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  • 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
  • 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

  • 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
  • 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 second best nine in golf might be the front nine at Pine Valley or the back at Ballybunion or Cypress Point. Or even the back nine at Augusta National. The best, however, is surely the front side at Royal County Down, as exhilarating a stretch of holes as exist in our game.



Major Changes To TPC Sawgrass Coming Soon?

The course is slated to be re-grassed after the 2016 Players and while he makes no mention of a much needed Pinehursting of TPC Sawgrass, Rex Hoggard reports that players have been briefed on possible design changes. New tees on a few holes are expected, as is a re-imagining of the bland 12th hole.

Hoggard writes:

At just 350 yards, the 12th is historically one of the Stadium Course’s easiest holes, with a small green and large mounds left of the fairway meant to create a blind approach shot.

The plan is to make the hole a drivable par 4 by knocking down the mounds, creating a water hazard, and repositioning the green, and playing it between 270 and 330 yards.

The hole was redesigned by Pete Dye during the last re-grassing and it just has not inspired.

Let's see what the details look like. However, I'm confident that anything to improve the 12th will be a positive, assuming Mr. Dye gets another crack at it. Third time's the charm!


Open Championship's U.S. TV Rights Officially Up For Grabs

Even though ESPN's current deal to broadcast The Open, Senior Open and Walker Cup does not expire until after the 2017 championship season, SBJ's John Ourand and John Lombardo say the R&A hope to have a new rights deal sold by this summer (subscription required to read).

This could create a two-year lameduck status for ESPN, similar to the awkward spot BBC finds itself in after the R&A agreed to terms with Sky Sports beginning in 2017.

While Ourand and Lombardo report that ESPN is interested in retaining the rights, I've been hearing the opposite: that the worldwide leader wants to focus their rights fees elsewhere and are prepared to walk away from their $25 million a year deal.

SBJ reports that Fox Sports is interested, which I wrote in Golf World last year makes sense considering the potential synergy with Sky Sports, which is is 39.1% owned by News Corp. However, given the financial losses Fox is expected to experience on their USGA deal, the interest is not as strong as it might have been last summer.

NBC Sports Group also plans to be aggressive in pursuing British Open rights in a deal that would put a major golf championship on Golf Channel for the first time.

The R&A has had talks with Turner Sports and CBS Sports, as well, sources said, but those channels are not considered by those same sources as likely to be serious bidders.

I'm hearing the opposite: that CBS/Turner plan a robust bid and that this may end up a two-horse race with NBC/Golf Channel for the entity most likely to land the rights, though don't count out Fox closing down the middle!


The Hope Now The CareerBuilder Challenge

Global leader in human capital solutions. I love America.

For Immediate Release:

CareerBuilder Becomes New Title Sponsor of former Bob Hope Classic

CareerBuilder Challenge will continue to partner with the Clinton Foundation and honor Bob Hope’s legacy
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. and LA QUINTA, Calif. (May 11, 2015) – The PGA TOUR, Desert Classic Charities and the Clinton Foundation announced today that CareerBuilder, the global leader in human capital solutions, is the new title sponsor of the former Bob Hope Classic after entering a six-year agreement that runs through 2021.

The newly named CareerBuilder Challenge will continue to honor and celebrate the legacy of Bob Hope and his longtime role as tournament host; and through its existing relationship with the Clinton Foundation, the tournament again will promote a health-focused theme in 2016.

“We are extremely pleased to welcome CareerBuilder as the new title sponsor, joining the Clinton Foundation in support of a tournament that has been an important part of the PGA TOUR schedule for more than 55 years,” said PGA TOUR Commissioner Tim Finchem. “While long associated with the great Bob Hope as the tournament host, the CareerBuilder Challenge has the distinction of being one of only two PGA TOUR tournaments, along with the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, in which amateurs play alongside the professionals during actual tournament competition. This is a unique event that also has had a significant charitable impact throughout the Coachella Valley since 1960. We look forward to working with CareerBuilder, the Clinton Foundation and Desert Classic Charities to continue to build upon this tradition.”

Since its introduction in 1960 as the Palm Springs Golf Classic, the tournament has generated more than $56 million for numerous non-profit organizations in the Coachella Valley that enrich the lives of Valley residents.

“CareerBuilder is excited to become the title sponsor of a tournament that is not only rich in tradition and sports excellence, but also has a strong commitment to philanthropy,” said Matt Ferguson, CEO of CareerBuilder. “This is a great venue to showcase our technology and evolution into a global HR SaaS company. We look forward to working with the PGA TOUR and the Clinton Foundation as we continue on our mission to empower employment around the world.”

The tournament underwent a transformation in 2012 when Humana and the Clinton Foundation joined forces with Desert Classic Charities and the PGA TOUR to solidify the tournament’s future and redefine it as not only a tournament, but a strategic platform to establish and communicate new initiatives in health and well-being, including a major conference hosted by former President Bill Clinton.

“We have been proud to partner with the PGA TOUR and Desert Classic Charities to improve health and wellness in the Coachella Valley and beyond, and we are so pleased to continue this work through the CareerBuilder Challenge,” said Valerie Alexander, Chief Marketing Officer of the Clinton Foundation. “We look forward to being part of an exciting new chapter of this storied tournament, which will enable the community to enjoy world-class golf and give us the opportunity to help even more people live healthier lives.”

Also in 2012, the tournament adopted the current format of a four-day tournament with the first three rounds played in a pro-am format; the pro-am teams consisting of one professional and one amateur playing in groups of four; and for each day of the three round pro-am competition, the professional playing with a different amateur partner. While all amateurs compete in daily competitions as well as an overall, three-day competition, the experience became even richer for six of the amateurs beginning in 2014, as the top three gross and top three net leaders through three rounds now advance to compete during Sunday’s final round, playing individual stroke play.

“Desert Classic Charities is thrilled CareerBuilder will be our title sponsor, only the third in the 56-year history of our tournament,” said John Foster, Chairman and President of Desert Classic Charities. “I know the people of the desert communities will join us in warmly welcoming this great company as we look forward to a long and beneficial partnership.”

The tournament continues to honor the memory of Bob Hope, who became the tournament host in 1965 and was a constant presence throughout the years until his passing on July 27, 2003 at age 100. One element of tribute is the Bob Hope Trophy that is awarded to the champion of the CareerBuilder Challenge.

“On behalf of our family and the Bob Hope Legacy, we thank the PGA TOUR and look forward to an exciting association with CareerBuilder and renewing our association with the Clinton Foundation,” said daughter Linda Hope. “Dad's spirit will continue to live on in the game he loved; in the Tournament which bore his name, and in the charities that benefited from the marriage of those two.  Dad's dream is in good hands.”
In addition to replacing Humana as the tournament’s title sponsor, CareerBuilder is joining the PGA TOUR Official Marketing Partner program as the “Official Career Site of the PGA TOUR and Champions Tour.”

About CareerBuilder
CareerBuilder is the global leader in human capital solutions, helping companies target and attract great talent. Its online career site,®, is the largest in the United States with more than 24 million unique visitors and 1 million jobs. CareerBuilder works with the world’s top employers, providing everything from labor market intelligence to talent management software and other recruitment solutions. Owned by Gannett Co., Inc. (NYSE:GCI), Tribune Company and The McClatchy Company (NYSE:MNI), CareerBuilder and its subsidiaries operate in the United States, Europe, South America, Canada and Asia. For more information, visit


"The Golf Upstart of Silicon Valley"

The WSJ's John Paul Newport profiles the top player in college golf, Maverick McNealy, the very lightly-recruited Stanford golfer who started the game late.

In a world where the golfers are getting younger and starting sooner, it's refreshing to read about his different path to elite status.

Which brings us to the family. McNealy’s father, Scott, is an avid golfer, scratch for most of his life, and a co-founder of Sun Microsystems, which Oracle acquired in 2010 in a $7.4 billion transaction. Scott and his wife Susan had strong ideas about how to raise Maverick and his three younger brothers. Despite the family’s wealth, the boys slept in one room with four twin beds down a wall, barracks style, and did their homework in a specially-built study with a desk along each wall and chairs in the middle. No electronics or phones were allowed in the bedroom, ever. “We wanted them to do stuff that’s productive. Get used to being productive. Productive is fun,” McNealy told me this week.

As for sports, they were priority number two, behind academics. “We don’t let them be single-sport athletes. I don’t believe in that,” McNealy said. “Sports are fun. That’s what they’re supposed to be, although we seem to have lost that. The reason I think Mav is doing so well in golf now is because he knows it’s a game. We taught them to love the game, not work at the game.” Family vacations in Palm Springs, Calif., often consisted of dawn-to-dusk golf. Maverick said that he and his father have played 72 holes a day together multiple times.


Roundup: Rickie Fowler's Unforgettable 2015 Players Win

So much contributed to the 2015 Players going down as the most exciting fifth of four majors anyone can remember.

--The first three days featured a leaderboard--close your eyes family and friends--that did not inspire. The prospects for Sunday fun were dim, at best.

--The course was lacking openings freeing the players to attack, despite perfect weather and excellent conditioning by Tom Vlach's team. Sunday's setup by the rules staff's Gary Young and Robby Ware opened up enough doors to let the players perform. What a joy seeing so many clutch shots by such a range of protagonists.

--The outrage over's poll. So much for print and internet media irrelevance. Moreso, Rickie has been overhyped at times, in part because he kindly lends his likeness to PSA's and grow-the game stuff in addition to his corporate partnerships. He's ubiquitous, at times. So the wake-up call he received from the poll, or perhaps from Michael Bamberger's quietly unflattering SI story, made him dig deep and tap his incredible talent. Stop the rage! Be grateful for the fuel.

--One of those classic telecasts from NBC that at times seemed almost cinematic in the synchronization of camera shots, announcer observations, sound and that mystical late light. (If you missed it, Alex Myers did a nice job last week covering all elements of the well-oiled NBC machine.)

In case you missed the fun, Golf Channel will be replaying the back nine and playoff Monday night at 9 p.m. ET. Rickie is also coming on Morning Drive Monday to chat about the win. I know, because he will be taking the 8:20 a.m. ET slot normally occupied by yours truly. 

If you missed out entirely but can't wait to find out what happened: Rickie Fowler finished birdie, eagle, birdie, birdie to post a final-round 66 and finish at 12-under-par before winning in a sudden death playoff over Kevin Kisner and Sergio Garcia.

Doug Ferguson's AP lede played off of the poll outrage.

The latest survey was unanimous, not anonymous. Rickie Fowler can deliver the goods.

Hank Gola in his New York Daily News lede agreed that the player poll should be credited with inspiring the win, not condemned.

Let’s take that Sports Illustrated poll over again, the one where PGA Tour players named Rickie Fowler most overrated.

Or maybe Fowler should thank his peers for it. It may have transformed him from Mr. Nice Guy into a cold-blooded killer.

Mike McCallister at on the overrated tag.

Overrated doesn’t play the final six holes of the Stadium Course in 6 under. Overrated doesn’t flinch when he must deliver a shot of a lifetime onto a little island green. Overrated doesn’t claim the TOUR’s biggest tournament prize on a hot, humid Mother’s Day, daylight rapidly sneaking away, pressure turned to maximum levels.

“I really don’t know the whole story, but I heard the remnants of it this weekend,” Kisner replied when asked about the poll. “Obviously, he’s not overrated….

“What is he supposed to be rated? What’s the threshold here on who calls what’s overrated? I wouldn’t get too worried about that.”

Most amazing of all the things that happened Sunday: Rickie's play on the island green 17th. Rex Hoggard at notes:

In the first aggregate, three-hole playoff in Players history, Fowler and Kisner birdied the second overtime hole (No. 17) and finished tied at 1 under par, a stroke clear of Garcia. At the first sudden-death playoff hole (No. 17) Fowler hit his tee shot to 4 feet and converted the birdie putt for his second Tour victory in his 142nd career start.

That’s three tee shots at No. 17 all within 7 feet for birdie ... in the same day.

Adam Schupak at on the 17th hole play:

So the first three-hole aggregate playoff in tournament history sent a threesome to play Nos. 16, 17 and 18. Garcia checked out with three pars because Kisner and Fowler made birdies at the 17th to finish the three holes at 1 under. In sudden death at 17, Fowler took dead aim and knocked a gap wedge to 5 feet.

"That was a sick shot he hit on 17," Kisner said. "That's pretty dadgum good."

Here is's final statistical tally for 17, which averaged under par both weekend days.

Fowler's finish will go down in history, wrote Cameron Morfit at

Fowler went 6 under par for his last six holes of regulation—his total of 11 strokes on holes 15-18 is the lowest score on those holes in any single round in tournament history—and 2 under for his four extra holes.

Randall Mell with a solid column on the day that also includes an embed of Todd Lewis’s interview of Rickie.
And this on Rickie’s mom and sister making an epic airport turnaround…

His mother, Lynn, and his sister, Taylor, were staying in villas near the course. They had a Mother’s Day lunch with Rickie and his girlfriend, Alexis Randock, and shortly after they headed to the Jacksonville Airport to catch a United flight home.

Lynn said they had checked their baggage at about 5 p.m. for a 7 p.m. flight when she received a text message as they were heading to the security lines.

“It got a text saying Rickie just stuck it to 2 feet at the 16th,” Lynn said. “We figured we should get back.”

There was a challenge getting back. Lynn and Taylor weren’t alone. Their arms were still full after checking in with Lynn’s two shih tzus. Still, she called PGA Tour’s transportation company, and she was told there were cars still there at the airport. A valet whisked a car over.

“Taylor jumped in the driver’s seat, and we threw the dogs in the car,” Lynn said.

Throughout the drive back to the golf course, Lynn busily texted friends for updates.

“I don’t follow social media,” Lynn said.

Speaking of mom and Mother's Day, Jason Sobel also writes about Lynn and why she was off to the airport.

"The whole thing, the pieces just weren't falling into place," she said of his title contention. "It was just another day, same routine."

It was supposed to be something special.

Rickie had turned Mother's Day into Mother's Weekend, taking Lynne to a nice dinner on Friday night to celebrate. He gave her what she called a "sweet" card on Sunday morning, but that's all she wanted. The gifts stopped there. His mother wanted the rest of the day to be about him.

And so after she received the card, she sent him a text message.

"Mother's Day for me was Friday," it read. "Today is your day. Do this for you."

And about that drive back from the airport, Sean Martin profiles mom and sister and explains how they got back in time.

Lynn called the PGA TOUR travel department to get a car to drive to the course. She was able to procure one of the tournament’s courtesy cars, which players were dropping off at the airport as they headed out of town. Lynn and Taylor put their carry-on luggage and dogs in their car, then headed for the course. Taylor drove.

“She can handle herself behind the wheel,” Rickie said. “We grew up riding and racing dirt bikes.”

Alex Myers on Rickie’s popularity with fans and peers.

To youngsters, Rickie Fowler needs just one name to be identified, unlike the previous two Players champs. But his supporters extend well beyond the children decked out in orange shirts and flat-brim caps.

First, fellow players like Bubba Watson, Billy Horschel and Zach Johnson rushed over to congratulate and encourage Fowler. Then fans young and old chanted his name on No. 17 in the playoff. They chanted it again as he walked the tunnel to the 18th tee. And most importantly, they chanted it when he finally won on perhaps the wildest day in the history of golf's unofficial fifth major.

Bill Cooney with Rickie's final stats for the week compared to the field leaders.

Helen Ross and Sean Martin with several notes on players who made runs at the 2015 Players, as well as positive reviews for the three-hole aggregate playoff format. Ross also writes about the two playoff runner-ups, Kisner and Garcia. Kisner's clutch play will not be forgotten anytime soon, nor will Sergio's shoeless shot off a cart path.

The kiss Rickie planted on his girlfriend Alexis Randock and her choice of attire attracted plenty of social media attention, writes Steve Hennessey.

As the final round was playing out the TNT NBA guys were supposed to be watching basketball but Charles Barkley admitted he was watching the golf in a typically fun exchange.

The only downside of the day came with heckling of Sergio Garcia by drunkards, something I saw earlier in the week and not well controlled by the PGA Tour that is so obsessed with getting younger fans out that Deputy Commish Jay Monahan gave the young fans who attended a special shout out in the trophy ceremony. Millennialism or not, I'm not sure why security can't be more assertive with the loudmouths. Bob Harig at wrote about the nonsense Garcia had to put up with Sunday.

"Obviously some guys there that don't deserve to be here watching golf,'' Garcia said afterward.

He didn't need to say anything. Anyone who was on the grounds following Garcia and Justin Thomas could see it and hear it. Garcia is the modern-day Colin Montgomerie, the Scotsman who suffered through his share of abuse when on American soil, especially in the Ryder Cup.

It was lousy then and it is lousy now.

Sergio will at least have his birdie putt on 17 to look back on.

Remember, Ricky birdied the 17th hole three times Sunday. Three times!

The final round highlights from PGA Tour Entertainment:


Our Weeklong National Nightmare Ends: Rickie Gets Win #2

This will be a Players to read about once the writers have penned their words inspired by thrilling shots and fueled by pretzels dipped in the last remaining press center dip. (DiMeglio filed this gamer in case you missed the heroics.)

Especially when the winner may have been pushed by a measly anonymous poll, a week of overrated talk, and then birdied the fearsome 17th hole 5 of 6 times he played it.

Throw in the equally clutch play down-the-stretch by several contenders, the golf course combating the players over the first three days and NBC's traditionally strong production values from Sawgrass, and it was a Players for the ages.

Your thoughts?


Video: Bos's USGA Four-Ball Ace At Pacific Dunes

The USGA's Ron Driscoll has the story of Marie Bos, who recorded an ace at Pacific Dunes during round one of the inaugural USGA Women's Amateur Four-Ball Championship.

Bos is a senior market research manager for Golf Digest and is teamed with Courtney Tincher.

Driscoll writes that the Bos team is in as an alternate and Tincher is playing with a broken foot. Oh and Bos was playing with non-conforming clubs so she had to use a rental set for her irons.

 The pair struggled to three consecutive double bogeys coming in to finish at 4-over 76 for the day.

“I made my hole-in-one with my all-time favorite club, my 7-wood,” said Bos, 29. “The club is an older club – OK, it’s actually vintage, but I don’t care. I made a hole-in-one with it.”

It was Bos’s second recent milestone on the golf course, having gotten engaged to Nate Burns, of Washington, D.C., on New Year’s Eve on the seaside seventh hole at Pebble Beach Golf Links.

“I guess I like the West Coast,” said Bos. “I met him on, and his screen name had Pacific Dunes in it.”

Here is the ace captured by USGA cameras.


Would Added Length Lift The TPC Sawgrass Risk-Taking Shield?

Not long after the TPC Sawgrass was renovated almost a decade ago, Pete Dye started hinting that he would like to lengthen certain holes. Presumably to offer some setup flexibility that can put driver back in the hands of longer players at the fifth, sixth (now that the tree is gone), seventh, tenth, fourteenth, fifteenth and eighteenth (for downwind days).

With a bunched leaderboard again, The Players has the lack of field separation vibe that prompted Rory McIlroy (71) to note the conservative, boring nature of the golf, as Adam Schupak reported on that the World No. 1 feeling like he was "parring the place to death."

“I was pretty bored out there,” McIlroy said. “I’m not sure how you guys felt about watching it. Just try and hit fairways, hit greens, pick off my birdies when I could.”

The course is not loved by players in part because of Mr. Dye's ability to make them feel awkward, and to a lesser extent, the amount of rough compared to its early days. (I heard not rough griping, but if they played the more Pinehurst-like TPC Sawgrass I think they'd enjoy a more liberating style of golf but one that is not appreciably easier scoring-wise).

Randall Mell talked to Chris Stroud about the course's recent place in SI's anonymous poll and Stroud defended TPC Sawgrass.

“I’ve been out here a long time, I think I know what a good golf course is and I think it’s incredibly great. It rewards great ballstriking. When they say that they probably think there’s too much risk for very little reward.”

Perhaps. Or maybe stifling temptation to take risks on select shots has a dulling effect on the elite players who usually separate themselves with their driving.

We'll see over the next two days if the elite are allowed to take a few clutch chances. Even if they do, the time has come to give Mr. Dye his wish to bring the driver back into play at select places and times.


Video: Will Mackenzie's All-World 17th Hole Recovery

This is a man who has played some backyard H-O-R-S-E in his time. My Loop write-up on one of the better up-and-downs of the year.

And the shot:


When It's Time To Fold A Project: Torrey North Edition

It won't be a huge shock if Phil Mickelson walks away from the planned renovation of Torrey Pines North now that it appears contractors will have the chance to decide what they can and can't do for $14.2 million, reports Tod Leonard of the San Diego Union-Tribune/Los Angeles Times.

Even more disturbing, one of the most vital and least costly elements of the project: removing 20 acres of turf and any irrigation that might service them, may be left on the cutting room floor:

Kevin Oliver, the city’s lead engineer on the project, cited the “base” priorities for the renovation as: replacing the irrigation system, adding a water pump station for the South Course, building new cart paths, replacing all 18 greens, moving and rebuilding all bunkers, and leveling tee boxes while adding a new set of forward tees.

While those elements are part of the vision that pro golfer and native San Diegan Phil Mickelson and his design team presented in 2012, they do not include other parts of Mickelson’s plans – namely, the re-contouring of some fairways, the change in location of several greens and tee boxes, and the removal of 20 acres of turf to change the aesthetic and give the North a more coastal-desert feel.


U.S. Anti Doping CEO: Tour Drug Policy Has Loopholes

As the world's top golfers are about to be subjected to more stringent drug testing in the lead-up to the Rio 2016 Games, Rex Hoggard takes a comprehensive look at what players will experience.

The biggest changes: "Whereabouts Testing" that requires players to inform the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency where they will be for one hour a day, seven days a week.

USADA officials say a smartphone app will allow competitors to report their locations instantly, but the penalty for a missed test can be severe – three whereabouts testing “failures” will count as a positive test.

Also of note: blood testing. The only way to test HGH, the most likely substance that would be abused.

But regarding the PGA Tour's policy to date, the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency's Travis Tygart suggests the tour policy has loopholes.

“If you have the obligation to not give a sanction or to stick the file in the drawer and not go forward, I’m not in any way suggesting that’s what [the Tour] have done, but the policy allows for that. Without any accountability elsewhere it’s hard to know for sure,” Tygart told

“We’ve certainly seen other high-profile sports, cycling in the past, where in ’99 with Lance Armstrong’s corticosteroid positive, that’s exactly what the sport did. After the report that just came out detailing that sad saga it was clear they did it because it was going to be harmful to them and to the sport.

“That’s the pressure and the tension that you have going back to the fox guarding the henhouse. It’s awfully difficult and in our experience impossible to both promote and police your sport because you have this inherent duty to make the brand look good and not have any bad news out there.”

Oh not our fox!


The 17th's Hole's Victims: Koepka And Blackmar Edition

The atmosphere around the TPC Sawgrass's 17th hole was electric Thursday, marking a nice departure from recent years when things have felt flat and lightly attended at golf's ultimate Thunderdome. Thank you Tiger. And the weather Gods, who delivered a crisp, comfortable day to open the 2015 Players.

Folks were astonished that Brooks Koepka hit two balls in the water at 17 but as the PGA Tour's ShotLink folks noted in their round up, the lake got much more action than normal:

But the longer I do this blog the more I'm amazed how quickly people forget about the past.

Thankfully, Phil Blackmar penned a nice blog entry on his struggles with 17 and even his view that the Golf Gods cost him a Players Championship for karmic reasons.

As I aimed at the middle of the green, the golf Gods entered my head and convinced me to aim closer to the hole and picture a flight where the ball landed on the slope just left of the hole ‘which would then spin down with another chance for birdie. Thanks for that one golf Gods. Well, there was no way the golf Gods, Karma, NBC or anyone else for that matter, was going to let a bouncer for a heavy metal group who finished 6-10-8 for a 51 the year before win the “5th major”. So, on cue, the shot found the water to the right and I had to settle for a 3rd place finish. And the golf Gods ROARED in delight, clinking wine glasses in toast of their charades.

In retrospect, it would have been my 3rd win in 7 years with a 10 year exemption on tour, a 5 year exemption into the majors, a few million dollars in endorsements etc. It’s really amazing I don’t hardly remember a thing about the week given the circumstance. For 10 years NBC would lead with infamous shots on the 17th, which of course, included mine. Finally, though, enough time passed that I fell from their masochistic grace and the events have drifted into serene forgetfulness. It’s as if nothing happened, except, when I get in my boat to go fishing, I am reminded I would have a bigger boat.


More SI Poll Fun: Ball Goes Too Far, Worst Tour Course? 

The SI Golf Plus poll that gave us a dead tie for most overrated player between Rickie Fowler and Ian Poulter was an attention getter considering a case could be made that Poulter is one of the most underrated considering his ball-striking. (He had fun with it after his Players round one, calling out fellow has-been Fowler who posted an opening 69.)

Anyway, more evidence of point-missery on the PGA Tour in the answer to, "Does the golf ball go too far?"

Yes: 29%
No: 71%
Loose lips: "Yes. And it goes too straight."
“Not for me!”

The worst course on the PGA Tour answer was disappointing as well considering Torrey Pines North's potential attributes. The Loose Lips quote is a keeper though.

Torrey Pines North (above): 15%
Las Colinas: 15%
Trump Puerto Rico: 9%
PGA West: 5%
Bay Hill: 5%
TPC Sawgrass: 5%
TPC New Orleans: 5%

Loose lips: "I hate going to Palm Springs. It's so depressing. There are so many old people, I feel like I'm going to die if I go there."


Golf's Five Families Call For A (Scaleable) Truce! 

The head of the Corleones, Tattaglias, Barzinis, Cuneos and the Stracci’s gathered at TPC Sawgrass to announce they were entering "a new era of collaboration." Billy Payne was the only no-show, instead hosting Augusta National's "year-end party" according to Don Finchem.

Now, some might think this is all a result of rumors of The Don having Bruno Bevacqua's deputy Larry taken out while zooming through an Interstate 95 EZ-Pass booth, but actually they are just going to consolidate the number of olive oils they sell. To put this in pure Sicilian terms.

In golf terms, this means fewer and more focused grow the game initiatives. They won't be retiring the grow the game mantra that annoys many at this point, but I actually took the diappointingly-attended press conference as a sign that (A) the leaders of the game realize their messages were muddled by too many intiatives, and (B) they intend to grow the game no matter what. They may not always go about it the way some of us would, but you can't fault their determination. There was also a clear effort to refute the near-weekly stories about the game's eminent demise.

Before the press release, some highlights. And for those of you tracking at home, we have a new, multi-platform B-speak term du jour.  Final count for scale, scaleable, scaled and scaling: 12. If you took the over, you won!

Opening the proceeding was the World Golf Foundation's Steve Mona with some numbers.

Last year was the ninth consecutive year of more closures than openings, and we view that as a natural market correction that frankly needs to take place in the golf industry. So to be specific, in 2014 there were 175 closures, there were 11 openings, and that leaves us as of the end of 2014 with a total of 15,372 courses, and importantly, 75 percent of those courses are open to the public, and we think that's a fact that's often overlooked. And just to give you some context, because these are broad numbers, obviously, if you look at the period of time between 1986 and 2005, i.e., a 20-year period of time, golf supply in the United States increased by 40 percent, a substantial number.

And yet so few of them are any good!

Finally, nontraditional participation. There are 25 million non-golfers, so the same size as our current golf franchise, if you will, who are interested or who participate, pardon me, in the game exclusively through either driving ranges, Top Golf, screen golf, otherwise known as simulators, or miniature golf. And we believe that this is a fertile ground for us in terms of a procession from the nontraditional game into the traditional game of golf as we all know it.

I'm not sure procession paints quite the mental image I was hoping for. No, The Don with the giveaway that this was a consolidation announcement (again, a good thing

TIM FINCHEM: Well, so the five programs that have been identified that we agreed upon and we started off with the list of like 16 initiatives that have been ongoing for how many was it?

PETE BEVACQUA: More than 16. Multiple pages.

TIM FINCHEM: Right. Some of them are programs that were in and of themselves of interest, but they just didn't seem to be programs that could scale to have a significant impact.

No-a scaling, no-a program!

The recent, in the last couple of years, Drive, Chip & Putt competition at the Masters, which has given the strength of the Masters brand, has really reached out into communities all over the country, thousands of kids signing up for the ability to compete, and clearly everybody involved in that program believes it can really scale going forward;

I could swear he said that DCP has given strength to the Masters brand because I do remember stuffing a clenched fist in my mouth to prevent an embarrassingly loud laugh.

Now, Mike Davis of the Far Hills, New Jersey syndicate...

We're fixated with getting greens too fast in this country, which is costly to do, which hurts pace of play, which in some cases compromises the architectural integrity of the golf course. Looking for golf balls and having high rough, and I know you probably smirk about this, hard is not good coming from the guy who sets up the U.S. Open (laughter), but I do mean it. So, anyway, and in closing here, I guess the thing I really or we want to get across is that the game is not fundamentally broken. Yes, it has its challenges, but we're excited about this collaboration, and it's collaboration on both growing the game as well as making sure we grow it into a very healthy game, and it indeed is a game for the lifetime, and awareness really is one of the first steps. So thanks to all of you for your help in that regard, and I'll turn it over to Tim.

TIM FINCHEM: Thanks, Mike. So, I guess you're getting the sense of the level of collaboration that's going on here.

Hint, hint...we really, really all get along!


For Immediate Release
May 6, 2015

Ponte Vedra Beach, FL -- The leaders of five major golf organizations in the United States shared a refocused, collaborative approach to grow, protect and perpetuate the health of the game during a press conference today at THE PLAYERS Championship in Ponte Vedra Beach, FL.

The LPGA, Masters Tournament, PGA of America, PGA TOUR and the United States Golf Association, as well as the World Golf Foundation and their allied golf industry leaders, are working together on a number of initiatives aimed at bringing the game to young people and new golfers, as well as to tell the story of the positive impact of the sport.

In the spirit of collaboration, these organizations are working with each other to focus on four major areas of developing the game – bringing the game to young people; improving player development on an adult level; accessibility to the game and retaining golfers; and sustainability.

To help support a healthy game, the industry has committed to supporting the following initiatives:

Sustainability is a commitment shared industry-wide to support the long-term health of the game by delivering solutions to address key barriers to participation. It is focused on four key factors; the costs associated with the game, the time it takes to play the game, the overall quality of the golfer experience, and resource management, particularly water.
Drive, Chip and Putt is a joint initiative founded in 2013 by the Masters Tournament, United States Golf Association and The PGA of America. The Drive, Chip and Putt Championship is a free nationwide junior golf development competition aimed at growing the game by focusing on the three fundamental skills employed in golf. By tapping the creative and competitive spirit of girls and boys ages 7-15, the Drive, Chip and Putt Championship provides aspiring junior golfers an opportunity to play with their peers in qualifiers around the country. Participants who advance through local, sub-regional and regional qualifying in each age/gender category earn a place in the National Finals, which is conducted at Augusta National Golf Club the Sunday before the Masters Tournament and is broadcast live by Golf Channel.
Get Golf Ready, which offers golfers five lessons for $99, had nearly 99,000 participants in 2014, a 15% increase over 2013. Over the six-year history of this program, Get Golf Ready has attracted 358,000 students through the more than 4,400 GGR certified facilities across the country. 62% of students attending the program in 2014 were female, triple golf’s overall female participation rate of 20%.  In their first year following participation in GGR, students are being retained as players at a rate of 82%.
LPGA-USGA Girls Golf, which introduces the game to girls up to 14 years old, has continued to get more girls involved in the game. LPGA-USGA Girls Golf has grown from 4,500 girls per year in 2010 to an estimated 50,000 girls per year in 2015.
PGA Junior League Golf, for boys and girls ages 7-13 playing a 9-hole Scramble in three-hole segments, saw a 500% growth from 2012 (1,500 kids) to 2013 (9,000 kids). In 2014 the numbers nearly doubled (1,425 teams and 17,500 kids) compared to 2013 (740 teams and 9,000 kids). Estimates are that 100,000 girls and boys will participate by 2020.
The First Tee, which introduces young people to the game and the values inherent to it, reached more than 4.1 million young people in 2014, the most since its inception in 1997. It also has doubled its participants in the past eight years compared to its first eight years of existence. Since the program’s inception in 1997 through 2014, more than 10.5 million young people have participated in The First Tee programs. Programs are delivered at golf courses, in elementary schools and at youth centers. In 2013, Scott Langley became the first participant of The First Tee to become a PGA TOUR member.

To share this message of collaboration, the golf industry worked together to create a PSA which will begin airing in this week’s PLAYERS Championship telecast. To view the PSA, please click on the following link:


Smith/White Win First U.S. Four-Ball; Fox Has Shaky Debut

The young guys ruled the stroke play qualifying but geezers and '13 Walker Cuppers Nathan Smith and Todd White won the first ever U.S. Amateur Four-Ball at Olympic Club over Sherrill Brit and Greg Earnhardt.

I couldn't find a game story on the USGA's new look website but there was this highlights video. ran this AP story.**

**Here's David Shefter's story.

It's hard to say without having been there or seeing the telecast whether the event was a success. Yet given the diversity of age groups, backgrounds and playing styles, the event would seem to have been a home run as a replacement for the U.S. Amateur Public Links.

As for Fox's debut, the reviews weren't pretty.

I wasn't able to view the USGA-Fox Sports debut as the much beloved Mayo Clinic Courtyard Ponte Vedra is equipped with shower rails, easy oxygen tank access to rooms and drool cups to go with your bedpans. But no FS1 and only Golf Channel in the lobby where the nightly motorscooter races can be quite exciting.

However, I heard anecdotes from many of you. My collection of notes were capped off by the day two episode where the final was tape-delayed and Fox's signal was lost for a time.

While this was sure to be a rough start and a lot of people worked hard on the telecast, the beginning to fresh and innovative golf broadcasting appears to have been a struggle.

Judging by Corey Pavin's post round interview of Austin Connelly and Sam Burns, the former U.S. Open champion did not take any interviewing classes at UCLA.

And the live ProTracer-like effect beloved and demanded by fans was well received, even when it followed a divot. Numerous whooshing sound effects were not so popular with you, either.

Regarding the day one telecast, many were shocked that it took nearly one hour and forty minutes to see Holly Sonders, who then was seen very little beyond her first interview.

The Greg Norman-Joe Buck lead team did not inspire either, apparently discussing one player's calves, confusing names and making references to the "long week" (wait until they do 8 hours a day on the U.S. Open weekends).  

Nathan Smith, part of the eventual winning and building a legendary amateur golf resume, didn't get much love or backstory told, I'm told.

For all of this, our friends at Nielsen say Fox Sports 1 earned a .058 (67,000 viewer average). Golf Channel's Live From during the same window and discussing the all important Tuesday proceedings at The Players nearly doubled that with a .095 rating.

However, in Fox's ratings defense, about 4.5 million AT&T cable customers were blacked out by Fox in a dispute with AT&T U-Verse. They got darts instead:

Things turned uglier during the second day telecast as Smith/White opened a big lead and Fox made the decision to tape delay the final match by a few minutes to have more golf in the broadcast window. The USGA Tweeted the outcome while the match had two more holes to play. However, in that time the screen went to color bars:

Eventually, last Monday's U.S. Open media day show was put on Fox Sports 1 as the technical difficulties were sorted out. The USGA Tweeted that it was a "router" issue.

Thankfully, no one tossed over to the media day show by saying, "just a week ago."

The nice folks at Fox, no doubt embarrassed, issued this apology when I inquired later in the evening:

During the telecast we experienced a minor technical issue with our transmission routing system which resulted in a small delay in our coverage. We recognized the issue immediately and worked as quickly as possible to fix it.  We certainly apologize for the delay and are grateful to our technical crew who made sure viewers were still able to see the entire Four-Ball Championship in its entirety.

There is now a @USGAonFox Twitter account mentioned by several Tweeters in their complaints. Unfortunately when I attempted to see if the USGA had tweeted an explanation, the account is restricted only to readers accepted by the account holder. Kind of a like an exclusive country club!

There is good news in this. Fox and the USGA did not have the most embarrassing episode on sports television this day. That goes to Shaq, whose size 22 got wrapped up in a cable during TNT's Sprint Halftime Show.

The clip:


Senior Players Goes To Philadelphia Cricket Club

The Senior Players has been to some really stellar places in recent years (Fox Chapel, Baltimore CC) and now it'll be going to Philadelphia Cricket Club in 2016. The club's Wissahickon course, restored by architect Keith Foster with Dan Meersman and his grounds team has long been one of the most-in-need A.W. Tillinghast designs.

All reviews have been positive, making the PGA Tour's Senior Players grab impressive considering that the PGA of America is thought to be very much a fan of the facility too. Hopefully this will be the beginning of several events at this important and influential early American club.

For Immediate Release, followed by some images courtesy of Golfshots' Evan Schiller.

Constellation SENIOR PLAYERS Championship Heads to Philadelphia in 2016
The Philadelphia Cricket Club to Host Champions Tour Major

Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla. – The Champions Tour announced today that the Constellation SENIOR PLAYERS Championship, one of five major championships on the Champions Tour schedule, will head to The Philadelphia Cricket Club in 2016 for the first time. Defending champion Bernhard Langer made the announcement during Golf Channel’s Morning Drive show live from THE PLAYERS Championship at TPC Sawgrass this morning.

Before he challenges The Philadelphia Cricket Club in 2016, Langer will compete in THE PLAYERS Championship this week at TPC Sawgrass, a perk as the winner of last year’s Constellation SENIOR PLAYERS at Fox Chapel Golf Club in Pittsburgh. Next month, Langer will then defend his major championship title at Belmont Country Club in Boston, June 9-14.

“It’s a privilege to win the Constellation SENIOR PLAYERS and be here at TPC Sawgrass to represent the Champions Tour at THE PLAYERS,” said Langer. “I look forward to defending my title at Belmont Country Club in June. I am also excited to know the championship is going to an historic golf course next year, The Philadelphia Cricket Club, where fans will get to witness some of the best players in the history of our game. We are fortunate to be able to compete on such an excellent course.”

“We are pleased that the tournament is headed to Philadelphia following an exciting championship next month in Boston at Belmont Country Club,” said Bruce Stewart, senior vice president and chief marketing officer for Constellation. “Philadelphia is another important market for Constellation and is a market in which we have been active for years providing competitive energy services to many commercial and residential customers. This move will allow us to rotate the championship to another memorable course and to continue a long history of being active in and giving back to the communities we serve.”

“The Philadelphia Cricket Club is proud to have been selected to host the 2016 SENIOR PLAYERS Championship,” Michael J. Vergare, president of The Philadelphia Cricket Club, said. “We are excited to host some of the legends in golf on our newly restored A.W. Tillinghast designed Wissahickon Golf Course. The history of golf in America is intertwined with our club and our founding members of the Golf Association of Philadelphia. We welcome the opportunity to share our great course with the PGA TOUR’s Champions Tour.”

Joe Rotellini, executive director of the Constellation SENIOR PLAYERS Championship, is also excited about the move to one of Philadelphia’s most classic courses in 2016.

“This announcement today allows us to plan well in advance and make the Constellation SENIOR PLAYERS in Philadelphia an event not to be missed,” Rotellini said. “Champions Tour professionals will love The Philadelphia Cricket Club, and so will the fans and sponsors.”

For more information on the Constellation SENIOR PLAYERS Championship, please visit or call the championship office at (781) 205-2040. For updates and a behind-the-scenes look at championship preparations, follow the championship at, and

About The Philadelphia Cricket Club
Founded in 1854, The Philadelphia Cricket Club is the oldest country club in the United States. As the name indicates, the Club was formed by a group of young men of English descent who had played the game while students at the University of Pennsylvania. When the Golf Association of Philadelphia was organized in 1897, the Club was one of four founding members with Merion, Philadelphia Country Club and Aronimink. The original nine-hole course was built in 1895 by famed architect Willie Tucker and was quickly replaced by a new eighteen-hole course in 1897. The old eighteen-hole course, known as St. Martins, hosted the United States Open Championship in 1907 and 1910. Because the Club did not own the grounds on which the St. Martins golf course was built, a large tract of land was purchased in 1920. It was A.W. Tillinghast who recommended the Flourtown site and who designed the new course, which opened in 1922. The Wissahickon course is one of the few remaining courses designed by Tillinghast that has had minimal changes over the past 80 years, and it is rated as the No. 32 classic course by Golfweek. Construction on a complete restoration of the Wissahickon course took place in 2013, led by designer Keith Foster and Director of Grounds Dan Meersman. The Philadelphia Cricket Club is the only club to open a golf course in each of the three past centuries in the United States, St. Martins in the 19th century, Wissahickon in the 20th and Militia Hill this century.


Join The League! PGA Tour Makes New Fantasy Play

Sad but true: the NFL thrives in part on fantasy leagues. Why else would people listen to the ESPN overanalysis or read SI's Mid Summer Minicamp Preview Issue?

The PGA Tour has not exactly figured out how to master the fantasy game for the betterment of its product. One theory: the organization has always feared associating itself with gambling of some kind. This is hardly gambling. Hopefully just simple fun and occasionally a reason to throw things at your television after one of your players misses a fairway.

The new "Driven by Avis" game incorporates the tour's Shotlink system and seems intriguing so I'm starting a league you can join here.

The pitch:

PGA Tour Fantasy driven by Avis allows you to show off your knowledge of the sport by picking a team of 6 PGA Tour Professionals (4 Starters, 2 Bench). Scoring is live and exclusive using PGA TOUR Shotlink and based on player performance on the course. Play with your friends in a private group or test your skills in one of our public groups. Whether you want to play for prizes, glory or bragging rights PGA TOUR Fantasy is the only live fantasy game where the outcome of each shot matters.

League Name:


Golf Is Johnny Football's "Constructive Outlet"

I'm not sure if this is a positive development for his quarterbacking (unless you're the tournament director of the American Century Celebrity Championship in Tahoe), but Johnny Football loves his golf more than ever.

Cleveland Browns QB Johnny Manziel has moved to a golf course community and has found golf as a "constructive outlet" in his post rehab effort to save his NFL career, reports ESPN's Jeremy Fowler.

Manziel fronted Golf Digest late last year and showed signs of a genuine passion for the game (not to mention being a single digit player).


Great Places In The Game Files: Palatka Golf Club

Longtime readers know my definition of great has little to do with Slope, course rating, clubhouse grandeur or exclusivity. "Great" places in the game serve their community, offer affordable golf and just enough character in the design. The kind of golf courses which, if every city had one, would have the game in a healthier place.

Palatka Golf Club in Palatka, Florida checks off all the boxes. This 1925 Donald Ross course has been on my radar for some time thanks to Chris Tuten, a local in Ponte Vedra who keeps the Titleist guys on tour playing their best. Somewhere along the drive between Orlando and Ponte Vedra southwest of St. Augustine, you head into this rural town only to come upon what looks like uninspired ground dotted with some nice trees and circular bunkers.

Once you get out on the ground and experience what looks like an untouched set of small, clever and crowned Ross greens, it's impossible not to be charmed by the place. I can only imagine it gets more charming as you go around Palatka, the ultimate compliment to an architect.

Throw in its annual hosting of the Florida Azalea Amateur, a refreshed operation thanks to architect Bobby Weed taking over from the city a few years ago, head pro Paul Trettner's welcoming operation and Dana Anderson's maintenance, and Palatka is a reassuring story of how satisfying minimalist golf can be.

Did I mention it's $25, $17 after 2 pm (with or without cart) and $12 with a cart after 4 pm? And annual memberships with unlimited golf are $2400?

I caught the course transitioning from overseeded rye to bermuda along with a few warm days of no irrigation. It still played just fine. Besides, the difficulty of Ross's tiny, crowned greens ensures players of all ability will never get bored. The most fascinating element of this set of greens is just how normal sized they appear from the fairway only to come upon 2000 square feet. You'll see this at Ross's home and inspiration, Royal Dornoch, but to pull off such a look and sensibility takes the touch of an artist.

Below are some cell phone photos, with apologies for not having better visuals to reflect the character of Palatka. However, I shot it as I played in the mid-afternoon and many of the clever subtlties will not show up (there are nicer shots on the course website). So if you're headed to the Fountain of Youth, the World Golf Hall of Fame or merely passing through northern Florida, Palatka is a must anyone who loves fun Donald Ross golf at a bargain price.


Video: "What's New With Holly Sonders?"

Since there's no USGA Amateur Four-Ball pre-game show (just this preview clip at from the announcers, thanks reader PG), here's the next best warm-up for today's debut of Fox Sports golf coverage (USGA Four-Ball, 4 pm PT FS1).

From Golf Digest Videos, part of the magazine's 2015 U.S. Open preview coverage.

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