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Books
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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

Classics
  • 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

At Augusta we tried to produced eighteen ideal holes, not copies of classical holes but embodying their best features, with other features suggested by the nature of the terrain. We hope for accomplishments of such unique character that the holes will be looked upon as classics in themselves.  ALISTER MACKENZIE


    

Wednesday
Mar182015

State Of The Game 53: Masters Build Up Continues

Rod Morri isn't feeling the Masters excitement yet, but Mike Clayton and I do our best to convince him otherwise. That and other topics from the recent weeks of intriguing golf, along with an amateur golf discussion and more.

As always you can find the show here, download the MP3 here, get the episode on iTunes or subscribe at iTunes.

 

Wednesday
Mar182015

WGC Match Play To Blind Draw After The World Top 16

Ryan Lavner reports on the new seeding for this year’s WGC-Cadillac Match Play, which will seed the top 16 and then blind draw for the rest of the field.

Lavner reports:

The top seed for the 16 groups will be determined by the top 16 in the OWGR. After that, the three pools will be determined by a blind draw from players seeded Nos. 17-32, Nos. 33-48 and Nos. 49-64.

Each four-man group will play round-robin matches on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.

The draw will be televised by Golf Channel on April 27th.

Wednesday
Mar182015

Happy Thanksgiving! Olympic Golf Test Event Has A Date

NBCSports.com's Nick Zaccardi reports that on the list of 2016 Rio Olympic test events, golf has appeared!

The dates of the unspecified event at the still unnamed (but finished) Olympic golf course are November 26-29th, 2015.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday
Mar182015

Fifth Circuit Rules Against Golf Channel In Stanford Case

Thanks to reader Steve for Jay Adkisson's fascinating analysis of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals decision reversing a District Court. The Fifth Circuit court ruled that $5.9 million Golf Channel received for an advertising package with Stanford International Bank should go to the victims of Allen Stanford's Ponzi Scheme that impacted many, including golfers Vijay Singh and Henrik Stenson.

From Adkisson's take on Forbes.com, which takes issue with the bizarre precedent set by the Fifth Circuit:

This case illustrates the dangers to a business that deals with a debtor, even unwittingly. If this decision is followed, it creates tremendous risk for any service business that deals with a debtor, since between the business and creditors, the creditors may win. This decision imposes what amounts to a significant duty on businesses to “Know Your Customer” and to thoroughly investigate a large customer’s affairs before taking their money.

How realistic is such a requirement? Not very. Just think about this case: Was The Golf Channel supposed to divine that our world renown Knight Commander was just another Bernie Madoff before the SEC did? As silly as that sounds, it is what the Black Robes sitting on high at the Fifth Circuit just told us.

This was interesting too:

Second, one might suggest that the victims of a Ponzi scheme are not wholly without sin, since they themselves certainly failed to conduct adequate due diligence before getting into the scheme. Victims should have known that chasing higher returns necessarily means higher risk, recalling the late Will Rogers’ famous saying that “I’m not so concerned about the return on my money, as I am about the return of my money.”

The full opinion in Janvey v. Golf Channel, 2015 (5th Cir., Mar. 11, 2015) can be seen here.

Tuesday
Mar172015

Tiger Drops To 87th & A Reminder How Dominant He Was

Golfweek's Jim McCabe considers Tiger's fall to 87th in the world and Phil's less extreme slide, predicting that should Tiger pass up entering either of the two upcoming Texas events, he'll fall to 104th in the world by Masters week.

But to put Woods' domination into perspective (and to offset the less positive news), McCabe notes this:

Want further proof that Woods put together a mind-blogging resume? The current top 10 – Rory McIlroy, Bubba Watson, Henrik Stenson, Adam Scott, Jason Day, Spieth, Jim Furyk, Sergio Garcia, Dustin Johnson, and Justin Rose combine for 75 PGA Tour wins – four fewer than Woods owns.

Tuesday
Mar172015

Masters Mood Setter: Shooie's Gulch Edition

David Owen's Making Of The Masters remains a startling look into the founding of Augusta National. Startling because, like so many of the best things in golf, the details reveal just how much happened by accident or circumstance.

In this Loop post he points out that the old gulch crossing the first fairway was filled in and paid for by a wretched golfer who couldn't clear it, member Clarence Schoo. He was sent an invoice by Chairman Clifford Roberts, who had his own motive for filling in the gulch: erecting a permanent media center.

With the current media center headed for possible relocation in a move that will mean not a thing to the millions who watch the Masters, Owen's item resonates just a bit more to the select few who call it an office for the week. As does his observation that the old photo reveals many of the writers nursing a beer as they filed. No wonder they were so good. They dressed better too.

At Augusta National one day, Schoo topped yet another drive into Schooie's Gulch, and told Clifford Roberts, the club's co-founder and chairman, “I wish you’d fill in that damn ditch.” Roberts did, during the summer of 1951 -- and sent the bill to Schoo. Or so the story goes. In truth, the ditch had always been a maintenance problem. Roberts also wanted to replace the club’s old Masters press tent, which really was a tent, with a Quonset hut. The new building was going to go to the right of the first fairway, near where the big scoreboard is today, and the ditch was in the way. The photo below shows the inside of the Quonset hut in the early 1950s. The sportswriters' laptops look strange, but their beer cans and cigarettes are recognizable.

Tuesday
Mar172015

European Tour & PGA Of Australia In Merger Talks?

Derek Lawrenson with very promising news that the European Tour and PGA of Australia are homing in on some sort of arrangement that would place some of Australia's biggest events under the Euro Tour umbrella. The two sides current co-sanction an event in Perth.

Lawrenson isn't sure on what the arrangement is, but players have already been briefed and a partnership makes sense for both sides.

I can reveal negotiations have reached an advanced stage with the PGA of Australia for some sort of merger. Whether this means an arrangement similar to that with the Sunshine Tour in South Africa — where seven events are co-sanctioned — or something more formal has yet to be determined.

But it’s surely good news for European Tour members, who were given an outline of the plans at the Qatar Masters recently. If events with the prestige of the Australian Open, the Aussie Masters and the Australian PGA Championship made their way on to the schedule in December, it would be a significant upgrade on the slim offerings at the moment.

Tuesday
Mar172015

"I see it in his eyes...because that's where I've been."

Pretty powerful comments from Sean O'Hair today at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, talking about Tiger Woods as someone who has gotten lost searching for a game.

Brian Wacker
at PGATour.com with the quotes and O'Hair's story, which is on a upswing after his playoff appearance at last week's Valspar Championship.

"I just think that he's lost and the only reason why I say that is because I see it in his eyes and I see it in how he's walking and I see it in how he's playing because that's where I've been. I've been living it."

After turning pro out of high school, O'Hair didn't make it through his first five attempts at PGA TOUR q-school. He had also become estranged from his father during the process.

Then in 2005, his rookie year on TOUR, he won the John Deere Classic and by the spring of the following year was the youngest player in the top 50 in the Official World Golf Rankings.

While O'Hair never reached Tiger's level, the depths he hit after getting too technical at least suggest there is a path to saying sayonara to the demons.

Playing the Masters isn't one of them.

Monday
Mar162015

Q&A With Dan Jenkins, Vol. 8 The Unplayable Lies Edition

This week marks the release of Dan Jenkins' 21st book, Unplayable Lies (The Only Golf Book You'll Ever Need).

The book is available in hardcover from Amazon, as well as a Kindle edition from Amazon. And the five places where books are still sold.

My quick review: this is Dan's most diverse collection of golf topics with a collection of new and recent material from Golf Digest. It's a Semi-Anthology. Like any good compilation of a master, you can pick it up and read whatever you're in the mood for, or, tee it up on 1, go all 18 and still have a merry read.

We talked with and about Dan on Morning Drive, covering the new book, Tiger and the young guns. And Dan has now participated in seven prior Q&As at this site.  In order: here, here, here, here, here, here and here.

GS: This is your 65th Masters and it may very well be our last in the current media center, opened in 1990. Will you miss it?

DJ: I won't miss the stairs. Actually, having entered geezerhood, I still miss the old tent, open at both ends to catch the breezes, and then the Quonset hut, and finding a Western Union operator who wasn't taking a break to file my story on deadline. But all of it has been great fun, and after this one I shall be striving to make my 66th.


GS: If the new Masters media center moves away from its current prime real estate, do you think that’ll further reduce access to players? How has player access changed?

DJ: We've been slowly losing access to the players for several years now, and not just at Augusta. But as some of us in the writing trade like to tell the more difficult ones who can't make time for us: "Hey, no big deal. I'd rather make it up anyhow."

GS: Select media get to play the course the Monday after The Masters, do you recall the first time you played and was it part of a blind draw?

DJ: Playing the course used to be so easy in the early 1950s, my first years. Some of us would show up the weekend before the Masters, go in the pro shop, identify ourselves and our publications, ask if we could play, and we would be welcomed, given a caddie, and sent out to the first tee. No charge, no nothing. There would hardly be anyone around. I played the course many times in those days, and have been invited back to play a few more times during the reigns of various chairmen. Fond memories.


GS: In Unplayable Lies you have piece on Hogan vs. Nicklaus vs. Woods. You conclude Tiger had the best recovery shots, chipping and clutch putting of the three. Now the chipping part appears lost, maybe yippee. Can you recall any player who lost part of their game that was once their strength or maybe even the best all time?

DJ: You have to look at a guy's record. Take Trevino. He won five majors from '68 through '74, then he didn't win another one until '84. What happened in those 10 years between? Did he lose something and then get it back? He says no, but perhaps he did and didn't realize it. Sometimes you think you're working at the game, but you're only spinning the wheel. Golf can make you crazy unless you've had proper training in the home. Hogan remains the only player who lost everything---including, almost, his life---and got it back.


GS: The new book has a piece on Titanic Thompson. You leave the impression that his story wasn’t as cinematic as we’d been led to believe. Fair to say?

DJ: I was delighted to finally meet and talk to Titanic, a legend I'd heard about since boyhood days. He of course never did anything to deny the legend he helped create---it was good for his business, after all. But you would have to be a fool to believe he could do some of the outrageous things that were written about him. I do know he must have been a hell of a golfer. Both Hogan and Byron Nelson vouched for it to me personally. And so did George Low, a pretty good hustler himself, who knew Ti well. 


GS: Any theories on why Hollywood has struggled to make decent golf movies?

DJ: Hollywood can't even make a good sports movie, not really. Why? The people who want to make them generally fall somewhere in that crevice between hero-worshippers and jock-sniffers. Besides, it's not Hollywood's job to present reality.


GS: In the essay, "Is Your Club Old Money Or New Money" from the book, did I detect some conflict over which you’d join? I almost felt you siding with New Money more often?

DJ: I would never side with New Money. Me? A man who has always felt nostalgic for things he never knew? Give me brass, dark wood, gilt-edged desks, and blind shots any old day.


GS: Your Top Three, First Team All-Conference Masters Chairmen?

DJ: Cliff Roberts, Hord Hardin, Billy Payne. They've all been great to me personally. And Hootie is my bonus choice.


GS: Best of your parking spots: Augusta National or Amon Carter Stadium?

DJ: It's a dead heat. Thank you, Chairman Billy, for Augusta. And although I lost my spot at the new TCU Stadium when I didn't buy a $15 million dollar luxury suite, and the front door parking that goes with it---not that I could have---I have two good friends in the oil bidness who did---and they count on me to provide songs, dances, and snappy patter when the games become worrisome.

Monday
Mar162015

Bay Hill Greens "Shaggy" Before Getting Re-grassed...

Golfweek's Alex Miceli reports that players arriving at Bay Hill Monday for the Arnold Palmer Invitational found the putting surfaces "not up to tour standards."

Considering how slick and borderline excessive the greens have been speed-wise this year, maybe this will be a welcomed relief. Then again, with the Masters in three weeks, this is not the time to be getting time in on combovers...

Last week at the Valspar Championship in Palm Harbor, officials posted a letter in the Innisbrook Resort locker room that advised players of the conditions at Bay Hill. The notice included a copy of the news release announcing the change from Emerald Dwarf to TifEagle.

“It looks like a combover,” one player who spoke on the condition of anonymity said after a practice round Monday, describing the shaggy conditions.

Bay Hill Club and Lodge announced via press release Monday their planned changes to the lodge property, including some touch up work to the course that will be unveiled at this week's Arnold Palmer Invitational.

From the release...

What’s new for the TOUR players as well as the average golf vacationer?  A more open, beautifully landscaped Championship golf course, the result of a maintenance plan implemented last July.  Bay Hill turned its focus on three projects to designed to enhance the playability aspects of the course for all levels of play, including an upgrade to the bunker sand – 1,700 tons of G-Angle sand that is preferred by the PGA TOUR, plus 5 more acres of fairway expansions that reflect the original course design intent, and an aggressive tree cutting program, taking out limbs that had grown into the line of play.  And did these changes include the stamp of approval from Arnold Palmer?  You bet.

Sounds like blinding new bunker sand, some tree removal and wider fairways. We'll see Thursday...

Monday
Mar162015

Vanity Fair On The Future Of The Agency Known As IMG

Vanity Fair's William Cohan talks to a lot of heavy hitters (David Geffen, Irving Azoff, etc...) for this lengthy insider’s look at anatomy of the IMG purchase by William Morris Endeavor, with a big focus on superagents Ari Emanuel and Patrick Whitesell.

Since I know many of you lie awake at night worrying about the well-being of golf’s once-dominant-agency-turned-all-things-business, the piece is worth checking out if nothing else to learn that the whole thing really is ultimately a chance for some powerful agents to eventually cash out on an IPO. Oh, and you’ll be shocked to know the assumptions for future revenues were sketchy, but the banks went ahead and loaned them money anyway.

One big question concerned the cash flow the banks were told the combined company would generate. That number was a whopping $448 million—some 88 percent more than the $238 million sum the two companies had reported for 2013. The projection contained a number of onetime adjustments and add-backs of expenses that had occurred in previous years.

For a change, it's not golf that’s blamed for the numbers not coming through.

Around the same time, problems with IMG's college-sports business began to seep into public view. According to someone at a presentation to the banks, Pyne had predicted that it would generate $100 million in cash flow in 2014. “If we do $100 million in 2014, it would be the lowest year we've ever had in college,” Pyne is said to have proclaimed to the banks. But in June, the new company lost a premier multi-million-dollar licensing-and-local-media contract with the University of Kentucky to a rival agency. Then it almost lost its deal with Syracuse University. Only through Whitesell's direct intervention was the contract salvaged. But, according to a former IMG executive, where once IMG had paid Syracuse $3.9 million a year and made around $2.5 million in profit, the new contract called for paying Syracuse $6 million a year and was unprofitable. Then IMG lost its contract with Arizona State and a portion of its contract with the University of Georgia. The wheels were coming off IMG's college business. (A WME/IMG spokesman says it's “only fair to state the wins [for the company] in the last five to six months”: Nebraska, Baylor, and Western Kentucky.)

Ah, good get there with WK!

For his part, Emanuel is undeterred. In 2014, according to a competitor, he asked many WME agents to take more equity in the new company in lieu of a portion of their bonuses. His promise to them is that when WME/IMG goes public they will be rich. But with the equity markets again looking shaky after a long upward run, that promise could be a hollow one, or the money a long way off, especially if the promised financial performance is not achieved. “I hear there's a lot of unhappiness,” says a veteran Hollywood observer. “Ari is having to do a good job of convincing their key people to hang in there for another couple of years, and all they keep saying is ‘I.P.O., I.P.O., I.P.O., and look at all the stock you have, and you'll make eight figures when we go public, and you're never going to make that money as an agent anywhere else in a onetime liquidity event, so hang in there until we get to go public.’ ” (Aside from press speculation, there is no indication the company is planning a public stock offering anytime soon.)

Monday
Mar162015

2018 U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Going To Jupiter Hills

Another strong venue for the USGA's new Four-Ball championship, as the exclusive George and Tom Fazio-designed Jupiter Hills will host in 2018.

That is preceded by Olympic Club, Winged Foot and Pinehurst. For Immediate Release:

USGA ANNOUNCES JUPITER HILLS CLUB AS HOST OF 2018 U.S. AMATEUR FOUR-BALL

Club awarded its second USGA championship, having hosted 1987 U.S. Amateur

FAR HILLS, N.J. (March 16, 2015) – The United States Golf Association (USGA) today announced Jupiter Hills Club, in Tequesta, Fla., as the host site for the 2018 U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Championship. This will be the second USGA championship held at Jupiter Hills Club. The dates of the championship are May 19-23.

“The USGA is pleased to return to Jupiter Hills Club with the 2018 U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Championship,” said Diana Murphy, USGA vice president and Championship Committee chairman. “The USGA is committed to supporting and advancing amateur competition, and we know the club will provide a comprehensive test for the players. The more than 2,000 entries we received for the inaugural U.S. Amateur Four-Ball have proven this will be a widely popular championship.”

The inaugural U.S. Amateur Four-Ball will be contested May 2-6, 2015, at The Olympic Club in San Francisco, Calif.

Jupiter Hills Club’s Hills Course will be used for both stroke-play qualifying and the match-play portion of the 2018 championship. The course was designed by George Fazio and opened for play in 1970. Fazio, who had three top-five finishes in the U.S. Open, including a playoff loss to Ben Hogan in 1950 at Merion Golf Club, partnered with William Clay Ford Sr., comedian and actor Bob Hope and William Elliott to purchase the land where the course was built in the late 1960s. Tom Fazio, George’s nephew, renovated the Hills Course in 2006.

The Hills Course hosted the 1987 U.S. Amateur Championship, won by Billy Mayfair, 4 and 3, over Eric Rebmann. Mayfair became the first player to win the U.S. Amateur and U.S. Amateur Public Links titles, having won the 1986 APL. Rebmann defeated Steve Stricker and five-time USGA champion Jay Sigel en route to the championship final.

Jupiter Hills Club served as a host site for U.S. Open sectional qualifying in 2007 and 2008. The club also hosted the Florida State Amateur in 2008 and 2013.

“Jupiter Hills once again welcomes the world of amateur golf to our club as we prepare to host the fourth U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Championship in 2018,” said Allen Haldeman, club president. “We are proud of our many ties to the USGA, including hosting the 1987 U.S. Amateur. We look forward to providing Amateur Four-Ball competitors and spectators with a memorable experience.”

Jupiter Hills’ Village Course will serve as the companion course for stroke-play qualifying. Designed by Tom Fazio, the course opened for play in 1982. Fazio renovated the course in 1999.

Monday
Mar162015

Valspar Ratings Up 30%; Peak During NCAA Selection Show

I was beginning to wonder if the networks had forgotten to include me on their ratings press releases!

But great news for the PGA Tour as the exciting Valspar Championship won by Spieth in a playoff over Reed and O'Hair was up 30% and peaked at a healthy 3.6 as CBS unveiled the 2015 NCAA Tournament selections and the playoff ensued.

The playoff drew nearly as many viewers as the selection show (3.6 to 3.9).

From the release:

A three-man playoff between America’s young guns Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed, along with a re-emerging Sean O’Hair, in Sunday’s final round on NBC posted a 2.41 overnight rating – up 31 percent from last year’s broadcast (1.84).  Ratings peaked at 3.6 between 6-7 p.m., which was opposite selection shows on various networks for the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament.  This followed an 11 percent year-over-year increase for Saturday’s third round coverage (1.47), which was the best since 2008.

Golf Channel’s live, lead-in coverage on the weekend also saw ratings increases, with Saturday’s third round (0.45) up 32 percent over the same round in 2014 (0.34), and the final round up seven percent (0.64 vs. 0.60). These are the best lead-in overnight ratings for this event since Golf Channel began lead-in coverage in 2011.

SBJ's Austin Karp reports that the selection show saw its worst rating in ten years, no doubt impacted by the golf and NASCAR  running long.

CBS drew a 3.9 overnight rating for the NCAA men’s basketball tournament Selection Show yesterday from 6:00-7:00pm ET, marking the lowest figure for the show in at least a decade.

Monday
Mar162015

Some Hole Locations Don't Need To Be Changed, Files...

Nice spot Luke Kerr-Dineen and even better suggestion that this will "haunt your dreams."

Tweeted by Ed Martinez, superintendent at Deerwood in Kingwood, Texas:

 

 

Monday
Mar162015

Oh Boy...EA Sports Turns To Rory

As Tiger needed another whap at his fragile psyche, EA Sports announced that after a year off and no front-man helming their lucrative PGA Tour game, Rory McIlroy will be their new face. The game had been without a frontman for over a year after 15 with Woods.

Danielle Burger of Bloomberg reports.

And while I wish I could belittle Ricard Jensen, professor of marketing at Montclair State University, the impact of the EA game is profound in introducing non-golfers to players, tournaments and courses.

“If you don’t have an iconic star, fans get lost in terms of wondering who to tune in for and who to root for,” Jensen said. “If you can get more young people playing EA golf, it would make them more aware of golf events.”

Golf has a ways to go but still, big numbers even without a star presence:

Before Monday’s announcement, PGA Tour 15 was forecast to produce $98 million in sales from its debut through March 2016, according to Michael Olson, an analyst at Piper Jaffray Cos. Olson puts sales of EA’s FIFA soccer game at $500 million and Madden NFL at $250 million during the same period.

Luke Kerr-Dineen has some exclusive quotes from Rory talking about the influence of gaming on his ownself and he hopes, the sport. And no doubt he has many millions of reasons to feel that way.

Speaking of McIlroy clout scores, he's at 100 right now in Ireland, reports Brian Keogh, who says Rory's influence helped secured Dubai Duty Free as the Irish Open sponsor. And McIlroy has called in a few favors to attract some big names for the event's May 28-31 playing at Royal County Down. Keough writes that this sets the event up for someday having a "links swing" in conjunction with the Scottish Open and Open Championships.

Sunday
Mar152015

Just How Much Does Augusta National Make Masters Week?

...Or to put it less delicately, how much money does Augusta National net annually to allow them to constantly upgrade facilities, offer fair ticket prices and keep their telecast the most watchable by a longshot, all while tucking away a few Benjamins to some day do some much-needed tree relocation work (The Ghost of Bobby Jones can always dream, right)?

For the first time since 1997, Ron Sirak and Golf Digest attempt to tabulate just how much the Masters brings in and what the club ultimately nets. As always, I urge you to hit the link or read your hard copy to see the then-and-now numbers, but a few points worth noting...

In all, the Masters will generate about $115 million in revenue this year, according to Golf Digest reporting, more than a five-fold increase from the $22 million the magazine estimated in 1997 for the previous year's Masters.

Astoundingly, Sirak says that is without getting carried away with ticket prices or taking more than a 65% markup on merchandise or taking in real television rights money, the club still does incredibly well.

"After the Masters, CBS sends an invoice to Augusta National, and they check it out and get the money from their corporate partners to cover production costs," says the source.

That means that IBM, AT&T and Mercedes-Benz pay about $6 million to $8 million each in exchange for four minutes of advertising time per hour—about one-third of the commercial interruptions of other sporting events. Rolex and UPS are the corporate partners for the international broadcast. "If they ever opened up the [domestic TV] bidding, it would absolutely be worth more than the U.S. Open, but that's never going to happen," said the source, referring to the $93-million-a-year, 12-year deal the USGA signed with Fox Sports in 2013. "There was talk back when the Masters went without sponsors during the Martha Burk controversy [2003-'04] that it might go to pay-per-view," the source said. "If they did, they could get $100 for the weekend and get two million to three million buys. Do the math on that. But they're never going to leave CBS."

Oh charge 'em a little Mr. Payne. The nine CSI's are raking in big bucks.

Those estimates would bring net revenue to $48.4 million. Even if Augusta National paid the highest tax rate of 39.6 percent, the tax bill would be $19.2 million, leaving a profit of $29.2 million (versus $7 million in the 1997 Golf Digest report).

Sunday
Mar152015

Jordan Spieth Wins Thrilling Valspar Championship

The choke factor reared its head again but not to the extent we've seen in recent PGA Tour weeks, allowing for a captivating final round to the 2015 Valspar Championship. Jordan Spieth did his best Seve imitation, scraping it around enough to land in a playoff with Sean O'Hair and Patrick Reed, prevailing on the third hole of sudden death.

Spieth hasn't changed much with the post shot dialogue and reactions that irk some, but as Randall Mell points out, it sure makes the 2-time PGA Tour winner fun to watch.

There was entertainment value listening to Spieth think out loud the way he likes to do under pressure. The way this young Texan talks to his golf ball, the way he chastises himself for bad shots, there can be danger in that with live microphones catching just about everything nowadays, but this observer didn’t detect anything objectionable. Just the opposite. There was almost something Palmer-esque in the way Spieth drew us out there on to the stage with him.

The short game wizardry got Gary Van Sickle's attention:

You had to see these saves to believe them. At the 17th hole in regulation, he missed the green right and found his ball buried in a bad lie in thick rough on a downslope. Spieth went into full super-flop mode and got it on the green, incredible stuff, and made the putt. Then at 18, his drive found a fairway bunker, he hit behind his iron shot, then dropped a nice pitch shot behind the hole and made that clutch putt, too.

The full final round highlights:

Jordan Spieth's winning putt:


Patrick Reed got up and down in amazing fashion on the first hole of the playoff.

Saturday
Mar142015

Tiger Roundup And Poll: Will He Play The Masters?

Thanks to John Strege for a few links on Tiger's late Friday announcement that he's skipping Bay Hill to keep finding his game.

Frankly, it's not easy finding stories trying to decipher the latest statement. Can you blame golf's scribblers? Who wants to spend a Friday evening trying to understand how a talent as giant as Tiger has, apparently, lost his game to the point that it's an hour-by-hour question as to whether he can find a game to get around Bay Hill. Where he's won eight times.

Bob Harig quotes agent Mark Steinberg, who reinforces how hard Tiger is working.

"He's grinding. He's really, really working," his agent, Mark Steinberg, told ESPN.com. "Everyone knows he's working toward the Masters, he wants to play there. But having said that, he really wanted to play in the worst way [at Bay Hill]. He wanted to play at Honda."

If the desire is indeed there, that's unfortunately for Tiger and a sad day for fans. Tim Rosaforte's Golf Central report on Medalist sightings confirms that Tiger has been hard at work but the scores when playing haven't been "in the mid-60s."

His life guru talked about recent practice sessions with Woods, and Notah Begay confirms in the nicest way possible that the short game issues are lingering.  From Cameron Morfit's golf.com assessment:

"I spent quite a bit of time the last couple of weeks down at Tiger’s house, trying to be a good running mate and going through workouts and practicing with him," said Notah Begay, Woods' longtime friend and former college teammate. "I can attest to the fact that things are improving and that he is putting in some solid workdays. It is just not at the status that he wants it."

Morfit predicts Woods will not add one of the two Texas events prior to the Masters but writes:

The last time Woods parachuted into Augusta without having played a Tour event all year was 2010, when he returned from his sex scandal.

He tied for fourth.

However, GolfChannel.com's Ryan Lavner adds...

Back then his personal life was in disarray, but his world-class game remained intact, only months removed from a six-win PGA Tour season. Best we can tell, the opposite is true here.

I'm of the view that Woods won't play the Masters, should not play, and based on the peculiar dramas of 2015, will only find more misery if he tries to play with a rusty, iffy game. His team's claims of hard work along with the decision to wait until as close as possible to Bay Hill's entry deadline appear meant to give sponsors the impression they will get value for their investment at some point. 

And while I know some are tired of Tiger talk, this bizarro will-he-or-won't-he drama appears unprecedented in the annals of All Time Greats. (Well, unless you count when he was in rehab and reappeared at the 2010 Masters).

This is the simple poll question, will Tiger play the 2015 Masters (the issue of should he play is for another day).

Will Tiger Woods enter the 2015 Masters?
 
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Friday
Mar132015

Video: Jonathan Byrd's Valspar Championship Ace

A classic, no-doubter ace from Byrd on Innisbrook's 215-yard 15th.

The clip:

Friday
Mar132015

Video: Ernie Els Wraps Club Around Tree, Makes Alarming Sound

I was in another room here at my estate when Ernie Els wrapped his club around a 16th hole tree during round two of the Valspar Championship. But when you hear the sound you'll see why I ran in to see what the fuss was about.

The clip: