Fashions in golf courses, as in ladies’ clothes, seem to be so frequently hopelessly exaggerated. We have our latest Parisian styles, and they are adopted for every form and every contour, quite regardless of the land to be dealt with...the real test of a course: is it going to live? H.S. COLT
"There has been no prognosis made on when a decision will be made and there has been no prognosis on what that decision may or may not be."
Belt and Girdle over at GolfDigest.com make a big fuss out of noting that Jim Achenbach's latest Golfweek column on pending groove rule changes (not posted online) is essentially wrong.
Here's what they say.
Girdle Gouge writes:
The story seems to suggest that a final decision on the matter is imminent, alluding to a conversation with USGA President nominee Jim Vernon. The word "soon" was even used. That news struck me as odd as the two of us have regularly checked in with Dick Rugge, USGA Senior Technical Director, and have tried to keep up to date on the USGA's many ongoing research efforts during the grooves rule proposal's "notice and comment" period. As best I can tell, "soon" was not a word in any of our conversations. But I'll check my notes. … Yup, "soon" is still not in there.
Dick Rugge who told us nothing much had changed since our last conversation. That efforts were still ongoing and, in fact, more research was being done. Well my friend, if more research is being done on the topic then "soon" doesn’t really seem possible, now does it? Next call, Jim Vernon, a man whom I looking forward to getting to know better. Vernon told us the following: That the Equipment Standards Committee is getting together at the USGA annual meeting in Houston on Feb. 8. The R&A is having their meeting after that date and that no decision on grooves would be made until after the USGA and R&A met again to discuss to the matter. At the very earliest that is more than a month from now. OK, so maybe a month or so might qualify as "soon." But the column made it a definitive--that the decision had already been made to implement a rule of some sort.
Now, what is lame about the post is not that they are pointing out that Achenbach has it wrong, but instead, in a petty quest to make him look bad, they are completely ignoring the real story they are breaking (but apparently don't know it): that nothing is imminent the groove issue, something widely figured to be in place starting in 2009.
How did it go from being a imminent to this:
Again, when posed to Vernon, he said, "There has been no prognosis made on when a decision will be made and there has been no prognosis on what that decision may or may not be." In plainspeak, not only hasn't a decision on timing been made, but there hasn't been a decision at all. As such, how can a reporter say that not only will your grooves be changing, but a decision will come "soon."
It seems more and more obvious by the day that the R&A has gotten cold feet on this. Isn't that the real story here boys?
And considering that B&G wrote this in February of 2007...
Still, several industry sources contacted by Golf World believe the ruling is coming sooner rather than later.
...it might be wise to lay off Achenbach's use of the word soon.
"It is sad that the PGA Tour chose to act like this toward a 40-year partner. It is unbecoming and dishonors our great sport."
John Hawkins first reported that the PGA Tour might be terminating its agreement with Westchester CC immediately and moving to Ridgewood in New Jersey. Courtesy of a reader, we have exclusive confirmation in the below posted letters from Ed Moorhouse to the club, and the club president Phillip Halpern's frank letter to the membership.
Larry Dorman fills in some key details in the New York Times. This was interesting:
One club member who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly about the Barclays said pressure to move the event was coming from CBS, which was disappointed by mediocre television ratings for the 2007 event, won by Steve Stricker.
Four minutes into Bill Maher's monologue, he took on the Kelly Tilghman episode. If you don't want to go through the first four minutes, here's the joke:
And of course Al Sharpton got involved. I was shocked. And he said this was offensive to all black people. You mean black people are watching the Golf Channel?
A couple of more interesting perspectives on the Tilghman ordeal. Lorne Rubenstein, courtesy of reader Taylor:
Even if Tilghman were absent on the days when the tragic legacy of lynching was discussed in her high-school history class, she seems equally out of touch with current affairs. As recently as last fall, the racist symbol of the noose resurfaced in places as disparate as Jena, La., suburban Chicago, and Columbia University in New York City. CNN aired a special investigation entitled The Noose: An American Nightmare in response to these sorry episodes.And Fox Sports' Jason Whitlock writes:
Set against this background and the history of lynching in America, it's easy to understand why Tilghman's comment has generated a firestorm in newspapers, radio, television, the blogosphere, and casual conversation. Meanwhile, Woods, through his agent Mark Steinberg, said quickly that the matter is a non-issue and that he believes Tilghman, with whom he has a friendly professional relationship, meant nothing malicious. But Woods's statement has done little to allay the controversy that continues to expand in the media and the court of public opinion.
One would hope, however, that the discussion would expand reasonably, and recognize that more can be accomplished by engaging Tilghman in a discussion that provides insight rather than by personal attack. What can be accomplished by continuing to go after Tilghman? Golf Channel president Page Thompson injected some rational thinking into the matter when he told The New York Times that there are no plans to discipline her further.
What Tilghman did, despite her 12-year friendship with Woods, was much worse than what Imus did. Imus, a radio shock jock known for crude attempts at humor, cracked a bad joke on a morning radio show. Tilghman is an anchor on the Golf Channel. No one expects her to be racy, controversial or stupid.
Also, Tilghman can't argue that she picked up the notion of "lynching Tiger in a back alley" from black popular culture. She came up with that nonsense all on her own.
Do I think Tilghman is some bigot extremist? No. I think she's incredibly stupid and perhaps unqualified for her job. She's in good mixed company in that category.
I interviewed Davis Love about a month ago for a story I'm working on and the chat started with him venting his outrage over the PGA Tour's new (and incredibly lame) cut system. No longer a member of the policy board, Love essentially warned that it was a huge mistake.
Well the first week saw many players not aware of the rule (their fault!) but more importantly, big fan draws in John Daly and Angel Cabrera making the cut only to find themselves on the cutting room floor. And it's already generating plenty of discussion.
Based on the initial coverage we're seeing the beginning of a huge black eye for the current Player Advisory Council, the Policy Board and PGA Tour executive branch. And a quick remedy is apparently not possible.
Of course, I blame it all on the ball! But that's a post for another day.
First, the controversy. Ferd Lewis explains and issues the first negative view of the new cut rule:
It says that although the top 70 finishers — and ties — make the overall cut, should that number include more than 78 professionals, the field will be sliced to the nearest figure to 70 (in the case of Sony 69), plus amateurs.
The rule was announced Nov. 12, according to a PGA Tour spokesman, but somehow went unnoticed by some golfers. Or, perhaps, they thought it was a bad joke. It is, of course, but that hasn't kept it from being adopted and implemented, aimed at reducing weekend fields, speeding play and allowing more rhythm for championship play. In this case, it has certainly done that, effectively chopping nine twosomes from this tournament. But that's not all.
Doug Ferguson noted this from Daly in his Friday game story:
“I don't understand the rule. I think it's crazy. It's a stupid rule, I'm sorry,” Daly told the Golf Channel. “I grinded my butt off to shoot even. Then I find out on 18 you may not be playing. I just wish we would have known.”
Brandt Snedeker was another guy who didn't read the memo.
He finished at even-par 140, went into the scoring trailer and was told that 1 under likely would be the playing cut, and even par would make the cut. He didn't know the difference, and wasn't pleased when he found out after a call to a tour official in Florida.
“A non-playing cut I don't think is going to help the tour,” he said. “You lose that chance.”
That chance refers to players like Brad Faxon, Chris Couch and Jose Maria Olazabal, all of whom have made the cut on the number over the years and went on to win the tournament.
But with weekend fields reaching the upper 80s, leading to five-hour rounds starting on both tees, the Players Advisory Council recommended a change in the cut policy. The board, after twice tabling the proposal, approved it November.
GolfBrief.com posted a staff report with these additional player comments:
“I never knew that rule,” Vijay Singh said. “I don’t know why the ever made that rule. I mean it’s (70 and ties) has been around forever, there must be some Tour official that doesn’t like staying here late. We’re all here to make a living. And I think it’s a terrible rule.”
There's a great way to bond with the guys making your tee times, pairings and issuing you rulings!
“Makes no sense,” said Jeff Sluman, one of two Champions Tour players in the field, after missing the cut at 7-over 147. “We have had too many guys winning the tournament making the cut on the nose. I suggested a long time ago to play them all on Saturday and make the cut on Sunday if you had over 78. Make a 60 cut. So if a guy doesn’t play very good on Saturday, he probably doesn’t want to start at 7:15.”
Sluman believes that the rule will be reviewed this year and Steve Flesch, newly elected to the 15-member Player Advisory Council, agrees that it needs a second look, though nothing can be done until the 2009 season if a change is forthcoming.
“I think it stinks,” Jim Furyk said. “I’m not a big fan of it I don’t understand why we’re doing it and I much like a hard number the reason I say that is I think one week you could finish tied for 63 and you could be playing and the next week you could finish tied for 63 and you can’t, you’re not going to be playing. You don’t have an opportunity. And I just couldn’t disagree with that more."
Reader JT noticed the new initials for those making the cut but not really making the cut on the PGATour.com leaderboard:
MDF Status for a player stands for "Made Cut, Did Not Finish". These players were affected by the new 2008 cut line rule.
Yahoo's Steve Eubanks quotes some of the biggest names in the television business who weigh in on Kelly's Tilghman's behalf. In other words, Kostis and Clampett aren't quoted.
Loved this from Bob Murphy:
Bob Murphy, NBC: "I don't know her that well, but I watched the replay of what she said, and it is really, really nitty-picking to try to knock her out of the seat for something like that. My goodness, Johnny Miller might say three or four as good as that every day. We all try to be funny, and sometimes it doesn't work. That is what this was. To try to make something more out of it is just wrong."
He's right, let's talk more about these three or four good ones Johnny says a day! Does Bob know something about Johnny that we viewers don't know?
Now that the initial reactions are in, there are a couple of pieces worth reading that have taken more into account with regard to Kelly Tilghman's unfortunate comment and her future with The Golf Channel.
Steve Elling writes at CBSSports.com:
Sure, her comedy-challenged, dunderheaded, racist statement about stopping the world's No. 1 player by lynching him in a back alley was hurtful to African-Americans and offensive to many other hues. Yet without getting too deep into details, rest assured that Tilghman has personally felt the sting of discrimination in her career many times, and knows what it's like to be on the receiving end, too.
So, for those trying to look into her heart to see whether it's filled with sunshine or darkness, those demanding that she be ceremoniously canned for a statement that was blurted out in an unscripted exchange on live TV, take a step back for a moment and walk a mile in her spikes.
It was awful, yeah. But unforgivable?
And Cameron Morfit at golf.com makes this excellent point.
Why is Woods the only arbiter here? He hasn't exactly been a paragon of political correctness himself, having been quoted telling racial and lesbian jokes in GQ magazine in 1997. (He later claimed the jokes were off the record; writer Charles Pierce disagreed.)
Something still feels wrong here. Golf Channel's punishment of its anchor ought to reflect the feelings of its viewers and of sports fans everywhere more than what Tiger thinks. That's the way it works in television — the audience is the thing.
CNN has posted the Al Sharpton appearance.
Meanwhile, some teachers and players have been critical of stack and tilt. Well-known instructor Jim McLean points to photographs of Nicklaus that he says refute the impression that he didn't shift his weight during his backswing. Six-time major champion Nick Faldo works for The Golf Channel and was critical during the Mercedes telecast.Some of the complaints came in this Golf Digest piece. And here is the answer why there has been so much contempt:
"I've been surprised at the level of contempt," Plummer said.
But students have been doing well. Weir has been working with Plummer and Bennett for more than a year. Aaron Baddeley has won twice since beginning to work with the twosome. Plummer and Bennett are in demand from professionals and amateurs alike, and believe their critics wouldn't be so harsh if they understood their ideas. Their database includes more than a million swing photos.
"Just to be clear, though," Plummer said, "we're not doing this because Nicklaus and Ben Hogan did it. They're examples of what we're saying."
"Faldo’s remark prompted Tilghman to glibly raise the verbal ante to a level that would make anyone shudder..."
The paper of record's Richard Sandomir weighs in on the Kelly Tilghman episode and lumps her in with Jimmy the Greek and Ben Wright in TV-screw up lore.
This was interesting:
No one knows what triggers sportscasters or public figures to say what they shouldn’t say to large audiences, and one can only speculate as to their intent. Experience seems to shield most of them from making dreadful, career-altering mistakes, but it did not prevent George Allen, the former United States senator from Virginia, from labeling an American of Indian descent, then working for his opponent, a “macaca” during his failed re-election campaign in 2006.Key word here: glibly.
Working live isn’t easy. There is a tendency to make mistakes and strain for creativity when simplicity will do. Tilghman and Faldo were wrapping up Day 2 of the tournament when they were discussing how young golfers could challenge Woods’s primacy, and Faldo said they should “gang up” on him “for a while.”
Faldo’s remark prompted Tilghman to glibly raise the verbal ante to a level that would make anyone shudder and wonder, What would make her say that? or, What else is in her oratorical toolbox? Sadly, her remark made her and Faldo giggle.
Kelly Tilghman is good at a lot of things. She's a strong reporter, has a great ability to recall past anecdotes and she clearly has a passion for the game. Glib is not one of her strong suits, yet all of today's anchors seem to feel the need to do the Sportscenter thing. (Or perhaps they are told this is how you have to announce in today's world.)
So once again I ask, isn't her lynching comment a product of the type of announcing asked for today, all while trying to provide such a humorous edge over an excessive number of hours?
My Yahoo column on Sony Open host Waialae's history and current course conditions, is now posted. Also included is some speculation on the recent U.S. Open venue news.
And because great minds whose parents opted for the G-E-O-F-F spelling think alike, Golf World's Geoff Russell wonders the same thing I did about a certain Bedminster course becoming a viable candidate.
For what it's worth, this incident ought to generate a debate. Not about the word lynch, but about the origin of Kelly Tlghman's joke gone awry: overexposure.
During the Kapalua event, Tilghman and Nick Faldo are asked to be entertaining four hours a day, over the course of four days. It was inevitable that something stupid would be said. Golf Channel's skimpy production approach and overuse of announcers caught up to them here.
I don't expect them to change their ways, but hopefully it is a reminder to Golf Channel executives that there is a reason other networks have so many announcers on long telecasts to spread out the commentary.
Anyway, other writers had plenty to say.
Craig Dolch says it's overblown and if Tiger has not problem with it, we should not. Ron Green Jr. says she apologized, end of story.
Steve Elling with help from Doug Ferguson's AP piece fleshes the story out with some interesting background and all of Al Sharpton's quotes from a CNN appearance. Sharpton:
"If I got on this show and said I wanted to put some Jewish American in the gas chamber, I don't care under what context I said it, the entire Jewish community has the right to say I should be put of this show or put off my radio show," Sharpton said Wednesday night on CNN, before Tilghman was suspended. "This is an insult to all blacks. It's not murder in general, it's not assault in general, it's a specific racial term that this woman should be held accountable for."Jeff Rude believes the punishment doesn't fit the crime" and that we need to keep her comments in context. Exactly. If Bobby Clampett said it, we all know what would have to be done. But Kelly, come on...
Tilghman, 38, who ascended through the network ranks to the top of her profession after starting as a low-level lackey in the video archives room, until late Wednesday night was scheduled to anchor all four rounds of the Sony Open, which begins in Honolulu on Thursday. However, 2½ hours after the Sharpton interview aired, she was suspended for by network officials.
And in case you haven't seen it...
"They have escalated the cost of maintenance, they have slowed down play, and they have completely lost control of the equipment. Outside of that, they have done a pretty good job."
I warned of this last month and you can already see it playing out: the cynical, secular, communist, pornography-addicted press will be the real guilty party in any positive drug tests in golf. From Ron Sirak's Golf World story on the subject:
"That depends on [the media]," LPGA counsel Jill Pilgrim says, when discussing the public-relations risks. "If we have a 1 percent failure rate, [is the media] going to report that 1 percent or on the 99 percent who are clean?"
Meanwhile Doug Ferguson reports this related to the permissible drug list in his weekly notes column:
DRUG LIST: Toward the end of the PGA Tour's anti-doping program manual distributed to players last month is a section that lists examples of medications that are permitted, such as antibiotics, hemorrhoidals and muscle relaxants.
It was surprising to see vaginal preparations as the final entry.
Turns out it was a reminder that the PGA Tour is not a men's tour. Annika Sorenstam played in the Colonial in 2003, Suzy Whaley played in Hartford late that year, and Michelle Wie has played every year since then.
"In the era of females wanting to perhaps play on the PGA Tour, our policy had to reflect that such products were permissible," tour spokesman Ty Votaw said.
Thanks to the reader who caught this wire story:
Golf Channel anchor Kelly Tilghman has apologized after saying during Friday's telecast of the PGA Tour's opening event that today's young players should "lynch Tiger Woods in a back alley."
Somewhere, Ben Wright is smiling. He's off the hook!
A spokesman for the network said Tilghman apologized on Sunday's telecast and has reached out to Woods' representatives to express her regrets for the comments, according to New York Newsday.
Yeah, that'll do the trick.
**Scott Hamilton fills in a few more gaps in this Golfweek column.
"When the ball actually does something when it hits the ground -- when it rolls a bit after it lands -- that's when shotmaking matters."
Geoff Ogilvy's contention in his chat with Jaime Diaz is that shotmaking is dead in large part not because of grooves or architecture or the ball, but because greens are too soft.
"The truth is that hitting it high and straight, with the equipment we have now and on the turf conditions we play, is the simplest option," he says. "It gives you less to think about, and sometimes on the golf course, thinking about less is good.
"But the big thing is that the reward for hitting the proper shot -- on a regular tour course -- is just not as great anymore. Off the tee you just look down the fairway and hit it, because it really doesn't matter where the ball ends up as long as it's in relatively short grass. Coming into the soft green, when the ball stops easily and it doesn't matter what side you miss it on, all of a sudden the perfectly shaped shot loses its relevance and becomes not worth the effort."
"Especially at Augusta and the British Open, golf courses with really firm greens where it's really bad to miss it on the short side of the pin, that's when the reward for shaping is much greater. When the ball actually does something when it hits the ground -- when it rolls a bit after it lands -- that's when shotmaking matters."
Okay, here's a hypothetical I've been wanting to float for some time.
What if a course, in a quest to present firm greens for a championship, were to cover their greens at night the way a baseball crew covers the infield during a rain delay?
Is this an artificial intrusion, or simply a clumsier method of doing what the Sub-Air systems accomplish at courses with the system installed?
The Tour Championship will still be a dud most years, but at least they're trying to make the "playoffs" more volatile. From John Hawkins in the new Golf World:
Not that anybody ever understood the FedEx Cup point-distribution system to begin with, but a series of significant changes will be submitted in a proposal to the Players Advisory Committee when it meets next month. In an attempt to make Woods and Mickelson play in all the postseason events, playoff points would increase dramatically, perhaps by as much as 2,000 per spot. For example, the value of a 10th-place finish in Boston would leap from 1,350 to 3,350.
What's strange about this option is that the 2,000-point raise runs consistently down to the player who finishes 70th, meaning a measly 100 points would become 2,100. Nobody ever said the tour doesn't reward mediocrity, but the official purpose of the increase is to generate more volatility in the postseason standings, something that was clearly missing in the 2007 debut.
"As it turned out, the top 22 [regular-season finishers] had a free pass to the Tour Championship," Ogilvie says, referring to the 30-man season finale. "I think the consensus is that we'd like that number to be a lot smaller."