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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 Golf Book: Twenty Years of the Players, Shots, and Moments That Changed the Game
    The Golf Book: Twenty Years of the Players, Shots, and Moments That Changed the Game
    by Chris Millard
  • The Forbidden Game: Golf and the Chinese Dream
    The Forbidden Game: Golf and the Chinese Dream
    by Dan Washburn
  • 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
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

Good play is, on the whole, the product of good courses. How fortunate it would be if that were believed and born in mind by the more indifferent golfers when they are inclined to oppose those seeking to improve our courses!   ROBERT HUNTER

 

    

Sunday
Aug122007

What Are Those Blue Blobs?

I was clicking through the golf.com slideshow previewing Golf Magazine's new course rankings and couldn't help but wonder what the story is behind this photo of Mayacama. Any thoughts?

sept_100nmayacama2_600x600.jpg 

Saturday
Aug112007

Sunday PGA Championship Clippings

2007pgalogo.gifThe players look like the heat has gotten the best of them, and I think the writers are about to crack too! Some good, honest, cranky filings after a boring Saturday at Southern Hills.

WoodsSat18Biver_600x400.jpgDamon Hack files this New York Times game story, Steve Elling focuses on the Tiger-Ames pairing fun, while Doug Ferguson offers this reminder why I might be on the beach by about, oh, 1:30:

Woods is 12-0 when going into the final round of major with at least a share of the lead, and he has never lost any tournament when leading by more than one shot after 54 holes.

Sally Jenkins called the third round stifling and motionless.

Pete McDaniel explains the swing tweak that Tiger has made. I'd like to know what he's done to make everything he looks at.

Bill Elliott has definitely seen enough of the Midwest and the PGA of America.

These major things are now set in stone, the game's Holy Quartet, the benchmark against which every Tom, Dick and Tiger ultimately judges himself. This is why we are paying such rapt attention to the US PGA this weekend, a tournament indistinguishable from any of the US Tour's better rumbles and sited, as ever, on a course that looks like almost any other preening American country club.

While the Masters is rooted forever at Augusta National and the US Open flits from East to West Coast, the US PGA guardians tend to scoop up the big bit in between. This addiction to popsicle America on top of an August date that is (a) too soon after our Open and (b) always encourages the sort of temperatures that fry a man's hands just when he needs them most, has led to the USPGA being, by a long way, the most minor of the majors.

But if the US PGA suffers from a bad date and a worse climate regime, the bigger point here is that the world has changed since Palmer and Drum came up with their Big Idea sometime between midnight and dawn. Factor in the three so-called World Championship weeks that are now staged in the United States and you have a depressing situation that accurately reflects American arrogance, or perhaps more accurately insularity, when it comes to golf.

Last time anyone counted there were 60 million committed golfers on the world's fairways with close to half this number in North America. This gives the Americans the upper hand when it comes to lots of things.

Financially, too, they exist in a different world with, for example, golf ball sales in Florida alone exceeding the entire gross for all golf related sales in Europe. This position of pre-eminence is one they jealously guard. As far as the Yanks are concerned, the rest of the world can get lost most of the time.

Hunki Yun looks at Tiger's post-63 record tying round with a look at scores after other record low rounds.

Michael Bamberger sums up the genius of Tiger and the bloody heat.

gwsl08_pga3.jpgDamon Hack with the highlights of another zany Woody Austin press conference.

John Klein of the Tulsa World will cheer up many with his Sunday column stating that it'll be at least 10 years before another major returns to Southern Hills, although he writes that the PGA has been awarded through 2015. I think 2014 is still open, so there's always hope for a quick return! Right gang!?

Gary Van Sickle looks at the few who stand a chance of catching Tiger should he decided to fire a 74, which seems unlikely.

In case you missed it, make sure you check out Geoff Ogilvy's piece on the setup.

An AP story on Sergio's DQ, with this from Boo Weekley:

Garcia got the boot Saturday for signing an incorrect scorecard after the third round. In tournament golf, players keep each other's scores. Garcia's playing partner, Boo Weekley, put down a 4 for Garcia on the 17th hole when the Spaniard actually made a 5.

It's the player's responsibility to ensure his scorecard is accurate before he signs it. Garcia didn't. And when the mistake was noticed in the scoring tent, Garcia had already left.

''He just took off,'' Weekley said. ''I called him back down and tried to get him before he got all the way up the stairs.''

Garcia did, in fact, return to the scoring area, but only to be told he had been disqualified. Once he left what PGA officials call the ''scoring area perimeter,'' his scorecard was considered turned in and not able to be changed.

Garcia had left the course and was not available for comment when his disqualification was announced.

''It's my fault for putting the wrong score in, but it's his fault for not checking,'' said Weekley, who shot 5-under 65. ''I just said 'Sergio, I put a 4 but in fact you had a 5.' He said, 'That just puts the icing on the cake.'''

Indeed, it has been a rough week and a rough summer for Garcia. On Thursday, Garcia got into an animated argument with a course official who put his group on the clock as they made the turn. After an opening-round 70, he shot 75 the second day to fall out of contention. He made the cut with no room to spare.

WetFansSatBeck_600x400.jpgMeanwhile Mark Reason of the Telegraph called Sergio's quick departure "pitiful" and builds his game story about the study in contrasts between Woods and Garcia.

Mark Soltau has a few Weekley highlights as does Jeff Latzke who says Boo did not know that he had a shot at history.

Of the three majors he’s played this year – including the U.S. Open at Oakmont and the British Open at Carnoustie – Weekley said he thought Southern Hills was the only course where a record-breaking 62 might be possible, but still not easy.

“You sure ‘nuff got to be on,” Weekley said in his Florida Panhandle drawl, a day after Tiger Woods lipped out a putt for 62 at the 18th green.

Weekley said he isn’t driven by the chance to win majors and instead only wants to earn enough in the next decade or so to be able to retire early. He enjoyed shooting 65 at a major, but said “what would be funner if I’m sitting at the house catching about a 10-pounder.”

Weekley is unfamiliar with the rules of the FedEx Cup playoffs, couldn’t tell you where he is in the Presidents Cup rankings and doesn’t know a whole lot about the Ryder Cup.

But he’s finished in the top 35 at the past two majors, and is in position for an even higher finish this time.

“I’m learning more about how to accept just making pars,” Weekley said. “Pars ain’t bad for you. Even making a bogey ain’t bad for you sometimes.”

GolfDigest.com photos are here, golf.com here.

And finally, the links to Saturday's interviews...

Tiger Woods
Boo Weekley
Scott Verplank
John Senden
Adam Scott
Arron Oberholser
Trevor Immelman
Nathan Green
Ernie Els
Woody Austin
Stephen Ames
Saturday
Aug112007

"It May Be Damned Hot, But It's Heartening Too"

Geoff Ogilvy's look at Southern Hills for Sunland In Scotday Scotland On Sunday is notable for several reasons, mostly because it's just so fun to read a modern day player so eloquently stating why the direction of the Masters and U.S. Open is so absurd.

Instead of the silly thick rough and ultra-narrow fairways the USGA come up with in a misguided attempt to 'protect' par, the USPGA officials have clearly decided to let us play a more strategic and interesting form of golf. By not trying to engineer a winning score, they gave themselves the opportunity to set the course up properly. If you do try to manipulate the winning score - level par in the case of a typical US Open - you have no chance to set a course up properly.
And that's from a former U.S. Open champion.
All of which has been doubly nice after last week at Firestone, where we played the WGC Bridgestone Invitational. The course set up there was probably the worst I have seen all year. Not only was the course really narrow, the rough was ridiculously thick - injury thick. Which is no good. Firestone's holes are all basically straight up and down and somewhat boring, so it needs a more imaginative set up to make the course even remotely interesting.

Now, you're probably wondering why, if Firestone is so bad, Tiger Woods seems to win there every year. Well, the reason is simple. Tiger is the best player we are ever going to see from long grass. So when everyone is in it, he is going to win.

Thankfully, the same mistakes have not been made at Southern Hills.

This next part makes me wish Geoff had seen the rough a few weeks ago, when it was closer to the ideal he described. But the rains stopped and the grass took off, so at least Kerry Haigh gets points for seeing that 2 3/4 was going to be plenty tough. 
Apart from the fact that the rough is maybe half an inch too long - that bit shorter would have encouraged more aggression from the players and taken the spin off the ball, which is all rough really needs to do anyway - the course has been presented almost perfectly. I like the design, too. It has lots of doglegs in all the right places. And we are able to hit a variety of clubs from many of the par-4 tees. This week I've hit everything from driver to 4-iron, depending on where I want to be for the approach shot. So it's an interesting test.

Even better, there is a lot of risk versus reward decisions to make on almost every tee. The bunkers tend to be on the inside of the doglegs, so you can play short of the sand, go over it, or play away from it altogether. But the greatest thing is that, if I wished, I could hit driver off every tee. It would be risky, of course, but I could do it. John Daly did that on the first day and shot 67, so it can work too.

That's the best aspect of this golf course. There are multiple ways to play every hole and every one of them is correct, depending on what you want to achieve and are comfortable with. To me, that's what makes any golf hole good and what allows almost any type of player to have a chance to contend for the title. So, while the long-hitter has had an advantage here this week, his edge has been in proportion. The guy who hits it straight off the tee has also enjoyed an appropriate advantage, as has the player who can move the ball both ways in the air. No-one attribute has outweighed any other though. Which is as it should be.

And...

As for the greens, they have been terrific, despite the heat. The pin positions have also been sensible. None have looked contrived. And the bunkers have been a revelation, compared with what we typically see at the US Open. There is no rough growing around them, so the ball is allowed to run into the sand unhindered by long grass. They look fantastic, too, like those at Augusta. And because there is sand in the faces of the bunkers, you get to see a lot of the sand from the tees. I like that look.

Still, the best aspect of this week is my hope that the obvious success of this type of course set up will have a positive effect on the other American majors. My feeling is that Augusta National will have been paying attention to what has been going on. They are a proud club and, while I'm sure they will never admit it, they do listen to the world of golf. They won't like the fact that there is currently such a negative impression of their course, so over the next three or four years I can see them moving the Masters back to what it once was.

Friday
Aug102007

Saturday Live Blog

If you have nothing better to do Saturday, I'm going to be trying a new live blog software that supposedly allows for us to interact, but in my trial run I couldn't get that working.

Anyway, you should be able to view it by logging in here or going to Altcaster and searching "Shack" under current altcasts to follow along. I'll get going in earnest around the time Tiger tees off at 2 pm, noon Pacific.

Friday
Aug102007

Saturday's PGA Championship Clippings

2007pgalogo.gifWait, let me close the window because a light fog just rolled in and I don't want to get cold here. You know, the town where they'll never play another PGA in my lifetime.

The game stories were all a bit different but everyone focused on the 18th hole scene surrounding Tiger's quest for yet another record. Here's Steve Elling's game story, Doug Ferguson's AP piece, and from the other side of the pond, James Corrigan filing for the Independent and Lawrence Donegan with a lively account that Guardian readers will enjoy.

aug10_tigerputt_372x400.jpgTo put the 63 into a little context, here's my Links cover story from earlier this year looking at the vaunted 63 mark and various theories as to why it hasn't been broken. They also posted a list of the other 63's.

Michael Bamberger says the 63 was another reminder of how easy Tiger can make it look and that the PGA will be the key to breaking Jack's record.

He'll get to 18 because the PGA is a relatively easy win for him. It has a deep field — advertised as the strongest field of any tournament except the Players Championship — but few golfers in the dog days of August are ready to take on Woods in full throttle.

Angel Cabrera, the U.S. Open champion, and Zach Johnson, the Masters champion, both missed the cut here at Southern Hills. Both looked worn out, Cabrera physically, Johnson mentally. The sauna-like conditions will do that to you, but the PGA is hot most years. Tiger used to perspire like crazy, but at Tulsa on Friday he looked like an ad for some new Nike product, one that takes perspiration and turns it into some sort of cash-and-prizes incentive system.

Jim Furyk is playing hurt, Vijay Singh is off his game, Bob May's not in the field, John Daly's 100 pounds overweight, and Woods is 7-0 in majors where he leads after 36 holes — who's going to beat him? Who has his level of intensity and desire and fitness? Nobody.

Mark Lamport Stokes reports on Paul McGinley's hardly-noticed 66.

Gary Van Sickle is rooting for Scott Verplank because the OSU grad doesn't take himself too seriously.

Jeff Rude says Tiger's use of irons off the tee is almost a replay of Hoylake last year.

John Antonini wonders about several fun things over at Golf Digest's Local Knowledge blog.

These Sports Network notes put Tiger's 63 into context and they tie up several other odds and ends.

Thomas Bonk starts out his notes with a look at Phil Mickelson's position at two-over.

Doug Ferguson starts his notes off with news that Lucas Glover and John Rollins are hoping to make the President's Cup team. Wait, we did that last year. No other young Americans have emerged? Can we claim Andres Romero? Nope, Ferguson says he's on the bubble for the International squad.

gwsl11_pga2.jpgChris Lewis is glad not to be at Southern Hills and notes those AmEx ads starring Shaun White.

GolfDigest.com's photos are here, GolfChannel.com here and golf.com here.

And Nancy Armour tagged along with John Daly. Guess who was in his gallery...

Thing is, Daly doesn’t do anything by anybody’s plans. Never has. Which is why, despite the blistering heat and suffocating humidity, a Tiger-sized gallery was following every move of the topsy-turvy 3-over 73 that turned him back into America’s favorite side show after a brief stay atop the leaderboard at the PGA Championship.

“For some reason,” wife Sherrie said during a brief interview Friday as she walked the course, “everyone likes John.”

Whoa...guess the charges weren't filed.

Just two months ago, Daly showed up at a tour stop in Memphis with a face full of scratches that he blamed on Sherrie, saying she came after him with a steak knife. They’ve since reconciled. Or at least are getting along well enough for to come to Southern Hills with the kids.

Don’t ask about it, though.

“That’s where we end,” Sherrie Daly said.

But it’s hard not to love the big lug. That’s why the people keep showing up.

“I’ve been telling him he could win soon,” Sherrie Daly said. “He’s due. He hasn’t had much luck.”

Well maybe if you weren't trying to kill him!

If that didn't do it for you, here are the links to Friday's interviews, including Woody Austin's cranky exchange:

Tiger Woods
Camilo Villegas
Scott Verplank
Graeme Storm
John Senden
Justin Rose
Pat Perez
Geoff Ogilvy
Phil Mickelson
Paul McGinley
Padraig Harrington
Niclas Fasth
Ernie Els
Darren Clarke
Paul Casey
Woody Austin
Stephen Ames
Friday
Aug102007

Notes From TNT...Friday Edition

2007pgalogo.gifGet out your thinking caps, deep revelations to follow, courtesy of TNT's PR department:

Bobby Clampett on Scott Verplank’s college nickname:  “(College teammates) nicknamed (Verplank) “Five” when he was in college after a five-star general and the way he would always take charge.  He is taking charge this week.”
You know, the research he does is just breathtaking.
Clampett’s thoughts on Verplank’s mindset: “I consider Scott (Verplank) one of the most self-motivated people I’ve ever met.”
Translation: he goes to PGA Tour bible study without Bobby reminding him!
Kostis on Jeff Sluman’s future plans: “(Sluman) is going to turn 50 and go out on the Champions Tour.  He’s going to win the PGA Senior Championship and come right back (to the PGA Championship) with an exemption.”
A reason to live.
Ernie Johnson on John Daly’s first round:  “I don’t know if we have enough paper or if the press center had enough paper for John Daly’s quotes after day one.”

That's why they don't use Underwood's anymore Ernie.

Clampett on watching Daly play:  “(Daly) is like a tight-rope walker with vertigo, you wonder what is going to happen next.”

Kind of like your announcing.

Friday
Aug102007

"Evidently didn't want to go in."

Highlights from Tiger's subdued (he explains) post-63 press conference:

KELLY ELBIN: Tiger Woods, ladies and gentlemen, in with a round of 7-under par 63 in the second round of the 89th PGA Championship. With this round of 63, Tiger becomes the 21st individual to shoot 63 in major golf championship history. The score also equals the course record set by Raymond Floyd in the opening round of the 1982 PGA Championship.

Here's the list of 20 who have done it prior to Tiger.

Q. Tiger, amid all the allegations that Southern Hills was a Tiger tamer, how did it feel to put that to rest and also how did that last ball not go in?

TIGER WOODS: As far as the first part, I finished 12th in the U.S. Open. It's really not that bad. And my dad had a heart attack, was placed in the hospital in '96. So those are my two appearances. I really can't say it's really that bad.

But as far as that last putt, I was trying to make it. And I hit it a little bit firm and I thought I made it, because it was breaking at the end. I knew it broke a lot more at the end than at the beginning. Started diving.

Evidently didn't want to go in.

Tigerphiles, refresh my memory, has he talked much about that with his father in 1996? A follow up is in order, either way.
Q. Digression a little bit.

Ah, at least the rally killer is preparing us...

There was a memorial service for Bill Walsh today at Candlestick/Monster Park. They read a telegram from you during the ceremonies, and ...

Okay back to the 22nd 63 in major championship history:

Q. After a personal best round in a major, you don't seem brimming with satisfaction. How satisfied are you?

TIGER WOODS: I'm very satisfied, Tom. I'm just really hungry (smiling). I just want to go home and go eat. That's the only reason why I'm pretty mellow right now. I ate a banana on the way in here and that wasn't enough.

Q. After a round like this, what do you do preparation-wise where it appears you're doing everything correctly? Are you afraid to touch a club, you might screw it up in preparation for tomorrow's round?

 And...

TIGER WOODS: No, I'm not going to go out there and practice. I didn't practice at all last week after my rounds because it was hot and humid. Conserve my energy and make sure I'm fired up and ready to go for the next round for tomorrow.

Check this out...

Q. When you're going over your birdies, it was 2-iron off the tee, 3-iron, 4-iron, how much is the dog legs, how much is it the ball carrying in the heat, and how much does that fit into your confidence when you can hit those clubs off the tee?

TIGER WOODS: I've been hitting 4, it goes 240, 230. 5-iron, between a 5-iron and 6-iron off of 10. The ball is going a long way. 3-under 2-irons because it's so hot and you get the right wind. You have to have the right wind to hit these that far.

And it's just the way the golf course is playing. And I just play it to my spots just like I did in '01, just I'm hitting it a little bit better than I did in 2001.

Friday
Aug102007

"If it's set up straight, it shows that it's possible to have a great score and it's possible to have tons over par. That's...that's what we're all asking for."

From Geoff Ogilvy's post round chat with the media, talking about Tiger's secound round 63 and not particularly well transcribed based on what I saw on Golf Channel:

GEOFF OGILVY: Birdie on 18 for 62. I think that would be cool. No one has done it in a major. Justifies the setup. If it's set up straight, it shows that it's possible to have a great score and it's possible to have tons over par. That's what we're all -- that's what we're all asking for. We can't ask for any more than this, we're playing in this week.
And this was interesting...
Q. When you won the U.S. Open you didn't even have to worry about Tiger being there on the weekend, would that affect your attitude tomorrow because you go out knowing that given past history he's probably not going to come back, you're going to have to go get him?

GEOFF OGILVY: Makes it easier, doesn't it, because now you've got nothing to lose if you don't win. No one expects you to. If you do, you go out and do it. That's the way I look at it. You know you'll have to play well. He's the best front runner in history. Probably.

So you don't want him to get too far in front. If you've got someone to chase, maybe you play a bit freer. Maybe it's a good thing.

KELLY ELBIN: For the record, Geoff's best finish in the PGA Championship was a tie for 6th in 2005 at Baltusrol.
Thanks for that Kelly.
Friday
Aug102007

"But keep banging your shoe on the table, Khrushchev. I'm sure you'll get your way for a cause that makes just as much sense as his."

Bowell and Gout had me fooled for a minute. They actually posted negative thoughts on the USGA's preposterous concept of regulating grooves to make pros throttle back and therefore, hit the ball less far. GolfDigest.com's finest bloggers make several fine points about the number of problems this will create, particularly on the enforcement end. Great stuff.

And then, that sensitive subject of the golf ball was brought up by a commenter Chuck, and Gout flew into his traditional tizzy.

Here's Chuck:

Yes, you guys are right about these kinds of rules seeming to be incomprehensible to the average golfer.
And yes, you guys are right to worry about the confusing effects of this kind of 'bifrucation' of the rules, in grandfathering older model clubs for 10 years or so.

And yes, you guys continue to miss the boat on coming to the realization that better regulation of golf balls would probably avoid both of the aforementioned problems.
Fix the problems with the golf ball regulations. Period.

Okay, strap in, here's Gouge/Stachura in full-blown Ted Stevens mode, almost as fun as his last meltdown where he said we need to move on stop worrying about protecting Augusta and St. Andrews.

GOUGE responds: Chuck. You are the ultimate one-note song. Changing the ball regulations is a pursuit only justified if you think it important that we keep certain major championship courses relevant. I don't care how far the ball goes. And I'm never going to care until I hit 400-yard drives. At the PGA Championship, there are nine players under par at the shortest major championship course of the year. What do we do? Roll the ball back 10 percent, 15 percent? What does that accomplish other than letting us go to Merion and a bunch of other courses that time has passed by.

Oh boy.

They don't run the Indianapolis 500 on bricks. They shouldn't play major championships on venues that don't demand the ultimate skills from the competitors. But I'm bored by this argument. Roll the ball back. See if it makes you pedantic luddites feel better.

Getting personal! That always makes your case.

I know it won't make a dang bit of difference to anything that happens in the game at the elite level, but you'll feel better and superior.

No, it wouldn't make any impact at all to see guys hit drives and to have courses no longer getting narrower and longer at their own expense. Nah... 

Great. Let's see if we can get everybody to hit it no farther than 285, what does that accomplish? Reduces the game to a second shot exercise, big deal. Take 15 percent off every tee ball? What does that do other than shift the same rank order down 30 or 40 yards? Why, why is that better off? So we can go back to Myopia Hunt? So we don't have to stretch old courses outside their current boundaries, destroying the charm of these layouts? But keep banging your shoe on the table, Khrushchev. I'm sure you'll get your way for a cause that makes just as much sense as his.

bombgouge.gifWow, such passion. I wonder if the new logo has anything to do this passion? Is that a paid placement? Or just a happy coincidence?

Friday
Aug102007

For Immediate Release, Vol. 9,812

Another in the priceless press release division:

Peter Thomson, five-time British Open Champion and principal of Thomson Perrett and Lobb Golf Course Architects, has signed an agreement in St Andrews with UAE based Al Qudra Real Estate, to design the company's first signature golf course in the Middle East.
 
Thomson Perrett & Lobb will design a traditional, classic style championship golf course at Ain Al Emarat, an award-winning residential and leisure development being built near Al Ain, the second city of the Abu Dhabi Emirate and known as 'The Garden City of the Gulf.'
 
Peter Thomson, said: "The growth of golf in the Middle East has been phenomenal and TPL is honoured to contribute to the growth of the sport in the region by creating a unique, traditional style course in a groundbreaking city, that will set international benchmarks for sustainability, healthy living and sporting opportunity."
You know, somehow I don't see Peter Thomson talking about international benchmarks for sustainability and healthy living. But I could be wrong. 
In a ceremony held at The Old Course Hotel in St Andrews overlooking the world famous 'Road Hole,'

Wouldn't Old Tom be proud...

Peter Thomson signed an agreement with Mr Victor E.J. Orth Jr, CEO and General Manager of Al Qudra Real Estate – a subsidiary of Al Qudra Holding – for the design of the golf course, which is set to be a major attraction for residents and visitors at Ain Al Emarat.

I wonder if The Old Course Hotel is as close to the site as Peter will get?

Victor E.J. Orth Jr, said: "TPL has a commitment to excellence in golf course design that mirrors our corporate ethos and we look forward to creating a golf course that will thrill the residents of the UAE and its international golfing visitors."
 
TPL has joined forces with global architectural practice HOK, creators of the new Wembley and Emirates stadia in London, to design the golf course as part of this groundbreaking city.

Plans for the residential and sporting development have already won a prestigious award. HOK won the award for 'Best Masterplan' at the recent Building Exchange Awards 2007, held in Valencia, Spain in June. The award recognised HOK's success in creating a sustainable, innovative design in collaboration with key partners, in particular Thomson Perrett & Lobb.

 They do love their awards over there.

The TPL golf course will act as a centrepiece for the development alongside a landmark 40,000-seat indoor sports and entertainment arena, which will be built to the same standard as HOK's acclaimed Emirates Stadium, home of Arsenal Football Club.
 
The championship golf course will harness natural topography, including rolling sand hills and views to the nearby mountains, as well as benefiting from TPL's expertise in sustainable golf course design. The use of recycled effluent will reduce water requirements and will be offset by minimal use of excess turf to keep the golf course in harmony with its natural desert environment.
 
Al Qudra Real Estate is the successful real estate division of Al Qudra Holding, an important strategic partner for organisations looking for investment opportunities in the UAE. The development at Ain Al Emarat is set to redefine 21st century living through its appreciation for the balance between work and leisure.

Sign me up! 

Friday
Aug102007

"He did golf a huge favor by saying what he said."

Now that the vitriolic comments lobbed Gary Player's way have quieted down following his comments on the possibility of performance enhancing drug use, Michael Bamberger makes an interesting point:

But if he wants to talk about possible steroid use in golf, who are we to shut him down? For decades, Nicklaus used almost every press conference to say the golf ball was going too far. He did it out of respect for the game and its courses. He was trying to bring about change. Gary Player has won all four of golf's major titles and a whole lot more. He didn't get there by working off a script, and he has no reason to work off one now, whether he's talking about drugs or his captain's picks or anything else.

The fact is, he did golf a huge favor by saying what he said. ("I know some are doing it. We're dreaming if we think it's not going to come into golf.") The denials were fast and furious, from Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson and Nick Faldo, and even from golfers who will be on Player's international team come September, Ernie Els and Retief Goosen. Some time ago, Woods said he didn't think drugs were a problem because he didn't see "240 or 250 [pounders], in shape, all cut up, all ripped up. We don't have guys out there like that."

For a man of Woods's intelligence, that's a surprisingly naive comment. "You can have any body type you want on steroids," says Charles Yesalis, a Penn State professor who studies the role of steroids in sports. Do any Tour de France cyclists weigh 240 pounds? An athlete takes steroids so that he may recover more quickly from a workout, so that he may workout again. Size has nothing to do with it. Strength, speed and agility do.

Gary Player, the wee little man, proved that 40 years ago, when he managed to use his mushy ball and dead driver to play with Big Jack and Arnold and Billy Casper. He did it with diet and sit-ups and a few hundred balls a day. At 71, not much has changed. His score at the Masters this year was 16 over par for two rounds. On greens that fast, on a course that long, from a man of that age? One-sixty for two rounds is amazing.

Friday
Aug102007

PGA Gabcast

With the tournament underway, I'm not sure why you'd want to listen, but here's my chat with Golfdom editor Larry Aylward about Southern Hills and superintendent Russ Myers.

Thursday
Aug092007

Friday's PGA Championship Clippings

2007pgalogo.gifDoug Ferguson's round 1 game story focuses on John Daly's rigorous pre-PGA preparation while Lawrence Donegan's Guardian piece answers who 29-year-old Englishman Graeme Storm is and how he fired an impressive opening 65.

Craig Dolch blogs about the joys of a John Daly press conference, then writes about it in the paper.

PH2007080902368.jpgSally Jenkins pens a fun column on Daly too:

Daly caromed across the course and into second place with a round that was loud and precarious, a complete disaster waiting to happen and yet spectacularly averted.

"To be honest, I was waiting to make a seven or eight," he said.

He finished with a 3-under-par 67, but that number seemed meek and hardly descriptive of all that happened on the tight, sun-chapped par 70 of Southern Hills. Most of it he couldn't even remember afterward, he was so exhausted by the 103-degree temperature and his various adventures.

"I only had three heatstrokes out there," he joked.

Golf Digest's John Antonini hopes he's wrong, but smells a Daly meltdown Friday. Especially if he tries that 18th hole tee shot strategy, which Damon Hack highlighted in his game story.

Ed Sherman tidies up any other unanswered questions with his round 1 birdies and bogies.

Oh wait, more John Daly fun from Patrick Reusse in the Minneapolis paper:

Actually, Daly said he handled the heat OK from his experience of living in Arkansas. And, he offered this counsel to the Southern Hills spectators who will be dealing with 100-degree heat for three more days.

"I'm used to these kind of little valleys, where you don't get any air, and there's a lot of humidity, and it's tough to breathe," he said. "I light up a cigarette and drink some caffeine and it actually works."

Asked if he had lost weight during these 18 holes, he said: "I probably didn't lose any because I didn't drink one bit of water. I had Diet Cokes, Diet Pepsis."

Mark Whicker explains Angel Cabrera's 10 at the 6th hole which included a few shots I can't really picture, and I can picture a golf ball doing just about anything! ***Reader Martin notes that PGA.com has posted this video of the 10.

Round 1 photos of people look hot and generally miserable: GolfDigest.com, golf.com and GolfChannel.com.

Gary Van Sickle talks to Arron Oberholser about his injury troubles.

And finally, the various transcripts from round 1 are here: 

Thursday
Aug092007

"No, Weaver didn't qualify for the US Open. He qualified for the British Open, which will forever be older, richer in flavor, and better in scope than the US Open."

Thanks to reader Brian for noticing this Jim McCabe rant:

Oh, they've got two picks left and can easily make amends, but US Golf Association officials have committed a terrible oversight. Shame on them for overlooking Drew Weaver with one of the first eight picks for the upcoming Walker Cup team.

Weaver is merely the best amateur golf story of the year, a quality kid with a superb game. The problem is, USGA officials merely look at a small, insulated picture that revolves around their own tournaments.

No, Weaver didn't win the US Public Links Championship. Colt Knost took that honor. He won something miles more impressive: The British Amateur.

No, Weaver didn't qualify for the US Open. He qualified for the British Open, which will forever be older, richer in flavor, and better in scope than the US Open.

No, Weaver doesn't have the luxury of the plush, inner-circle network connections such as Trip Kuehne. He merely has hard-earned results under trying circumstances.

As a sophomore at Virginia Tech, Weaver was within a couple of hundred yards of the tragedy that unfolded April 16 -- a gunman opened fire and when the bloodshed was over, 33 people were dead. In the aftermath of such horror, it would have been easy to crumble emotionally, but Weaver didn't. He saw in golf a chance to help heal deep wounds and even though snobbish amateur tournaments in the United States didn't open up for Weaver, he was undaunted. He did what many American kids would never consider -- he took on the challenge of questionable weather and links golf.

As for how he met the challenge, take note that Weaver won, which got him into the British Open at Carnoustie where he nearly made the cut. Oh, and for added reference, he and his Virginia Tech teammates found the inner strength to finish as co-Atlantic Coast Conference champs a short time after the massacre.

All of it made for a compelling human story, only when you come out of the private clubhouses that make up the USGA world, you don't have any feel for what is real. Instead, you tighten the tie and straighten the blue blazer and ask for the list of those young men who did things the "predetermined right way" and played well in closed-shop tournaments called the Azalea, Sunnehanna, Porter, and Monroe, and, of course, let's not forget someone who 13 years ago reached the US Amateur final.

Let's see, the British Amateur champ is such a coveted title that it earns you a spot into the Masters -- but not into the Walker Cup? What in the name of Bobby Jones is that about? (As a reminder to those picking the Walker Cup team, Jones thought enough of the British Amateur to make it part of his historic Grand Slam in 1930.)

Sure, Weaver can still make the team, but officials have more or less forced him to win the US Amateur, scheduled for Aug. 20-26 at The Olympic Club. Maybe he only has to make the final, or the semifinals, or the quarterfinals, or even match play. Who knows? But the fact that he's been overlooked with one of the first eight picks is a shame.

It's enough to make you root like heck for Great Britain & Ireland when the Walker Cup tees off at Royal County Down in Northern Ireland. I'm sure Francis Ouimet -- who devoted his golf life to the Walker Cup -- would forgive you.

 

Thursday
Aug092007

While I Was Away...

...I can honestly say you guys and gals have absolutely no copying and pasting skills. Not one relevant story worth sharing? I make a simple request and this is what you offer up? Shameful!

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(click image to enlarge)
To settle the mystery of my secure undisclosed location, I've posted a photo of what I woke up to the last two days. And to answer the inevitable questions.  I hit a hybrid where I always hit it, left at the ocean. Provisional made it on the fringe, but found the first one in a horrible lie and chopped it up for my tradition 5. I'm sure you know what hole I'm talking about.

Yes, it remains the coolest, prettiest, wildest place in golf. And I can now say that Room 4 is the best view in golf too.

Now to the most obvious and vital thing I missed today.

The wit and wisdom of TNT's crew. Based on the quotes, I can't wait for Friday's telecast.

From the TNT PR department:

Clampett on Sergio Garcia taking a break since the British Open, where he narrowly missed winning the Claret Jug:  “Sergio (Garcia) has not played since the Open Championship.  He spent a lot of time with friends and family, played a little tennis, hung out on the beach…just got away from the game and coming here is feeling a little more refreshed.”
So he's not quite the sultry surly brat you remember from Carnoustie.

Kostis on missing the fairways at Southern Hills:  “Boy, miss the fairways here at Southern Hills and you have stress.  You think the heat is a problem, no way (compared to the fairways).”

That certainly might make sense to someone from...Jupiter?

Kostis on Masters Champion Zach Johnson bogeying hole No. 1: “Only good news about bogeying the first hole is you’ve got 17 more to make it up!”

The insights you glean!

Kostis on John Daly not being the prototype player you’d pick to win in the intense heat of Tulsa: “Leave it to John (Daly) to go against the norm.  The conventional thinking here is don’t bet on anyone but a thin guy who’s in really good shape because of the heat; that’s not John Daly.”

Ditto the previous pithy comment.

Johnson on John Daly’s approach to golf:  “Think back to what John (Daly) said in Carnoustie on the range as he held his Diet Coke and cigarette; he said ‘caffeine plus nicotine equals protein,’ and here he is leading the PGA Championship (as he finishes his first round).”

Okay, I'm thinking back. Now what?

And now we take a break for something worthwhile...

Feherty on how the relationship between a golfer and caddy has changed over the years:  “I used to hire caddies for their entertainment value. I figured I was a professional golfer, I played golf for a living and I wasn’t going to ask someone for advice that had been up all night drinking cleaning products the night before.  Having said that, caddies have really changed over the last 15-20 years.  There are a lot of very professional people out there that take their jobs really seriously and are of terrific help.  (Mickelson’s caddy) Jim MacKay and Phil are one of the great pairings out there, and when you do see a caddy that has stayed with a player for a long time you know that’s a special relationship.”

 Feherty on the piece showing footage from 1970:  “Watching Dave Stockton win back in 1970, that was polyester (he was wearing)!  You add polyester to 103-degrees and we’re talking about an entirely different situation.”

Well you knew the fun could only last so long...

Clampett on how to gauge the focus of young players such as Graeme Storm who is leading the first round:  “One of the things I look at in a young player when he grabs the lead of the tournament is the speed on his putts. If he’s controlling the speed on the putts, he’s really controlling his concentration and his feel.”

Or drinking lots of Diet Coke?

Kostis on an assertion that David Toms might be looking toward the Champions Tour: “That move right there (bending down for a ball) showed me (Toms) is still on the regular tour because on the Champions Tour when you get to that age, you don’t bend down like that, you tilt your head, keep your legs straight…you don’t get down because you don’t know if you’ll get up again.”

I guess you had to see that one. Tomorrow!

Monday
Aug062007

Away Clippings

I'm going to be traveling the next three days with limited time to read up on golf and probably not having access to a Wi-Fi signal. I'm not telling you where because it'll just make you mad, especially if you're sweating through your shorts in Tulsa.  Hint: I'm gladly packing a sweater and several sleeves of balls. But I'll be back Thursday night and if feeling frisky, I may even try a cool new form of live blogging over the weekend (a big if!).

In the meantime, if there are some stories (PGA or otherwise) you see that should not go unnoticed, please post the links under the comments section here and throw in a few comments if you'd like. (Don't post them as references, those are restricted for spam filtering purposes.)

Thanks! 

Monday
Aug062007

Fun Stuff To Look For At Southern Hills

2007pgalogo.gifHopefully all you need to know about Southern Hills and this week's fascinating setup can be found in my Golf World story along with the photos below. I can't state enough what a great transformation this course has seen in recent years with tree removal and trimming, bunker renovation and the return of short grass throughout the course.

In discussing how great the short grass areas looked, PGA course setup guru Kerry Haigh told me, "you should have seen it when they first put the sod down." He said the tight cut throughout the property looked tremendous, and I wonder if it influenced his decision to start the week with extremely modest 2 3/4 inch rough, which I believe will only get players into more trouble if they try to get cute in going for Perry Maxwell's greens.

Anyhow, here a few of the course setup highlights. You know the drill, click on the images to see the full version.

The first image is of No. 3 green and shows the Royal Melbourne/Augusta pre-second cut look that you will see this week. If they can avoid some big downpours, I think you'll see some approach shots spin off the front of greens and down the fronting slopes thanks in large part to the elimination of the rough and intermediate cuts in these approach areas.

230136-953399-thumbnail.jpg
No. 3 (click to enlarge)

The next images are of the par-3 6th. The first is the tee view and the second is taken from the green rear with the par-4 7th in the background. From this angle you are looking back at the green and the area that I hope is used for Sunday's back left hole location. The newly shaved bank and tree removal have really livened this hole up.  

230136-953434-thumbnail.jpg
No. 6 (click image to enlarge)
 

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No. 6 (click to enlarge)

While walking the course with superintendent Russ Myers we approached No. 7 green and I was so caught up in the conversation that I didn't even remember until a few holes later that I had been standing on a new Keith Foster green. Foster replaced a Robert Trent Jones "look at me I'm RTJ special" that stuck out like a sore thumb. I'd like to think my failure to notice the change upon stepping onto Foster's channeling of Maxwell means he did a magnificent job fitting it in. Or I'm just losing my mind. One of the two. And look for balls missing the green right to roll down and into the creek. Viewed from right of the green:

230136-953407-thumbnail.jpg
No. 7 (click to enlarge)
The next image shows the new look cut leading into the fairway bunkers, which I wrote about in the Golf World story. Haigh envisioned this for Southern Hills, with the hope of tempting players to flirt with the fairway bunkers. I think the effect will work and even sucker a few more drivers and 3-woods off the tee, which is needed since too many players hit irons off tees like this one during the 2001 U.S. Open.

230136-953409-thumbnail.jpg
No. 9 (click to enlarge)
The par-3 11th features a new chipping area left that features a 15-foot drop off, radically altering this short par-3. This view is taken from the walk toward the 12th tee. 

230136-953416-thumbnail.jpg
No. 11 (click to enlarge)
The famous par-4 12th also features the tighter cut up to the fairway bunker and this great looking short grass area fronting the creek bank. If they can manage to not get rain and this firms up at all, the second shot here from any kind of iffy lie becomes frightening. Once again, a great example of short grass adding interesting and difficulty where there was once rough.
230136-953418-thumbnail.jpg
No. 12 (click to enlarge)
And perhaps my favorite change comes on the par-4 18th where Haigh widened the landing area out so that drives drifting right will now have a recovery shot around the tall trees, whereas last time the best were at Southern Hills, they were hacking out of tall stuff. I think the chance to recover will only get some in more trouble, but as I wrote in the Golf World story, we should see a few really fun slicing recovery shots here.

230136-953422-thumbnail.jpg
No. 18 (click to enlarge)
 

Monday
Aug062007

Tuesday's PGA Championship Clippings

2007pgalogo.gifJust a quick weather update from the place where the PGA Championship sure as hell won't return in my lifetime: 75 today with little puffs of fog floating in and out and a nice steady sea breeze starting around 11. No chance of thunderstorms. Enjoy Tulsa! Oh, and stay away from that shrimp dish in the Marriott restaurant. Deadly.

Sam Weinman says he lasted 30 minutes before the heat was too much and reports that Tiger was off at 6 am the day after winning at Firestone the previous day and was done by 11. Now that's impressive! Of course, he also looked like he was about to pass out in the photo golf.com posted.aug6_tigerconf_372x400.jpg

Brett Avery looks at how temperature impacts ball flight and also shares this list of the hottest majors. Let's hope the Golf World gang updates this list after Sunday to let us know where this year's PGA would have landed on the list.

The strongest field in major championship got uh, well, less strong with the WD's of Carl Pettersson and Jason Bohn.  Unfortunately, it sounds like Jim Furyk may be joining them next.

Gary Van Sickle looks at possible President's Cup lineups, in case you care.

bandofbrothers150.jpgDon't miss Ron Whitten's excellent story on the "band of brothers" who help out at majors. Accompanying the piece was some really nice art (left).

And finally, Grant Hall is upset at the pre-PGA coverage blasting Southern Hills. Obviously he doesn't get Golf World!

Monday
Aug062007

"But every week it starts to get boring. It lacks imagination.”

Doug Ferguson looks at the results of the PGA Tour's increasingly difficult course setup approach that made it a lot easier for me to TiVo the Women's Open instead of Firestone.

But as Steve Stricker noted last week, “It seems like every week we’re getting one of these.”

“The golf courses are so much harder,” Woods said. “Stevie (Williams) and I were talking about this. Have we played a tournament yet where you had to go low? With our schedule of tournaments I’ve played in, that hasn’t been the case at all.”

Fast forward...
One indicator that has surprised everyone from players to rules officials is birdies per round. The PGA Tour leader in that category has averaged at least 4.4 birdies per round every year since 1999. Going into the PGA Championship, the leader is Jonathan Byrd at 3.85.

If the trend continues – and it doesn’t figure to get easier the next month – it would be the first time since 1990 that no one on the PGA Tour averaged more than four birdies per round.

Woods, who has never finished lower than fifth in that category, is currently at No. 39.

“It just gets to the point where every course is a long, long golf course with deep, deep rough,” Davis Love III said. “It gets a little stressful. You can’t get away with very much, and you have to be right on perfect. You miss a fairway, you’re hard-pressed to get it back on the green. They keep lengthening courses that are already long. It’s just tough.”
I think Davis should take this up with the Tour Policy Board!

 

Adam Scott was asked how many majors it feels as though he has played this year. He used his fingers to start ticking them off, and he wound up using both hands.

“Probably seven,” he said, and this was before he went out for his first practice round at Southern Hills.

He mentioned the three majors that already have taken place. There was the Wachovia Championship and The Players Championship in consecutive weeks. The International, which produced birdies and eagles galore, was replaced by the AT&T National at Congressional.

And don’t forget Firestone, which several players figured was suitable for a U.S. Open without any gimmicks from the USGA.

“You’ve got to play for par these days,” Scott said. “You used to have that one or two times a year, and that was a challenge. But every week it starts to get boring. It lacks imagination.”

But Adamn, it makes bad golfers feel good about their games to watch you struggle. It's all about ME!

PGA Tour rules official Slugger White says nothing was changed, and he was surprised to hear the average birdies for round was significantly down from last year.

“We don’t think about birdies and bogeys,” White said. “We’re trying to give them the fairest and the best test. Our general philosophy is difficult and fair every day. There’s not one ounce of difference in our philosophy this year at all.”

And...

“It’s gotten that way a little more as time goes on,” Mark Calcavecchia said. “It seems like years ago, it was just kind of easy. The rough was never this deep week in and week out. I think the pin placements have gotten tougher over the years. Obviously, we’re playing courses longer than we ever have. They’re trying to combat technology a little bit with course conditions and course setups.

“But that’s kind of a good thing,” he added, “to know you don’t have to go out and shoot really low.”

Oh sure, and boy don't the ratings support it as a sound vision for the future.

Woods also is a fan of the tougher conditions. He often says he doesn’t like tournaments won at 25 under par, where making a par means losing strokes to the field.

But is such a steady diet of pars good for the entertainment value of professional golf?

“I think it’s great,” Woods said. “You’ve got to be smart. The golf ball doesn’t go as crooked as it used to, so you’ve got to do something overall – making pins closer to the edges, the rough is certainly higher. You’ve got to do it, or guys will go low. If you give them a golf course that’s pretty easy, they’re going to tear it apart.”

Thanks Tiger. You're a big help.

Monday
Aug062007

“These Girls Rock You to Sleep"

Peter Dixon's Women's Open post-mortem:
The crowds were not huge – 42,000 in the first three days – and they were quiet and subdued. They had little to shout about. The championship turned into a battle of attrition and birdies and eagles were few and far between.

The biggest issue, however, was the pace of play. The LPGA in the United States promotes its tour with the slogan “These Girls Rock”. More appropriately, it could read: “These Girls Rock You to Sleep”.

On the first two days, rounds were taking more than six hours and there were players still on the course when play was suspended on the first day just after 9.30pm. On the Saturday, television coverage ended with the leaders yet to finish.

Too often players were not ready to play when it was their turn. In one instance, Natalie Gulbis waited for her playing partners to hit approach shots to the green before taking a club. Then, after checking her yardages with her caddie (60 yards), she had a couple of swishes with the club before deciding to change it.

The putting, too, is painful. The average men’s professional three-ball takes about 3min 30sec to clear the green. The women, many of whom seem over-reliant on their caddies to help them, are taking five minutes on average. And that is boring.