The most exiquisitely satisfying act in the world of golf is that of throwing a club. The full backswing, the delayed wrist action, the flowing follow-through, followed by that unique whirring sound, reminiscent only of a passing flock of starlings, are without parallel in sport. HENRY LONGHURST
Reader Smitty shares this Naomi Patton story on the Huntington Woods City Commission approving a proposal to designate the Donald Ross designed Rackham Golf Course a historic district.
Huntington Woods residents and Rackham supporters applauded the vote, but they should expect a legal challenge from the private developer that plans to purchase the property.This is an interesting bit from Jennifer Chambers' Detroit News story:
Arthur Siegal, attorney for Premium Golf LLC, called the vote "politics at work," and said, "The main event is the litigation."
The 123-acre course, designed by Donald Ross, is one of the earliest integrated golf courses in America, starting from the early part of the 20th century. Its clubhouse, an Arts and Crafts structure with a heavy Prairie and Romanesque revival influence, is a 1924 state-of-the-art building with a tile roof and a long, sweeping veranda with Pewabic tile.
"I am pleased to be able to tell you that all test results from the World Amateur Team Championships were negative,'' Dawson said in an e-mail. ``There were no failed tests.''
The tested golfers -- six men and six women -- were picked at random from the 70 male and 39 female teams of three golfers each at the championships, Fay said.
"`You are relieved when the results all come back negative,'' Fay said in a telephone interview from his office in Far Hills, New Jersey. ``But there was a high degree of education. These players were made aware there would be a random test and it confirms for these two championships that we're clean.''
The tests were conducted by the South African Institute for Drug Free Sport following guidelines set by the World Anti- Doping Agency, Fay said. The women's championship was held Oct. 18-21, and the men's Oct. 26-29.
"The USGA has more important things to worry about than thinking about changing the groove configuration"
I really do enjoy your column and I know that you will be able to answer my question about grooves on wedges. Do new sharp grooves make a difference to the spin on the ball when I hit the ball from a tee? -- Jim, N.C.
The answer is NO they don’t. If you have a sandblasted face this will probably do as much or more to increase the spin than a grooved face. When you are hitting out of the rough then grooves do matter and the better defined they are the better off you are to get some spin on the ball. The rough condition will always reduce the spin from a wedge when compared to a dry condition but from deep (4 to 6 inch) heavy rough it doesn’t matter what ball you play or configuration of grooves you have on your wedge.
Again, it will be interesting to see if the USGA will claim otherwise in the coming months. Let me guess: "Our rough is 3 1/2 inches."
And again, Frank offers up a perfectly wretched solution for the game:
The USGA has more important things to worry about than thinking about changing the groove configuration because some pros are able to get out of the rough relatively easily with out too much concern about being there. My proposal is to lengthen the rough for those situations where this is important. The upheaval of changing groove specifications is not worth it.
I wonder if ever occurs to people that rough has only been introduced into golf as a method to combat distance gains that begin to outdate architecture?
After all, what caused Augusta to go from its roughless golf course to one with a silly looking "second cut?"
Sudden distance gains they couldn't keep up with.
And we've also learned that even when courses do catch up via lengthening, the fairways never get widened back out...
So I suppose the good news is that at 20-25 yards, they can only narrow so much more before rough harvesting and narrowing is no longer an option.
Since I complained about not getting to see Tiger hitting into the group in front of him, reader Aleid has posted the clip along with his other play on the short par-4. (Note that he hits 3-wood off the tee to drive it the next day!).
Doug Ferguson issues a strong commentary saying that it's time for Michelle Wie to apply for LPGA Tour membership. Since his AP column is picked up all over the place, I bet Doug's caller ID sported a William Morris Agency number at some point today.
Stan Awtrey in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution conducts a Q&A with the USGA's Walter Driver.
Q. What's new in terms of restrictions on equipment?
A. We'll continue to spend a lot of time and energy on research on equipment. We spent a lot of time and money last year looking at spin and groove research, and we've given manufacturers a big book of scientific data to look at. We'll continue to make equipment rules based on science and fact, as opposed to the opinion of whatever happens to be the prevailing mood of the day.
Right, like getting all upset that players are hitting drivers no matter how narrow you make them, and using that to blame the grooves since that's much easier politically than rolling back the ball. Yep, it's all about science and fact.
In 1997 the ball manufacturers came to us and said that in five years no one would be playing with a balata ball. Every ball made would be solid and with a Suryln cover, or some variation. We thought that sounded highly unlikely; it took three years.
It's easier to buy a new club or a new ball than it is to work on a new swing, and that continues to drive changes in the equipment.
I think that last line is pretty interesting, though it's hard to evaluate since it's likely out of context.
Q. What's planned for the next year?
A. I'm serious about finding ways to use the Internet to communicate with USGA members and golfers in general.
Ah, spoken like a lame duck USGA president!
Larry Bohannan speculates on possible Skins Game invitees for next year and slips in this little nugget about Michelle Wie:
It's interesting that the Skins Game's contract with the city of Indian Wells mentions only two players by name who must be at least extended invitations, Woods and Wie.
Garry Smits pens a lengthy piece on the possibility of steroids in golf and once again various players just howl about the audacity of those who suggest a PGA Tour player might resort to performance enhancing drugs, and therefore, testing should be in place to ensure that the players of tomorrow don't resort to extreme measures.
Considering that many of these players are the same chaps who refuted the idea that lax equipment regulation led to distance increases but instead said the distance was coming from those rigorous
minutes hours they were spending in the fitness trailer getting a deep tissue ego massage.
Yes, the same folks who cited athleticism as the primary source of distance increases, now say that the idea of strength enhancing steroids entering the game is simply not fathomable!
You know, if only today's poorly regulated equipment didn't give a disproportionate advantage to those with strength and height, this debate might not be happening. Just a thought.
Anyway, the highlights from the Smits piece. Starting with Vijay, who doesn't sound like he's ready to pee in a cup.
"Look up and down the range," Singh said. "No one looks like they're on anything. No one comes back from the offseason looking like Barry Bonds."
Rank-and-file players from struggling young professionals to Hall of Fame members say there isn't a problem now, and don't anticipate one in the future. Many say until examples surface, a mandatory testing program would be a costly exercise in proving the obvious.
"Testing would be a complete waste of time," Jesper Parnevik said. "I think you're talking about drugs that would ruin someone's game, not help it."
A guy who eats sand says that testing is a waste of time?
This is fun from Davis Love...
Love has been a party to those discussions and will, with the rest of the board, sign off on any future testing program. He isn't happy that the Tour could be forced to test because of public opinion, rather than hard evidence that a player is using steroids.
"We've been told it will cost between $3 and $5 million a year to test, and that's for urine testing," Love said. "Blood testing will be higher. That's $5 million that could be going to charity. But you don't see a whole lot of huge guys on the PGA Tour. Do we have a problem now? I don't see it."
$5 million? Is PGA Tour Championship Management handling the testing?
I don't believe this next point has been raised in other stories about why steroid usage would be bad...
Walter Taylor, a sports medicine physician at the Mayo Clinic, said there is no evidence anabolic steroids would help a golfer's overall game, especially at the PGA Tour level.
"You would obviously see an improvement in physical strength, but from what I know about golf, that's not the most important thing," Taylor said. "The side effects also would seem to be detrimental to a golfer. One of them is severe mood swings, and to succeed in golf at that level, I would guess the players would want to be on an even keel."
Tour players say holding their emotions in check is an important component of any round, tournament and season. Holmes, for example, said he would be leery of anything that got him too high or too low.
"Controlling your emotions is a lot more important than distance," he said.
Riehl said Tour players are afraid of two things: taking substances they think might be detrimental to their game (Woods, who suffers from frequent colds and allergies, won't even take over-the-counter medication on days he plays) and losing flexibility in their swings.
"Golf is a technique sport and the strongest guy doesn't always win," he said. "And distance is not necessarily a derivative of strength. Distance is being able to manufacture a faster clubhead speed through the ball. The faster the club hits the ball, the further it will go. You get that by being flexible. And I can also tell you right now, these guys [Tour players] are afraid of taking anything when they're playing."
And in the buried lead of the year department, Smits offers this from Gerry James, two-time World Long Drive champion...
James would not reveal any names, but he said he knows of some PGA Tour players who use a low-dose testosterone cream to help recovery from muscle strain and fatigue. He said they are being used in amounts small enough that don't enhance a player's ability to hit the ball farther.
Whether the amount in those situations is within tolerance limits under a future Tour testing program is up to the Tour, he said.
Robert Thompson recently posted a fun rant on modern golf course development...
The iseekgolf discussion board is trying to get architect Tony Cashmore to reveal another of these mysterious Alister MacKenzie items that only he has seen (Cashmore also claimed to see Seth Raynor's routing of Cypress Point).
Ian Andrew is celebrating the joys of the short par-4.
Ian also went looking for photos of Riviera and several were posted on GolfClubAtlas, including No. 10's new Orlando themed look.
**An Orlando reader asked me to please clarify the reference to his hometown in the above post. It's in reference to the whirly giggly, excessive cape and bay, desperately trying to be retro, Palmer-style bunkering commonly found in that cultural haven of central Florida. And sadly now found on the 10th at Riviera, a hole that we all know was in dire need of alteration (In the photo note the jacking around of the far left aiming bunker too, but alas, no Orlando added to that one...)
Gary Van Sickle says Faldo and Azinger prevented the Skins from becoming unwatchable, meaning they might as well fold it up since the ABC duo won't be back.
And since the Skins is not a PGA Tour managed or owned event, The Golf Channel's Mercer Baggs is free to pick on it, and boy does he dismantle any notion that the event should be kept going.
Back in ’83, the total purse for the Skins Game was $360,000, which was huge money.
Player, Palmer and Nicklaus never earned that much in a single season in their TOUR careers. Nicklaus made $316,911 in 1972, but it took seven wins, including two major titles, to get to that number. And, prior to that inaugural Game, Watson’s best financial season was $530,808 in 1980, when he won six times.
Player was the first Skins Game winner, taking home $170,000 – or just $7,336 less than his richest TOUR campaign in 1978.
There are several reasons why the Skins Game should die a merciful death. For one more: Ames was the big winner this year – now he has to be invited back in 2007.
For a lighter take, check out the Principal's Nose's take.
...on Monday for the world's greatest course in Scotland. I really don't care, I just wanted an excuse to link this photo of him in a sky cap.
Just imagine what happened when he took the hat off.
Woods finished two strokes back of South Korea's Yang Yong-eun, a.k.a. Yang, at the HSBC Champions event in Shanghai, China, marking (all together now) the first time he's lost a 72-hole tournament since the Cialis Western Open on July 9.
So can we finally retire all talk of the so-called "streak?" No way! Tiger considered his loss to Micheel to be the end of it, but you can bet your Big Bertha that when Woods opens the 2007 season, most likely at the Buick Invitational at San Diego's Torrey Pines, the news will be that he'll be trying to extend his "winning streak" of six consecutive victories in official, PGA Tour-sanctioned tournaments. (Sigh.)
Robert Palmer was addicted to love, America is addicted to oil and the golf world is addicted to Tiger. He's headline news when he doesn't win and even when doesn't even come close, which speaks loudly to golf's current desperation for buzz.
Rumor has it that Skins Game sponsor LG is hoping Jesus makes his big return so they can get out of sponsoring next year's event, where, gulp, Stephen Ames is the defending champion at the new look Indian Wells Golf Resort!
Looking at the most recently updated Rapture Index, it doesn't appear that Ames's win was able to budge the number.
After failing to break 80 in Japan, Michelle Wie's critics turned up the heat. Jim Armstrong and Elspeth Burnside in The Scotsman:
What is becoming more tragic is the continued attempts by Wie to play in men's events when it has long been clear that, however prodigious a talent she may be in women's golf, she offers nothing more than gimmick value and a touch of glamour to the men's game.
Thanks to reader David for the heads up on this John Garrity take on over-the-top trophies, highlighted by this:
But consider the plight of Jim Furyk, Geoff Ogilvy, and Mike Weir, who finished two, six, and nine strokes behind Tiger, respectively, at Poipu Bay. Their "participant's gift" from the PGA of America was a free-standing wooden locker with leather interior and brass name plate, each locker being large enough to store a staff bag, 10 green jackets, or three PGA Grand Slam trophies.
Furyk has a house on Maui, so he can probably float his locker over on a catamaran or outrigger canoe. But Ogilvy and Weir must be frantic, trying to get their lockers into the overhead bins for the flight to the mainland.
If I were a tournament sponsor, I'd try to cut this trend off at the pass. How about a hummingbird trophy for the winner of The Memorial? How about a commemorative scroll for the Phoenix Open champ? Hey, it's the digital age. The next time Tiger wins, I'd give him a leather-bound highlights DVD (with bonus features).
Or not. Big is in, ponderous is popular, and somehow the natives on Easter Island moved those big stone statues. Anyway, it's not in certain people's interest to discourage big trophies. Look who's sponsoring the PGA Tour's new season-ending points race: FedEx.