, and change your mood. We are all human beings and sometimes the burden on us feels a little bit heavy, but at the end of the day I also realise — and this is something I’ve only noticed in the last six or seven years — that I am the living brand. So it doesn’t matter where you are, or how you are feeling, if somebody walks by you have to say “Hi, how are you doing?”

The burdens of living brandedness.

On Tiger, which veers into the surreal.

GN: I’d sit down and talk to him first and find out what is in his head. You need to understand all the pieces of the puzzle before you try and put the puzzle together. My natural response would be “Yes, of course I would”. I’m always willing to help friends; my Aussie friends have been told there is always an open door at my house. I always had that from a couple of great athletes, Jack Nicklaus and Raymond Floyd. Those guys were there for me whenever I was down and out. That’s why even when I see presidents of the United States getting hammered, I will pick up the phone, and just thank them for what they do to help keep the freedom of the world.

HM: An open line to the White House?

GN: I’m lucky in that regard.

Ahh...to be so lucky.

As for the Masters..

GN: Simple, I won the tournament of life at Augusta. I never won the green jacket, but I did win the tournament of life. Two really tough situations happened to me on that golf course, one with Larry Mize in ’87, and one with Nick Faldo in ’96. Two totally different situations, and as a result, two different emotional reactions within myself. I could have tried to bury both of them, and pretend that they never really bothered me. But whenever I’ve been asked about them, I’ve talked about them, I’ve never run away from them. To this day people talk to me about how well I held myself, which is why I say I won the tournament of life.

The Tournament of Life already has a theme song, with a little reworking of Tim Rice's chorus.

It's the Tournament of Life
And it moves us all
Through despair and hope when Larry Mize holes out
Through faith and love from Nick Faldo's hugs
Till we find our place
On the path unwinding unless Bill Clinton's walking on it
In the Tournament
The Tournament of Life

Thursday
Apr162015

USGA Ends U.S. Open Cell Phone Restriction

With fans able to bring their cell phones to the U.S. Open tournament days, the Masters is now the only event remaining where fans must leave devices behind.

Jack Broom of the Seattle Times reports on the change in policy and the long shuttle rides fans can expect for June's U.S. Open at Chambers Bay.

Mobile devices are to be less than seven inches long and must be kept silent, with calls made only at designated locations on the course. Texting and e-mailing will be allowed from anywhere on the course as long as play is not disrupted.

No photography will be permitted during the Thursday-Sunday tournament, but cameras and still photographs will be allowed during the Monday-Wednesday practice rounds.

The phone policy, more in keeping with the rules at PGA Tour events and other USGA tournaments, replaces a mobile-phone ban at previous U.S. Opens.

Thursday
Apr162015

NPR: California Golf Course Ethically Keeps Greens Green

Great to see NPR doing a story on a golf course that saves water: Sonari Glinton looks at Pelican Hill's efforts to capture every drop.

Pretty fascinating stuff:

Pelican Hill says it saves 50 million gallons of water each year — recycled water, mind you. There is something else that makes Pelican Hill special: rainwater.

"We want to capture every bit of rainfall we can. One, it's cheaper and two, it's a very high-quality water," says Sat Tamaribuchi, who helped design the course's conservation system.

Any rain that falls on the buildings, pavement and cart paths goes into one of the course reservoirs — which form the major water features on the course. And underground, there are giant cisterns that hold millions of gallons of runoff water from the course.

"As it turns out, because our cistern system and the lake systems are so large, ever since the work was done, no stormwater has left the golf course, essentially," Tamaribuchi says.

Golf pro Steve Friedlander admits that a golf course in a wealthy town like Newport Coast has a real incentive to save water, but he says it's not just a California problem.

"If you're in the golf industry and you're not a water quality and a management person, then what are you doing?" Friedlander asks.

Here's the full audio:

Thursday
Apr162015

Third Masters Question: Is Augusta National Too Green?

A few of you saw my comments on Morning Drive Monday about Augusta National being too green and wanted some elaboration.

Alright, here's what we know:

—It was a strong year for overseeding rye in Georgia. Multiple locals in Augusta, Aiken and Atlanta all said the weather was perfect for a robust rye grass harvest. Three different people tried to insist to me last week that there had to be some sort of synthetic turf mixed into the real turf. It was that deep and dense of a green.

—Augusta National has no shortage of resources, including chemical assistance to ensure great conditions.
Unfortunately, this also means that the turf is so well fed that even if cut tight by 8 am when the gates open, by the time the leaders go out late in the day on weekends the grass has had 8-12 hours to grow. Lake banks, greens and fairways slow down as the day goes. I couldn’t see mowers doing their thing because we are not allowed on the course before 8, but I’m guessing they were picking up a lot of clippings.

—The trend has been for green and making the course play long over all else in recent years to keep ANGC relevant in the face of distance advancements. This year was the deepest green yet, with the annual practice of mowing fairway grain toward the tees creating a huge contrast in looks between the first and ninth fairways. There was almost no roll. I was only at the second fairway a few times, but each time a drive headed to the bunker stopped short thanks to this cut. That makes the course play easier for today’s players, who have extraordinary ball control if they don't have to worry about what happens when the ball hits the ground.

—The second cut was true rough this year. It did not appear to be topped off daily and instead of creating problems, saved a lot of balls from going to more trouble. Spieth’s Thursday second shot on 15 immediately comes to mind as one ball that did not end up in a hazard because of the rough. And the second cut continues to strip the place of a certain elegance in spots that one tight cut would deliver.

—Sub-Air is overrated.
Everyone has that initial demo in mind from several years ago when a large puddle was sucked out of a green as cameras roll. The Sub-Air does a nice job at Augusta National of getting air to the roots, while the installation of a heating and cooling under the greens also plays a big part in the healthy greens there.

--The setup was balanced, interesting and more consistent. The committee seemed to have a better balance of fun and difficulty each day, or just a few inches of speed reduction in the greens helped. But instead of their recent tendency to set things up tough for the first three days, only to make Sunday the birdiefest day, they seemed to not be trying too hard to make the early rounds excessive. According to Doug Ferguson, Sunday's final round, produced the lowest scoring average (70.91) of any round in the history of the Masters. No wonder Phil was displeased with himself for not posting a few more roar-inducing birdies.

So what does all of this mean?

The wisest, most imaginative player still won last week. Spieth and caddie Greller analyzed the course, built a local knowledge base in just two years and his tying of the record is not to be shrugged off just because of the soft conditions.

However, Augusta National has lost a little sizzle due to the love of emerald green and the push to keep the course up with the times. A little leaner course would restore some integrity by not so heavily rewarding the players who seek to merely overpower it. We want to see the bombers rewarded, but we also want to see them kept honest. If the ball is running into the trees or down lake banks or even just into positions less advantageous, Augusta National would be even more interesting and demanding.

Oh, and the second cut and trees planted on holes 7, 11, 3, 15 and 17 still need to go.

Wednesday
Apr152015

Dick’s CEO Suggests He's Always Been All-In On Golf 

I know everyone loves Dick's Sporting Goods CEO Ed Stack, but you really wish he'd just stop talking about golf in his conference calls with analysts.

You may recall he's the one whose company bought into Taylor Made's three-drivers-in-a-year idea, then threw golf under the bus leading to countless stories about the game's demise because millennials and people of sane minds weren't clamoring for a new driver every few months. Even Taylor Made's new CEO admitted it was a mistake before leaving his position after less than year. Yet Stack made this a statement about golf's merits as a business and pastime.

So he let go 500 PGA pros and talked down the future of the game because of a poor decision on the part of Dick's. But it seems in his latest conference call he admitted that golf was still profitable for the company. He's talking the game up even.

And during the Masters he announced a program to donate to the First Tee and suggested in writing that "a group of people began a rumor that Dick's is 'getting out of golf.' Nothing could be further from the truth."

I can't imagine where anyone got the idea Dick's wasn't bullish on golf!