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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
  • Men in Green
    Men in Green
    by Michael Bamberger
  • Unplayable Lies: (The Only Golf Book You'll Ever Need)
    Unplayable Lies: (The Only Golf Book You'll Ever Need)
    by Dan Jenkins
  • Professional Golf 2015: The Complete Media, Fan and Fantasy Guide
    Professional Golf 2015: The Complete Media, Fan and Fantasy Guide
    by Daniel Wexler
  • The Forbidden Game: Golf and the Chinese Dream
    The Forbidden Game: Golf and the Chinese Dream
    by Dan Washburn
  • Arnie, Seve, and a Fleck of Golf History: Heroes, Underdogs, Courses, and Championships
    Arnie, Seve, and a Fleck of Golf History: Heroes, Underdogs, Courses, and Championships
    by Bill Fields
  • Unplayable Lies: (The Only Golf Book You'll Ever Need)
    Unplayable Lies: (The Only Golf Book You'll Ever Need)
    by Dan Jenkins

    Kindle Edition

  • 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
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 second best nine in golf might be the front nine at Pine Valley or the back at Ballybunion or Cypress Point. Or even the back nine at Augusta National. The best, however, is surely the front side at Royal County Down, as exhilarating a stretch of holes as exist in our game.
THE CONFIDENTIAL GUIDE TO GOLF


    

Tuesday
Jan222008

Masters Extending Its Brand To Streets Of Pattaya Beach

Doug Ferguson reports on the captivating news that Liang Wen-Chong of China, Prayad Marksaeng of Thailand and Jeev Milka Singh of India are extending the Masters brand. Do I smell a knickname for the Masters chairman? A counterpart to The Brand Lady?
"These three individuals are successful, accomplished and talented golfers deserving of a Masters invitation," Payne said. "This is also another component in our objective of growing the game of golf worldwide utilizing the Masters brand. We think the interest in golf in each country will heighten when these players compete in the Masters."
Monday
Jan212008

“One thing I just don’t think we got right was the first cut of the primary rough"

Thanks to reader ken-one-putt for catching this on Torrey Pines in Brian Hewitt's recent notes column:

What people won’t readily see on television, but the players will learn, is the firmness Davis means to insure for June. “The greens typically run from 9 ½ to 10 ½ (on the Stimpmeter),” Davis said. “My guess is we’ll be closer to 13. That’s a speed those greens have never been at before.”
 
For the Buick Invitational, Torrey Pines South will play 7,568 yards to a par of 72. That yardage will be roughly the same for the U.S. Open but the USGA has converted the par-5 sixth to a long par 4 which will make for an 18-hole par of 71.
 
“That hole had no sexiness as a par 5,” Davis said of No. 6.
 
The 18th hole, a relatively short par 5, will remain a par 5 despite a lively debate among USGA officials. Course architect Rees Jones, who did the re-design at Torrey Pines, wanted No. 18 converted to a par 4. Davis wanted a par 5 so he could manipulate the tee box lengths on a daily basis to account for weather conditions and challenge the medium-to-long hitters to go for the green in two all four days.

And this was very interesting because A) I wonder how many times he fell asleep watching and (B) his statement about the first cut being too severe is so refreshing from a USGA official:

One of the things Davis did during the holidays was break out the tapes and watch every minute of all four days of the television broadcasts of last year’s U.S. Open at Oakmont.
 
“One thing I just don’t think we got right was the first cut of the primary rough,” he said. “It was just too penal.”
 
That will change at Torrey Pines. The winning score at each of the last two U.S. Opens was 5 over par. Davis told me he has no problem if 10 under is the winning score in June.

Oh but Rees will! 

Monday
Jan212008

"You can't grow an avid golfer in a quarter"

PT-AH451_Golf1_20080118173155.jpgA couple of interesting columns have rolled in from the PGA Show and focusing on the rosy economic picture recently painted by some of the game's leaders.

Thanks to reader John for John Paul Newport's look, which included this:

So why the undercurrent of pessimism about the golf industry? Joe Steranka, chief executive of the PGA of America, which sponsors the show, suggests that the industry's outlook became a bit skewed starting in the 1990s. Many well-known golf businesses were gobbled up by investor-owned companies, which focused on short-term earnings.

"You can't grow an avid golfer in a quarter," he said. "For a while there, I think some in the industry lost sight of what the game needed for its long-term good."

And...

The possible looming recession may have only a minor effect on golf, argues Mr. King at TaylorMade. For one thing, more and more baby boomers are entering their prime golf-playing years. "The fact is that when people can't afford bigger vacations or fancier cars, they still make smaller purchases for recreation," he said. "Sometimes it means they even play more golf than they did when times were better."

Brad Klein at Golfweek wasn't quite so keen on the numbers presented...

Macro-economic studies like this serve a useful industry function in that they help generate public attention and set the stage for legislative lobbying efforts and behind-the-scenes policy bargaining. That’s precisely one purpose of this report. It will certainly be part of a widespread golf industry show and tell effort in Washington on April 16, National Golf Day. Similar, state-by-state studies have also been completed for Iowa, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Virginia. They can help steer public policy toward pro-golf, pro-tourism efforts, and they can be powerful tools for impressing legislators and policy-makers when it comes time to decide upon water allocation, land use, tax rates and zoning provisions.  

This was interesting and a point I haven't seen written about before:

Perhaps the biggest issue facing the golf industry, which went unmentioned in the report or in the news conference accompanying its release, is the vast dependence of maintenance crews and clubhouse operations on immigrant labor for staffing. If the golf industry can effectively lobby for immigration reform to assure a steady supply of legal workers, that would be a major legislative achievement.

And it's hard to disagree with this:

But some of the numbers here in this report seem inflated, with suspect counting rules that create an unduly rosy picture. For example, the $28 billion in golf-facility operations includes weddings, banquets and all food and beverage operations. Why all of this should be attributed to golf is a legitimate question, because folks would be having meals and banquets somewhere, and it’s not as if golf created that expenditure.

More questionable is the exaggerated activity attributed to real estate: $14.97 billion in 2005, accounted in terms of 63,840 homes constructed at a cost of $11.6 billion ($181,704 apiece, plus 28 percent premium of additional value ($50,877 per home), which the report explains as “the amount a buyer is willing to pay for a home or property located on a golf course or within a golf course community.”

But why does golf get credit for all of those homes? Only 20 percent to 25 percent of homeowners at golf communities buy there for the game and play golf at the facility;
Monday
Jan212008

Greetings From San Diego, Vol. 1

sandiegogreetingsfrom.jpgArrived today at Torrey Pines where a light, cool drizzle gave way to a beautiful afternoon so that pro-am number nine could finish in all their glory. I walked the back nine, and because it's so bloody cold you can't go outside and have nothing better to do, some food for consideration...

The good...

The U.S. Open hosting South Course is in fine condition. The greens look especially good considering the beating they are taking with all of the Pro-Am play. The rough is benign for the most part, and the fairway widths generous by today's standards (24-31 yards for the holes I paced off, most were 28 on the number...). In other words, expect a fun tournament with some decent scoring and excitement.

The really good...

Tree removal. Lots of it and plenty of trimming too. It's no coincidence that one Tour official told me this is the best he's seen the course in nine years. There are several stunning views that have been opened up, and the Torrey pine's are actually the predominant tree. Considering this is the only place in the world you can see them in abundance, it's a nice touch.

Also, the reworked 18th fairway landing area is much better. It's a generous 31 yards and very inviting for guys to hit driver, which will encourage many to go for the green in two.  I hope it stays close to this configuration for the Open.

The really, really good...

The Lodge at Torrey Pines. Other than the poor soul who has to dress up like a Scottish bagpiper to greet front door guests, the place is stunning in every respect. If you love Greene and Greene craftsman architecture, the replication of their details makes it a modern day architectural marvel. Especially compared to...  

The bad...

The lack of any intelligent purpose to the holes other than hitting it high and straight is beyond belief. It's just a shame considering how much potential there was to embrace the canyons and take advantage of the nice natural ground. Prior to the renovation there were several hole locations that rewarded drives placed on certain sides of the fairways. I don't see that in the current South course.

The ugly...

The shaping. Not only are the bunkers soulless, the tie-in work around the greens is awkward and abrupt. It also appears that poor topsoil was used to elevate the greens because many approaches are thin.

All in all the place is at least feeling like a U.S. Open venue. The scale is grand and the views lovely. And yet it could be so much more interesting strategically, particularly in utilizing the natural features.

Images to follow... 

Monday
Jan212008

Bob Hope Photo Caption Fun

Courtesy of GolfDigest.com's weekend photo slideshow...what's Jim Weathers whispering in Long John's ear?

gwsl03_wip0117.jpg 

Monday
Jan212008

Commissioner's Blog Debuts, Insomniacs Around The World Rejoice

As reported here last month, it's here and as devoid of interesting content as you might expect. Thanks to all of the readers who sent this link in with such enthusiasm.

 

Monday
Jan212008

"Let him get barbecued."

Jim Thorpe on Kelly Tilghman and the Golfweek noose cover:

"We know there was no racist intent. It was just a bad choice of words,'' he said. "But the guy from Golfweek? Let him get barbecued. That's just a major mistake on his part.''

Just a suggestion to the Golfweek staff: I would not put an image of Jim Thorpe barbecuing Dave Seanor on this week's cover. Just my advice.  

Monday
Jan212008

PGA Show Ecclectic

Gary Van Sickle returns from the PGA Show with a succinct overview of the more offbeat and obscure new things in golf gear.

 

Sunday
Jan202008

Golfweek Considering Sensitivity Training...For Bad Cover Design**

I wonder how those different fonts of SORRY looked on the preview boards? Jerry Potter reports:

Jeff Babineau, newly appointed editor of Golfweek magazine, has a simple task this week.

"We're going to say we're sorry," said Babineau, appointed editor of the magazine Friday. "We know we've offended a lot of people. We want to apologize."

And...
Babineau sidestepped comment when asked Sunday if the magazine's advertisers threatened to cancel advertising.

"That's not my side (of the magazine)," he said.
Here's a newsflash from the city:
Babineau said Golfweek would continue to cover the Tour, adding it would not "shy away" from controversy. However, he added the magazine would have to do better work to regain the public's trust.
And this is disturbing considering that this cover was Seanor's idea and he ran with it:
He said management was studying the issue of diversity and sensitivity training for his staff.
Sunday
Jan202008

Trahan Wins Hope; Hundreds Witness It

jan20_trahan_600x465.jpgSo much for easy freeway access and boatloads of parking translating to gallery participation...Mark Lamport-Stokes reports on D.J. Trahan's win, but I've yet to see an attendance number published.

Sunday
Jan202008

"I'm hitting it further with less clubhead speed."

Golf Channel did a nice segment during final round Bob Hope coverage where they asked Kenny Perry about changes he's seen during his long and successful career. Here's the text and the video for those who would like to insist the guys are just working out more!

I have seen a lot of changes. I led the tour I guess in '91 in driving distance, I averaged 291. And now Bubba's hitting it 350-360-whatever. It's funny, the clubhead speed I had, I had probably 4-5 mph hour less now clubhead speed I know for sure  than I did in 91. and actually I'm averaging 300, 299, so I'm hitting it further with less clubhead speed. So it tells me between golf ball technology, clubhead, driver, shafts, total package, we've got higher launch less spin on the golf ball, so the golf all just goes a long way now.

 

Saturday
Jan192008

Daly Withdraws, Bolstering Frivolous Lawsuit Claims**

jan18_daly_600x397.jpgIs it me or does that chronic pain specialist dude Jim Weathers actually look like Ian Poulter after a whole bunch of steroid injections? (Thanks htt for the image.)

Anyway, Mark Lamport-Stokes reports on the latest John Daly drama, this time at the Hope:
"It killed me today. I had a guy here with me and he popped it back in five times."

Daly's rib injury dates back to the Honda Classic last March when he was disturbed on his back swing by a spectator trying to take a photograph.

"A woman took a picture and I came down and separated my shoulder and fractured my rib," the 1995 British Open champion said. "I tried to play through it all last year and had to withdraw from tournaments because it kept popping out.

Speaking of that, Craig Dolch files a devastating blog post regarding Long John's potential lawsuit against the Honda Classic over his injury:
Why would John sue a tournament where most of the profits go to a children’s charity run in part by the Jack Nicklaus family?

One look at Daly’s golf bag may show why: There are no logos of an equipment company on his bag. Daly, who has the talent and the charisma to be one of the high-paid endorsees on the PGA Tour, is once again without a company.

So maybe that’s why he’s willing to gamble by possibly suing a tournament that gave him a sponsor exemption — Daly actually has asked for another sponsor exemption from Honda for this year!

Honda Classic tournament director Ken Kennerly has tried to remain low-key, saying he can’t comment on a lawsuit that hasn’t been filed. But when the Golf Channel reported last week that Daly has decided to file the lawsuit, other tournament directors took notice.

One, who didn’t want his name used, said as much as a draw Daly is with fans, there’s a limit to what you will put up with. “If I give him a sponsor exemption,” the director said, “should I make him sign a contract where he agrees not to sue me?”
Saturday
Jan192008

Let The Grand Slam Columns Begin!

John Huggan talks to Hank Haney about the state of Tiger's swing as the march toward what everyone seems to think is his best shot at a Grand Slam year, all beginning this coming week at Torrey Pines.
"Tiger is so good that he can find a way to win even when he's uncomfortable with his swing," continues the Dallas-based coach. "But he kept getting more and more comfortable with each new move we added and gained more command, which led to confidence to trust without worrying about the bad shot. He's been at that point in practice rounds for a while now, but it's a whole other mental challenge under the gun."

Friday
Jan182008

"No, not unless somebody hits me."

More for the Boo Weekley files. Following round 3 at the Hope:

JOAN vT ALEXANDER: Could you just to start out, could you just go through your card on your birdies.
BOO WEEKLEY: I think I birdied, well, I birdied 1, then I birdied 2.
JOAN vT ALEXANDER: But what did you do?
BOO WEEKLEY: Oh, really I don't even know. I don't remember all the holes.
JOAN vT ALEXANDER: Forget it.
BOO WEEKLEY: I'm sorry.
JOAN vT ALEXANDER: That's all right. That's all right.

And this beautiful exchange: 

Q. How do you like this weather compared with Scotland?
BOO WEEKLEY: Compared to who?

Q. Scotland. You were in Scotland in July. Remember?
BOO WEEKLEY: Oh, yes, sir. It's all right. It's a little too dry out here for me. I'm waking up in the morning time early in the morning and nose bleeding and stuff, I'm a little chaffed, you know, I mean I got a rash and it's just a little dry for me. I like it a little more humidity.

Q. Your nose bleeds in the morning?
BOO WEEKLEY: Yes, sir.

Q. Only here?
BOO WEEKLEY: Well, I mean, yes, I mean it's just dry. I'm not used to this dryness.

Q. It doesn't bleed back home.
BOO WEEKLEY: No, not unless somebody hits me.
(Laughter.)

Friday
Jan182008

Tilghman Should Take Another Week Off

There has been no official word that Kelly Tilghman is returning to the Golf Channel booth for next week's Buick, but given the amount of press coverage that will be devoted to Tiger and Phil's first official event and Dave Seanor firing, it would be wise if Golf Channel gave her another week off.

The consensus in the Hope press center was that she's a good person who did not have any ill-intent, but if she were to come back next week it'll be a circus. A quiet return at Pebble Beach or Phoenix or Riviera would be the wiser strategy.

Friday
Jan182008

A Visit To The Hope

ClassicClubClubhouseBefore visiting The Classic Club for today's third round of Bob Hope Classic play, I caught some of Thursday's telecast featuring a quintessential Hope moment.

Host George Lopez was playing at La Quinta Country Club and after a tee shot, entered someone's home where a large, festive gathering had assembled to watch the groups go through. Lopez sampled some dips, hugged a few of the guests, then uttered "thanks for not calling the police" and was on his way.

I note this because it was just the kind of simple fun that the Hope should be all about. 

Fast forward to today where I visited the Classic Club to talk to players after their six hour round. Well, only five stuck around to hit balls, a couple of others hit putts, and the rest were out of there as soon as possible. Thankfully Jeff Sluman and his insights made the trip worthwhile. But I digress.

The Classic Club holes I walked were not horrific, but the overshaping combines with the excessive scale to eliminate any of the intimacy that you find on the old desert courses. You won't see George Lopez going in someone's backyard or even into the gallery without having to work hard due to the climbs.

Since fans and volunteers have to work hard to get around the course and most are well outside of the coveted demo, the atmosphere is anything but festive. It's a shame because the tournament is well run and so many volunteers are devoted to the cause. But they can only give so much before the host course situation dampens their enthusiasm.

Friday
Jan182008

"The forward-thinking PGA has agreed to allow GPS use across its tournament calendar in 2008"

Thanks to reader Nick for catching this latest cave-in on rangefinders (I know, we're back to the good old days of golf debates over distance devices instead of nooses...for now):

SkyCaddie today welcomed the PGA’s groundbreaking decision to sanction the use of GPS rangefinders in its professional events this year – including the Irish PGA Championship, Scottish PGA Championship and the Glenmuir PGA Professional Championship.

The market-leading distance measuring device was made official rangefinder of the PGA earlier this year and was used to monitor pace-of-play statistics during the PGA’s prestigious Glenbrae Fourball eight qualifying rounds and final at Fulford Golf Club in October.

Now, following positive results, the forward-thinking PGA has agreed to allow GPS use across its tournament calendar in 2008 – a decision taken at its executive committee meeting on 15th January. Other leading golf bodies are now expected to monitor closely the success of the scheme.

 

Friday
Jan182008

"Categorically, none whatsoever"

Steve Elling weighs in on Golfweek's replacement of Dave Seanor, and his piece includes this item on the possibility that the PGA Tour threatened any kind of advertising boycott:
The magazine's decision to use the controversial cover was first reported Tuesday on CBSSports.com. Thursday, a tour official indicated that advertising from the World Golf Village and its merchants might be pulled from the magazine as a result of the inflammatory cover artwork. The tour itself does not advertise with the magazine, though the World Golf Village is run by tour employee Jack Peter, who noted that the ad agreement was being reconsidered.

Nonetheless, tour vice president Ty Votaw said Friday that the tour did not bring to bear any pressure, either editorially or economically, that helped precipitate Seanor's ouster.

"Categorically, none whatsoever," Votaw said.

He also told the Associated Press: "Jack was not speaking on behalf of the PGA Tour. I can categorically tell you the PGA Tour has not threatened any advertising pull."
Friday
Jan182008

Golfweek Fires Editor Seanor*****

Gary Van Sickle reports the news which comes in response to the dreaded noose cover. Jeff Babineau will take over.  Thanks to reader Tony for spotting the golf.com story.

Van Sickle reports that Tim Finchem's comments combined with a likely advertising boycott led to his undoing. One wonders what other boycotts might have been coming had Golfweek not made a change.

Thursday
Jan172008

"It's also frustrating for Joe Ogilvie and Brad Faxon and David Toms, and also our independent directors"

Mark Lamport Stokes reports that Stewart Cink is taking exception to players who take an exception to the exceptional new cut rule:
"It's frustrating to me knowing that I put in a lot of time personally into decision making with the policy board," Cink told Reuters after Thursday's second round at the Bob Hope Classic.

"It's also frustrating for Joe Ogilvie and Brad Faxon and David Toms, and also our independent directors," the 34-year-old American added, referring to his colleagues on the Tour's policy board.

"We put a lot time into these decisions, there's a lot of study that goes on and then when something comes around, a lot of players blow the whistle and say: 'Hey, we didn't know.'

"Well I don't know what else we can do. We tried to notify everybody in at least three or four different ways, and that includes managers and spouses.

"Somebody needs to get the message to these players of the changes that are going on on their tour. It is their tour. It is very frustrating."