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  • Lines of Charm: Brilliant And Irreverent Quotes, Notes, And Anecdotes from Golf's Golden Age Architects
    Lines of Charm: Brilliant And Irreverent Quotes, Notes, And Anecdotes from Golf's Golden Age Architects
  • The Future of Golf: How Golf Lost Its Way and How to Get It Back
    The Future of Golf: How Golf Lost Its Way and How to Get It Back
    by Geoff Shackelford
  • Grounds for Golf: The History and Fundamentals of Golf Course Design
    Grounds for Golf: The History and Fundamentals of Golf Course Design
    by Geoff Shackelford
  • The Art of Golf Design
    The Art of Golf Design
    by Michael Miller, Geoff Shackelford
  • Alister MacKenzie's Cypress Point Club
    Alister MacKenzie's Cypress Point Club
    by Geoff Shackelford
  • The Golden Age of Golf Design
    The Golden Age of Golf Design
    by Geoff Shackelford
  • The Good Doctor Returns: A Novel
    The Good Doctor Returns: A Novel
    by Geoff Shackelford
  • Masters of the Links: Essays on the Art of Golf and Course Design
    Masters of the Links: Essays on the Art of Golf and Course Design
  • The Captain: George C. Thomas Jr. and His Golf Architecture
    The Captain: George C. Thomas Jr. and His Golf Architecture
    by Geoff Shackelford
Current Reading
  • The Golf Book: Twenty Years of the Players, Shots, and Moments That Changed the Game
    The Golf Book: Twenty Years of the Players, Shots, and Moments That Changed the Game
    by Chris Millard
  • The Forbidden Game: Golf and the Chinese Dream
    The Forbidden Game: Golf and the Chinese Dream
    by Dan Washburn
  • The Early Days of Pinehurst
    The Early Days of Pinehurst
    by Chris Buie
  • Arnie, Seve, and a Fleck of Golf History: Heroes, Underdogs, Courses, and Championships
    Arnie, Seve, and a Fleck of Golf History: Heroes, Underdogs, Courses, and Championships
    by Bill Fields
  • The Magnificent Masters: Jack Nicklaus, Johnny Miller, Tom Weiskopf, and the 1975 Cliffhanger at Augusta
    The Magnificent Masters: Jack Nicklaus, Johnny Miller, Tom Weiskopf, and the 1975 Cliffhanger at Augusta
    by Gil Capps
  • His Ownself: A Semi-Memoir
    His Ownself: A Semi-Memoir
    by Dan Jenkins
Classics
  • Golf Architecture in America: Its Strategy and Construction
    Golf Architecture in America: Its Strategy and Construction
    by Geo. C. Thomas
  • The Course Beautiful : A Collection of Original Articles and Photographs on Golf Course Design
    The Course Beautiful : A Collection of Original Articles and Photographs on Golf Course Design
    Treewolf Prod
  • Reminiscences Of The Links
    Reminiscences Of The Links
    by Albert Warren Tillinghast, Richard C. Wolffe, Robert S. Trebus, Stuart F. Wolffe
  • Gleanings from the Wayside
    Gleanings from the Wayside
    by Albert Warren Tillinghast
  • Planet Golf USA: The Definitive Reference to Great Golf Courses in America
    Planet Golf USA: The Definitive Reference to Great Golf Courses in America
    by Darius Oliver
  • Planet Golf: The Definitive Reference to Great Golf Courses Outside the United States of America
    Planet Golf: The Definitive Reference to Great Golf Courses Outside the United States of America
    by Darius Oliver
Writing And Videos

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

 

    

Saturday
Jun302007

Wie Withdraws Again

Six over through nine holes.

Let's hope she takes the rest of the summer off. Somehow I'm afraid that won't happen.

Saturday
Jun302007

Monty Fumes For French; Lays Groundwork For 2026 Captaincy

Perhaps sensing that he may be passed up as Ryder Cup captain by more popular anyone with a pulse, Colin Montgomerie lashed out at his fellow Euro Tour mates members for skipping the French Open this week.

Gordon Richardson reports in The Guardian that the merry Scot slyly laid the groundwork for an inevitable showdown with Thomas Levet and Jean Van de Velde over who will be selected to guide the Euros should some wealthy developer come along and blatantly bribe offer to host for a Ryder Cup at France's National Club.

"It's very, very disappointing because this event starts the run up to the Open Championship and it deserves a stronger feel - the National Club is one of the best if not the best we play in Europe and it's certain to stage the Ryder Cup one day.

"There are stadium holes everywhere and a wonderful finish - imagine the carry-ons there would be in match play situations here. Sadly it will probably be 2026 before it can happen, with Sweden and Germany probably coming in first."

 

Friday
Jun292007

"It seems likely an 18-or even 36-hole playoff would have been arranged."

Leonard Shapiro considers whether they would have played a U.S. Open playoff had Tiger tied Cabrera and Elin went into labor the Monday after.

If there had been a playoff, he would have been in Pittsburgh, likely asleep, when the call came. It has always been assumed that if one of the players doesn't show up at the first tee for an Open playoff, no matter the reason, the player who does is declared the champion.

Apparently, that's not necessarily so.

On Wednesday, U.S. Golf Association Executive Director David Fay said it was not that simple, and that the USGA would have faced a dilemma had Woods been unable to play on Monday.

The organization faced the same potential scenario at the U.S. Open in 1999, when Phil Mickelson's wife, Amy, was in the final stages of her pregnancy. She also delivered their child on the Monday after that Open. Mickelson missed a playoff by a shot in a tournament won by Payne Stewart, and like Woods, also had said he would leave the Open at the first indication his wife was ready to deliver.

"I really don't know what we'd do," Fay said. "I'll hide behind the fact that it's a hypothetical. But I suspect that [if their opponent didn't show up] Angel [Cabrera] and Payne [Stewart] probably would have said, 'I'm not going to show up for the playoff either.'
Ouch! I have to stop rolling my eyes when I have my contacts in.

Yes, a man who is trying to win his first major, who has worked most of his life to reach that point, is going to pass up the chance to have the trophy handed to him and accept a postponement so some billionaire with 12 majors can be at the hospital when his wife is screaming untoward things as she delivers their child. Right!

When they ask, that's when Angel says, "no habla English!"

"That would have forced our hand. And I can tell you we would not have said, 'We're not going to have an Open champion this year.' The good news is that it didn't happen. And the most important thing is that Sam Alexis is doing fine."

Oh, nice we're already a first name business with Tiger's daughter!

While neither Fay nor anyone else in the USGA was publicly prepared to say what might have happened, it seems likely an 18- or even 36-hole playoff would have been arranged.

36? Is that a new by-law?  When Tiger or Phil are having a baby, we'll play a special 36-hole made-for-TV playoff at a future date?

I'm sure NBC would love to come back in two weeks and setup their gear again.

Thursday
Jun282007

Staff Shakeup Fails To Boost USGA Shares

June 28 – United States Golf Association (U$GA) shares fell on news of an organizational shakeup and a less than appealing U.S. Women’s Open leaderboard.

Shares declined $1.82, or 7.5 percent, to $22.37 at 4 p.m. in New York Stock Exchange composite trading, the biggest drop since February when USGA CEO Walter Driver announced a delay in planned staff benefit cuts, breaking an earlier shareholder pledge to trim unnecessary expenses.

Wall Street found little to be enthusiastic about when the Far Hills, New Jersey-based governing body of North American golf said in a statement today that the position of Championship Agronomist would be "eliminated" to help cut 3% of the organization’s 2007 projected $5 million deficit.

Shareholders expected deeper cuts from the 63-year-old Goldman Sachs executive and soon-to-be-retiring USGA President Driver, who was brought in to create a leaner USGA while promising to boost shareholder value.

One analyst, citing a leaderboard topped by Angela Park, In-Bee Park, Jee Young Lee, Karine Icher, Amy Hung, Jiyai Shin, Joo Mi Kim and Shi Hyun Ahn but minus draws like Michelle Wie or Annika Sorrenstam virtually guaranteed weak television ratings for this weekend’s U.S. Open on NBC.

“Who are these people, I mean?” said Chad Upside, a New York-based analyst at Slash & Gouge, who is revising his “dump” rating on USGA stock to “unload as fast as you can.”

“And it doesn’t get much better next week with the Senior Open, hardly a positive cash flow opportunity.

“Simply put, they have taken a bigger hit than we thought they would.”

Upside says resistance from the USGA Board to trim fat off the company bone or to simply eliminate its staff must change “immediately because these rising staff and championship operation costs may not reverse when interest rates come down.''

Despite nearly $300 million in cash reserves, Standard & Poor's Rating Services in London revised its USGA outlook to “yikes” from “eh” and said the governing body has failed to deal with its “restricted capacity to manage through a more testing market environment.” S&P retained the organization’s C+/C-1 counterparty credit ratings.

Thursday
Jun282007

U.S. Women's Open Photo Caption Fun, Vol. 1

From golf.com...

june28_sorenstam2_600x403.jpg 

Thursday
Jun282007

Thompson's Opening Round; Wie's School Dilemma

An AP story details 12-year-old Alexis Thompson's impressive opening 39, shortened to nine holes due to a weather delay.

Meanwhile Steve Elling looks at Michelle Wie's opening round and wonders if Stanford isn't the only school Wie will be attending this fall.

Struggling teen prodigy Michelle Wie still needs to pick her course load for the fall semester at Stanford, where she'll enroll in September and live in the school's freshman dormitory. Her roommate hasn't been determined, either.

In her parallel universe, Wie's professional place of residence, not to mention her running mates, remain in flux, too. Her short-term path might even include a humbling destination alongside the great unwashed of golf: LPGA Qualifying School.

After Thursday's crash in the first round of the U.S. Women's Open, the qualifying route seems like the last path to membership, should Wie elect to pursue an LPGA card for next season. Because, at the rate she's going, she might not make another dime in earnings this year.

Wie shot an 11-over 82 and failed to break par for the 21st professional round in succession, then seemed to be somewhat in denial about what had just taken place. While her ailing left wrist felt better, she hit a meager four fairways and four greens at Pine Needles Lodge, spraying the ball all over the Tar Heel State, which is no way to make a cut at an Open.

"It's very frustrating because I know I played better than this," she said. "It's a very fine line between shooting 69 and shooting what I shot today." 

Thursday
Jun282007

More On Moraghan

Golfweek's Bradley Klein confirms Chris Lewis's original report on the (cash strapped?!) USGA "eliminating" Tim Moraghan's "championship agronomist" position and includes the USGA memo.

Golfweek reached Moraghan via cell phone Thursday morning, but Moraghan said he was not able to comment on the story. USGA executive director David Fay sent an internal memo to USGA employees Thursday afternoon confirming Moraghan's departure at the end of this month. (see below)

Moraghan last worked the U.S. Open at Oakmont (Pa.) Country Club two weeks ago, and would normally have been working at Pine Needles Resort for this week’s U.S. Women’s Open. USGA Green section staff agronomists have been recruited to provide coverage both for this week’s U.S. Women’s Open and next week’s U.S. Senior Open at Whistling Straits in Kohler, Wis.

Mike Davis, the USGA’s senior director, rules and competitions, declined to comment.

To: USGA Staff
From: David Fay
Date: June 28, 2007
Subject: Tim Moraghan’s Departure

Tim is departing the USGA at the end of the month. We thank Tim for his many years of service as the USGA’s Director, Championship Agronomy and wish him the best going forward.

For the last few years, our Regional Agronomists have served as the Championship Agronomists for our Amateur-only championships. We are extending this well-received practice to our three Open championships (Open, Women’s Open, and Senior Open) effective immediately.

cc: USGA Executive Committee
Steve Elling also reports on the move and suggests that USGA President Walter Driver was very much behind the firing.
 The friction between Moraghan and Driver apparently dates to the U.S. Open debacle at Shinnecock in 2004, when the seventh green became so dry and hard, players could not keep their golf balls on the putting surface. According to the USGA source, Driver, who was chairman of the championship committee that set up the course that year, placed much of the blame on Moraghan.

"He was looking for a scapegoat," the source said.

Various news outlets have been seeking comment from Moraghan this week, but he's so far remained mum. As for Driver, a high-powered attorney from Atlanta who is a member at three clubs that don't allow female members, the Moraghan scenario is the latest in a string of issues that have all but crushed morale among staffers at USGA headquarters in New Jersey.

Citing the organization's projected annual deficit, Driver earlier had pared back the USGA employee benefit plan and trimmed a college tuition program for the children of staffers.

David Fay, the executive director of the USGA, said Wednesday that Moraghan has not been fired, remains an employee of the USGA and is still the organization's championship agronomist. How long that seemingly semantic distinction holds true, however, is another issue.

That's our David! 

Thursday
Jun282007

Wie's 82

It pains me to read this and think of the damage she's doing mentally by playing right now. Assuming of course that her 82 was influenced by the wrist issues...

On Thursday she never drove the ball beyond the 250 yard mark, hit only four fairways in 14 attempts and 4 greens in 18 in regulation and was clearly light years away from the teenage prodigy who finished third in the US Open not so long ago.

The question being asked now, though, is whether her problems are physical or mental and whether she is suffering some form of burnout after getting too much too soon, including millions of Dollars in endorsements.

Thursday
Jun282007

Tiger's Fitness Regimen

You know I was feeling good about that extra five minutes I put in on the stairmaster yesterday until I read this unbylined AP story previewing an upcoming Men's Fitness story revealing Tiger Woods' workout regimine with trainer Keith Kleven.

The routine is built around stretching up to 40 minutes before each session, core exercises, endurance runs of 7 miles and speed runs of 3 miles, along with weight training. But while Woods is competitive on the golf course, he said he doesn't have an ego in the weight room.

"I've never, ever hurt myself lifting," Woods said. "I hear people say, 'I hurt this' or "I hurt that.' I don't even know what that feels like. I've been sore, but I've always been able to function and do whatever I wanted to. ... Some people let their ego get in the way. You have to listen to your inner self. Your body knows when it can be pushed and when you just need to back off a little bit."

Woods opts for high repetitions and smaller weights, although Kleven said he is "off the charts" with how much he can lift.

"His endurance and strength allows us to do more reps at high levels than normally seen in a golfer," Kleven said, without disclosing specific weights. "His resistance for high reps is extremely high."

Wednesday
Jun272007

The Old Man And The Tee

Golf.jpgThanks to reader Kevin for this Josh Sens profile of Sandy Tatum in San Francisco Magazine, which gets into the politics behind the Harding Park redo as well as the chances of a Sharp Park restoration. A few highlights, though the entire piece is worth your time:

This vision has made Tatum a contentious figure. Some have hailed him as a selfless champion of public good. “The guy gets such a bad rap,” says Tom Hsieh, a San Francisco political consultant who leases Gleneagles from the city and operates the nine-hole course. “He could be out enjoying himself at Cypress Point. Instead, he’s totally committed to doing what he thinks is right for the city.” But Matt Smith, a columnist with the SF Weekly, has cast Tatum as a kind of robber baron, out to pluck from city coffers to provide for fat-cat friends. In this portrayal, golf takes shape as a hobby restricted to the upper crust, unworthy of extensive public investment, and Tatum as an enemy of the Everyman. Suspicion of Tatum is shared, though for different reasons, by some hard-core local golfers, who cherish outings on their low-priced munis, regardless of the shoddy conditions, and don’t see the need for manicured fairways if it means coughing up more green.
And... 
The political consensus is that the status quo isn’t working. But what, exactly, should be done? Whether or not Tatum has the right answers for San Francisco—the Board of Supervisors and the Recreation and Parks commissioners will decide that—he remains the only party to put forth a detailed plan.

“In the case of Harding,” Tatum says, “I didn’t see any way of salvaging the place other than the way that was ultimately taken. It’s a San Francisco asset, and something needed to be done. I can certainly understand the frustrations. But if it could have been done differently—and in a realistic fashion—boy, I wish someone had been there at the time to tell me.”

Now, with Sharp and Lincoln deteriorating, the city is again at a crossroads, and Tatum has again weighed in. His suggestion, which echoes the findings of a 179-page report by the National Golf Foundation (a study paid for with private donations raised by Tatum), is that the city lease its courses to a nonprofit organization. The nonprofit (and Tatum has established just such an organization for this purpose), in turn, would hire private companies to make improvements (new drainage systems, say) and run the courses day to day. It’s an arrangement not unlike the one the city has with the San Francisco Zoo. If such steps aren’t taken, the report concludes, the rising debt and declining conditions of the munis will at some point in the unspecified future cause both Lincoln and Sharp to simply fade away. The city’s own analysis, presented to supervisors in April, confirms that the courses will run deeper in the red if nothing is done.
Wednesday
Jun272007

Trump National Running Horse Closer To Reality; PGA Tour Execs Huddle For New Excuses To Avoid Fresno

Golfweek's Scott Hamilton reports that The Donald signed a letter of intent to acquire bankrupt Running Horse, confirming that he is willing to buy into even the most desolate markets just to be tied to a possible PGA Tour event.

Al Berryman, an attorney for the Fresno-based law firm of Baker, Manock and Jensen that represents Trump, said June 27 the terms of the deal are for Trump to pay $25 million in advance, plus an additional $15 million from future profits. Berryman said a purchase and sale agreement is being drawn up, with a July 2 completion deadline. After a final agreement is reached, Running Horse’s attorneys will schedule a hearing in front of a federal bankruptcy judge to have it approved.

Trump told Golfweek June 14 that he had increased his initial offer to purchase the troubled golf and residential development through U.S. bankruptcy court from $10 million to $25 million, with his primary goal being a PGA Tour stop as soon as 2008. But Mick Evans, who purchased the 420-acre property earlier this year from original developer Tom O’Meara, turned down Trump’s offer late last week. Negotiations resumed, however, resulting in Wednesday’s accord.

And...

The property was to be the site of a PGA Tour event this October. But those plans faltered when work on Running Horse was halted last year because of financial problems, as well as the inability to land a title sponsor for the event. Evans filed bankruptcy in April, with the project’s debt totaling an estimated $65 million. To compound matters, it was revealed last month that the club didn’t even own enough land to finish the Jack Nicklaus-designed course, of which only two holes and the driving range have been completed.

Does this mean The Donald will get to work with Jack Gary Jackie Steve the son-in-law?

Cohen indicated Wednesday that Trump wanted to make it difficult for the Tour to say no to his hosting an event.

“Mr. Trump’s goal is to move this project as quickly as possible so as not to interfere with the Tour’s plan,” Cohen said.

“He’s a man with a vision right now. He’s already in his mind mapped the course for PGA Tour standards. He’s calculated property locations, the clubhouse, the cart paths, you name it. He’s already calculated what he anticipates the final project to look like, and what he’s doing now is executing on it.”

How can you argue with that kind of vision? A man calculating cart path locations. Such vision.

Wednesday
Jun272007

"It's insulating to women that Mac O'Grady would say that."

According to several scribblers present at the U.S. Open press conferences, golf legend Arnold Palmer called beloved USGA President Walter Driver, "John Driver," but the ASAP folks, feering the wrath the God, cleaned up the transcript.

Unfortunately, it appears Executive Director David Fay, despite pulling in well over $500,000 a year, doesn't carry the same weight. Or he just wasn't making a whole lot of sense during Wednesday's USGA press conference at Pine Needles.

 Q. You spoke of this course being 200 yards longer than the last two Opens and lengthening the second hole because they're hitting longer. I'm going to ask you what I've asked a couple of other girls, Mac O'Grady made this statement, "What Michelle Wie is doing is not humanly possible, it's technologically possible because the ball goes too straight, they go too far."  Could you address how the women are hitting because of equipment or is that a problem or what?

DAVID FAY: I think it's insulating to women that Mac O'Grady would say that. Why wouldn't they hit it longer? As Mike said, everyone else does. These are very talented athletes. Is he going to say that about Laura Davies? Is he going to say that about Annika? This is a reflection of the talent that you see out there.
Insulating? No room in the Women's Open budget for transcript mop up?

You know, this seems like a good time to announce that reader Paul has nominated Fay for this site's list of folks who have spoken out about distance advances. Granted, it was back in 2003 before he started clinging to this grooves nonsense to save his job, but nonetheless Mr. Fay at one time thought it was the golf ball going longer, and not all of this wonderful athleticism:
I’m one of those who believes the ball is going farther. Only someone who is deaf, dumb and blind would say otherwise.

 

Wednesday
Jun272007

Lewis: Changes At USGA

Chris Lewis reports that Tim Moraghan is not working this week at the USGA Championship Agronomist and that he is departing after 20 years due to unspecified issues related to U.S. Open conditions.

Tuesday
Jun262007

"It's the U.S. Freaking Open and I'm not going to miss it for anything"

img10237850.jpgSteve Elling files the most entertaining report on Michelle Wie from Pine Needles:

Tuesday on the practice range at the U.S. Women's Open, Michelle Wie bashed away on the range under the watchful eye, and occasionally flippant tongue, of longtime swing coach David Leadbetter. As they left to play nine holes of practice, a local photographer approached and asked Leadbetter for his name. You know, for identification purposes in a newspaper photo caption.

As the Wie entourage piled into their electric carts and headed toward the 10th tee at Pine Needles Lodge, the lanky Leadbetter turned his head and deadpanned, "Butch Harmon."

What's more, he then repeated the answer as it was dutifully jotted down. Which is where the multiple-choice portion of today's fare comes in, since his smirking response probably means that:

A. Things are so bad in the Wie camp that the noted swing guru no longer wants to be associated with the struggling, 17-year-old prodigy;
B. Butch Harmon got a lot taller, skinnier, grew more hair and developed a foreign accent overnight;
C. The perceived pressure in the Wie camp of late has been so overstated, it's become laughable.

Somewhat surprisingly, given the avalanche of bad publicity Wie has endured over the past year, the answer appears to be C. By most folks' way of reckoning, the strain and suffering should have grown to insufferably high levels, considering her series of athletic and public-relations disasters of the past few months.

But teenagers are nothing if not malleable, right? The million-dollar baby continues to trundle along like a movie-star engenue, blissfully tuning out the bad karma, criticism and sniper fire as though nothing meaningful has happened.

In the eye of Hurricane Michelle, the wind never really blows.

"The worst feeling in life is when no one has any expectations of you," Wie said breezily Tuesday, "when no one expects you to do great things."

This just can't be good... 

Wie said her wrist -- which she says was fractured in a jogging fall over the winter -- is still far from 100 percent, but that she needs to play to regain the lost strength and flexibility, which is the proverbial Catch-22 if ever there was one. Wie has lost distance and remains tentative about over-taxing the injury, claiming she will only hit her driver a few times this week. But after four months on the shelf earlier this year, sitting out this week was not an option.

"It's the U.S. Freaking Open and I'm not going to miss it for anything," she said, drawing laughs.

Tuesday
Jun262007

"If we were running a business, we would not have been allowed to have a $6 million deficit last year, and have a $5 million deficit budgeted for this year."

driver_annual.jpgI can see it now. The Powell-Tate interns brainstorming session. Fit young woman in one of those stiff, bright Elizabeth Dole pantsuits you can only buy in Washington D.C., tells other eager to please lobbyists in training: "we have to counter this Golf World story to help our wonderful clients, the USGA."

Intern fresh out of Georgetown in Brooks Brothers graduation gift suit, dreaming of landing the Kazakhstan account so he can convince the world it's not what Borat says all so he can join Burning Tree by the time he's 35: "I got it. Let's have Walter Driver speak to the USA Today. They'll treat him nice!"

And voila! We have Walter Driver doing damage control in America's paper of mediocrity record. Only, Jerry Potter didn't exactly lob softballs.

Walter Driver, president of the U.S. Golf Association, says the one thing he'd like to see "is more written about the game of golf and less written about me. I don't think I'm much of a story."

You won't be soon, thankfully.

Nevertheless, Driver, 63, took time away from his Blackberry

Just kidding!

answered questions this week as the USGA enters the middle of its championship season with the U.S. Women's Open, beginning Thursday at Pine Needles in Southern Pines, N. C. Driver spoke with USA TODAY's Jerry Potter.

Are all golf organizations moving toward a corporate attitude, where decisions are based more on business and the bottom line?

I can't speak for other organizations, but the USGA is a non-profit. If we were running a business, we would not have been allowed to have a $6 million deficit last year, and have a $5 million deficit budgeted for this year.

Wow you learn something new everyday. Apparently it's against the law to budget a deficit. Thankfully, the USGA is not running a business! Otherwise we've have to lock these Executive Committee members up for breaking the law.

Uh, by the way, they're going to lose $5 million this year? What are these people doing, flying around the country in a private jet?  Oh here we go...

Why does the USGA run deficits?

Not all of our 13 national championships make money. The Open makes money, but the Women's Open does not. The Senior Open varies from year to year.

Damn those other tournaments for slacking. Why even play them if they don't make money, I say!

I'm sorry, why is you have $290 million in reserve again? Oh continue...

The USGA now has sponsors, including an official car made by Toyota, a Japanese company. Why?

Last year we spent $2 million providing cars for players and officials at our national championships. Before this year, we talked to the three domestic manufacturers, and there was not a lot of interest. We contacted (Toyota's) Lexus, and they were the most interested.

$2 million eh? Huh...interesting.

Is the executive committee taking a bigger role in the work of the USGA?
If you talk with the people setting up our courses, and the people doing the research on equipment, you'd find the executive committee is having less input.
Something tells me that they wouldn't answer that question for, oh, I don't know, fear of losing their job? How is the head hunt going, Walter. Wait, sorry, don't want to interrupt before you share some of your business wisdom with us.
It's the nature of any high-performance corporation if there's an area where you're not doing the job, then you have to pay attention to it.

Wow. Deep! Uh but Walter, the USGA is not a high-performance corporation.

Well, this will warm your heart...

Do you have a fun memory of your time as president?

Last year Allen Doyle beat Tom Watson at the Senior Open. In the presentation ceremony I said I knew those guys well. Watson used to beat me in college, and Doyle used to beat me in amateur tournaments in Georgia.

Just an FYI...this is generally the part where no matter how much it pains you Walter, you say the best memories come from those long days at the championships, seeing all of the wonderful volunteers working for the love of the game while players grind their hearts out because they just love this game so much. Just a thought!

Tuesday
Jun262007

"Driver may be among the most reviled USGA presidents in history for his imperious reign over the last two years"

In a column title "Hypocrisy in the USGA," The Washington Post's Leonard Shapiro lets us know he's not a fan of the USGA and its outgoing President, Walter Driver.

Last week at the U.S. Open, once again we got to see that adorable little boy playing golf all by his lonesome, carrying his own canvas bag and making his hole in one late in the day seemingly with no one around, save for the friendly greens keeper, the only witness to the momentous event. In the end the kid springs for a can of soda for both of them in the fading light of day.

They repeated that rainy day at the golf course spot as well, featuring the eternal optimist golfer sitting out what looks to be the storm of the century in a ramshackle course shelter, hoping that it might let up just enough to let him finish his round. And once again they showed the "I Swing Like a Girl" PSA that ends with the message, underneath a USGA logo, "Proud to Support Women's Golf."

Oh really?

That last one always gives me great pause, mostly because I know who runs the USGA these days, and they think nothing of being members of restrictive golf clubs that do not allow women to join.

The current president of the USGA is Walter Driver, a lawyer who lives in Atlanta and is a member of Augusta National and Pine Valley in New Jersey, neither of which have any women members. And for the perfect trifecta of discriminatory policies, he also pays dues at Peachtree Golf Club in Atlanta, which has no black members the last time I checked.

Driver's predecessor, Fred Ridley, a former U.S. Amateur champion and Florida attorney, also was a member of Augusta National. Several other previous and current high ranking officers and members of the executive committee also have belonged to restrictive clubs.

Look, it's a free country. You want to join a private club, you certainly have that right. But please don't take a position of great authority and influence in what is supposed to be a very public organization and insist it's none of our business where you pay your dues.

David Fay, the executive director of the USGA, actually resigned his membership at Pine Valley several years ago because of its restrictions on women members, a very appropriate and significant step made by a very honorable guy. But Fay, sadly, has no control over the organization's officers and committee members, and they run the place as if it is their own personal fiefdom.

Still, the last time I looked, the USGA's main missions include growing the sport around the country and trying to make the game look like the diverse face of America, rather than a portrait of big money corporate USA.

Whenever you broach the subject to some of these USGA muckety-mucks, as I did to Driver a few years ago, they keep insisting that their private club memberships are their own business and no one else's business and they have no bearing on how they conduct their duties with the USGA. They also insist they serve as volunteers in the organization, even spending money out of their own pockets, so their private lives should not be subject to any scrutiny, particularly when it comes to their club affiliations.

I found it ironic that Driver once headed Atlanta's largest and most prestigious law firm, King and Spaulding, which boasted on its web site of its efforts to diversify the firm, with photographs of several African American associates prominently displayed to prove it. And yet, here was Walter Driver belonging to a club in the same city, Peachtree, that wouldn't even allow those associates to join and play on the same golf course with him.
leadership2.jpgOh by Len, look at that picture of diversity! Study that natural body language!

 

Judging from a recent profile in Golf World, Driver may be among the most reviled USGA presidents in history for his imperious reign over the last two years. The story indicated that morale among the paid staff at Golf House in Far Hills, N.J., may be at an all-time low under Driver's so-called leadership. A number of important and long-time employee benefits, including a college scholarship plan for children of USGA staffers, have been either curtailed or severely cut back at an organization that is literally awash in millions from their television rights fee and other sponsorship deals.

Over the last few years, a number of those staff members have told me privately that they are truly embarrassed by Driver's club affiliations and can hardly wait until the day he becomes the organization's ex-president.

Uh oh...the head hunt's about to get nastier.

And...

Still, the good news is that more and more print media outlets are starting pay attention, though it seemed strange that Golf World's profile of Driver didn't touch on his discriminatory club selections.

But New York Times columnist Selena Roberts, commenting on Driver's triple-play memberships this past weekend, wrote "Why join one cabal of bias when you can learn secret handshakes at all three?"

Driver, of course, never responded to her for the story,

Frankly, I'm shocked...

At the end of the day, the USGA is not all that concerned about little boys making a hole-in-one. It makes you wonder how proud they really are to support women's golf, as well.

Len you are so wrong. They support women's golf despite the fact that their championships lose money. That's not easy for a corporation to do.

Tuesday
Jun262007

The Restoration of Torrey Pines!

Tod Leonard caught up with Mike Davis after the USGA setup man toured Torrey Pines and decided that A) the expensive South course conversion with kikuyu sod was a nice experiment while it lasted but, alas, the place will be overseeded in rye this fall, and (B) that what everyone knew--the par-5 18th made a lousy par-4 even though the city spent thousands of dollars to make it a par-4--so the USGA is now going to restore it to its par-5 status.

Davis, the USGA's director of rules and competitions, could never get comfortable with the idea of a 500-yard par-4 that required players to hit over a pond to the green.

“These guys are good, but they're not that good,” Davis said with a chuckle.

Fresh in Davis' mind was the experience of this year's U.S. Open at Oakmont Country Club, where the USGA was delighted with three short, risk-reward par-4s – including the thrill-seeking 17th – that were the talk of the tournament.

“The one thing about Torrey Pines is that it wasn't built with any of (those risk-reward) holes in mind, with the exception of 18,” Davis said. “And you just defeat the whole thing by making it a par-4.

“So I'm excited about having it play as a par-5. You're going to see some chances at eagle, some birdies and some double bogeys. As a par-4 you weren't going to see many birdies.”

Davis admitted he had been so concerned about the 18th that he briefly considered playing it as both a par-4 and par-5 during the tournament – which would have been unprecedented.

“It was a goofy idea, so we took that off the table early on, but it was something I did consider,” he said.

Now, I have full confidence in Davis and don't doubt these are positive developments for next year's Open. And understand he is reversing at least one decision made before he had any say in the setup of Torrey Pines.

 

However,  I do believe it was the USGA's idea to make 18 a par-4 and they were either behind the idea or strongly recommending the expensive conversion to kikuyu.

The 18th fairway was leveled this year and the fairway bunkers altered, but the traps didn't much come into play from a forward tee, Davis said. Now they will on the 570-yard par-5, and the USGA will tightly mow the area around the pond to make it more dangerous for approaches that spin back.

Okay, great, but back in January 2005, the San Diego City Council okayed $400,000 for improvement project that centered around the re-grading of No. 18's fairway to make it a par 4. Because as you know, the USGA is not fixated on par.

Should the USGA, which is estimating all time record "inventory sales" from the Torrey Pines U.S. Open, compensate the city for courses changes made and paid for by the city, and subsequently reversed? If they had class, of course they would. This is not a classy organization anymore.

Anyway, other nuggets from the Leonard story:

Rees Jones, the “Open Doctor” architect who redesigned the South Course in 2001 and was at Torrey Pines last week, has been adamant about wanting the South to play as a par-70, so the USGA will likely convert the ninth hole into a par-4 that can play at 500 yards or longer. It will join the sixth as the other converted par-5 to make the course a par-70.

But hey, at least the USGA isn't fixated on par. Just the Open Doctor.

And for those of you keeping score at home, here's the rye grass part.

The USGA made one other key decision on its visit: to overseed the rough with rye grass this fall to make sure it's thick enough for the Open. The USGA originally had hoped the Open would be played on an all-kikuyu grass surface, but despite the city putting in 1 million square feet of sod this year, there hasn't been enough grow-in time for the warm-season kikuyu, especially in the shady areas around the greens.

“We just don't think we can get a stand of kikuyu good enough for the U.S. Open,” Davis said.

City Golf Manager Mark Woodward said he will overseed the rough with rye in September and that should provide better rough for the Buick Invitational in January, and a big test for the U.S. Open. Torrey Pines and other courses on this year's West Coast Swing were hurt by a cold winter that produced enough frost to stunt the rough's growth.

In the future, Davis and Woodward said they believe Torrey Pines will look and play better because of the conversion to kikuyu.

That's why the local courses were getting rid of it. And by the way, I've only seen one thing stunt kikuyu grass. Rye grass.

And this is encouraging...

The USGA has been looking for ways to make the Open look and play differently from the annual Buick Invitational, and the par-5 13th has a spectacular new tee that will only be used for the Open. The tee is set 145 yards back to the west and north of the regular tees on the hole, and it will require about a 250-yard carry over the canyon. The yardage will be about 620 yards.

At the par-3 third on the cliffs, Davis likely will use the back tees (205 yards) a couple of days and then move to the forward left tees that would require only a 145-yard shot. But, the pin on those shorter days will be tucked to the left and front, leaving only a sliver of green between the bunker and steep drop of the canyon.
Tuesday
Jun262007

"How can you be enthusiastic when you play 30-35 tournaments a year, hitting balls all the time, unless you're a robot?"

Thanks to reader Phil for this Tony Jimenez authored piece documenting a lovely rant from Tony Jacklin about today's pros in light of Angel Cabrera's U.S. Open win.

"All this fantastic technology that's around, all these psychologists and swing gurus, and here is a guy coming out on top who smokes cigarettes and smashes the ball a mile."

Jacklin offered up the Oakmont triumph of the portly Cabrera as proof that simplicity is the key to success.

"I hope some of these young golfers, although I'm not talking about the smoking now, can take something from this and realise the whole business (of golf) is being fed by all this rubbish," said the 62-year-old.

"There is so much information out there these days, so many people on the periphery of the game trying to get heard, trying to make a living.

"There is nothing wrong with trying to make a living from the game but golf is a simple game. The core of it is not complicated."

Oh come on Tony, life wouldn't be as fun if we didn't have Butch and Rick and agents and managers and personal Pilates instructors. 

"I was fortunate to play with Gene Sarazen, Byron Nelson, Ben Hogan and they all learned by watching other golfers," said the Englishman.

"They questioned some things, for sure, but now they are given so much information, there are many opportunities for young people to go in the wrong direction.

"They (on the periphery) are all salesmen, all trying to sell you their story, their method, their thing.

But thankfully we know that players will never try to sell us something masquerading as golf course architects!

"It's pure and simple, coming into the last nine holes of a major championship you must believe you can do it," he said.

"Not who your coach is, or whether you swing the club this way, or that. It's about getting the job done."

What about a little Adderall, you know, for the pain?

Jacklin, who captained Europe's Ryder Cup team four times, said South African Gary Player was the perfect example of a player who achieved greatness largely because of his mental strength.

And here I thought it was the situps and the black mock turtlenecks.

"A lot of these kids are burned out by 18," he said. "They have heard so much rubbish, they get bored with it.

"Jack (Nicklaus) said to me a year ago, 'if I was out here now, I'd get bored with it'. Jack used to play for two weeks, go off and do different things and then come back refreshed and able to focus on his game with enthusiasm.

"How can you be enthusiastic when you play 30-35 tournaments a year, hitting balls all the time, unless you're a robot?"

Oh I can think of million$ and million$ of reasons to be enthusiastic. 

Tuesday
Jun262007

Castle Stuart On You Tube

Developer Mark Parsinen introduces his Scotland co-design with Gil Hanse in the first of what he says will be several "making of" videos to be posted online.

 

Tuesday
Jun262007

Mac Agrees With USGA: The Grooves Must Go!

bildeThe USGA Executive Committee will be comforted to know that Mac O'Grady wholeheartedly agrees that V-grooves must be returned to stop the flogging we've seen a recent majors.

The Detroit News' Krysten Oliphant turned on her tape recorder and let Mac do this thing after Monday's Buick Open qualifying. First, on Tiger's driving and grooves.

"When Nicklaus and Palmer played, when (Ben) Hogan played and Sam Snead played, on a scale of zero to 10, they were a nine-plus," he said. "Tiger Woods is not even a one-plus."

O'Grady said technology is the reason for players' success today. A change in the drivers' grooves from a V shape to a box shape allows golfers to hit the ball farther with more spin.

When in the rough, players go straight for the hole instead of just trying to reach the green. This, he said, has ruined golf.

"The reason why (Woods) can hit it on the green is because he has square grooves," he said.

"He doesn't have that, he's dead. He cannot do it -- it's impossible. For him to go after Nicklaus' records is cheating. This is like steroids."

Mac, do you really think that Tiger would have approached Augusta or Oakmont differently this year had his grooves been V-shaped? Maybe he wisely lays up on 15 at Augusta Sunday(he was in the second cut, right?)? Maybe.

Anyway, Mac then talks about the ball.

"Balls used to have what he called a concentric arc dimple configuration, meaning their indentions were in a circular shape and each dimple was the same size, allowing for even dispersion of air across them. Now dimple sizes and positions vary, eliminating the balls' curve.

"It allows all these guys to come into the game that ordinarily couldn't do it," O'Grady said.

"This ball is designed for the 30-handicap. It's not designed for the pro tour. The 30-handicapper hits the ball and it goes up to the apex, it comes down straight. It doesn't slice. So when the Tour pro gets it, it's robbery. It's not fair."

And he'll be glad to know he shares this opinion with his good buddy, Deane Beman:

He said there should be a special ball for PGA Tour players with the concentric arc dimple pattern, which he said showed who had natural ability and who did not.

"The degree of athleticism has changed," he wrote in notes he took during qualifying. "What was humanly impossible is now technologically possible."

Come admit it, no matter what you think of Mac, you have to love his honesty...

"I still love the game," he said.

"I don't enjoy the technology because what's happening is these kids now are shooting 63s, 62s. What Michelle Wie is doing is not humanly possible. It's technologically possible because the balls go too straight, they go too far."

O'Grady said in the Champions Tour, what he called former "powderpuff" players such as Jay Haas, are defeating "dinosaur guys who had the best technique."

"All those big players, they can't say anything because they're being paid by the manufacturers (for sponsorship). But they know it's wrong. This is the worst dark chapter in the history of professional golf with this technology.

"Steroids (are) not in the athletes today -- (they're) in the balls and the drivers. Guys don't have to hit it far. The equipment is going to do it for them."