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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 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

There is nothing to do in St. Andrews but play golf and bathe.
C.B. MACDONALD

 

    

Tuesday
Jun262007

"Driver may be among the most reviled USGA presidents in history for his imperious reign over the last two years"

In a column title "Hypocrisy in the USGA," The Washington Post's Leonard Shapiro lets us know he's not a fan of the USGA and its outgoing President, Walter Driver.

Last week at the U.S. Open, once again we got to see that adorable little boy playing golf all by his lonesome, carrying his own canvas bag and making his hole in one late in the day seemingly with no one around, save for the friendly greens keeper, the only witness to the momentous event. In the end the kid springs for a can of soda for both of them in the fading light of day.

They repeated that rainy day at the golf course spot as well, featuring the eternal optimist golfer sitting out what looks to be the storm of the century in a ramshackle course shelter, hoping that it might let up just enough to let him finish his round. And once again they showed the "I Swing Like a Girl" PSA that ends with the message, underneath a USGA logo, "Proud to Support Women's Golf."

Oh really?

That last one always gives me great pause, mostly because I know who runs the USGA these days, and they think nothing of being members of restrictive golf clubs that do not allow women to join.

The current president of the USGA is Walter Driver, a lawyer who lives in Atlanta and is a member of Augusta National and Pine Valley in New Jersey, neither of which have any women members. And for the perfect trifecta of discriminatory policies, he also pays dues at Peachtree Golf Club in Atlanta, which has no black members the last time I checked.

Driver's predecessor, Fred Ridley, a former U.S. Amateur champion and Florida attorney, also was a member of Augusta National. Several other previous and current high ranking officers and members of the executive committee also have belonged to restrictive clubs.

Look, it's a free country. You want to join a private club, you certainly have that right. But please don't take a position of great authority and influence in what is supposed to be a very public organization and insist it's none of our business where you pay your dues.

David Fay, the executive director of the USGA, actually resigned his membership at Pine Valley several years ago because of its restrictions on women members, a very appropriate and significant step made by a very honorable guy. But Fay, sadly, has no control over the organization's officers and committee members, and they run the place as if it is their own personal fiefdom.

Still, the last time I looked, the USGA's main missions include growing the sport around the country and trying to make the game look like the diverse face of America, rather than a portrait of big money corporate USA.

Whenever you broach the subject to some of these USGA muckety-mucks, as I did to Driver a few years ago, they keep insisting that their private club memberships are their own business and no one else's business and they have no bearing on how they conduct their duties with the USGA. They also insist they serve as volunteers in the organization, even spending money out of their own pockets, so their private lives should not be subject to any scrutiny, particularly when it comes to their club affiliations.

I found it ironic that Driver once headed Atlanta's largest and most prestigious law firm, King and Spaulding, which boasted on its web site of its efforts to diversify the firm, with photographs of several African American associates prominently displayed to prove it. And yet, here was Walter Driver belonging to a club in the same city, Peachtree, that wouldn't even allow those associates to join and play on the same golf course with him.
leadership2.jpgOh by Len, look at that picture of diversity! Study that natural body language!

 

Judging from a recent profile in Golf World, Driver may be among the most reviled USGA presidents in history for his imperious reign over the last two years. The story indicated that morale among the paid staff at Golf House in Far Hills, N.J., may be at an all-time low under Driver's so-called leadership. A number of important and long-time employee benefits, including a college scholarship plan for children of USGA staffers, have been either curtailed or severely cut back at an organization that is literally awash in millions from their television rights fee and other sponsorship deals.

Over the last few years, a number of those staff members have told me privately that they are truly embarrassed by Driver's club affiliations and can hardly wait until the day he becomes the organization's ex-president.

Uh oh...the head hunt's about to get nastier.

And...

Still, the good news is that more and more print media outlets are starting pay attention, though it seemed strange that Golf World's profile of Driver didn't touch on his discriminatory club selections.

But New York Times columnist Selena Roberts, commenting on Driver's triple-play memberships this past weekend, wrote "Why join one cabal of bias when you can learn secret handshakes at all three?"

Driver, of course, never responded to her for the story,

Frankly, I'm shocked...

At the end of the day, the USGA is not all that concerned about little boys making a hole-in-one. It makes you wonder how proud they really are to support women's golf, as well.

Len you are so wrong. They support women's golf despite the fact that their championships lose money. That's not easy for a corporation to do.

Tuesday
Jun262007

The Restoration of Torrey Pines!

Tod Leonard caught up with Mike Davis after the USGA setup man toured Torrey Pines and decided that A) the expensive South course conversion with kikuyu sod was a nice experiment while it lasted but, alas, the place will be overseeded in rye this fall, and (B) that what everyone knew--the par-5 18th made a lousy par-4 even though the city spent thousands of dollars to make it a par-4--so the USGA is now going to restore it to its par-5 status.

Davis, the USGA's director of rules and competitions, could never get comfortable with the idea of a 500-yard par-4 that required players to hit over a pond to the green.

“These guys are good, but they're not that good,” Davis said with a chuckle.

Fresh in Davis' mind was the experience of this year's U.S. Open at Oakmont Country Club, where the USGA was delighted with three short, risk-reward par-4s – including the thrill-seeking 17th – that were the talk of the tournament.

“The one thing about Torrey Pines is that it wasn't built with any of (those risk-reward) holes in mind, with the exception of 18,” Davis said. “And you just defeat the whole thing by making it a par-4.

“So I'm excited about having it play as a par-5. You're going to see some chances at eagle, some birdies and some double bogeys. As a par-4 you weren't going to see many birdies.”

Davis admitted he had been so concerned about the 18th that he briefly considered playing it as both a par-4 and par-5 during the tournament – which would have been unprecedented.

“It was a goofy idea, so we took that off the table early on, but it was something I did consider,” he said.

Now, I have full confidence in Davis and don't doubt these are positive developments for next year's Open. And understand he is reversing at least one decision made before he had any say in the setup of Torrey Pines.

 

However,  I do believe it was the USGA's idea to make 18 a par-4 and they were either behind the idea or strongly recommending the expensive conversion to kikuyu.

The 18th fairway was leveled this year and the fairway bunkers altered, but the traps didn't much come into play from a forward tee, Davis said. Now they will on the 570-yard par-5, and the USGA will tightly mow the area around the pond to make it more dangerous for approaches that spin back.

Okay, great, but back in January 2005, the San Diego City Council okayed $400,000 for improvement project that centered around the re-grading of No. 18's fairway to make it a par 4. Because as you know, the USGA is not fixated on par.

Should the USGA, which is estimating all time record "inventory sales" from the Torrey Pines U.S. Open, compensate the city for courses changes made and paid for by the city, and subsequently reversed? If they had class, of course they would. This is not a classy organization anymore.

Anyway, other nuggets from the Leonard story:

Rees Jones, the “Open Doctor” architect who redesigned the South Course in 2001 and was at Torrey Pines last week, has been adamant about wanting the South to play as a par-70, so the USGA will likely convert the ninth hole into a par-4 that can play at 500 yards or longer. It will join the sixth as the other converted par-5 to make the course a par-70.

But hey, at least the USGA isn't fixated on par. Just the Open Doctor.

And for those of you keeping score at home, here's the rye grass part.

The USGA made one other key decision on its visit: to overseed the rough with rye grass this fall to make sure it's thick enough for the Open. The USGA originally had hoped the Open would be played on an all-kikuyu grass surface, but despite the city putting in 1 million square feet of sod this year, there hasn't been enough grow-in time for the warm-season kikuyu, especially in the shady areas around the greens.

“We just don't think we can get a stand of kikuyu good enough for the U.S. Open,” Davis said.

City Golf Manager Mark Woodward said he will overseed the rough with rye in September and that should provide better rough for the Buick Invitational in January, and a big test for the U.S. Open. Torrey Pines and other courses on this year's West Coast Swing were hurt by a cold winter that produced enough frost to stunt the rough's growth.

In the future, Davis and Woodward said they believe Torrey Pines will look and play better because of the conversion to kikuyu.

That's why the local courses were getting rid of it. And by the way, I've only seen one thing stunt kikuyu grass. Rye grass.

And this is encouraging...

The USGA has been looking for ways to make the Open look and play differently from the annual Buick Invitational, and the par-5 13th has a spectacular new tee that will only be used for the Open. The tee is set 145 yards back to the west and north of the regular tees on the hole, and it will require about a 250-yard carry over the canyon. The yardage will be about 620 yards.

At the par-3 third on the cliffs, Davis likely will use the back tees (205 yards) a couple of days and then move to the forward left tees that would require only a 145-yard shot. But, the pin on those shorter days will be tucked to the left and front, leaving only a sliver of green between the bunker and steep drop of the canyon.
Tuesday
Jun262007

"How can you be enthusiastic when you play 30-35 tournaments a year, hitting balls all the time, unless you're a robot?"

Thanks to reader Phil for this Tony Jimenez authored piece documenting a lovely rant from Tony Jacklin about today's pros in light of Angel Cabrera's U.S. Open win.

"All this fantastic technology that's around, all these psychologists and swing gurus, and here is a guy coming out on top who smokes cigarettes and smashes the ball a mile."

Jacklin offered up the Oakmont triumph of the portly Cabrera as proof that simplicity is the key to success.

"I hope some of these young golfers, although I'm not talking about the smoking now, can take something from this and realise the whole business (of golf) is being fed by all this rubbish," said the 62-year-old.

"There is so much information out there these days, so many people on the periphery of the game trying to get heard, trying to make a living.

"There is nothing wrong with trying to make a living from the game but golf is a simple game. The core of it is not complicated."

Oh come on Tony, life wouldn't be as fun if we didn't have Butch and Rick and agents and managers and personal Pilates instructors. 

"I was fortunate to play with Gene Sarazen, Byron Nelson, Ben Hogan and they all learned by watching other golfers," said the Englishman.

"They questioned some things, for sure, but now they are given so much information, there are many opportunities for young people to go in the wrong direction.

"They (on the periphery) are all salesmen, all trying to sell you their story, their method, their thing.

But thankfully we know that players will never try to sell us something masquerading as golf course architects!

"It's pure and simple, coming into the last nine holes of a major championship you must believe you can do it," he said.

"Not who your coach is, or whether you swing the club this way, or that. It's about getting the job done."

What about a little Adderall, you know, for the pain?

Jacklin, who captained Europe's Ryder Cup team four times, said South African Gary Player was the perfect example of a player who achieved greatness largely because of his mental strength.

And here I thought it was the situps and the black mock turtlenecks.

"A lot of these kids are burned out by 18," he said. "They have heard so much rubbish, they get bored with it.

"Jack (Nicklaus) said to me a year ago, 'if I was out here now, I'd get bored with it'. Jack used to play for two weeks, go off and do different things and then come back refreshed and able to focus on his game with enthusiasm.

"How can you be enthusiastic when you play 30-35 tournaments a year, hitting balls all the time, unless you're a robot?"

Oh I can think of million$ and million$ of reasons to be enthusiastic. 

Tuesday
Jun262007

Castle Stuart On You Tube

Developer Mark Parsinen introduces his Scotland co-design with Gil Hanse in the first of what he says will be several "making of" videos to be posted online.

 

Tuesday
Jun262007

Mac Agrees With USGA: The Grooves Must Go!

bildeThe USGA Executive Committee will be comforted to know that Mac O'Grady wholeheartedly agrees that V-grooves must be returned to stop the flogging we've seen a recent majors.

The Detroit News' Krysten Oliphant turned on her tape recorder and let Mac do this thing after Monday's Buick Open qualifying. First, on Tiger's driving and grooves.

"When Nicklaus and Palmer played, when (Ben) Hogan played and Sam Snead played, on a scale of zero to 10, they were a nine-plus," he said. "Tiger Woods is not even a one-plus."

O'Grady said technology is the reason for players' success today. A change in the drivers' grooves from a V shape to a box shape allows golfers to hit the ball farther with more spin.

When in the rough, players go straight for the hole instead of just trying to reach the green. This, he said, has ruined golf.

"The reason why (Woods) can hit it on the green is because he has square grooves," he said.

"He doesn't have that, he's dead. He cannot do it -- it's impossible. For him to go after Nicklaus' records is cheating. This is like steroids."

Mac, do you really think that Tiger would have approached Augusta or Oakmont differently this year had his grooves been V-shaped? Maybe he wisely lays up on 15 at Augusta Sunday(he was in the second cut, right?)? Maybe.

Anyway, Mac then talks about the ball.

"Balls used to have what he called a concentric arc dimple configuration, meaning their indentions were in a circular shape and each dimple was the same size, allowing for even dispersion of air across them. Now dimple sizes and positions vary, eliminating the balls' curve.

"It allows all these guys to come into the game that ordinarily couldn't do it," O'Grady said.

"This ball is designed for the 30-handicap. It's not designed for the pro tour. The 30-handicapper hits the ball and it goes up to the apex, it comes down straight. It doesn't slice. So when the Tour pro gets it, it's robbery. It's not fair."

And he'll be glad to know he shares this opinion with his good buddy, Deane Beman:

He said there should be a special ball for PGA Tour players with the concentric arc dimple pattern, which he said showed who had natural ability and who did not.

"The degree of athleticism has changed," he wrote in notes he took during qualifying. "What was humanly impossible is now technologically possible."

Come admit it, no matter what you think of Mac, you have to love his honesty...

"I still love the game," he said.

"I don't enjoy the technology because what's happening is these kids now are shooting 63s, 62s. What Michelle Wie is doing is not humanly possible. It's technologically possible because the balls go too straight, they go too far."

O'Grady said in the Champions Tour, what he called former "powderpuff" players such as Jay Haas, are defeating "dinosaur guys who had the best technique."

"All those big players, they can't say anything because they're being paid by the manufacturers (for sponsorship). But they know it's wrong. This is the worst dark chapter in the history of professional golf with this technology.

"Steroids (are) not in the athletes today -- (they're) in the balls and the drivers. Guys don't have to hit it far. The equipment is going to do it for them."

Monday
Jun252007

Getting In The Mood For Pine Needles

PN11t.jpgPine Needles hosts its second third* U.S. Women's Open this week and Ran Morrissett updates his GolfClubAtlas.com profile with recent course photos (left) and praise for John Fought's restoration. It looks like a vastly improved course compared to the one we saw in 2001, highlighted by a lot more short grass around the greens and more sandy scrub areas.

Stuart Hall reminds us how old we are by writing about Morgan Pressel's return to Pine Needles six years after making her national debut there. Wasn't it just...ah forget it.

Steve DiMeglio writes about the 12-year-old playing this week, Alexis Thompson. And PGATour.com notes that her Nationwide Tour No. 2 on the money list brother, Nicholas, is lending his support this week.
Monday
Jun252007

Champions Tour To Crack Down On Performance Enhancing Drugs; Fill In Cialis Joke Here

Apparently Rick George did one of those state of the Champions Tour things, and after assuring everyone that the old geezers would show up so that we can see more of charisma junkies Jay Haas and Loren Roberts, he reported that the Champions Tour would be adopting the PGA Tour's performance-enhancing drug policy.

Speaking of testing, George might want to be checked out this delusional take on the state of the Champions: 

The tour has resumed its growth after struggling during the early part of this century, George said. Low-performing events were weeded out, which had the added benefit of improving the remaining fields by building weeks off into the schedule.
Ah yes, anything to get Hale Irwin, Lanny Wadkins and Curtis Strange more starts. The people are heartbroken when they don't tee it up.

This is fun... 
Television ratings are up 20 percent and attendance is up 35 percent midway through the schedule.

"It's probably never been in as good a position as it is today," George said.

Right!

Monday
Jun252007

Monty Selects Next Caddie To Be Unceremoniously Dumped For No Good Reason

Craig Connolly, the caddie who worked with Paul Casey until the US Open at Oakmont, clearly enjoys punishment.

Monday
Jun252007

“Pairing our players with well-known champions from other sports and seeking their playoffs advice allows us to demonstrate this point in a humorous, memorable and effective way."

 At least we were warned...

PGA TOUR STARS AND OTHER SPORTS LEGENDS FEATURED IN AD CAMPAIGN FOR FIRST-EVER PGA TOUR PLAYOFFS FOR THE FEDEXCUP

Tiger Woods Ad Highlights Campaign; Jim Furyk, Ernie Els and Sergio Garcia
Star in Spots with Jerome Bettis, Phil Simms and Albert Pujols


PONTE VEDRA BEACH, FL (June 25, 2007) – The PGA TOUR begins to roll out a humorous, star-studded ad campaign this week to promote the first-ever PGA TOUR Playoffs for the FedExCup, which comprise four tournaments beginning August 23 and concluding September 16. The new ads will feature four of golf’s biggest names – Tiger Woods, Jim Furyk, Ernie Els and Sergio Garcia – alongside three playoff heroes from other sports: 1987 Super Bowl MVP Phil Simms, 2006 Super Bowl Champion Jerome Bettis and 2006 World Series Champion and 2005 National League MVP Albert Pujols.

“I thought it was kind of nice that Jim came to me for advice,” said Bettis, now an NBC Sports analyst who stars with Furyk. “He didn’t seem interested in any swing tips from me, but winning big in the playoffs - I know a little something about that.”

“Late this summer, our players will experience the excitement, pressure and drama of a true ‘playoffs’ for the very first time and we wanted to put that into perspective for our fans,” said Ric Clarson, PGA TOUR SVP, Brand Marketing. “Pairing our players with well-known champions from other sports and seeking their playoffs advice allows us to demonstrate this point in a humorous, memorable and effective way."

The four 30-second spots, created by the PGA TOUR and its advertising agency, GSD&M of Austin, TX, will air during network and cable golf telecasts, and in other sports programming on CBS, NBC and GOLF CHANNEL. The Playoff ads are the culmination of a year-long campaign focused on promoting the inaugural FedExCup, a season-long points competition. The $40 million campaign has been supported by print, online and radio executions throughout the season and featured Tiger Woods’ PGA TOUR advertising debut earlier this year.

Woods once again shows off his creative side as he headlines this new set of ads in a spot called “Whistle.” In the ad, Tiger is seen lacing up his spikes and exiting a locker room while whistling the popular sports anthem “Eye of the Tiger,” made famous by the 1982 film Rocky III.

“This is a thrilling time in golf and these spots truly illustrate the excitement of the Playoffs while having fun at the same time,” said Roy Spence, Founder and President of GSD&M. The campaign also includes:
      PRE-GAME MEAL – Super Bowl champ and former Pittsburgh Steelers star Jerome Bettis explains to Pennsylvania native Jim Furyk that the key to performing well in the Playoffs is a proper pre-game meal.

      GAME FACE – St. Louis Cardinals slugger and 2005 National League MVP Albert Pujols shows six-time PGA TOUR winner Sergio Garcia how to put on an intimidating game face for the Playoffs.
      PREPARATION – Super Bowl MVP Phil Simms offers tips to two-time U.S. Open Champion Ernie Els on how to get psyched up for a big playoff game.

These three ads are now available to view at: http://www.pgatour.com/media/playoff/commercials/. The Tiger Woods spot will be available next week.
Monday
Jun252007

Perez Hilton Scoops The Golf Press?

Assuming it's real, the cheesy gossip site seems to be the first with the must see, life changing photo of Tiger and Elin's baby?

The best I could find was this odd golf.com photo spread of the parents, which really means it's just an excuse to show pictures of Elin.

Monday
Jun252007

Lewis On Travelers and 84 Lumber Dynamics

Sexy header eh?

The Scorecard Always Lies author Chris Lewis offers some intriguing insights into Traveler's birth at the expense of the 84 Lumber Classic, something Bruce Berlet commented on in a recent SI Golf Plus. Oh and Dave Marrandette review's Lewis' book here.

Monday
Jun252007

Klein on Chambers Bay, Municipal Golf

bizmuni.jpgGolfweek's Bradley Klein looks at the evolution of municipal golf in the context of $20 million Chambers Bay and also reviews the new RTJ Jr./Bruce Charlton/Jay Blasi design in Tacoma, writing:

Chambers Bay is the most carefully crafted and well-designed municipal golf course to open since Bethpage State Park’s Black Course in 1936. The big difference is that Chambers Bay, perched on the windy shoreline of Washington’s lower Puget Sound, has a better natural setting and makes for a more exciting walk.

 

Sunday
Jun242007

"It’s been made worse by technologically advanced golf equipment that makes golf balls go farther — and farther sideway"

24golf2.650.jpgThe New York Times' Bill Pennington officially becomes a member of the technophobic, liberal biased, anti-corporate bottom line agenda writers of America with this (front page!) piece on increased safety issues at golf course residential communities.

 The intersection of errant golf shots and private property is not a new phenomenon. But with new gear that enables average golfers to hit a ball 250 yards, and with golf communities sprouting nationwide — 70 percent of new courses include housing — it is becoming an increasingly prominent problem. Most homes built near this country’s 16,000 golf courses may not be in the cross hairs of slicing duffers, but thousands are.

“It’s not only an ongoing problem, it’s been made worse by technologically advanced golf equipment that makes golf balls go farther — and farther sideways,” said David Mulvihill, a managing director at the Urban Land Institute, who has studied golf course development.

“So homes that have been on a golf course for decades without incident are suddenly in the path of guys whacking giant-headed drivers. The golf course designers are trying to adjust with wider fairway corridors, but because of liability issues, no one is willing to put on paper what the acceptable setbacks are.”

But don't worry, with V-grooves on the way, all will be well! 

Sunday
Jun242007

"Will they be talking about the 2007 US Open in 2042?"

Uh, that's a no!

The New Zealand Herald's Peter Williams is bored with excessive major setups and issues a warning that will inevitably go ignored because it's way too nuanced.

Golf, like all sports, is in the entertainment business. Its money comes through being an exciting spectacle on television.

The best TV sport is always when the best players perform at their optimum in conditions fair to everyone. I don't think those conditions prevailed at Augusta in April and certainly not at Oakmont last week. In two major championships this year, nobody has finished under par. That's entertainment? Give me a break. It's survival and not much fun to watch or play.

The story goes that after Johnny Miller shot 63 to win the 1973 US Open at Oakmont, the USGA and Oakmont membership vowed that never again would they be embarrassed by somebody ripping a championship course apart.

Embarrassed? That was brilliant play; engaging, exciting and still talked about 35 years later. Will they be talking about the 2007 US Open in 2042? About the greatest player of all time not able to make a birdie in his last 32 holes because of greens so fast you couldn't hit a putt firmly enough to hold the line?

 

Sunday
Jun242007

Only 9 Weeks Left To Accumulate Vital Cup Points!

I don't believe you'll read this anywhere because, frankly, it's just hard to swallow. But if the final 144 teed it up today, Chris Stroud would not be in the FedEx Cup playoffs. I just do my part to keep you up on breaking news.

Meanwhile, Chris Elsberry in the Connecticut Post actually finds some players who claim they're thinking of ways to earn more FedEx Cup points. This, on top of the Commissioner's understandable excitement. Understandable, because he's the one who signed off on this stinker of a concept.

"The FedEx Cup itself, we're just real pleased with the way it's come along," PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem said this week at the Travelers Championship. "The real impact this first year will occur in the playoff event, and that will set the base for next year. But it's shaping up to be an excellent playoff schedule, and hopefully, if it meets our expectations, it will have a greater impact on what (tournaments) players enter next year."

Without question, the Travelers benefited from its increased status of being a FedEx Cup event, according to Finchem.

"We are seeing some changes. There are a number of players here this week that hadn't been here in a while," he said. "That was an important thing to happen ... the biggest thing coming out of this week for the future is word of mouth. A lot of people call it buzz or whatever. Quality of the event, that's happening here. That's a good development. So we're real pleased."

 Yep, I'm sure they flocked to the Travelers because of the FedEx Cup!

The top point earners sure didn't... 

1 1 Tiger Woods 9 19,524 DNP 3 6
2 2 Phil Mickelson 14 15,818 DNP 2 5
3 3 Vijay Singh 18 15,723 4 2 5
4 4 Zach Johnson 15 12,405 CUT 2 4
5 5 Charles Howell III 16 11,922 DNP 1 5
6 6 Rory Sabbatini 16 11,238 DNP 1 5
7 7 Adam Scott 11 10,357 DNP 1 5
8 8 Jim Furyk 14 9,537 DNP
5
9 9 K.J. Choi 17 9,089 DNP 1 4
10 10 Aaron Baddeley 14 9,024 DNP 1 5
11 11 John Rollins 18 8,701 CUT
3
12 12 Scott Verplank 14 8,305 DNP 1 5
13 13 Luke Donald 14 8,241 DNP
5
14 14 Mark Calcavecchia 16 8,221 T54 1 4
15 16 David Toms 16 8,106 T6
7
16 15 Boo Weekley 19 8,099 DNP 1 3
17 17 Sergio Garcia 12 7,249 DNP
4
18 18 Geoff Ogilvy 14 7,179 DNP
4
19 89 Hunter Mahan 18 6,990 1 1 2
20 19 Steve Stricker 15 6,830 DNP
4
21 20 Henrik Stenson 8 6,618 DNP 1 2
22 21 Robert Allenby 15 6,569 DNP
6
23 22 Bubba Watson 16 6,542 DNP
5
24 24 Jerry Kelly 17 6,468 T15
6
25 23 Nick Watney 16 6,235 CUT 1 2

 

Saturday
Jun232007

First American To Win British Amateur In 28 Years...

weaver.jpgDrew Weaver of Virginia Tech is the man, as Alistair Tait reports for Golfweek.

 

Saturday
Jun232007

"It is making us look like fools."

I didn't catch these comments from Michael Campbell during the U.S. Open coverage:

"It is on the edge of embarrassing some of the guys," Campbell said.

"It wasn't much fun out there, put it that way. I used to enjoy coming to major tournaments and playing them.

"But when you are out there grinding your butt off for bogeys and pars it is not very nice.

"We felt that at Augusta this year. Normally you get a guy charging on the back nine and shooting 30 like Jack Nicklaus did in 1986. To me that is exciting TV and for the players and the spectators, too.

"But now there are just guys making bogeys and it is making us look like fools."

But don't you see Michael, that's the very point. You and your cohorts had to go and make all that money, get the babes and worst of all drive the ball 350 yards, making these governing body dudes look bad. You must pay! 

Saturday
Jun232007

"Standing around in a towel is a great way to enjoy the view."

OB-AM042_golfcl_20070622160444.jpgJohn Paul Newport visits The Bridge and chats with founder Robert Rubin about his club and what he sees as the future of clubhouse design.

Easily the most dramatic expression of the club's idiosyncratic nature is the clubhouse, which opened just this month and occupies the highest point of land on the eastern end of Long Island. It has four angular glass-and-steel "blades" that swirl outward from a central hub and feels more like a postmodern museum perched in the hills above Los Angeles than it does anything traditionally associated with golf.

According to the architect, Roger Ferris, the blade-like design picks up on both the "dynamic tempo" of a golf swing and on the impeller assembly of a turbo-charged racing engine.
OB-AM043_golfcl_20070622160623.jpgGosh I love the Hamptons.
In any case, the 280-degree views of the Rees Jones-designed golf course, which has been open for several years, and Peconic Bay beyond are spectacular.
"The world has enough shingle-style, McMansion clubhouses," says Mr. Rubin, who effectively controls all but 25% of the shares in the club. (The rest are held by his acquiescent business partner, Gary Davis.) "What we're creating here, we think, is a model for the 21st-century golf club."

The basis for that model is Mr. Rubin's interpretation of how people actually use golf clubs these days.

"The clubhouse at Shinnecock Hills perfectly reflected its time and place," Mr. Rubin observes, referring to the famed 116-year-old golf club only seven miles away and its classic Stanford White structure. Messrs. Rubin and Ferris consciously imitated the way the Shinnecock clubhouse dominates its landscape and is grandly visible from many locations on the course. But functionally, Mr. Rubin contends, the old clubhouses are no longer relevant, even though a lot of new clubhouses still reflexively ape them.

And...
Another thing that Mr. Rubin noticed is that modern golf-club members like to sit around in their locker rooms after a round and schmooze, so he decreed that the locker rooms should have the nicest views. As a result, the entire front walls of both the men's and women's versions are floor-to-ceiling glass, 24 feet tall in places, and they open out directly onto the club's wraparound stone terrace. Standing around in a towel is a great way to enjoy the view.
And just think of the clubhouse view for golfers.

 

But none of this has kept him from finding members, even at $750,000 a pop (the earliest memberships went for a mere $500,000). Mostly they are self-made men (and a handful of women) in finance, hedge funds and real estate, with a couple of doctors and lawyers thrown in (he calls them his "scholarship guys," although they get no discount) and a few in entertainment (including hip-hop mogul Lyor Cohen and artist Richard Prince).

"It can sound like a ridiculous amount of money, but a lot of members justify the cost by thinking of the club as the extra room they don't have to add onto their house," Mr. Rubin says.

OB-AM044_golfcl_20070622160719.jpgYou know it's funny, but I just budgeted an add-on to my second home in Malibu. Low and behold, $750,000 for that extra room. Which is why I could see where Newport was going with this:

In an area where houses routinely cost $5 million, and the really good ones near the ocean go for $10 million or more, this argument holds some logic, especially since membership will cap, at least for the time being, at 150. Currently the count is 129. He describes the club, with its cool, minimalist architecture, and its astounding views, as a place to appreciate the more meditative aspects of golf, which too much traffic would spoil.

Traffic? In the Hamptons? No! 

Saturday
Jun232007

"America's ruling body closed their minds to what would have produced a fascinating test of golf, and buried the aforementioned angles beneath the same old sea of rough."

John Huggan with this On Sunday Scotland Scotland On Sunday observation about Tiger and the USGA setup at Oakmont:

This time he hit more fairways and more greens than the eventual champion - supposedly the secret to winning US Opens - and lost again.

Such statistics are just another indication that the USGA are failing in their supposed and much-repeated mission to identify the "best" player. Their mantra used to be "fairways and greens" in the style of Ben Hogan, but now fifth-placed Bubba Watson-like "rough and scramble" would seem to be more appropriate.
And on Oakmont... 
Oakmont prides itself on being the toughest course in America, with a good part of that difficulty stemming from what must be the most fiendish and interesting set of greens anywhere. Sadly, that aspect of the Oakmont test was largely lost because of the mindless one-dimensionality of the USGA's set-up.

Rather than let the players decide for themselves the angles at which they would most like to approach the putting surfaces, and so hopefully take strategic advantage of their slopes, America's ruling body closed their minds to what would have produced a fascinating test of golf, and buried the aforementioned angles beneath the same old sea of rough. So we are left to imagine just what sort of score (given the same level of ball-striking) that Woods could have managed in that already-superb third round. Or by how much he could have separated himself from the field. What a waste.
Saturday
Jun232007

"The issue: Who will pay for the tax liability on the couple's ownership of private jets?"

You know, I've stayed away from the Greg Norman divorce because this is, after all, a golf blog and not a Perez Hilton wannabe site. However, this is just too good to pass up. From Jose Lambiet in the Palm Beach Post.

 

After months of bitter legal wrangling, golf legend Greg Norman and his soon-to-be ex-wife announced Friday they have worked out a divorce settlement.

Their actual divorce, however, wasn't finalized at a court hearing in Martin County just yet because the two may be headed back before a judge for a two-day trial in September.

The issue: Who will pay for the tax liability on the couple's ownership of private jets?

Key word there, jets. Not jet. Jets. Oh the problems these two have!

 

This is fun:

"It's over. We signed a settlement agreement, but we also signed a confidentiality agreement and I can't talk about it," a beaming Laura Norman said outside the Stuart courthouse. "The trial is not a big issue, but they wanted a trial."

 

She can't talk about it, but she can tell us they signed a settlement agreement!

Meanwhile this Daily Mail story features pictures of Norman and "mistress" Chris Evert along with various dollar figures that don't really add up. Because if they did, we'd be seeing Greg out playing the Champions Tour...for the first time.