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Books
  • Lines of Charm: Brilliant And Irreverent Quotes, Notes, And Anecdotes from Golf's Golden Age Architects
    Lines of Charm: Brilliant And Irreverent Quotes, Notes, And Anecdotes from Golf's Golden Age Architects
  • The Future of Golf: How Golf Lost Its Way and How to Get It Back
    The Future of Golf: How Golf Lost Its Way and How to Get It Back
    by Geoff Shackelford
  • Grounds for Golf: The History and Fundamentals of Golf Course Design
    Grounds for Golf: The History and Fundamentals of Golf Course Design
    by Geoff Shackelford
  • The Art of Golf Design
    The Art of Golf Design
    by Michael Miller, Geoff Shackelford
  • Alister MacKenzie's Cypress Point Club
    Alister MacKenzie's Cypress Point Club
    by Geoff Shackelford
  • The Golden Age of Golf Design
    The Golden Age of Golf Design
    by Geoff Shackelford
  • The Good Doctor Returns: A Novel
    The Good Doctor Returns: A Novel
    by Geoff Shackelford
  • Masters of the Links: Essays on the Art of Golf and Course Design
    Masters of the Links: Essays on the Art of Golf and Course Design
  • The Captain: George C. Thomas Jr. and His Golf Architecture
    The Captain: George C. Thomas Jr. and His Golf Architecture
    by Geoff Shackelford
Current Reading
  • Men in Green
    Men in Green
    by Michael Bamberger
  • Unplayable Lies: (The Only Golf Book You'll Ever Need)
    Unplayable Lies: (The Only Golf Book You'll Ever Need)
    by Dan Jenkins
  • Professional Golf 2015: The Complete Media, Fan and Fantasy Guide
    Professional Golf 2015: The Complete Media, Fan and Fantasy Guide
    by Daniel Wexler
  • The Forbidden Game: Golf and the Chinese Dream
    The Forbidden Game: Golf and the Chinese Dream
    by Dan Washburn
  • Arnie, Seve, and a Fleck of Golf History: Heroes, Underdogs, Courses, and Championships
    Arnie, Seve, and a Fleck of Golf History: Heroes, Underdogs, Courses, and Championships
    by Bill Fields
  • Unplayable Lies: (The Only Golf Book You'll Ever Need)
    Unplayable Lies: (The Only Golf Book You'll Ever Need)
    by Dan Jenkins

    Kindle Edition

  • The Magnificent Masters: Jack Nicklaus, Johnny Miller, Tom Weiskopf, and the 1975 Cliffhanger at Augusta
    The Magnificent Masters: Jack Nicklaus, Johnny Miller, Tom Weiskopf, and the 1975 Cliffhanger at Augusta
    by Gil Capps
Classics
  • Golf Architecture in America: Its Strategy and Construction
    Golf Architecture in America: Its Strategy and Construction
    by Geo. C. Thomas
  • The Course Beautiful : A Collection of Original Articles and Photographs on Golf Course Design
    The Course Beautiful : A Collection of Original Articles and Photographs on Golf Course Design
    Treewolf Prod
  • Reminiscences Of The Links
    Reminiscences Of The Links
    by Albert Warren Tillinghast, Richard C. Wolffe, Robert S. Trebus, Stuart F. Wolffe
  • Gleanings from the Wayside
    Gleanings from the Wayside
    by Albert Warren Tillinghast
  • Planet Golf USA: The Definitive Reference to Great Golf Courses in America
    Planet Golf USA: The Definitive Reference to Great Golf Courses in America
    by Darius Oliver
  • Planet Golf: The Definitive Reference to Great Golf Courses Outside the United States of America
    Planet Golf: The Definitive Reference to Great Golf Courses Outside the United States of America
    by Darius Oliver
Writing And Videos

On two-shot holes it is highly desirable in many cases to compel the player to place his tee shot so that his shot to the green may be clear, and if not properly placed, the shot to the green may to some extent be blind.  DONALD ROSS


    

Tuesday
Apr082008

"I think what has changed the golf course immeasurably is one hole, and it's No. 7."

Phil Mickelson was asked Tuesday about the possiblity of low scoring in the future and offered an intriguing insight into how the flow of the course has changed:
PHIL MICKELSON: They won't be lower. I think the scores may get a little bit higher, yeah, and the length is the biggest factor. Also all of the trees and the tightening of the golf course.

I think what has changed the golf course immeasurably is one hole, and it's No. 7. Because the whole thought process of playing the golf course used to be get through the first six holes around par, and you can birdie 7, 8 and 9 and you have three birdie holes and try to get one or two there, you turn at under par and then you shoot under par on the back side and you have a great round.

But now, 7 has become -- I think it's the first or second hardest par on the golf course. I think between 7 and 11, I think it's the two toughest pars that this course has; and because of that, it changes when you can be aggressive and how many birdie holes you have now and the whole complexion and mind-set of how to play the first six or seven holes. Now you feel like you have to be under par through the first six because you want to be around par when you get through 7. 7 is one of the toughest holes now.
Tuesday
Apr082008

"The second cut, yeah, if you go out there, you'll see it. That's all you need to change this golf course."

Tiger Woods sat down with the scribes and while I'll leave it to Jaime Diaz to analyze the surprising number of references to late father Earl, let's get to the golf stuff. First, this rambling mess of question from someone with a strong British accent:

Q. Now that you have obviously entered the zone of extreme expectation, probably unprecedented in golf, does that affect you in any way? Are you able to shut out what people expect of you, or does it get to a point where you have to exclude it completely, or is it an incentive for you to be aware that people are expecting you to fulfill these extraordinary feats of consistency? Does it have any real impact on you as an individual?
Okay, the golf course stuff is good:
Q. Is it safe to say that hitting long or whatever else, that's why you've done so well --

TIGER WOODS: You have to putt well here. You can't putt poorly here and win. Now, you have to drive the ball well in order to win here; before you could spray it all over the place and it didn't matter -- actually tried to spray it all over the place to give yourself the best angles. 9 you used to hit the ball so far right to give yourself an ankle up to those left pins; now with the added trees you can't really do that anymore.

The holes have changed over the years in that way. 17, sometimes you had to hit it to 15 to get to the back left pin just to get a shot at these angles; they have taken that away. It's playing a lot more different and a lot more penal off the tee but the greens are still the same. The greens are still just as penal.

Of course the club will read that and react with glee that you can't hit it in some bizarre place to open up an ideal angle. Got to toe that center line!

Brace yourselves...

 

Q. I read the other day, Jack Nicklaus said, "I wish they would get rid of that rough up there." What rough is he talking about?

TIGER WOODS: The second cut, yeah, if you go out there, you'll see it. That's all you need to change this golf course.

Shots, for instance, on No. 1, if you pull it up the left side it used to run straight to the pine needles and you had no shot. Now it has a chance to get caught up, pull tee shots down 2 can get caught up. It changes the speed of this golf course quite a bit. Shots on 10, if you don't turn it, used to land up the right and actually roll through the gallery down into the trees and now it can get caught up.

Q. That much rough makes that much difference?

TIGER WOODS: Mm-hmm. (Nodding).

Good to see the scribes really thinking this stuff through before sitting down with Tiger.

 Q. When Jack was in his prime, he wasn't a huge fan of playing in the Par 3 Tournament because he thought it was a distraction for him and he wanted to focus. Talk about your approach to the Par 3 and what you enjoy about it and your memories?

TIGER WOODS: My last one I played when Arnold, at the time, it was his last Masters. (Laughter) I made a hole-in-one and that was it. Good way to end it.

Q. You won't play tomorrow?
TIGER WOODS: No.

Q. Why?

TIGER WOODS: It's changed over the years. Used to be, I thought was a lot of fun to play, but now it is a little bit distracting to get ready and be ready for the tournament.

He's such a curmudgeon. I love it! Oh no, the guy asking about the rough is back...

 Q. I would like to clarify a point on the rough, please. Some guys have said that it helps more than it hurts because it keeps the ball from running off into the trees. What's your feeling on that? Does it help you or hurt you, generally speaking.

TIGER WOODS: Well, I think it helps on tee shots, there's no doubt because it does slow the ball from going into the trees. But second shots, it does hurt you, because it's hard to control your distances on a golf course in which you have to be so precise, and if you're not with your distances, you're going to pay a pretty good price.

So, yes, it does help you off the tee, but certainly hinders you quite a bit going into the greens.

Tiger, don't bother. You're wasting your time.

Tuesday
Apr082008

USGA, R&A Move Quickly To Address Mistake...

...unfortunately it had nothing to do with the golf ball. Instead, it was to address a stupid rule change and not anything of consequence. 

Stewart Cink will not be DQ'd in the future for practicing basic etiquette based on today's USGA release.

Though based on something John Vander Borght interpreted in his blog entry, I'd still say this needs work. If you are in a front bunker and hit it in the back bunker, don't rake the front one until you've finished making a mess of the hole.

Why can't we just play it as it lies? I'm so glad Max Behr isn't here to see this disaster. 

Tuesday
Apr082008

Tiger Sits For Endless Sunday Conversation

Thanks to reader Chris for this, but I just can't commit to 27 minutes of Tiger and Scott Van Pelt petting each other. Please let me know if anything interesting is said.

 

Tuesday
Apr082008

Golfdom Masters Podcast

Larry Aylward and I talk about this week's Masters, just hit the play button...

Gabcast! xxxxx #1

Tuesday
Apr082008

Questions For Billy Payne

pga_hootie_payne_275.jpgI don't have much for the club chairman, who takes the podium Wednesday after the Golf Writers Association bicker over important stuff like WiFi and press releases winning GWAA awards. 

My questions are all golf course related since Billy Payne is doing some pretty progressive stuff off the course (brand building baby!). And let's face it, he's not Hootie, though my questions do relate to mopping up after the former chairman:

  • Considering how long the course is playing this year along with the high scores from last year's tournament where the lack of flexibility in teeing grounds led to new tee extensions this year, will the club reconsider its confining two-tee setup in order to give the committee more setup options?
  • In defending the second cut, the club stated to Golf Digest that players no longer use many of the original MacKenzie-Jones design options. Did this conclusion come from talking to players or via statistical analysis?
  • The club has maintained statistics on the impact of the second cut, will you ever share this information in future media guides?

Feel free to post your questions just in case the golf writers at Augusta need inspiration.

Tuesday
Apr082008

Two Tee System

You know I've been ranting and raving about Augusta's insistence on just two teeing grounds per hole, and as we saw with last year's cold and wind some flexibility would have come in handy. I noticed Brad Klein brought it up in his Golfweek preview (not posted), and Ron Whitten said in his preview story that they should be ashamed for only having two tees, though his reasoning is purely sentimental and not related to function.

And it came up again in David Westin's story today on course changes:

The other change is on No. 1, where the tee box was extended 10 yards forward. It isn't expected to be used unless the northwest wind blows, which makes the hole play into the wind. It would have come in handy in the third round of the 2007 Masters, when the northwest wind was blowing at 12-17 mph with gusts of 23 mph.

It's also interesting to hear people who play Augusta talk about how there really isn't a set of tees for most golfers there. Either you play at 6200 yards or from the back, and neither really fits the majority of people who play there.  

I've given up trying to figure out why they insist on only having two teeing grounds per hole? I know they are vain, but you'd think common sense would eventually prevail. 

Monday
Apr072008

Dateline Augusta: Tuesday, April 8th Edition

DatelineAugustaDay two of my daily Masters clippings collection is now posted at GolfDigest.com.

For those of you who emailed to report difficulties with the occasional pop up ad that appears on the page, there is a CLOSE button in the upper right corner for your zapping pleasure.

Monday
Apr072008

Motley Brown

The quotes from Doug Ferguson's day one story are not promising for fans of fast and firm:

"It's wet - very wet,'' Toms said. "If this tells you anything, I backed up a ball with a Driver on No. 9. I played the back nine yesterday and had to hit my 5-iron four or five times. I got done and thought about having my 5-iron re-grooved. I hope it firms up. We need it dry just to make it interesting.''

The brilliant colors of Augusta National were offset by soft, gray clouds on the first full day of practice, this after a weekend that brought 3 inches of rain. Isolated thunderstorms are forecast for the weekend as the temperature rises.

"It would be nice if the fairways could be dry again,'' O'Hern said. "I've only known bloody long on this golf course. You just hit it as far and as straight as you can. There's no shaping the ball, except to the greens. Just get up there and smash it.''

Now I see while I was away that a few of you questioned Geoff Ogilvy's comments about the course once looking less green on television.

I would say this. If you watch some of the 1990s Masters, you will note that the course is green, not brown. However it's a lighter shade of green, with the grass just hungry enough that it can be dried out pretty easily.

If you look at the current shade of green at Augusta, that grass isn't hungry looking. It's nourished beyond belief. And that ultimately takes a little more bounce out of the course and makes it that much tougher to firm it up, which I think was Ogilvy's point. 

Monday
Apr072008

"Hang on a sec while I look this up. Ah, yes, it's come back to me now. Zach Johnson."

Always great fun, Martin Johnson goes picking on Zach Johnson while writing Monty's Masters obituary:

It is not as if the Masters doesn't need a bit of extra pizzazz this year, given the identity of the holder of the green jacket. It is, for those of you who might have forgotten, Jim Jackson. No, sorry, Jack Jimson. Hang on a sec while I look this up. Ah, yes, it's come back to me now. Zach Johnson.

Johnson will have a lifetime exemption into the Masters (please try to contain your excitement) and could still be playing in it when he requires a zimmer frame to get on to the first tee. The Masters is not only an invitation tournament, but until recently it took away places from the likes of Montgomerie to accommodate Methuselahs like Doug Ford, Charles Coody, Tommy Aaron and Billy Casper.

 

Monday
Apr072008

"It's not who golfers are."

Paul Azinger is interviewed by Conor Doughtery in Monday's WSJ, and most of the answers say something like "it depends on the makeup of the team."
WSJ: Any thoughts on how the course will be set up?

MR. AZINGER: It's another one of those things that's going to really depend on the makeup of that team. I don't want to say I'm not going to have any rough out there and then Nick Faldo picks his two biggest hitters because he thinks it gives him an advantage. I don't want him to know anything. I'll just do what I can based on the makeup of the team.

See. Here's one interesting comment, though I don't buy the usual stuff about golfers being honorable, therefore they would never cheat on the drug test:
WSJ: What are your feelings on drug testing in golf?

MR. AZINGER: It's time for the tour to be drug-tested. What I'm opposed to is that we're supposed to drop our pants to our ankles and pull our shirts to our chests to prove we don't have someone's urine strapped to our side. It just seems a little silly to me to that you can't just say, "You're going to be drug-tested today, go in that bathroom, pee in a glass and just leave it there." [Instead, they are saying], "Go in that bathroom, I'm coming in there with you, and you have to drop your pants, lift up your shirt." It's not who golfers are.

I don't think there was any consideration on the [PGA Tour's prohibited substances list] of performance-enhancing drugs [for] what's performance-enhancing in golf. Stimulants are on this list. I mean, guys don't take a handful of stimulants before they tee off at the Ryder Cup. That's the last thing they need.
Monday
Apr072008

Els Dumps Leadbetter

Steve Elling reports on the latest sign of desperation intense desire to improve from Ernie Els...
The third-ranked player in the world told CBSSports.com on Monday night that he has joined forces with Butch Harmon, who can now boast three of the top eight players in the world rankings as members of his stable. Els had been a client of David Leadbetter for two decades.

"We have been friends for 20 years and will always be friends," Els said of Leadbetter. "I'm giving him a ticket here for this week. This is purely a professional thing."

Uh, Lead couldn't have got in otherwise? What, he's not paying his PGA of America dues?

And..
Yet the coaching change came as a surprise, given how long he and Leadbetter have been allies, not to mention former neighbors at an upscale Orlando, Fla., club. Els began working with Harmon three weeks ago on the range in Miami and has been sending the Las Vegas-based swing guru video via computer for the past couple of weeks.
"The wonders of technology," Els said.
Monday
Apr072008

"Ochoa visited the Mission Hills grounds crew Monday to thank them for their hard work and help them make scrambled eggs."

A nice anecdote about Dinah Shore winner (sorry, I can't keep up on the latest tournament name) Lorena Ochoa from Golfweek's Sean Martin:

The people she really had to win for this week were the five mariachis standing behind the 18th green. What would they play if Ochoa slipped up Sunday and let Maria Hjorth or Seon Hwa Lee walk away with the title?

Ochoa visited the Mission Hills grounds crew Monday to thank them for their hard work and help them make scrambled eggs. They promised the mariachis would be there for her Sunday.

“I said, ‘OK, I’m going to wait,’ ” Ochoa said. “But it was a good surprise, and they kept their promise.”

I wonder the last time a PGA Tour player visited the maintenance yard and cooked with them...before a tournament to boot.

Doug Ferguson sums up her remarkable performance and the scene Sunday:

She has won the past two majors by a total of nine shots. Ochoa has won three of four tournaments this year by a combined 23 shots.

And...

Ochoa became the first player since Annika Sorenstam in 2005 to win two straight majors, having captured her first major in the Women's British Open at St. Andrews last summer by four shots. Since winning that first major, she is 8-for-13 on the LPGA Tour.

Tiger Woods also has won eight of his past 13 events, including a major.

Sunday
Apr062008

Dateline Augusta: Monday April 7 Edition

DatelineAugustaMy daily clippings collection debuts at GolfDigest.com.

Warning: it's a long one. I can't help it that the media has done its usual bang-up job setting the table for The Masters.

Sunday
Apr062008

"They are missing the point really. Surely what we shoot should not matter."

John Huggan talks to Geoff Ogilvy about his recent practice round at Augusta and about last year's event.

“Even before the character of the golf course was so obviously changed, the angles were slowly being killed off,” counters Ogilvy. “In their place has come an obsession with how fast the greens are, surfaces that should really be slightly slower and a bit firmer. If the club achieved that, the angles would be brought back into play.

“As things stand, the turf is too soft for the course to truly play ‘firm and fast.’ On holes like the 5th, where Jones wanted you to run the approach shot in, you can’t do it because the ground is too soft. So it isn’t just on the greens where too much water is applied. But if they cut back on that they would lose the ‘greenness’ of the place. If you look at the pictures of Augusta back in the 1970s, the course wasn’t green at all. It was a motley brown, just as it should be really.

“Don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge fan of the course – especially the putting surfaces – and Augusta does look pretty special when it is as green as they like it to be, but that verdant colouring does compromise how it plays. It’s a shame. They are missing the point really. Surely what we shoot should not matter. But everyone seems to think it does these days. And what has been lost is the fun we should be having playing the course and, in turn, the fun the spectators should be having watching us. The original point of the Masters was that it should be fun to play and fun to watch.”
Regarding the change at No. 7...
“With that new pin position you can expect to see guys putting off the green. It’s at least a real possibility. Knowing what is possible, you’ll probably see guys playing safely to the right then leaving their first putts eight feet short. I’m sure that is the effect the officials want. Fear is their biggest weapon sometimes.
And the tree removal at No. 11 does not sound very Oakmont-like...
“The 11th hole is just the same. They claim to have removed some trees, but if they hadn’t told me I wouldn’t have known. What has changed is that there are pine needles rather than grass under the trees. That only makes things worse, as the needles are those big fluffy ones. They are horrible to play off when they are not raked and smooth. Again, I’m not sure what the motivation for that is; if you hit it over there you are going to have to chip out anyway, just like last year.”
Sunday
Apr062008

"He took it off"

In profiling Augusta National chairman Billy Payne for the Atlanta Journal Constitution, Steve Hummer talks to Payne buddy A.D. Frazier.

Frazier, who is not an Augusta National member but regularly attends the tournament, witnessed his buddy inform a club member in passing how much he disliked the man's hat. It was nothing obviously tasteless — it had neither "Caterpillar" nor "U.S. Beer Drinking Team" stitched above the bill. It was just a straw hat as Frazier remembers it. But Payne thought it not quite appropriate for a green-jacketed symbol of the Augusta National ideal.

And what did this un-named member, a powerful man as befits a member of one of golf's most exclusive enclaves, do?

"He took it off," Frazier said.

Maybe Payne is more like Clifford Roberts than we think?  Meanwhile, Hummer also includes this about the chairman's job: 
"It's a tough job," said David Owen, author of "The Making of the Masters," a look at the beginnings of the club and the tournament. "No one wants to be the one [chairman] who makes a big mistake."

The good news is the classification of chairman who made several mistakes was nabbed by Hootie Johnson several years ago. 

Sunday
Apr062008

"It's the Daily Mail. Even the people who read the Daily Mail pretty much don't believe what's in it. Nick may be a little more upset than I am, but I think he knows I'm not going to say stupid stuff like that."

If you had under 10 hours in the Azinger denial pool, you win!

Gary Van Sickle scores the detailed response from Azinger to the Daily Mail story where he's quoted blasting Nick Faldo:

Azinger said he phoned Faldo after he first read the story and left a humorous message to needle his friend. "I said, 'Nick, this is Zinger,'" Azinger said. "I said, 'Well, it's already started. I don't know if you've seen it, but one of those papers said I called you a pr--k and that everyone from your generation hates you. Even though you pretty much are and everyone pretty much does, I have more diplomacy than to say that.' He called back and said, 'Zinger, I read this whole article and, you don't like Monty more than me, do you?'"
Sunday
Apr062008

"The bottom line is that the players from his generation and mine really don't want to have anything to do with him."

azingerMOS0504_228x347.jpgThe Daily Mail's Ian Stafford hopefully had his tape recorder running when Paul Azinger made some of these comments about Nick Faldo, because you have to figure Azinger's going to either A) deny having made them or (B) suggest that they were taken out of context.

"Nick Faldo has tried to redefine himself," says Azinger. "I'd say he is both who he is and who he was. Some people have bought it. Some have not. But if you're going to be a p***k and everyone hates you, why do you think that just because you're trying to be cute and funny on air now that the same people are all going to start to like you?

"The bottom line is that the players from his generation and mine really don't want to have anything to do with him. He did what he did as a player and there are relational consequences."

And...
Faldo may have had the edge on Azinger when it came to money, majors and his standing in golf's hall of fame, but Azinger never lost against Faldo in the three Ryder Cups when they were up against each other. One of those victories came at The Belfry in 1989 when Azinger and Chip Beck defeated the hitherto unbeatable Faldo and Ian Woosnam in the second afternoon's fourballs.

"On the 11th, Faldo squatted down behind Chip's putt," says Azinger. "I asked him what he was doing. 'Oh, just helping out,' he replied. I said: 'I'll help my partner, not you'. I told Chip: 'I'm taking this match personally'."

The Americans won 2 and 1.

Azinger lets out a deep sigh of acceptance. "I guess I've always felt a rivalry with him, probably more than he has with me," he says. "I've got to know him better now but it doesn't change what's happened and, come September at Valhalla, something will have to give."

Well so much for that camaraderie between captains. Oh, wait, there's more... 
"Faldo will be a loner as a leader: very thorough, but a loner. I've got three assistants with me and, although people (Jack Nicklaus being one) have suggested the players don't need them, they must understand that the assistants are for me, not the players.
"Faldo and I both played Valhalla recently and I watched him making notes from start to finish. He reckons he's going to play in the Ryder Cup. Well, he's not, and neither am I. Telling the players what to do will just piss them off."
Sunday
Apr062008

"They could play it almost how we used to play it."

Scott Michaux considers the chances of long-driving Masters rookies J.B. Holmes and Bubba Watson, sharing this from Tiger Woods:

"God, it would be so much fun to watch those guys play with no rough out there and just have them bomb away and see the angles they could create," said Tiger Woods, thinking back on his early experience before major changes to the course. "They could play it almost how we used to play it."

Of course, the club's stance is that players would never think of using such angles in today's game, even though they really don't ask them how they play the course.

But even worse, Tiger is saying the course plays differently and it sure sounds to me like he finds it far less interesting.  

Saturday
Apr052008

"Of those 90, there are 20 old guys still playing, past champions, who shouldn't be playing golf. So, technically, it's a field of 70."

Thanks to reader Rick who posted on thegolfwatch.com blog about Jim Byers' story on Stephen Ames saying something...that's right, stupid!

"When you compare it to the other major events, it is the weakest field technically. There are only 90 players (at the Masters); the top 50 players in the world are guaranteed. Of those 90, there are 20 old guys still playing, past champions, who shouldn't be playing golf. So, technically, it's a field of 70."

Of course some might say there are former Players Champions who shouldn't be exempt, either...

"Hey, I'm just quoting facts," Ames told the Calgary Herald. "The Players Championship is a stronger field than that one."

Commissioner Finchem note to assistant: send Stephen yet more cases of PGA Tour wine for that one.