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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 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
  • Professional Golf 2014: The Complete Media, Fan and Fantasy Guide
    Professional Golf 2014: The Complete Media, Fan and Fantasy Guide
    by Daniel Wexler
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

The construction of hazards, their place in the scheme of the hole, the artistic blending of their contours with the character of the ground and their relation to the scenery as a background are things of the first importance if a harmonious and satisfactory result is to be obtained. TOM SIMPSON 

 

    

Tuesday
May292007

"It is a lot harder than I thought it would be"

After Tiger's pre-AT&T National press conference today where he talked about the setup of Congressional, golf.com's Cameron Morfit wonders if Tiger is taking on a bit too much at the expense of his game.

And he's hip-deep in the first project of Tiger Woods Design, a lavish golf course in Dubai called Al Ruwaya. The project has been such a challenge that he hesitated when asked Monday if he'd consider building a track to host his tournament, like Nicklaus did.

"I don't know," Woods said. "I'm still working on my very first golf course, and it is a lot harder than I thought it would be. I don't know how Jack has designed over 250 golf courses around the world. It's mind-boggling because this first one is very difficult."

All of which could explain why Woods has looked so "beatable," to use Rory Sabbatini's word, at the sport that made possible the extracurriculars. Even after he won Wachovia in his second-to-last start, his third victory of 2007, all anyone could talk about was how un-Tiger-like he looked. The effect was unmistakable when he donned mirrored sunglasses while finishing in the middle of the pack at the Players two weeks ago; Woods was suddenly just another golfer.
Is his peripatetic schedule taking its toll? Only Woods knows for sure. "It's hard," he said Monday when asked how he's been able to focus on his golf. "Still got to have my workouts, my daily workouts, as well as practice. It's certainly been tested. Thankfully, I don't sleep much."

 

Tuesday
May292007

NCAA Men's Golf Coverage

07golfchamp.jpgGolf World's Ryan Herrington is blogging from the NCAA's while Golfweek does their blog thing too. And the live scores can be followed best (I think) through Golfstat.

My alma mater missed by two, so like any good intensely self involved American, my interest is already fading. Because it's all about me.

Tuesday
May292007

NCAA Golf Photo Caption Fun

Now, these are not extras from Master and Commander nor the Danish chapter of Gay Men Who Love Pirates of the Caribbean (Would that be GMWPC?). Actually, these are Golfweek's writers doing the whole Williamsburg, Virginia thing to kick off their NCAA Men's Golf Championship coverage.

Please, your captions at their expense...

colonialwb.jpg 

Tuesday
May292007

Ballyneal and Grateful Dunes

story.ballyneal.jpgAn unbylined AP story on the creation of Ballyneal and news of plans for a public course next door to be called "Grateful Dunes."**

That's a working title, right?

**I've since learned this a tribute to a certain traveling rock band. Love it!

Tuesday
May292007

Newsflash: Tiger Might Play Dunhill Cup; Also Might Make Moon Trip

Apparently Euro Tour chief George O'Grady believes that since the FedEx Cup will be over by the time the Dunhill Cup is played at St. Andrews, Tiger might cherish the opportunity to bond with a friend during 5 hours of misery over the Old Course, Carnoustie and Kingsbarns...without an appearance fee!

The only thing better than O'Grady throwing out this "maybe" scenario? It was reported as news! Twice (here and here).

From David McCarthy's piece:

European Tour chief executive George O'Grady believes it is only a matter of time before world No.1 Woods plays the Dunhill Links Championship over St Andrews, Carnoustie and Kingsbarns.

With the American season finishing earlier that usual with the Û10million FedEx Cup, there is no Stateside clash with the Dunhill in October and O'Grady reckons it is inevitable Woods will play the event to satisfy sponsors in the near future.

He said: "The Dunhill is in an ideal situation. With the FedEx tournament being over by the time it takes place, everyone wants the best professional field it can have. You can see a day when Tiger Woods will play in it, because of who he could play with.

"I don't know if they are talking with Tiger or not but it wouldn't be beyond the bounds as long as he was playing with someone he enjoys playing with.
Exactly, why just hop on the Citation and bring a friend to play in Scotland when you can make that friend pay to play in a pro-am! 
"The tournament host, Johan Rupert, has stated he does not do appearance money but he gives a great welcome.

"It's the best pro-am in the world. For the amateur to get the chance to play these courses under championship conditions is fantastic."

And we know that's what Tiger's all about. Playing in pro-ams! 

Monday
May282007

"Why they would leave out '83?"

Thanks to reader John for noticing this Gary Van Sickle story pointing out a tacky Larry Nelson-related omission by The Golf Channel GOLF CHANNEL:

Now add the Golf Channel, which touts itself as the home of golf, to the list of those snubbing Nelson. Have you seen Golf Channel's promo for its upcoming U.S. Open coverage at Oakmont? The spot is lathered thick with Oakmont history — images of Ben Hogan in '53, Jack Nicklaus in '62, Johnny Miller in '73 and Ernie Els in '94. They are all shown, and all of Oakmont's Open champions from the past half-century are mentioned. Except for Nelson.

Say it again for effect: Except for Nelson.

"I told my wife, just tell my why they would leave out '83?" Nelson said. "Is there somebody out there saying, 'Let's not mention Larry.' I mean, I beat two of the best players in the world that week — Seve Ballesteros and Tom Watson. I'm actually going to call the Golf Channel and say, just for my benefit, I'd like to know. I could care less. I'm done and all that stuff, but this is what's happened throughout my career. Somebody inside the Golf Channel, just tell me why you would leave my name out. I don't care, but why? Why?"

Monday
May282007

I'm A Stupid Incompetent Liar Who Deserves To Be Arrested!

It seems Gouge of the tag comedy team didn't take too well to having his truth-stretching pointed out. So he fires back with a rationalization/spin/name calling beauty that truly is the work of a master who enjoys digging a deeper ditch. Keep the entertainment coming Gorge, though I still stay this one will never be topped!

GOUGE: Because Geoff Shackelford deserves to be arrested for incompetence, a clarification: When I mentioned the other day that the Overall Distance Standard had not changed, I was technically incorrect.

You do have to love the irony of being technically incorrect on a issue related to technology. Oh but wait, he really wasn't! In his own mind!

In truth, it has gotten shorter. In 2003, the USGA changed the equipment used for its golf ball test and the ODS. It also changed the swing speed. Those changes (from 109 mph swingspeed to 120 mph and from a wooden driver to a titanium driver with a coefficient of restitution at the USGA limit) did lead to an increase in the yardage allowed by the ODS, from 296.8 to 320. But that yardage is in fact shorter if you realize that the 11 mph increase in swing speed, plus the increase in COR from .77 of a wood driver to .822 in a titanium driver conservatively account for 30 yards of distance, but the ODS has only increased 23.2 yards. No less an authority than  Frank Thomas acknowledges the rule is a form of control.Maybe not the best. But again, look at numbers: Driving distance is down 4.4 yards from where it was a year ago. If that's not a big deal to you, again, I ask you if driving distance were up 4.4 yards, wouldn't there be outrage. Average courses aren't being ripped up because all us double digit handicappers are making them obsolete with our 225-yard tee shots. But go ahead and believe Shackelford. Why research the truth when you can continue to promote a lie. And for those keeping records, my handicap index has improved. But it still allowed me to shoot 103 yesterday.

Hey, where's Bomb to come in with a few of those Catskills-worthy one-liners?

Monday
May282007

Some Golf Related Charity Work...

Check out what former Tom Lehman design associate Josh Taylor and is doing for HopeKids this summer and Ron Mon's post on another cancer and golf related fundraiser.

Sunday
May272007

Furrow Specs

Craig Dolch in the Palm Beach Post offers this on Jack Nicklaus's bunker furrowing plans for this week's Memorial:

This year, though, the tines on the rakes won't be spread as far apart as last year — they'll be 13/4 inches this year as opposed to 21/2 inches in 2006 — but the effect will be the same.

"All I want them to say is, 'That's a place I don't want to be,' " Nicklaus said Friday at his North Palm Beach offices. "I don't care about penalizing the guy. I'm trying to force him to play the strategy of the golf course by not wanting to be in a bunker. Guys aim for bunkers because it's an easy shot."

Sunday
May272007

R.I.P Dowd and Mineck

Over at the much improved Golfweek tour blog, Jeff Babineau express sadness at the sad loss of two people in golf, one I had the privilege of knowing. I'm copying and pasting here since the Golfweek blog posts can't be individually linked...

What a sad couple of days for golf.

Kelly Jo Dowd, who inspired us all with her strength and spirit, passed away Thursday after a long battle with cancer. She was 42.

The Dowd family’s plight became a national story 13 months ago, when Dakoda Dowd, then 13, played the LPGA’s Ginn Open at Reunion Resort, just outside Orlando. I’ll never forget seeing Kelly Jo raise her hands high in the air when Dakoda ripped her opening drive right down the middle. “Proud” doesn’t begin to capture what was filling up her heart that morning.

When Dakoda birdied the hole, she beamed, “My daughter’s a stud.”

Months earlier, Kelly Jo sat on a wooden bench near the practice tee at Reunion as Dakoda hit golf balls. The deep love for her child was so evident in her eyes. The parent-child bond the two shared, and the sense of family enjoyed by Dakoda, Kelly Jo and Mike Dowd – Kelly Jo’s husband and Dakoda's dad – is something every family should strive to achieve. We’d all be richer. Life dealt the Dowd family a tough hand, and they’ve always handled it with incredible class.

The news of Kelly Jo’s passing comes on the heels of  news earlier in the day of the shocking, sudden death of John Mineck in the Boston area on Thursday. It would be inaccurate to say John didn’t have any kids. His “baby” was his beloved Boston Golf Club, and it was there  on Thursday his life came to a tragic end, as he was killed in an accident incurred while he operated heavy machinery on property at the club.

Boston Golf Club, if you haven’t had the pleasure of visiting, is such an incredible place, so cool. It has John’s indelible fingerprints all over it. It always will.

Condolences to both families. Kelly Jo and John were special, kindred spirits who lived life with a vibrant energy we all should carry each morning the sun comes up.

As I write this, it’s nearly 1 a.m., and my – and John’s – beloved Red Sox are on TV, winning a rain-delayed game out in Texas. My 6-year-old son, Luke, is asleep next to me on the couch, no doubt dreaming of something grand that only 6-year-olds can dream. When I carry him up the stairs to bed tonight, you can bet he’ll get an extra hug and kiss.

Too often we’re starkly reminded how short life really is.

 

Saturday
May262007

"Why do they want to stop Tiger or Phil [Mickelson] or Ernie [Els] from playing great golf?"

That's Neil Coles talking, subject of John Huggan's Tea On A Sunday In Scotland Scotland On Sunday column this week. Coles not only talks abou this fear of flying, but golf in America, the state of the game and--close your eyes Fairhaven readers--the dreaded ball. Take it away Mr. Coles...

"I have no regrets about not playing more over there. I did three tours in America. The money was no good anywhere else. I didn't really enjoy it much, to be honest. The life wasn't for me. The sameness of the motels and the courses was boring. And there was no prospect of taking a week off to go home for a break. My best finish over there was third place in Palm Springs. I won $1,500 for that. My game was reasonably well suited to the courses, and I enjoyed the big ball."

Ah, the ball. Like so many of his contemporaries, Coles has watched the evolution of golf at the highest level over the past decade or so with something akin to horror. The modern game, all crash-bang-wallop, is a long way from the subtle, nuanced sport that he played at his peak.

"There is no doubt that shaping shots is a lot more difficult these days," he sighs. "The ball doesn't curve like it used to. The small ball had to be shaped in order to get any sort of control. You had to hold it up in crosswinds. It was so lively. If these guys played with a small ball today, they wouldn't know what had hit them.

"The arrival of the big ball in Europe had an effect on the type of player who could be successful. I remember little guys like Dai Rees, Sid Scott, Charlie Ward and Ken Bousfield being successful. They would have no chance today. So the big ball changed the face of golfers. They got bigger and stronger. The little guy is very much the exception nowadays.

"Now, is that for the better? I don't know, but it is certainly different. It's my contention that we can't go on improving the ball. The golf courses are going to have to be 8,000 yards to challenge the top players, and they will be unplayable for everyone else."

Putting on his course architect's hat for a moment, Coles is as close to animated as he can get, and his fear for the future of the sport in which he has spent his life is obvious.

"I think if we got the R&A and the USGA around this table, they would agree about the ball going too far. But they are scared of lawsuits. And the problem is that, in order to keep the scores up, major championship courses are being set up in ever more extreme ways.

"I shudder when thinking of Carnoustie in 1999 or the US Open at Shinnecock in 2004. And the Masters this year was borderline. I do wonder if the punter wants to pay good money to watch top players scuffing around like they did at those three events. The very best players were embarrassed. I don't want to see that. I want to see people going round in the 60s, and making birdies and eagles. That's entertainment to me.

"I subscribe to the view that a great golf course should yield low scores to a great player playing well. If it doesn't, there is something wrong with that course. If someone as good as Tiger [Woods] shoots 20 under par to win, it is a compliment to the golf course. That's my philosophy, but it isn't everyone's.

"Clearly, the USGA want par to win the US Open every year. They don't seem to care that they are putting on a show for millions of people. I don't understand where they are coming from. Why do they want to stop Tiger or Phil [Mickelson] or Ernie [Els] from playing great golf?"

 

Saturday
May262007

"The PGA Tour flatly refused to consider them."

Thanks to reader Mary for this Douglas Lowe story on the growing divide between the European Tour and the PGA Tour, which will probably be growing just a bit more after this quote:

In response to Singh's suggestion of making the PGA a WGC, Keith Waters, the European Tour's director of international policy, said: "We offered one or two events we considered suitable to be WGC tournaments, but the PGA Tour flatly refused to consider them."

It is that kind of non-co-operation born of stifling self-interest that could hasten a polarisation between America and the rest of the world. Padraig Harrington was talking last week of how all the world tours outside the US should unite in order to compete and survive.
Which I think is a questionable point in light of the continued strength of fields in the "have" events. But I Lowe's other point is a good one:
The European Tour, in any case, have been moving in recent years towards world status with co-sanctioned events in Asia, South Africa, Australasia and the Middle-East. It would need only to crank that up a notch or two by including Japan and upgrade tournaments such as the South Africa Open and Australian Open.

 

Friday
May252007

"Celebrity circus is trial of endurance"

Thanks to reader Patrick for another classic from the Telegraph's Martin Johnson, this time reporting on his BMW Pro-Am round at Wentworth.

Thursday
May242007

Where Is USGA's Respect For Its Own?

I think my latest Golfdom column pretty much rules any chance of a Bobby Jones Award from the USGA.

Thursday
May242007

"The ball is the culprit"

CoreyPaavinwithUSBanktrophy.jpgThanks to reader John for spotting this Gary D'Amato column that I do believe, Wally, warrants a phone call to brother Fletcher to ask, "what gives?"

Then came titanium-headed drivers with lightweight graphite shafts and, most damaging to Pavin, golf balls that launched higher and spun less. Titleist stopped making its high-spin 384 ball after the 1995 season.

Perhaps not coincidentally, Pavin stopped winning.

"The ball is the culprit," he said. "The (new) balls don't spin as much, so therefore they won't curve as much. I had to try to adapt to that and I had a hard time adapting. I'm still working on it.

"Hitting the ball higher, which these balls allow you to do without them curving as much, is a lot of work for me. My bread and butter is a hard little fade and to put the ball up in the air and launch it is a scary thing for me. I'll be getting used to that the rest of my life, probably."

I do feel privileged to have been able to witness Pavin curving the ball around Riviera in the mid-90s.

Just when golfers such as Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson started mashing balls out of sight with the new equipment, Pavin went into a tailspin. Sure, he gained a few yards off the tee, but he's still 185th and last on the PGA Tour in average driving distance (257.7 yards) and the gap between him and the bombers has widened while his shot-making skills have been negated.

But look how the game has grown, how rounds bog down while people wait to drive short par-4s and how much money golf course contractors make changing designs!

Thursday
May242007

Kostis: Fed Ex Cup "Failed" In Its Mission

Boy it's getting to where you can't get a positive thought out of Peter Kostis anymore! Peter, you must pick up that positive thinking book you recommended for me, because this kind of criticism is just so called for!

So far this season we have seen Paul Goydos, Charley Hoffman, Aaron Baddeley, Mark Calcavecchia, Boo Weekley and Scott Verplank all win PGA Tour events.

Don't get me wrong, each of these guys can play and deserved to win, but one of the selling points of the FedEx Cup was it would encourage better players to compete more often. It's failed in that mission. The allure of FedEx Cup points has not persuaded the game's best players to adjust their schedules; if anything, they have taken it easy in anticipation of a big push between the PGA Championship, the FedEx Cup playoffs and the Tour Championship itself. And that has opened the door for more and more players to not only get Top 10s, but also compete for wins.

The FedEx Cup has also created a greater separation between the Have's and the Have Not's amongst the tournaments. It was announced in April that the Masters will extend an invitation into the 2008 tournament to all winners of FedEx Cup events starting with this season's Verizon Heritage. Tournaments that are not a part of the FedEx Cup schedule—which is everything after the Tour Championship, which concludes September 16th—won't have that carrot to dangle in front of players who will not have qualified yet.

You know it doesn't bode well for the FedEx Cup when Norman Vincent Kostis is already declaring the FedEx Cup dead on arrival at the halfway point. And of course, his points are absolutely correct. Though they were made by many pundits long before the season even started.

Thursday
May242007

"With that tree in place, we were limited to 2,100 spectators [in the grandstand]."

Thanks to The Big K for this Gerry Dulac story on the distance explosion claiming another victim, albeit one tree, but it is fascinating how these things work.

The fallen tree was the lone sycamore that stood in a cluster of six trees -- known as the Oak Grove -- behind the 18th green and 10th tee. Oakmont president Bill Griffin said the tree was removed to allow for more grandstand space behind the final hole."It was going to be very difficult to build [a grandstand] around that tree to get the seating arrangements around the 18th green," Griffin said. "With that tree in place, we were limited to 2,100 spectators [in the grandstand]."

In the 1994 U.S. Open, Oakmont was able to seat 4,100 people in the grandstands around the 18th hole. But, because of the new back tees at Nos. 10 and 12, a grandstand could not be built on the left side of the 18th green this year.

At a special board of governors meeting May 14, Oakmont officials were not only concerned about fewer seats, but also the perception from television viewers that the tournament had outgrown the historic venue. By removing the tree, an additional 1,000 spectators can be seated around the green.

"We felt it was the right thing to do and we wanted to make sure it had the right look," Griffin said.


Thursday
May242007

McCabe On TPC Boston

The Boston Globe's Jim McCabe files the first review of Gil Hanse and Brad Faxon's TPC Boston redo. Unfortunately, no photos with the story online or at the club's web site.

Dramatic new bunkering with grass that falls back into the sand caught the group's attention at many holes, starting at the first, and a series of "chocolate drops," which are mounds of grass-covered dirt, now lend character to holes. Aesthetically, TPC Boston looks so much better than before that Hanse should be considered a miracle-worker. He has done what any great designer strives to do -- players will not only have to think their way around , they'll have to hit a variety of shots.

Of course, fickle PGA Tour players surely will critique the changes. Those involved are especially eager to hear the reaction to the par-4 fourth, changed from a goofy, dogleg right of 425 yards to a fairly straight and drivable par-4 of 299 yards -- but one that features a green that can't be more than 3,300 square feet and provides demanding shots from just off the green. So, fire away, laddies.

Dramatic, too, are the changes to the par-5 seventh, which now features a cross bunker roughly 140 yards from the green and creative greenside mounding, and to the par-5 18th, to which Hanse has added a strip of rough stretching out from a bunker. The par-3 16th? It is shorter, but now the green sits closer to the pond, so it's a more daunting shot. The par-4 17th? It might just be the best hole on the back nine, a brilliant piece of work that features one large grassy mound on each side of the fairway, but just enough room for those players who feel they can thread a draw between them.

Will some players moan? Sure. It's usually the second order of business at tournaments, after hopping into the courtesy car.

That's one part of the equation that isn't new.

Wednesday
May232007

Euro Tour Commits To Drug Testing

Lewaine Mair reports in the Telegraph that it would have started sooner if not for the PGA Tour "dragging its heels."

 

Wednesday
May232007

"The Overall Distance Standard is essentially the same"

I hate to even point these posts out by Banana and Gap over at GolfDigest.com, but when you insist on ignoring the costs of a technology race acknowledged by virtually every rational person of significance in the game, you do have to wonder.

The latest blog post is in response to Jack Nicklaus's recent remarks to ESPN.com's Gene Wojciechowski:

GOUGE: Sometimes you have an urge to tell someone to shut the frig up. What would we fix about the equipment, precisely, Jack? Reduce clubhead size? Wouldn't get it done because all my understanding of golf club engineering suggests that a smaller clubhead wouldn't revert to pre-1995 performance levels in terms of on-center hit performance. In other words, they wouldn't make drivers less hot than they currently are with one major exception. They'd be less hot for us choppers who hit it all over the face. Roll the ball back? To what, precisely? The Overall Distance Standard is essentially the same, updated based on clubhead speed and test driver specifications since it was established 30 years ago.

Essentially the same? Uh, 296.8 to 320 yards? Sort of like how Gouge (aka Mike Stachura) sports a handicap on the blog of 13.2 but is actually a 10.6, down from 12.7 a year ago.  I guess all numbers are fudgable!

Are balls better than they were 30 years ago? But it's not because the longest balls are going longer, it's because the longest balls can be used to hit finesse shots around the green. Thirty years ago those long balls couldn't do that. There is no question that a lot of rancor could have been avoided if the USGA had not allowed metal drivers. But there is no evidence to suggest the game has been critically damaged by technology. Are some courses too short for elite competitions? Sure. Big deal.

Remember, this is the same guy who said he wouldn't shed any tears if Winged Foot, Augusta and St. Andrews were left behind so that grown men can continue to shop unfettered by regulation.

Is the gap between pro and amateur too friggin' big, to paraphrase Nicklaus? Is the gap between beer league softball and Major League Baseball too big? Hasn't killed participation. Is the gap between Bobby Flay and me grilling turkey burgers on my Char-Broil in the backyard too big? I still do it, and I'm even inspired by him.

Yeah, but you aren't ripping up your backyard every summer to install a new barbeque to keep up with Bobby Flay either!

Are tour players crazy better and super longer than I'll ever be? Sure. But I can still par a hole that they might someday bogey. That's the game. And I'll tell you this: I'm certainly longer than I was 15 years ago. Which makes me no different than Fred Funk. We're playing the same game. They're just better than I am.

It's all about ME and my right to shop!