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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
  • 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

  • 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
  • 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

St. Andrews? I feel like I’m back visiting an old grandmother. She’s crotchety and eccentric but also elegant. Anyone who doesn’t fall in love with her has no imagination.



Mickelson Out Of Torrey Pines North Course Project

Whether you liked what you heard or not, San Diego resident Phil Mickelson had a vested interest in making Torrey Pines' North Course better. But for reasons that aren't totally clear, the longtime resident has pulled out of the project to renovate the North citing a California Fair Political Practice Commission ruling.

Tod Leonard with the full report and strong quotes from Mickelson, who leaves a project that will now be carried out by the always dangerous combination of a non-local contractor running the show, with potentially a non-local consulting architect along for the ride.

“I’m deeply disappointed with this entire process,” said Mickelson, the native San Diegan and 42-time winner on the PGA Tour. “We did a lot of good work, we had overwhelming support from the residents of San Diego on this project and now we’re disqualified from bidding on it.”

Construction bids for the North Course were due to the city today. Landscapes Unlimited, the company that was previously teamed with Phil Mickelson Design for the project, was to submit a bid without him attached.

Contacted by the San Diego Union-Tribune, San Diego City Golf Manager Mark Marney was reviewing Mickelson's comments and did not have a comment as of noon on Tuesday.

And the toughest comments from the press release, which I have not received...

Noting the doubling of the project budget in his press release, Mickelson said, “My vision was to make Torrey Pines North more environmentally sustainable, more enjoyable for amateurs of all abilities, more challenging for PGA Tour players and we were planning to do it for less than $6 million. The city and Golf Division’s $12.6 million budget is far higher than we expected or intended.

“It really is unfortunate. San Diegans and visitors deserve a better North Course but they don’t need or want one that costs as much as this one will.”


NCAA Bans SMU Golf, Defending Indy Champ From Postseason

As far as NCAA golf scandals go, this one is as big as it gets. And because the primary people punished are student-athletes who did nothing wrong, including the defending NCAA individual champion and the closest thing college golf has to a star, I suspect this story will not go away.

Brentley Romine at with the full details of the NCAA report, that also penalized SMU basketball coach Larry Brown.

Between Dec. 6, 2012, and Oct. 23, 2013, the former head men's golf coach and an assistant golf coach engaged in 64 impermissible recruiting contacts with 10 men's golf prospects and seven parents of men's golf prospects, according to the NCAA report.

The NCAA did not name the individuals in the report. Josh Gregory was the head coach at SMU from June 2011 until he resigned on Aug. 8, 2014. Jason Enloe, Gregory's assistant at SMU, is the Mustangs' current head coach.

Gregory will not be able to seek employment at an NCAA member school until 2019.'s Ryan Lavner has this from Gregory, who is understandably miffed at the punishment levied against the current players, including current U.S. Amateur champion and defending NCAA individual winner Bryson DeChambeau.

It’s a crushing blow for SMU’s program, which has risen to national prominence in recent years. Two years ago, Gregory helped lead his alma mater to the NCAA quarterfinals for the first time, and last year DeChambeau became the first NCAA champion in school history.

“I’m embarrassed about what happened,” said Gregory, who resigned in August 2014. “I feel terrible for the kids – those are the ones I feel worst about. It just makes no sense whatsoever. Throw the book at me and give all the penalties to me, but the kids are the ones who suffer. It’s simply garbage.”

Unless the current players received some sort of extraordinary gifts bordering on bribes, it's hard to fathom how the punishment fits the crime.

This is also a bit of a blow to college golf's ability to gain traction under the glare of the television spotlight that would have enjoyed--had he qualified--having DeChambeau to put forward as a star attraction in next springs NCAA finals.

DeChambeau will still enjoy Masters, U.S. Open and Open Championship exemptions if he remains an amateur.

The full NCAA press release detailing some of the charges of recruiting violations is posted here.


Q&A With Roger McStravick, Author Of St Andrews: In The Footsteps Of Old Tom Morris

Roger McStravick's ambitious book devoted to telling the story of Old Tom Morris and St. Andrews as the birthplace of golf delivers on all fronts. Both in collecting the most definitive set of early images depicting the  man and the town, as well as in telling us the story of golf's most important grounds.

St Andrews In The Footsteps Of Old Tom Morris is a stunning production featuring historic images both seen and never before published and compiled in a way that the our more visual world demands to understand the very special place where the madness all began.

It's telling how many images are staged, as if the many characters important to golf's development knew they were onto something special and timeless.

The book, a People's Golf Prize nominee, was published in three editions, starting with the softcover edition at 60 pounds. The Chic Harper design and print quality by McCallister Litho Glasgow Ltd are extraordinary, so much so that even images you might have seen before seem to jump off the page to offer new details.

With the Alfred Dunhill Championship this week in St. Andrews and the memories from this summer's Open Championship still having not warn off, what better time than now to learn about a vital addition to the world of golf books.

Q: This is an ambitious book given that the primary focus, Old Tom Morris, has been gone for some time. What got you interested in him and as the book’s title announces, the town?

My first connection with Old Tom was watching David Joy perform his stage show as Old Tom in St Andrews. I was utterly gripped. I wanted to learn more and then read the novel Tommy’s Honour. The real eureka moment was reading Tom Morris of St Andrews, The Colossus of Golf. It really set a new benchmark for golf history books. The level of detail and presentation was phenomenal.

Living in St Andrews, I began to see that there was very little of the town’s history on show. By that I mean you could walk around St Andrews and not realise that for example at the end of North Street lived the winners of 5 Opens and the sons of people who lived there, doors from each other, won a further 7 Opens and an Amateur Championship. It is a truly remarkable place and I wanted to share that untold history.

Q: Give us a sense how long it took to put the images together, the variety of sources and the issues faced?

The book took about 3 years including writing, researching and tracking original photographs. There are so many people that helped including relations of the great golfing families and landowners in St Andrews. However the majority of the images came from the R&A, St Andrews Preservation Trust and the University of St Andrews. I was very fortunate to have a lot of good will and support from the get go. Some of my favourite images include the photo of Tom’s first shop taken circa 1850 and also unseen paintings, like the one of James Cheape, the man who saved the St Andrews golf course for evermore. The biggest issue was deciding what to leave out. Chic Harper, the designer, did a great job. My aim was to make golf history visual, beautiful and accessible and I think he captured the brief perfectly.

Q: Am I correct that by putting all of these vital historic images of the town and golfers, especially Old Tom, that the images suggest they knew they were in a special place and documenting a special time? 

I think you are right in saying that they knew it was a special time.  I say in the book that Old Tom was fortunate to be born at the right time and he truly was.  Hugh Lyon Playfair had taken a filthy run down St Andrews in the 1830s, with the West Sands beach eroding the 1st hole, cow dung piled high on the streets and yet some 30 years later it is a renowned golfing metropolis.

With Playfair’s vision coming into reality with Edinburgh’s New Town type housing, land reclamation down the first hole (by dumping rubbish on the beach and covering with soil…and that is why the 1st hole is flat), luxurious hotels and the railway line, St Andrews was re-born. It had been a successful and thriving place of pilgrimage but when the cathedral was felled after John Knox’s speech, the town slipped into decline for centuries.

Tom was born as the town was beginning to blossom once more. He and Allan Robertson were golf’s first superstars. Allan was always considered the Champion Golfer. I like to think of them as brothers and not as employer and apprentice as most historians have noted them. They were only 6 years apart age wise. They were written about in the press and were acknowledged to be the best golfers in Scotland and thereby the world. In a harsh Victorian world, golf was kind to them and gave them a good living. It was Allan’s death aged 43 that led to the creation of The Open. Who is the new Champion Golfer? The era that followed was built largely upon the St Andrews dynamic. The evolution of photography and the growth of St Andrews happened at the same time and we are fortunate that so many images were taken to document that golden era.

Q: If you had to list his most important contributions to the game, Old Tom’s greatest gifts to golf?  Promoter? Architect? Clubmaker? Role in The Open?

Tom was truly inspiring. If I had to rank his greatest gifts to golf in order, I would say golfer, architect and then promoter.

As a golfer, he was the best in the world - a superstar of the Victorian age. He won The Open four times and crowds were never quite so boisterous as they were when Old Tom played Willie Park Sr. of Musselburgh. Thousands flocked to those grand matches.

People tend to see Tom as the old guy with the beard. I think more about the 30 year old, who had no idea which direction his life would go, but hoping above everything to not have to work the weave or be a letter carrier like his father. As a golfer, he was human too – he had the yips and they plagued him until his later non-competitive years. Once when a letter was sent to the ‘misser of short putts’ at Prestwick, it found its way to him.

People get quite sniffy about Old Tom as an architect of golf courses, but I would suggest that the list of the courses he set out is still a strong list of over 70 courses that includes, Muirfield, Prestwick, Carnoustie, Royal County Down and Cruden Bay. He effectively created the front 9 of the Old Course by clearing away lots of the whin to reveal the fairway we play on today. His 1st and 18th greens are still causing the pros trouble today.

Finally as a promoter, Tom was a strong supporter of both ladies golf and generally spreading the game worldwide. When he created the Himalayas putting course for the ladies, this was frowned upon but nevertheless under the guidance of the R&A, Tom ploughed up the whin and created the popular putting green. It was said that clubmakers who traveled to the States with a letter of endorsement from Old Tom were sure to get a job. He was so revered in his own lifetime.

To this list could be added many more contributions to golf including businessman, official starter, course maintenance, contributor to golf books/magazines, but I think as a player in his prime he was the the best of all.

Q: What most surprised you in your research?

I was absolutely delighted to find lots of images that have never been seen before. Some of the 19th century paintings are glorious and I am truly grateful to the families and organisations that allowed them to be seen in print for the first time. There was also a wealth of manuscripts that have really have not been looked at for many years - first hand accounts of St Andrews in the 1870s.

It will take me a few years to do anything on the scale of Footsteps but there may be a few St Andrews books in the interim. The archives available to research in St Andrews are truly world class.

Q: There are many other figures you include in the book, who intrigues you most from those vital years at St. Andrews?

St Andrews popularity grew thanks to a unique combination of the golf course, R&A/Union Club, hotels, restaurants and the genuine beauty and history of the location. There are quite a few people who came together to create the St Andrews we know. However, I think that Playfair above all others absolutely fascinates me. How he managed to do what he did, when the locals were despondent at best about their run down town, is a truly wonderful achievement. He came back from India very wealthy (as did many…best not ask), having worked for the East India Company and used his money where needed to clean up the streets. Instead of ramshackle streets with porches and archways jutting out onto the pavement, he got them all removed. (This is where the name Principal’s Nose comes from as Playfair cut off the porch way that belonged to Principal Haldane of the University, who didn’t have a big nose, as is often told). The result was the clear clean lines of South, Market and North Street. Add to that the first golf club house in the Union Club, the R&A building, the saving of the 1st hole from the sea, the railway line and station and the town hall. The list goes on and on. He was a hugely important man who had more than a few folk standing in his way, but nevertheless succeeded. George Bruce who created the Bruce Embankment wrote scathingly about Playfair in Wrecks and Reminiscences and it is a fun read given how vitriolic Bruce can be.  However, the results of Playfair’s sheer determination and work are still being enjoyed today.

When we look to the success of St Andrews, Old Tom played a hugely important role and as mentioned was a Victorian superstar. He was undoubtedly a phenomenal golfing talent. One final example to illustrate this was that he shot a 79 on the St Andrews links. Over 30 years later, when the golfers were playing the easier routing with the new front 9 that we play today, Amateur Champion Willie Tait beat reigning Open Champion Willie Auchterlonie with an 86. They were still struggling to match his score.

Old Tom Morris was simply outstanding by all accounts and that is why people continue to be fascinated by a man apart.


New Golfweek Publisher: Alex Miceli Trades In His Bow Tie

Or, not? Either way, the writer and former editor Alex Miceli is Golfweek's new publisher, announced Turnstile's Francis Farrell.

Miceli succeeds Jereme Day, "who is leaving Golfweek to explore new opportunities."

Miceli, 57, has a long, illustrious history working in the golf industry, starting in 1993 when he founded He sold the site in 1999. A year later, he created the Golf Press Association, a golf news service that provides content for various media outlets. In 2005, he joined the Golfweek staff as a senior writer and since has covered the PGA Tour and golf industry beats. As group publisher, Miceli will oversee Golfweek’s entire portfolio of properties and focus on developing next-level products, businesses and ventures that will continue to expand the brand’s overall reach.

“Golfweek occupies a very important and influential space in golf media,” Miceli said. “This unique position is a major advantage, and I am eager to work with the Golfweek team to develop new content-delivery avenues and explore untapped opportunities that will further elevate our iconic brand.”

Here's hoping one of Alex's first congratulatory calls is from Ian Poulter!


Forward Press: Dunhill, Asia-Pacific Am, Web Finals & More

And you thought the Tour Championship meant you could watch something else!

The new de facto Silly Season begins now, and though we don't get the fun formats any more, the PGA Tour's week off hands the spotlight to the Alfred Dunhill at St. Andrews, the Asia Pacific Amateur in Hong Kong, the Warrior Open, Tour Finals, Feherty Live, John Ashworth and more!

All of that plus TV times and some fun preview clips to whet your appetite in the latest Forward Press.

Also, with St. Andrews returning to the spotlight this week, tune in to Morning Drive the rest of the week for looks at the course, the stunning new book from Josh Evenson, the legend that is Old Tom Morris and more.


Ted! Tom Watson Passes On PGA Hall Of Fame Induction

Nice to see that Tom Watson has rejected the PGA of America's hoped-for Hall of Fame induction over treatment of his old pal.

Jaime Diaz reports in Golf World that Watson had one simple reason for declining the honor: the treatment of former PGA president Ted Bishop, who was ejected from office with less than a month ago and stripped of past president status over a social media comment. Time has not been kind to the PGA's decision, which did untold damage to the organization's reputation with its membership and supporters.

Captain Watson clearly isn't going to be forgiving them.

While I was flattered by PGA President [Derek] Sprague’s honoring me to be inducted into the PGA Hall of Fame, I couldn’t accept in good conscience because of how the PGA mishandled the firing of my friend and immediate past president of the PGA, Ted Bishop."


Martin Slumbers Takes Over The R&A Today!

Peter Dawson has vacated the best office in the world (overlooking the Old Course 1st tee), leaving a note in the top drawer for Martin Slumbers that reads "Whatever you do, don't roll back the ball, Yours In Golf, Peter."

The title of Chief Executive transfers to Slumbers, who has been a part timer since March. Other than having a name only P.G. Wodehouse could love, we know little about Slumbers and where the 2 handicapper from Worplesdon intends to take the R&A.

“I am delighted to take on the challenge of leading The R&A and serving such a historic Club,” said Slumbers.  “The organisation has been left in excellent health by my predecessor, Peter Dawson, and I look forward to building upon Peter’s success and working together with our committees and staff to ensure The R&A continues to play a leading role in golf’s global development.”


Will A Casey Ryder Snub Send Shockwaves Through The European Game?

That's the very legit question raised by Derek Lawrenson in reporting for the Daily Mail that a resurgent Paul Casey is unlikely to rejoin the European Tour next year, all but ruling out his chances of representing Europe at the 2016 Ryder Cup.

Now, is it a shockwave because a player would actually be trying to get the European Tour to limit the required number of appearances to maintain membership? Or a shock that a player simply doesn't care about the Ryder Cup that much, while the rest of the continent treats it as the premier biennial event in our sport?

However, Casey’s disenchantment with the European Tour is such he is showing little inclination to make the move. He is due in London next week and hoping to meet new chief executive Keith Pelley before making a final decision. Asked by Sportsmail if he was leaning towards staying away, he replied: ’That would be a totally fair assumption.’

Casey added: ‘I will be brutally honest with you. I love the European Tour and I’d like to be part of a better tour, but I want to see change. I’m really not sure I’m going to rejoin.’

Unclear is the more understandable emotion that Casey is still peeved at his omission from the 2010 team when he was a top 10 player and well established as a match play specialist.

‘I think I could make a massive contribution to the European team but I didn’t get picked in 2010 when I was in the world’s top 10, so who’s to say I’d make it even if I did rejoin?’ he said, wryly.


Spieth Ends Player Of The Year Debate With A Win For The Ages

There's much to marvel at with Jordan Spieth's 2-major, 5-win, Vardon Trophy-winning, No. 1 ranked, $12 million (plus $10 million) 2015.

Watershed season?

That's the metaphor Steve DiMeglio of USA Today rode like Victor Espinoza.

With dreary skies above and a saturated East Lake Golf Club below, Jordan Spieth capped a watershed season on Sunday by winning The Tour Championship by Coca-Cola and the FedExCup.

Doug Ferguson on Spieth's 2015 Tour Championship win encapsulating Spieth's approach to the majors and a year so epic, that after his performanec he's now capable of enshrinment in the World Golf Hall Of Fame without another shot played.

After all, how do you top no finish outside the top 4 in a major? Oh yes, there is a Olympic gold medal option in 2016.

Anyway, from Ferguson's story on Spieth arriving to the putting green three hours before play started:

“Early grind,” caddie Michael Greller said.

They only do that at the majors, and Spieth approached the Tour Championship that way. Ultimately, that’s what finished off his big year.

“This is incredible,” Spieth said. “This is an event where we approached it like a major championship. I didn’t have a great playoff, but I put a lot into this week. Mentally, I stayed in it, and boy, that putter sure paid off.”

His peers were very complimentary on Twitter, as you'd expect.

Spieth tells Bob Harig that last year’s Ryder Cup was the key to his 2015. Hitting shots under pressure, for those of you taking notes at home.

The highlights:

The season, screen captured.


And Then Henrik Said To Jordan: "Dumber than 18 at Chambers Bay as a par 4?"

It's not often the PGA Tour's finest are faced with a setup they deem to be excessive, but that's what happened at soggy and dreary East Lake Saturday.

Rex Hoggard at recounts the conversation and criticism from leaders Jordan Spieth and Henrik Stenson of the 535-yard 5th hole.

“I was talking to Henrik [Stenson] walking to the sixth tee," said Spieth who leads Stenson by one through 54 holes. "I said, ‘That was not the right setup and that was a very dumb hole today.’”

“He goes, ‘Dumber than 18 at Chambers Bay as a par 4?’ And I said, ‘Yes. I believe so.’ I mean there was no chance.”


Nice Views Of Pebble Beach's Restored 17th

Thanks to Golf Channel producer Brandt Packer for this shot from the new crane cam of Pebble Beach's restored 17th green. Round two of the First Tee Open airs tonight on Golf Channel at 6 pm ET.

Aaron Oberholser Tweeted some images earlier in the week.


Royal & Ancient: New Captain Drives In! Horovitz Nabs 3rd Gold!

I know reading that headline you're picturing Judge Smails in his brown Rolls driving into Bushwood, but the R&A keeps it a little more dignified than that, maintaining their traditional "driving-in" ceremony at 8 am Friday.

The Duke of York was on hand, as was arguably the least diverse gallery to see a golf shot in years.

For Immediate Release


25 September 2015, St Andrews, Scotland:  The traditional driving-in ceremony for the new Captain of The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews took place on the 1st tee of the Old Course today.

Gavin Caldwell began his year in office with a drive at precisely 8am as a cannon fired alongside the tee. A large crowd of onlookers gathered to watch the ceremony along with a number of Past Captains including HRH The Duke of York.

As Captain, Mr Caldwell will represent The R&A and support its work in developing golf around the world. He will attend R&A championships in the professional and amateur games and assume an ambassadorial role for the Club.

After hitting his tee shot, Mr Caldwell said: “This is a great thrill for me because I am only the third Irishman ever to be Captain of the Club in its very long history. This moment has been on my mind since I was asked to be Captain.

“I have a wonderful year ahead representing The R&A at many events all around the world. It’s important to me to be a good Club Captain and it is truly an honour to take up this new role. I’m looking forward to spending time with the members and participating in events that happen here in St Andrews.”

Born in Belfast, Northern Ireland in 1947, Mr Caldwell was club Captain and Chairman of the Walker Cup Committee when it hosted the 1991 match. A former Trustee of Portmarnock Golf Club, he enjoyed a successful university golf career and is President of Dublin University Golfing Society.

Mr Caldwell was educated at St Columba’s College and Trinity College, Dublin and embarked on a career in investment management. In 1980, he was appointed as the founding Chief Executive of Ulster Bank Investment Managers, the Irish subsidiary of NatWest Group, a role he held until 2003. He is currently a non-executive director of several Irish subsidiaries of international investment companies.

Mr Caldwell has served on the Amateur Status and Championship Committees of The R&A and was a member of the General Committee from 2010-2013. He has been a member of The Royal and Ancient Golf Club since 1996. He resides in Howth, County Dublin with his wife Jane and has five children, Robert, Sarah, Sonia, Jennifer and Gillian.

In the past, the Club Captaincy was bestowed on the winner of the annual Challenge for the Silver Club but by the early 19th Century the Captaincy had become an elected office.

And an American caddie/author rightly anticipated where to retrieve Mr. Caldwell's golf ball.

Part of the tradition is that a gold sovereign is paid by the new Captain to buy his golf ball back from the caddie who retrieves and returns it. American caddie Oliver Horovitz returned the Captain’s ball for the third time, after also retrieving it at the driving-in ceremony of 2014-2015 Captain George Macgregor OBE and 2011-2012 Captain Alistair Low.

“I’m really excited to receive the sovereign for a third time,” said Horovitz, who is currently in his tenth season on the links. “Last year I phoned my mother back in New York and woke her up with the news so I’ll have to do that again today. I think the secret is to try and get as good a view before the Captain hits his shot, and more than that I think I’ve just been really lucky. It’s a huge honour to be part of this ceremony.”

And the tributes were flowing for Peter Dawson, who I know you'll be relieved, had his suspended membership reinstated for life.

From an Royal and Ancient Golf Club member:

The announcing of the prizewinners at Friday evening’s Annual Dinner, by reading their names from the Minutes held in the “Record of Captains and Medal Holders”, marked the final duty in office of retiring Secretary Peter Dawson. At Thursday evening’s Business Meeting, Peter was elected a Life Member of the Club, and in their Reports to that Meeting the General Committee and Club Committee Chairmen paid the following tributes:

The General Committee Chairman:

“2015 sets itself apart as the year when our long-serving Secretary of the Club and Chief Executive of The R&A will take a well-earned retirement.  It would not be possible for me to summarise at this point all of Peter Dawson’s achievements during the past 16 years but suffice to say that his vision and leadership have been instrumental in ensuring that The R&A companies occupy a pre-eminent position in the world of golf as well as the Club itself.  The respect and esteem with which he is held throughout the global reach of our sport bear testimony not only to a person with a superb knowledge of golf and golfers but someone who brings wisdom, good judgement and clear communication to every situation and challenge.   Peter, we thank you most  sincerely for your outstanding service to the Club and for heading up The R&A which, during your term in office, has delivered year-on-year enhancements to the presentation and commercial success of our Open
Championship that is rightly regarded as the leading Major of each year.

Amongst your many contributions we must also acknowledge your success in building and inspiring a team of staff members who continue to provide a most efficient, effective, and above all else, friendly service to all of our Members.  We also greatly appreciate the willingness and enthusiasm that you have shown in the sharing of your extensive expertise with your successor, Martin Slumbers, who I know has appreciated your generosity and cooperation during these recent months of work-experience with you.

On behalf of all Members, I also extend warm congratulations to you on the recent award of the OBE in The Queen’s Birthday Honours for your services to golf.  That service is ongoing of course through your continuing Presidency of the International Golf Federation and we wish you every success with the administration of golf in the 2016 Olympic Games.

As many of you will know, Peter Dawson became a Member of this Club in 1994 but in accordance with Club practice his Membership was suspended when he became Secretary in 1999.  I am delighted to say that, with the enthusiastic support of the Membership Committee, the General Committee yesterday reinstated Peter as a Member of the Club under Rule 4(4)(b) with effect from Saturday 26 September 2015.  Furthermore, the General Committee wishes to propose to this meeting that Peter become a Life Member under Rule 6(1) in recognition of his distinguished service to the Club and the game of golf.

And from "The Club Committee Chairman":

“Peter, as Chief Executive of The R&A and Secretary of The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews, you have always managed to skilfully balance both roles with equal regard to one another. You have never lost sight of the Club and its importance to the core of our whole organisation, despite the huge demands placed upon your time and energy as Chief Executive of The R&A.

Your dealings with the Club Committee and your regular attendance at their meetings have always been of enormous help and guidance. The world of golf will remember you as a Chief Executive of vision and leadership, but as a Club we will remember you too as someone who cared enormously about the Members and always recognised the importance of The Royal and Ancient Golf Club to the history and standing of the game of golf, and indeed to this very special town of St Andrews.”


Warning Graphic Video: Worst Lipout Ever?

The European Tour posted this Chris Wood lipout at the Porsche European Open that reminded me of those old tight camera shots from bowling. You know, where the bowling ball is zeroing in on a direct pin hit, only to somehow not register a perfect strike.

Cruel, cruel, cruel...and Wood's second round 74 likely means the weekend off. At least he's having a better week than Volkswagen



“To think that we are going to determine where an Open Championship is held because of something somebody said on the political trail in America is absurd"

Now, why Peter Dawson didn't just say that in July at the R&A's Open Championship press conference when asked, is beyond me. Oh right, he's leaving office this today!

The Scotsman's Martin Dempster on Dawson cleaning out his Royal and Ancient clubhouse desk for Martin Slumbers, leaving the ceremonial note in the drawer that says "whatever you do don't touch the ball," and talking to a few writers.

Mostly, Dawson waxed on about his design projects underway at Portrush and Turnberry, but also talked about Donald Trump in much more honest fashion than he did in July.

Work is also underway on the Ailsa Course at Turnberry, where Donald Trump would like to be an Open host for the first time soon after its return to Northern Ireland. “To think that we are going to determine where an Open Championship is held because of something somebody said on the political trail in America is absurd,” said Dawson of Trump’s controversial comments about Mexican immigrants. “I don’t think that’s going to happen. We have other priorities, but that’s for a future committee to judge.”

Back in July...

Q. Does the R&A have a problem or is it compromised in terms of Turnberry's place in The Open rota in terms of Mr. Trump's comments?

PETER DAWSON: Well, it's had a lot of publicity, hasn't it. We don't have any decisions to make about Turnberry for quite some time, and I think we'll just let a bit of time pass and future championship committees will deal with them at the time.

As for reviews of his tenure, Alistair Tait at Golfweek says Dawson "can be proud that he left the organization in a better place than when he arrived" and highlights his efforts to take an R&A "kicking and screaming into the 21st century."

John Huggan in The Scotsman says he will miss Dawson "terribly" and deems the outgoing Chief Executive a great success on the business side. But then there is that one area...and naturally Dawson went out with another tangled take on why so little was done to prevent tampering with the most timeless of courses.

“The issues we have with clubs and balls have been the most intellectually demanding in my time at the R&A, both technically and philosophically,” says Dawson. “Everyone thinks that, when they played, that is how golf should be played. You never heard Jack Nicklaus say he really should be playing with Bobby Jones’ clubs. You never heard Bobby Jones saying he should be playing with Old Tom Morris’ equipment. And apart from one or two, the best players today are just as silent. They’re not saying they should play with Jack’s equipment.”

That silence is, of course, bought and paid for by the equipment companies through the contracts those leading players sign to use their clubs. But please continue.

I always love the effective imagery put forward by the distance-reigns-supreme-set that a rollback means playing hickories and guttas. But it's also a tad simplistic for a man of Dawson's intellect.

“It’s a balance between maintaining the skill level required to play the sport and responding to the call of golfers for better equipment,” argues Dawson. “That has been the case since the game began. And it remains the biggest issue in golf. There are those who call for a split in the rules between the elite and the rest. I think that is an awful prospect. We all want to play the same game. There is a huge gap between Roger Federer and the club tennis player, but they both play by the same rules and they both play the same game. Golf is the same. We don’t need to dumb it down.”

Except that we don't play the same game anymore. Or even something slightly relatable to what they play. More power to the players and their teams for maximizing the use of launch monitors and technology. But to disregard that divide just isn't an admirable way parting memory.

Now it's your turn, Mr. Slumbers. Piece of advice: don't play golf architect. Especially with The Old Course.


The $10 Million Question: What To Make Of Rory's Honesty 

Judging by your comments, Rory McIlroy's pre-Tour Championship comments didn't do himself any favors, as James Corrigan wrote in his Telegraph item on the eye-opening $10 million remarks.

Bob Harig tried to decipher McIlroy's post-round one statement in light of the comments and examines the modern player's mindset. I'm not sure if he's convinces those of us wondering if this is that strange moment when fans sense there is simply too much wealth at the pro level.

McIlroy's comments after an opening 66 at East Lake.

Q. Yesterday, you were asked that question about playing for the 10 million dollars, all that, and I'm curious, when you turned pro you were so young, did you ever think about the money then when you were playing? And if so, was it important to get past that to be successful?

RORY MCILROY: No, money's never motivated me. It's never been a motivating factor in my life. My dad and mom together probably earned I don't know, 40, 50 grand a year. Combined. That was sort of our household income.

So it was never really a motivating factor to me because we never had that much to begin with. So, I probably don't -- I mean starting off, I started earning money at 18 years old and earning quite a lot, so I probably don't appreciate the value of money like some other people do. It's just never been that important to me. It's nice, it's nice to have it. It's nice to have that security for your future and for your family's future, I guess. But if I wanted to get into golf for the money, I would be in it for the wrong reasons.

Now, you could say this is wildly hilarious, full-fledged LOL talk coming from someone who took his former agent to trial, money and more money. 

Ok I'll say it: he made me laugh very hard.

But once the laughter dies, I'm more fascinated by what kind of moment this could be for the pro game if his claims had gained news traction (they haven't).

Golf's appeal to some, in part, is having athletes who start from scratch every year. They're humble. The game keeps them in touch with some semblance of sanity. While they may have free clubs galore, private jets and courtesy cars, the game still keeps them in line.

Could having a golfer or golfers regularly suggest that $10 million does not mean much to them change that attractiveness?


Shuttered Orlando Courses Becoming An Orange County Issue

Considering that the annual PGA Show is in Orlando, the Golf Course Supers take their convention there every few years and Arnold Palmer along with Golf Channel call it home, it’s a bit of an embarrassment/shame that Orange County, Florida officials are hearing briefings about shuttered golf courses.

The neighborhood blight of a closed course is becoming an issue in a county that has seen seven close and three more classified as “challenged” by planning officials.

Stephen Hudak reports for the Orlando Sentinel.

Now, homeowners who paid a premium for golf-front property are fighting to protect their investments.

Hundreds of residents jammed Avalon Middle School in November to oppose a plan that would have converted the 271-acre Eastwood Golf Course into 300 homes, 70,000 square feet of commercial space and other nongolfing properties.

Seminole County added tighter restrictions last year on the maintenance of large tracts of land, an ordinance that could be applied to defunct golf courses such as Rolling Hills Golf Club near Altamonte Springs.

The links, overrun by weeds and joy riders, had become a headache for code-enforcement officers and deputy sheriffs.

Two video pieces, on one the above story and another on the shuttered Rolling Hills, should really raise your spirits.


Trump Looking Into Buying Puerto Rico That Beared His Name

I'm not entirely sure what they are calling the bankrupt Puerto Rican golf club that annually hosts the PGA Tour and was in partnership with Donald Trump (licensing only). Their website is currently down. But it doesn't matter, as the leading presidential candidate may be zeroing in on a takeover.

Nothing makes The Donald happier than taking a property off a bankruptcy courts' hands and according to the WSJ's Jacqueline Palank, that may happen again.

Lawyer Charles Cuprill, who is representing the owner of the Trump International Golf Club in Puerto Rico, told a bankruptcy judge Tuesday that the Republican presidential candidate’s company has signed a confidentiality agreement and has requested information about the assets to be sold in order to conduct due diligence.

“They’re determining if they’re going to have an interest in coming aboard and submitting an alternate bid,” Mr. Cuprill said, according to an audio recording of Tuesday’s proceedings posted to the court docket online.


Video: Trick Shotster Mathias Schjoelberg More Limber Than Ever

He's shown with past trick shots that he has unsually strong-but-still-limber wrists with two of my favorites from 2015 (here and here). But former ASU golfer Mathias Schjoelberg is not a pro and with that, taking things up a notch in the use of Coppola-esque silouetting mixed a sense of Michael Mann-ian soundtrack edge.

And a limber back to pull this one off! 



Jordan On The Big Three: "Brooks Koepka wins this week, it's the big five. You know, it's what it is."

Nice job by Jordan Spieth at his Wednesday Tour Championship press conference to swat down the absurd "Big Three" marketing machine-driven talk.

From the transcript:

Q. There's been a lot of talk about you being part of a new big three of golf, obviously with Rory and with Jason. Maybe Rickie is going to be part of a big four. But, overall, your take on that and what do you think the three of you specifically, you won five of the last six Majors, what do you guys bring to the sport as a whole?

JORDAN SPIETH: Well I think that the big number, whatever it is, changes, I've seen it change week-to-week out here.

There was big two, there was big one, there was big two, there was big three, there was big two, there was big four. I mean, Brooks Koepka wins this week, it's the big five. You know, it's what it is.


Okay It's Not Draft Kings But It Is What It Is: PGA Tour Fantasy

The playoffs are almost over, meaning the spine-tingling playoff buzz is about to wear off. Down boys!

Those of you in the league have no doubt set your final week rosters for a narrowed, thicker-rough-lined East Lake.

Congrats to winner Nilesh (Nile82), who was our BMW week winner over an employee of our sponsor Avis, so enjoy that free rent Nilesh for some fine ShotLink handicapping. And those of us who have played all three weeks are in contention for the big two day rental, Great Big Bertha and for second place in our four-week playoff run, Odyssey putter.

A reminder on how it works: join the league or be in the league already. Be eligible for a weekly prize for most points (1-day rental from Avis).

Most points from the overall wins an Avis two-day rental certificate and the new Great Big Bertha from Callaway, while second place wins an Odyssey putter. 

Remember, the game is ShotLink-based and designed to emphasize every shot counting. You draft four players and two alternates each week. Simple as that, though if you want to dig in on stats and do some extra homework, you can.

Good luck in the final week fantasy leaguers!