Twitter: GeoffShac
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For what Hogan meant, it's the old story. For those who know golf, no explanation is necessary. For those who don't, no explanation is possible.
JIM MURRAY


    

Wednesday
May182016

Greenbrier: Freemium Comes To The PGA Tour

An unbylined AP story reports that Greenbrier owner Jim Justice, who is also running for West Virginia governor (who knew?), has asked the state legislature to pull its $1.75 million funding of the Greenbrier Classic (who knew?) over their inability to pass a budget.

Best of all, he's giving away admission to the tournament this year as as result...

"My dream has always been to change the image of and bring opportunity to our state, and that's why I wanted to bring the PGA Tour to West Virginia," Justice said. "The budget mess we're in now is exactly what's wrong with politics. I am not going to let politicians delay the budget or bash me over the greatest economic/PR opportunity West Virginia has ever seen."

Republicans hold a majority in both the Senate and House of Delegates. Justice said he has endured criticism by GOP leaders and therefore "I am refusing the state's participation" in the golf tournament.

The only bummer: the concerts the event has become known for are off the table. At least for now.

But finally, the freemium model gets tested at a PGA Tour event!

Tuesday
May172016

Stay Calm: Retief Goosen Gets U.S. Open Special Exemption

...sellout here we come!

With the U.S. Open still not "sold out" except on Saturday--it will be declared one whether they sell all of the tickets or not--the USGA announced a special exemption to two-time champion and humongous, enormous and unequivocable fan draw, Retief Goosen.

The full release, including ticket buying info now that you have reason to go. Because glorious Oakmont isn't enough. (Remember, Erin Hills is next year ticket buyers...it makes Chambers Bay look like Pebble Beach).

For Immediate Release...

RETIEF GOOSEN RECEIVES SPECIAL EXEMPTION INTO 2016 U.S. OPEN
2001 and 2004 Champion to Compete at Oakmont Country Club

FAR HILLS, N.J. (May 17, 2016) – Two-time U.S. Open champion Retief Goosen, of South Africa, has received a special exemption into the 116th U.S. Open Championship, which will be conducted June 16-19 at Oakmont (Pa.) Country Club.

Goosen, 47, won the 2001 U.S. Open at Southern Hills Country Club in Tulsa, Okla., holding at least a share of the lead after each round before defeating Mark Brooks by two strokes in an 18-hole playoff. In 2004, Goosen defeated Phil Mickelson by two strokes at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club in Southampton, N.Y., to become the 18th and most recent player to win multiple U.S. Opens.

“I am incredibly grateful to receive a special exemption into the 2016 U.S. Open,” said Goosen. “It is, of course, a very special championship for me, having managed to win it twice and I am delighted to know that I will be in the field again this year.”

After his 10-year exemption for his 2004 victory expired following the 2014 U.S. Open at Pinehurst Resort & Country Club (Course No. 2) – he finished tied for 45th – Goosen earned a place in last year’s championship at Chambers Bay via sectional qualifying. He claimed the final spot from the Memphis, Tenn., qualifying site, then missed the cut at Chambers Bay by three strokes.

Goosen is the first player to receive a special exemption into the U.S. Open since Tom Watson and Vijay Singh in 2010 at Pebble Beach (Calif.) Golf Links. The last three players to receive special exemptions into the U.S. Open have made the cut, as Watson finished tied for 29th, Singh tied for 40th and Nick Price finished tied for ninth in 2005 at Pinehurst No. 2. Hale Irwin is the only player to win the U.S. Open playing on a special exemption, doing so in a memorable 19-hole playoff over Mike Donald in 1990 at Medinah (Ill.) Country Club to claim his third U.S. Open title, 11 years after his second victory at Inverness Club in Toledo, Ohio.

Goosen’s 2001 victory at Southern Hills featured one of the most memorable finishes in championship history, as Goosen, Brooks and Stewart Cink all had chances to win outright on the 72nd hole. Goosen missed a 2-foot putt to seal the victory, then made an even longer putt coming back to secure the playoff against Brooks. Trailing Brooks by one stroke after five holes on Monday, Goosen birdied three of the next five holes to take a five-stroke lead and went on to win by two with a round of even-par 70.

“I learned a lot about myself this week, and I know that I can handle a little bit of pressure,” said Goosen after his 2001 victory. “I felt like I needed to win this today somehow, from what happened yesterday.”

Mickelson took a one-stroke lead on the 70th hole in 2004 at Shinnecock Hills before Goosen, playing one group behind, finished birdie-par-par while Mickelson made double bogey on 17. Goosen had 11 one-putt greens in the final round.

A seven-time winner on the PGA Tour and 14-time winner on the PGA European Tour, Goosen will attempt to become the seventh player to win three or more U.S. Open Championships.

Goosen’s exemption brings the total of fully exempt players for the 2016 U.S. Open to 51, with the possibility of more players added on May 24, based on the Official World Golf Ranking.

More information about the 116th U.S. Open before, during and after the championship is available at usopen.com. Several ticket options are available for purchase at
usga.org/tickets.

Tuesday
May172016

Trump National Up To A $9 Million Valuation!

Dave Evans of WABC reports on the ongoing difference of opinion in Ossining, NY, where Donald Trump's legal team has valued Trump National at $1.4 million compared to the $50 million that another legal team valued the course as part of his campaign filings.

He writes:

"The reality is the $1.4 million filing is really what attorneys do," said Fernando Gonzalez, Ossining Town Assessor.

New paperwork shows the 2015 assessment at the golf club is $14.3 million.

But there has been a budge in the estimate! Still not $50 million...

Late Monday, the Ossining supervisor reported that Trump's lawyers had revised their estimate to $9 million.

The full report:

Tuesday
May172016

NBC Promising "Most Live Coverage Ever" For The Open

140 hours of The Open...night owls rejoice!

For Immediate Release:

NBC SPORTS TO DELIVER MOST LIVE COVERAGE EVER FOR A MAJOR AT THE 145TH OPEN CHAMPIONSHIP, JULY 14-17

From First Tee Shot to Final Putt, NBC Sports’ Live Coverage Includes Golf Channel’s First-Ever Telecast of a Men’s Major Championship and Return of The Open to Broadcast Television on NBC

ORLANDO, Fla. (May 17, 2016) – With the most live hours of tournament coverage ever dedicated to one of golf’s major championships, The R&A and NBC Sports Group’s long-term media partnership kicks off its inaugural year with a record number of planned programming hours. The 145TH Open will return to U.S. live broadcast coverage through Golf Channel and NBC’s nearly 140 hours of television coverage from Royal Troon Golf Club throughout the week. It also will represent Golf Channel’s first coverage of a men’s major championship.

“The unprecedented coverage of The Open will provide a unique showcase of the world’s best golfers on an iconic links course, navigating the often dramatic weather conditions and ultimately adding to the history that embodies golf’s original championship,” said Mike McCarley, President, Golf, NBC Sports Group. “We’re honored to provide complete coverage of The Open for the first time on Golf Channel and NBC. Fans will be able to see the opening tee shot through the final putt, culminating with the ‘Champion Golfer of the Year’ raising the Claret Jug.”

“We are delighted to be working with NBC Sports Group and are looking forward to their comprehensive coverage of The 145TH Open,” said Martin Slumbers, Chief Executive of The R&A. “Our fans in the United States will be able to enjoy every shot over the four days of the Championship and will be part of a true celebration of golf at Royal Troon.”

NBC Sports Group Tournament Coverage: 78.5 Total Hours: NBC Sports Group will devote 49.5 live hours of tournament coverage to The 145TH Open from July 14-17, including 14.5 live hours on Golf Channel over each of the first two rounds on Thursday and Friday; 10.5 live hours across Golf Channel and NBC during the third round on Saturday; and 10 live hours across Golf Channel and NBC during the final round on Sunday. In total, NBC Sports Group will provide 78.5 hours, including the live coverage of all four rounds, as well as two highlight specials on NBC from 4-6 p.m. ET on Saturday and Sunday, and encore presentations of each round on Golf Channel. All coverage will be streamed via NBC Sports Live Extra and Golf Live Extra, and additional digital extensions will be announced at a later date.

Golf Channel’s Wraparound News with Golf Central Live From The Open: 59 Total Hours: Golf Channel’s signature news programs, Morning Drive and Golf Central Live From The Open, will provide 31.5 live hours of comprehensive news coverage the week of The Open. Golf Central’s Live From The Open will be onsite throughout the week with 25.5 live hours from Royal Troon, which will be hosting The Open for the ninth time in its history. Morning Drive will kick things off from 11:30 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. ET before The Open’s first round to lead into live coverage of the opening tee shot. Coverage will be complemented by comprehensive news and highlights via NBC Sports Digital, Golf Channel Digital and social media platforms throughout the week.

Tournament Team: In order to cover this unprecedented coverage of a major championship, Johnny Miller (1976 Open Champion), Nick Faldo (1987, 1990, 1992 Open Champion) and Frank Nobilo will rotate as lead analyst in the 18th tower. In addition, a team of NBC Sports’ analysts will contribute to the nearly 50 hours of coverage, including David Feherty, Peter Jacobson, Gary Koch, Roger Maltbie, Mark Rolfing, Tom Abbott, Notah Begay, Billy Ray Brown, Curt Byrum, and Jerry Foltz. And Dan Hicks, Terry Gannon, Jimmy Roberts, Steve Sands and Todd Lewis will handle announcing and reporting duties.

Tuesday
May172016

SBJ: PGA Tour Exploring All Leveraging Options!

Let's start with the bullet points on a very eye-opening Sports Business Journal story.

Because if you are interested in the short and long term future of pro golf on television, there is a lot to chew on and ponder. Also, we discussed all of this on the latest ShackHouse.

SBJ's John Lombardo & John Ourand report in a paywall protected story that the PGA Tour...

  • Is exploring the creation of its own channel
  • Is considering opting out of its current CBS/NBC contract for a new deal commencing in 2019
  • Has gauged whether ESPN/Turner/Fox are interested in bidding on such a contract
  • Is even floating ways to force a renegotiation of its locked-in, no opt-out deal with Golf Channel (through 2021) that would give them equity in the Comcast-owned channel or allow other networks to carry early-round coverage

Regarding the idea of starting a spinoff of PGA Tour Live--something you've seen me mention a few times as a possibility after the LPGA Tour partnership was announced--Ourand and Lombardo write:

With the opt-outs two years away — combined with the tour taking back its digital rights from Turner in 2013 — PGA Tour officials are studying whether the time is right for the tour to own a channel, either on cable or via an over-the-top service. Potentially, the tour could cut a new Golf Channel deal that gives it a stake in the network. This would follow the strategy Golf Channel parent NBC Sports Group has taken with its regional sports networks.

It also would be critical to the tour launching a channel before 2022. Content for the new channel almost certainly would need to include some rights under contract to Golf Channel through 2021. Without a Golf Channel buy-in, the tour would have to wait until that deal expires to gain access to those rights.

There is one hitch...

Any new cable channel likely would run into distribution problems, as well, given the market trends of cord cutting and cord shaving. The tour almost certainly would face an immediate challenge if it were to take rights away from Golf Channel and then try to persuade Golf Channel’s parent, Comcast, to carry the new tour channel. Comcast is the United States’ largest cable operator.

There is that!

So why would the PGA Tour do this now?

After all, it's a busy summer and fall in 2016 for golf. The rights fee bubble, if it has not burst, has dried up spending budgets. Fox and ESPN are cutting back.

Furthermore, things are going well for the PGA Tour. Considering their low ratings compared to other sports, they are still making good money for their players, their partners, and have mostly-happy sponsors.

Two things appear to be in play: the PGA Tour believes the rights fee bubble hasn't burst, and Tim Finchem wants to make one more big deal. He's been telegraphing this for months in press conferences and now it is clear what he wants to do: renegotiate the deals he made.

I ran into a few folks at The Players who are, as you might imagine, find all of this disconcerting. You see, they are very confident that Deputy Commish Jay Monahan is going to be an excellent commissioner, with people skills, business savvy, a love of sports and golf. He has the chance to be pro golfing version of Rob Manfred or Adam Silver, two commissioners who have (so far) delivered a little less of the weirdness and generational stubborness that their MLB and NBA predecessors brought to the job, with just enough of the wisdom handed down by the well-paid predecessor.

But this impending network TV opt-out means Monahan might not have the chance to fully shape the next TV deal and use his skills to re-imagine, where necessary, ways to improve the television "product" going forward.

There is a sense that retiring Commissioner Tim Finchem, who loves to make deals and is obviously quite good at it, is consumed with filling his coffers and solidifying the FedExCup/calendar-year model. He wants one more big bonus that will conveniently be voted on by a PGA Tour Policy Board he has stacked with lemmings. Shoot, he's even turned the PGA of America president, who holds a seat on the board for a little while longer, into a PGA Tour employee. So he's got the votes when it comes time to sell the board on the opt-out.

While I respect Finchem's ability to make money for his partners and coral corporate titans into writing big checks, what fascinates me at this point is the sense that the PGA Tour group is bitter that its partners are doing well. The opt-out seems driven by a desire to pursue more profit, which is very much their right, but as a fan, I don't know how many of these leveraging plays are really thinking of the best outcome for a healthier long-term PGA Tour. My sense is that this is more about Finchem's legacy and retirement savings than returning to the negotiating table with the goal of improving televised golf or securing the health of the tour over the long haul.

Because as we're already seeing with the USGA's Fox 12-year deal--where fewer hours than were promised are being delivered, production quality stunk and the promised brand-building, coolification of the USGA hasn't happened--securing the most amount of money and leaving a television partner less able to profit does not serve either side well over the long term. 

Monday
May162016

ShackHouse Episode 7: 2016 Players Recap

It was a wild Players week and Joe House joined me to kick around the 2016 event.

Also discussed was the evolution of the course, the Saturday course setup issues, Jason Day, Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy's joggers, the upcoming TV deal opt-out and the future of Trump Doral on the PGA Tour.

Here is the golf course website referenced for looking at old aerials, including the TPC Sawgrass.

My item on Rory's joggers that was mentioned prior to House's epic mid-show meltdown!

As always, you can subscribe on iTunes and find Episode 7 there.

Same deal with Soundcloud for the show, and Episode 7 is here.

And the Stitcher page.

Special thank you to our sponsor Callaway, currently offering a 50% off iron trade-in deal.

Thanks to new sponsors Fulton and Roark, who are making fantastic products. No, I don't only say this because they have one of their "hard" colognes called Shackleford. Promo code House, pick up some of the shave cream for 15% off, it's amazing.

And to Athletes Collective, who are making solid athletic wear out of some incredible fabrics. Oh and the price is right. Also, promo code House for 15% off your first order.

Monday
May162016

What Is Tiger Doing?

There have been too many peculiar moments in the otherwise majestic career of Tiger Woods to list. Monday's awful wedge shot performance at Congressional joins the list. But as I discussed with Gary Williams today on Morning Drive, the media member in me hoped he had an exact timeline for a return to golf. The fan in me says, please Tiger, stay far away from the game until you're ready.

Unfortunately, he is teasing us with appearances and suggestions that he's hungry to return. But after dropping three balls in the water on live TV to promote the Quicken Loans, and doing it with an obviously compromised follow-through the ball to protect his back, it is hard to not wonder: what is Tiger doing?

Is he just missing the spotlight? Wanting to remain in the spotlight to convince himself he's close? Bored sitting around at home? Eager to please sponsors?

Probably some combination of all those. I certainly can imagine his frustration and can only imagine the physical pain he's suffered. But in a strange way, by showing people this shadow-of-his-former self state, he's making it hard to remember just how spectacular of an athlete he once was.

The dreaded three balls in the water:


Tiger talking about still possibly catching Jack Nicklaus and his major record.

Monday
May162016

Women's NCAA: The Unprecedented Accommodation For BYU

Kevin Casey for Golfweek.com reports on the decision to allow the BYU women to play their third round before the first round of the NCAA Women's Golf Championship due to the school's no-competition-on-Sundays policy.

While it's not Eric Liddell or Sandy Koufax on the sports spectrum, it's still a fascinating situation that has led to some consternation.

“I find it interesting that people are coming up with these scenarios (for us) at NCAAs, and it’s like, ‘How do you know?’ ” Roberts said. “You’ve never seen a team in this situation.”

When it comes to college golf, Roberts is spot on. The situation on-hand has never before come about in either the men’s or women’s game.

BYU has a strict no-competition policy for its student-athletes on Sunday, as the university, affiliated with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in Provo, Utah, cites the fourth commandment: “Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy,” in explaining the no Sunday play. For BYU, Sunday is a day of rest, and, according to its bylaws, the NCAA must accommodate this Sunday exception – even if it means altering an NCAA Championship schedule.

Monday
May162016

Rory: “Back to a nice traditional U.S. Open, not like we’re playing on the moon this year.”

From Brian Wacker's GolfDigest.com assessment of the state of Rory McIlroy comes a fun line from the lad after a rough week at The Players, indicating the lingering resentment toward the Chambers Bay setup a year later.

He won’t have to wait long for another crack. McIlroy’s next start comes this week at the Irish Open, followed by the Memorial tournament two weeks later, and then the U.S. Open two weeks after that.

“I’m looking forward to it,” he said of the year’s next major. “Back to a nice traditional U.S. Open, not like we’re playing on the moon this year.”

Monday
May162016

Mitzvah Files: Less Bermuda Rough At TPC Sawgrass

Rusticize the place! 

As previously reported, changes are coming to the TPC Sawgrass after The Players. And great news, the clubhouse is getting bigger!

As I write for Golf World, my Sawgrass sources say we will see Bermuda roughs reduced and more sand/pine needle/scrub areas brought closer to the fairways to recapture some of the original Swamp Golf aesthetic.

Longtime readers know I feel a Pinehurst-like restoration to the original Pete Dye vibe would look livelier, more interesting, more environmentally-responsible and more visually intimidating. Done right, it might even justify the price of golf here in the way that Pinehursts's renaissance has restored a singularity to No. 2.

Check out the aerial comparison from 1982 at Golf Course Histories. It speaks for itself.

As difficult as the TPC remains, today's equipment and conditioning means the TPC Sawgrass has been left behind and green speed is one of its last defenses. It's an unfathomable notion given that this course was viewed as too tough when it opened, and the bermuda rough lining the fairways has not instilled much fear.

Jason Day hitting iron-3-wood to the once unreachable 9th? Dustin Johnson launching a 372 yard drive there as well, and too many other instances of players able to bomb and gouge has to be an alarming sight for those insisting the course should not be updated. I will argue until I'm blue in the face that there was not an intentional effort to reverse the low scoring by the tour staff on Saturday, but a strong case can be made that the green speeds we saw are motivated by a desire to keep an immacutely-groomed, scoreable course relevant.

As for the look of the TPC, two-time former Players Champion Steve Elkington noted this on Twitter:

Ultimately, the weird dynamics we saw at TPC Sawgrass boil down to one thing: the fear factor has been lost.

Getting that back won't be easy because of modern driving distance prowess, but at least bringing back some of the rusticity to TPC Sawgrass--and a few back tees--would help for the long term good of The Players.

Sunday
May152016

Day Wins The Players: R.I.P. Big Three, Big Four?

It was so fun while it lasted! But just as soon as we had settled whether to capitalize, numericize, trademark or copyright the Big's, Jason Day's brilliance joined forces with Spieth/McIlroy/Fowler inconsistencies to render a temporary halt on all inane labels. At least for this month.

As many of the scribes reporting on his 2016 Players win note, you get the sense Day has made all of the right scheduling moves, has his personal life in a place that will allow him to exceland is best positioned for a great summer. He's not Baker's Bay cool, so there is that.

Mark Cannizzaro is the first to burst Big bubbles.

But the reality right now — and it was accentuated this week at Sawgrass — is this: Day is “The Big One.’’ He stands alone as the best player in the world until further notice.

The gap between him and Spieth, who missed the cut this week, and McIlroy, who finished eight shots behind him, is widening.

Like Woods always did, Day, who communicates with Woods frequently, seems to have a more intense desire to remain at the top than Spieth and McIlroy, who were No. 1 before him.

Gary Van Sickle is (almost) ready to declare the Big Three/Four dead.

You heard it here first: The Big Three may be dead. Now it looks more like a Big One—Day, your Players champ and three-time winner this year—and a Medium-Large Two—Jordan Spieth, he of the Augusta Hangover, and Rory McIlroy, Northern Ireland’s champion footballer.

Day has six wins in less than a year. He struggled all weekend with his game and, gee, he still won by four. He is not only one of the game’s longest hitters but he’s near the top in putting stats. That combo, barring 12-handicap iron play, is close to unbeatable.

As GolfChannel.com's Randall Mell points out, Day's ability to play well on a variety of courses, including the one that played a few radically different ways last week.

He seemed to win on two different courses, with changing conditions making  the TPC Sawgrass Stadium Course such an extremely different  test on the weekend. His ability to navigate the diverse tests is a testament to the growing versatility of his game. He is honing more tools than Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy. He has a power game Spieth can’t match, and he’s continuing to refine a dependable short game that McIlroy can’t yet consistently match.

Rex Hoggard was most impressed with Day winning minus his A game.

He didn’t look like a man on a mission. There was no swagger, no abundance of confidence that he was playing a different game, although there rarely is with Jason Day, just a cautious optimism born from the fact he’s been here before.

Alan Shipnuck of Sports Illustrated on the sudden gap between Day and friends.

Rory can't putt, his 100-yard game is a mess, he seems to battle a stretch of ennui at every tournament. Spieth is fighting his swing, he's had a chance to win the last three majors and failed pretty spectacularly at two of them. Meanwhile, Day has no weaknesses in his game and is playing with a ton of confidence. I can see him putting the hammer down and really separating himself. In fact, he's already done it.

Alex Myers on the astounding numbers.

No one else has more than two wins during the time Day has picked up his last seven titles. He’s just the fourth player to have multiple wire-to-wire (without ties) wins in the same season and he’s the first to have three such victories in a nine-month span. And with each win, his desire to get better grows.

“I've never been more motivated to be No. 1 in the world. I've never been more motivated to try to extend that lead from one to two,” Day said. “All the hard work that I've put into my game right now has paid off, but I've got to keep working hard to win as much as I can.”

And one more number from PGATour.com's Helen Ross:

...joins Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy, Phil Mickelson and David Duval as the only players who reached double digits in victories before turning 29.

That said, Day hadn't exactly been among the favorites entering THE PLAYERS.

The highlights from PGA Tour Entertainment:

Sunday
May152016

Russell Knox Offers A Textbook Study In Handling A Nine

Doug Ferguson on Russell Knox's Saturday 9 and the affable way in which Knox handled the catastrophic 17th hole play.

The good news? He holed an 8-foot putt to make a 9.

''I had no idea what I was going to make,'' Knox said. ''I ended up making an awesome putt for 9. After I was walking through the tunnel (toward the 18th tee) I was like, 'Whoa, that was to avoid a 10.'''

The Scotsman's Tweets were fun:

 

 

 


Here was the massacre, followed below by the brief scare Sunday:

 

Watch the initial reaction Sunday...

 

Sunday
May152016

Players Saturday: Two Hole Locations Changed, Apologies Shared, Move On?

If you didn't see any of the coverage or believe me from my post yesterday that the PGA Tour rules staff genuinely didn't try to push TPC Sawgrass over the edge, note from Rex Hoggard's report that they changed two Sunday hole locations and expressed their regret.

PGA Tour VP Mark Russell appeared on both Morning Drive with Damon Hack and Todd Lewis on Live From to explain how sickened they were to lose control of the course.

I'm not sure many will believe him given the sense that scoring drove the changes. I certainly understand given my view that the overall push for green speeds is an intentional or subliminal movement in golf to combat the overmatched nature of courses.

Thoughts?

Sunday
May152016

Registered Voters: Spieth Barely Edges Tiger As World's Best

David Whitley points out that in a poll of over 1200 registered voters by Public Policy Polling, the American public isn't exactly keeping up with the elite golfers.

Whitley writes for the Orlando Sentinel:

"Who do you think is the best golfer in the world?"

Jordan Spieth won with 22 percent of the vote. No argument there as long as we pretend the Masters never happened. But guess who was only one point behind Spieth?

Our old friend Tiger Woods. Yes, the same Tiger Woods who currently resides at No. 515 in the Official World Golf Rankings.

Saturday
May142016

Elephant In The Room Files: Green Speed Push Blows Up Again

While I never enjoy seeing a course setup go bad--especially when I know how sick the PGA Tour rules staffers and weather forecasters will be following Saturday's TPC Sawgrass putting bloodbath--it's good to have days like this to remind people how close golf courses are taken to the edge in the name of resisting technological advances that no architecture can keep up with.

When Stimpmeter speeds hover in the 12-13 neighborhood, the slightest bit of drop in humidity mixed with little root structure and unexpected wind can send greens that just days before were said to be too soft (but still wickedly fast) into a state of goofiness. We reached a point in the sport where the green is taken up to extreme speeds and allowed to play too prominent of a role at all levels in part because agronomists are so good at what they do. But mostly, it's about, but the professional game having outgrown just about every course on the planet.

As the 2016 Players joined the list of tournaments influenced by a setup gone wild, we are reminded again that the modern golf ball, when hit by the world's best, goes distances not foreseen by designers and therefore is not something manageable by any design under 8000 yards.

The TPC Sawgrass, once a beast, is often overmatched in today's game. It's final defense, short of 5 inch rough and and adding new tees: extreme green speeds that are manageable until they're not.

Unlike every other professional sports league, the PGA Tour will never get in the business of regulating the equipment played at its events to keep courses relevant and green speeds at a sane level. So there is sweet irony in watching yet another position taken with profit margins in mind bubble to the surface at the Tour's marquee event.

The unfortunate takeaway most will have from Saturday's debacle will believe that the tour was angry at the low scoring and did this. But having been around the TPC all week, I didn't encounter one PGA Tour official even the least bit bothered by Jason Day breaking the 36-hole scoring record. This was a greater-than expected change in the weather that took greens so precariously close to the speed edge and turned them silly.

It's funny that a sport which self congratulates itself repeatedly for having more integrity than any other looks the other way when it comes to protecting the integrity of its playing fields, solely in fear of (potentially) costly regulatory fights that also might call into question golf's devotion to the gospel of unfettered capitalism. How is this sad state of affairs any less ridiculous than looking the other way on a doping scandal?

But I digress...

In Brian Wacker's GolfDigest.com round up of player comments, note Justin Rose's comment about the ball gliding over the greens. That's what happens when all moisture has been sucked out of the blades from mowing, rolling, heat, lack of humidity and perhaps some influence from the Precision air units underneath (assuming they were in use). Also note these numbers:

Over the first two days, there were 122 combined three-putts among the 144 players in the field. On Saturday there were 149 three-putts among the 76 players who made the cut, and 15 of those players had at least 34 putts for their round including McIlroy, who had 37.

Rex Hoggard has some eye-opening putting stats as well, and has this from PGA Tour VP of rules and competitions Mark Russell.

“We have done the same thing all week. We have been double cutting these greens and double rolling them and trying to get them firmed up,” said Mark Russell, the Tour’s vice president of rules and competition. “What happened today was just kind of a perfect storm with the weather. We weren't expecting a 20 mph wind all day, and the humidity 30 percent, not a cloud in the sky. And they just, you know, sped up on us.”

But then that doesn’t explain a three-putt percentage of historic proportions?

The Tour average for three-putts in a round is 2.93 percent, and on Thursday and Friday the field hovered around the norm with a 2.08 and 2.67 percent average, respectively. On Saturday that number skyrocketed to 11 percent.

Rory McIlroy had one of the worst days on the green, reports Will Gray at GolfChannel.com.

“I mean, it’s like a U.S. Open out there. I can’t really describe it any other way,” McIlroy said. “I just found I had a really difficult time adjusting to them. I stood up here yesterday and I said it’s amazing how differently the course plays from morning to afternoon, but I didn’t expect it to be like that out there this afternoon. That was borderline unfair on a few holes.”

McIlroy opened his round with a birdie, but he realized conditions had changed when his 85-foot eagle attempt on No. 2 raced nearly 18 feet past the hole. It led to the first of five three-putts on the day, including three such instances in a four-hole stretch on Nos. 10-13 that dropped him off the first page of the leaderboard.

Jim McCabe says the Shinnecock word came up a lot after the round.

“A lot of caddies kept asking, ‘What’s this remind you of?’ ” said James Edmondson, the caddie for Ryan Palmer. “Everyone said, ‘Shinnecock.’ ”

And when his back-nine 42 and round of 79 was complete, Ian Poulter blurted out “TPC Shinnecock,” only to catch himself and shake his head.
“I’ll refrain from saying anything,” Poulter declared, and wisely he moved to the autograph area and signed for a long line of youngsters.

ESPN.com's Bob Harig says players were not buying the tour's stance on greens getting the same treatment as the previous days. Technically that is true with one extra rolling between the conclusion of round two and the start of round three.

"It was a massive change -- it wasn't very subtle,'' Scott said.

"That was borderline unfair on a few holes,'' Rory McIlroy said.

"I felt like I was putting on dance floors out there,'' Billy Horschel said.

"It was crazy tough,'' Matsuyama said.

There were just three rounds Saturday in the 60s and only six under par. There were seven in the 80s. The 76 players in the field combined for 149 three-putts or worse -- a record for the course. There were 86 double-bogeys or worse.

Sergio's six-putt should not be watched by young children...

 

Saturday
May142016

Spieth: "I’m beating myself up a little bit too much on the golf course and it’s affecting me"

Jim McCabe at Golfweek.com on the 2016 Players Championship missed cut by Jordan Spieth, who was his usual brutally honest self.

“I just think that, you know, I’m beating myself up a little bit too much on the golf course and it’s affecting me and I realize that now,” Spieth said after 72-71 produced his second missed cut in 10 tournaments this season.

Brian Wacker noted this for GolfDigest.com.

Spieth took 59 putts over two days, twice three-putting, and ranked 122nd in strokes gained putting.

It would be easy to pin the poor performance as a Masters hangover but the 22-year-old world No. 3 insists that’s not the case.

Saturday
May142016

Today's TPC Diving Turtles Are Younger, More Brash

The younger generation of TPC turtles is more confident, more assertive and less afraid to take risk!


Previous 17th hole TPC Sawgrass efforts...are like, so slow, methodical and old.

Friday
May132016

Video: Will Wilcox Ends The 17th Hole Hole-In-One Drought

Epic reaction from Wild Will Wilcox and playing partners Cameron Tringale, Daniel Summerhays.

From the PGA Tour's YouTube account:

Thursday
May122016

Taylor Made CEO Abeles: "Very, very careful about how we manage lifecycles moving forward"

Golfweek.com's David Dusek interviews David Abeles about the forthcoming sale of Taylor Made by Adidas and calls it a "process."

The real news is how many times Abeles reiterates that the company has gotten the message on bringing out too many clubs too quickly.

We have a credo here: We will not bring a new product to market unless it is measurably better than what is already in-market. . . . We are going to be more thoughtful in ensuring we retain the value in our products throughout a longer life cycle than we have in the past.

Thursday
May122016

"Jordan Spieth lends a hand to a caddie with a heartfelt mission"

Nice read from Golfweek's Jim McCabe on Jordan Spieth making a pre-Players appearance at the Tesori Family Foundation event raising funds to help special needs children.

McCabe writes:

Spieth spoke to the children, then hit some golf balls and lined up for photographs. The entire time, the two-time major winner looked comfortable; he appeared to sense what the children wanted of him and showed great patience. Soon, the highlight of the day for the children arrived — the chance to hit balls on the range or roll putts on the practice green — so Spieth mingled with a few parents, talked to a local TV reporter, then made his way to his car. He had a golf tournament for which to prepare.

It was a short visit, yes, but it had a lasting impression. “He didn’t have to do this,” Tesori said, “but it’s the type of person he is. It was really, really cool of him. It means a lot to us.”