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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

Golf: a game in which you claim the privileges of age, and retain the playthings of childhood.
SAMUEL JOHNSON

 

    

Monday
Jun112007

Tuesday Open Clippings: Another Wrist Injury

2007usopen_50.gifDavid Howell, making his comeback at the U.S. Open after a back injury "hurt his wrist practising and confirmed today that he won't play."

Meanwhile the first high-profile Oakmont casualty is not hitting many balls, according to Gerry Dulac on the Post-Gazette blog: 

It's beginning to look as though Phil Mickelson's wrist injury might be more bothersome than indicated. At the very least, it appears it could jeopardize his chance to be a serious contender in the 107th U.S. Open.

The world's No. 2 player, who has withdrawn from the past two PGA Tour events, did not play a practice round yesterday on the first day for spectators at Oakmont Country Club -- the third day in a row he has failed to play because of an injury to his left wrist.

Mickelson hit approximately 30 balls on the practice range and spent nearly 45 minutes on the putting green. But he never hit a full shot on the range -- he hit his driver once -- and never went on the course.

Mike Dudurich talks to Tommy Roy and the NBC point man likes the look of Oakmont.
"The final four holes at Winged Foot were long, hard par-4s that nobody could distinguish one from another," Roy said after a production meeting before the start of The Players Championship in May. "At Oakmont, there are some drastically different holes. There are holes that are very recognizable, I think."
And for those of you betting that Johnny will sob when NBC does the inevitable 63 feature, think again.
Roy said NBC won't be doing any major coverage about Miller's history at Oakmont, including his record 63 in the final round in 1973.

"We've pretty much made the decision that I think Johnny is going to get so much attention by newspapers, TV stations and magazines, the Internet -- you name it -- we're not going to do a big blowout feature on him, because I don't think it's going to be necessary," Roy said.

According to Julian Taylor, Sandy Lyle thinks Monty's got a great chance. Hey, if he doesn't hurt his wrist, I might be inclined to agree.

Monty's future biographer, John Huggan, recalls his red and chubby cheeks in 1994 (Monty's, not Huggies!).

While Alistair Tait says Monty's pretty much lost his mind after firing his caddy following a poor showing at the Austrian Open. That's the Monty we know and love!

Jason Sobel at ESPN.com looks at the correlation between high scoring at majors and the governing bodies who run them while also having done a lousy job regulating distance. It's interesting to see this connection made more often than ever.
Everywhere, that is, except at golf's four majors, where demanding, devious, deceitful course setups have never been more en vogue.

"I think the people who set the courses up use that technology debate as their reasoning for making the courses harder," said 2004 British Open champion Todd Hamilton. "Their reasoning is, 'Well, you guys are hitting shorter clubs in, so we can make the greens harder and faster.'"

And this... 
Even Woods, whose four most recent major victories have all seen numbers under par into the double-digits -- 2006 PGA (18-under); 2006 British (18-under); 2005 British (14-under); and 2005 Masters (12-under) -- acknowledges that red numbers shouldn't be so tough to come by in the four biggies.

Finally, Ron Green Jr. confirms reports that Pinehurst is getting the 2014.

Monday
Jun112007

12-Year-Old Qualifies For U.S. Women's Open

Pretty amazing...

THOMPSON BECOMES YOUNGEST TO EVER QUALIFY

FOR U.S. WOMEN’S OPEN CHAMPIONSHIP

Far Hills, N.J. – Twelve-year-old Alexis Thompson of Coral Springs, Fla., became the youngest to ever qualify for the U.S. Women’s Open when she did so Monday to earn a spot in the 156-player field via sectional qualifying for the 2007 championship, which will be played June 28-July 1 at Pine Needles Lodge & Golf Club in Southern Pines, N.C .

Sixty-eight players were fully exempt into the championship, leaving 87 spaces open in the field for qualifiers. One spot is still being held open for the winner of next week’s LPGA Tour event, should that winner not already be fully exempt into the Women’s Open. The sectional qualifier at the Turtle Bay Club in Kahuku , Hawaii , where three players were competing for one spot, had yet to finish Monday.

Thompson, after recording scores of 72-71 at Heathrow Country Club in Heathrow , Fla. , qualified at the age of 12 years, 4 months and 1 day, besting the previous record of Morgan Pressel, who was 12 years, 11 months and 21 days old when she qualified for the 2001 Women’s Open, which was also conducted at Pine Needles.

 

Monday
Jun112007

Questions for David Fay

To those scribblers choosing to attend the USGA's annual Wednesday press conference (and please ladies and gents, no emails that you forgot to go like last year!), here are a few questions you might consider for USGA Executive Director David Fay.  I'm sure readers will chime in with a few (please, no bowtie jokes).

  • You were very involved in making sure that the Bethpage U.S. Open benefitted the state of New York with minimal cost increase to the regular Bethpage golfer, and that was viewed as a tremendous success in virtually all regards (well, there is Rees's bungling of the 18th hole...). In light of Tod Leonard's San Diego Union Tribune story detailing losses that the city of San Diego will incur and the inconvenience to local municipal golfers, do you feel that San Diego and its golfers have been treated fairly?
  • After USGA staff benefit cuts were announced, you recommended that staff members personally write to the Executive Committee to voice their displeasure. Did you voice concerns internally about these cuts, and why did you recommend the staff members do this, possibly risking alienation or retaliation?
  • What exactly does lobbyist Powell-Tate do for the USGA and the game of golf?

  • Why has the USGA ball study taken 5 years to this point and when do you think it will be concluded?
  • And with apologies to Colbert, Brian Cashman, great GM or the greatest GM?
Monday
Jun112007

Stuck On 63

2007usopen_50.gifMy Links Magazine cover story is now posted online, and in light of the reports on the rough and predictions of a high winning score, this passage seems fairly relevant:
“The rough’s gotten so healthy in just the last few years,” he says. “You see footage of 1973 and Johnny Miller is hitting 6-irons out of the rough and onto the green from 170 yards. Not to put down Johnny Miller’s 63, because I’ve gotten to hear about it from Miller Barber, who played with him that day and it’s without a doubt the best round of all time, but it’s a lot tougher to recover from the rough on a lot of today’s major venues.”

Sometimes the conditions are too tough, and the prime examples are the 2004 U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills and the 1999 British Open at Carnoustie. At Shinnecock the USGA set up the course too firm and fast for the final round; putts on the 7th hole were rolling off the green, which the grounds crew eventually had to water between groups.

Carnoustie’s fairways were so narrow that even Ben Hogan, who had won at the same course with a masterful display of driving accuracy, might have had trouble hitting them.

“It’s unfortunate that they set up courses to try and keep you from shooting a low score,” says Love. “The U.S. Open to me is getting over the top. Augusta is getting over the top. The Open Championship, other than Carnoustie in ’99, is by far the most fair and the one you look forward to playing the most.”
Monday
Jun112007

Oakmont Tours

Oakmont3t.jpgIf you're looking to get in the mood for Oakmont and's wonderful quirky character, GolfDigest.com's interactive flyovers and Ran Morrissett's recently updated course profile at GolfClubAtlas.com are your best bets.

The USGA's official site promised hole flyovers starting June 11, but so far, no luck.
Monday
Jun112007

"There’s black walnut furniture in those tents and every other amenity."

Bill Pennington in the New York Times looks at the production the U.S. Open has become and a couple of things jumped out:

“You learn quickly that the U.S.G.A. doesn’t mess around; they are a well-oiled machine,” said Ron Tola, Haverford College’s director of facilities management. “I was awe-struck by the advance planning. Then again, when you go to an Open, and you walk into one of those giant buildings that they call corporate tents, you realize what you’re dealing with.

“There’s black walnut furniture in those tents and every other amenity. My wife would say, ‘Give me this for my living room, and I’ll be happy.’ They call it a corporate village; it’s really a city.”
You know that black walnut can really seal the deal!
Because of that, and other reasons like golf’s popularity in the Tiger Woods era, the Open has become a cash machine for the U.S.G.A. The association does not reveal its finances, but recent federal tax records show it reported about $40 million in annual profits from its 16 championships. (The U.S.G.A. also puts on men’s, women’s and junior amateur championships as well as the United States Women’s Open.) The bulk of that profit, perhaps as much as 75 percent, comes from the United States Open.
You're telling us that the Senior and Women's Opens bring in 25% of the championship profit? Please.

 

Oh I know, the TV money, because you know NBC takes on the U.S. Open to get to that lucrative U.S. Senior Open!


By the way, according to the annual report, the USGA netted $24 million in 2006 on championships and $31 million in 2005.

Monday
Jun112007

"The Asian Tour is appalled with the European Tour's plans..."

Sheesh, I try to take a lunch break and the hits just keep on coming.

You may recall that George O'Grady mentioned the idea of the "other" tours joining forces and that was quickly shot down by the Asian Tour reps. And now this...

JUNE 11, 2007

ASIAN TOUR STATEMENT

The Asian Tour is appalled with the European Tour's plans to stage a tournament in India without the sanction of the Asian Tour next February. This move is clearly unethical and against the protocol that exists within the framework of the International Federation of PGA Tours, of which both the Tours are full members.

Despite media reports and quotes attributed to the European Tour, there has been no approach or communication to inform the Asian Tour about the event or its intentions.

Since the Asian Tour became a member of the International Federation of PGA Tours, all new events that the European Tour has been involved within Asia have been co-sanctioned with the Asian Tour.

Over the past decade, the Asian Tour has provided a strong platform for the success of India 's current crop of top players and the Asian Tour is fully committed to the growth of golf in India and Asia.

The Asian Tour fully respects and cooperates with the Indian Golf Union and was happy to step in to ensure the continuance of one of Asia's longest standing national Opens, the Hero Honda Indian Open, in 2005
when support was required.

The Asian Tour was also fully supportive of the formation of the Professional Golf Tour of India and is actively cooperating in the development of playing opportunities for Indian and the Asian Tour players.

However, with the latest developments, the Asian Tour disagrees with the unethical actions of the European Tour which has avoided contact with the Asian Tour whilst announcing this new event in India.

This action reflects on the European Tour's aggressive direction without any concern for the protocol of the International Federation of PGA Tours and highlights an invasive position on Asia.

Kyi Hla Han
Executive Chairman
Asian Tour

Well, not a lot of grey area in that statement! 

Monday
Jun112007

"This is a very dangerous trend."

Ed Sherman looks at Oakmont's tree removal and the efforts of courses in the Chicago era to undo years of green committee meddling.

Meanwhile Matthew Futterman in the New Jersey Star-Ledger also takes on the issue with a New Jersey focus and gets some epic quotes out of Rees Jones.

From Winged Foot to Wykagyl, Oak Hill to Oakmont, the trees are coming down, and the results are courses with open parkland-style views, where it is far easier to grow thick, healthy rough, and the tracks more closely resemble the original designs that made them classic more than a century ago.

At Winged Foot in Westchester, site of last year's U.S. Open, nearly 2,000 trees are gone. Oak Hill near Rochester, N.Y., site of the 1995 Ryder Cup, took out more than 1,000, including one planted in honor of former Ryder Cup player Miller Barber. The Jack Nicklaus tree survived.

Wykagyl, the New Rochelle, N.Y., club hosting this year's HSBC Women's World Match Play, took out 1,200. Pauley doesn't have an exact number for Plainfield, but he has taken out 250 during his two-year tenure there, and hundreds more came out before he arrived.

The tree-cutting debate enters the spotlight this week as the U.S. Open returns for the eighth time to Oakmont Country Club near Pittsburgh -- a course where thousands of trees have been removed in the past two decades.

Advocates say the classic courses are once again becoming the places they are meant to be.

"There are no trees on the golf courses in Ireland and Scotland," said noted golf course architect Stephen Kay, who designed courses at Blue Heron Pines near Atlantic City and Architects Golf Club in Lopatcong and is an advocate of the tree-clearing movement. "They could plant them. Why don't they?"

Not everyone is a fan of the tree-chopping movement, though. Montclair's Rees Jones, the so-called "Open Doctor" for his work renovating Bethpage Black and other top courses, called it a "huge mistake" except in the case of a few select courses.
Would those be at the courses undoing your dad's work?
"Trees are a part of golf, as we saw last year on the final hole of the Open, where Phil Mickelson lost because he hit his last drive into the trees," Jones said. "This is a very dangerous trend."

Dangerous? No, dangerous is a member of the Jones family meddling with a classic course!

David Fay, executive director of the United States Golf Association, said he favors cutting back certain trees on certain courses, but not everywhere.

"It depends on the course," Fay said. "In the cases of both Plainfield and Oakmont, I am a big fan of what the two clubs have done. Ditto Winged Foot."

And this is beautiful...

Jones said Donald Ross, who designed Plainfield in 1921, intended for his courses to have trees. He worries that all the tree-cutting will render the wide-open courses too easy for the world's top golfers, who can now bomb drives 350 yards without worrying about hitting the so-called bunkers in the sky.

"At Augusta they are planting trees, just for this reason," Jones pointed out. 

Monday
Jun112007

"The baby will be born on July 11 to 12. It’s clear to me."

John Hopkins scores a rare one-on-one with Tim Finchem and asks him about...the Ryder Cup!?

JH Do you back the proposed change to four days and a later date?

TF I like the intensity and pressure of the Ryder Cup. It is pretty damn good. From that perspective I wouldn’t rush to change it. But the Ryder Cup is so big it isn’t going to hurt it to change it. If it created more presence in the marketplace it might be a good thing for golf. I wouldn’t chastise anybody for saying: “We’ve had it this way for a long time. Let’s leave it as it is.” It could go either way.

More presence in the marketplace. MBASpeak translation: starting the matches on Thursday.

This is fun...

JH Nick Faldo is alleged to have had a couple of his children induced so their birth would fit in with his schedule. Do you see Tiger doing the same to be able to play in the Open at Carnoustie from July 19 to 22?

TF I couldn’t speculate on that. If the baby is two weeks late it will be the week of the Open. That is not going to happen, so the baby will be born on July 11 to 12. It’s clear to me.

But he's not counting the days or really giving this childbirth much thought, is he? 

Monday
Jun112007

"You look at Bobby Jones and that brand is worth more now than when he was alive"

MK-AK356A_NICKj_20070610175049.jpgThanks to reader John for this Robert Frank-Wall Street Journal story on Jack Nicklaus, uh, expanding the brand for $145 million and just a tiny part of his sou...stake in the empire...

The golf icon is selling a substantial minority stake in his company to New York real-estate mogul Howard Milstein to expand the Nicklaus empire around the world, extending its reach in golf course-designs, clothing, equipment and real-estate.

Under terms of the deal, expected to be announced today, Mr. Milstein will pay $145 million for the stake in the newly formed Nicklaus Cos. LLC -- which includes Mr. Nicklaus's business ventures, such as course design, licensing of his name, and golf clubs. Mr. Nicklaus will remain CEO and chairman, and the Nicklaus family will retain control.
Loved this... 
In the design group, which accounts for at least half of the company's profits, the company plans to step up the growth overseas, where demand for golf courses is skyrocketing. While there are 31,000 courses in the world, 19,000 of them are in the U.S, with most of the new demand coming from abroad, according to Mr. Milstein and Mr. Nicklaus.

Mr. Nicklaus has courses under way or planned in India, Korea, China, Russia, Ukraine, the Czech Republic, Greece, Croatia and Turkey. Mr. Nicklaus, who logged more than 600 hours on his Gulfstream jet last year, this summer will travel to Kazakhstan to plan a course.

"We're getting the lion's share of the work for golf courses getting built," he said.

Hey, at least he didn't say something like "we're getting the bear's share." Though he would have scored major brand enhancement points.

While most of Mr. Nicklaus's designs lack the high aesthetic reputation of courses created by likes of Tom Fazio, Tom Doak and the team of Ben Crenshaw and Bill Coore, they are well-regarded and Mr. Nicklaus is deeply involved in about half of those his company produces. Those are known as Jack Nicklaus Signature courses and carry a premium design fee, typically between $2.5 and $5 million. Work on the other Nicklaus golf courses is carried out by veteran designers at Jack Nicklaus Design.

When do you think the first grandchild will debut his own signature design?

The Nicklaus name on any course significantly increases its worth to developers, because it allows them to sell the accompanying real estate or resort properties at a higher price. Under the traditional business model, Mr. Nicklaus got only the design fee and in some cases also a small cut of the developments' profits.

Working with the Mr. Milstein, however, the company expects to finance and develop more of its own real-estate. "We can help the Nicklaus companies capture more of those opportunities," Mr. Milstein says.

Didn't try this one before already, with not such great results?

Twice Mr. Nicklaus has suffered serious setbacks. In the mid-1980s, his company, Golden Bear Golf Inc., overextended itself into areas such as oil and insurance, forcing Mr. Nicklaus to negotiate personal loans with banks to bail out the business. Then, in 1998, after Golden Bear went public, two executives were fired after the division they headed misrepresented more than $20 million in losses. The company had to restate its prior-year earnings, its market value sank and it went private again.

That answers that.
All four of Mr. Nicklaus's sons and his son-in-law work for his company. Mr. Nicklaus says his goal is to scale back his involvement in the courses, and build a company and brand that will outlast him.

"You look at Bobby Jones and that brand is worth more now than when he was alive," Mr. Nicklaus says.

You know I was going through my favorite Bobby Jones quotes the other day and stumbled on this one:

On the golf course, a man be the dogged victim of inexorable fate, be struck down by an appalling stroke of tragedy, become the hero of unbelievable melodrama, or the clown in a sidesplitting comedy--any of these with in a few hours, and all without having to bury a corpse or repair a tangled personality, but always at the risk of burnishing equity in his brand. 

Monday
Jun112007

Say Goodbye To Fresno...

...and hello to Port St. Lucie, reports Craig Dolch (thanks reader Steven T.). Because after all, Florida needed another PGA Tour event.

Sunday
Jun102007

Super Slow At Oakmont?

2007usopen_50.gifNow posted is my Los Angeles Times story on the potential for slow play problems at Oakmont.

I'm curious what you all think of the USGA's new slow play policy (reportedly working wonders at its other 12 championships), and what it will take to get it in place at the U.S. Open?

The consensus within the USGA (at least with those I talked to) seems to be that they will have a hard time implementing this policy at the Open without the PGA Tour adopting a similar policy at its events.

 

Sunday
Jun102007

“So the amount of revenue the city gets for the big golf tournament, the U.S. Open, will be $500,000?”

2008OpenLogo.gifIn the Millard Golf World piece on the USGA and Walter Driver, the Executive Committee's "hands-on" approach (euphemism for conflict of interest) is explored and yours truly weighed in with an "acerbic" remark. In light of Tod Leonard's San Diego Union-Tribune story Sunday, maybe I was not acerbic enough.

From the Millard piece:

Says one current staffer, "The last two administrations have been very hands-on. Personally, I'd say too much. I think they've gone too far."

One current example of this trend is the case of Cameron Jay Rains. Rains is the co-chairman of the 2008 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines. He is also a member (since 2003) of the executive committee. This circumvents the time-honored practice in which local championship chairs report to USGA staff. When asked whether the arrangement presents a conflict, Driver says, "He was the chair of the '08 Open before he came on the executive committee, and we essentially screened him off from any potential conflict." Pressed to admit Rains' dual interests could at least raise some eyebrows, Driver is dismissive. "Doesn't work that way," he insists.

Some observers aren't so sure. "The person negotiating on behalf of the city of San Diego [Rains] is also on the USGA executive committee," says Shackelford. "He's on both sides of the table. So when San Diego [officials] want to know how many hats were sold and what their cut of the revenue is, this isn't a problem? Who is [Rains] looking out for? It's just astonishing."
Oh but now we learn from Leonard that it's just so much worse.
It has been estimated that the '08 Open at Torrey Pines could produce as much as $100 million in gross revenues for the non-profit U.S. Golf Association, which uses its net proceeds from each U.S. Open to fund virtually all of its other championships and programs for the year.

By contrast, the city will receive $1.2 million from its contract with the Friends of Torrey Pines LLC, the organization formed to be the negotiating entity between the city and the USGA.

Only $250,000 of that will be in a cash payment, due in January of next year. Another $250,000 is going to the city from merchandise sales in the Torrey Pines pro shop, for total revenue of $500,000.

Oh just wait, that's the positive news!
Beyond that, the Friends of Torrey Pines agreed to spend $350,000 on course work related to the Open and $350,000 for public safety services such as police and paramedics during the week of the tournament. It is spending an additional $100,000 on a practice facility for the Open.

Meantime, the city's golf enterprise fund will make no direct money from the U.S. Open, while about $3 million has been spent on projects related to the Open, according to Golf Manager Mark Woodward. That work includes the acquisition and installation of one million square feet of kikuyu turf, the moving of trees, repainting the clubhouse and restrooms, and the construction of new cart paths to minimize damage to the grass.

So the city is losing money on this deal. You say, big deal! The tax revenue will be worth it. The branding will be out of this world. And...uh, maybe not.

With part or all of the North Course to be shut down from April to August of next year because of corporate hospitality for the Open, the city will incur significant, as-yet untold losses in green-fee revenue. While Woodward estimated in a budget hearing on May 23 that the city's green-fee earnings will increase by $2.9 million in the 2008 fiscal year, he said last week that number will have to be lowered for the final budget.

Woodward said $3.5 million is being spent on the renovation of the main parking lot and the course's maintenance facilities, neither of which is being directly tied to the Open, though both projects will be complete when the tournament arrives.

“The percentage of compensation is unconscionable. I feel like there's a stinginess on the USGA's part in the face of this big bonanza,” said Paul Spiegelman, a founder of the San Diego Municipal Golfers Alliance, which gathered 1,400 signatures last year in opposition to the city's five-year golf business plan. “The golf enterprise fund should not take a beating because of this Open.”

Okay, and this before we get to the fun part...

Spiegelman spoke at the May 23 budget meeting of the city's Natural Resources and Culture Committee. At the meeting, Councilwoman Donna Frye, who was not on the City Council when the Open lease was approved, referred sarcastically on two occasions to the “wonderful” deal made by former Deputy City Manager Bruce Herring.

With a tone of incredulity in her voice, Frye asked Woodward, “So the amount of revenue the city gets for the big golf tournament, the U.S. Open, will be $500,000?”

Ah, here we go.

In San Diego, the Friends of Torrey Pines is the organizing body that will earn a percentage of corporate hospitality sales.

Jay Rains, a La Mesa attorney who led San Diego's Open bid and raised the $3.5 million from private entities to have the South Course reconstructed in 2001, is the local co-chairman of the tournament and also sits on the USGA 15-member executive committee.

Yes, and that appointment came after negotiating this deal on behalf of his hometown. Or was he really negotiating on their behalf?: 

Rains said this week he believes the Friends of Torrey Pines will receive about $3.5 million from the Open – $2.5 million in corporate sales and the $950,000 the city reimbursed it for the South's reconstruction.

Rains said none of that money will be kept by the nearly 30 individuals and businesses that compose the Friends of Torrey Pines.

“The money that comes back will be given to charity,” Rains said. “I don't want anybody to say we made money off a public golf course.”

Would that be we, the Friends of Torrey Pines, or we the USGA? Which side are you speaking on behalf of?

Though Rains said he will leave it up to the individual donors on how they donate their share, he intends to encourage funding a project that will enhance the experience for city golfers. He said he could not be more specific at this time.

Spiegelman said he is opposed to the Friends of Torrey Pines controlling the money earned from the Open.

“I wouldn't begrudge the Friends of Torrey Pines for creating money for charity if the city wasn't taking a beating on this,” Spiegelman said. “I don't think there should be any profits until the city and the golf enterprise fund are fully reimbursed.”

The Open windfall for the golf enterprise fund will come in the future, when in 2011, for example, residents will pay $73 and tourists $218 on weekends to walk one of a handful of public courses ever to hold the U.S. Open.

Actually, now I know who Rains is negotiating for. And it isn't his hometown. 

Sunday
Jun102007

"Shinnecocked is a word that's been heard inside the walls of Golf House..."

2007usopen_50.gifMike Dudurich in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review on the fine line between a great U.S. Open and a disaster:

Shinnecocked is a word that's been heard inside the walls of Golf House, the corporate headquarters of the United States Golf Association. It reverberates -- a constant reminder of a Sunday round that went horribly wrong.

"I'm sorry to say I have heard it, and I wish I hadn't," said Mike Davis, the USGA's senior director of championships and the man who will set up the course at Oakmont Country Club for the 2007 Open. "It's such a fine line between setting up a course very difficult and fair and having it go over the top."

Of course, we wouldn't expect them to use the more appropriate word coined by Joe Ogilvie...

"If it doesn't get 'USGAed' too bad, it should be a great course. That is a verb. Take a wonderful golf course and ruin it. That's the definition." 

Sunday
Jun102007

"She has no control over the ball right now."

David Steele of the Baltimore Sun talking to Gary Gilchrist, Michelle Wie's former instructor:

"She needs to re-evaluate the team around here ... [and] she needs to be more clear on what her goals are and the steps she needs to get to them," Gilchrist said. "And make sure everybody around her understands them. Right now with the way she's swinging, it's very difficult for her to play well. She has no control over the ball right now."

What credibility does he have? Oh, right, he teaches Suzann Pettersen who just won the LPGA Championship and nearly won the season's first major. 

Sunday
Jun102007

"Nothing would have given me more pleasure than inflicting a touch of pain and suffering on the US Tour's unworthy wealthy."

Vintage Frank Hannigan, writing in The Scotsman on Europe's U.S. Open winless drought:

I'll tell you a secret. I held high office at the USGA in those days and we wanted a European to win. It would have emphasised the worldliness of our event and victories by Europeans would have seemed a put-down for the US PGA Tour. Nothing would have given me more pleasure than inflicting a touch of pain and suffering on the US Tour's unworthy wealthy.

But you let us down. And now your prospects are worse. In the world of golf gambling (illegal in the United States and therefore cited here only as hearsay) the lowest-priced Europeans are an uninviting 30-1, the numbers cited for Padraig Harrington, who comes close but always seems to make a six at least once during the final nine holes; Sergio Garcia, who has been "promising" for at least a decade and still misses three-foot putts; and the pretty swinging Luke Donald, who fancies himself as a genuine artist - on canvas at least. Trust me, Ben Hogan did not own a palette.

As for the Ryder Cup, a thought: it matters much more to your side than it does to ours. I don't think it means much at all to Tiger Woods or Phil Mickelson, who can tolerate, if barely, playing for nothing while big money is sucked in by the PGA of America. But what's intolerable is being forced to attend a string of the world's most boring dinner parties during the run-up to the event.
And he slips this in... 
Indeed, it saddens me to think that not nearly enough of you are going to see this new version of Oakmont. The United States Golf Association, in its infinite greed, sold the television rights to Rupert Murdoch's Sky operation so as to diminish the audience in the UK. The BBC, thank goodness, continues to own the rights to the Masters.
Sunday
Jun102007

"...the editors made a quadruple bogey by not including Tiger on its 100 Most Influential People in The World list."

I should cut Tim Rosaforte some slack for his touching tribute to Stu Schneider in this week's column, but I know deep down that Stu wouldn't want me to let these Larry King-esque musings go by without some sort of comment!

Time is by far my favorite news magazine, but the editors made a quadruple bogey by not including Tiger on its 100 Most Influential People in The World list. And I'm not just talking about what he does on the golf course. Woods may be having a hard time attracting a Memorial-like field to his new tournament, but seeing how the tough Washington crowd is laying down the red carpet for him is an indication of his influence and power.

Sure, right behind a couple of interns at Powell-Tate who can probably influence on the workings of our fine government than our golfing hero.

Sunday
Jun102007

Torrey Pines Update

sp-glory280.jpgTod Leonard looks at Torrey Pines, 368 days out from hosting the U.S. Open.

Torrey South is currently a wildly stitched quilt of many shades of green, brown, yellow and white. The rough is burned out from a chemical, applied intentionally, that killed all but the kikuyu grass. A few Torrey pines stand in huge crates, ready for transplantation. Tractor tracks are imbedded in mud near a few holes.

There hasn't been this much construction on the South since the course was completely redesigned by architect Rees Jones in 2001 to attract the Open. But it has to look worse before it gets better.

And they might as well order the rye grass seed now, because kikuyu rough isn't going to fly... 
The biggest concern, Davis said, is whether the kikuyu rough will be healthy enough by the end of the summer that he can commit to it for the Open. Otherwise, they will have to overseed the rough with rye before the tournament to enhance the thickness.

“The reason I can sleep at night is knowing that we have that rye as an option,” Woodward said.

Sunday
Jun102007

Official This Week: Pinehurst In 2014?

Newsday's Mark Herrmann looks at Shinnecock Hills' slim hopes of grabbing a U.S. Open hosting bid anytime soon, with this from the Club's GM Gregg Deger:

Deger acknowledged what USGA executive director David Fay said last year, that his group and the club are discussing another Open. But, Deger added, "It's not too intently. It hasn't been active."

Marty Parkes, senior director of media relations and communications for the USGA, said, "Conversations are still going on, but I don't know of anything imminent."

Time's a-wasting. The USGA has booked the Open for the next six years, including 2009 at Bethpage Black. Already, Shinnecock has missed its once-every-nine-years call (after 1986, 1995, 2004) because Merion has been awarded the 2013 event.

Fay probably will announce the 2014 site this week, with speculation leaning toward Pinehurst No. 2. The Journal-News of Westchester reported that Winged Foot, which was lauded for being tough but fair with a 5-over par winning score last year, has asked to host in 2015.

 

Sunday
Jun102007

A Look At Oakhurst

20070609mfgolf_4_450.jpgChico Harlan in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette looks at Oakhurst Links, a must if you are ever in West Virginia.