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You know, golf is a funny game. There never was a round of golf played in a big championship or just among friends, by experts or duffers, that didn't develop its humorous situations, and often really dramatic interludes.
BOBBY JONES


    

Monday
Mar312014

Videos: Coore & Crenshaw Discuss Old Town Club Restoration

Thanks to Dunlop White for sending in the videos of his conversation with Bill Coore and another involving Ben Crenshaw, compiled in these videos to commemorate the restoration of Perry Maxwell's Old Town Club.

Coore on design elements:

Here Crenshaw and Bill Coore discuss the virtues of native grasses with an assist from Mike Trostel of the USGA Museum in Far Hills, NJ.

Sunday
Mar302014

PGA Tour Lawyers Put On The Clock In Vijay Proceedings

Rex Hoggard with a report suggesting the judge in Vijay Singh's suit against the tour has put Ponte Vedra's lawyers on the clock.

Hoggard writes:

Judge Eileen Bransten issued an order on Wednesday that her original “case management” schedule in the lawsuit between Vijay Singh and the Tour had not been complied with, and set a schedule for the case that seemed to leave little room for further delays.

Sunday
Mar302014

Video: Zach Johnson, Others On Valero's Tepid Pace Of Play

Just 71 players on Sunday at the Valero Open and it took them three hours to play the front nine, 5:32 for the last group, so naturally it's the old field size solution wheeled out by Zach Johnson in this Golf Central interview. He also makes some great points, but it was definitely a pot-kettle-black moment. Especially as he leaves out a mention of the players themselves, which is odd to say the least.

Johnson, says the issues are course setup, spacing of tee times, ripple effects, more daylight (!?) and the issue of putting the rules officials in a predicament in who to enforce the rules on and when. But the main solution he suggests entails reducing the size of fields. An oldie and not a very goodie, especially when Sunday proved that even a reduced field just can't get around a tough course quickly.

Great discussion between Ryan Burr, Steve Flesch and Tripp Isenhour follows the interview. Love the passion! Red phone will be ringing on Golf Channel Drive!

Sunday
Mar302014

Nordqvist Wins Again; Diaz Makes Aces On Consecutive Days

Anna Nordqvist won the KIA Classic for her second win in four 2014 starts, outlasting a stellar leaderboard of top stars. But even without video to prove it, how about Laura Diaz making her second hole-in-one in consecutive days?

Here's an AP item on the feat, followed by an interview with the 38-year-old Diaz.

Diaz aced the par-3 third hole Saturday in the third round, then holed out on the par-3 sixth on Sunday -- a shot she followed with an eagle on the par-4 seventh. She also had an eagle Saturday on the par-5 fifth.

"I went out today hoping I could get another one," Diaz said. "Just really using my head to see how wild and crazy it could get. Then it happened and I went nuts. It's pretty crazy."

She talks to the LPGA's Molly Gallatin about the feat:

Sunday
Mar302014

Instant Poll: What Made The Valero Such Agony?

I've awoken from one of the best naps of the year, induced by the effort to stay conscious during the Valero Open final round where the painful week concluded with an even more painful final round slugfest.

Steven Bowditch eventually prevailed with the highest final round score by a winner in 30 years (Ryan Lavner explains), but not before we saw players put on the clock, players made to look ridiculous (hey, how about a little less sand in the bunker faces) and wind wreaking havoc as it seems to do more than ever despite players using glorified Top Flites.

If you watched the Valero, and considering the options (NCAA hoops, Sony tennis, cartoons), I'm wondering what you most attributed the agony to?  know some love this last-man-standing golf, but at a time we are trying to entice people to the sport or keep other around, I can't fathom why anyone would want to play golf after watching this.

Discussion of this poll and these topics is welcomed here, and will be continued Monday on Morning Drive during my regular appearance.

Here's the poll:

What most contributed the sheer agony that was the Valero Open?
  
pollcode.com free polls 

Saturday
Mar292014

R&A Follow Up: What Changed Since July?

Thanks to @CoachesHotSeat for alerting me to the Unofficial Partner blog, which has stellar posts about the business and political side of the game (these two here and here give you a nice flavor of the content).

A post from last July dealt with Peter Dawson's rebuke of the media at the 2013 Open Championship when the female membership issue was raised in the R&A press conference. While most of the questioning centered around Muirfield's policy, the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews--forefathers of the R&A--was very much on most minds.

Unofficial Partner broke down Dawson's comments at Muirfield last July, which included this:

Single-sex clubs are in a very small minority in the UK. Half of them are women only, half of them are men only. They're perfectly legal. In our view they don't do anyone any harm. And we think the right of freedom of association is important. And we've explained our view that we think they have no material adverse affect on participation. On the other hand, the media are, with seemingly boundless energy, I think, and enthusiasm, giving out the message that this is an issue, and that such clubs should be condemned to extinction, and we shouldn't be using one to stage The Open Championship. And we understand that view, too. We've got, as you mentioned, politicians posturing, we've got interest groups attacking the R & A, attacking The Open, and attacking Muirfield. As you can see, I've made a few notes about it (laughter). To be honest, our natural reaction is to resist these pressures, because we actually don't think they have very much substance.

Now, in Dawson's defense he did say there would be a review after The Open and we now know that review has taken place. That was in between the various snippy comments about the press and the politicians and everyone else ganging up on them.

Apparently, we were to infer from those comments last summer that this decision was "expected."

From John Huggan's report this week:

"This is something that has perhaps been expected," said R&A chief executive Peter Dawson at a meeting with the media in his office overlooking the first tee on the Old Course. "I'm not going to say overdue, but it has been expected. So I am delighted to announce that the General Committee, supported by every other club committee, is recommending to the members that we welcome women into the club in future."

It's a (fast) changing world.

Saturday
Mar292014

Phil Mickelson's Valero WD: Pulled Oblique

John Strege with quotes from Phil Mickelson following his Saturday WD at the Valero Open, citing a pulled oblique muscle.

Mickelson now faces uncertain status for next week's Shell Houston Open.

"My back's feeling great, my body's been felling great, I felt as good as I have all year," Mickelson said. "My speed is back, I was hitting the ball hard, driving it great. I pulled a muscle on my downswing trying to hit the ball hard on the second hole. It just killed and wouldn't subside for 10 or 12 seconds.

"I'm going to go back to San Diego for a couple of days and have a doctor take a look at it, but there's really not much you can do for a pulled muscle. I hope I'll be OK to play the Shell in Houstin, but I just don't know."

Saturday
Mar292014

Irony: Failure To Penalize Slow Players Inflicting Image Damage

Tim Finchem issued his indirect ultimatum long ago but the refusal to penalize slow players all because Commissioner Sensitivity doesn't want bad press, is actually creating bad press for slow players.

Kevin Na was heckled by a fan Saturday (show on NBC), but it was the self-indulgent Andrew Loupe who was pummeled by NBC's announce team for his Valero Open antics Saturday. (Johnny Miller: "If everyone on tour played like him, I would stop commentating.") Loupe took as many as 11 practice swings before one shot, and Roger Maltbie resorted to counting them, and not because he found it enjoyable.

By allowing players like Na and Loupe to develop into turtles who know they won't be penalized, the act of intentionally not enforcing the PGA Tour's pace of play rules has led to the golfers in question becoming known for their tremendously slow play instead of their tremendous talent. As the issue continues to rear its head in situations like Saturday's Valero where a leader is put under the, gulp, loupe, there eventually becomes a question about the integrity of the PGA Tour when so many people see a rule abused and the rule never enforced.

These are all issues for Commissioner Monahan to clean up in 2017, because Tim Finchem has made his views clear.

For some light reading on the matter, Australian Aron Price called out the NBC crew for saying that Loupe was in position and Billy Horschel chimed in on the discussion with fans.

And a search on Twitter of "Loupe slow" turns up a long list of Tweets lamenting Saturday's pace.

Saturday
Mar292014

State Of The Game Podcast 36: Gil Capps Talking '75 Masters

We talked all things 1975 Masters with Gil Capps, author of the outstanding new book The Magnificent Masters. Capps is a managing editor of the Golf Channel's Editorial Research Unit, and is a longtime member of the NBC golf team. 

We also talk about this year's Masters in a longer-than-usual State of the Game, but considering how bizarre the run-up has been to Augusta there is just a lot ot talk about!

As usual, you can download or listen via iTunes, as an MP3 or listen below.

Friday
Mar282014

Masters Mood: All Things Adam Scott

We're just eight days from the new unofficial start of the Masters, Sunday April 6th's Drive, Chip and Putt.

To set the mood, you've got music to play and podcasts to listen to.

Now it's time to start reading and what better place than my GolfDigest.com roundup of all things Adam Scott items to peruse?

The Masters is always the best for fleshing out all you need to know about the previous year's champion, and Adam Scott was plenty generous with his time and insights.

Enjoy!

Friday
Mar282014

"To Frank, Golf was always a Game, and the Amateur golfer was its 
foundation."

Ron Read was a longtime USGA employee who worked under Frank Hannigan. And while we've heard a lot about Frank's writings and contributions to the game, it's nice to hear from someone who worked under Frank and can speak to his management style.

Read writes:

He surrounded himself with “golf
people” who were passionate about serving the Game. His instructions
were minimal. He was not effusive in expressing gratitude for the long and
dedicated hours spent. We did not require it. We knew we had his
confidence.

Some thought Frank lacked diplomacy and was too direct. It was also an
asset. People knew exactly where he stood, and they trusted him.

To Frank, Golf was always a Game, and the Amateur golfer was its 
foundation. He once suggested to me that if the expected “great
earthquake” along the San Andreas Fault occurred during the old “Crosby”,
and the Monterey Peninsula fell into the Pacific, there would still be 30
million golfers enjoying golf on the mainland. The Game, played by
Amateurs, was always will be bigger than its stars in Frank’s world.

A service will be held April 26th at 1 pm for Frank in Saugerties, New York. In lieu of flowers, the family has requested donations be made to the ACLU, Planned Parenthood or your local no-kill dog shelter.

Friday
Mar282014

Phil's Got The Rae's Creek Tributary Shot All Ready To Go

And Mickelson made the cut at the Valero on the number, Sean Martin reports.

But one of the leading names heading into the Masters showed fight, and reminded us that if anyone can recover from a water hazard, it's Phil Mickelson.

To the left, Darren Carroll's...sort of GIF? I guess the video cameras weren't rolling.

Friday
Mar282014

Report: Justin Rose Hears Augusta's Trees Look "Shredded"

Cameron Morfit reports that Justin Rose is hearing from early Augusta National visitors that the ice storm (which many said would not be a big deal, oy)

From Morfit's report:

“Peter Hanson went a couple days ago,” said Rose, who was scheduled for a wheels-up time of 8:15 a.m. Thursday for an early look at the course. ”He said you won’t recognize it. He said the ice storm has shredded all the leaves from all the trees. He said from the eleventh hole you could see all the way to the clubhouse. Apparently all the trees look dead. It’s a bit of a shame.”

Friday
Mar282014

Sharp Park Wins Approval For Projects, Lawsuit To Follow?

Marisa Lagos reports on the latest victory for everyone but the Wild Equity Institute, as the SF Board of Supervisors approved work going forward on pond sentiment removal, construction around a pumping station, and a new pond on the site.

Restoration of the course is still not on the agenda, but the project is an important first step in improving drainage and habitat areas for wild life. Unless you're Wild Equity, which has lost every round in its battle to see the historic course converted into a wildlife sanctuary.

Another lawsuit is threatened.

Meanwhile May 31st is the annual Alister MacKenzie Tournament to raise funds for the SF Golf Alliance's Save Sharp Park effort.

Thursday
Mar272014

Video: More Long Winter Trick Shots

Some will say it's the winter from hell but in the blogosphere we'll remember it as the year golfers were so tired of being cooped up that they willingly risked injury to life, limb and 460cc driver for a momentary thrill.

Thanks to reader Kyle for these trick shot videos from George Bryan IV. I'm partial to volumes 1 and 3. Minor points deduction for shooting vertically with the camera phone. Get these lads a GoPro!

Vol. 3:



Vol. 2 here

Vol. 1, love the bank shot:

Thursday
Mar272014

The Light Still Very Much Out In Bill Murray's Closet

Lindsey Boetsch Tweeted a few shots from the Murray brothers' annual charity event in St. Augustine, and it's clear that Bill Murray is determined to look as (beautifully) awful as possible. 

But the Lama shirt is pretty sweet. Wonder how long before his people ask for royalties?

 

Thursday
Mar272014

Hogan's 1953 MacGregor Irons Up For Live Auction

Green Jacket Auctions says its the most important set of irons they've auctioned and it's hard to disagree considering the history behind the set.

Jimmy Powell is offering them for sale through Green Jacket, which vetted the irons against a set on display in the Hogan Room at Far Hills. The auction began March 26th and ends April 12th, with the current high bid at $7,320.

From the description:

The offered set is one of only three Ben Hogan-used MacGregor iron sets known to exist, and the only set in private hands. Those two other sets are owned by the USGA Museum and Merion Golf Club - the site of Hogan's 1950 U.S. Open victory.

We were most interested in the USGA Museum set, as it also dates to the 1953 Season. According to the USGA Museum, that barely-played set was used by Hogan to win the 1953 U.S. Open. The USGA recently granted us access to their 1953 U.S. Open set, which is displayed in the Ben Hogan Room at the USGA Museum in Far Hills, NJ.

So what happened when we closely inspected the USGA Museum set? Well, let's just say that we were in for the shock of our collecting lives!

The USGA Museum set of Ben Hogan irons attributed to the 1953 U.S. Open was actually a partially mixed set - it was missing the original 9 iron that matched the rest of the set (Ben Hogan Personal Model 1037). Well, guess where that 9-iron resides?  YES! - the missing 9 iron from the USGA Museum set  is in our possession and is included with our set of Ben Hogan's 1953 irons.

Quite significantly, while the USGA Museum set shows little use, our irons (with the exception of that 9 iron, which also doesn't show much use) are without question Hogan's actual "working" clubs from one of the greatest seasons in golf history.

Thursday
Mar272014

Video: Colbert Takes On Hack Golf, State Of The Game

Colbert on golf! Finally.

Tip of the cap to Ashley Mayo for the alert on the Colbert Report's "Sports Report" (that's pronounced Spore Repore) where, at the 5:40 mark, Stephen Colbert and friends take on the PGA Show, Hack Golf and efforts to grow the game.

And I think before any golf writer, Colbert and writers actually have perused the crowd sourcing HackGolf.org website.

Thursday
Mar272014

Progress Landslide! Muirfield Reviewing Membership Policy

Heartwarming that after all these years, the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers and the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews are still trying to one-up each other.

Alistair Tait reports that a day after the Royal and Ancient made the first move to take a female member, the men of Muirfield will take a similar vote.

“A working group has been empowered to consult with the membership and to make recommendations to the board about our future,” a club spokesman said in a statement. “As a club, we comply fully with the requirements of the Equality Act 2010 (U.K. anti-discrimination legislation) and there are no current plans to change the membership criteria, but these will be reviewed.

“Most importantly, we intend to take the time to ensure that plans we adopt will stand us in good stead, not only for the immediate future but for the next 270 years of our great club.”

Thursday
Mar272014

Re-Thinking The Year-End World Top 50 Masters Invite

It seems like inside-the-Beltway stuff but the Masters exempting the Official World Golf Ranking's top 50 has many ramifications, most of them negative.

Doug Ferguson makes a case for the Masters taking the top 50 closer to the tournament.

The top 50 at the end of the preceding year received invitations, along with the top 50 a month before the Masters. Starting in 2003, the final cutoff was moved to one week before the Masters.

The club has never said why it takes the top 50 at the end of a calendar year. Perhaps it's so players can make travel arrangements, or perhaps it was to give an advantage to overseas players, who compete deep into the year. PGA Tour members have more avenues to qualify throughout the season.

But imagine what would happen if there was only one cutoff for the top 50 in the world, and it followed the Florida swing.

Matteo Manassero (51), Branden Grace (57), David Lynn (65) and Peter Hanson (70) all were in the top 50 in December. They would have spent the Florida swing trying to stay in the top 50 or move back in. That change might be something for Augusta National to consider if it feels the field is getting too close to 100 players.

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