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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

If I wanted to know how I played, I awaited the next day's account in The Times. With what was therein written I was content, for here was the truth of things. I want nothing more than to be remembered by posterity in the words of Bernard Darwin.  J.H. TAYLOR

 

    

Tuesday
Dec022014

Video: Save Järva DiscGolfPark 

With so many courses closing and battles to save them taking on various types of campaigns, this feature by The Spin TV makes a great case for saving Stockholm's Järva DiscGolfPark, the home of the European Masters (of disc golf) and property pegged as a future cemetery.

James Thomas reports on the effort to defend a place obviously treasured by those who've played it. Thanks to reader JohnnyCZ for spotting this.

Monday
Dec012014

Video Surfaces Showing Tiger Swinging Golf Club, World Reacts

Since the source was the Tiger Woods Foundation Twitter account and Monday of World Challenge week usually means Tiger wobbles out to the range after a day of thrilling foundation board meetings, I'm going to assume it's real.

However, the golfer depicted has a noticeably wider stance and longer backswing, not to mention appears to no longer be a bench press addict, so I'll reserve full judgement until more definitive video surfaces.

Here is the Vine:


Much to Tiger's relief, Brandel Chamblee tweeted that he liked what he saw in the clip.



Chamblee went into further depth at GolfChannel.com where he considered the possibilities for instructor Chris Como.

What one will learn in studying the biomechanics of great ball-strikers is that there must be a lateral shift off of the ball in the backswing and a corresponding lateral shift into the ball on the downswing. This is imperative and very much what Tiger was doing until 2010. 

Staying centered or hanging left at address causes the club to want to go inside abruptly off of the ball and it takes great effort to avoid it. Hanging left robs a player of width in the backswing and flow and rhythm in the downswing. With Woods’ phenomenal hip rotation speed, hanging left caused him to get stuck - coming too much on an inside path - on the downswing and hence his sometimes overexaggerated over-the-top move to counter this tendency. With the driver, more often than not his clubhead path was way out to the right with excessive forward shaft lean, and to offset this his spine tilted away from the target to the point of pain.

If Como understands the way the bodies of the best players of all time moved and applies those principles to Woods, then his pupil has a very good chance of playing uninjured for the rest of his career and a very good chance of achieving his career goals.

Mercifully I missed Tiger's interview with SiriusXM PGA Tour Radio and Fan Club Southeastern Division co-chairs Brian Katrek and John Maginnes, but there was at least this insight into Como from Tiger in between the excessive giggling, massaging and general ego stroking:

Woods:  “It all started with Notah [Begay].  Notah has been a longtime friend of mine, ever since I was probably 11 years old.  We’ve been great buddies and I really respect his view and his opinion.  He knows my game inside and out.  He’d done some research, some stats and some other varying things about my game.  And he’s known Chris for quite a while.  They are both Dallas-based and he’s gotten to know him and he thought he’d be a pretty good fit for me.  I met with Chris and talked about some of his viewpoints.  I know I had a vision of my golf swing, where I wanted to take it and he was very in line with that which was fantastic.  And he’s been a really nice sounding board.  As I said it all started with Notah and his feedback.  He just didn’t want to see me get hurt anymore.  And he’s been through a bad back, he’s no longer playing the Tour because of it, and he knows exactly how I was feeling at the time and how difficult that was.”

Monday
Dec012014

The Prestigious Ryder Cup Task Force Still Hasn’t Met  

Gary Williams asked new PGA of America President Derek Sprague on Morning Drive about conversations with Ryder Cup task force members and he confirmed--brace for impact--that the Task Force has yet to meet ("getting that group together is a challenge").

Sprague noted that no announcement is coming on the Captaincy until the Task Force meets.

They were originally thought to be meeting at this week’s Hero World Challenge but that appears to be off the table, with January's Farmers Insurance Open the next possibility.

Meanwhile Sprague's predecessor Ted Bishop has returned to blogging and lays out the thinking behind the task force Task Force "Task Force" and notes the U.S. "could have concocted Azinger, Vince Lombardi, Joe Torre and Red Auerbach into a Ryder Captain and the results would not have changed." Still he endorses Fred Couples for 2016 Captain and offers other thoughts on tweaks. Including...

1. Develop a system where an individual should be a Vice Captain before they are named as a Ryder Cup Captain. Since 1990, only Love was a Vice Captain before being Captain. Paul McGinley was a Vice Captain four times before being picked to lead the Euros in 2014. 

As the President’s Cup Captain, Fred Couples never lost a match. He was a Ryder Cup staple as a player. Why not name Couples as the 2016 Ryder Cup Captain? He will need administrative help from his Vice Captains and that could come in the form of people such as David Toms, Jim Furyk and Steve Stricker. This trio could focus on what Couples won’t administratively. All are likely to be Captains someday.

Monday
Dec012014

College Golf Coach Wants To Introduce "Coaching Opportunities"

For the "What College Coaches With Too Much Time And Money On Their Hands Files"...

Ryan Herrington
reports that Oklahoma men's coach Ryan Hybl, not content enough with taking five players out of class to post the four best scores possible in the name of Division I college golf, wants to bring another player along to justify his existence.

Hybl, however, believes any discussion of a substitution rule should not be limited to just replacing injured players. It should also explore allowing coaches to make changes in their starting lineups based on performance. Again, like a basketball coach who pulls a guard who is having a poor shooting night, why shouldn't a college golf coach be able to make a change in an effort to improve his team's chances of success?

Allowing subs could potentially create more playing opportunities for the golfers, and players who wouldn't be competing could follow their teammates along with the coach and learn from watching while also becoming more invested in the team dynamic.

"Are they really getting any better by being left at home?" Hybl wonders. "How is that helping our programs?"

Uh, they could be at class instead of learning how to watch coaches drive carts around the course?

Oh right, this just confirms that at the likes of Oklahoma that college stuff is just an accessory to the golf.

Monday
Dec012014

Sean Foley On The Tiger Breakup, Tiger As A Tipper, Firer

Rick Young of ScoreGolf.com caught up with instructor Sean Foley at La Guardia where all the great interviews happen these days.

As always the former Tiger Woods teacher offered candid views on a variety of topics, including how Tiger broke up with him, Tiger as a tipper and firer (in response to Dan Jenkins) and where he sees his career going post-Woods.

As always, I urge you to hit the link, but for archiving and discussion purposes some highlights...

“Tiger called me and we had this very heartfelt discussion. We know what we went through together. I know the state I found him in and so does he,” Foley said. “We came to a point where we weren’t communicating as well as we needed to anymore and we didn’t want to jeopardize our friendship. I love TW. We still talk back and forth. That’s one thing I’m very proud of. We handled the situation in a very classy way. That’s the only way we would.”

Easy there, Tiger has a sore back, we can't be patting it too hard.

As for Tiger's play over the Foley years and Woods' contributions to the game.

“He’s done so much for the game of golf and yet he continues to get torn down by all this bullshit. Let’s hope 20 years from now they’re talking about all the kids he’s helped, about him raising millions and millions of dollars through his foundation and sending kids to college instead of how doesn’t tip –  which by the way is more bullshit.”

Uh, swearing alert! There's more...

“They can talk about how he doesn’t tip or whatever but it’s just more bullshit. I’ve seen him tip caddies at local clubs $400 so I don’t know where that comes from,” he said. “Seriously, saying he doesn’t tip? How come he (Jenkins) doesn’t mention Tiger raising $300 million for kids? Tiger is the epitome of the double-edged sword. Anything he does great doesn’t get mentioned. Anything he doesn’t it’s all over the place. Can you even imagine what the fallout would be if it was him and not Mickelson who called out Tom Watson at the Ryder Cup?”

Foley also makes a decent case for Tiger as a firer of those around him. Check it out.

Monday
Dec012014

Lee Trevino: The Merry Mex Turns 75

Adam Schupak files a nice birthday tribute to the 75-year-old who says he's now best known to the millennials thanks to his cameo in Happy Gilmore.

The tributes from several players who were inspired or influenced by Trevino's advice is the main reason to check out the piece, but this was pretty funny too:

As Player made a muscle for the gallery, milking the moment for all it was worth, Trevino grabbed Player’s bicep.

“I said to Gary, ‘Did you ever think you’d live to see the day where we can outdrive Jack Nicklaus?’” Trevino recalled. “And Gary says to me, ‘Did you ever think you’d see the day where we’d be taller than him?’”

To commemorate Trevino's birthday, golf.com has posted this "Life in Pictures" slideshow with commentary.

Monday
Dec012014

Last Call: Hogan & Nelson's Glen Garden To Close 

The Texas course where legends Byron Nelson and Ben Hogan learned the game as caddies, is set to be re-purposed as a bourbon distillery when a sale closes this month.

Curt Sampson went there and files a superb (but sad) Golf World look at the place and what's become of Ben Hogan's boyhood home.

Sunday
Nov302014

Dye Says Finchem Slow Playing Him On TPC Changes

Steve DiMeglio profiles Pete Dye as he re-opens his original design at Ford Plantation near Savannah, Georgia on Henry Ford's former winter retreat.

Of note was the suggestion that he's been asking to try and put driver back in player's hands at TPC Sawgrass for longer than we may have realized. Commissioner Faster Play Doesn't Make Sense, predictably, is slow playing the legendary 89-year-old architect.

Dye also said he's been in contact with Herb Kohler, who owns Whistling Straights, home to the 2015 PGA Championship. Dye said only subtle changes will be made to the course before the championship.

And Dye said he's still talking PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem about TPC Sawgrass, home to The Players Championship.

"I've been trying to get Mr. Finchem to lengthen 5 and 7 and 14 and 18 – and he's being a mule," Dye said. "They'll change it though."

Sunday
Nov302014

On Como: "It’s been inspiring, and fun, to watch his career progress, like watching that band make it from the local bar to the Billboard charts."

As attention turns to the Hero World Challenge and Tiger's return, many eyes will be on his newly named swing "consultant" Chris Como.

PGATour.com's Sean Martin knows Como from Westlake Golf Course in Thousand Oaks, and reminisces about the early years of Como's development as an instructor and about the role of public courses like Westlake.

It’s been inspiring, and fun, to watch his career progress, like watching that band make it from the local bar to the Billboard charts. His sacrifices have been plenty -- moving around the country to work under top instructors, taking night classes for his masters in biomechanics while working full-time and going into debt to buy his first Trackman.

It’s all paid off.

He's told me many times that golf instruction has never felt like work. He didn’t make the sacrifices to become rich and famous; he was just pursuing his passion. Each golf swing is a puzzle, played out over three dimensions and influenced by innumerable variables, that he wants to solve. It's constant stimulation for a curious mind.

Farrell Evans reflects on what Como faces as an instructor and the burden of taking the job.

Harmon, Haney and Foley can each claim great success with their famous employer. By Tiger's reckoning, as judged by his decision to leave them for other teachers, they had all failed to help him sustain a dependable swing that supported the evolution of his body, advancements in golf technology and the predicament of injuries.

Saturday
Nov292014

Spieth On Australian Open Winning 63: "It's definitely the best round I've ever played and the best win I've ever had"

Jordan Spieth blew away the field with a final day 63 and six-stroke Australian Open victory over Rod Pampling.

An unbylined story in The Age on the 21-year-old capping the year off with a big win.

Mike Clayton puts the round into perspective, calling the score "almost beyond comprehension" over The Australian, which he says "is the most difficult championship course in the country."

Clayton also noted this about the importance of the win:

Probably he is the brightest of the very young American players and it is more than heartening he seems to understand the importance of developing his game outside of America. Players can make fortunes without ever owning a passport by playing the one-dimensional courses found on the PGA Tour but to be judged a truly great golfer one needs to venture beyond the shores of the United States and both test and develop a game in unfamiliar conditions. Spieth played well in Japan last week and whilst The Australian is hardly a typical or traditional Australian golf course Spieth’s win will hopefully see him return, as Nicklaus and Player did, many times to our shores.

Friday
Nov282014

Australian Open '14 Set Up For Fun Weekend Finish

Two-time champion Greg Chalmers has awakened (again) and leads heading into Australian Open weekend play. Martin Blake has the full story and details on lurkers McIlroy, Spieth, Scott, et. al.  There are 16 players within five shots of the lead.

Speaking of Spieth, the first round leader didn't sound too thrilled to have his ball stepped on for the third timet his year, prompting a drop into a bad lie. Mark Hayes with his story.

Two of Chalmers' closest pursuers are Todd Sinnott and Geoff Drakeford, Aussies who hit it a mile. Mike Clayton has tracked their progress and tells us about the two bombers who will be chasing the shorter-hitting Chalmers.

While the course isn't nearly as compelling as the sandbelt golf we saw last week, the leaderboard and diverse set of characters should help. As should the Open Championship qualifying, which gives three spots to the leading players not already exempt into The Open. You can follow that thanks to the official website's use of Open logos next to those already exempt.

Golf Channel shows the weekend rounds live starting at 8 pm. ET.

Wednesday
Nov262014

Judge Says Rio Olympic Course Can Be Completed As Is

You do have to wonder at this point if the saga of the Rio Olympic golf course would have been much of a saga if not for the Associated Press and its reporting of every filing, gripe and leak from the publicity-seeking Rio prosecutor's office determined to stop the fully permitted project. That's because after months of reports suggesting the project was doomed and that the Judge had decided against the course, the news agency reports the Judge has ruled against the prosecutor seeking to stop the project.

Gotta love Brazil!

Judge Eduardo Antonio Klausner has given the approval for the fully permitted Rio 2016 golf course project to continue forward with only the 12th tee having been moved to make way for wildlife.

This is the same judge, who was said by the AP to have previously decided to stop the project in five days pending the creation of three news holes, according to an AP report. Those five days turned into nearly a month.

This is the same judge who prosecutors tried to influence with this leaked tale, which followed another leak of prosecutorial frustration during negotiations with the land owner controlling the site of 2016 Olympic golf. And these are the same prosecutors who just a few days ago were asking for new reasons to stop the project (miraculously reported by the AP) while the judge was weighing his final decision.

It all adds up to a whole bunch of nothing.

There was also the land dispute reported on numerous occasions by only the AP and which has, so far, ended up not impacting the project other than saddling the 2016 course with poor press.

So while you may take the latest story with a grain of salt based on the accuracy of previous reports, I'm pretty sure the Tales Azzoni AP item about the Judge's decision to let the project go forward is to be believed.

Judge Eduardo Antonio Klausner said in his decision that there is "no new fact justifying ... a halt in the implementation of the golf course for the Olympics."

He said changes made by the city and the course developer partially attended to the prosecutors' demands to protect the local environment.

Although the decision represented a loss for the prosecutors and environmentalists, it was only part of the ongoing legal battle. The judge can still reconsider his decision not to stop construction based on new evidence provided by the participants.

It wasn't clear if state prosecutors would seek to appeal Wednesday's ruling, but legal challenges were expected to continue.

Of course they are. And we will read all about them.

Tuesday
Nov252014

Podcasts! State Of The Game With Lloyd Cole; Scottish Golf

Podcasting is making a comeback (if it ever went away) thanks to the breakout murder mystery Serial, highlighted by David Carr in this week's New York Times media column on the continued strength of podcasting.

This is a convenient setup for not one, but two podcasts to consider for your Thanksgiving travel plans.

I recently sat in for episode 42 of the Scottish Golf Podcast with Ruairidh Macdonald to chat about Scotland golf travel. If you are planning a trip or thinking about one, check out the many fine episodes covering an array of important topics here and follow the show and/or Ru on Twitter. You can also subscribe via iTunes or via your preferred podcast app (my new favorite IOS app: Overcast.)

Meanwhile, after using his music to open State of The Game for 49 episodes, we finally got Lloyd Cole to appear while on break from touring and hickory golf. Cole recently released Standards in the United States where it was recorded and which has been the focus of his international touring over the last year.

Reviews of Standards have been oustanding, including The Independent suggesting it is Cole's best work, the Mail saying it's "a vibrant set full of wry wordplay," and 4-star reviews from the The Mail, Big Issue and The Independent. (His record label's purchase page including vinyl option, iTunes $9.99 download, Amazon CD $12.99 purchase. I highly recommend!)

As usual, Rod Morri, Mike Clayton and yours truly covered an array of topics, including how Lloyd got started in the game, his love of hickories and Hogan, the state of the game and how his affection for the sport is viewed by his music fans.

You can download the show as an MP3 here, listen to the show directly here, grab it on iTunes here or listen below. There is also this directory of past shows. Happy Thanksgiving!

 

Tuesday
Nov252014

Bushmill Dunes Golf Resort Plans Have "Foundered"

BBC's Kevin Magee reports that with the July passing of Dr. Alistair Hanna, the businessman behind the controversial £100m Bushmills Dunes golf resort plan, prospects for the course near Royal Portrush and the Giant's Causeway have "foundered."

Magee says in his report (video version at the link):

It is understood the Hanna plan could not raise sufficient money to buy the 350 acres of land to build the resort.

A final deadline for the sale of the land to the group passed without the purchase being completed.
The golf course land then went back on the market.

It is now in the process of being sold to one of Northern Ireland's most successful businessmen, Dr Peter FitzGerald.

He is the founder and managing director of the diagnostic company, Randox Laboratories, based in Crumlin, County Antrim.

The project was announced as a David McLay Kidd design and has been in the works for over two years.In February a legal challenge was fended off. And in March Mike Keiser was rumored to be interested in the project.

Tuesday
Nov252014

Met Golfer On Ferry Point

Jeff Neuman in the Met Golfer offers the first in-depth review of Jack Nicklaus’ Ferry Point design, which is scheduled to open in 2015.

It’s also the first story with good ground photos and it looks a lot better than the select aerial and construction photos that have appeared to date of the course to be managed by Trump Golf.

Jim Krajicek took the images.

Tuesday
Nov252014

Players Tribune Editor: Tiger Wanted "Broader Audience"

Alan Bastable talks to The Players Tribune editor Gary Hoenig about how Tiger's commentary on the Dan Jenkins satirical interview went from Tiger's keyboard to the upstart website.

From Bastable's golf.com piece:

“They were aware that we were encouraging athletes to speak their mind,” Tribune editorial director Gary Hoenig told Golf.com in an e-mail. “I think they felt we were reaching a broader audience than their site.”

That may be the funniest line in the Woods v. Jenkins saga!

I'm pretty confident a majority of the world could guess what TigerWoods.com was and how to find it before the item appeared. ThePlayersTribunecom? Is that a gambling tip sheet those who miss the smell of fresh ink on recycled paper in the morning?

According to Quantcast TigerWoods.com is currently enjoying 634,000 monthly unique visitors. ThePlayersTribune.com is at 54,000.

As for the Woods camp being "aware" of The Players Tribune's intent, that would be accurate since Excel Management's Chief Marketing Officer is a founding partner in the site. Excel, of course, is the firm representing Woods.

Tuesday
Nov252014

Devotion To Craft Files: Lucas Herbert Edition

If you watched the Australian Masters final round you know that 18-year-old amateur Lucas Herbert set a course record during third round play, made a nice run at eventual winner Nick Cullen (while also fist-bumping his countryman at ever positive moment) and generally looked like a young player to be reckoned with. Herbert unfortunately double bogeyed the 18th, costing him a top-10 and a spot in this week's Australian Open.

Not to be deterred, Herbert and family felt flying was too unreliable to make it to Sydney in time, so they made the 11-hour drive from Melbourne to Sydney Sunday night as Lucas tried sleeping in the back, with an Aus Open Monday qualifier at Carnarvon Golf Club in mind. You can guess what happened next.

Michael Chammas of the Sydney Morning Herald with the amazing story.

"I birdied the last," Herbert said.

"I would have went into a playoff and it could have went anywhere from there. I shot five under today. I was pretty relieved. When I was driving up, we spoke about the disappointment, but I knew I had to forget about what happened and I did that. Dad said he was prepared to drive and then mum decided she wanted to help him out with the driving. I stretched out on the back seat and got some sleep. We stopped off at home [Bendigo] for some supplies, then kept on going.

"I reckon I woke up at about 6.30. It wasn't the best sleep I've ever had, but it was better than nothing. I was still wearing the same shirt that I wore at Metro and I had a 9.30 tee-off at Carnarvon, so I jumped in the shower at the club and away we went."

Tuesday
Nov252014

Take That Butch, Hank & Sean Files: Como's Deep Dive Swing

I haven't the faintest idea what the ultimate point was behind this year-old stunt by Tiger's new swing consultant Chris Como, but I do appreciate Alex Myers pointing it out in another lively edition of The Grind.

This will, however, help us understand when Tiger is spotted jumping off of diving boards in preparation for his the 2015 majors and mentions the issues he'd been facing with ground force reaction.

From the Devoted Golfer channel at YouTube, posted in November, 2013.

Tuesday
Nov252014

Match Play! The Golf Networks

You've voted and now I'm going to step into the network golf presentation discussion by hosting the first annual WGC Network Announce Championship.

Seeding the networks by your nearly 1000 votes of "most appealing" golf network announce team, CBS landed the top spot (46%), NBC finished second (35%), ESPN third (12%) and newcomer Fox's recently assembled (but not yet heard) team landed a distant fourth (7%).

The brackets, named for past legends of the profession as they played out in my mind...

Chris Schenkel Back-up Play-by-Play Bracket

1 Bill Macatee (CBS)
 2 Terry Gannon/Rich Lerner (NBC)
 3 Sean McDonough (ESPN)
 4 Shane O'Donoghue (Fox)

Macatee the old pro wins a friendly opener over newcomer-to-American television, O'Donoghue, who will be welcomed by American audiences because he's not Gus Johnson screaming after the U.S. Junior Amateur winning putt. The Gannon/Lerner combo, who fill-in for Dan Hicks when he's doing Notre Dame football or in Gannon's case, helming some Ryder Cup coverage this year with Nick Faldo, must 20 holes before knocking off the always-underrated Sean McDonough. In a tough finale of professionals who could easily be network play-by-play hosts if they weren't impeded by more famous names, Macatee plods along with pars to Gannon/Lerner's runs of birdies and bogies, grinding out a one-up win with his experience. CBS wins.

Jimmy Demaret On Course Reporter #2 Bracket

1 
Peter Kostis (CBS)
 2 Mark Rolfing (NBC)
 3 Dottie Pepper/Bill Kratzert/Judy Rankin (ESPN)
 4 TBD (Fox)

Kostis earns a bye in the first round with Fox still having not selected an on-course reporter in the #2 role (at least that we are aware of). Rolfing faces a formidable trio of options on ESPN in a battle of on-course reporters who specialize in getting in and out without making the telecast about them (though all are never shy to express an opinion when necessary). This one was a total toss-up, but in sudden-death Rolfing overcomes his propensity to break into Hawaii Chamber of Commerce mode to edge the ESPN trio. With Kostis getting a free pass in the opener, his game is rusty and Rolfing coasts to a 3&2 win. NBC wins.

Frank Hannigan Others in the bullpen/Interviews/Studio Roles Bracket

1 Verne Lundquist, Peter Oosterhuis, Matt Gogel (CBS)  2 
Jimmy Roberts, Rich Lerner, Notah Begay (NBC)
 3 Tom Rinaldi, Peter Alliss, Tom Weiskopf, David Duval (ESPN)
 4 Holly Sonders, Corey Pavin, David Fay (Fox)

CBS has not done much to develop young talent nor has the network done a good job managing its role-playing veterans, all the way back to its firing of Ben Wright to today's select use of Lundquist and Oosterhuis. Oosty gets the prime 17th hole spot during the Masters and handles the tough job well, yet was cast off in cost-cutting moves and is left to merely fill-in for CBS. That peculiarity, coupled with Fox's early bullpen strength by hiring the only full-time rules expert in Fay and the popular Holly Sonders, gives the upstarts a 2 up win. In the tough 2 vs. 3 match up, ESPN's core of opinionated, wish-we-heard-more-of-them and informative role players is a bit too much for the capable but more conservative NBC trio, winning on the final hole when Alliss sinks a long birdie putt and Rinaldi brings him to tears in the post-match interview. The ESPN team's experience edges the upstart Fox group in the final. ESPN wins.

Bob Rosburg On Course Reporter Bracket

1 David Feherty (CBS)
 2 Roger Maltbie (NBC)
 3 Andy North (ESPN)
 4 Juli Inkster (Fox)

Inkster has been listed as an on-course reporter, but the wily LPGA veteran only hangs around against the huge favorite Feherty as long as she does due to Feherty inexplicably breaking into tears talking about the first time Tiger passed gas in his presence. A contrast of styles is evident in the other match with Maltbie's easy going reporting style clashing with North's intensity before Maltbie's humor wins the day, 3&2. In the final, "Rog" battles Feherty, before the CBS funnyman inexplicably drifts off to sign autographs for fans who scream his name more than any player not named Tiger. NBC wins.

Henry Longhurst Analyst/17th Hole Bracket

1 Ian Baker-Finch (CBS)
 2 Gary Koch (NBC)
 3 Curtis Strange (ESPN)
 4 Brad Faxon (Fox)

A tough division as each voice has their strengths and weaknesses, with the upstart Faxon sinking 22 putts only to have Baker-Finch make 21 in a match that extends to the 19th hole. Baker-Finch wins on experience, though Faxon figures to become a formidable future depending on how Fox uses him here. In a feisty 2 v. 3 battle, Koch reels off a few too many "just a moment agos" but wisely leaves his "better than most" line at home in grinding out a win over Strange, who somehow miss-pronounces K.J. Choi's name late in the match to lose 2&1. In the final, Koch's willingness to push back at Johnny Miller's zanier comments as Baker-Finch holds back every time Nick Faldo floats a nutty theory, produces an NBC win, 1 up. NBC wins.

Dave Marr Analyst/16th Hole Bracket

1 Gary McCord (CBS)
 2 Peter Jacobsen (NBC)
 3 Scott Van Pelt (ESPN)
 4 Steve Flesch (Fox)

Flesch was a surprise hire away from Golf Channel by Fox and figures to surprise those not familiar with his opinionated nature, especially now that he's freed of a studio role and reacting to live golf. McCord shows up late to the match, loses the first few holes, but steadies the ship thanks to an incredible ability to wing it, edging the newcomer on experience 1 up. In the other semi Jacobsen's knowledge of the game counters the similarly charismatic Van Pelt to win 2&1. The final pits former tour buddies trying to out-joke one another, with McCord breaking out in song, only to be countered by the Jake Trout and The Flounders frontman. Jacobsen, who improves his game every year, wins with a deeper catalog of hits, 2&1. NBC wins.

Ken Venturi Lead Analyst/18th hole Bracket

1 Nick Faldo (CBS)
 2 Johnny Miller (NBC)
 3 Paul Azinger (ESPN)
 4 Greg Norman (Fox)

In a brutal, at times hard-to-watch rematch of the 1996 Masters final round, Faldo again shoots 67 to Norman’s 78 after the Aussie butchers names and shows more passion for talking about various player wines than their games. In the spirited 2 v. 3 match, Johnny’s prevalence compared to Azinger’s once-a-year Open Championship appearance, plus the lack of a good foil (ala the Faldo days), allows Miller to win. This, despite five three-putts, including three misses under three feet. In the final, Faldo brings his Masters announce game to Johnny’s US Open mode, making for a epic tug-of-war won by Johnny thanks to his willingness to offend just about anyone, including his own sensibilities. NBC wins.

Pat Summerall Play-By-Play Bracket

1 Jim Nantz (CBS)
 2 Dan Hicks (NBC)
 3 Mike Tirico (ESPN)
 4 Joe Buck (Fox)

Arguably the toughest division, Nantz faces a tougher-than-expected match against Buck in the opener. The CBS legend's golf experience is just too much for the talented but new-to-golf-broadcaster Buck.  Hicks v. Tirico goes 22 holes, with Tirico finally conceding the match when the hardest working man in show business (A) realizes keeping Johnny in line 12 weeks a year is much tougher than doing the same with Azinger once a year, and (B) he has another announce gig to get to.

In the final, Hicks struggles early after Nantz melts him down on the first tee with an epic, knee-knocking Hello Friend. Hicks battles back with his more subtle cynical readings of various NBC, PGA Tour and PGA of America promos to Nantz's spirited, seemingly earnest readings of How I Met Your Mother teases, only to lose to a Nantz birdie on 18. CBS wins.

That leaves a final record of five wins for NBC, two for CBS, one for ESPN and none for Fox.

Well played ladies and gentlemen.

Tuesday
Nov252014

The Australian & Jack: "Why not do more than just the greens?"

As I noted on Morning Drive Monday, this is a great time of year for late night golf viewing when tournaments Down Under take us to exotic locales. While this week's Floridaesque stop in Sydney won't be nearly as fun to watch as the sandbelt fun at Metropolitan, there is the presence of Rory McIlroy (paired with Ogilvy and Appleby the opening two rounds) combined with the intrigue of big-time golf returning to The Australian.

Peter Stone tells the story of Jack Nicklaus having been re-engaged to supervise the greens he rebuilt over thirty years ago, leading to an overall redo and (gulp) pricey cart path installation.

“The club felt why not do more than just the greens,” club CEO Rob Selley said today. “It’s a Nicklaus course. It made a lot of sense to bring him back because of his attachment to the club.

“Jack absolutely jumped at the chance. His designers were on the ground in late 2010 working on what would be best to do. When the course was built in 1977 there were a lot of spectator mounds, now they’ve basically gone and the course looks much more natural.”

The fairways were redone. Around 12,500 cubic metres of top soil was taken off back to the sand base. And, Jack sent his top green shaper Jerame Miller, one of the highest paid in the business, here for six weeks to supervise work on the greens.   

“His work with his big D6 bulldozer was like an artist at work,” Selley says.

Unlike first time round, the club members did not lose their rounds of golf. Such was the rotation work around the course a temporary 18-hole layout was devised with 10 par threes and eight par fours. The temporary greens would have been the envy of several clubs around Sydney.

It’s almost four years to the day since the Nicklaus team hit the ground. It has cost $5 million with $1 million of that used on cart paths and it also has Nicklaus’ fee included.

“Jack made three (inspection) visits during the construction. He doesn’t get on a plane for less than $250,000 to go to most parts of the world, but he threw those visits in at no extra costs,” Selley said.

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