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A ball will always come to rest halfway down a hill, unless there is sand or water at the bottom. HENRY BEARD



Lorne On Ben and Bill

CooreBCrnshawWeKoPa.jpgLorne Rubenstein does a nice job detailing how Kapalua architects Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw have evolved into the best architects in golf.


From the homepage of

The PGA TOUR enters an exciting new era this week at the Mercedes-Benz Championship as the season-long FedExCup points competition gets underway with Thursday's opening round. Adam Scott will hit the first tee shot at 3:30 p.m. ET, which can be seen live on GOLF CHANNEL.


What a difference. Those branding people are good.


Sir Ian Woosnam?

The best evidence yet of the British empire's demise...


"This makes every game, every event, every weekend more important.''

This caught my eye in Rex Hoggard's preview of 2007:

Flash forward eight months to the much-talked-about FedEx Cup finale at the Tour Championship. Best-case scenario is a Tiger Woods vs. Phil Mickelson vs. "Little-known Cinderella story" showdown for the inaugural FedEx Cup title in Atlanta at the Tour Championship. Problem is, the new condensed-season shop will make it virtually impossible for a potential "Cinderella" story to elbow his way into the FedEx mix.

Consider Michael Allen finished 153rd on last year's money list and played for an average purse of $4.6 million, compared to Ben Curtis (No. 30 in '06 earnings) who played to an average of $5.6 million or Scott Verplank (No. 40) $5.7 million.

As one player recently lamented of the bottom half of the Tour community, "They've got a ticket to get on the bus, but there's no seat for them." start. "This makes every game, every event, every weekend more important.''

Okay, not to beat dead donkey here, but how will a playoff with 144 players really change someone's approach to the season?  


"This will be a generational change"

Randell Mell, with this from Ric Clarson of the PGA Tour...
``This will be a generational change,'' Clarson said. ``This is not going to be: Turn on the switch and everybody gets it from the start. This makes every game, every event, every weekend more important.''

"It's not the playoffs, it's a showcase."

Olin Browne, talking to Craig Dolch in the Palm Beach Post:

"One thing that bugs me is they call it the playoffs," Browne said. "It's not the playoffs, it's a showcase. In the playoffs, everybody starts from scratch, the winners advance and the losers go home. Under our system, the San Diego Chargers would be given something like a 14-0 lead in their first playoff game, and that's obviously not right."

 I guess this pretty much sums up why the idea of not starting from scratch come "playoff" time is so silly.



"There was a lot of post 5-o'clock conversation"

In John Hawkins's excellent Golf World story on the FedEx Cup's evolution, there was this head scratcher:

If the old season had become outdated, this was an idea whose time had come, although you probably could have said that a decade ago. "We've talked about it since the second year I was here," says vice president Ken Lovell, who joined the PGA Tour in January 2000. "There was a lot of post-5-o'clock conversation regarding that actual theme. If you could do anything to produce the most exciting golf product, what would it be?"

I can't keep up with this business lingo, so I'm going to take a stab here and guess that "post 5-o'clock conversation" translates to "us hardworking, overpaid PGA Tour Vice Presidents rolling up their sleeves, working late, trying to stay later than the boss and brainstorming so we don't have to go home to the wife."

Or does it mean something else?

Of course one wonders why this conversation has to take place after 5, as opposed to during business hours.


Tiger and The Commish

Well the new year is off to a roaring start, as my NSA sources picked up this Monday night IM exchange between what appears to be Commissioner Tim Finchem and Tiger Woods, chatting on the eve of golf's new era commencing this Thursday at Kapalua.  

twfPGATOUR©: Tiger, is that you?

TWPrivacy:  who is this?

twfPGATOUR©: Commissioner Timothy B. Finchem

twfPGATOUR©: Tiger, you there?

TWPrivacy: how did you get this IM address?

twfPGATOUR©: Oh, uh, uh through Mark Steinberg.

TWPrivacy: sure you did. sup?

twfPGATOUR©: Just wanted to say hi from Kapalua where it's lovely. Thought I saw your preferred Citation X next to our Falcons but I guess it was just wishful thinking.

TWPrivacy: yep, spending time with my family in the mountains.

twfPGATOUR©: Well, wish you were here at Kap to see how the Ritz Carlton people have leveraged their brand. Inspiring how they have vertically and horizontally integrated their platforms to elevate the resort experience.

TWPrivacy: that's great tim

twfPGATOUR©: Anyway, I also wanted to congratulate you on the new project in Dubai.

TWPrivacy: thanks

twfPGATOUR©: Maybe you could talk the Sheiks into adding a First Tee facility with the project?

TWPrivacy: uh, i don't think there are many kids over there in need.

twfPGATOUR©: Yes, point taken.

twfPGATOUR©: You still there?

twfPGATOUR©: Hello?

TWPrivacy: yeah, just in the middle of something

twfPGATOUR©: Oh, Ric Clarson is here in our secure meeting operations center with me overlooking the bay. 

TWPrivacy: who?

twfPGATOUR©: I also wanted to congratulate you on Elin's pregnancy. It's wonderful that you'll be further platforming the Woods brand while finally conjoining with the PGA Tour's core values of family and charity.

twfPGATOUR©:  Tiger, you there?

TWPrivacy: yes tim. thanks on the pregnancy. elin says thanks too.

twfPGATOUR©: Is she there?

TWPrivacy: no, she's out skiing.

twfPGATOUR©: So our marketing people were wondering if you've decided how you are going about branding this?

TWPrivacy: what? having a kid?

twfPGATOUR©: Yes, how are you going to brand it. You know, how are you going name the child.

TWPrivacy: we haven't gotten that far tim.

twfPGATOUR©: Well we have a Vice Presidents here who specializes in name gentrification as well as all forms of cross platforming who I'm sure would be happy do a lot of post 5 o'clock brainstorming with your branding people, maybe even work up some metrics on how the various brands play out.

TWPrivacy: thanks tim, but we'll be okay.  is there something else?

twfPGATOUR©: Yes one last thing. What's the due date?

TWPrivacy: can't say

twfPGATOUR©: We're hearing July here, which of course is great because that will allow you to play in The PLAYERS.

TWPrivacy: yeah, i can't wait

twfPGATOUR©: I'm just wondering if you've thought about how much time you'll want to spend with the new baby in say, August and September when the PGA TOUR Playoffs begin?

TWPrivacy: probably a lot of time
TWPrivacy: tim, you there?
TWPrivacy: tim?

twfPGATOUR© signed off at 08:19:34 PM EST


Betting On The FedEx Cup

My latest exclusive on the FedEx Cup is now posted...


Where Are The DMD's?

John Paul Newport pens one of those strange WSJ columns where he first makes a point to let us know that distance measuring devices have not only not ruined the game (did anyone ever write that they would?), but have actually been a positive addition to his game. And then he pretty much dispels any notion that they speed up play or add any real great pleasure for his game, except on courses he hasn't seen.

What do you think? 

Thanks to reader John for this.


2006 In Review

2006yearinreview.gifThis blog-thing continues to be one grand experiment, but any success it thanks in large part you all for spreading the word and sharing your thoughts via the comments section.

This marked the first full year on Squarespace and included few technical glitches thanks to their excellent service, but surely plenty of typos on my end. Thanks so much to all of you who emailed in a heads up on stories, mistakes or questionable posts (thankfully there were few of those). 

The most hit and emailed post of the year?  Why that would be this site's January exclusive on the USGA's private jet travel.

2006 also included some exclusive site content.

Former USGA Executive Director Frank Hannigan weighed in with a commentary on the recent USGA-AmEx deal and revealed that the USGA lost $7 million this year. He also shared his thoughts on the USGA's private jet package, his views on a Golf World story claiming that Gary McCord had turned down the chance to announce at the Masters and his take on USGA President Walter Driver's revealing take on the distance issue.

AIMDarwin.jpgThe year also included a series of instant message interviews with some of the game's top writers, including the inaugural chat with Stu Schneider of Golf World, the second with John Huggan, an architecture discussion with Golfweek's Brad Klein, a post-Open Championship talk with SI's Michael Bamberger and a post Ohio Golf Association Champions tournament chat with SI's Gary Van Sickle.

Speaking of instant messages, my NSA sources also shared a series of IM's between PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem and LPGA Tour Commissioner Carolyn Bivens. My sources say we'll continue to receive these periodically as long as the two keep their jobs, I'm not going there.

You can relive those rivetting exchanges here, here and here.

We also were treated to a series of text messages sent from Walter Driver's Blackberry to USGA course setup man Mike Davis during U.S. Open media day at Winged Foot. Hopefully we'll get a few more of those in Driver's final year as exhalted ruler.

And finally, what would this site be without your input, and just some of the highlights from user comments can be read in the various Week in Review posts that can be found archived here.

So on that note I would love to hear what you would like to see (or not see) from the site in 2007. The look, content, features, etc.  Naturally, my hope is to continue highlightling the best and worst from the golf world, and maybe even do a little more golf architecture project blogging should we be so fortunate in 2007 to break ground on some exciting projects.

So please, comment away...and Happy New Year,


New Era In Golf Kicks Off Like Old Era

...with Tiger claiming he needs a week of practice time for the Mercedes that he just didn't have!


Best of BivenSpeak 2006

2006yearinreview.gifAnd just think, the LPGA Commissioner has not been fired (yet), so we have at least another year of fun!

Some of her finest moments involved the use (or misuse) of big words. (Note to Carolyn Bivens: when Finchem uses coterminously, he actually knows what it means.) My favorite:

There's two messages that have gotten out in some cases and we just plain haven't been able to reel back in. One is that we were very capricious and the (ShopRite) date went to the highest bidder. No. 2 is that we just don't care about long-term sponsors. Again, not the case.

Capricious. Uh, according to Characterized by or subject to whim; impulsive and unpredictable. You go Carolyn...go to a dictionary!

Other highlights in the Bivens repertoire included this to John Branch of the New York Times:

“I really don’t have three heads, I don’t have an eye in the middle of my forehead, and I do speak in complete sentences."

And my favorite, to Steve Elling in the Orlando Sentinel:

"We're trying to open endorsement opportunities to women. We're trying to raise purses. Isn't that appalling? My, my, go back in the kitchen."

Carolyn103005.jpgOf course there wasn't just the flippant stuff, but the deep insights into American business and your required references to the "product," like this one:

We have the most talented and marketable trend setting group of athletes that a sport could ask for. And we're providing value for the rest of the world, and we're beginning to benefit from a product that's turning in a great return on investment and the best is yet to come.

And here's one you'll want to write down:

"It’s no different than any other corporation or private citizen," she said. "You figure out your salary is X, your expenses are Y. If you’ve got a mortgage that the interest rate is going up next year, you’ve got to figure out … do you take an extra job? It’s life."


Best False Hope Provided By The USGA In Its Ongoing Efforts To Become Irrelevant

That would be Jim Vernon's excellent speech on the impact of technology on championship golf, delivered at the USGA annual meeting in Atlanta, and subsequently forgotten about with the organization's apparent focus on the evils of square grooves.

Oh and this from USGA President Walter Driver made it pretty clear that the organization will not honor it's 2002 Statement of Principles and instead has drawn a new line in the sand starting in 2003.

The facts are that the tour distances are nearly flat the last 3 years. It went down somewhat a few years ago and then leveled off. So the facts show that there hasn't been much increase to show us that we need to act from when we made those statements.

At least we know where they stand. 


Best Orwellian Statement Made By David Fay

2006yearinreview.gifWar is peace. Ignorance is strength. USGA is the average golfer.

The USGA's Executive Director has a knack for coming up with one of those seemingly brilliant thoughts that makes USGA groupees--minds dulled by way too many days in the hot sun with that walkie-talkie vibes eating away at brain cells--swoon over their bow-tied leader. And as we always do when weeding through his baseball analogies, further inspection reveals that Fay's remark will not pass the smell test.

This year's winner came when he was speaking in Colorado, crafting another brilliant excuse for the USGA's inability to regulate equipment properly.

"I understand people like Nicklaus, (Arnold) Palmer and (Greg) Norman want to do something about the ball, and I respect that," Fay said. "But who are we governing for — the elite players or the people like the ones at the Golf Expo? I'd say for the latter."

And as I pointed out back then, if they really are only governing for the average joe, then why regulate equipment at all?

Ah, because with out the elite player, the USGA becomes a handicapping outfit with a nice Green Section and a cool collection of memorabilia. In other words, just another downstairs booth at The Golf Industry Show.


Best Acronym Coined By A Golf Writer In A Critical Role

The Augusta Chronicle's Scott Michaux takes home a prize not for calling Tim Finchem a corporate drone ( was funny), but instead for coining the FECES acronym to describe the PGA Tour's FedEx Cup Evaluation System.


Best TV Deal Beat Reporting Exposing Fun Little Facts You Won't Read Anywhere Else

2006yearinreview.gifAfter Golf World's Stu Schneider broke the news that ABC was out of the new PGA Tour TV deal, the newspaper scribes did the best work in highlighting the best and worst of the new contract.

Robert Bell had the Greensboro perspective, including the revelation that Mark Steinberg was earning some nice cash on the side as a consultant.

Garry Smits kept tabs on the TPC Sawgrass redo and for documenting some fine MBAspeak that justified the Players Championship's move to May.

Ed Sherman in the Chicago Tribune and and Len Ziehm in the Sun Times did stellar work covering the Western Open's demise

Steve Elling, Steve Campbell and Craig Dolch offered more general perspectives, but still good ones you can read here, here and here.

Sam Weinman on Westchester situation as well as coverage leading up to the U.S. Open at Winged Foot.

Lorne Rubenstein for eyeing the demise of the Canadian Open.

Brian Allee-Walsh in the New Orleans Times-Picayune for coverage of post Katrina and the TPC New Orleans recovery.

Bruce Berlet on the off and on Hartford situation.

Thomas Boswell for blasting and Len Shapiro for diplomatically criticizing the handling of the Booz Allen

Gary D'Amato on Milwaukee situationLarry Bohannan on the Hope Classic's move to the Golf Channel.

Gerry Dulac (here) and Mike Dudurich on the 84 Lumber Classic's demise.

And finally, Mick Elliott on the sponsor troubles in Tampa.

I'm sure I'm forgetting someone, but those were just the ones I stumbled across in reviewing all of the great coverage this year. 


Best Oy Vey Moment Of 2006

2006yearinreview.gifCarolyn Bivens provided two runner-up nominees when she said...
It's been a remarkable season on the LPGA Tour and these girls have really rocked out on the field.

And, save your oy veys for when she said...

We have to be able to what I call slice and dice our audience, know exactly who it is we're targeting, what messages works and what distribution channels.

But the winner is Walter Driver, who in accepting his nomination as USGA President, took the bold step of coming down off the podium in Atlanta to speak to the USGA staff and committee folks who had gathered to hear his speech. A true man of the people...well, except when he takes the USGA jet.


Best About Face By A Golf Organization In A Backpeddling Mode

You are thinking it's Tim Finchem's change of heart on drug testing after Tiger came out in favor, but no, this one goes to those mad hatters at, where else, the USGA!

Remember young Mackenzie Kline, with the weakened heart...

it was recommended if she kept playing golf, she use a cart and have oxygen available. However, her petition for a cart at Carmel CC in Charlotte in two weeks was denied on a technicality. USGA rules stipulate players must request a cart when they apply to the event. When Kline submitted her entry, she wasn't aware she would need a cart.

"Obviously you feel for her," said Marty Parkes, USGA senior director of media relations and communications, "but with those entry deadlines, we feel to be fair with everybody you have to hold to those."
And about a week and Lord knows how many conference calls later...

“The more we looked into it, it was clear that because of her condition she needed a cart,” Parkes said.


Best Performance By An Architect In A Family Drama

2006yearinreview.gifAs always, it's a tie between Rees and Bobby.

You can relive their performances here and here.