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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
  • The Golf Book: Twenty Years of the Players, Shots, and Moments That Changed the Game
    The Golf Book: Twenty Years of the Players, Shots, and Moments That Changed the Game
    by Chris Millard
  • The Forbidden Game: Golf and the Chinese Dream
    The Forbidden Game: Golf and the Chinese Dream
    by Dan Washburn
  • The Early Days of Pinehurst
    The Early Days of Pinehurst
    by Chris Buie
  • 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
  • His Ownself: A Semi-Memoir
    His Ownself: A Semi-Memoir
    by Dan Jenkins
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

The greater the experience I have of designing golf courses, the more certain I am that blindness of all kinds should be avoided. ALISTER MACKENZIE

 

    

Monday
Oct132014

Golf Inc's 2014 List Of The Most Powerful People In Golf

Sam Weinman does a nice job summarizing Golf Inc. magazine's annual ranking of "The Most Powerful People In Golf", which leans heavily on those in the course management and ownership business.

Topping the list is Eric Affeldt, CEO of ClubCorp whose company is defying conventional wisdom by selling memberships and attracting investors along with a 30% rise in the company stock, which began public trading in 2013.

Commissioner Wraparound lands at No. 5, after Donald Trump, Dana Garmany of Troon Golf and Jack Nicklaus, and ahead of Billy Casper Golf CEO Peter Hill, USGA Executive Director Mike Davis and developer Mike Keiser.

Weinman writes about the list's fluctuation between course operations folk and those tied to professional golf:

There's only person representing the golf media on the list (Golf Channel President Mike McCarley is 16th), one architect (Olympic course designer Gil Hanse, 20th), and just two active players: Rory McIlroy is 19th, and Tiger Woods, who was 17th a year ago, has dropped to 29th.

In addition to Finchem, other key figures in golf's governing bodies are also represented on the list: the USGA's Mike Davis (seventh), the R&A's Peter Dawson (13th), outgoing PGA of America President Ted Bishop (22nd) and European Tour CEO George O'Grady (23rd).

Monday
Oct132014

World Match Play Limps To Its 50th Birthday

Ignoring last week's news that they'll be on a sponsor search again or that this year's Ryder Cup-headliner field is just okay, Derek Lawrenson's Daily Mail notes column opens by celebrating what is still an intriguing event.

There is also the added twist of big time golf getting as close to London (London Golf Club in Kent), though not mentioned is just how much the field may be limited in quality by Britain's heavy taxation of visiting athletes.

Back in the days of Jack and Arnie, all matches were 36 holes at Wentworth. Now they’re played over 18 and there is a three-day group stage at London Golf Club in Kent to determine eight quarter-finalists on Saturday, with the semi-finals and final the following day.

So let’s toast the World Match Play at 50. It might not be the event we remember growing up but there will certainly be enough on show to make it a celebration.

Monday
Oct132014

PGA Tour Wraparound Blues Files: Early 2014-15 Edition

I’m keeping a nice scrapbook of quotes, moanings and general whining about the wraparound schedule’s start last weekend just weeks after the previous PGA Tour season ended. I’ll be matching up with those who’ve branded Tim Finchem a genius for seeking more and more with this "calendar year" nonsense, while shooting down the possibility that product over-saturation could possibly lead to fan revolt, player injuries, lousy ratings or general golf apathy. Honestly, I thought it would take a few years for the rejection to kick in, but based on social media grumbling, the over-saturation hostility may have already arrived.

And I’ll stick with my view that Finchem will ultimately be viewed as a short-sighted commissioner who put maximization of playing opportunities--for which he's incentivized to generate--at the expense of the health of the PGA Tour. So when the world questions why Commissioner Monahan isn't able to figure out how to get back the west coast and Florida swing audiences back, there will be documented reminders of what Finchem pushed as he undoubtedly is ushered into the World Golf Hall of Fame.

In the meantime, I couldn’t help but question the normally spot-on analysis from some in golf.com roundtable’s discussion of calendar year golf. They were responding to a column by Peter Kostis, who lamented the wraparound as a terrible thing because of the lack of downtime and the potential for more injuries.

VAN SICKLE: Disagree. Nobody is forcing these guys to play the old fall events and most of the top names aren't. Was it better before when Disney was the last official Tour event in early November? No. The difference is the forced late-season play of the FedEx Cup. Hey, the guys who didn't make the FedEx Cup playoffs have had two months off. They're ready to go. If the Tour gives up these seven events in six weeks, it's leaving the last three months of the calendar open -- a ripe opportunity for someone to create a rival product. Deane Beman made sure that never happened.

The guys who missed the FedExCup playoffs were in the Web.com Tour playoffs, so they've arguably had more stress the last six weeks than the stars. And then they were asked to start all over again after a couple of weeks off. That's not even enough time to do a ShotLink analysis of the season.

As Johnny Miller reminded us, the biggest stars playing last week at Silverado appeared because they were forced to be there. Ron Kroichick reports on the Turkey Eight and who has and who hasn’t fulfilled their obligation to appear at the Frys.com. Good news, Rory and Tiger have to mail in an appearance next year when the event is likely to return to Napa.

Woods and McIlroy are part of the “Turkey Eight,” players who skipped the Frys in 2012 for a cash-grab exhibition event in Turkey. PGA Tour officials granted those eight players a release, on the condition they play in the Frys once by 2015.

Matt Kuchar, Hunter Mahan and Lee Westwood showed up this year. Woods, McIlroy, Justin Rose, Webb Simpson and Charl Schwartzel are obligated to make an appearance next year.

“Yeah, it changes the vibe,” Miller said of Woods and McIlroy joining the field. “We’ll actually be able to advertise it, too.”

Take that...people-golfers who showed up this year!

Monday
Oct132014

Azinger Not Ready To "Jump On A Task Force"

Somewhere Ted Bishop is saying, "who said anything about jumping? We'll be talking a lot, eating scrumptous appetizers and sitting around telling our favorite Tom Watson stories. No jumping!"

Yes, ESPN.com's Bob Harig confirms what we first suspected from Jaime Diaz's reporting: Paul Azinger will not be on the blue-ribbon, grand jury sized task force set to try and right the sinking Team USA ship, but has a meeting schedule with PGA officials in November.

"I'm just not ready to sit down and jump on a task force," Azinger said by phone. "I have a scheduled meeting with the PGA of America in early November and I just think it's too soon for me to commit to jumping on a task force."

In my best Seinfeld high-pitched squeal: no jumping here! Who said jumping? Tiger's got a bad back, we don't jump on those! We'll just be sitting. You can even sign copies of your book!

Monday
Oct132014

“Ted was the right person at the right time"

Golf World's Jaime Diaz profiles PGA of America president Ted Bishop's final days in office and gets this endorsement from PGA CEO Pete Bevacqua.

From Diaz's story:

“Ted was the right person at the right time,” says Pete Bevacqua, the PGA of America’s smooth 44-year-old CEO who Bishop says can reel him in almost in a fatherly way when he gets too worked up. “Ted did not shy away from being the most vocal president with a bullish voice in the industry that we needed. The way he’s wired helped us get things done that would otherwise not have gotten done.”

Diaz also notes that Bishop received a "laudatory text" post-Ryder Cup from former USGA president Glen Nager, Bishop's one time nemesis in the anchored putter debate. Not sure if Nager was complimenting the selection of Tom Watson or Bishop's cart driving duties or something else, but it's just simply touching to know these two are texting again.

The story also notes we'll be getting the PGA-Ryder Cup task force list soon and there are many names listed, but Paul Azinger isn't one of them. Yet. Here we go!

Monday
Oct132014

“The PGA’s Ryder Cup problem is not one of communications or optics or who makes the most putts. The problem is cultural and systemic."

Global Golf Post's Steve Eubanks says the PGA of America did “what bureaucrats do” in announcing a task force to study the Ryder Cup issues facing Team USA and takes them to, uh, task.

He points out that Paul Azinger has already provided the model, but he doesn't appear to be a priority for the PGA.

They’re calling it a “task force” because that sounds muscular and decisive but have no illusions, this is deflection, a committee created to beat back criticism and kick the proverbial cup down the road.

Asinger didn’t hear a word from the PGA until Tuesday afternoon last week when news broke of the possible task force.

Eubanks, a former PGA of America member, says the organization is “incapable of making the kinds of changes Azinger proposes" and ends with this, uh, zinger...

“The PGA’s Ryder Cup problem is not one of communications or optics or who makes the most putts. The problem is cultural and systemic. And, unfortunately, that is not something a blue-ribbon panel is ever going to change.”

I wasn't nearly as tough as Eubanks but it sounds like we've been comparing notes on the strange treatment of Azinger post-2008 along with our takes on the unnecessary "task force."

My discussion with Damon Hack today on Morning Drive:

Monday
Oct132014

Sandy On World Hickory Win: It Got "My Ticker Going"

Richard Watt of the Courier catches up with World Hickory winner Sandy Lyle and even a former Masters and Open Champion who is still very competitive as a senior admits to still getting nervous down the stretch.

From Watt's report:

“It’s been a very good experience which certainly got my ticker going, especially over the last two or three holes of the last round, which were very nerve wracking.”

Presenting the award, Lionel Freedman joked that Lyle had won another Major.

Professional Andrew Marshall from Norfolk tied for second with defending champion Paolo Quirici, a Swiss specialist in hickory golf.

Tad Moore sent some nice close-ups of the woods used by Lyle, including the Cleek. More works of art:

Sunday
Oct122014

Fazio To Be Consultant On 2020 Olympic Course?

C.H. Alison's Kasumigaseki, host to the 2020 Olympic golf competition, appears to be headed for a carving under Tom Fazio's reliably-lamentable classic era renovation knife, reports Joe Passov.

Architect Tom Doak, far more likely to be sympathetic to master designer Alison's work, had helped the club determine a composite course for the 2020 games. But it was Fazio's work at Augusta which got him the job.

“We haven’t signed the deal yet,” Fazio told Golf.com, “but we’re expecting to get this done within a few days.”

Fazio wouldn’t comment on specific changes, stating only that he would undertake an evaluation of the entire 36-hole property before proceeding on both short-term and long-term alterations. Club officials, however, are confident that Fazio, who serves as Augusta National's consulting architect, will take the project in the right direction.

“We will be making improvements, not big, big changes,” said Kiichi Kimura, president of Kasumigaseki. “[Fazio] has a great reputation, as we know from his role at Augusta National. He emphasized that he would respect what we have here. He will balance the natural feeling here with the improvements needed to challenge the best players.”

Ugh.

Sunday
Oct122014

Stanford Golfer Shoots Course Record 59 After Meeting Tiger

Brentley Romine and Andy Zunz report that Stanford sophomore Viraat Badhwar met a visiting Tiger Woods Saturday and posted the first ever sub-60 round on the Stanford Golf Course Sunday.

From their Golfweek.com story:

"My first 59, it was a pretty cool experience," Badhwar said. "I just kind of got on a roll. ... It was fun."

The score breaks the previous course record of 61, set by Badhwar and Stanford women's golfer Mariah Stackhouse.

After inducting former teammate Notah Begay to the Stanford Athletics Hall of Fame Sunday (G.C. Digital with the details and video), Woods attended the Raiders game, reports Nick Schwartz. Sadly, the dad jeans appear to have made the trip.

Saturday
Oct112014

Shark On America's Failure To Lead, Obama, High Taxes, Over-Regulation And The Possibility He Won't Golf Again

Having regained his color after nearly cutting off his hand in a chainsaw accident, golfer-turned-vintner-turned-Fox-Sports lead USGA analyst Greg Norman appeared on the Fox Business Network to talk about everything America is doing wrong. Including, unbeknownst to him, harboring wealthy, bombastic Australians.

The Living Brand, as he will be forever known now that he's refined the absurd self-designation in this interview ("I love being a living brand"), said he just picked up a club for the first time this week. Future Shark Shootout appearances, however, appear in doubt.

“Well we don’t know yet, we don’t know. I had my first swing in the gym the other day, not hitting a golf ball but just swinging a light weighted golf club and it definitely feels different. I mean I have to build up a lot of the muscle that was torn away here. Chainsaw does a good job, when you chainsaw a log you see all those chips come out, a little bit of flesh in there too.”

The Living Brand lamented America's current foreign policy, corporate tax rate and said the "leadership’s not too hot," explaining that the "leader of the free world should be laying out long term plans" like Greg Norman does for his family of brands when they convene for an annual shareholders shin-dig in Colorado.

Wondering about why things were so "over-regulated," The Living Brand criticized President Barack Obama's leadership on all issues but thankfully, brought the conversation back to what really matters. His ownself.

“I love being a living brand,” he said, “I love growing it, I love seeing opportunities out there and the global market place is just extraordinary right now.”

If only America weren't dragging it all down!

The Guantanamo-ready clip:

Saturday
Oct112014

Video: Golfer's Drone Taken Out By Canada Goose

The Canada goose is the bane of many superintendent's existence, but maybe they do serve a purpose after all: take out the drones of golfers slowing down play!

Thanks to reader Owen for spotting this clip of a DJI Phantom Vision drone, dragged along for a buddies golf outing, only to to objected to by an annoyed goose.

Saturday
Oct112014

Volvo Dropping Out Of Euro Tour Events A "Huge Blow"

Sponsor's come and go but after reading James Corrigan's take on Volvo pulling out of its sponsorships at two of three European Tour sanctioned events, it sounds like this one will be particularly tough for the tour as it's finalizing the 2015 schedule and facing more trouble landing "domestic" sponsors for events in Europe.

From his Telegraph report:

The news comes as a huge blow to the Tour, particularly as Volvo is also pulling out of the Champions tournament, which since 2011 has kick-started the year. The tournament was due to take place in the second week of January, probably in Durban, but is now in doubt.

While the loss of that $4 million (£2.5million) event would be keenly felt – and would lead to some last-minute scrambling before the calendar is announced – the demise of the matchplay would be of wider concern and that is why the Tour and the promoters IMG have vowed to bankroll the event for at least one year.

Saturday
Oct112014

Video: Billy Hurley's Silverado Hole In One

All holes-in-one are special but Billy Hurley's at Silverado's 15th Friday is surreal. The straight jar-job left him and his playing partners unsure what happened. And only because they figure out the reaction of a lone spectator at the green screaming like a wild man. Eventually applause from a few comes from somewhere. And the ace was #1 play of the day, so there's hope for golf yet.

The video:


Friday
Oct102014

Last Two Weeks In Golf Channel Ratings, September 22-October 4

Douglas Pucci at Awful Announcing posts the last two weeks in Golf Channel ratings (here and here), with the Ryder Cup week meaning huge gains the week of September 22-28 and a big drop the week of September 29-October 4th when compared to the year prior's Presidents Cup coverage, with 2014 only offering the Big Break Invitational to boost numbers. (Friday's news of a ratings reading glitch will not impact cable numbers.)

Highlights from the September 22-28 week, include the top ranked show of Ryder Cup coverage from 6 am to 1:30 pm ET averaging 828,000 viewers and the replay adding another 360,000 on average. Those numbers were previously reported with various takes here.

Thursday night's start (PT) drew a 210,000 average for the 2:30-6 am window and was the network's third most watched bit of programming. In 10th place was Saturday's Alternate Shot coverage, which drew a respectable 146,000 average viewers over a 7 am to 11:30 am window.

Not so hot were the numbers for the First Tee Open from Pebble Beach, where the weekend morning telecasts placed 45th and 61st.

From September 29-October 4th, Friday's 3-6:30 pm telecast of the Big Break Invitational drew a .1 and 149,000 average viewers to lead the week. However, the NFL was too much for the Big Break as Sunday's final round re-broadcast placed 17th for the week, with a .1 and 72,000 viewer average.

The European Tour's Alfred Dunhill Links Championship from the Old Course enjoyed a 123,000 viewer average for five hours of Saturday's third round and a .1, 89,000 viewer average for the five-hour Sunday morning telecast.

Friday
Oct102014

High Schooler Lips Out Last Putt For 8-Under-Par 28

Andy Zunz with the details of Luis Gagne's insane score from the final regular season match representing Orlando Christian Prep before the senior goes on to play for LSU.

From Zunz's item:

Luis Gagne rolled a 25-footer toward the hole, and watched on as it lipped out.

Just like that, he capped what opposing coach Justin Johnson of Lake Nona High School called "the greatest nine-hole round I have ever seen."

Thursday
Oct092014

Brandel Digs In: Phil Did Not Tell Truth About Captain Watson

Many wondered if Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee would back off his withering takedown of Phil Mickelson immediately following the Ryder Cup press conference after Bob Harig and others revealed a less than classy effort from Captain Tom Watson, but also a less than organized effort when it came to picks and to pairings.

The answer is no. An emphatic one, reports Emily Kay, who heard Chamblee on the John Feinstein radio show (you can listen here).

"In that press conference, Phil said they didn’t have any say in this Ryder Cup," Chamblee said on The John Feinstein Show on Wednesday. "And I know for a fact that all the players were brought together with their caddies and Tom walked amongst them and said, ‘Tell me who you want to play with. Write it down on a sheet of paper, and all of you tell me who you want to play with. Let me know.’  And everybody but one person contributed there.

"So, what Phil said was not, in fact, true," Chamblee told Feinstein. "They were allowed to contribute – and who they played with was pretty much the way Paul Azinger went about his captaincy."

Chamblee says Watson "was unfairly denigrated" but the more I learn about the goings on, the more I think Captain Watson may have to call Chamblee and tell him to quiet down. Because the steady stream of anecdotes, including specifics about Watson's comments on the Europeans and some of his other communication methods, will not reflect well on the man.

Even Hunter Mahan, speaking in general-but-not-so-general terms to Golf Channel's Will Gray, backed up all of Mickelson's assertions regarding organization and approach.

“How Europe does their business and how we do our business is very different, and we need to get more along their path because their success and their leadership is just fantastic,” Mahan said.

“You can tell those guys really play hard for their captain and their captain is very, very well-prepared.”

Speaking of communications, European Captain Paul McGinley spoke at length to the Irish Golf Desk's Brian Keogh, and while he danced around discussing candidates for 2016, he did address an (apparent) issue facing Miguel Angel Jimenez's chances. My take at The Loop on this development.

Thursday
Oct092014

Flashback: The Legendary Driving Range Fight At Silverado

Everyone who witnessed the fight would recount it for years. And with the PGA Tour returning to Silverado resort in Napa this week, what better time than to remember the late Dave Hill and J.C. Snead getting into a fight over driving range antics. The setting? The 1991 TransAmerica Championship on the Champions Tour (then Senior Tour) event at Silverado.

From Robert Sommers' book, Golf Anecdotes: From the Links of Scotland to Tiger Woods.

I'm not sure about the "around the range" part as the telling I've heard was far more cinematic, with Hill marching right down the range as legends of the game stopped hitting balls and watched the duel unfold.

Either way, kind of makes you wish they had cell phone video and YouTube back then!

Thursday
Oct092014

Sandy Lyle Wins The World Hickory Open!

Only a photo is posted at the 2014 World Hickory Open while the game story awaits, perhaps because the text will be filed by telegram to maintain consistency with the hickory era!

But it's pretty neat to see former Masters and Open Champion Sandy Lyle not only play in but win the World Hickory Open at Panmure.

Lyle won using Tad Moore's beautiful sticks, and while the exact details of what was in the bag will have to wait, here are the irons.

Thursday
Oct092014

Callaway VP Makes Case For Second Product Launch Of '14

As a casual observer of the Carlsbad wars, I'm fascinated to see Callaway preparing for a big fall product launch while close competitor Taylor Made picks up the pieces from an excess of 2013 product launches which earned a special call-out from parent company Adidas, had a domino effect at Dick's Sporting Goods and left some customers insulted.

Callaway SVP of Marketing Harry Arnett is trying to prepare us for the potential consumer backlash (thanks to reader Mike Z. for this) of new stuff coming from the company. While some of the rationale for the urgency of new product is expected (helps you hit it longer!), more interesting is the thinking suggesting Fall as a permanent launching point for big stuff. Temperate climate bias?

a.     In may [Sp.] places in the Southern Hemisphere and in the Sun Belt states of the U.S., golf is just starting to hit the new season again. This is an ideal time to launch a product in those markets. A few of our competitors use this period as their main launch window.

b.     The new PGA Tour season schedule now starts in October versus January. A change in our launch strategy now allows us to have brand new product to launch on Tour in October rather than waiting until January. As our Tour staff grows, it’s an easier and more natural transition for our new players to play new products in October rather than us wanting them to switch again in January as done in the past.

Stay tuned for customer reaction...

Thursday
Oct092014

Slugger: Time To Bump Up The Slow Play Fine Amount

Brian Wacker files a two-part look at the work done by rules officials, focusing on the effort of supervisors Mark Russell and Slugger White.

In part one the officials talk about slow play and in part two, the tricky issue of callers phoning in violations.

I found this interesting on slow play penalty fines. Slugger's coming after your pocketbook, Ben Crane!

By rule, the first player in a group is allowed 60 seconds to hit his shot; each player afterward 40 seconds. Should someone fall behind and be put on the clock, the player is allowed one bad time. If the player is given another bad time in the same round he is hit with a one-stroke penalty -- a rare occurrence.

Also, if a player is hit with a second bad time in the course of a season, he is fined $5,000 and a third bad time and each subsequent one after that an additional $10,000. If a player receives 10 bad times in a year, he is docked $20,000.

“We’ve had several of those,” White said. “We’re actually trying to bump that up a little, too. These guys are making so much money now. It’s antiquated.”

The slow play gets under way officially Thursday at the Frys.com Open, this year taking the tour back to Silverado with supervision from official/unofficial host Johnny Miller. Ron Kroichick on how the event landed in Napa where the tour used to go annually many moons ago.

Also, here are nine things from GolfDigest.com to know about the start of the 2014-15 season, if you care. Coverage, if you are somehow starved for tournament golf, runs from 5-8 p.m. ET Thursday-Sunday on Golf Channel.