"This correspondent attended the first couple of stagings of the Match Play in Carlsbad and was struck each year not only by how ordinary this resort course was but also by the relative lack of interest from the locals. Unlike the vast majority of top class golf events in the USA, where sell-out crowds are commonplace, the Match Play struggles to attract galleries of more than 7,000. Perhaps California’s golf aficionados, accustomed to the charms of Pebble Beach, Riviera and Torrey Pines, know a mediocre setting when they see one."
Though the always wet-conditions are part of the problem, the course itself may be the single worst venue for match play golf. Devoid of risk-reward scenarios, tension is infrequent and the tiny crowds have little to cheer about. And they’re coming back again in 2006. PGA West Stadium would be ideal for this event. Oh well.
Observations by Geoff Shackelford
The Scotsman's John Huggan writes that when the R&A’s Peter Dawson “decided to let slip that the specification "male" might just be disappearing from the 2006 Open Championship entry form, he will have known that a media obsessed with trivia would run and run with it.”
Huggan goes on to write:
“Sadly, that is today’s broad reality within golf’s media, where the good of the game counts for less than the inside scoop on the next triviality. Consider the generally easy ride Dawson and his organisation get from too many compliant and obsequious journalists (some might as well write, ‘make me a member, make me a member’ at the top of every piece) over really important matters like how much modern balls and clubs have done to ruin the same Open Championship as a true golfing spectacle.
“And one cannot really blame Dawson for taking advantage of those journalists who wish to be part of the establishment rather than comment upon it. Better, he’ll have been thinking this past week, to let the papers and the telly make a fuss about something that matters not a jot in the broad scheme of things rather than see them delving into areas where the R&A is vulnerable to real criticism."
The lustiest cheer came when a Michigan woman, the owner of a
27-hole course, lamented how the new balls and space-age equipment were
rendering her 1960s-built course obsolete. “You need more acreage, and
maintenance costs are higher (when managing more turf) for both
accurate golfers and high handicappers,” she said. She added, “One guy
with a hot club and a hot ball will slow play for everyone else.” She
mentioned liability problems; when her course was built, the homes
lining its fairways were platted when 250 yards was the longest drive.
She directed the question at Ridley, wondering how the USGA will
Ridley said the issue has been going on for 100 years, and that the USGA has done more in the past seven years than the previous century combined.
Sorry have to interrupt here. He is right. The USGA has done more in the last seven years to bungle this than in the previous century combined. I’m sorry, please continue Mr. Ridley.
“Many people feel we should go back to the
‘70s and ‘80s,” he said condescendingly. “But it’s the USGA’s job to
regulate the game based on good statistics and science. ShotLink (used
on the PGA Tour to track the pros’ club selections and distances) has
helped. We have created many scientific tests to determine ball and
club performances,” Ridley said, adding that if “things get out of
hand, the USGA will step in and take steps.”
Besides high-tech equipment and meteoric golf balls, Awtrey and Finchem attributed the added distance off the tee to today’s players being more athletic and in better shape. “Even the juniors and girls are hitting remarkably further today.”
I'm beginning to wonder if Ridley has repeated the same distortions so many times that he actually believes them?
Golfweek’s Jim Achenbach writes that “an intense rivalry is developing between the PGA and the USGA, which use several of the same courses for their championships, and one-upmanship has become a preferred tactic.
“If major championship golf is based more on corporate interests than fan interests, I say we’ve got a problem. In an era of big business, golf has become much more than golf. It has become a juggernaut of an economic entity. I cry for the romance of the game.”
Uh Jim, surely you didn’t just notice this “problem?” If you really want to cry for the game, perhaps it's time to hold the USGA to a little higher standard too.
“The great ball/distance debate is heating up again, but lost in the 62 shot by Phil Mickelson at The Glass last week [The Glass? Is that like, near The Point, The Bay, The Grove, The Hay and The Beach, you know?], and the driver-wedge game being played by Lefty and the other big hitters on the PGA Tour, is that the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am tournament record of 20-under 268, shot by Mark O’Meara in 1997, remains in the books. [Uh, Phil missed tying it by 1, does that mean if he tied it or broke it that there would be cause for alarm?] Ultimately, course conditions and the human nervous system will balance out the home run ball. [Haven’t there been like a jillion stories in the last week with Tiger and Phil saying those course conditions - say narrowed fairways – are meaningless because they just bomb driver no matter what?] Like defense in Super Bowls, it’s still the short game that wins tournaments [yes, flip wedges into 450 yard par-4 would qualify as short game winning tournaments], and they haven’t invented a ball that goes straight under pressure. [Uh, bad news, the ball goes pretty straight for these guys under all conditions.]”
Thomas Bonk (reg. required) talks to Nissan's John G ill about the joys of paying a full purse for an "unofficial event."
"From a sponsor's perspective," said Gill, "it's one thing to pay a full purse after only 36 holes and it's another when you also have to see what didn't happen and who didn't really win.
"As a sponsor, you expect to pay full price for a completed tournament. I'm not happy about what happened. I'm sure a lot of people would like to work 50% of the time and get paid, but apparently the only place that happens is on the PGA Tour."
As the story points out, the Junior Chamber took the real hit here. I'm sure the Tour Policy Board will be meeting soon to write a check and ease their pain.
Thomas Bonk (reg required) has the lowdown on Retief Goosen’s Nissan Open DQ.
had been host of a party for Grey Goose vodka at Riviera Country Club
on Tuesday evening. During the party, he told reporters, "I have never
really drunk vodka, but I've had a few tonight. Somebody is going to
have to drive me home."
The drinks being served at the party were Cosmopolitans and Lemon Drops, both made with vodka.
In a press release passed out at the party, Goosen was quoted as saying, "I have long enjoyed the smooth taste of Grey Goose vodka and am pleased to have the brand join my team of supporters as I play on tour. This will be a lot of fun."