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Golf is the Great Mystery. Like some capricious goddess, it bestows its favours with what would appear an almost fat-headed lack of method and discrimination. On every side we see two-fisted he-men floundering round in three figures, stopping every few minutes to let through little shrimps with knock-knees and hollow cheeks, who are tearing off snappy seventy-fours. Giants of finance have to accept a stroke per from their junior clerks. Men capable of governing empires fail to control a small, white ball, which presents no difficulties whatever to others with one ounce more brain than a cuckoo-clock. Mysterious, but there it is.  P.G. WODEHOUSE


    

Monday
Jan222007

“I don't want to get in the bad habits"

Tod Leonard in the San Diego Union Tribune also had this from Phil Mickelson after Sunday's final round:

“It was hard, but today I didn't want to try to fight it too much,” Mickelson said. “I don't want to get in the bad habits, which is the main reason why I don't play Kapalua (for the season-opening Mercedes-Benz Championship)."

Ohhh...the FedEx Cup schedule may be starting a week later for Phil next year. 

Monday
Jan222007

Oh Canada Stop Complaining!

Thanks to reader Noonan for noticing this Chris Johnston story on the Canadian Open's struggle to find a sponsor, and the PGA Tour's Ty Votaw's condescending rebuttal (to their faces!):

The 'For Sale' sign hanging on the title sponsorship of the Canadian Open is beginning to fade with age, but the PGA Tour isn't worried about the lingering vacancy.

Tour executive Ty Votaw believes it's only a matter of time before a company steps forward and pays the $6-million (U.S.) a year needed to get its name on the event.

"The PGA Tour brand is strong," Votaw said yesterday after speaking to the Royal Canadian Golf Association's board of governors. "The history of golf in Canada is strong. I think the event itself is a selling point. It's a question of finding the right [fit]."
This is the fun part...
Votaw, however, believes the tournament's place in the run-up to the new FedEx Cup playoff system should boost the field and sponsorship interest.

"It's not less than ideal, it's not lousy and it's not between a rock and a hard place," said Votaw, the PGA Tour's executive vice-president of international affairs. "We want to build a crescendo to the end of our year.

"You should be proud that you are within that group rather than bemoaning that you're in that group."

 

Monday
Jan222007

No More Cell Phones At The Open

This was overdue...

NO MOBILE PHONES AT THE OPEN CHAMPIONSHIP

Spectators who intend attending The Open Championship, to be played at Carnoustie from Sunday 15 to Sunday 22 July 2007, are being advised that they will not be permitted to have mobile phones in their possession within The Open site. 

This policy is in line with other major golf championships, including this year’s Ryder Cup at the K Club, and follows comments from players concerning the excessive numbers in evidence this year at Hoylake.

David Hill, Director of Championships for The R&A, said, “We have so far resisted the call to ban mobile phones on the grounds that it may be an inconvenience to the public. However, after receiving complaints referring to the numbers that were in use as play in The Open was proceeding, we feel there is no other reasonable option other than a complete ban.

“As at the Ryder Cup, we believe that spectators will understand that this measure is being put in place to make The Open a more enjoyable experience for all spectators and players. I would stress that we will install additional public telephones for use by members of the general public.” 

In order to implement the ‘No Mobile Phone Policy’, security checks of every spectator will be in operation at the paygates.

Sunday
Jan212007

IM'ing With The Commissioners IV

My NSA sources forwarded another exclusive, this time another of golf's two commissioners chatting it up via instant message. As with the past exchanges (here, here and here), the insider details are rivetting, I must say. 

This time they are chatting right after Bob Hope Chrysler Classic play where high winds, grump players and a sluggish Golf Channel telecast made it all but impossible not to watch the Saints-Bears game. Commissioners...

DaBrandLady: tim, you there?

twfPGATour©: Hi Carolyn.

DaBrandLady: Great product today.

twfPGATour©: Thanks, I thought so too. Wonderful storylines with that whole structural dilemma of dealing with that really bizarre wind event, and so many players in the coveted demo contending.
twfPGATour©:  Best of all, GOLF CHANNEL is really contextualizing the storylines and creating that feeling of pressure building on players who are falling behind in the FedEx Cup points race.

DaBrandLady: totally! tiger has so much ground to make up already! we pray for storylines like that!

DaBrandLady: but i was wondering why they didn't have those fancy windmills out there at the classic club.

twfPGATour©: Oh, haha, yes it was a bit windy, but my people say that's unusual for that part of the desert. They say those other 100,000 or so power generating wind towers you see out there are simply tax deductible means for the property owners. It really isn't a windy spot.

DaBrandLady: really? when the huz and i drove to the nabisco from l.a., we were wondering if any courses had ever thought of incorporating those wind energy things into their designs.

twfPGATour©: You're serious?

DaBrandLady: absolutely. hear me out. you line the fairways with them in lieu of trees.

DaBrandLady: you could sign one of these windmill makers up as a presenting sponsor, have them out there generating revenue for the platform as the tournament is going on. you would be delivering value to your players and to your new presenting sponsor. you might want to run some metrics on this. i know i would.

twfPGATour©: Interesting. Maybe we could have the guy who does GOLF CHANNEL's Win Zone cook up some numbers. Isn't that a great advance? Adds so much texture to the telecast.

DaBrandLady: yeah i saw where they had charley kaufman at 7.3% with a hole to go!

twfPGATour©: It's actually Hoffman.

DaBrandLady: The Win Zone guy?

twfPGATour©: No, Charley Hoffman, who won the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic Hosted by George Lopez.

DaBrandLady: oh. well anyway, the windmill thing was just a thought. you know how i'm always looking for ways to cross leverage value through sound metricking to better the lives my players sponsors. hey is that a word, metricking?

twfPGATour©: I don't know Carolyn, but I like it.

DaBrandLady: say tim, there's an issue that's come up and i wanted to run it by you before i have to deal with the media.

twfPGATour©: What's that?

DaBrandLady: well my people have been looking at your golf channel ratings and well...

twfPGATour©: What? The 18-34 number? We think it can only go up.

DaBrandLady: no no, the overall ratings. you see, well, at some point we at the lpga are going to be on espn or "the deuce" as i like to call it

twfPGATour©: The deuce? Oh ESPN2. Very original Carolyn. And your point?

DaBrandLady: well, we're probably going to score a higher rating on one of the espn's than what you all are pulling in on the golf channel.

twfPGATour©: I find that hard to believe because of the numbers we'll generate on the repeat airings. My dad says he's watching it live and on the repeat. But I'll have Ty look into it and get back to you on the language of how we deal with that and give it texture and meaning for the consumer. And I appreciate your concern for our brand.

DaBrandLady: anytime tim. well, that was all. again, great product today.

twfPGATour©: Thanks Carolyn. Give my best to, uh...

DaBrandLady: he says hi back!

Sunday
Jan212007

"You should invite her to the next member-guest competition at your home club and she might actually win something."

Thanks to reader Phillip for catching Butch Harmon's Michelle Wie-related comments to Mark Reason in the Sunday Telegraph.

Harmon's brutally honest, but it's hard to argue with what he has to say.

"The whole thing is absolutely ridiculous," he says. "Michelle has regressed. She is worse now at 17 than she was at 14. To continue telling us that she is getting better by playing with the men is an insult. She says it's a learning experience. What is she learning by finishing last? It's hurting her mentally.

"She should go play with the women and dominate that competition first. But the whole Michelle Wie camp is about money. The biggest difference between Earl [Woods, the father of Tiger] and BJ [Wie, Michelle's dad] is that Earl didn't worry about money. He knew it was more important for Tiger to learn to win and then the money would take care of itself. But Michelle Wie wins nothing.

"You should invite her to the next member-guest competition at your home club and she might actually win something because what's going on now is ridiculous. And it's not good for the game of golf."

 

Sunday
Jan212007

Yet Another Newsflash From The Golf Channel

Hot off the press release wire...

GOLF CHANNEL Tames Winds at Bob Hope Chrysler Classic with Extended Coverage in Prime Time

Demonstrating the cable network’s commitment to follow golf's breaking stories, the GOLF CHANNEL extended live tournament coverage to capture Charley Hoffman’s come-from-behind victory in a playoff over John Rollins at the final round of the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic hosted by George Lopez.

 With its pre-scheduled broadcast window scheduled to conclude at 7 p.m. ET, GOLF CHANNEL extended its live broadcast to provide viewers with shot-by-shot coverage and analysis of the first playoff of the 2007 PGA TOUR season.

Wow, the sacrifices they make! For all 8 of you who tuned in for the Sprint Post Game...
 On Golf Central (1 a.m. ET), Vince Cellini will sit down with Hoffman to break down his first PGA TOUR victory.  Golf Central also will highlight the top celebrity moments of the week.

Oh, let me go TiVo that. I wonder if I'll get a chance to see Oscar De La Hoya shadow boxing in front of a camera? The other 42 times weren't enough.

Missed any of the final round action due to the NFL Playoffs? 

No one was watching those lousy games! Come on. I mean, Sprint Post Game or Brady v. Manning down to the wire? Please.  

GOLF CHANNEL has viewers covered, with an encore presentation of the final round of play airing in its entirety beginning at 10 p.m. ET, and on Monday in prime time as a part of the network’s Monday Night Lights franchise at 8 p.m. ET.

You know I like this Monday Night Lights thing. If they keep playing these 5 hour + final rounds, they'll be finishing Monday nights under lights.

Saturday
Jan202007

The Shortest Distance Between...

Thanks to reader Jerry for this Kelly Tilghman tribute to Yogi Berra during Friday's Bob Hope Classic telecast:

"The shortest distance between a line is two straight points."

Hey, Yogi is playing this week! 

Saturday
Jan202007

"Rolling the ball back isn't going to change that; all that will do is save land"

Scotland on Sunday's John Huggan lets Hank Haney ramble on about how the game has never been tougher, and therefore, a little ball rollback that only impacts the tour pro would be a disaster.

"The biggest factor, however, is that golf courses today are generally so much more difficult than they used to be. What makes a course difficult - and you tend to see this whenever a big event is being played and the greenkeeper has prepared the place specially - is fast greens. Not only are fast greens more difficult to putt on and chip to, you have to hit your drives into the right spots if you are to have any chance of getting your approach shots close to the hole. When the ball runs after it lands, the game is always harder."
Okay, fine.
 

Shoulda stopped him there Huggy!

"It is no exaggeration to say that everything is more difficult these days. You have to be more precise in every aspect of the game. Look at it this way: I hear all kinds of talk these days about how modern equipment has made golf easier - at least at the highest level - but what has been done to make the parts of the game that amateurs find hardest any easier? Nothing. In fact, the opposite is true.
Uh, what do those things have to do with one another? 
"So, I just don't see where the game has gotten easier for the typical amateur. I think it is harder than it has ever been. And will continue to get harder, as long as courses get longer in response to the top 1 % of players. I have to say that makes no sense to me. Why do clubs worry about what the pros do?"

But hey, if we bring the pros back a little, won't the divide you speak of be fixed? Apparently not...

"Okay, I can see how the narrower fairways have reduced the incentive for players to shape shots," he concedes. "In the US Open at Winged Foot last year, the correct way to play the course was just to hit to the corner of the dogleg on every hole.

"But I'm not sure what people mean when they say that shot-making has been lost to the game.
Whoa there. He says there's no incentive to shape shots, but he doesn't see a disapperance of shotmaking?
The only thing that has really changed on tour is the clubs that are being hit to the greens. Players are a lot longer off the tee than they used to be. Where Ben Hogan was hitting a 2-iron, most guys are now hitting 7-irons. If that makes the game boring, then I would have to agree.

"But the alternative doesn't bear thinking about. If you haul the ball back 40 yards, you make the game so much worse it is incredible.

"Already we have a certain amount of players who the game has passed by, and that number would increase if the ball didn't go as far as it does now.
And we all know how hard it is to move tee markers UP.
"Golf, after all these years, has finally gotten like other sports. It hasn't changed because of the equipment or the ball: it has changed because better athletes are now playing the game.
Ahhh...it's been a while since anyone has mentioned the better athletes concept. Not since...oh right, all of that talk about steroid testing. 
"Every sport is the same. If you are small, you better be quick. If you are big and slow, there is a spot for you. If you are big and fast, you are a superstar. And golf has finally reached that point.

"So it isn't the ball. The problem is that there is such a big gap between those who can really 'send' their drives out there and those who can't. All of which takes the little guy out of the game. And that is the way it is in every sport."

So don't address the issue at the professional level because the amateur isn't reaping the benefits of the equipment like the pro. Brilliant.

This is an interesting point at least...

Indeed, Haney paints a pretty bleak picture of the future for a game that has, until now, not simply been a size and distance contest. "The new generation of golfers hit the ball so far, you can't roll the ball back," he maintains. "If that happened, Tiger's edge is only going to get bigger. The problem with distance is that height comes with it."

And my favorite...

"Rolling the ball back isn't going to change that; all that will do is save land, and make the game worse by widening the gap between long and short.

Save land? Exactly, why would you want to that. It's only land. Nike doesn't have to pay for it! 

The long hitters won't mind if the ball is rolled back. And they would love to see the grooves on wedges altered. That's all you need to know."

Oh yeah, end of debate!

Friday
Jan192007

"My goal for the next 10, 20 years is to build up the Annika brand name"

Annika Sorenstam is talking retirement...and building her brand.
"I'm pretty tired of golf," said the 36-year-old Sorenstam. "I want to have kids and if we decide to do that the time is now and I probably can't combine that with a golf career."
And...
"The question is whether I'm willing to make the effort, because it requires me to give all I've got," Sorenstam said. "It's all or nothing if I'm going to play."

"Last year I barely practiced and I still won six tournaments and finished third in the money rankings, but being sloppy like that doesn't hold up in the long run."

If she does retire, Sorenstam said she would still like to be involved in the business side of golf.

"My goal for the next 10, 20 years is to build up the Annika brand name, with my own golf school and golf course design and other things I want to develop."
Friday
Jan192007

Klein Headed For Caddie HOF

Add multiple points to the Rapture Index, Golfweek's Brad Klein is headed for the PCA Worldwide Caddie Hall of Fame.

Bradley S. Klein, Ph.D.- 52, resident of Bloomfield, Conn.
Klein is a former PGA Tour and club caddie and a longtime advocate for caddies worldwide. A respected golf industry leader, he is the architecture editor for Golfweek and founding editor of SuperNews. He is author of "Rough Meditations: from Tour Caddie to Golf Course Critic, an Insider's Look at the Game" where he devotes an entire section to caddying and the history of caddying. PCA Worldwide was honored by the fact that a majority of the caddies mentioned in Klein's book are former inductees in the PCA Worldwide Caddie Hall of Fame.

Klein owes part of his success to caddying. His hard work and determination qualified him to become a recipient of the Long Island Caddie Scholarship Fund in 1971, which enabled him to attend college and earn a Bachelor's degree and eventually a Ph.D. in political science. While in graduate school and even afterwards, Klein caddied on the PGA Tour, 1976-1986. He has combined his love of golf and writing in form of numerous articles, not only about course design but often about caddying.

Besides His book "Rough Meditations" he is the author of four other books, including "Discovering Donald Ross," which won the USGA International Book Award. Klein, is an expert in golf course architecture and at Golfweek he oversees the "Golfweek's Best" golf course rating program that publishes annual lists of the top-100 Classic and Modern courses. He is a frequent keynote speaker at allied golf association meetings in the United States and Canada.
 

Friday
Jan192007

Hope Rotation Blues

Larry Bohannan has the latest on the Hope rotation situation now that SilverRock will be joining for a paltry $100,000 a year. Frankly, I can't get excited about any of these courses.
Friday
Jan192007

Paige On International Rumblings, Vol. 2

Woody Paige speculates on why Wednesday's press conference between the PGA Tour and Jack Vickers was cancelled, though he comes to no conclusions and the whole thing sounds strange.

I have no inside information or sources but I believe the PGA Tour could be offering The International a World Golf Championship event in the future, tournament dates more conducive to Colorado or, most likely, assistance in gaining a title sponsor, maybe an automobile company, maybe Buick - the car Tiger Woods drives. (Woods won the Buick Invitational and the Buick Open last year.)

Are there tournament dates conducive to Colorado? June's too early, July has too many international events, August has too many thunderstorms and the Broncos--God's gift to sport--start in September.  

Thursday
Jan182007

What Was Phil Really Thinking?

Alan Shipnuck has some fun with Mickelson's Tuesday press conference.
Thursday
Jan182007

Dinner at the Club, Darling?

Thanks to reader Mike for this lengthy Jeannette Batz Cooperman story on the St. Louis club scene...

Thursday
Jan182007

More Blogging Fun From The Hope

Golfweek's Jeff Babineau at the Hope:

"Because I stayed busy at my office desk on Wednesday, I didn't get to catch complete first-round coverage of the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic.

However, I did have my TV on in the background, with the volume turned off. Judging simply by the amount of airtime Golf Channel gave certain players, and not having seen a scoreboard, I'm guessing George Lopez has to be leading – by at least three shots ...
Brett Avery has some fun inside-the-ropes stuff too over at PGATour.com. He's even occasionally funny. Can't imagine how that humor stuff gets past the Ponte Vedra red pen brigade.

George Lopez's caddy is also blogging and led with this:

Imagine being at dinner with PGA TOUR pros like: Bubba Watson, Todd Hamilton, D.J. Trahan, Eric Axley, Charley Hoffman, Cliff Kresge, etc. You notice that the normally cool, calm and collected pros are all, to a man, staring almost google-eyed at something. And then I remember, sitting with us in this private dining area are: George Lopez, Cheech Marin, Samuel L. Jackson, Andy Garcia, Anthony Anderson, etc.

Uh, sorry, but who is Anthony Anderson? 

 

Thursday
Jan182007

International Passed; Still Sponsorless

Anthony Cotton in the Denver Post offers confirmation that the International passed on a FedEx Cup playoff date (fools!) and that event organizers now they are going to have a weak field. All of this was reported after a Tim Finchem-Jack Vickers conference call was cancelled "indefinitely" according to the Tour's Ty Votaw. The story also notes that the event is without a sponsor again this year.

Other than that, everything is going great in Denver.  

Wednesday
Jan172007

Taylor Hicks, Celebrity?

Fun entries from Brett Avery's Hope Classic blog...

3:29 p.m.
Idol Security
Celebrities have been all over Bermuda Dunes, wading into the galleries to give autographs and pose for photos. Can someone please explain why the only burly security guard on the property -- identifiable by the eight-inch-high letters on the back of his windbreaker -- is shadowing American Idol winner Taylor Hicks? Please.

3:18 p.m.
Rockin' Out
Note to self: Spend time tomorrow with amateur team 31 (Taylor Hicks, Scott Hamilton, Alice Cooper). May be the only time in golf-writing career to put groupies and stilettos in a sentence.

I don't know what's more frightening, Taylor Hicks qualifying as a celebrity, or that all-star pairing with Scott Hamilton and Alice Cooper.

Wow...kind of makes you long for the star power of Vic Damone

Wednesday
Jan172007

Few More Thoughts On Phil Entering Design

In re-reading the story on Mickelson entering design (this Golfweek version pretty much regurgitates the press release), a few things came to mind.

First, it was refreshing that there wasn't the obligatory paragraph about how he wants to design courses that are challenging for the professional and yet playable for the average golfer. (It was probably T.R. Reinman who spared us that nonsense.)

But at the same time, it would be nice to know why Phil is entering the business now just a year or so after indicating that he was slowing down to focus on playing. (He was featured in a Links cover story I wrote on emerging player-architects, but his design career was downplayed because of this apparent dedication to his game while he was still at his peak).

I'm fascinated by the move of Tiger, Phil and Ernie into design when the money is really not that great compared to what they make on the course. That was one of Mickelson's reason for not being more interested, unless of course, like Tiger, his fee has skyrocketed into a stratosphere that us mere mortals.

Actually, I think I've answered my own questions here. Thanks for bearing with me. 

Wednesday
Jan172007

More Knockdown Shots

Steve Elling talked to Scott Hoch about the historic Ford-Bush-Clinton pairing from 12 (!) years ago, and also followed that up with his typically entertaining knockdown shots. My favorites, which bookended some un-Elling like gushing over The Golf Channel GOLF CHANNEL's coverage:
News item: The Golf Channel's new crystal-ball statistical device, the Win Zone computer, predicts with eight holes remaining that Howell is 72 percent certain to win. Tilghman quickly adds that once you reach that threshold, "You have a 97 percent chance" of winning.

Knockdown shot: Huh, what, eh? We are quantitative illiterates here at Knockdown Shots, but when Goydos is listed as having a 1 percent chance with eight holes left and ultimately wins the trophy, somebody's computer needs to be rebooted. Or booted, period.
And...
News item: Again stumbling under a national spotlight, Michelle Wie beats two players in the field and misses the cut for the fourth year in a row at her hometown Sony Open.

Knockdown shot: Badly as she played, did you see that awful "pageboy" lid she was wearing? Did she sign an endorsement deal with the Union Pacific Railroad?


Wednesday
Jan172007

"I'm just trying to hit high bombs."

One other item of interest from Mickelson's press conference was this comment about the new square headed driver...

Q: Could you talk to us about what you think the reception of that will be on the PGA TOUR and what you think about it?

Phil Mickelson: Well, I think that the FTI, the square-headed driver, is not just an evolutionary driver. I think it's more of a revolutionary driver. Because it's such a drastic change, because the moment of inertia is so high, because the ball goes so straight it doesn't want to curve, I think it's actually going to take a little bit more time on the PGA TOUR.

There will be guys that love it. Guys that don't like to work shots and want to aim it down the middle of the fairway and rip it, this will be perfect for them because it goes so straight but some guys like to hit little draws, hit a fade, hit high shots, low shots; and the design from my manufacturer, the FT5 is a much better fit to hit those variety of shots.

But if I just wanted to hit it straight, I'll go to the FTI which is why I'm leaning towards that driver for Augusta when I tried to hit it a lot longer. I'm not really trying to manoeuvre it or curve it; I'm just trying to hit high bombs.

Thank God Hootie has retired. Otherwise they'd probably be out planting more tacky pines today at Augusta.