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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 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
  • Professional Golf 2014: The Complete Media, Fan and Fantasy Guide
    Professional Golf 2014: The Complete Media, Fan and Fantasy Guide
    by Daniel Wexler
Classics
  • Golf Architecture in America: Its Strategy and Construction
    Golf Architecture in America: Its Strategy and Construction
    by Geo. C. Thomas
  • The Course Beautiful : A Collection of Original Articles and Photographs on Golf Course Design
    The Course Beautiful : A Collection of Original Articles and Photographs on Golf Course Design
    Treewolf Prod
  • Reminiscences Of The Links
    Reminiscences Of The Links
    by Albert Warren Tillinghast, Richard C. Wolffe, Robert S. Trebus, Stuart F. Wolffe
  • Gleanings from the Wayside
    Gleanings from the Wayside
    by Albert Warren Tillinghast
  • Planet Golf USA: The Definitive Reference to Great Golf Courses in America
    Planet Golf USA: The Definitive Reference to Great Golf Courses in America
    by Darius Oliver
  • Planet Golf: The Definitive Reference to Great Golf Courses Outside the United States of America
    Planet Golf: The Definitive Reference to Great Golf Courses Outside the United States of America
    by Darius Oliver
Writing And Videos

The best way to whet the appetite and improve the game of any golfer is to offer an incentive and provide a reward for high class play, and by high class play is meant simply the best of which each individual is capable. Placing a premium on accuracy with due consideration for length should be the aim of all men who design courses, for accuracy in the play signifies skill, and skill is generally the master of brute force. WILLIAM FLYNN

 

    

Sunday
Jun102007

"Nothing would have given me more pleasure than inflicting a touch of pain and suffering on the US Tour's unworthy wealthy."

Vintage Frank Hannigan, writing in The Scotsman on Europe's U.S. Open winless drought:

I'll tell you a secret. I held high office at the USGA in those days and we wanted a European to win. It would have emphasised the worldliness of our event and victories by Europeans would have seemed a put-down for the US PGA Tour. Nothing would have given me more pleasure than inflicting a touch of pain and suffering on the US Tour's unworthy wealthy.

But you let us down. And now your prospects are worse. In the world of golf gambling (illegal in the United States and therefore cited here only as hearsay) the lowest-priced Europeans are an uninviting 30-1, the numbers cited for Padraig Harrington, who comes close but always seems to make a six at least once during the final nine holes; Sergio Garcia, who has been "promising" for at least a decade and still misses three-foot putts; and the pretty swinging Luke Donald, who fancies himself as a genuine artist - on canvas at least. Trust me, Ben Hogan did not own a palette.

As for the Ryder Cup, a thought: it matters much more to your side than it does to ours. I don't think it means much at all to Tiger Woods or Phil Mickelson, who can tolerate, if barely, playing for nothing while big money is sucked in by the PGA of America. But what's intolerable is being forced to attend a string of the world's most boring dinner parties during the run-up to the event.
And he slips this in... 
Indeed, it saddens me to think that not nearly enough of you are going to see this new version of Oakmont. The United States Golf Association, in its infinite greed, sold the television rights to Rupert Murdoch's Sky operation so as to diminish the audience in the UK. The BBC, thank goodness, continues to own the rights to the Masters.
Sunday
Jun102007

"...the editors made a quadruple bogey by not including Tiger on its 100 Most Influential People in The World list."

I should cut Tim Rosaforte some slack for his touching tribute to Stu Schneider in this week's column, but I know deep down that Stu wouldn't want me to let these Larry King-esque musings go by without some sort of comment!

Time is by far my favorite news magazine, but the editors made a quadruple bogey by not including Tiger on its 100 Most Influential People in The World list. And I'm not just talking about what he does on the golf course. Woods may be having a hard time attracting a Memorial-like field to his new tournament, but seeing how the tough Washington crowd is laying down the red carpet for him is an indication of his influence and power.

Sure, right behind a couple of interns at Powell-Tate who can probably influence on the workings of our fine government than our golfing hero.

Sunday
Jun102007

Torrey Pines Update

sp-glory280.jpgTod Leonard looks at Torrey Pines, 368 days out from hosting the U.S. Open.

Torrey South is currently a wildly stitched quilt of many shades of green, brown, yellow and white. The rough is burned out from a chemical, applied intentionally, that killed all but the kikuyu grass. A few Torrey pines stand in huge crates, ready for transplantation. Tractor tracks are imbedded in mud near a few holes.

There hasn't been this much construction on the South since the course was completely redesigned by architect Rees Jones in 2001 to attract the Open. But it has to look worse before it gets better.

And they might as well order the rye grass seed now, because kikuyu rough isn't going to fly... 
The biggest concern, Davis said, is whether the kikuyu rough will be healthy enough by the end of the summer that he can commit to it for the Open. Otherwise, they will have to overseed the rough with rye before the tournament to enhance the thickness.

“The reason I can sleep at night is knowing that we have that rye as an option,” Woodward said.

Sunday
Jun102007

Official This Week: Pinehurst In 2014?

Newsday's Mark Herrmann looks at Shinnecock Hills' slim hopes of grabbing a U.S. Open hosting bid anytime soon, with this from the Club's GM Gregg Deger:

Deger acknowledged what USGA executive director David Fay said last year, that his group and the club are discussing another Open. But, Deger added, "It's not too intently. It hasn't been active."

Marty Parkes, senior director of media relations and communications for the USGA, said, "Conversations are still going on, but I don't know of anything imminent."

Time's a-wasting. The USGA has booked the Open for the next six years, including 2009 at Bethpage Black. Already, Shinnecock has missed its once-every-nine-years call (after 1986, 1995, 2004) because Merion has been awarded the 2013 event.

Fay probably will announce the 2014 site this week, with speculation leaning toward Pinehurst No. 2. The Journal-News of Westchester reported that Winged Foot, which was lauded for being tough but fair with a 5-over par winning score last year, has asked to host in 2015.

 

Sunday
Jun102007

A Look At Oakhurst

20070609mfgolf_4_450.jpgChico Harlan in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette looks at Oakhurst Links, a must if you are ever in West Virginia.
Sunday
Jun102007

Golf Channel and European Tour Events

Reader Gary notes that there was a 2-hour weather delay on the European Tour today, meaning Golf Channel's broadcast window "ran out" with the leaders having 6 or so holes to play, and the programming switched to the dreaded infomercials.

Anyone out there know precisely why they don't see the tournament to its conclusion? I'm sure our buddy Stu would have gotten to the bottom of this.

Saturday
Jun092007

Oakmont's Design Evolution

bunkers2.jpgRon Whitten presents a detailed and fascinating account of Oakmont's design evolution and he attempts to figure who was most responsible for course's character. It may surprise you.

Much less inspiring or interesting is Tom Marzolf's description of the work he and Tom Fazio have done there in recent years.

Saturday
Jun092007

"You can hit great, straight drives in the US Open and still miss the fairway."

John Huggan follows up on his Golf Digest interview with Geoff Ogilvy with a few more questions for the defending champion. Ogilvy touched on a similar notion about driving accuracy in the Q&A we did for Links (not online). I think he's onto something with regard to the effect of the 21-24 yard landing area...
JH: Ironically, the US Open isn't the one of the four your game would seem most suited to.

GO: No. I have thought a lot about that. I would have expected, for someone like me who is a little wayward off the tee even when playing well, that Augusta or the Open would be the best bet. But US Opens are so narrow that straight hitters almost lose their advantage. Everyone is in the rough. And I'm used to that and they are not.

You can hit great, straight drives in the US Open and still miss the fairway. So it almost works against those guys. I mean, I'm quite happy hitting seven shots out of the rough. I do that every day. They don't.

I'm not alone, though. Take a look at the leader board at Winged Foot.

Phil was up there and he isn't the straightest hitter. Everyone talks about how you have to hit it straight at the US Open. And I thought that too. But in hindsight I'm not so sure. No-one can hit it straight enough to hit every fairway in the US Open. It's so difficult, almost impossible really. You can be a great driver of the ball and still miss six fairways in a day. And you can drive badly and do that.

JH: What do you think of all the rough around the greens?

GO: I think some of the holes at Winged Foot would have been better served if balls were allowed to run away from the greens, rather than get stopped within a few feet.

JH: Which is what happened with your approach to the last green came up short.

GO: Exactly. That created quite an interesting shot.

Winged Foot is a stellar course though. I can't say anything bad about it because I won! I loved the fact that they had trimmed the trees so that you can see a lot of the course under the branches. That has been lost in a lot of places, but Winged Foot had that look about it.

It also has some of the coolest greens I have ever seen.

Saturday
Jun092007

Nonconforming Driver: The Prez Jet In Context

driver.jpgChris Millard's story on the USGA under Walter Driver marks the first time a publication of any kind has addressed the USGA presidential jet. Millard considers it in the context of USGA staff outrage over benefit cuts and Driver's "change agent" style:

...in February USGA staff was notified of significant cuts to their medical plan. Further, the Educational Assistance Program, a prized USGA benefit, which since 1997 has assisted Golf House employees with the cost of a child's college tuition, would be phased out.

Compounding the issue--and confounding staffers--were the following: First, only weeks prior to the revelation that benefits would be cut, the USGA had signed two new deep-pocketed corporate sponsors. Second, less than a year before rumors of the cuts reached Golf House staff, news media had revealed that the USGA had acquired time on a private jet for use by the president and the executive committee.

Uh guys, it was here. Quibbling, I know. Continue...

On Feb. 6 USGA staffers were advised of the benefit cuts via memo (a copy of which was obtained by Golf World). The cuts, their timing and the manner in which they were presented stunned and angered employees. "The way it was couched to us, they were basically taking something away without really telling [us] what was going to happen," says one USGA veteran with college-aged children. "A lot of people here felt that wasn't fair."

Fast forward...

In an unusual move, Driver flew to Far Hills to quell concerns. "The staff had not been given what I call the ‘three-legged stool,' and I wanted to explain to them the process," says Driver.
Please, would some inkslinger at Oakmont please ask Driver to flesh out that metaphor.

 
Onward...

Outside observers were flabbergasted. "Walter Driver [saying] in his address we've made changes to help us improve our potential for getting quality staffers in the future--when in fact they were cutting benefits--was the ultimate corporate act: Say one thing and do another," says Shackelford, who frequently posts provocative and acerbic comment on his blog. "For me that was the all-time low, really."

Acerbic?

Oh, sorry. Believe it or not, I am building to a point here...

Before Driver took over, longstanding USGA tradition called for executive committee members to pay their own travel expenses for association business. Once disclosed, the idea of a USGA-funded private jet for executive committee use sent shockwaves through a century-old volunteer ethos. One former president who asked not to be identified says, "I have been away from the institution for a long time. Priorities and demands change. For example, a jet for executive-committee use would have been unheard of in my time."

Driver has been demonized as the procurer and chief beneficiary of the plane when, in fact, he inherited the lease from Fred Ridley's presidency. The deal with Citation Shares was made, ironically, at the suggestion of the past presidents. Driver is unruffled by the controversy. He considers the plane a tool, one that has allowed him to expand his USGA schedule. "If people don't think it's appropriate," he says, "either I or the next president simply won't do those things."

Those things? Would those be boring speeches that really do nothing to impact any lives? Okay, sometimes I am acerbic.

Anyway, here's my question. If the past president's pushed this jet on Ridley and Driver (joined at the hip, something Millard left out), and Driver truly cared about the future health (no pun) of the USGA and its staff, wouldn't he have said "no thanks, save the hundreds of thousands of dollars you'll lavish on me with this jet for a better cause."

Now, I know it's from page 291 of the CEO playbook to blame the board for those excessive stock options and perks while your workers are taking pay and benefit cuts, but just an FYI for Walter Driver, there are still some CEO's who actually commit acts of charity for the good of the team:

[Gerald] Grinstein, who has led the USA's No. 3 airline since January 2004, said he wants Delta instead to invest what he would have gotten in post-bankruptcy bonuses, to be used for scholarships and emergency hardship assistance for Delta employees, families and retirees. Under a post-bankruptcy compensation plan unveiled Monday, Grinstein could have been expected to net about $10 million, including such bonuses, over about three years.

Now that's my kind of "change agent." 

Saturday
Jun092007

"I had a thing for Tiger when I was young. But not any more."

That's from a 16-year-old who is playing in this week's U.S. Open. Lorne Rubenstein has the story of Richard Lee, Canadian-born runner-up in last year's U.S. Junior Amateur and playing in his final event as an amateur.

 

Friday
Jun082007

Monty Again Ready To Almost Win U.S. Open

James Corrigan tells us way more than we ever wanted to know about Colin Montgomerie's close calls at the U.S. Open.

Friday
Jun082007

Mrs. Daly Attempts To Implement Alternative Weight Loss Program On Husband*

Good times in Memphis...

John Daly, who lives on the course where he is playing in the Stanford St. Jude Championship, reported to authorities that his wife attempted to stab him with a steak knife early Friday, authorities said.

Daly, 41, called police about 6 a.m. on Friday to report the alleged assault, Shelby County Sheriff's department spokesman Steve Shular said.

IN-PROGRESS SCORES: Updates from St. Jude Championship

When deputies arrived, she and the couple's children were not there. Deputies could not find the knife he claimed she used.

Red marks could be seen on both of Daly's cheeks as his warmed up on the course Friday afternoon. Play had been delayed by weather.

It will be Daly's decision whether to press charges, Shular said. No charges had been filed Friday afternoon.

Friday
Jun082007

Can You Spot The $#@%! Pairing? 2007 Edition

 Last year there were no definitive winners in the USGA's annual, unofficial $#@%! pairing. Still, here are the 2007 groupings. Your nominations for that pairing of three jovial, sunny, truly beloved contestants.

Thursday (June 14), hole #1; Friday (June 15), hole #10 

            7:00 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. - Ken Duke, Palm City, Fla.; Sam Walker, England; Johnson Wagner, Charlotte, N.C.
            7:11 a.m. - 12:41 p.m. - Craig Kanada, The Woodlands, Texas; Jon Mills, Canada; Tom Gillis, Oxford, Mich.
            7:22 a.m. - 12:52 p.m. - Allen Doyle, La Grange, Ga.; Olin Browne, Tequesta, Fla.; Tom Byrum, Richmond, Texas
            7:33 a.m. - 1:03 p.m. - Nick Dougherty, England; A-Trip Kuehne, Dallas, Texas; Ricky Barnes, Scottsdale, Ariz.
            7:44 a.m. - 1:14 p.m. - Ryuji Imada, Japan; Vaughn Taylor, Augusta, Ga.; Michael Campbell, New Zealand
            7:55 a.m. - 1:25 p.m. - Jose Maria Olazabal, Spain; Sergio Garcia, Spain; Pablo Martin, Spain
            8:06 a.m. - 1:36 p.m. - Tiger Woods, Windermere, Fla.; A-Richie Ramsay, Scotland; Geoff Ogilvy, Australia
            8:17 a.m. - 1:47 p.m. - Justin Leonard, Dallas, Texas; Rory Sabbatini, South Africa; Jerry Kelly, Madison, Wis.
            8:28 a.m. - 1:58 p.m. - Retief Goosen, South Africa; Luke Donald, England; Angel Cabrera, Argentina
            8:39 a.m. - 2:09 p.m. - Bob Estes, Austin, Texas; Johan Edfors, Sweden; Ryan Palmer, Amarillo, Texas
            8:50 a.m. - 2:20 p.m. - Woody Austin, Derby, Kan.; Mathew Goggin, Australia; Pat Perez, Scottsdale, Ariz.
            9:01 a.m. - 2:31 p.m. - Jason Allen, Pueblo, Colo.; Mike Small, Champaign, Ill.; Geoffrey Sisk, Marshfield, Mass.
            9:12 a.m. - 2:42 p.m. - Michael Berg, Detroit Lakes, Minn.; A-Jason Kokrak, Warren, Ohio; Kyle Dobbs, Ann Arbor, Mich. 

Thursday (June 14), hole #10; Friday (June 15), hole #1
 

            7:00 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. - Michael Putnam, Tacoma, Wash.; A-Rhys Davies, Wales; Lee Williams, Alexander City, Ala.
            7:11 a.m. - 12:41 p.m. - Boo Weekley, Milton, Fla.; Nobuhiro Masuda, Japan; Bubba Watson, Bagdad, Fla.
            7:22 a.m. - 12:52 p.m. - A-John Kelly, Saint Louis, Mo.; Graeme McDowell, Northern Ireland; Kirk Triplett, Scottsdale, Ariz.
            7:33 a.m. - 1:03 p.m. - Colin Montgomerie, Scotland; Chris DiMarco, Orlando, Fla.; Tim Clark, South Africa
            7:44 a.m. - 1:14 p.m. - Ernie Els, South Africa; Zach Johnson, Cedar Rapids, Iowa; Padraig Harrington, Ireland
            7:55 a.m. - 1:25 p.m. - Thomas Bjorn, Denmark; Ben Curtis, Stow, Ohio; Stephen Ames, Canada
            8:06 a.m. - 1:36 p.m. - K.J. Choi, Korea; David Toms, Shreveport, La.; Mike Weir, Canada
            8:17 a.m. - 1:47 p.m. - Stuart Appleby, Australia; Scott Verplank, Edmond, Okla.; Robert Allenby, Australia
            8:28 a.m. - 1:58 p.m. - Todd Hamilton, Westlake, Texas; John Rollins, Richmond, Va.; Anders Hansen, Denmark
            8:39 a.m. - 2:09 p.m. - Niclas Fasth, Sweden; Arron Oberholser, Scottsdale, Ariz.; Nathan Green, Australia
            8:50 a.m. - 2:20 p.m. - Nick Watney, Fresno, Calif.; Peter Hanson, Sweden; Harrison Frazar, Dallas, Texas
            9:01 a.m. - 2:31 p.m. - A-Philip Pettitt Jr, Murfreesboro, Tenn.; Warren Pineo, Palm Desert, Calif.; John Koskinen, Baraga, Mich.
            9:12 a.m. - 2:42 p.m. - Andy Matthews, Grand Rapids, Mich.; A-Jeff Golden, Winter Park, Fla.; Michael Block, Aliso Viejo, Calif.
 

Thursday (June 14), hole #1; Friday (June 15), hole #10
 

            12:30 p.m. - 7:00 a.m. - Jeff Brehaut, Los Altos, Calif.; Andrew Buckle, Australia; Darron Stiles, Pinehurst, N.C.
            12:41 p.m. - 7:11 a.m. - Martin Laird, Scotland; A-Alex Prugh, Spokane, Wash.; Todd Fischer, Pleasanton, Calif.
            12:52 p.m. - 7:22 a.m. - Joe Durant, Pensacola, Fla.; Steve Stricker, Madison, Wis.; Joey Sindelar, Horseheads, N.Y.
            1:03 p.m. - 7:33 a.m. - Trevor Immelman, South Africa; Stewart Cink, Duluth, Ga.; Paul Casey, England
            1:14 p.m. - 7:44 a.m. - Vijay Singh, Fiji; Davis Love III, Sea Island, Ga.; Henrik Stenson, Sweden
            1:25 p.m. - 7:55 a.m. - Jeff Sluman, Hinsdale, Ill.; Fred Funk, Ponte Vedra, Fla.; Toru Taniguchi, Japan
            1:36 p.m. - 8:06 a.m. - Camilo Villegas, Colombia; Lucas Glover, Greenville, S.C.; Aaron Baddeley, Australia
            1:47 p.m. - 8:17 a.m. - David Howell, England; J.J. Henry, Fort Worth, Texas; Rod Pampling, Australia
            1:58 p.m. - 8:28 a.m. - Lee Westwood, England; Chad Campbell, Andrews, Texas; Carl Pettersson, Sweden
            2:09 p.m. - 8:39 a.m. - Brett Quigley, Barrington, R.I.; Anthony Wall, England; Hunter Mahan, Plano, Texas
            2:20 p.m. - 8:50 a.m. - Kevin Sutherland, Sacramento, Calif.; Soren Kjeldsen, Denmark; Eric Axley, Knoxville, Tenn.
            2:31 p.m. - 9:01 a.m. - Joe Daley, Scottsdale, Ariz.; A-Martin Ureta, Chile; Miguel Rodriguez, Argentina
            2:42 p.m. - 9:12 a.m. - A-Chris Condello, Heathrow, Fla.; Adam Speirs, Canada; Jacob Rogers, Tucson, Ariz. 

Thursday (June 14), hole #10; Friday (June 15), hole #1
 

            12:30 p.m. - 7:00 a.m. - Jason Dufner, Auburn, Ala.; Darren Fichardt, South Africa; Chris Stroud, Sea Island, Ga.
            12:41 p.m. - 7:11 a.m. - Brandt Snedeker, Nashville, Tenn.; Christian Cevaer, France; Steve Marino, Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.
            12:52 p.m. - 7:22 a.m. - Shaun Micheel, Germantown, Tenn.; Charl Schwartzel, South Africa; Tom Pernice Jr, Murietta, Calif.
            1:03 p.m. - 7:33 a.m. - Nick O'Hern, Australia; Brett Wetterich, Jupiter, Fla.; Robert Karlsson, Sweden
            1:14 p.m. - 7:44 a.m. - Kaname Yokoo, Japan; Paul Goydos, Dove Canyon, Calif.; Kenneth Ferrie, England
            1:25 p.m. - 7:55 a.m. - Ian Poulter, England; Ryan Moore, Puyallup, Wash.; Shingo Katayama, Japan
            1:36 p.m. - 8:06 a.m. - Phil Mickelson, Rancho Santa Fe, Calif.; Adam Scott, Australia; Jim Furyk, Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.
            1:47 p.m. - 8:17 a.m. - Lee Janzen, Orlando, Fla.; Steve Elkington, Australia; Rich Beem, Austin, Texas
            1:58 p.m. - 8:28 a.m. - Charles Howell, Orlando, Fla.; Justin Rose, England; Sean O'Hair, West Chester, Pa.
            2:09 p.m. - 8:39 a.m. - Anthony Kim, Dallas, Texas; Jeev Milkha Singh, India; Dean Wilson, Kaneohe, Hawaii
            2:20 p.m. - 8:50 a.m. - Tim Petrovic, Tampa, Fla.; Marcus Fraser, Australia; Tripp Isenhour, Orlando, Fla.
            2:31 p.m. - 9:01 a.m. - D.J. Brigman, Albuquerque, N.M.; A-Richard Lee, Chandler, Ariz.; George McNeill, Ft Myers, Fla.
            2:42 p.m. - 9:12 a.m. - Frank Bensel, Purchase, N.Y.; Todd Rossetti, Dallas, Texas; A-Mark Harrell, Hazlehurst, Ga.

Thursday
Jun072007

Noncomforming Driver: COR v. Grooves

driver.jpgIn Chris Millard's Golf World cover story, the banning of U-grooves comes up.

You remember that right?

The guys are bombing it out there insane distances because the USGA believes the guys think they can spin it out of the light rough with today's grooves better than they can from the fairway (based on a field study of nine players). And because the drive distances are so eye-opening, the USGA wants to stop this embarrassing practice that makes what is left of today's fairways less meaningful.

By 2009, anyone wanting to play a competitive event under USGA rules will have to buy new clubs with conforming grooves.

Here's what USGA President Walter Driver tells Millard:

Oddly, the impetus for the grooves proposal was the state of play on tour, a very small but highly visible slice of the American golf community. "The fact that really stimulated this," said Driver, "is that during the last several years there is no correlation at all between fairways hit and money won on the PGA Tour. Clearly, you can hit it anywhere. Part of that is the grooves. We think we can demand more skill [by] making you drive the ball in play."

Now because of this, a whole bunch of people are going to have to go out and replace their clubs (which is why other than Ping, the reaction from the equipment industry has been and will continue to be concerned silence).

Yet, earlier in the story, Millard looks at the COR debate and Driver explains why the USGA rolled over:

If the view that the USGA should have fought to the death on COR can be described as idealistic, Driver's view is correspondingly pragmatic. He explains that the clubs in question were manufactured and bought in good faith and had earned the USGA's seal of approval. If the USGA had gone back even further on COR, he says, "I don't know whether we would have had the resources to buy all those clubs or to compensate the manufacturers for relying on the letters that we sent out.

So my question for Walter is, why aren't you offering to buy back all of these u-grooved irons that were manufactured and bought in good faith and had earned the USGA's seal of approval?

Thursday
Jun072007

"There was a lot of things swirling around the media center."

The Brand Lady made a rare press center appearance to try and put out the various fires started by Michelle Wie's entourage last week.

CAROLYN BIVENS: I'm going to make a fairly brief opening statement and I will take a few questions, and I'll outline some of the things that we can and can't talk about.
She's baaaccckkkk!
I want to go back to last Thursday and the round in Charleston at River Town. Thursday morning, actually, beginning with the fifth hole that Michelle played, which was the 14th, there began to circulate all kind of rumors, innuendos and questions about a potential ruling, or lack thereof. There was a lot of things swirling around the media center.
And it's good to see she's been brushing up on her English.

At this point, she rambles on about the advice ruling, which isn't why we're here, is it? Now, the 88 stuff...
The 88 rule only came in to effect by the time that Michelle had finished what would have been her 10th or 11th hole and shot the 10.

The Wie camp asked questions about the rules and the regulations, and we did as we do every week, and as we had done earlier that day for her playing partners and for others out in the field; we answered the questions regarding the rules and the regulations. At no time did anyone from the LPGA make any suggestion that Michelle should come off of the course.

I see. And, does this mean Mr. Higgs was less than truthful about his consultations "for no particular reason" with Mr. Nared? Oh I'm sorry, continue...

The one thing that I will not go into is any of the conversation that took place with Mr. Wie, Greg Nared and myself.

Oh. Well, let's see what the slingers ask.

Q. How do you think the conversation went without getting into details? Did he accept what you had to say; not what was said but just the tone of it.

CAROLYN BIVENS: I'm not going to -- I'm not going to discuss it.

Hey, you tried.

Q. Do you ever thoughts on the 88 rule and whether that still need to be in existence?

CAROLYN BIVENS: I really don't.

That's comforting.

I'm not the expert on the rules. It's something that our executive committee will look at. What we generally do is at the end of the year we take two or three days in what's called think tank and the members of the executive committee, of which Annika is a member, get into some of the meatier issues that we really can't deal with during the playing year. And we figure out what needs to be changed, what needs to improve, what needs to be added for the following year.

Oh it's toast. As it should be.

 Q. And as a lot of these storylines focus around various aspects of conduct with a 17-year-old, is there anything that you noticed at all leading into last week that raised any red flags; that got your attention that "I need to kind of pay attention to this?"

CAROLYN BIVENS: The question was, was there any indication before leading into last week that maybe was a red flag or something that needed to be paid attention to.

Doug, there really hasn't been. There really hasn't been.

No, nothing at all! Not like say, having to be hospitalized or previous high profile rules infractions.

Nope, no red flags here!

Thursday
Jun072007

D. Trump vs. Golf Digest (Industry Press Division)

trump_headshot02_299x400.jpgYou may recall the Trump-Golf Digest-NY Post dust-up from a few months back, and Michael Bamberger does his best to flesh it out for our entertainment.

Remember Jerry, I merely copy and paste!

Well, and add just pinch of snarkiness. This is fun:

A few weeks before the May 2007 Golf Digest came out — the one with the '07–08 list of America's 100 Greatest Golf Courses, As Ranked by Golf Digest — Trump received distressing news: His West Palm Beach course, the one that had been No. 84 on the '05–06 list, had fallen out of the top 100. Trump was stunned. It made no sense to him that the course, which he obsessively tries to improve, would drop 17 or more spots. Such dramatic drops don't often happen.

Remember how certain things in business are on the short list of things that actually matter to Trump? Getting dropped from the Golf Digest top 100 qualifies. The list has had broad credibility in golf, and it's the kind of seal of approval Trump craves. Trump is a sucker for the word greatest. He knows that almost every course chosen for a major championship is on the 100 Greatest list.

And then something happened that got Trump even more upset. A reporter from the New York Post called and said that a p.r. person from Golf Digest, a Condé Nast magazine, was pitching the paper on a story about the Trump course falling off the list. "I suspect Mr. Trump will be extremely displeased when he learns of this," the Golf Digest director of public relations, Andrew Katcher, wrote in an e-mail to the paper. "Depending on what he says, we thought this could be a fun — and potentially biting — piece."

The Post reporter read the e-mail to Trump, and Trump responded with this: "It's despicable they send out a release to announce Trump is not on their list. For shame!"

When Trump recounted the entire episode to me, he was still livid. He said that a former publisher of Golf Digest, Mitchell Fox, had told him in 2002 that the Westchester course was going to be named by Golf Digest as the second-best private course opened that year. Trump said that Fox, who is now a high-ranking Condé Nast executive, was regularly playing at the course for free with clients and friends, though he was not a member. "I told him, 'Trump does not do Number 2 — take me off the list completely,' " Trump said. The course was not on the list.

 The Donald has such sway! Or maybe the course just wasn't that good?

Sometime later, after Fox had played the course, by Trump's count, about 30 times and always for free, "I told my people to tell him not to come back," Trump said. I asked Trump why he had allowed Fox to play the course so often and for no charge in the first place. "Look," Trump said, "I'm no angel." It was his way of admitting that he was trying to curry favor. "But the way he was using the course was not appropriate."
Hey, at least he's honest about attempting to bribe the Golf Digest panel.
Trump described a round he played at the West Palm Beach course with Jerry Tarde, the editor of Golf Digest; Ron Whitten, the magazine's architecture editor; and Gary Wiren, a noted golf instructor. "On my 18th hole Whitten made a 30 — a 30!" Trump said.

Later, at a dinner at Mar-a-Lago, Trump, Tarde, Whittenand Trump's wife, Melania, sat at the same table. At the end of the evening, according to the host, Mrs. Trump said to Mr. Trump, "You know those two men don't like you very much." Trump thinks personal animosity plays a role in why he's no longer on the list.

Oh don't worry Donald, Ron's that way with everyone!  Just kidding Ron! Just kidding!

I reached Fox on a weekday morning at 8:30, and he said he wanted to talk about Trump but that he was busy right then. He told me to call back at 10:45 a.m., which I did. I was told he was in a meeting. I was told the same thing in my subsequent calls. He did not respond to phone messages or e-mail. Ditto for Tarde.

Whitten, a former prosecutor, answered all my questions. He said he did not make a 30 on the par-4 home hole that day with Trump. He said it was no more than an 11.

 But did he stroke on that hole?

He said he doesn't dislike Trump and doesn't know why Melania would make that observation. He said he barely spoke to her all night. In any event, he said that his own personal feelings for course owners could never influence the Golf Digest rankings. He said that Fox could not have called Trump to tell him that his was going to be the No. 2 best new private course because Whitten is the first person to know where the clubs land on the various lists and the Westchester course never made any of them. Regarding the West Palm Beach course falling off the list, Whitten said the list was in no way manipulated to keep Trump off it. "We're not saying the Florida course is not a great course," Whitten said. "We're saying it's not one of the 100 greatest." To my ear, that last sentence would've sounded less arrogant had he added the words as ranked by Golf Digest.

Isn't it fun with the media covers its bitter rivals?

I asked Whitten if human error could creep into the rankings. He described his careful procedures, the automated counting, how much time he devotes to the whole thing. The chance that he would make an error, he said, was highly remote. I asked if any independent accounting agency came in to check Whitten's work.

Whitten said, "Did Trump's lawyers put you up to asking that question?"

I assured him that they did not. I was thinking of the Academy Awards. There's always that little bit about the accredited accountants at PricewaterhouseCoopers and how they count the ballots. In fact, Whitten described the Golf Digest list as "the Academy Awards" of the various magazine course listings.

"No," Whitten said, there has never been an outside, independent auditor. (Neither Golf Magazine's nor GolfWeek's rankings are independently audited.)

After all, you'd think all of those times Medinah landed in a top 20 that it would have prompted a federal fraud investigation.

There's only one thing that could move this dustup between Trump and Golf Digest into something more major, and that's if anything comes of a 2 1/2-page April 2 letter Trump had his lawyers send to Fox, with copies to Tarde, Whitten and Thomas Bair, the publisher of Golf Digest.

Trump wrote most of the letter himself. The letter mentions all the free golf Trump maintains that Fox and his clients and guests played at Westchester, along with free food and drink. The letter maintains that Trump is "disappointed" in Tarde and Whitten's unspecified "behavior." It accuses Bair of coming to Trump's office last Nov. 28 and telling Trump that none of the Trump courses would make the 100 Greatest list unless Trump would agree, and here he says he is quoting Bair, to "play ball with us." (A Conde Nast spokesman denied all of Trump's claims.) The letter demands that all the course rating information be forwarded to Trump. "It is our contention," the letter says, "that representatives of Golf Digest fraudulently manipulated the results of the raters with the intent of embarrassing Mr. Trump and doing harm to his reputation."

Well, that's a great way to get your courses ranked in the future Donald!

I asked Trump what he thought the letter would accomplish and what he might get out of a lawsuit, if one ever happened. Eleven years ago, in a settlement with the city of West Palm Beach concerning air traffic over Mar-a-Lago, he was awarded the land where the West Palm Beach course sits today. He's all lawyered up, all the time.

In answering, Trump was unusually circumspect. "At the end of the day," Trump said, "I think you'll find I will get not just one course in the Golf Digest top 100, but several. On merit."

I think The Donald about as much of a chance of making a Golf Digest list as he does of hosting the U.S. Open. 

Thursday
Jun072007

"Moodie told me she heard Wie say, 'Ouch!'"

Grant Boone at PGA.com adds a few twists to last week's Wie WD saga. Frankly, I've lost track of the various stories these people have told...
Afterward, Wie denied the 88 rule had anything to do with her decision, but an LPGA spokesperson confirmed to me Wednesday morning that Nared did ask about the rule during Wie's round.
And here you thought he was on the phone to his astrologer!
There is growing suspicion -- if it hasn't already fully blossomed -- among LPGA players that Wie feigned injury to avoid the 88 rule and save herself for this week's major. But Janice Moodie isn't piling on. Moodie, a two-time LPGA winner and Solheim Cup stalwart from Scotland, turned 34 last Thursday and was paired with Wie in that ill-fated round. (Maybe all those LPGA officials had come out to sing Happy Birthday to Moodie.)

In a GMT exclusive -- seriously! -- Moodie told me she heard Wie say, "Ouch!" after hitting her tee shot on the first hole, which was the group's 10th of the day. Wie had said that was precisely when she began feeling the pain. "My caddie and I were the only ones who heard it," Moodie said. "She didn't swing as hard from that point on." As for Wie's purported petulance, Moodie added, "She was great to play with. Very friendly and respectful."
Now if we just knew which wrist. Meanwhile, Wie opened with a 73 at the LPGA Championship.
Thursday
Jun072007

"They're clearly concerned by the episodes."

From Thomas Bonk's L.A. Times golf column today

This just in from the USGA: The rough at Oakmont Country Club is too high. Now that's an upset. In fact, the rough is actually getting mowed, as the U.S. Open arrives next week.

Mike Davis, the U.S. Golf Assn.'s senior director of rules and competitions and the man responsible for the setup at Oakmont, said the growing conditions have been so favorable that the rough simply was "too much" and too thick.

The first cut of rough was supposed to be four inches high and the other rough from six to 6 1/2 inches, but now it has been scaled back to four inches high and to 2 3/4 to five inches.

"The whole concept is we're not looking for pitch-out rough," Davis said. "We want guys in there to have a shot at the green, at least in the first cut. That doesn't necessarily mean everyone will do it, but we want to give them the opportunity."

Davis said the first cut covers about seven paces from the fairway.

Now, in Golf World's Local Knowledge this week, John Strege reports the same thing, but adds this caveat:

Even though the maintenance plan is unchanged from the past three years, the rough has come in much denser this spring. The same thing happened last year at Winged Foot. USGA officials chose their words carefully when discussing the developments but they're clearly concerned by the episodes. 

Well, and we all know all about that middle of the night stuff too! 

Thursday
Jun072007

"It may be that we allocate fewer spots [to England]"

You think?

Jim McCabe reports on the European U.S. Open qualifier, which it turns out, sort of repeated last year's fiasco with a twist: filling the spots with American alternates! But this is also interesting:

"It's a bummer," said [Brad] Faxon, who was like many others -- perplexed by the way the USGA allocated the berths at the 15 sectionals. For instance, at Walton Heath in Surrey, England, there were a whopping nine spots available for a field of 53, meaning one in six players would succeed. At Woodmont, the odds were 1 in 3.4, with 67 competing for five. At Purchase, N.Y., where Marshfield's Geoff Sisk shot 73-67 to get through, the odds were even worse, 1 in every 19.3 (58 for 3).

Even Memphis, where PGA Tour names were at every turn of the head, the odds were slightly higher (one spot for every 6.5 players).

"I don't understand it," said Faxon, and while he wasn't going to dwell on the subject, it appears the USGA grossly overestimated how strong the Surrey site would be.

Expecting a lot of European PGA Tour players, they instead got a rash of withdrawals, a situation reminiscent to 2005 when American players withdrew by the truckload at a British Open final qualifier at Congressional CC in Washington.

"It really comes down to strength of field, but it's not an exact science," said Marty Parkes, the senior director of communications for the USGA.

The process gets reviewed annually and Parkes seemed to indicate that the Surrey numbers were more favorable than they should have been. They were, after all, almost identical to the numbers in Columbus, Ohio, (one spot for every 5.3 players) and that was a site so jammed-packed with talent it was virtually a 36-hole PGA Tour stop.

"It may be that we allocate fewer spots [to England]," he said.

Just to refresh memories, last year there were supposed to be 71 players for 8 spots and they ended up with 47 for 8 spots.

Maybe it's time we drop the European qualifier?

Thursday
Jun072007

Something Strange...

Did you know Oakmont is open for member play until Saturday at noon? 

Kind of odd, don't you think?