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Posts from October 2004
Observations by Geoff Shackelford
Thursday
Oct212004

Strategic Golf

Derek Duncan of TravelGolf.com provides an in-depth look at design strategy, with drawings and anecdotes that harken back to the days when golf publications offered similar stories by Tillinghast and Behr.

Thursday
Oct212004

Air Daly

John Daly viewed his latest design from a plane (and of course gave it a huge thumbs up, oh and he was honored to be building a course in Canada along with other assorted nonsense).

Now, is it news that Daly viewed it from a plane because he doesn’t like to fly, or was this mentioned because someone thinks that only real visionaries fly over their courses before viewing them from the ground?

Yes, George Thomas did fly around the hills of Bel-Air, but that was in 1926 and he was trying to figure out if they could use the canyons for golf holes once the state had claimed the original land for UCLA.

Plus, George was flying his own plane. Which is pretty cool when you think about it.

Thursday
Oct212004

Olympic Golf Concept

This story looks at the push for golf in the 2012 Olympics and quotes the USGA's David Fay, who seems to about the only person interested in the movement (Frank Hannigan implied in this hilarious Golfobserver.com story that the USGA may also be interested in landing the high paid position golf in the Olympics would create along with other benefits. Or could Fay just be interested in the job for himself, leaving the mess he's created at the USGA for someone else to deal with?).

As the latest Olympic-golf article points out, the Tour and its players could care less. The format recommended by Fay and the R&A's Peter Dawson also demonstrates a lack of imagination typical in modern golf.

Sam Weinman writes, “Fay and Dawson said an Olympic golf competition should be similar to a major championship, with professionals playing 72 holes of stroke play. Eligibility, on both the men's and women's sides, would be determined by the world rankings.”

Doesn’t golf already have two meaningless tournaments just like this…oh yeah, they’re called the World Championship events.

Fay reasons that "in areas where golf is just beginning, it would mean a great boost."

Now, lets think about this for a moment. Fay says burgeoning programs in China, Croatia, Russia and Latvia need a push, and making golf an Olympic sport would get golf growing in those countries.

"In order to get jump-started you need funding, and in order to get funding, you need to be an Olympic sport,” he says.

But if the Olympic golf event field is determined by the world rankings -- and we know how slow those are to reflect what’s going on in golf -- there is almost no chance anyone "developed" in these countries new to golf would actually make the Olympics in 2012, and perhaps not until 2016 at the earliest. Not much incentive is there? Start preparing golfers who might someday crack the world ranking, which is dependent on professional play in significant events?

This seems to be asking a lot of these organizations. How about amateurs from all countries playing 3-team matches ala the old Dunhill Cup? Wouldn't that prove to be more accessible, entertaining and Olympic-like?

Sure, some country would enter and none of their guys would break 85 in their first round match, but isn't that part of the Olympic spirit?

Dick Ebersol must not think so.

Wednesday
Oct202004

Callaway Disclaimer: World Record?

Callaway reported lousy earnings again, but more eye-catching is a disclaimer buried down in the press release.

Guinness might want to see if this is a world record for the longest litany of excuses ever offered in one sentence.

“Actual results may differ materially from those anticipated as a result of certain risks and uncertainties, including but not limited to delays, difficulties or unanticipated costs in integrating the Top-Flite Golf and Callaway Golf assets, brands and businesses, the maintenance of good vendor relationships, adverse market and economic conditions, market acceptance of current and future products, adverse weather conditions (including the effects of the recent hurricanes in Florida and the east coast) and seasonality, competitive pressures, fluctuations in foreign currency exchange rates, delays, difficulties or increased costs in the manufacturing of the Company's golf club or ball products, or in the procurement of materials or resources needed to manufacture the Company's golf club or ball products, any rule changes or other actions taken by the USGA or other golf association that could have an adverse impact upon demand for the Company's products, a decrease in participation levels in golf and the effect of terrorist activity or armed conflict on the economy generally, on the level of demand for the Company's products or on the Company's ability to manage its supply and delivery logistics in such an environment.”

That’s 187 words in one sentence, for those of you counting at home.

Wednesday
Oct202004

Moe Norman

Golf Digest seems to have amazing luck when it comes to timing their feature interviews and “My Shots.” Unfortunately for golf, this time it meant coinciding with the loss of one of the game’s greatest characters, Moe Norman.

Norman offers many fascinating and honest thoughts on all aspects of the game. And this interesting remark on technology:

“With a titanium driver I'm hitting it farther now than when I was 35, and that's the truth. It doesn't satisfy me, it bothers me. Do I want to hit the ball farther when I'm 100 than I do now? No, it wouldn't be right. All anyone cares about is hitting it farther—even with the irons. Hitting the ball pure and accurate is more rewarding than hitting it far. Don't forget that, ever.”

Golf Digest also shows how to utilize the web by unearthing David Owen's memorable 1995 story on Norman.

Tuesday
Oct192004

CSI Ryder Cup

The postmortems move from the funeral phase to exhuming the bodies for further analysis. But at least the Ryder Cup stories that won’t go away make for such great reads.

David Feherty writes in the new Golf Magazine that “by the time this rag hits the shelves we'll have swallowed all the Ryder Cup analysis we can stomach, so I'm not going there. This is not a post-mortem, it's an admission of misdiagnosis.”

Feherty correctly points out that after that “dog-and-pony show of an opening ceremony should have been a dead giveaway that something strange was about to happen.

“Another high point was the horrified look on Chaka Khan's face when 40,000 white golf fans tried to dance as she sang Marvin Gaye's ‘What's Going On.’”

Feherty also dares to go where announcers from competing networks normally wouldn’t go, but this is why he’s Feherty.

“My favorite part was the announcing crew's heroic struggle to find exciting, innovative ways to agree with Johnny Miller. “

"Once again John, I concur." -- Gary Koch

"Yup, Johnny -- right on the money." -- Bob Murphy

"You're not wrong, Johnny." -- Mark Rolfing

"Why the hell am I here?" -- Roger Maltbie

Meanwhile Golf World’s Bob Verdi talks to Chris Riley and several others about his Saturday 15-hole fatigue problem, the litany of rationalizations and just plain embarrassing excuses will make your head will spin.

It’s also intensely embarrassing to read about the U.S. team considering pairings based on equipment affiliations and ball flight. (What does ball flight have to do with the alternate shot format?)

Tuesday
Oct192004

Tour's TV Bubble Bursting?

The big story of 2005 is already starting to appear in the big publications. Ron Sirak in Golf World looks at the forthcoming PGA Tour’s TV negotiations and has some interesting comments from a network executive, who does not seem to be establishing a better negotiating position, but is instead simply stating the truth.

"Golf is going the way of the other sports where the economics are skewed and completely messed up simply because athletes make too much money," said the network executive. "That's why an NBA ticket costs so much money and why taking a family of four to a baseball game costs $200. Because the players make too much.

"You've got to ask yourself, 'Why are we doing this if we are not making money?' Say they play for a $3.8 million purse as opposed to a $5.1 million purse. Big deal. Is that going to affect their lives all that much?"

Meanwhile SI’s Gary Van Sickle offers an array of thoughts in his weekly column, with comments about the Tour likely inviting a lawsuit if they go through with their no-carts policy in 2005, and his own take on the next TV deal, which he predicts will result in less network presence and maybe even one of the nets dropping out altogether.

Sunday
Oct172004

Golf Monthly Ranking

Golf Monthly (UK) has posted their top 120 UK courses ranking, breaking it down into two groups. In the Top 10 you will find the “Westin Turnberry Resort (Ailsa)” at #3. A separate page reveals the remaining 110 courses where you’ll find Royal Dornoch unfathomably buried down at #56, 22 slots behind the New Course at St. Andrews.

**Update: John Huggan in The Scotsman dissects the list: "Despite billing its first attempt in the ranking business as based purely on the quality of the courses, Monthly’s list is nothing of the sort, though it is hard to argue with the Old Course at St Andrews being No.1 in the British Isles under any criteria."

Huggan also suggests a list of the best 100 courses never to make a list.

Sunday
Oct172004

Harding Park One Year Later

Harding One Year Later

October 17, 2004

Brian Murphy looks at the Harding Park renovation one year later, listing the accolades piling up for the project while also noting the already declining course conditions and emerging questions about the price tag.

Murphy writes, “The ‘AmEx,’ the PGA Tour's event for the top 50 players in the world, is coming to Harding Park Oct. 3-9, 2005, bringing international golf fame and glory to San Francisco's signature muni, and also stirring up the hackles of longtime city duffers who wonder if it's all worth it: all the change and all the money -- $16 million from a state loan on the golf course alone, with $7 million, much of it privately donated, budgeted for the as-yet unfinished clubhouse.”

Approximately $4 million of the horribly swollen course budget went to covering lost green fees, and if that number wasn’t questionable enough, the $12 million left to redo an existing 18-holes boggles the mind.

Did they use copper irrigation piping?

Sunday
Oct172004

Where Are the Young Guns?

The Orlando Sentinel’s Steve Elling dares to defy the PGA Tour’s “young gun” marketing push by questioning just how many young American players really are among the world’s elite.

“In a sport increasingly populated by internationals and long-lived players in their 40s, the wave of up-and-coming American youth ostensibly has slowed to a trickle. Young U.S. players seem like small fish in a big pond and the under-30 undercurrent feels increasingly like a rip tide based on where the demographic trends appear headed.

”The top 70 players in the world rankings feature only three Americans under age 30 -- Orlandoans Tiger Woods, Charles Howell and rookie Zach Johnson. In the same sample size are 11 international players in their 20s. Facts are, there are more than twice as many U.S.-born players above age 40 (seven) as there are under age 30 (three) in the world top 50. For the United States, which for decades has been acknowledged as the top breeding ground of the game, that's tantamount to major systemic failure. International players seemingly are developing faster, not to mention in greater number, as much because of the sport's economic pressures as any perceived athletic edge.”

Elling quotes former USGA technical director Frank Thomas, who says, “We believe that commercialization in the U.S. has had a detrimental effect on the game.”

Elling says that “in a matter of a decade or so, the richest country in the world has undermined its success on the professional golfing stage by selling out for short-term gain. It was an unforeseen, double-edged sword that inadvertently has given the rest of the world a quicker leg up in player development.”

Elling talks to David Leadbetter, who kindly points out that the AJGA, USGA and other bodies aren’t quite getting it right. Leadbetter also tries nice to say that the U.S. is producing too many spoiled kids.

"To me, it seems like the international players are usually hungrier," Leadbetter said.

Elling also tackles the issue of why Australia is producing so many great players, and does a “where are they now” recap of the Tour’s infamous “young guns” of 2002.

Friday
Oct152004

Some Honeymoon

AP reports that Tiger Woods and his bride “were briefly detained Thursday by U.S. Coast Guard officers on their yacht Privacy, then were turned away from San Juan's port because they had failed to notify authorities of their arrival.”

Someone in IMG’s Department of Honeymoon planning is in big trouble today!

Woods’ new yacht, Privacy, could have the single worst name ever given a boat meant for quiet getaways. The yacht is registered in the Cayman Islands to the Privacy Ltd. holding company, which Woods owns.

Gotta love those Cayman Islands.

Friday
Oct152004

Exploiting Wie...Vol. 15

The blatant exploitation of Michelle Wie would be funny if we didn’t have some idea what the potential outcome of this could be. Enough tennis players have been pushed too soon and are washed up by the age of 20. Golf got its first taste of youth exploitation with Ty Tryon, who should have gone to college. Instead, his $9,058 on a full Nationwide Tour schedule this year will have him headed back to Tour school.

Thomas Bonk of the L.A. Times (Tribune affiliated paper reg. required) takes yet another interesting look at the Wie situation, with an update on her new Team Nike look (even she won’t touch their driver).

“For a hint of how Wie might be leaning, check out what she's playing this week — Nike forged blades and wedges, the new Nike One Black ball and a Nike staff bag. Wie's driver is a TaylorMade R7.

”Nike made contact with the Wie family last year to make introductions and to test any equipment she wanted, which is a departure from how some equipment manufacturers have done business in the past, by sending equipment unsolicited.”

Bonk also quotes NBC vice president Kevin Sullivan, who explains why the network is televising the seemingly meaningless Samsung event from Palm Desert: Wie and Annika Sorenstam.

"They're the ones that move the needle," said Sullivan. "Annika has been so good such a long time, and Michelle is kind of the next big thing. The combination makes good TV."

Wie opened with a 74, twelve shots behind leader Grace Park and eight strokes behind Annika Sorenstam.

The L.A. Times story ran a list of Wie’s 2002 to 2004 professional finishes: MC, MC, MC, T9, T33, T52, T39, MC, T28, 69th, T19, 4th, T12, T13, T33, T6.

Wie did average 309 yards on her drives Thursday. Must be all that time lifting weights since they are better athletes these days.

Meanwhile The Golf Channel’s George White looks at Wie’s testy response to questions about lost youth. There is some hope since Wie points out that its more fun to be in the desert than going to school.