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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

Courses have no doubt been getting more and more difficult for the average player. His golf has in some cases been a dismal progress from the rough to a bunker, and from a bunker to the rough, hole after hole. He has very likely chosen a pleasant spring day for a little relaxation and pleasure, and returns to his home at night in a jaded and almost hopeless frame of mind.  H.S. COLT

 

    

Wednesday
Jul182007

"No, not surprise me because I know - I know for a fact - that there are golfers...that some golfers are doing it."

Sheesh, they invite Gary Player into the interview room for one of those sweet little gabfests with a former champion, just so the scribblers who can't bear to write a Euros majorless drought story have something to fall back on. And what does Player do? Why he makes news. Take that Peter Thomson!

Asked if he would be surprised by any positive findings the 71-year-old commented: "No, not surprise me because I know - I know for a fact - that there are golfers, whether it's HGH (human growth hormone), creatine or steroids, that some golfers are doing it.

"And the greatest thing that the R&A (Royal and Ancient Club, organisers of the Open and golf's ruling body outside of America and Mexico), the USGA (United States Golf Association) and the PGA (Professional Golfers' Association) can do is have tests at random.

"It's absolutely essential that we do that. We're dreaming if we think it's not going to come into golf.

"You look at these rugby teams today - and I followed rugby all my life - it's so obvious it's happening.

"It would be interesting what percentage of athletes, men and women, in the world are using one of those three enhancements. I think 40%.

"I've changed my mind overnight. I think it's almost 50 to 60%. I'm not saying golfers, I'm saying just across the board with all sports."

Asked what he thought the number was in golf, Player replied: "Well, I'd be guessing, I'd be guessing. You want me to take a guess?

"I would say of golfers around the world playing on tour I would say there's 10 guys taking something. I might be way out - definitely not going to be lower, but might be a hell of a lot more.

"And I'm delighted to see that they're going to start having tests at random, if that's what they officially have decided."

Questioned on how he knew "for a fact" that there are drug cheats in golf the three-time Open champion said: "Because one guy told me.

"One guy told me and I took an oath prior to him telling me and he told me and I won't tell you where, but he told me what he did and I could see this massive change in him.

"And then somebody else told me something that I also promised I wouldn't tell that verified others had done it."

 

Wednesday
Jul182007

Players Excited About Not Having To Be Annoyed By Cell Phone Cameras

Monty was even funny when talking about it.

Amazingly, the R&A still seems to be pandering to fans by begging for understanding, even after last year's debacle.

Those travelling to The Open this week are asked to leave their mobile phones at home. Searches will be conducted at the gates, and free storage for mobiles will be provided on site. The decision was made after concerns were raised by many top golfers and an R&A spokesman has said "we are confident as we can be that spectators will not be inconvenienced too much." 

 

Tuesday
Jul172007

Wednesday's Open Championship Clippings

openlogo.jpgIt's Wednesday so that must mean recycled stories day in the press tent! Today's special that you can fall asleep to here, here and here? Yes, the European's major drought. Fresh, cutting edge stuff! And in our global golf world where European's play half their golf in America, the majorless drought means so, so, so uh, little.

Judging by the photos on golf.com (with a couple posted on this site too), it looks like it was a nice day Tuesday.

Doug Ferguson reports on all the suckers taking Monty at 25-to-1.
William Hill has lowered his odds to 25-to-1, but the number of bets placed on Montgomerie to win has been so large that bookmakers say the betting turnover would be more than $50 million.

“Despite his failure to make the cut in the Scottish Open last week, Monty is the man the punters want to back for the Open,” Hill spokesman Graham Sharpe said. “Every other bet seems to have his name on at the moment, and we will certainly be handing over a hefty, seven-figure sum to punters should Monty manage to win.”

WoodsTuesMattDunhamAP_600x450.jpgPaul Mahoney highlights Tiger's interesting links golf comments that I'm too lazy to go and read in the transcript tonight. Love the Ryder Cup jab:
"It allows you to be creative," he said. "Augusta used to be like that. The U.S. Open is obviously not. And the PGA is similar to a U.S. Open setup. We play so much in the States where everything is up in the air. Over here, you get to use the ground as an ally and hit different shots. It is neat to hit bump and runs, and to putt from 50 yards off the green, and to hit 5-irons from 135 yards and run the ball in.

"I wish we played more courses like this. It would be nice to see a Ryder Cup played on a real links course. The courses on the PGA Tour are virtually the same apart from the length of the rough. I think the players enjoy going back to the old-style courses like Oakmont and Congressional because we don't get a chance to play venues like that much any more."

What makes Woods so unusual is his ability to conjure up shots that his rivals (if he has any) simply don't have in their arsenals. And experimenting with his game has always been part of his makeup.

"Coming over here just enhanced that," he continued. "A lot of guys just get into a mode where they hit one normal shot all the time. If you are limited by that, when that one shot goes awry, you have no shots to go back on."

Steve Elling on the six guys with lost luggage. MickelsonBushTuesPeterMorrisonAP_600x450.jpg

Ed Sherman reports that Tiger supports a 2-year ban for those testing positive for banned substances...assuming they ever figure out what is banned. He sure is adamant about this. It's almost like he knows of someone he really dislikes using stuff! Can't imagine who that could be.

Jose Maria Olazabal is out with an unspecified injury so I think it would be a mistake to bet on him. Then again, people are throwing money away on Monty...

And finally, Martin Greig looks at Zach Johnson's faith and gets a little MBASpeak thrown in too...
"I don't know if He has anything to do with golf," Johnson said yesterday. "Golf is my job. My faith is very important to me. I'm not one that's going to flaunt it, but it's my foundation. It's what's inside of me. That's the way I feel my life should be lived.

"Now, at the same time, when it comes to golf I don't really think God cares what I do. It's just a matter of how I conduct myself and why I play. It's my job, it's the way I support my family and it's my platform. That's the way I go about it."

Johnson does not look like a major champion. He looks an insurance salesman, but he has a green jacket hanging in his closet.

Tuesday
Jul172007

Woods Agrees That Lawrie's Fluke Win Needs To Be Celebrated More

Douglas Lowe files this:

Paul Lawrie said yesterday that he did not get the credit he deserved for winning here in 1999, and no less a figure than Tiger Woods backed him up.

Lawrie came from 10 strokes behind on the final day to capitalise on Jean Van de Velde's infamous errors and make the play-off, and then hit a dream four-iron on to the final green to set up his Championship putt.

Lawrie acknowledges that Van de Velde's cock-up warranted the headlines, but argued yesterday that his subplot was underplayed. "I would have liked to have seen a little bit more of, 'Jean Van de Velde blew the Open, but, by God, Paul Lawrie shot 67 to win the tournament by two shots by hitting the best shot anyone has ever seen down the last hole'," he said.
Kind of reminds you of Monty in the humility department, eh?

 
I don't remember the best shot anyone has ever seen, do you?

"But that didn't happen very often. That's out of my hands. What can I do? There was a lot written about what Jean did. And rightly so. But I didn't read a lot about how well I did the last day."

And not a whole lot since.

Tuesday
Jul172007

Trump National Fresno...Done Deal!!

Only the Donald would be nuts enough of a visionary to see the potential for a golf and housing development in Fresno and better yet, plunk down $30 million for the privilege. Oh, and that's right, it's possibly his way onto the PGA Tour. Next stop, the U.S. Open!

Tuesday
Jul172007

"Your Previous Dedication To Golf"

It seems that if you are no longer a USGA member, you are no longer devoted to the game. At least, according to Arnold Palmer in this e-letter to reader Mark.

230136-922329-thumbnail.jpg
(click to enlarge)
 

Monday
Jul162007

Tuesday Open Championship Clippings

openlogo.jpgKnowing the scribblers don't like to leave the press tent to chase down a story in even the best of conditions, the R&A chased down poor Jean Van De Velde in between cancer tests do a conference call to relive the 99 Open. The USA Today's Christine Brennan has a decent summary of the call.

july16_britishprac07_600x437.jpgDoug Ferguson did venture out in Monday's hideous weather (hopefully in more than his usual attire) to take in Tiger's 6 a.m. practice round.

No one bothered practicing putts or chips around the greens because the green was too soft, and some of them had puddles on the edges. Woods was duly impressed when Pampling hit driver off the deck for his second shot (on a par 4), and doubled over in laughter when Pampling hit a 2-iron to the 176-yard 13th hole that didn’t clear a bunker 150 yards in front of them.

But the joke was on Woods at the 14th, a par 5 at 514 yards known for the Spectacle bunkers some 65 yards in front of the greens that players usually can carry easily. But not on this day.

Woods hit driver in the fairway and hit 2-iron short of the Spectacles, just left in a sparse patch of rough. He swung hard and watched his third shot over the bunkers, and stopped in his tracks when he arrived at the green and found his ball a few yards from the green.

“I didn’t get there,” Woods said incredulously. “With a 4-iron!”

Even more stunning was the yardage he had with that 4-iron – 112 yards to the front, 128 yards to the hole.

The link to that James Corrigan piece I tried to post yesterday did finally start working, and it included this nice bit of from the R&A's Peter Dawson, who seems to be working off the talking points memo that says "blame the warm summer for '99, not the 9-yard wide fairways."

"This is the longest and hardest course the Open is played on," said Dawson, before explaining why it played so much longer and harder the last time. "In 1999 we had horrendous rough, but every course down the east coast of Scotland had horrendous rough that year. There was a freak weather pattern that caused it and sometimes people forgot that when pointing the finger. And, contrary to opinion, there was supposed to be interim rough and the balls weren't supposed to go straight from fairway to the thick stuff. It was just that the interim rough all burnt away."

I think that's a new one actually...the interim rough burnt away!

Ron Whitten's Golf Digest preview is up, complete with John Philp's revisionist take on '99.

maar01_carnoustie.jpgSteve Elling considers this year's difficult major setups and shares this from Nick Faldo:

 "I think sometimes it's stretching it when over par is the winning score," he said. "If you are missing fairways and laying up, wedging it around, it can get demoralizing. You don't get tested and it cuts off your flair and ability to pull something off. You have no option to do that. For me personally, that's what used to get me down."

Damon Hack tackled a similar subject in the New York Times (thanks to reader Jim for this), and it includes this interesting bit:

More and more, professional golfers are battling lengthened courses and thickened rough, knowing that they may spend hours — and sometimes days — between birdies.

Jesper Parnevik, a five-time PGA Tour winner, said that people would look back on this era and think players were not so good.

“Everybody went from winning majors at 10 and 12 under to winning majors at 5 and 10 over,” he said. “It’s not fair, really. You have golf courses where guys were shooting 20 under 50 years ago and we can’t break par today.”

Greg Owen said, “So many of these golf courses are tricked up every week.”

The Telegraph posts Thursday's tee times.

Finally, Mark Garrod features Jose Maria Olazabal's remembrances of his mentor Seve, who retired Monday.  Lawrence Donegan weighs in with an obituary of sorts too.

Monday
Jul162007

Bandon Charades...

bandoncharrette.jpg...errr...I mean, Charette. That's what Dr. Klein is calling the design orgy taking place at Bandon to create the "Old Macdonald" course.

Here's his first report on the festivities.


Monday
Jul162007

Open Championship Photo Caption Fun, Vol. 1

Why, who is that sitting in the dogh...err, really ugly building? From golf.com:

july16_britishprac08_600x434.jpg 

Monday
Jul162007

TNT Confirms Our Worst Fears: Clampett Is Back As Lead Analyst

Scroll down a bit for details of the pga.com online coverage, the alternative to TNT's "extensive linear coverage":

TNT to Present More Than 50 Hours of Combined Televised and Online Coverage of the 136th British Open Championship from Legendary Carnoustie Golf Links

Network’s digital plans to include live coverage of Tiger Woods’ first round on PGA.com

Turner Network Television (TNT) heads overseas this July to present more than 50 hours of combined televised and online coverage of the 136th British Open Championship from Carnoustie in Angus, Scotland . Taking place July 19-22, the historic major tournament will showcase some of the biggest names in professional golf, including back-to-back defending champion Tiger Woods , 2007 Masters Champion Zach Johnson, 2007 US Open Champion Angel Cabrera and FedEx Cup contenders Vijay Singh and Phil Mickelson .

TNT’s televised coverage begins on Thursday, July 19 at 6:30 a.m. ET/PT with a preview show, followed by exclusive coverage of the first round. The network’s fantastic four days of coverage will also include exciting new technical features enhancing the telecast and stories celebrating the course and tournament, such as:

  • Total Vision : Super-slow-motion gives our expert analysts the opportunity to break down every detail of the PGA’s top players’ swings.
  • Golf Trak : Cutting edge virtual technology allows viewers to follow the flight of the ball.
  • Carnoustie: Then and Now : A look at the challenging golf course and how the conditions have changed from 1999, best remembered for Jean Van de Velde’s infamous mishandling of the 18th hole.
  • Only at the Open : Weather reports from Carnoustie’s weather reporter, Patrick Healy ; and fascinating stories and folklore about the remarkable Scottish course.

“We’re extremely proud to continue TNT’s coverage of the British Open Championship as we provide our viewers with innovative features such as Total Vision and Golf Trak while paying tribute to the grandeur of Carnoustie,” said Jeff Behnke , Turner Sports executive producer. “The drama of Tiger Woods’ potential three-peat, combined with the challenging Carnoustie course, will certainly make this year’s British Open a thrilling event.”

2007 British Open Championship on TNT Programming Schedule

DAY/DATE TIME EVENT

Thurs., July 19 6:30 a.m. ET/PT Preview Show

7 a.m. – 7 p.m. ET/PT First Round Coverage

Fri., July 20 7 a.m. – 7 p.m. ET/PT Second Round Coverage

Sat., July 21 7 – 9 a.m. ET / 4 – 6 p.m. PT Third Round Coverage

Sun., July 22 6 – 8 a.m. ET / 3 – 5 a.m. PT Final Round Coverage

This year's announcers includes Ernie Johnson who returns to TNT’s golf coverage this season, Bobby Clampett (analyst), Billy Kratzert (reporter) and Jim Huber (reporter/essayist). ABC’s Terry Gannon (play-by-play), Peter Alliss (analyst), Paul Azinger (analyst) and Judy Rankin (reporter) will contribute to TNT's four days of coverage as well.

TNT will once again partner with ABC to share coverage of the tournament. TNT will televise daylong exclusive coverage of the first and second rounds and early coverage of the third and final rounds during the weekend. ABC will air the duration of the third and final rounds.

TNT holds the top spot in airing more hours of major championship golf than any other television network. In addition to the British Open Championship, TNT’s stable of 2007 golf programming also includes the Senior British Open (July 26-27), RICOH Women’s British Open (Aug. 2-3), 89th PGA Championship (Aug. 9 – 12), President’s Cup (Sept. 27 – 30) and the PGA Grand Slam Golf (Oct. 16 – 17).

TNT earned an Emmy® in the Outstanding Live Sports Special category for its coverage of the 2005 British Open. 2007 marks the fifth consecutive year TNT will televise the tournament, and the first time since 1999 that the event will return to Carnoustie.

Turner Sports New Media PGA.com Coverage

In addition to extensive linear coverage, Turner Sports will also provide innovative digital coverage, as it launches Open Championship Live which utilizes CNN’s patented Pipeline technology to simulcast multiple video streams and bring golf fans inside the ropes and closer to the action online. The online streaming of live and taped action from the legendary major will be available on PGA.com, which is operated by Turner Sports . Open Championship Live will feature three pipes that will stream content from Carnoustie, with Pipe #3 featuring Tiger Woods’ first round and other select groups of golfers from 4 a.m. – 7 a.m. ET on Thurs., July 19 . Pipe #1 will stream live action from holes 16, 17 and 18 from 4 a.m. – 2 p.m. ET on Thurs., July 19 and Fri., July 20. Pipe #2 will offer video content including highlights, flyovers, features, behind the scenes coverage, footage from press conferences, an Open Championship spotlight of past winners and events, as well as PGA Golf Instruction from PGA of America professionals. In addition, midday and end of day reports on the status of the players in the field.

Open Championship Live builds on the success of PGA.com's online four-camera feed of last year's PGA Championship which registered nearly one million video streams and was a key driver to setting a single-day traffic record on the site with over 16 million page views and a significant 18% boost in total page views.

“We're excited to complement our television coverage of the British Open on TNT with innovative online coverage to give fans an exciting multi-platform experience to enjoy one of golf's most popular and revered tournaments,” said Lenny Daniels, senior vice president of production and new media, Turner Sports. “ Open Championship Live will help take fans inside the ropes and closer to the action, providing them both a unique showcase of the competitive play of the tournament, as well as up-to-the-minute reports and highlights that they can't find anywhere else."
Monday
Jul162007

"What they see on television is what they want."

Vartan Kupelian looks at the extreme setups of recent major championship courses, and becomes yet another writer to openly draw the conclusion that par is being protected for no good reason. Actually, Kupelian is one of the rare ones who takes it a step further and sees a negative impact on the everyday game:
Why? Why not leave the great courses alone? Why turn them into bumper-car rides with crashes at every turn?

It's done to protect par in the face of the onslaught of the world's best golfers, armed with equipment technology and an evolution of their own abilities.

But in defending par, a dangerous precedent is being set. Daunting course setups with undulating greens rolling at breakneck speeds, ankle-deep rough and narrowing fairways are beginning to change the game at the recreational level.

It's a contradiction for organizations like the United States Golf Association, the Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews, and course operators world-wide who are fighting the battle of flat participation numbers. That makes retention a key factor and it's hard to keep golfers when the game is less fun, more expensive and takes more time.

What the severe setup of courses on the major championship rotation -- Shinnecock, Winged Foot, Oakmont, Carnoustie and even Augusta National, where the opening rounds this year resembled a U.S. Open, not the Masters -- have resulted in is a skewed view of what a golf course needs to be.

Too many recreational golfers don't bother to discern between the lethal major championship set-ups and what they play. What they see on television is what they want. It's no different than seeing the pristine emerald at Augusta National on television and transferring those images to the home courses. It's impractical, of course, but it happens every year.

It's a common refrain among course operators that their golfers too often don't play the proper tee, that they choose markers too intense for their ability. By today's standards, golf courses that don't stretch to 7,400 yards are viewed as deficient. It's an unwarranted view but increasingly prevalent in course design.

Monday
Jul162007

Allure Of Champions Tour Not Enough To Keep Seve From Retiring

Well, he played one more regular Champions stop than Greg Norman, so he's got that going for him. Still, Seve Ballesteros made his retirement official at Carnoustie Monday.

Sunday
Jul152007

"If we can have something in clothing, something in wine, and one or two other areas, such as golf-course design, it could be interesting."

Paul Forsyth talks to Ian Poulter about how important winning the Open Championship would be in...uh, extending his brand's range of services.

He does not need telling that lifting the Claret Jug is more important than wearing it, as he has been reduced to in recent years, but success at Carnoustie would bring priceless exposure to his new clothing company, the first collection of which is to be launched in the days ahead. “I would love to win it,” he says. “For me, there is more to golf than just hitting balls at the minute. I’m seeing it from all angles. We want to try and grow the business, and winning a major would help that. It wouldn’t just be a two-minute fly-by.”
Whatever happened to the good old days when winning a major was just fun because it was, you know, a major?
The 31-year-old has invested a sizeable chunk of his not inconsiderable earnings in Ian Poulter Design. While an account with 60 professionals’ shops represents a cautious start, the grand plan is to be more than just a retired golfer when he grows old. “Who knows what the next 20 years will hold? The aim is to grow the other side of Ian Poulter, the business side. If we can have something in clothing, something in wine, and one or two other areas, such as golf-course design, it could be interesting. The business side fascinates me. Successful business-men fascinate me.”
You know I love how the golf course design part could be just one little subsegment of the brand extension.

 

Isn't it touching how today's touring professionals take the plowing and plundering so lightly? 

Sunday
Jul152007

Monday Open Championship Clippings

openlogo.jpgI'll spare you the assorted recaps of Jean Van de Velde's meltdown, and point to some of the fresher perspectives on this week's Open Championship at Carnoustie.

Paul Kimmage talks to Nick Faldo about turning 50, and he shares the conversation with us as it occurred. Or so it seems.

The Times' Graham Spiers looks at the town of Carnoustie.

The Independent had a couple of interesting looking stories, but as is often the case with their stellar web site, the links weren't working. Perhaps this story on the state of Carnoustie's rough will be working by morning. And it also appears there is another of James Corrigan's always entertaining email Q&A's, this time with British Amateur champion Drew Weaver.

sgphil116.jpgRobert Philip of the Telegraph turns on his tape recorder and lets Peter Alliss reminisce.

The U.S. golf web sites appear determined to outdo one another in the limited content division, but some blogs are offering up lively reads that'll get you in the mood for this week.

Chris Lewis reviews the weekend's play and previews this week's play.

Meanwhile The Principal offered this countdown, this look at Carnoustie, and a two part look at the R&A's finer moments, here and here.

Sunday
Jul152007

Comeback (S)kid?

Golf World's John Hawkins does a nice job of analyzing Tiger Woods' lack of a come-from-behind win in a major. He doesn't overdo it, yet also offers up some interesting insights on why Tiger's approach works so well, except perhaps in come-from-behind situations.

Besides that, I thought this was an interesting concession from the mainstream press, something we might not have read just a few years ago when everyone seemed to worship super-silly setups:

No question, Woods has gotten much better at staying in contention when he doesn’t have his best stuff, maybe because he has become so used to it. That said, radically tough layouts such as Oakmont and this year’s version of Augusta National are far more likely to produce an uncommon winner. The higher the degree of difficulty, the more random the competition becomes, which levels the playing field and brings all kinds of candidates into the mix.

Harder is better for the world’s best players, but only to a certain extent. Course fairness is a very subjective matter, but at some point, skill yields ground to luck, in which case you get Ben Curtis and Shaun Micheel.

 

Sunday
Jul152007

Byrd Earns Valuable Cup Points

Jonathan Byrd moves to 25th in President's Cup standings with his win at the John Deere Classic!

And he surely moved up the FedEx Cup points list too, but who really cares?

Well, the friends and family of Chris Stroud, to be exact. He would not be in if the playoffs started today. Just thought you should know.

Sunday
Jul152007

R.W. Eaks Becomes Least Famous Man Over 55 To Win A PGA Tour-Sponsored Event...

In light of last week's PGA Tour press release on Jason Day becoming the youngest-ever winner of a "Tour-sponsored" event, I'm awaiting a release on R.W. Eaks' win at last week's Champions Tour tourney, but failing that, perhaps they'll at least send out a release on Daniel Summerhays becoming the first amateur to win a Nationwide Tour event.

Sunday
Jul152007

Possible To Spare Ourselves Of TNT's Open Coverage?

For those of us who have long been willing to pay to hear the BBC Open Championship feed, it seems that there is a paid service offering live UK TV streamed online, with a current 7-day free trial to test things out. I haven't signed up yet because I want to make sure I get next Sunday.

But what better time than now to take in the Open Championship coverage, since any sane being has been dreading two days of Bobby Clampett and hearing those relentless plugs for The Closer (sorry Mike!). Oh, and ABC's coverage will apparently have no Peter Alliss on the weekend. Brilliant move!

The sign up page link is here.

And here are the telecast times on the various BBC's. 

I'll let you know how the sign up goes tomorrow. And if anyone has tried this already, could you let us know how it works? 

Saturday
Jul142007

"Part of the strategy on any links is avoiding the bunkers. But we couldn't see too many of them because of the rough!"

John Huggan reminds us that Carnoustie is a great golf course, we just couldn't see it under all that rough in 1999. He reviews the event in his Sunday column.

First, this memory from Geoff Ogilvy:

"Then I got up there. It was such a disappointment. Breaking 80 was an unbelievable effort. If there is one course on the rota that doesn't need to be touched at all, it is Carnoustie. And they got lucky. It didn't even blow to any great extent. It was the greenness of the rough that was embarrassing. It looked so cultivated and unnatural. It was bizarre."

That it was, the strangeness of the whole situation summed up by the sight of Greg Norman, one of the game's most powerful players, missing the 17th fairway by a foot with his tee-shot, then swinging as hard as he could in a vain effort to move the ball from a lie best described as subterranean. The whole thing was getting silly enough to cause the then 20-year-old Sergio Garcia to burst into tears after an opening round of 89. Less than one month later, it should be noted, the young Spaniard was good enough to finish second in the USPGA Championship.

"If you missed the fairway - any fairway - by even a yard, you were hacking out," remembers Australian Peter O'Malley, one of golf's straightest hitters and the man who hit the opening tee-shot on day one. "We were just lucky the weather wasn't too bad. If it had been really windy no one would have broken 300.

"The set up was really weird. Part of the strategy on any links is avoiding the bunkers. But we couldn't see too many of them because of the rough!"

And on John Philp's contribution to the game...
Most, if not all, of the blame for the craziness was heaped on the head of one John Philp, the head greenkeeper. And it must be said he deserved nearly all of the criticism that rained down on his misguided head. Indeed, the much-maligned Philp did not help himself with a series of public comments seemingly designed to further alienate the world's best golfers.

"Golf is about character and how a player stands up to adversity," he sneered. "But, like a lot of things in life, golf has gone soft.

"Playing this type of course requires imagination and it requires handling frustration.

"I know there is a bit of a lottery in the way this course plays. Top players take badly to bad bounces. But the element of luck is critical.

"Take that away and you don't have a real game of golf. They are too pampered now."

Amidst the fast-accelerating level of complaints, the Royal & Ancient Golf Club claimed that all was well, that the jungle-like rough had been neither fertilised nor excessively watered and that, besides, they had been unable to do anything about it all. The problem, they claimed, was caused solely by the weather immediately preceding the championship.

Except it wasn't of course. Almost three months before the championship, your correspondent had played the Carnoustie course in the annual media gathering hosted by the R&A. After my round I was - funnily enough - standing at the bar in the hotel behind the 18th green waiting to be served. As I did so, the then secretary of the R&A, Sir Michael Bonallack, approached and asked my opinion of the course.

This was fun too...

 

"There is nothing wrong with having long, wispy rough that introduces doubt in a player," confirms Scotland's Andrew Coltart, who finished in a tie for 18th back in '99. "But long, lush grass only requires us to mindlessly reach for the lob wedge and is just plain daft.

"Eight years ago, the rough was just so thick and looked to me like it had been fertilised. There was no chance to get the ball on the green and no chance even to take a chance, if you see what I mean. I played with Tiger Woods on the last day and even he couldn't hit out of that stuff. So it was boring to play and, I'm sure, to watch. It was drive, chop out, wedge to green."

 

And Barker Davis, writing for the Sunday Telegraph, offers these remembrances...

Lee Westwood

The first round I was playing with Greg Norman, and he was playing really well, a couple under or something. On 17 he hit it right, not far right, just a couple of feet off the edge of the fairway and you virtually couldn't see it. He ended up making seven or eight and that summed it up. But I like the course, it's up in my top three with Birkdale and Muirfield.

Richard Green

I remember playing the last couple of holes on Friday just praying to get off the golf course. I was just in a lot of mental pain. There was one tee shot on the fourth that I hooked to the right. I ended up slashing about in the rough for ages. But it's still one of my favourite courses, up there with Kingston Heath in Australia and Royal Lytham.

Hank Gola, New York Daily News

It was like watching a slow-motion car wreck. When Jean Van de Velde went into the Barry Burn and rolled up his pants, it was the most amazing thing I've ever seen. The Frenchman goes up in flames. I remember walking in the play-off with Davis Love III, who was smoking a cigar at the time, and he said they got what they deserved for the set-up.

Thomas Levet

On the sixth hole I hit a drive and it bounced 90 degrees right and finished in the rough by two inches. From there I couldn't get the fairway back. So I made a drive, my sand iron five times and a putt - seven, double bogey. It was so deep I didn't know if that ball was going to go one yard or 80. But what I remember most is Jean Van de Velde. I was at the airport with Dean Robertson.

We were sitting in the lounge at Edinburgh watching Jean play the last hole.

It was a great moment of golf, like a great tragedy, but it was not very good to know it was a Frenchman. We couldn't believe it. We were speechless. It was crazy that day.

Michael Campbell

I think I shot 13 over and missed the cut by one. I remember sitting down with a bunch of players and watching the coverage on the Friday afternoon. It was carnage. It was pathetic really. I watched Norman hit it two yards in the rough. I wasn't laughing at the time. I was shaking my head saying: "This is not right, this is not good TV."

Saturday
Jul142007

Sergio Confident He Can Improve on '99 Carnoustie Performance

Just in case you forgot how silly a test Carnoustie was, John Huggan reminds us of this:

Perhaps the biggest irony of Garcia's disastrous two days at the '99 Open - he followed the 89 with an 83 - was that he arrived having just shot 62 at Loch Lomond in the Scottish Open. For a 19-year old with the game seemingly at his mercy, the world was a wonderful place.