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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

Every good golf course should have some touches of subtlety that prevents the golfer doing a low score without much previous practice. ALISTER MACKENZIE

 

    

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!

230136-963660-thumbnail.jpg
(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)
 

230136-953403-thumbnail.jpg
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.

Monday
Aug062007

"Tiger will be intimately involved with the design."

Alan Bastable breaks the news at golf.com that Tiger is so tired of answering Rory and Sam questions that he is going to announce his first U.S. design project during his Tuesday PGA Championship press conference.
According to a source close to the situation who requested anonymity, the world's No. 1 player has signed a deal to design a course located just east of Asheville, N.C., for Cliffs Communities, a prominent golf real estate developer.

"It's pretty major," the source said. "Tiger will be intimately involved with the design."

The source says that like some player architects are not intimately involved. I can't imagine where he'd get an idea like that!
Cliffs Communities has five high-end, master-planned residential properties in North and South Carolina. Jamie Prince, a spokesperson for the company, declined comment, saying that no official announcement would be made before a press conference with Woods scheduled for Aug. 14. An invitation to that event that was sent out on Monday highlighted a new development called The Cliffs at High Carolina.
Uh, if you have a press conference with him August 14th, isn't that an official confirmation?
Monday
Aug062007

Is This Any Way To Treat The Road Hole?

230136-956147-thumbnail.jpg
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I know that ABC used their 2005 Open aerials for Sunday's Women's Open (because there was still that ribbon of rough down the right side of the hole). But the rest of the fairway contour was the same, including two former fairway bunkers surrounded by a sea of rough.

Now, let's forget the pros and just think of the everyday golfers who play this most of the time. The hole isn't tough enough without choking off the fairway? Is taking driver out of the best player's hands really so vital that everyday golfers have to suffer year round? I guess so.

230136-957188-thumbnail.jpg
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Note in the second image how the golfer wanting to layup just right of the green (our left) to secure a pitch into the length of the surface (and those feisty back hole locations), is now told no way.

Taking away options on the Old Course. It's not right! 


 

Monday
Aug062007

The MIDI!

golf650.jpgThanks to reader Tuco for the heads up on Damon Hack's New York Times story about an interesting new tempo device. There's also a video segment on the story narrated by Hack, who clearly missed his calling as an NPR reporter.
Grober has created an instrument that gives a player an immediate response to the golf swing. A smooth, rhythmic swing with Grober’s sensor emits a pleasing tone. A herky-jerky motion lets out a wail.

To create the sound of a golf swing, Grober used Musical Instrument Digital Interface technology that combined instruments like the piccolo, the oboe and the French horn. The music — an audio interpretation of the swing itself — is transmitted wirelessly to the golfer through a headset.

“This dimension that they can access while they’re hitting the golf club opens up a whole world of information that they hadn’t otherwise had,” he said. “Getting it in this format, in a real-time basis, helps people to change on time scales which are much shorter than traditionally. It used to be if you wanted to make a mechanical change in your golf swing, it could take months to do that. But if you can hear what’s going on, you can change the sound space almost instantly.”

Grober said by having players focus on tempo instead of swing mechanics, the mechanics often followed anyway. “Really quickly they understand it’s about tempo and they forget all these complicated thoughts about position,” he said. “When the motion becomes dynamic and smooth, there are some good physics behind that.”

Grober, whose product is scheduled for release in January, said he has worked with 200 golfers and teachers on his invention. While the technology is new, the idea of using physics to teach a golf swing has been around for decades.

Ben Doyle, who wrote the foreword to Homer Kelley’s popular instruction book, “The Golfing Machine,” said he could see benefits in a golfer being able to listen to the sound of the golf swing.

“You hear the thrust of centrifugal force,” said Doyle, the golf instructor at the Golf Club at Quail Lodge in Carmel, Calif. “If a student can hear that sound, it’s very important feedback.”
Sunday
Aug052007

Getting In the Mood For Southern Hills

2007pgalogo.gifIf you are not attending, this ought to brighten your mood. Hope that air conditioning works in the media center!

My Golf World story looking at the vastly improved golf course has been posted. I'll elaborate more tomorrow with photos and thoughts. I know you can't wait.

SI's pithy anonymous pro has all sorts of interesting things to say about Tiger, drug testing, Tulsa and his pick, Jim Furyk.

230136-953409-thumbnail.jpgJohn Huggan talked to former Tulsa resident and current Tiger coach Hank Haney about Southern Hills: 

"Southern Hills is in just about the best shape a golf course can be in," agrees Haney, who graduated from the University of Tulsa and knows the course well. "The greens and fairways are perfect and the rough isn't too deep. Players will be able to at least advance the ball when they miss a fairway.

"The course has been lengthened too, but it is still a place where good play will produce a good score. I liken it to the British Open in that the winning score hasn't been predetermined. It won't suit any particular type of player either. There are only two par-5s and one of them is 655-yards long, so the long-hitters won't have a big advantage. A lot of guys will have a chance to win.

"Which is as it should be. The course will play much better than it did in 2001, with the PGA setting it up rather than the USGA. The PGA knows how to set up a golf course."

John Strege profiles Anthony Kim, who went to Oklahoma and apparently grew up with The Great Santini:
Say this for Kim, at least: He isn’t afraid of imposing figures. History is his witness. He won a battle of wills with any boy’s most daunting opponent—a ruthlessly demanding father, who in Kim’s case often reduced him to tears, once by pretending to discard a trophy he had won with an over-par score. Dethroning Tiger might seem the easier challenge.

Kim quit speaking to his father for the better part of two years. Given his reputation for running his mouth, this showed extraordinary discipline, the kind Paul Kim used to demand of his son. The irony would not have amused Paul; the pain cut too deep. It still does. “I was so sad,” he says now. “I was wrong.”

Their estrangement ended in December, the day Anthony earned his PGA Tour card. Moments after the Tour Qualifying Tournament ended (he tied for 13th), he made the short drive from PGA West to his parents’ home in La Quinta, Calif. The family’s group hug lasted 10 minutes.

Jeff Billington and Michael Overall of the Tulsa World says the PGA will bring $60 million to the local coffers. 

Finally, the Golf World guys make their picks and I like Bomb's pick of Tim Clark and Rosaforte's selection of Stewart Cink.

Sunday
Aug052007

Women's Open Championship Final Round Clippings

aug5_ochoatrophy_600x399.jpgFrom Mike Aitken's Scotsman game story:

Coping as diligently with the rain which cascaded on the turf in the final round as she did with Saturday's gale, Ochoa was wrapped up in a black rainsuit against the elements. Although she'd wobbled under pressure at the majors in the past - two years ago in the US Women's Open at Cherry Hills she found water twice and took 8 on the last - Ochoa never looked like folding in St Andrews, even if there was a minor alarm on the Road Hole when she played sideways out of a bunker.

Disarmingly courteous - she began each press conference by saying 'Hello, everybody' - there was plenty of support for Ochoa among her peers and the media as well the galleries who lined the ancient fairways. Chatting away to her English caddie, smiling when she hit good shots and often, excitedly, breaking into darting runs from greens to tees (compared to the ditherers on the LPGA, the Mexican fairly bolts round the links), Ochoa won many friends with her generous personality.

At Golf Digest, Ron Sirak wraps up an entertaining few weeks (don't you agree Wally?) of diary-like blog entries with this from St. Andrews:
Remarkably, there was no logo-dated merchandise on sale to commemorate the first women's professional tournament at the Old Course. You'd think there would be something that said: "2007 Ricoh Women's British Open, Old Course St. Andrews." Local merchants are also disappointed at the turnout. It certainly is nowhere near the 45,000 a day that show up to watch the men in the Open Championship. In fact, the crowds are down slightly from the 17,000 a day last year at Royal Lytham & St. Annes.

Golf.com features some final day photos, as does GolfChannel.com

Because The Guardian has been slow to post stuff, I just caught this from Lawrence Donegan, assessing Michelle Wie's game:

After a level-par first round the 17-year-old American spoke of rediscovering the form that once made her the second-most famous golfer in the world. What a difference a day, and a North Sea breeze, makes. A five at the par-four 1st, supposedly a gentle introduction to the Old Course, was bad enough for Wie but worse followed as she racked up four more bogeys and a triple-bogey over the next 14 holes to end with an 80 and missing the cut.

It was the fourth time in 13 competitive rounds this season that Wie has failed to break 80. In all she is more than 90-over par in six tournaments. No doubt her entourage will point out that she is recovering from a wrist injury but, equally, critics of those guiding the teenager's career will argue there is little to be gained in allowing her to play at the highest level when it is quite obvious she cannot compete.

And Golf For Women's lively blog included this note from Dave Allen who managed to scarf down the media tent food while jotting down Judy Rankin's thoughts on Ochoa.

 

Sunday
Aug052007

Monty Weeps As Hecklers Move On To Rory Sabbatini

From Doug Ferguson's story, after Tiger slaughtered Sabbatini for the second time this year:

Sabbatini took five to reach the green and made double bogey, and as he walked toward the 10th tee, a spectator said: "Hey, Rory, still think Tiger is beatable?"

Sabbatini turned and glared. He barked at a police officer and demanded — with an obscenity thrown in — that the fan be taken "out of here."
Ahhh, he can dish it and he may continue to!
Asked if he would temper his comments in the future, Sabbatini looked indignant.

"Why?" he said. "I hope I inspire him and play well enough that I can give him a good challenge."

Meanwhile, check out this exchange after the round:
 Q. The guy on the 9th hole, I guess you pointed him out and they led him off, was that just -- he didn't seem to be that -- he didn't curse or anything.
RORY SABBATINI: Well, you know, the situation is we're out here to do our job. Let us do our job. You know, even on 18 there, the guys being very insulting towards Kenny Perry's first putt. Have a little bit of decorum and a little bit of class out there. That's the way it's supposed to be. But I guess a few too many beers were talking.

Q. What do you think of Tiger's game now?
RORY SABBATINI: Today he played significantly better than he did in the final round at Wachovia. He struck the ball better. He made all the shots he needed to. You know, he was definitely playing a lot better golf today than five, six weeks ago, whatever that was.

Q. Did you wear the belt with the skull for inspiration for yourself?
RORY SABBATINI: No, just like the belt.

Q. It's pretty cool.
RORY SABBATINI: Thanks.

Could we ask our questions in the form of a question instead of gushing praise for skull cap belt buckles? 

Sunday
Aug052007

Tiger Goes Entire Press Conference Without Celebrating Firestone's It's-All-Right-In-Front-Of-You Architectural Brilliance

Though I do understand he dropped his favorite design compliment in a rare post-victory gabfest with his most beloved on-course annoyance, Peter Kostis. Actually, his post round Q&A with the assembled inkslingers featured several entertaining exchanges.

Meanwhile, what is missing from AP's Doug Ferguson's game story here:

Woods earned $1.35 million for his 58th career victory. Since the start of the 2005 season, Woods has not gone more than five starts on the PGA Tour without winning.
And, and, and? The points Doug? Sheesh. The playoffs? Hello?

 

Sunday
Aug052007

Sergio and Shark Win Award Before Course Opens!

How I love Dubai, they're doling out development awards and the thing isn't even built yet!

Jumeirah Golf Estates, the exclusive villa project in the heart of New Dubai has netted the prestigious CNBC Arabian Property Awards 2007, in the Best Golf Development category. The award will be given away at a gala dinner at the Madinat Jumeirah in Dubai on Tuesday, October 23, 2007.  

Entries for the award were judged by a highly-distinguished panel of professionals, chaired by Eric Pickles, British Shadow Secretary of State. Jumeirah Golf Estates is owned and maintained by Istithmar PJSC, the real estate investment unit of Dubai World. David Spencer, chief executive of Jumeirah Golf Estates, said of the forthcoming award: “It’s always fantastic to be recognised by the best in the industry.  At Jumeirah Golf Estates we’re aiming to create the best golf development in the region and one of the best in the world.  Today’s announcement shows that we’re on the right track.

Jumeirah Golf Estates brings together the world’s leading golfing and course design superstars to create Dubai’s premier residential golfing community.  Greg Norman, Vijay Singh, Sergio Garcia and the father of modern golf course design, Pete Dye, are working on creating one of the world’s most distinctive golf developments. The 4 courses; Fire, Earth, Water, & Wind; pay tribute to the power of nature, each employing the distinctive characteristics of its own surroundings to deliver a unique challenge.  They will be surrounded by the most desirable residential communities in Dubai, with luxury homes with beautiful space both inside and out.

 

Take that Tiger!