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In considering the democratic side of golf we are forced to remember that all the original links were common soil over which every man, woman or child had free access --  as free as the expanse of ice in the Dutch pictures where small boys are to be seen pottering about with putters tucked under their arms. It seems a pity that the boundaries of the popular links should ever be closed – even in the interests of gate money. People may be inconvenient in their numbers, but barriers are worse. The perfect course, will, I think, always be as free as the air.  H.N. WETHERED


    

Monday
Jul142014

The Independence Referendum: No Effect On The Open

Before we move on to The Open, Karen Crouse explores the dynamics involved with the Scottish independence referendum, including any possible impact on Scotland's Olympic golfers and The Open Championship. The September 18th vote takes place the same day the R&A votes on female membership opportunties. Don't you just love a good coincidence!

The Open, at least, is safe regardless of the vote. First Minister Alex Salmond, a huge golf nut, skipped The Open last year and may not be too tight with R&A Chief Executive Peter Dawson.

Crouse writes:

Peter Dawson, chief executive of the R & A, spent part of Wednesday at Royal Aberdeen, where his path briefly crossed Salmond’s on the 10th hole. Dawson stopped to talk with Mickelson and a few others but did not address Salmond, who skipped last year’s Open for the first time in two decades in protest of host Muirfield’s all-male membership policy.

On the same day as the Scottish referendum balloting, the R & A, also all-male, will decide whether to allow female members. How either vote will turn out is anybody’s guess, but an R & A spokesman, Malcolm Booth, cleared up one uncertainty.

“The Open Championship is, and always has been, golf’s most international major championship,” he said. “Historically, it has been played in Scotland, England and Ireland, and that will continue regardless of the outcome of Scotland’s vote on independence in September.”

Monday
Jul142014

University Of St. Andrews Principal Says R&A Members Taunted Her With Their Ties

Tom Rowley of The Telegraph reports that Louise Richardson, Principal of University of St. Andrews, expanded on her remarks about the Royal and Ancient Golf Club's treatment of her as the first University president not to have been admitted to the club. (There was Karen Crouse's piece here).

Rowley writes:

In an interview in the run-up to the vote, which will be held on the same day as the Scottish independence referendum, Prof Richardson said she had shunned invitations to occasional lunches for “well-behaved wives”, insisting she will not enter the clubhouse until she is entitled to membership.

“Once or twice, female professors have seen me in situations where I’m surrounded by men wearing their R&A ties, and they get really upset and offended for me,” she said.

Some of the members would then wave their ties at her “to draw my attention, lest I didn’t notice”. “They think that’s funny,” she said.

Monday
Jul142014

Video: GoPro Endorsed Trick Shots...Heavy On The Editing

Certainly has an Americana feel and I do give high marks for the creativity, but there are just one too many suspicious edits for this to make the trick shot hall of fame...

A GoPro endorsed backyard trick shot video:

 

Sunday
Jul132014

Keegan Joins Captain Watson For Ryder Cup Team Scouting Trip

We know it doesn't matter a whole lot, but the symbolism of Captain Tom Watson inviting 20, getting four or five to accept and then only having Keegan Bradley show up to Gleneagles for a scouting trip won't be lost on the European press.

Alex Miceli reports on Watson's visited to the host of the 2014 Ryder Cup.

"What I wanted to do is to play the golf course myself",” Watson said. " “I had the opportunity to play with Keegan Bradley, which was very instructive about how the golf course should be played and can be played and effectively played."”

Watson believes that after seeing Bradley play, a long and predominately high-ball hitter will have a distinct advantage at Gleneagles.

I wonder if Keegan had that awkward feeling of showing up first at a cocktail party and then...no one else shows?

Sunday
Jul132014

Yuck! "The Rio the World Cup didn't show"

Now that the World Cup is over and the journos have left, soon free to say what they actually saw, the first such piece on the 2016 Olympic Games host city is a doody. I mean doozy.

ESPN's Wright Thompson spent some time at the beaches where 4,700 gallons of sewage spill into the oceans...every second.

At least they aren't using the oceans to irrigate the Olympic Golf Course. Not yet anyway.

Sunday
Jul132014

Rose Wins Scottish Open, Finally Becomes Open Favorite

It took a resounding win in the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open, on top of a win at the Quicken Loans National two weeks ago to move ahead of links golf skeptic Rory McIlroy, but Justin Rose dropped from around 16-1/18-1 to 12-1 favorite after conquering Royal Aberdeen. He posted a -16, 268 total for his first victory in Scotland.

Rose's odds before clinching the title Sunday:

The links played marvelously, offering the players different winds or in the case of Sunday's finale, almost no wind. While way too narrow with too many long walks back to tees because the players are just so much more fit these days, the course held its own and provided the kind of links experience that should benefit those who played. If nothing else, just four days of the vagaries has to help players here get that shock out of their system when they arrive at Hoylake for The Open.

This is my second Scottish Open and the event was impeccably run, with golf knowledgable galleries who turned out in impressive fashion Sunday despite early morning rain. The infrastructure and logisitics on a pretty tough site in Royal Aberdeen appeared to work well and the course proved to be a fine venue. The vistas for spectators aren't as good as at Castle Stuart, but few venues are as ideal for spectating as the 2016 host.

A few images from the weekend at Royal Aberdeen:

 

Sunday
Jul132014

Video: Mo Martin's Almost Double Eagle To Win Women's British

Doug Ferguson sets up Mo Martin's epic winning shot at Royal Birkdale, her first eagle of the 2014 season, the American's first win and first top 28 in a major. (Alex Myers with all the firsts.)

Ferguson writes:

From the middle of the fairway on the par-5 18th hole at Royal Birkdale, Martin ripped a 3-wood that she first thought was too short, and then worried might be too long. It turned out to be close to perfect. The ball hit the middle of the pin and settled 6 feet away for an eagle.

An hour later, that turned out to be the winning shot for the 31-year-old American when Inbee Park and Shanshan Feng could not stay under par.

"I think I still need to be pinched," Martin said.

The video from ESPN, which I had embedded by the Auto Play was too annoying.

A YouTube version:

Sunday
Jul132014

Gullane, Castle Stuart Land Next Two Scottish Opens

It was all smiles Sunday morning at Royal Aberdeen as a successful week finished up with the announcement of Gullane and Castle Stuart as the next two Aberdeen Asset Management Opens, with a West Coast date eyed for 2017.

Martin Dempster reports on the exciting news that figures to keep building this tournament's momentum and also this fun exchange regarding Rory McIlroy's assertion that Gil Hanse and Mark Parsinen's Castle Stuart is "not a true links test."

The two-time major winner is likely to approve of Sunday’s confirmation that a composite course made up from 15 holes of Gullane No 1 and three from Gullane No 2 will host the tournament next year.

But it remains to be seen whether he will change his opinion of Castle Stuart to play there in 2016 ahead of the Open at Royal Troon.

Castle Stuart general manager Stuart McColm said: “The disappointment for me is that Rory has never been. I don’t know how he can say something about a golf course he has never seen.

“Why doesn’t he come up there and play it before making up his mind.”

Thanks to reader Brooks for this unbylined BBC story that notes this about Gullane, for those not aware of what a sensational place this will be for the Scottish Open. Bringing a big event back to East Lothian at a course not named Muirfield is monumental for this event, which might have suffered had it gone to the beautiful but ultra-exclusive Renaissance Club.

Captain of Gullane Robert Dick added: "The club has a history that stretches back to 1882 but golf has been a part of Gullane for well over 350 years. Golf is at Gullane's core, the village is surrounded by courses and the club's children's course, runs through its very centre.

"To bring the Scottish Open to this golfing heartland is something our members are proud of, and I believe we will provide a fitting venue for Scotland's top golf tournament."

Of the club's three courses, holes from Gullane No. 1 and Gullane No. 2, which have previously been used as Open Championship qualifying venues, will form a course of over 7,000 yards for next year's Scottish Open.

Here is the full press release.

Below is a before and after aerial depicting the composite routing, which will unfortunately eliminate Gullane No. 1's first tee for infrastructure, but mercifully has the finish near the enchanting town and incorporates some really special holes from the No. 2 course. Click on the images to enlarge:

Sunday
Jul132014

University Of St. Andrews Principal On R&A: "Little did I know."

Karen Crouse profiles 55-year-old University of St. Andrews "principal" Louise Richardson, who is the first such leader of the university not to be asked to join the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews. Because she's a woman.

I know what you're thinking, they could have quietly done so and been done with the whole membership thing, but it'll be so much more fun to have a vote and possibly have the whole thing backfire!

Anyway, Richardson makes clear that this has become an issue, more than she initially thought, because of her inability to take blustery old rich types to lunch at he R&A to clinch the check-writing deal. Must so fun to be a college president these days.

Crouse writes:

“A supporter of the university got in touch and asked if he could possibly have lunch at the R&A today,” she said. “I had to arrange for somebody I know to take him to lunch at the R&A because, of course, I can’t. And I had to arrange for another member of the staff to take his wife to lunch some place in town because, of course, she can’t get into the R&A, either.”

At the time she took office in 2009, Richardson dismissed any discussion of club membership as a nettlesome distraction to more important issues.

“I, being kind of a professional and a pragmatist, said, ‘Oh, we can work something out; this is silly,’ ” she said. “But little did I know.”

Richardson also gets big points for this from the hickory golf crowd:

For the 55-year-old Richardson, golf has always been a bonding exercise. She took up the sport when she was young to spend time with her father.

The last time she played, she used hickory clubs, but it was not that long ago. In 2012, Richardson hit the first shot during a fund-raiser at Kingarrock, a golf course 10 miles from the St. Andrews Old Course and 100 years behind modern times. People who witnessed her solid shot expressed surprise at how she lifted the ball in the air. They had mistakenly interpreted her silence on the Royal and Ancient Club membership as a lack of interest in the game.

Saturday
Jul122014

Rickie Is Ready, But He Shoulda Played Fraserburgh

I bounced between the Phil Mickelson-Jimmy Walker pairing and the Rickie Fowler-Richard Bland twosome during round three of the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open and while Mickelson's overall game still seems a notch above the rest (other than still struggling to gauge long putt speed), Walker flashed moments of good form until a late round collapse. And Fowler looks to be very much ready heading into next week at The Open.

John Huggan writes about Fowler's love of links golf and how his wind play bodes well. Growing up in the wind-tunnel that is Murrieta, it figures Rickie can handle the breezes. So much so that I'll be speaking to my friend William Hill about an each-way opportunity with Rickie at an attractive 40-1.

After the round Rickie revealed to a few reporters that he played 36 holes Friday, the first 18 at Royal Aberdeen and later another round at Trump International where he pushed his tour bag on a trolley while playing with is caddie and agent. If he'd asked me, I would have surely recommended the otherworldly Cruden Bay or the lovely links at Fraserburgh, the seventh oldest golf club in the world and which I visited for the first time Saturday.

For those considering a trip to this part of Scotland, I'd highly recommend adding this gem and I explain why in this Loop item. Tell your friend it's like going to a craft beer tasting instead of a Four Seasons bar. The millenials will get it, the list checker-offers won't.

And thanks to Ran Morrissett for urging me to add this course to my studies. He has a much longer review with photos in much better light at GolfClubAtlas.com.

Saturday
Jul122014

McGinley All But Locks In GMac & Poulter For Ryder Cup

Not a lot of grey area in European Captain Paul McGinley's comments to the Daily Mail's Derek Lawrenson about Lee Westwood's chances of getting a captain's pick, especially compared to fellow Cup stalwarts Ian Poulter and Graeme McDowell.

Lawrenson writes:

"I spoke with Chubby (Chandler, Westwood’s manager) last week and spelled it out. We’ve got three huge events coming up that will determine the final line-up and the truth is Lee needs to do something."

Poulter and McDowell are in a different category. ‘They’ve got the pedigree and they’re in good form,’ argued the Irishman. Poults is one place outside the team and G-Mac’s just won the French Open. So I’m not going to try to kid anybody. If either of them end up needing a pick, they’ve got a very good chance of getting one.’"

Saturday
Jul122014

Tiger Appears At Hoylake, Press Is Ready!

Probably thinking he could get some quiet practice in Saturday at Hoylake without writers on hand to ask questions, Tiger appeared a day earlier than he had in recent years for The Open. Didn't fool some scribes!

The first reps are in, Patrick Reed was his playing partner and Tiger says he's feeling good.

Bob Harig writes:

And he was pleased that you'd be hard-pressed to see any pain or discomfort as he played the course.

"I'm not favoring anything," Woods said. "The little baby steps worked. We were very diligent about what I was doing. Going into it we pushed it pretty hard to get my abs and glutes strong so when I did come back I was able to rebound fast. I can do whatever I want. I'm at that point now. We didn't think we'd get to that point until this tournament or the week after."

Steve DiMeglio on the quiet before the mild storm that was Tiger's appearance.

"Growing," Woods said when asked about his confidence concerning his game. "Congressional was big for me, the fact I could go out there and play and I got better as the days went on. It was a little bit eerie and iffy if that was going to happen or not, especially with how hard I was hitting the ball.

James Corrigan responds to the recent jabs at Woods by Paul Azinger, Curtis Strange and Hank Haney, while also giving us a report on Hoylake for next week.

From Corrigan's story:

If people such as Strange are eager to write off Woods, they should definitely not do likewise with Hoylake. In truth, it was too bouncy in 2006 and this week should give a more genuine examination of its strengths and weaknesses. Whatever their hue, Craig Gilholm, the shrewd greenkeeper, still believes there will be some fire in the fairways and the forecast is for good weather, if not quite the ice cream heatwave of eight years ago.

Nick Faldo elaborated in this Sky report on why he didn't understand Tiger's run-up to Hoylake:

"But it is just amazing he's only played two rounds of golf since March and he's the favourite. That's just incredible.

"But then if he comes with the right game plan we will see, and it's as simple as that.

"However, it's a tough game to play when you are rusty and that's why I came here to Royal Aberdeen as every day you learn and pick something up.

"At present, Tiger's short on everything and it seems strange as he had a chance to play in the Greenbrier Classic which would have been good for him or he could have come here to the Scottish Open as a late entrant.

"So given he was looking for competitive practice, why Tiger just didn't tee it up last week or this I can't say.

Tiger's currently anywhere from 12-1 to 20-1 depending on which venerable wagering institution you prefer. Even at that price, my Tiger budget this year may be going to a missed cut bet, sadly. Just a wee one, in case the price is right.

Friday
Jul112014

Holly Sonders Jumps To Fox Sports!

Nice scoop by Martin Kaufman that Holly Sonders is leaving Golf Channel for Fox Sports in a deal that will have her appearing on the new USGA package and NFL Sundays.

Kaufman writes:

Sonders was in the midst of contract discussions with Golf Channel and “we didn’t come to terms,” according to a spokesman.

“We wish her the best in her future endeavors,” he said, declining further comment.

My sources say Sonders wanted to be reunited with husband Erik Kuselias, who was living in Connecticut and will be leaving his gig at NBC Sports Network.

Friday
Jul112014

State Of The Game Podcast 42: The Other Tom Watson

En route to the UK, I couldn’t be part of Episode 42 of State of the Game but Mike Clayton and Rod Morri thankfully caught up with Tom Watson, caddie to So Yeon Ryu, a couple of hours before the pair hit off at Royal Birkdale in the Ricoh Women's British Open.

Watson is a golf course architecture junkie and goes out of his way to play as many great courses as he can while he’s on the road looping and says he’s even started to get the 2011 US Women’s Open champ interested in the subject. His list so far this year includes Sand Hills, Ballyneal and Bandon Dunes and he also shares some great insights into the recent US Women’s Open at Pinehurst.

Friday
Jul112014

“That’s another Friday out of the way. Thank God."

Some have seconditis, Rory has second rounditis.

Ewan Murray reports on Rory' McIlroy's shocking second round 78 at the Scottish Open where another Friday blow-up took him from the lead to struggling to contend. 

From Murray's report:

McIlroy’s woes began with a bogey on the opening hole after his approach shot missed the green. Having reached the turn in 38, two over, he went on to bogey the 10th and double-bogey the 12th after taking two to get out of a bunker. McIlroy was seven over for the day through 14 holes and suddenly flirting with the cut.

The 25-year-old parred in from there and thus avoided what would have been an ignominious exit but he still cut a dejected on-course figure. “That’s another Friday out of the way. Thank God,” McIlroy said with a laugh.

In Bob Harig's account of the round, he noted this about McIlroy:

Worldwide, McIlroy has played his first rounds in 51 under par this year, but 9 over in the second round.

Rory certainly didn't go the route of Monty, as James Corrigan recounts this classic from 1996 when Carnoustie played tougher in the Scottish Open than Open host Lytham.

Following his first-round 70 in benign conditions, Montgomerie said: “This place is fantastic. It’s the best links course I’ve ever seen — I can’t find a detrimental thing to say about it.”

Following his closing 81, in which the elements howled, Montgomerie said: “That course has completely destroyed my swing for the Open. The conditions were far too severe to play golf. This event deserves better.”

Ricardo Gonzalez and Kristoffer Broberg lead at -6, one clear of Justin Rose, five ahead of Phil Mickelson and six ahead of McIlroy. And don't forget the coverage is split between Golf Channel and NBC this weekend.

Thursday
Jul102014

Azinger: Tiger Made Himself Worse Trying To Get Better

Tiger has bulletin board material for his Hoylake house!

John Strege with Paul Azinger's intriguing comments about Woods to promote ESPN's coverage of The Open Championship next week.

"And Tiger's quest to get better, I think he's actually gotten a little bit worse. Most golfers have made the same mistakes in some weird way about changing their golf swing . . . and I think Tiger has done that to his detriment. Jack never made those mistakes. Jack understood that if he could stay the same, he would still dominate. Tiger didn't need to get better. He just didn't need to get worse. He needed to stay the same and he could still dominate, and in his quest to get better, it's kind of backfired on him."

Speaking of ESPN, during next week's Open they are going to show ONLY Tiger on their internet streaming channel, ESPN3. Strege has that too.

Thursday
Jul102014

Birkdale: American Resurgence Continues, Wie Has Work To Do

Ayako Uehara of Japan shot a four-under-par 68 to take the first round lead at Royal Birkdale, but as Ron Sirak points out, the American contingent got off to a nice start. (With the exception of Michelle Wie, who posted a 75 playing conservatively.)

More interesting is that Sirak reminds us it wasn't long ago that the Americans were not so great, and maybe it was that Solheim Cup loss that turned things around.

 Pretty much everyone traces the resurgence to the stinging defeat by Europe in last year's Solheim Cup at Colorado Golf Club outside Denver, the first time the U.S. squad lost a home game in that competition.

"I think all of the Americans are very motivated," Wie said. "We kind of got our butt kicked [at last year's] Solheim and I think after that, I think a lot of us just really looked into ourselves and kind of just re-evaluated what was happening. It was a good reality check."

Round one highlights courtesy of Golf Channel.

Thursday
Jul102014

ESPN's OTL Tackles Golf Addicts & Those That Tolerate Them

The Open Championship always helps get ESPN's attention in other programming areas as well (synergy!). You can hardly miss it on the refreshed Sportscenter, which could also be a product of golf folks like Rob King and Mike McQuade having a bigger say in the show. We'll see if that continues when Johnny Manziel is first spotted wearing something orange or brown.

For now, Outside The Lines is taking a look at golf addicts and it sounds like a reach. The last time OTL took on golf it was the PGA Tour's charitable giving and the report misfired.

The preview for Sunday's 9 a.m. ET show.

Thursday
Jul102014

Video: Phil Clips One Off The Royal Aberdeen Asphalt

Alex Myers sets up up the backstory of this Mickelson doozy on the 436-yard 13th during round one Scottish Open play. This is also the hole where Rory McIlroy drove the green.

Thursday
Jul102014

Definitive Video Evidence Surfaces Confirming Lack Of Synergy Between Pro Golfers And Segways

Brandt Snedeker is just now finding his game again after last fall's Segway mishap which was not caught on video.

Jesper Parnevik was courageous enough to Instagram this public service message to all golfers...and maybe all people. Stay off the Segway.

John Strege with the explanation and broken rib report that will keep Parnevik out of action for the immediate future.