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  • 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
  • Men in Green
    Men in Green
    by Michael Bamberger
  • Unplayable Lies: (The Only Golf Book You'll Ever Need)
    Unplayable Lies: (The Only Golf Book You'll Ever Need)
    by Dan Jenkins
  • Professional Golf 2015: The Complete Media, Fan and Fantasy Guide
    Professional Golf 2015: The Complete Media, Fan and Fantasy Guide
    by Daniel Wexler
  • The Forbidden Game: Golf and the Chinese Dream
    The Forbidden Game: Golf and the Chinese Dream
    by Dan Washburn
  • 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
  • Unplayable Lies: (The Only Golf Book You'll Ever Need)
    Unplayable Lies: (The Only Golf Book You'll Ever Need)
    by Dan Jenkins

    Kindle Edition

  • 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

In the days of King Arthur nobody thought the worse of a young knight if he suspended all his social and business engagements in favour of a search for the Holy Grail. In the Middle Ages a man could devote his whole life to the Crusades, and the public fawned upon him. Why, then blame the man of today for a zealous attention to the modern equivalent, the Quest of Scratch!  P.G. WODEHOUSE



Stricker Needs To Win Grand Slam To Have Any Hope Of Claiming Third Straight Comeback Player Award

In a numbing, at times painful embarrassing session with the pen pushers in Sherwood's drafty cart barn, Steve Stricker kindly addressed some truly dreadful conference call questions while trying to explain his mysterious ability to win back-to-back comeback player of the year awards:

STEVE STRICKER: Yeah, thanks. It is an honor, and to win this for the second straight year, I don't know how I did it, but it is an honor to be voted by your peers. Like Joe and I were talking about, we don't know if the award has the correct name or not. I mean, I won this last year, and I don't know what I did to deserve it again this year. But it is, it's a nice award, and I am honored.

Q. Do you think you can win this a third year in a row?

STEVE STRICKER: I don't know, I was thinking about what I would have to do to win this three years in a row, and usually you have to have a better year than last year. I don't know if I'd be out of this ballot and maybe be on the Player of the Year ballot, which would be nice.



"The extent of most golfers knowledge in this country is limited to those pretty pictures from the US Tour"

Thanks to reader Mark for noting that New Zealand's Greg Turner kindly chimed in on the debate over John Darby's The Hills and as always his thoughts make for enjoyable reading.

I think much is to do with the fact that your average kiwi has done so little golf related travel that they haven't seen what great golf can look like. The extent of most golfers knowledge in this country is limited to those pretty pictures from the US Tour and the advertorial reactions to them lamely proffered by your compliant professional golfer.
I, for one, spent much time arguing with the establishment on the European Tour that by their legislated requirement for nothing other than positive remarks about any given venue they cut off important debate at its most visible point. Pro golf - like it or not - is the shop window of the sport. If proper and reasoned debate was allowed at this level, then it would result in much more reasoned debate in general (it might also result in your average pro developing a better knowledge of design when he/she had to fight their corner).

Instead we have the unhealthy cycle of renowned designer (or in NZ's case property developer) being awarded big budget job, event being used to promote, pros being suitably deferential, designer emerging with reputation enhanced and continuing to make the same mistakes over and over again. And in a small and until recently isolated place like NZ no real forum exists to break that cycle!
Fortunately the worm is slowly starting to turn, and there is therefore some hope.


"If I ruled golf? We'd be playing persimmon and balata"

maar01_tigerfeature.jpgJaime Diaz turns in another classic Tiger profile in what seems to be a now-annual state of Tiger piece, this time accompanied by Walter Iooss Jr. images.

So many great anecdotes here related to Hank Haney and a young golfer he's mentoring, but naturally this was my favorite:

Most important to his longevity, Woods continues to have fun with a game he has never stopped loving. He seeks practice rounds with Bubba Watson, who entertains Woods with his freakish power and loose-jointed grace. Woods hits a bevy of persimmon-head drivers and fairway woods on the range at Isleworth, saying he loves the sound and feel and the smaller margin for error. "If I ruled golf? We'd be playing persimmon and balata," he says.



What To Ask Tiger?

I'll be sitting in on Tiger's pre-Target press conference today with the hope of slipping a question, though the event has become a bit of a mess between all of the television reporters and the conference call participation.

I have a question in mind for him, but if you have something you want asked, please post it, and if I like it I may just use it. Or maybe one of the pen-pushers present will see it and ask.


IM'ing With The Commissioners, Vol. VIII

My NSA sources have been busy trying to dig up those destroyed waterboarding tapes, but they did find time to share an enjoyable little chat between PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem and LPGA Tour Commissioner Carolyn Bivens. It seems PGA Tour executives are considering a potential new method of in-house communication...

twfPGATour©: You there Carolyn?

DaBrandLady: shalom tim!

twfPGATour©: Shalom? Is that Hebrew for Commissioner?

DaBrandLady: oh you're such a komiker! pardon me while I brush up on my yiddish!

twfPGATour©: Why's that?

DaBrandLady: didn't you hear about the lawsuit? legal was so excited when they found out!! they haven't been this busy since i deselected several longtime executives last year!!! :)

twfPGATour©: Oh is this in regard to the Jewish-American group you bumped out of the Fairmont for that new event?

DaBrandLady: yeppers! i'm prepping for the depos already. i figure it can't hurt to speak a little of the native tongue.

twfPGATour©:  I see. Well that's why you get the 45% pay raises. If only I could be so lucky.

DaBrandLady: it is unacceptable that you haven't crossed the $10 million threshold yet. especially considering your platform-based market share dynamic q-rating and those great fedex cup tweaks you just, hahaha, delivered.

twfPGATour©:  Delivered! That's an oldie but a goodie! I sure wish you were on the Independent Board of Directors.

DaBrandLady: you don't pay enough. lololololol

twfPGATour©: We don't? Who says?

DaBrandLady: just a joke tim

twfPGATour©: Look, I had a quick question. Do your C-levels have in-house blogs?

DaBrandLady: so funny you should mention that!!! not more than 2 minutes ago i made a note to myself that we need to have our c-levelers sharing their most important thoughts each day for all of the staff to learn from.

twfPGATour©: But you don't really any other C-levels, besides yourself of course.

DaBrandLady: precisely!

twfPGATour©: Well it's something we're looking at but I just can't really see the benefit of Ed or Charles or Henry getting much benefit out of having a blog. Would our staff or the product benefit from hearing their inner most thoughts?

DaBrandLady: no, but it gives the product the perception that executives are working hard on their behalf. 

twfPGATour©: True.

DaBrandLady: but what about you tim?

twfPGATour©: My bandwidth is stretched thin as it is. Between trying to value-stream licensing agreements and bucketizing offshore brand revenue equity, I hardly have time to sit down and write memos much less write a blog post about the negative amortization of Nationwide Tour revenues.

twfPGATour©: Plus, I've used that story about going to that Stones concert too many times now.

DaBrandLady: i don't agree. sure, it was the steel wheels tour and that was about 5 tours ago, but it still connects you with a younger demo, which is why you should blog, tim. it's a great way to communicate with the product and your consumers without actually having to engage in any interface.

twfPGATour©: You really think so?

DaBrandLady: yep. i was just thinking about how my first post was going to be on shtemplen dynamics and Bangalorization of non-essential platform maintenance.

twfPGATour©: I'm familiar with Bangalorization of non-essential platform maintenance. We just set up a new call bank for PGA TOUR© travel in Nelamangala.

DaBrandLady: how's that going?

twfPGATour©: Great, all of our call takers use names like Boo or Bubba or Tiger or Annika. The product gets a big kick out of that.

DaBrandLady: wow, why didn't i think of that!?!?!?

twfPGATour©: But Carolyn, you mentioned shtemplen dynamics. I know that I know what that means, but could you give me an example on the latest in product shtemplenization?

DaBrandLady: oh you shmendrick. a shtemplen is yiddish for brand!

twfPGATour©: Ah okay. My Yiddish never has been what it should be.

DaBrandLady: tim, you are a shtemplen whether you like it or not. you know that any good shtemplen leverages their shtemplen-equity to extrapolate maximized value streams, even if this means sharing details of your personal life as any good blogger does.

twfPGATour©: You put it that way...and, well I'm still not sure. I'll have to think about it and monitor the blog by our non-C-levels to see how that goes. I just have a feeling this will lead to some staff deselection and I know how much it pains Ed and Charlie when they have to fire people.

DaBrandLady: just call me. deselection is one of my favorite parts of the job!

twfPGATour©: Well on that upbeat note, Merry Christmas. Or is it Happy Chanukkah?

DaBrandLady: it's all a mitzvah tim! Mazel tov!

twfPGATour©: Give my best to...

DaBrandLady: He says mazel tov back!



"The majority of golfers want one set of rules but may ignore a rules change, which would render their existing equipment -- which works for them -- non-conforming."

Frank Thomas conducted a not-so-scientific survey of 1500 readers on technology and its impact on the game. 

Question 1) How important is it to you that there be only one set of rules? The table shows the results on a five point scale.

Very important --------- 57%
#2 -------------------------- 16%
#3 -------------------------- 10%
#4 -------------------------- 5%
Not important ----------- 13%

I think we have a winner in that one set of rules is important. This is good for golf.
This is beautiful:
Question 2) Do you think something should be done in the equipment regulations to rein in some of the extraordinary performances exhibited by tour players and the like?
"Rein in some of the extraordinary performances." Now that's not loaded in any way. Gee, what miser wants to rein in extraordinary performances?
Yes ------- 26%
No ------- 74%
Well, 26% did.

Frank, it's more like this: would you like to see technology reined into produce extraordinary performances exhibited by tour players and the like using a combination of mental and physical skill?

Love the conclusion:

It looks like our readers don't think reining in the pros by using equipment regulations is necessary. After all, they are the best of the best and there are other means to challenge them.
That's right! Eliminate the fairway!
Question 3) If the equipment performance rules did change because of pro performance and they detrimentally affected you and/or your performance, how likely is it that you would ignore the change(s) and continue to use your existing (now non-conforming) equipment?

Very likely -------------- 47%
#2 ------------------------ 12%
#3 ------------------------ 10%
#4 ------------------------ 7%
Not at all likely -------- 24%

Thankfully, that question wasn't loaded at all!
If the equipment performance rules were to change and so detrimentally affect average golfers along with pros, it looks like about 60% of average golfers would continue to use their existing equipment and ignore the rule (this is not good for golf).
Where's the free market love?
The performance of the majority of golfers (99%) must be carefully considered before adopting a rules change.
There's a newsflash from the manufacturer talking points city! 
Question 4) Do you think that a Ten club (local) rule for elite players is a better idea than changing equipment performance standards for everybody?

Yes ---------------- 63%
No ----------------- 37%

This is a solution which costs nothing and is easy to evaluate. It will not affect current equipment specifications nor will it cause the disruption that having two sets of performance rules for equipment may. I think a reasonable conclusion is that the majority of golfers want one set of rules but may ignore a rules change, which would render their existing equipment -- which works for them -- non-conforming.

Yes, I can see the ad campaign now. "Hi, I'm (tour pro name here) and I just love the decision of whether to leave out my Taylor Made 19 degree rescue, versus my 16 degree. Ultimately they're both so good that I had to leave both out because I really need my putter and wedge."

You have to admire Frank's effort, but he concluded that the game must be played under one set of rules and then declares after the fourth question that a form of bifurcation is the solution.


"The world's best player charges $4 million to drive through the gate."

Trevor Grant treads thoughtfully through the minefield better known as taking on the issue of excessive purses and apperance fees while considering the impact on golf.
Of course, this boundless gluttony has repercussions for those who don't get to sit at the big table.

Last month, after the announcement of a new European Tour event in Dubai, worth a staggering $11 million, US Tour boss Tim Finchem described it as terrific for golf globally.

However, it's hard to see the benefits in this corner of the globe as the Australian golf tour hangs on for dear life, threatened by a tsunami of cash for tournaments in the Middle East and China.

All manner of tactics have been employed to try to prevent Australian golf's plunge towards global irrelevance.

The organisers of the Australian Open, being played this week at The Australian in Sydney, have followed the money trail to New South Wales, where the State Government has agreed to back the event until 2009.

Thus, the national Open has become Sydney-centric, and now ignores one of the best assets in Australian golf - the Melbourne sandbelt.

By 2009 the Open would have been played in this world-acclaimed golf mecca just twice in 12 years - at Kingston Heath in 2000 and Victoria in 2002.

Australia's most significant course, Royal Melbourne, has not hosted the most prestigious event in the country for 16 years.

It's much the same as the British Open ignoring St Andrews, and a sad indictment on the priorities in golf in this country.

Firmly ensconced in Sydney, the Open's priority is said to be the signing of Woods to play next year.

Sources say the pursuit of Woods has the backing of the NSW Government, which wants to make an impact after losing out to its Victorian counterpart in the bid for the 2011 Presidents Cup.

It sounds great for the game here. Except for one thing.

The world's best player charges $4 million to drive through the gate.

The last time he did so in this part of the world, at the NZ Open in 2002, the tournament was a financial disaster.

Brand Lady Got Big Raise In '06

Even though she couldn't do much right in 2006, Jon Show reports that Commissioner Carolyn Bivens enjoyed a 45% pay bump.

Tax records show she was paid $690,000 in 2006 after making $238,782 during her first six months of employment in the latter half of 2005. Prorating that amount would have come to about $478,000 in 2005.
Snow notes...
Bivens’ first year with the LPGA was mired in controversy, including the departure of top staff members, disagreements with the tournament association over raised sanctioning fees and cancellation of events, and a tiff with the media over photographic rights. But she has appeared to weather the storm.

“I’m sure there are some things she would like a do-over on, but for the most part, change was necessary,” said one golf marketer, who did not want to be identified. “Looking back, I think she’s done a good job.”

Well, I'm sure a huge increase in reven... 
The LPGA’s revenue for 2006 was $69.7 million, up from $67.4 million a year earlier. That does not include money brought in by events that are not owned by the LPGA. The tour owns and operates the Solheim Cup, which is a biennial Ryder Cup-style event, and now fully owns the ADT Championship, where it bought out IMG’s stake after the 2006 event.

Tournament revenue was up about $1.5 million to $50 million, which includes money brought in from new events and renegotiated sanctioning fees with existing events, as well as increased sponsorship dollars.


Money from television was down $500,000 to $9.5 million. Corporate sponsorship was down from $5.2 million to $4.8 million, which the LPGA said reflected the termination of an exclusive international licensing contract with New York-based Summit Properties International.

Salary consultant Steve Unger questioned Bivens’ 2006 salary in relation to the LPGA’s revenue, but said it is impossible to accurately analyze her income without knowing if there was an automatic increase, or if she met certain parameters for success that triggered more salary.

“The optics of the deal are bad, but it might be totally in line depending on what the LPGA was expecting from her,” Unger said. “It seems like a lot of money for a little revenue.”

But you can't put a dollar value on what she's done for the brand!


More Best New's For 2007 features Golf Magazine's annual top 10 best new courses that you can play, and even starts listing green fee instead of greens fee. A major victory for golfing linguinistas!

Travel and Leisure posts their international top 10 with several different courses, but they both seem to agree on Chambers Bay. 


"The Isle o' Lewis Is Pining For Ye Trump"

HC-GE749A_Trump_20051021124515.gifThe WSJ's Alistair Macdonald found some Scots who actually desire face time with The Donald: his mum's Isle of Lewis.

Lewis is heavily dependent on employment in the public sector, retail and construction, and fishing, though a fraction of its former size, remains a key employer. In Lewis, the island's only golf course, the 117-year-old Stornoway Golf Club, held a meeting a few weeks ago at which it debated ways to honor Mr. Trump. The club discussed naming one of the course's 18 holes after him and offering him life membership, says the club's honorary secretary, Ken Galloway.

Local councilor Murdo Macleod, no relation, wrote the real-estate mogul asking him to help turn Lews Castle, a deserted and frayed grand Victorian estate, into a luxury hotel. "Every American loves a castle. He can play golf here, do a bit of fishing, shooting, a bit of relaxation," Mr. Macleod says.

He says Mr. Trump hasn't replied. The local council mailed Mr. Trump an invitation to visit a few weeks ago. It hasn't yet heard back from Mr. Trump, a council spokesman says.

Mr. Trump says he saw both letters and passed them on to his people. George Sorial, managing director of Trump International Golf Resorts, says that Mr. Trump receives so many requests daily that he can't reply to them all.

The trevails of a reality television star. 


"With this collaboration on a golf reality show leading into the Open’s final round, the U.S.G.A. has further loosened its tie."

Larry Dorman reports on the USGA's latest attempt to capture a younger audience. Gosh it's fun to watch people desperately try to capture the youth audience at the behest of advertisers. Especially when we're talking about a non-profit organization. Touching I tell you.

A one-hour taped show, which NBC will broadcast June 15 as a lead-in to the final round of the 2008 United States Open, will feature a foursome of amateur golfers with varying handicaps, all attempting to shoot a score lower than 100 on the Open setup at Torrey Pines Golf Course.

“We’re very excited about this,” said Jon Miller, the executive vice president of NBC Sports. “If this does well, as I have every reason to believe it will do ratings-wise, it could become an annual event that we put in front of the Open every year on Sunday.”

Right, because the 6-hour telecast isn't enough.

Still, the idea is fun. Four Average Joe's slugging away on the year's U.S. Open course and...oh, wait...I'm sorry, you said what?
To help ensure good ratings,

Roxanne, you don't have to put on the red light, you don't have to put on the red light...

three of the amateurs, to be chosen by Golf Digest editors and NBC, will be “celebrities,” highly recognizable faces from television, the music world or professional sports. The remaining participant, representing millions of amateur golf dreamers, will be selected from a field of finalists culled by Golf Digest editors and voted on by the magazine’s readers.
Wow. Now you want to talk about bend...ah forget it. Shoot, if we're lucky, maybe Kenny G or Celine Dion will be the celebs? Or both? They could even stick around and do a U.S. Open opening ceremony and if we're lucky, medley of their greatest hits backed by John Tesh conducting the Escondido Upward Bound Senior Citizens Home Symphony?
The format: 18 holes over more than 7,600 yards, inside the ropes, from the back tees, in front of a live gallery, with NBC cameras recording every shot and the golfers writing down every stroke.

The round will take place June 6. A U.S.G.A. rules official will accompany the foursome.

Hey, Walter Driver could officiate and show how he types 60 words a minute, all while reading Goldman Sachs emails and issuing a rules decision at the same time. All brought to you by Blackberry.

“Strict rules of golf,” said David Fay, the association’s executive director, quoting the character Auric Goldfinger from the classic 1964 James Bond movie. But of course.
Fay’s cinematic reference, though dated, is appropriate. In looking for ways to update its rather elitist image, the U.S.G.A. is reaching out to different audiences. It has made inroads in recent years with its addition of public golf courses to the Open rotation. Bethpage Black began the trend in 2002, and with Torrey Pines in 2008, Bethpage Black again in 2009 and Pebble Beach in 2010, the Open will have been played at courses accessible to the public four times in the first decade of the 21st century. With this collaboration on a golf reality show leading into the Open’s final round, the U.S.G.A. has further loosened its tie.

Oh, the kids will flock to this. I bet they get at least 5 new members under 50 out of this.

“I’m sure some people will raise their eyebrows and say, why are they doing this?” Fay said.

Why would we do that? It's perfectly in line with the direction you've got the organization headed in David! Right down the toilet...

“To me, the operative word is fun. Sure, it will be interesting and educational, and it will allow people to get some insight into the U.S.G.A. and give us a chance to connect on a different level. But I actually think it’s going to be a hoot.”

The whole idea began with a laugh. Tiger Woods was having a light moment with reporters after the second round of last year’s Open at Oakmont, saying, “If you’re a 10-handicapper, there’s no way you’re breaking 100 out there; if you played all out on every shot, there is no way.”

Woods’s statement gave Steve DiMarco, a Los Angeles writer and director, the idea for the show. He bounced it off a friend, who liked the idea. Then he passed it to Jerry Tarde, Golf Digest’s chairman and editor in chief, who talked to Fay, who talked to NBC’s Miller.

Gosh, if we could only think of a reality show that deals with slow play, we might persuade these heavyweights to do something that's actually for the good of the game.


Bohannan: Golf Digest Neglecting The Desert's Many Mediocre Courses

Larry Bohannan wonders why the Golf Digest's list of top 100 courses in America only includes one Palm Springs area course, The Quarry at La Quinta.
And certainly it's easy to understand the competition for the top 100 list considering there are about 16,000 golf courses in the country, according to the National Golf Foundation. That means one in every 160 golf courses makes the list. Even a prolific golf mecca like the Coachella Valley can't boast 160 golf courses, so statistically, maybe the desert only deserves one course on the list.
I like that argument. Sure beats pointing out that about 90 of them are Ted Robinson masterpieces.
But with such famous courses as the Dinah Shore Tournament Course at Mission Hills, the Stadium Course at PGA West, the Canyons Course at Bighorn and lesser-known but strong courses like Tradition and Classic Club, it still seems strange that only the Quarry makes the magazine's top 100.
Britney Spears is famous too, but that doesn't make her a great singer.

"Ah, the power of the guaranteed cheque."

I know you can't wait to find out who The Huggy goes to for Scottish Player Of The Year Other Than Monty, so here are John Huggan's year-end awards. My favorites:


Golf’s only deep-sea diver and dedicated self-abuser, Woody Austin, cried off from the Open Championship claiming he was ‘too tired’ to make the long trip. He felt it was just too far to come over and play badly. The wee soul. Funny that Woody managed to get himself to Wentworth for the World Match Play Championship a couple of months later. Ah, the power of the guaranteed cheque.


In stark contrast to the obnoxious winner that was American captain Buddy Marucci, Great Britain & Ireland Walker Cup skipper, Colin Dalgleish, handled his side’s narrow one-point defeat with great dignity. The Helensburgh man, in fact, did a superb job at Royal County Down, both with the organisational aspects of his role and the more public duties. No one could have squeezed more out of his young men in what was an ultimately heart-breaking loss. His re-appointment for the matches at Merion in 2009 was surely the easiest decision of the year.


It has always been easy to make fun of Phil Mickelson and his sometimes-gushy all-American way of expressing himself. ‘Mom’ is Phil’s favourite relative and ‘apple pie’ is certainly his favourite dessert. But no other professional golfer takes his public responsibilities more seriously, especially when it comes to signing autographs. In stark contrast to many other luminaries who stalk off with nary a backward glance after signing their scorecards, Mickelson stands there, pen in hand, and writes his name until there is no one left, man, woman or child. He has a word for all as he goes along, too. And he does this after every round, almost without exception. His is a great example, one more of his colleagues would do well to emulate.



"You just don't even want to pull your normal driver out when you can play like this."

Mike Clayton writes about a Royal Melbourne round with Geoff Ogilvy using hickory shafted clubs
Ogilvy had never hit a wooden shaft but he had a couple of hits and concluded that "my body will tell me how to hit it".

It took him no time to adjust to the feel of the shaft and after a few holes he said "you just don't even want to pull your normal driver out when you can play like this".

Manufacturers have made fortunes mass-producing quality metal drivers and they have unquestionably made the game easier for the average player. Mishits are more than kindly treated by the big heads but off-centre hits with a small-headed wood with a hickory shaft are not pretty.

Ogilvy barely missed the middle of the two wood's clubface and anyone watching would have been astounded how far he drove the ball. Into the strong south wind off the eighth tee he covered 230 metres and down wind off the next he was right at the 270-metre mark. At the long par-four 11th he lost one high and right on the wind and had to hit a three-wood from there but that was about the only bad one he hit. At the par-five 12th and 15th he easily reached the greens with seven-iron second shots and at the final hole ripped the hickory over the corner of the dogleg and hit a wedge onto the green.

There was nothing revolutionary about our conclusions as we walked off the 18th. That RM played so short for a great player using a hickory shaft backed up what MacKenzie said all those years ago. The custodians of the game need to control the ball because RM, like most of our wonderful suburban courses, has no more land.

"Huggan called The Hills picturesque but ultimately desperate. Precisely what he means, I don't know."

Peter Williams protects the home turf and gets a free column courtesy of John Huggan, who penned a column last week that essentially wrote off the New Zealand Open host site and questioned the wisdom of real estate communities built on sensitive land.

Huggan called The Hills picturesque but ultimately desperate. Precisely what he means, I don't know. I'm not saying The Hills is a classic but the players I spoke with seemed genuinely complimentary and looked forward to some fine tuning as the course matures.

I think Williams essentially answers part of the issue that Huggan had in that last sentence (the players loved it and they can't wait to see what happens after the bulldozers fix it!). Darby's comments were also less than inspiring.  


"Asian Tour players are concerned second- tier events would perish or offer lower prize money"

Bloomberg's Grant Clark writes that the "Super Tour" plan between the Japan, Australiasia and Asian Tours may hinge on the survival of second-tier Asian Tour events.

If nothing else, this is quite an interesting contrast to the PGA Tour's concern for its second-tier events and especially the Fall Finish, which seems doomed to the apparent dismay of no one with any power.

Japanese and Australian officials reached an agreement to form the ``OneAsia Tour'' from 2009 and are in talks to persuade the player-run Asian Tour and four national circuits to sign up.

Under the plan, the existing tours would act as feeders to the new circuit, which would consist of elite events most weekends of the year. Asian Tour players are concerned second- tier events would perish or offer lower prize money, Han said.

``The OneAsia Tour is worth considering,'' Han said in a phone interview from Bangkok today. ``I'd like to pursue it but I have to make sure the backbone of the tour is sustainable.''

The Japan Golf Tour Organization and the PGA Tour of Australasia signed a memorandum of understanding in October to create the new circuit, which would include the cream of the current events as well as new tournaments. Tours in China, South Korea, Thailand and India may also sign up.

Andy Yamanaka, chief secretary of the Japanese golf ruling body, said the Asian Tour is ``very, very important'' for the viability of the new circuit. Han's task is complicated because his circuit spans multiple countries and golf bodies, he said.

``At this stage, we believe they will be joining us,'' Yamanaka said in an interview from Tokyo. ``A 2009 start may be difficult but it's important for everyone to keep talking.''

The Asian Tour held a meeting in Bangkok two days ago to discuss the plan and the players ``didn't take to it,'' according to Unho Park, a Singapore-based Australian ranked 27th on the money list.

This sounds familiar:

``OneAsia would only benefit the top 20 players,'' Park said by telephone from Bangkok. ``Japan and Australia know the market is Asia so they want a piece of the pie. The players think the Asian Tour can do it by itself.''

And this is fascinating:

``Australia hasn't got much to offer,'' added Simon Yates, a Scot ranked fifth on Asia's money list, in an e-mail response. ``Japan's losing tournaments to the women's tour, which isn't a good sign.''


Elin Settles With Dubliner; Vows To Not Hold It Against Ireland

Thanks to reader Colm for this story on Elin Woods settling her libel case against the Dubliner for printing a baseless story on the eve of the 2006 Ryder Cup. This was a nice touch:

Ms Nordegren Woods is donating all the money to cancer support charities in memory of Irish golfer Darren Clarke's late wife, Heather, who died from breast cancer.



"We’d like to see the groove configuration requirements changed."

Commissioner Finchem, in a Q&A with Michael Arkush at Yahoo:

Arkush:  Where you do stand on the heavily-debated technology issue? Does the game need a uniform ball?
Finchem: I don’t think we need a uniform ball. The whole ball controversy had to do with jumps in length. Over the last four years, the distance increase on the PGA Tour has been negligible; in fact, this year, it was down a little bit. In terms of the way the game is played, though, we do have a couple of issues. We feel like there should be a bigger penalty when you hit the ball off the fairway than currently exists, and we’d like to see the groove configuration requirements changed.

The USGA must be pleased that the Commissioner is on message. I wonder if his position will change when the manufacturers make it clear they hate the grooves idea.

It will also be interesting to see he's as adamant about this position as Deane Beman was since some believe it cost Beman his job. 


Follow Up On "Best New" Photo Criticism

It took them a few days but all of a sudden my email box filled up with notes from photographers to let me know about the apparent evilness of my suggestion that Stephen Szurlej's Golf Digest Best New photos were less than excellent.

I normally feel bad when people whose work I so admire say I was "mean-spirited," but one also suggested that if I could just keep my "writing at the same level as Steve's photography," I'd be "right up there with Herbert Warren Wynn."

That's when I realized that A) Norm Crosby would have wished he'd come up with that line, and (B) the work of our friends in the golf photography profession largely goes unappreciated and therefore, rarely critiqued. In other words, any criticism might rattle some cages.

I was going to let this go but the emails suggest a discussion of golf course photography might be worthwhile.

First, a few points.

Stephen Szurlej is probably the best tournament photographer in golf. He's always at the right place at the right time and has done some amazing work. His list of epic photographs is endless.

However, he exclusively photographs the Golf Digest "Best New" courses each year. This is a difficult assignment because it has to be accomplished in short time with dicey weather. But can one person capture all of the award winners without some quality compromise? I understand Szurlej insists on this exclusive arrangement, and therefore must accept that less-than-inspiring image will be noticed and called out. Especially when architects have clients or potential clients asking why they ran a rear view shot that shows nothing.

Click to enlarge the 2003 Rustic Canyon Best New image, scanned out of the magazine (cropped to fit my scanner, but you get the's not flattering)
It just so happens that I was involved with a course that won a Best New in 2003 and the image prompted a few Golf Digest folks to apologize. They suggested that the constraints of having one person photographing these courses in a very short amount of time may have led to an image that artfully highlighted a weed, captured the late light glistening off a cart path curb and for good measure, included a pair of carts in the shot. Other than that, it was stupendous.

What is most disappointing about the non-aerial photos this year--particularly the TPC Boston set--is that the reader gets no feel for the architecture or what the golfer faces. In a spread highlighting the best new architecture, I don't think it's a lot to ask for something more than a ground level, rear view of a hole.

For example, here is the photo that ran in the magazine under the caption: "No. 1/ TPC Boston: It's not often a makeover results in an older look."








The photo depicts the par-4 10th, which was probably the least-tinkered with hole on the course and most certainly does not look old. So when considering the options for possible photos, you have to wonder why a hole that did not really represent the impact of the remodel was chosen. Furthermore, photographed from an angle that fails to capture the new look bunkering or much else of interest.

Perhaps I've just been spoiled by Golf Digest's consistent high quality and often cutting-edge photography. But when architects and their teams put so much into a design and panelists recognize such work, it would be seem fitting that the photography should match.

In the case of the remodel category, it also would have been great to see before-after comparisons. But since this was the final year of that category, I won't bother to ramble on about the importance of demonstrating how courses get transformed. (For some comparison shots of TPC Boston, you can go here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here.

So I put it to you all. What do you like to see in golf course imagery? Whose work do you admire, and why?


"Fans want to see big great scores and everything but they want to see people hit the long ball. That's one of the big draws of golf."

Thanks to reader John for The Age's Phil Lutton who quotes J.B. Holmes, who has this to say about about PGA Tour course setup:

Holmes, 25, is ranked third on the US PGA tour in driving distance behind Bubba Watson and notorious ball thug John Daly, averaging 285m every time he unleashes the driver off the tee.

Now his driver is starting to amass cobwebs as tournament bodies and courses shape their layouts to trap up the long hitters, narrowing fairways in strategic areas and carving out bunkers to entangle the heavy swingers.

Holmes says the moves, designed to make courses a more level playing field for the shorter hitters, robs fans of one of the great entertainment factors in the game.

"A lot of fans go out there to watch somebody hit it a long way. You get on some golf courses and it just takes the driver out of your hands. You don't want to disappoint anybody but then again, you're playing a golf tournament and can't just wail away on the driver every time," Holmes said.

"I'd like to see it opened up a little bit. Some courses out there you can do that. You just don't see people hit it 340 yards.

"Fans want to see big great scores and everything but they want to see people hit the long ball. That's one of the big draws of golf."