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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
  • Professional Golf 2015: The Complete Media, Fan and Fantasy Guide
    Professional Golf 2015: The Complete Media, Fan and Fantasy Guide
    by Daniel Wexler
  • 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
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

There is no such thing as a misplaced bunker. Regardless of where a bunker may be, it is the business of the player to avoid it.  DONALD ROSS


    

Saturday
Oct062007

"Architects like Robert Trent Jones and his regrettably prolific scions dotted the American landscape..."

Thanks to reader Mark for Dean Barnett's wonderful look at the rise of the minimalist movement in architecture, highlighted by his look at Sand Hills, Bandon Dunes and Ballyneal. But it's the setup and conclusion that prove just as  entertaining:

But there followed several decades of golf architecture dreck. Architects like Robert Trent Jones and his regrettably prolific scions dotted the American landscape with courses that were difficult and unpleasant to play--largely because they deviated from the tradition born in St. Andrews. Instead of letting each player figure out his own route from hole to hole, they funnelled all into a single narrow path.

Rees Jones, Robert Trent Jones's son, is still one of golf's most prominent architects. He describes his theory of golf architecture as follows: "My style emphasizes definition. I work hard at giving the golfer a concept as he stands over the ball. I want him to see the intended target and be able to visualize the shot." What Rees Jones omits from his reckoning is that some golfers, indeed most golfers, may be incapable of pulling off the shot that he compels them to see. Golfers have enjoyed finding their own way around St. Andrews for over 500 years. Speaking on behalf of the modern golf architecture establishment, Rees Jones in essence insists that he has discovered a better way: He will officiously preside over each and every golfer's each and every shot.

Jones family members haven't been the only architects guilty of committing affronts to golf history and ignoring the imperative that the game be fun. Perhaps the most serious offender has been Jack Nicklaus, arguably the greatest golfer ever. Nicklaus has had a hand in designing 207 courses. While some of his courses are picturesque, few are fun unless you're able to play golf as well as Jack Nicklaus. On many of his courses, the average player will lose half a dozen balls a round, many of them having found a watery grave in one of the man-made water-hazards of which Nicklaus is so fond. As a player, Nicklaus probably wouldn't even notice many of the water hazards that litter his courses. But the typical golfer does.
And the conclusion to the piece...
There remains the pressing question of what long-term impact places like Sand Hills, Bandon Dunes, and Ballyneal will have on golf architecture and the game itself. The early attempts at golf-course design by Jack Nicklaus's successor as king of golf, Tiger Woods, may offer a clue.

For his first project, announced in 2006, Woods took a commission to build a course on a piece of flat desert in Dubai. It was a move right out of the Nicklaus school: Put a golf course where nature didn't intend there to be one, substituting one man's limited imagination for nature's infinite variety. The "Tiger Woods, Dubai," its website says, "will feature 20 palaces, 75 mansions and 190 luxury villas that offer the perfect blend of exclusivity and luxurious community living"--about as far as conceivable from the austere fun to be had at a place like Sand Hills.

For his second commission, Woods undertook to build a golf course on a piece of rolling terrain outside of Asheville called the Carolina Preserve. When the project was announced a few months back, Woods insisted that the land is perfect for golf, and that no man-made lakes or waterfalls will blight his first American design. The course will be walking only.

So has Tiger undergone a conversion? Only the finished product will tell. But this much we know: When someone asked him to describe his design philosophy, Tiger Woods used the magic word: "I'm more of a minimalist," he said.

 

Saturday
Oct062007

Annika Turns Down Exemption Created Just For Her

That new exemption created for Annika Sorenstam to get into the Samsung? It looks like the LPGA once again was not prepared for the backlash.

Mark Steinberg, head of the golf division at IMG and Sorenstam's agent, said the Swede became concerned last week upon hearing that some players were told the top 18 on the LPGA Tour money list would get in to the event at Bighorn Golf Club in Palm Desert, Calif.

The rest of the field is comprised of the defending champion, four major champions, leader on the Ladies European Tour money list, one special exemption (Michelle Wie), and the rest coming from the money list.

"She didn't want the perception that she was taking a spot," Steinberg said. "She decided to do what's best for the LPGA."

This is also rather incredible regarding Michelle Wie's exemption: 
Wie, who has made only two cuts on the LPGA this year and just began her freshman year at Stanford, accepted the special exemption in March. This will be her fourth straight year playing the tournament.

If not for Wie getting a special exemption, the last spot in the field would have gone to Evian Masters champion Natalie Gulbis.
Friday
Oct052007

Duval and The Family Crisis Rule...

As much as I understand the premise behind the new PGA Tour family crisis rule, and as much as we all wish this was never a topic for debate, something still bothered me about the announcement. It took all week, but I now know what it is.

First, here's Doug Ferguson's story on the announcement.

The result is "family crisis" being part of the medical extension regulations, and both Duval and Hart will be eligible.

"He's treated as if he had a back injury," said Andy Pazder, the tour's vice president of competition.

Duval returned to competition last week at the Viking Classic, where he tied for 44th, and he plans to play one more event in the Fall Series. His schedule next year will be based on the average number of starts among the top 125 on the money list this year.

"It's the right thing," Duval said last week. "I actually got thanked for bringing this up. I said to them a couple of months ago, whether they make it retroactive or not, it needs to be done."

As for other situations that might arise? Pazder said like any medical extension request, the decision lies with Finchem.

"It's got to be a serious family crisis," he said. "It's a hardship caused by the illness of immediate family."

As reader Chris noted, a litany of excuses will come up and it could be a nightmare for the Tour to sort through. Let's hope that's not the case. Because the Tour deserves credit for showing compassion and heading off a potentially awkward situation should, God forbid, there be another tragedy like Heather Clarke.

But something about this spoke to a larger question of reducing playing opportunities on the PGA Tour, as well as the top 125 rule gone slightly awry? Namely, why is David Duval getting yet another chance?

Just for some background, let's recall his comments about Ben Crenshaw in Golf Digest last year.

Duval: There were a few guys who felt they should be paid for playing a Ryder Cup, which is fine; that's their position. I didn't want to get paid, but I got beat up. I got a kick out of some of the other players who weren't on the team giving me crap for talking about Ryder Cup money when they actually got paid for doing stuff at the Ryder Cup, like clinics for companies during the matches. The only guys who don't get paid at the Ryder Cup are the players in the Ryder Cup. The captain makes money. That's a problem I had with Crenshaw in 1999.

Q. Explain.

Duval: Well, he talked about the purity of the Ryder Cup, and what he did with all that purity is make a bunch of money off the thing. He wrote a book about it; he had his clothing company involved. He kept saying how it burned his ass, us talking about charity dollars and hurting the sanctity of the event. But after he took his big stand and sold everybody else down the river, he did what we did with the charity money. I asked him point blank, "If you were so against this, why would you want anything to do with that charity money?" He took his $100,000 and sent it to the charity of his choice. Where's the purity in that?

Fine, fair point.

However, as someone who portrays himself as ferociously independent, strong-willed and "pure" --the PGA Tour's Howard Roark--he is now accepting his second less-than-pure exemption to play for essentially another year on the PGA Tour? One was entirely within the rules, one is a new rule created retroactively with Duval and Dudley Hart in mind.

It seems that if your actions in golf are all about purity, wouldn't you accept that your wife had a rough pregnancy and that's the tiny price to pay for having a large, wonderful family life?  Furthermore, thanks to the PGA Tour, he still has the chance to play Fall Finish events in hopes of keeping his card. And if not, he can head to Q-school like all of the other independent contractors?

No? Thoughts?

Friday
Oct052007

Wild Dunes 18th RIP (Again)

wild+dunes+web.jpgThanks to reader Mike for this local news segment on the unfortunate loss of No. 18 at Wild Dunes...again. This time not to a Hurricane, but "beach erosion."

Worth watching to hear the main part of the piece: that the course is still great even though it's a par-70 instead of a par-72. 

It never ends! 

Thursday
Oct042007

"Despite having recently signed a new five-year deal, they are still underpaid and overworked."

oct07_feherty_299x359.jpgWhile doing my traditional power flip through October's Golf Magazine, I managed to slow down enough to avoid a paper cut and stumble on David Feherty's column celebrating the career of retiring PGA Tour rules offical George Boutrell.

While the column is classic Feherty, repleat with several plum fart and hemorroid jokes, he isn't too wild about the Tour's treatment of its officials.

One reason George retired early was his compassion for the people who sat beside him in coach after a week of dealing with prima donnas who wanted drops from lies where the grass wasn't growing in the right direction, viewers calling in with idiotic rulings, missing and presumed stolen courtesy cars, and frequent cavity searches at airport security.

After years of being seated next to hideously cheerful "Isn't flying fun? What do you do for a living?" nimrods, he knew that eventually he was going to kill and eat one of them. In an age during which professional golf is rolling in cash, Rules officials still have to fly in the back of the airplane.

The Tour is lucky to have such great officials. Despite having recently signed a new five-year deal, they are still underpaid and overworked. Now it seems the ones with the most experience are becoming an endangered species.

Thursday
Oct042007

Kuehne Win Confirms Golf Digest's Ability to Rank Wall Street Golfers

kuehne.jpgThey were criticized for lumping Trip Kuehne in with America's richest, whitest men who get their company to pay for a NetJets fractional share, but with his U.S. Mid-Amateur win, look for Golf Digest to consider ending its week-long Local Knowledge blog sabbatical by noting this historic rankings validation.

Golfweek's Ron Balicki reports on the win but fails to give us Kuehne's final Adidas-Taylor Made logo count. Looks like he has a hat-shirt-glove-bag-irons-driver-ball deal.

Oh and what's with that trophy? 

Wednesday
Oct032007

Monty Studying Faldo's Mistakes In Preparation For Own Ryder Cup Captaincy

330_Colin_Montgomerie_Seve_Trophy_576967.jpgWonder if Monty's picking out uniforms for 2010 yet? No, he's not presuming. No, not at all.
Colin Montgomerie has admitted he will learn from the controversy surrounding Paul McGinley's resignation from the Ryder Cup vice-captaincy when his own chance to lead the European team eventually comes round.

Irishman McGinley withdrew from his role as one of European skipper Nick Faldo's right-hand men in the build up to last week's Seve Trophy after declaring his intention is to focus on playing his way into the team for the 2008 clash with the US in Kentucky.

Montgomerie, speaking ahead of Thursday's £2.5million Dunhill Links championship at St Andrews, Carnoustie and Kingsbarns, is being touted as a favourite to land the captaincy role when the biennial joust returns to European soil in 2010.

And the 44-year-old former European Tour number one, a veteran of eight Ryder Cup contests, said: "There are lessons to be learned, yes.

"One of the best selections we've had in the past 10 years was Thomas Bjorn in 2004.

"He didn't make the team a month before the event and was given an assistant captain's role and did a brilliant job.

"That to me is when the vice captains should be selected, when we know the team and when we know that certain experienced Ryder Cup players have maybe missed the team. They can then help the captain at that stage.

"There is little a vice-captain can do at this early stage to be honest. If I was in the captain's role I would hopefully select a Ryder Cup captain a month before the event."
Prepare yourself. This is frightening:
Monty tees-up at Carnoustie in the opening round in company of amateur partner Ray Romano, star of US sitcom 'Something About Raymond' with Faldo and musician, Huey Lewis, making up an intriguing fourball.

Montgomerie, who won the Dunhill Links title in 2005, added: "I started watching 'Something About Raymond' recently and I found it very funny.

"Ray is obviously keen on golf and he's on the PGA Tour's website explaining his love of the game. With Nick and Huey also playing with us, it should be very interesting."

Wednesday
Oct032007

'08 Open Tickets Available And You Don't Have To Buy A Lexus Or Charge It To Your AmEx Card!

In case you want to experience really awful San Diego traffic, here's the link.

 

Wednesday
Oct032007

"I don't know why you are asking me about this"

gwar01_071005jackgarydiaz.jpgGolf World's Jaime Diaz considers the future of the President's Cup in this week's issue...
Meanwhile, the game's second most viable star, Mickelson, could potentially use the threat of not playing in future Presidents Cups as a lever to persuade the tour to make some of the changes he is seeking in the implementation of the FedEx Cup.

In an effort to head off such an insurrection, the tour has been predictably sensible. To create some breathing room for team play that did not exist this year nor will for the Ryder Cup in 2008, the 2009 Presidents Cup at San Francisco's Harding Park will be held Oct. 5-11. The 2011 event in Melbourne, meanwhile, is scheduled for November.

But while San Francisco offers enough star-quality resources, Australia will be a litmus test of the Presidents Cup's true growth. The same site in 1998 produced the most desultory American performance to date -- a 20½-11½ pasting. If Woods and/or Mickelson decide against the trip, it could start the Presidents Cup the way of the once proud, now in shambles World Cup.

Asked about the future of the event, the assessments of several principals ranged from defensively optimistic to non-committal. The former stance, not surprisingly, was taken by PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem. "I saw the enthusiasm, and I don't know why you are asking me about this," he said Sunday after the matches. "All I see are guys who love this competition. It's hard for me to imagine a situation where a guy wouldn't make every effort to participate because I know how much they care. Based on that, my comfort level for the Presidents Cup is high."

Ty Votaw, the tour's vice president of communications and international affairs, seemed even more comfortable. "I think in terms of the Ryder Cup and the Presidents Cup, the players really don't have a choice," he said. "They can't skip them. It's God and country."

Wednesday
Oct032007

Men's Mid-Am Final Set

Trip Kuehne vs. Dan Whitaker, reports Craig Smith from Bandon.

Wednesday
Oct032007

Gggggggg's Baaaaack!

kennyG_T1.jpg Kenny G is back at Ontario's Nationwide event to take up a spot that could be used by someone trying to make a living at this nutty game. But as Jill Painter reports, Kenny's got an album to plug.
Kenny G used to own a plus-.6 handicap, but he's played only four or five rounds this year. He has used 2007 to focus on music and will release an album - "Rhythm and Romance" - on Valentine's Day next year. It's his first Latin album.

"I'm super excited," said Kenny G, who's sold more than 50 million albums worldwide. "When I made my first Christmas record, I made it because I couldn't find a Christmas record I liked. It's the same thing with the Latin record. There were a lot that I liked but not a lot I could put on and get into a certain vibe.

"This is very romantic and very rhythmical. It has a lot more tempo than most records I've done."

That's saying a lot.
The tempo of his golf swing isn't Kenny G's only thing this week. He was scheduled to play a charity concert Tuesday night as part of the week's golf activities.

"I'm totally flattered they think I can add some value to the tournament," he said. "My music performance raises money for charity, and I'm good enough (golfer) to not embarrass them by using a sponsor's exemption."

Wow, and you thought the last Monday charity event you played in was a long day. Imagine 6 hours at Empire Lakes followed by a Kenny G concert?

Wednesday
Oct032007

The Power Of The Swoosh?

What do these logos have in common? Why, it's a forward or upward moving swooshy kind of solid line. Can our graphics experts please fill us in if this is synonymous with a brand that's moving forward? Or just the same person designing logos for the PGA and LPGA Tour?

 

FirstTeelogo.jpgWGCAmExLogo05.gifchampionstour.gifLPGA07logo-c_125px.gifnationwide%20logo.jpg 

Wednesday
Oct032007

LPGA Unveils Green-Haired, Yellow-Rumped Brand Vision

LPGA07logo-c_125px.gifThey've taken Tiger's old follow through, morphed it with the World Golf Championship and First Tee logos, and voila, leveraged brand equity is born...
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla., Oct. 3, 2007 -- The Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) today unveiled its new logo, a contemporized version of its classic “swinging lady” mark. Working with SME, the world leader in strategic sports branding and design, the LPGA brought the vision of its dynamic future to life with a series of bold brushstrokes designed to stand the test of time.

“We designed a logo that represents the power, strength and athleticism of our LPGA athletes, and with the use of the bold colors, highlights our international membership and global business,” said LPGA Commissioner Carolyn F. Bivens. “This new logo underscores the changes in women's sports and the LPGA in recent years, and communicates the LPGA's bright future.”

That's not what I got from it. I got: why does she have a green ponytail?
The sleek new logo, which features an effortless, bold stroke-form of a female golfer, was designed to reflect the power, energy and contemporary lifestyle of the LPGA athlete. For the first time in the association's 58 years, the LPGA's primary mark will not be enclosed in a frame, representing a future with limitless potential.
LPGA07Logo-solid_125px.gifOh nice symbolism. And time for the traditional quote pile-on...

 

"Throughout the creative-design process, we sought a logo that offered a balance between the classic and traditional nature of the sport, but also captured the passion and drive of today's LPGA members," said Bill Susetka, the LPGA's chief marketing officer. "We also needed a logo that we could easily reproduce on merchandise, billboards and signage, and one that could carry its meaning to all points around the world. We've achieved this with our new logo."

"Of all the prestigious brand development assignments that we've been fortunate enough to work on over the years, the LPGA is among the most exciting," said Ed O'Hara, SME's chief creative officer and senior partner. "The new logo is a dramatic expression of the special and unique attributes of the brand, and truly symbolizes the LPGA's brand promise of showcasing the very best in women's golf."
And there's even more good news... 
Fans do not have to wait until the ADT Championship to catch their first glimpse of the striking new logo. A wide array of official LPGA merchandise and golf related items are available for the first time today via the LPGA's new online pro shop: www.LPGAproshop.com. A wide array of LPGA-branded apparel and golf-related items are now available on the Web site.
300730.jpgI think I know what I want for Christmas: the hat pin and hat clip ball marker combo platter. Though I wouldn't be upset if you got me a "These Girls Rock" hat too.
The logo redesign, the first since 1992, and LPGA Pro Shop launch are part of the organization's on-going branding initiatives that reinforce the LPGA as one of the world's most dynamic sports brands.

Just looking at the logo, I feel better about the LPGA already. 

On a serious note, it is an improvement. Seriously, it is. 

Tuesday
Oct022007

Where's Marty Hackel When You Need Him? Vol. 397

Accidentally clicking on a link in an attempt to get another broken link to work, I stumbled upon one of those CBS-Golf Digest Rules of the Game deals and was thoroughly impressed with the look cultivated for Bobby Clampett, though I'm guess it wasn't the handiwork of Golf Digest's intrepid style guru Marty Hackel.

The sagging green shirt he picked up at a Las Vegas Golf factory store, complete with a circa 1997 below the elbow cut. Then there's the fully branded, certificate of authenticity verified Dale Earnhardt Commemorative Edition shades straight from Walmart (to cut down on glare), and of course, the sweat stains for a touch of Central Florida post-Villages golf outing gritty.

Please, I know Marty's on the road too much as it is, but can we get him to do one of those fashion rehab things with Clampett (minus the $520 belt).

BobbyClampett 

 

Tuesday
Oct022007

"Without Davis Love III, Fred Couples, Jay Haas and other U.S. mainstays from the pre-Tiger era, Woods and Mickelson seemed far more comfortable"

gwar02_071005philwoody.jpgA few interesting observations from Golf World's John Hawkins regarding the U.S. triumph at Royal Montreal:

From a personnel standpoint, however, the pieces here all fit perfectly. Without Davis Love III, Fred Couples, Jay Haas and other U.S. mainstays from the pre-Tiger era, Woods and Mickelson seemed far more comfortable, not only as team leaders, but with each other. Nicklaus' light touch has never imparted a more positive effect -- when you've won 18 majors, there's no need to break chalkboards. Furyk, Toms, Stricker and Zach Johnson are gentle, easygoing guys, low-maintenance types and dependable putters. It's easy to say now, but this team was a lot better in person than on paper.

Then there's Woody. "He brings exuberance, and it [rubs] off on everyone," said Mickelson, who manhandled Vijay Singh in Sunday singles and lost just once in five matches, countering his poor performances at the '03 Presidents and '04 and '06 Ryder Cups. "We've played these things every year since '94, and guys like Woody and [Mahan] remind us how fun and exciting it is. That gets us focused."

On past U.S. squads Jerry Kelly and Chris DiMarco auditioned for the role of emotional catalyst. Both are high-end grinders whose relative lack of talent has been overcome by high levels of intensity, but neither was all that successful when it came to translating that vibe throughout the roster. Their intentions may have been admirable, but the message came across in a foreign language.

Meanwhile, because I know they love having their work lumped together, don't miss Alan Shipnuck's golf.com Hot List for this week. I've included the Presidents Cup list-makers here:

1. Rory Sabbatini. On a team of disappointments, he stood out with a homely 0-3-1 record, including a loss in the leadoff single match, which is supposed to set the tone for the team. Not only that, but Woody Austin has now usurped him as golf's biggest dufus, an honor Sabbo seemed to treasure.

3. George O'Grady. The Euro tour's executive director used a Presidents Cup press conference to pooh-pooh drug-testing as unnecessary and too expensive. Earth to George: ask Bud Selig how costly denial can be.

5. Vincent Chase. He used to be the most famous Aquaman, but now Woody Austin has stolen this title, too. Funny thing about Austin, as goofy as he is, you can't deny he's got a ton of game. 

I also hoped to read Brett Avery's typically entertaining player scorecard but couldn't get the link to work. Is  it just me or anyone else having the same problem? **

** Now working! 

Tuesday
Oct022007

“Barb has always stood out as someone who epitomizes all that is good about the game of golf."

I make a point to read as many press releases as possible so that I can remain thoroughly jaded. Imagine my pleasant surprise at the Oregon Golf Association's announcement that Barb Trammell had been hired as their CEO.

You may recall that Trammell was the highly respected LPGA official fired early into the Biven regime for placing tournament rules over marketing priorities.  

The OGA release features the usual nonsense and stiff quotes from the parties involved, but what caught my eye were the two endorsements Trammell received in the official release.

David Fay, Executive Director of the USGA commented, “Barb has always stood out as someone who epitomizes all that is good about the game of golf.  She emanates class and integrity, and believes that the golf business, championship operations and the application of the Rules of Golf should be administered with the highest level of excellence.  I am particularly pleased that the OGA will be able to benefit from her wisdom and talent.”

Former LPGA Commissioner Ty Votaw, who worked with Trammell from 1999 to 2005, stated that Trammell is “a consummate professional who is respected throughout the golf industry.  The LPGA was extremely fortunate to have Barb Trammell working for it and I feel extremely fortunate to have had the opportunity to work for so many years with a person of such integrity and talents.”

There's something you don't see every day. The Executive Director of the USGA and a high ranking PGA Tour official endorsing a regional golf association hiring.

Their comments would seem to speak to the esteem others in executive circles have held for Trammell's work. And perhaps it's a statement about what other higher-ups think of Bivens' decision to fire her.

Tuesday
Oct022007

"Consistent with last year, several trees were removed."

Who says Tom Fazio can't do a little restoration?

Why, he's taking out trees at Augusta! 

Granted, he planted them, but still...progress toward total de-Hootification:

October 2, 2007
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Billy Payne, Chairman of Augusta National Golf Club and the Masters Tournament, announced today changes to four holes, Nos. 1, 7, 9 and 11, for the 2008 Masters. In addition, other modifications were made on the grounds.

"Refinements to the golf course and grounds have been made almost every year since the Tournament's inception and this year was no exception," Payne said. "Overall, we are happy with the golf course. We think last year's exceptionally high scores were an anomaly due to the frigid, windy weather."

The changes for the 2008 Masters are:

Hole No. 1: Ten yards were added to the front of the Masters tee providing more flexibility in the event of a strong northwest wind. Back of the tee was reduced to ease patron movement. Masters scorecard remains 455 yards.

Hole No. 7: Green was changed for agronomic reasons and approximately six feet added to the left of the green allowing the possibility of 2-3 additional pin placements.

Didn't they just do No. 7 recently? Refresh my memory.

Hole No. 9: Green was changed for agronomic reasons and right pin placement softened on first and middle plateaus.

Hole No. 11: Consistent with last year, several trees were removed.

Whoa Nellie. It's because you recognize how ridiculous they look right?

The result allows for enhanced patron viewing.

Hey, whatever floats your boat. Just get 'em outta there!

Additional work throughout the course included construction of a new patron viewing area on the hillside at No. 16, further work on the new practice facility that will open in 2010, adding and extending azalea beds to increase course color and replacing grass with pine straw between Nos. 15 and 17 (pine straw was also added to the left of No. 15).

Well, 11 is a start but it sure would be nice if a tornado blew through 15/17 too.

The hillside seating area is located to the left of the pond at No. 16 and will provide viewing for over 2,000 patrons. Holes that can be viewed from this location include No. 6 green, the second shot and every putt at No. 15, the green complex at No. 16 and the tee shot and second shot at No. 17.

Easy access can be gained to this area from a newly renovated back entrance. From there, patrons can travel to No. 16 hillside, No. 5 fairway or to holes Nos. 13, 14 and Amen Corner. "We are very excited about these significant improvements for our patrons, and hope that we have made an already special experience even better," said Payne.

Now, about that slippery-when-it's-wet second cut? I think it needs to go for patron safety? Not yet?


Tuesday
Oct022007

Bridgestone and Acushnet Settle; World Peace Next?

Susan Decker of Bloomberg reports what sounds like a victory of sorts for Bridgestone:
Acushnet, which makes the Titleist and Pinnacle golf balls, will pay unspecified royalties to Bridgestone, and the companies agreed to cross-license other patents, the companies said in separate statements. The agreement doesn't cover a related suit pending in Japan.

Bridgestone Sports, based in Tokyo, and its Bridgestone Golf unit sued Acushnet in 2005 in federal court in Wilmington, Delaware. The company's patented technology relates to ways of making balls so they fly farther, spin better and last longer. One patent is designed to increase a ball's distance when struck by a No. 5 iron or sand wedge.

``We are very pleased to have reached a settlement agreement with Acushnet and to bring the U.S. litigation to an end,'' Bridgestone Sports President Hisashi Kawano said in that company's statement. ``This agreement demonstrates the value of our technology and our intellectual property.''

Acushnet Golf, based in Fairhaven, Massachusetts, confirmed reaching a settlement. ``Acushnet considers this matter to be closed and will have no further comment,'' the company said in a statement. Fortune Brands, based in Deerfield, Illinois, also makes Jim Beam bourbon and Moen faucets.

Monday
Oct012007

"Why are so many players lifting weights if strength doesn't help?"

eqar01_golftechsteroids.jpgIf you've followed the steroid story in golf, you know that most players and certain administrators believed there was no problem and no benefit in using performance enhancing drugs. Others have said that may be true and everyone may be clean, but how can you know without testing? Still another school has said there is evidence that certain drugs or steroids could be beneficial, and if nothing else, a policy should be in place.

And then there are blowhards like me who have found the "we play golf, therefore we are honest" response downright offensive. Especially considering that we've seen a big jump in distance in recent years that most of golf's administrators attributed to increased athleticism. Yet somehow with those dubious claims, we are to expect today's youth to sit idly by and just work hard in the gym?

So if nothing else, you test, for the children!

Yet no matter where you stand, I think it would be hard to come away from reading Matthew Rudy's piece in the October Golf Digest, still insisting that beta blockers can't possibly work or that designer steroids will not help a golfer. Yes, it's clear Rudy has a bias: he talked to many people and heard an overwhelming consensus, then reported it.

I highly recommend reading the story, but because this is my clipping archive and you never know when Golf Digest's archives will vanish overnight, here are some of the highlights along with clips from Dr. Grant Liu's excellent guest sidebar on antidepressants.

But a wide cross section of scientific experts, trainers and instructors say [Gary] Player is neither crazy nor wrong. Many of them not only believe performance-enhancing drugs would significantly help golfers, but that far more than the approximately 10 pros Player estimated to be taking drugs are using them to recover from injuries quickly and hit the ball longer.

How many more? As many as half of the top 100 players in the world, according to one prominent trainer.

Even if the true number is closer to zero than 50, it's clear that the idea of professional golf not needing to worry about steroids is as outdated as the notion that golfers aren't athletes. "The reality is that the public is slowly coming to the view that performance-enhancing substances are prolific in sports," says PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem, who is expected to announce a set of anti-doping rules for the tour later this year. "Whether we have an issue or not doesn't matter if people think we have one."

And this on the specifics, which will help those players who immediately shrug off the steroid concept thinking that today's designer drugs are only designed to make you bigger.

It's easy to lump steroids into one general "they make you more muscular" category, but different performance-enhancing drugs produce dramatically different effects. Drugs that athletes would use for help fall into four main categories: anabolic steroids, synthetic hormones, beta-blockers and stimulants.

Anabolic steroids like synthetic testosterone are the workhorses of the performance-enhancing drug world. "When you put your body under constant physical stress, it releases substances called corticosteroids," says Dr. Charles Yesalis, author of Anabolic Steroids in Sport and Exercise. "They're the most powerful anti-inflammatories in history. But corticosteroids break down muscle tissues as they work."

Anabolic steroids block the muscles from being broken down, allowing an athlete to train longer, recover faster from that training and build more muscle mass. For a golfer, that means being able to hit more practice balls -- and do it more often.

Powerful injected anabolics like stanzolol and deca-durabolin can produce body builder-type gains when taken in conjuction with an aggressive workout regimen. Testosterone creams that are spread on the body before a workout help generate smaller amounts of lean muscle.

Hormone drugs like HGH and EPO have had a central role in the ongoing controversy in baseball. HGH is synthetic human-growth hormone -- the substance responsible for bone growth and tissue health -- and it is commonly prescribed for its anti-aging effects. EPO is the synthetic form of a natural substance in the body, erythropoietin, that promotes red blood-cell production and increases the cells' ability to carry more oxygen -- both of which give an athlete more endurance.

Fast forward to this, along the same lines...

Some drug experts, trainers and other teachers call the idea that a golfer wouldn't benefit from getting stronger naïve. "Tell me a sport where a good big man doesn't beat a good little man," says Yesalis, who has researched steroid use in sports for almost 30 years. "Why are so many players lifting weights if strength doesn't help? Tiger Woods started training seriously when he came out on tour, and he's put on 15 to 20 pounds of muscle. I don't hear anybody saying getting stronger hasn't helped him."

Dr. Jim Suttie, former PGA Teacher of the Year, gives a qualified endorsement of that view: "There's no doubt steroids build muscle and increase strength," says Suttie, who holds a Ph.D. in biomechanics. "Bigger muscles mean more explosive core strength, more explosive hip strength, more arm strength." Suttie believes players taking steroids would be able to hit the ball longer -- provided they didn't get too bulky and lose flexibility.

The first piece of any golf doping regimen involves ambitious weight training and cardio work. Anabolic steroids have no effect on a player who isn't adding muscle by working out.

Hey maybe all the guys were working out to keep up with their...oh just kidding.

The chemical component most commonly mentioned by trainers and experts interviewed for this story was a 5 percent testosterone cream, applied just before each workout. A week's supply of that cream would cost approximately $40. "That level of steroid would have minimal side effects," says Yesalis. "Certainly nothing that would prevent a golfer from being able to concentrate on the course. At least five different studies have shown that doses far, far larger than this cause no psychological response."

Experts estimate a player could generate 10 percent more clubhead speed using testosterone cream in addition to working out. That translates into roughly 30 more yards of carry for a tour player swinging at 110 miles per hour with a driver. Managed with expert supervision, a player could get the benefits from that relatively small amount of testosterone without even triggering a positive result on a drug test.

"The best players aren't going to be testing positive for steroids," says Randy Myers, who trains more than a dozen tour players. "Small doses of impact drugs -- HGH, things like that -- that's what the modern athlete is doing. It's barely testable, and it doesn't bulk you up. It builds explosive muscle, which is what all golfers want."

Doubters, doesn't that pretty much say it all?

Doctors routinely prescribe HGH to middle-age men to help fight muscle loss and increase suppleness -- two things that would obviously help a player prolong a competitive career. HGH is widely available on the Internet illegally without a prescription, or an athlete could visit an anti-aging clinic, where a physician-supervised HGH and nutrition regimen can run more than $15,000 a year. "You've got a small window of opportunity in sports, and players are threatened with the loss of millions of dollars if they don't perform," says Yesalis. "You don't think that would tempt somebody to go to the 'dark side,' so to speak? As competitive as golf is, people are going to be doing this just to keep their job."

Myers says he believes no more than a handful of tour players are using performance-enhancing drugs, but that group includes players who could be doing so unknowingly. "There are trainers out there that nobody knows anything about," says Myers, who has trained tour players since 1989. "There's a lot of money at stake, and players pay bonuses to trainers, teachers and psychologists for things like major championships and money-list finish. There's a lot of pressure on trainers, for sure, to not just show results, but show them fast."

Accompanying the piece was this sidebar from the University of Pennsylvania's Dr. Grant Liu who breaks down what today's "mind enhancers" can do.

A class of drugs called "mind enhancers" poses a greater potential for abuse in golf than do steroids. Mind enhancers, such as antidepressants and anti-anxiety agents, are legitimate drugs with medical uses, but their effects make up a veritable wish list for the ambitious golfer. They can increase focus, dampen emotional extremes and reduce anxiety. Plus, they're more available than steroids, and there's less of a stigma associated with taking them.

BETA-BLOCKERS / example: Inderal / These blood-pressure medications are sometimes used by performers to deal with stage fright. The golf application would be to battle nerves or the yips. These drugs have been studied in Post-traumatic Stress Disorder, and could help golfers get over a crushing loss.

Oh but Nick Price, like, 15 years ago used them and he said they didn't help, so forget it!

AMPHETAMINES / example: Adderall / This group of stimulants promotes alertness and focus and is commonly prescribed to treat Attention Deficit Disorder. They're often used illegally by students taking the SATs or final exams. The golf goal could be better concentration during a round.

ANTIDEPRESSANTS AND MOOD DRUGS / example: Prozac /These mood elevators and stabilizers combat stress and depression and help people control emotions. Think of the golfer who dramatizes mistakes, like the missed three-footer.

No, not us golfers.

BENZODIAZEPINES / example: Valium / This class of anti-anxiety drugs is prescribed to treat phobias, such as fear of crowds or closed spaces. In golf, fear of on-course situations or consequences can be crippling. Imagine a Ryder Cup rookie needing to take the edge off on the first tee.

And this definitely says it all...

Would golfers really take these drugs? Consider that many people today use medications to enhance their appearance, performance or lifestyle. For example, Viagra, indicated for erectile dysfunction, is used by 20-somethings to increase sexual prowess. Botox, a drug for neurological disorders, is commonly injected to smooth wrinkles.
Monday
Oct012007

"The Ryder Cup has been captains coming up and saying, ‘You’re playing with him and he’s playing with him.'"

Doug Ferguson on Ryder Cup Captain Paul Azinger reaching out to Jack Nicklaus...

What the Presidents Cup inspired Azinger to do was call Nicklaus — and that’s never a bad idea no matter what the subject, unless it’s the golf ball — along with Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Jim Furyk, David Toms and Stewart Cink.

Low blow Doug! Low blow.

Those five have played on each of the last two Presidents Cup and Ryder Cup teams.
“I want input from the guys who played on both teams,” he said. “I’d rather know from them, rather than blurt out what I like. And I’d like to spend some time on the phone with Nicklaus and get a feel for what he was thinking and doing. And if there’s a glaring difference, then I’d like to try to duplicate what he did.”

Nicklaus wants it to be fun, but isn’t it always fun when you’re winning?

Captain Jack also has reduced the science of pairings to an art form by letting the players decide. He pulled his master list out of his pocket Saturday morning, and next to each player was three or four names. Nicklaus couldn’t accommodate everyone, but he was close.

“The thing that I’ve noticed between the Ryder Cup and here is Jack is very much, ‘Guys, do what you want to do, have a great time. Tell me who you want to play with,’ ” Scott Verplank said. “The Ryder Cup has been captains coming up and saying, ‘You’re playing with him and he’s playing with him.’ I don’t know if that makes a difference.”