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You might as well praise a man for not robbing a bank as to praise him for playing by the rules.
BOBBY JONES


    

Wednesday
Jan212009

Taking Turf Out Of Play

One of the points raised in my Obama-WPA piece for Golf World revolved the idea of taking turf out of play and in general, irrigating less (perhaps with government incentives, as pointed out in this example). I close the piece wondering if golfers can actually accept less green in the name of Green.

I asked Tom Naccarato, who does digital photo work for architects and clubs looking to simulate what something will look like, to work on a couple of Torrey Pines photos I took last year. Because I can't think of a course with more acreage that needs to be converted to non-irrigated native. (There was one choice spot right of the 7th fairway where irrigation has been turned off and Tom used that for the rough look you'll see in the photo below).

While I was walking around Torrey prior to the Open I met consultant Andy Slack, the irrigation guru brought in to try and right the troubled irrigation system at Torrey. When asked how many acres on the property could be converted to non-irrigated without impacting play, Slack said he felt that 50 acres was an easy target. I would agree. And the ensuing cost savings in irrigation, energy and man power of reducing 50 acres would be incredible.

Furthermore, does this really look so bad? I know the PGA Tour would have a coronary because there isn't full turf coverage and many golfers would wonder what's wrong, but this would seem to me where golf is going to have to if it wants to survive and reclaim some of its "native golf" roots. Click to enlarge Tom Naccarato's digital enhancement of No. 14 at Torrey Pines:

Tuesday
Jan202009

"Every different treatment we could think of."

Dave Shedloski, talking to Bob Vokey about the groove rule change:

The rule change, which applies to clubs manufactured after January 2010, has forced Vokey and his design team to rethink grooves on wedges. His fertile mind has been working overtime.

"We have 25-30 different patterns we have already mocked up -- different patterns, different angles, different spacing, different radiuses, different face treatments, different punch marks ... every different treatment we could think of," Vokey said. "Even some of my old dreams from years ago. We want to see what we can come up with that gives us the proper feel and trajectory and level of reliability and performance.

"We've taken all of that, and now we're in the process of narrowing down to about three, and after that we'll submit them to the USGA. They will fall within the specifications; they will conform. We're going to try to get that done before the summer to get them in the players' hands to work with in their off-time. This way, they will be ready to go in 2010."

Not exactly sitting idly by!

Tuesday
Jan202009

PGA Tour Announces List Of Golfers Reported To Have Thoughts...On Occasion

This really has no relevance to your lives, I am just posting it so that I can easily find the list of usually interview-worthy players making up the the PAC and Policy Board.

PGA TOUR Announces 2009 Player Advisory Council
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, FL- The PGA TOUR today announced the 16-member Player Advisory Council (PAC) for 2009.

The PAC advises and consults with the PGA TOUR Policy Board (Board of Directors) and the Commissioner on issues affecting the TOUR.

2009 Player Advisory Council (PAC)

Stuart Appleby (Orlando, FL) George McNeill (Fort Myers, FL)* Steve Flesch (Union, KY) Joe Ogilvie (Austin, TX)* Harrison Frazar (Dallas, TX)* Tom Pernice, Jr. (Murrieta, CA) Jim Furyk (Ponte Vedra Beach, FL)* D.A. Points (Ocoee, FL)* Paul Goydos (Dove Canyon, CA) Ted Purdy (Phoenix, AZ)* Ryuji Imada (Tampa, FL)* Brett Quigley (Jupiter, FL) Jerry Kelly (Madison, WI) Vijay Singh (Ponte Vedra Beach, FL)*
Davis Love III (Sea Island, GA)* Mark Wilson (Elmhurst, IL)

* indicates new PAC member for 2009

Zach Johnson served as Chairman of the PAC in 2008, and joins past PAC Chairmen Stewart Cink, Brad Faxon and David Toms as a Player Director on the 2009 PGA TOUR Policy Board.

2009 Player Directors
Stewart Cink (Duluth, GA) Zach Johnson (St. Simons, GA) Brad Faxon (Barrington, RI) David Toms (Shreveport, LA)

Tuesday
Jan202009

"Out of nowhere, golf's very own snapping turtle has slipped into pole position to be named Europe's next Ryder Cup captain."

Vincent Hogan with a beautiful summation of the Monty-Ryder Cup captaincy ordeal:

As news stories go, this is a bit like Worzel Gummidge getting the chief MC gig for Milan Fashion Week.

'Monty', by the way, is one of this column's favourite people. He goes through life like someone with endless bone spurs in his neck, perpetually sore feet, looming migraine and the love-sick devotion of a fan whose camera shutter is louder than John Daly on a binge. No man cherishes a grudge more deeply, no one gives the impression of liking people less.

And yet I cannot think of anyone I'd prefer to see win a Major in 2009, outside -- of course -- of an Irishman.

Tuesday
Jan202009

"Woods saw which way the wind was blowing and decided to jump on the Cablanasian train."

Mike Freeman at CBSSports.com makes some solid points but ultimately goes a little far in blasting Tiger Woods' political appearance Sunday when he compares Tiger to Don King.

His words of support for the military were fine -- I'm ex-Army and appreciate that -- but he still said little of substance.

I'd have more respect for Woods if he stuck to his noncommittal persona and turned down the offer. It's true. I would.

Woods' meek appearance had the smell of bandwagon jumping. Too late, Tiger. Some of us know what you're doing, which is being overtly opportunistic.

Woods saw which way the wind was blowing and decided to jump on the Cablanasian train.

Monday
Jan192009

"I bet Tom and Ty Votaw have some interesting conversations this year."

In this week's (somewhat entertaining) novella, the SI/Golf.com/Golf Magazine gang kicks around the Sony Open and predicts this week's Bob Hope Classic will be the last. They kick off with a debate about Rich Lerner asking Tadd Fujikawa about his father's indictment and Jim Herre chalks it up to new GC head guy Tom Stathakes.

Had a beer with Stathakes not long ago, and I was impressed with his energy and professed journalistic aggressiveness. I think he'll press the Golf Channel talent to ask the tough question, which should be quite the balancing act considering that the network is in bed with the Tour. I bet Tom and Ty Votaw have some interesting conversations this year.

Monday
Jan192009

"There better not be any females in his Secret Service detail. They won't let 'em in."

Leonard Shapiro considers Barack Obama's golf options in the D.C. area. He won't get to play the hole pictured to the right and accompanying the story (gonzo!). And somehow I doubt Burning Tree will have an Obama sighting.

"We'd love to have him," said Charles Briggs, the head pro and general manager at Burning Tree. "The policy is that anyone who plays here has to be invited by a member to play as his guest. President Clinton was invited, but he never came out with the member who invited him. I have no idea why."

Burning Tree has a national and local membership, including broadcasters Bryant Gumbel and Jim Nantz as well as members of Congress, past cabinet secretaries and K Street lobbyists. Clearly Obama will be asked to play the course; whether he accepts or not remains to be seen, and as one local professional said, "there better not be any females in his Secret Service detail. They won't let 'em in."

Monday
Jan192009

"The company representative insisted on charging them a cancellation fee."

You may recall the story of the Kolodjay clan heading to Myrtle Beach for golf, only to have their Spirit Air flight cancelled and a new booking on the doomed U.S. Airways flight 1549.

In an apparent attempt to ensurethat no one ever flies Spirit again, the airline initially insisted on charging Jeff Kolodjay a cancellation fee for the return flight tickets on Spirit that are going on unused. Even though his credit card was still a tad soggy, Spirit didn't budge until word got out. They've since changed their minds...assuming they have them (minds, that is).

Monday
Jan192009

USGA Cuts Green Section Research Budget

A few weeks ago Michael Bamberger reported that there would be cuts in the USGA's generous grants program, however specifics were not known. Marisa Palmieri reports for Golf Course Industry on some of the cuts:

The USGA’s Green Section Research department suspended $300,000 in new research initiatives to lower its budget to $1 million. The USGA is delaying the projects slated to begin this year until 2010. Because of the suspension, the USGA likely won’t issue a call for proposals this year like it typically would, says Mike Kenna, director of Green Section Research.

And...

Kenna says the USGA’s budget has fluctuated a lot over the last two decades, but this year’s cuts were the biggest decline in recent years.

“But if you look at the stock market, what’s happening with corporate sponsorships and the economy as a whole, the fact the USGA is funding a $1 million in research is impressive,” he says. “There isn’t any other organization in the game of golf that funds that much research for turfgrass.”

Monday
Jan192009

"When you play golf in Palm Springs they say that everything breaks toward Indio โ€” you know, the Mexican neighborhood. Not this time."

David Feherty on the ouster of George Lopez as host of this week's Bob Hope Classic:

This year's event will be hosted by Arnold Palmer, who may be the most important person ever to play golf. I love everything about Arnold, and I'm not upset at all that he is involved, but I am seriously disturbed at the way George Lopez was treated. After all the effort he put in, he was told in a two-minute phone call that his services were no longer needed. That was it.

Now, maybe they just didn't like George's sense of humor, and that's their right. Of course, Palm Springs is, to say the very least, a Republican refuge, and most of George's cronies are (and I'm looking for a politically correct way to say this, but it's not coming to me) uh... not exactly white, and Democratically inclined. In fact, I might be George's token white friend, I'm not sure. But wasn't Sammy Davis Jr. a friend of Bob's? He used to play, and I think he was both black and Jewish!

I think there's a perception problem here. Most white people in this country have no idea how huge George Lopez is in the Latino community. Just like the Irish, Italians, Jews, Poles, Germans, Scandinavians, and other immigrants of old who started new lives in the New World, Latinos are doing the same, but with less representation and lower self-esteem. These people look up to George Lopez, who at two years old was abandoned by his parents, left to fend for himself, and eventually taken in by his authoritarian grandmother and raised with no love. From almost nothing, George became a huge star, only the third Latino (after Desi Arnaz and Freddie Prinze) to have his own TV show, and he now has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Okay Feherty, you had me until the bit about the star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Where, after all, even John Tesh has a star.

Monday
Jan192009

"Charlie Sifford Exemption"

I'm not sure this is what I had in mind in pleading to save full field events, but nonetheless, it's an interesting concept.

Sunday
Jan182009

"Fujikawa was feted at every turn"

From Doug Ferguson's Sony Open game story, reporting on Zach Johnson's win and Tadd Fujikawa's Sunday struggles:

Fujikawa was feted at every turn, but his hopes faded quickly.

Fans lined the length of the 486-yard opening hole, and a handmade sign hanging from a palm tree behind the green said, “Go Tadd. Bring it Home.” It was signed by the grounds crew at Waialae, who stood and cheered.

I'd just like to take this opportunity to remind field size complainers that we saw a stellar leaderboard, a close competition with 20 or so players having a shot at winning Sunday, and a classic local qualifier-makes-good story (Tadd's redux).

It's not a coincidence that this is an open event with Monday qualifying and a full field of hungry golfers.

So next time we hear how field size is the primary reason for slow play (the next slow play disaster) and that all fields should be reduced in size, perhaps we can consider that the lethargic pace on the PGA Tour is rarely blamed on ridiculous pre-shot routines, confining course setup or long waits on holes where there used to never be waits thanks to recent distance advances.

Open events and large fields are vital to the health of the "product."

 

Sunday
Jan182009

Euro Tour To Ensure Future Captains Can Pronounce All Player Names, Be Nice To Sponsors

Lawrence Donegan's story on the new Euro Tour captain's specs adds to the fun of a wild week in the desert.

Last week, a meeting of the tour's tournament players' committee, notable mostly for what one member yesterday described as an "extremely argumentative" discussion over the choice of ­captain for 2010, also reached a ­tentative agreement on a set of ­"captain's ­obligations".

The move comes after Nick Faldo was widely criticised for his captaincy of the European team at Valhalla Golf Club in Kentucky last year, although George O'Grady, the tour's chief executive, said last night the Englishman had been a "complete professional" who had been excellent when it came to the business aspects of the job. "The Ryder Cup is of critical financial importance to the European Tour and we all need to do whatever we can to support the commercial side of the event, the captain included," he said.

"There has been an informal agreement in the past, but it has been a 'fly by the seat of your pants' thing. In the current climate we feel we need something more formal."

That means being contractually obliged to glad-hand with sponsors, turn up for television interviews and seek the approval of tour officials before signing book deals and agreements to write for magazines. O'Grady said any future ­captain's would also receive wide-­ranging advice on public ­speaking.

Gee, I wonder what prompted that?

Some candidates will need such advice more than others. One of those who does not is Colin Montgomerie, who now appears to be the ­overwhelming ­favourite to get the job for 2010.

No speaking lessons for Monty. We want him as is!

Sunday
Jan182009

Tiger Takes A Stand...For The U.S. Naval Glee Club

I don't know about you, but it sure seemed odd to be at an inaugural event and to not have said a single word about the reason for the event (initials B.O.). Here's the text of Tiger's introductory speech for the U.S. Naval Glee Club.

 

Sunday
Jan182009

"The site allows employees of any company to anonymously post comments about their work environment, share salary information, and even rate the C.E.O."

In the excellent February issue of Portfolio (which includes the Tiger Woods design profile and several other great reads...or maybe I was just in fine spirits because I was reading a magazine at the beach...in January...in North America!), Kevin Maney explores the state of Silicon Valley venture capital and writes about Glassdoor.com.

In a twisted way, when the economy tanks, conditions in Silicon Valley and other tech communities actually become more advantageous for starting and building companies. Look at the fresh-baked startup Glassdoor, a sort of TripAdvisor for job seekers. Launched in June, the site allows employees of any company to anonymously post comments about their work environment, share salary information, and even rate the C.E.O.

Naturally I raced home...well, after the sun set because it was 80 at dusk...oh sorry, back to my point. I raced home to check out some of my favorite organizations at Glassdoor: the USGA and the PGA Tour. Shockingly, the staff has not been doing their due dilligence in posting salaries, work environment or their ratings for the executive ranks.

Let's get on this people. Chop, chop! That's Glassdoor.com in case you forgot.

Saturday
Jan172009

"A victory would make Fujikawa, who turned 18 last week, the youngest winner in PGA Tour history."

Doug Ferguson notes that amazing possibility for Sunday's Sony Open after Monday qualifier Tadd Fujikawa's 62, vaulting him to T6 and two shots behind leader Zach Johnson and a sizeable number of big names who have a shot.

Helen Ross breaks down the round and Tadd's stats in this PGATour.com story. And his post round interview can be read here.

Rich Lerner tells the wonderful story of Fujikawa's main benefactor, Yoshie Yoshikawa, and also shares this anecdote about his decision to bring up the situation with Tadd's father, who was watching coverage inside the clubhouse.

I’m told he was in tears when in an interview I asked his father, Tadd’s grandfather, Daniel, about the drug rap. A member sought me out later and laid into me. I understand the anger. They may not understand the difficult position of a journalist. The information’s already been widely reported. It’s been front page news here in Honolulu. I’m obligated to ask about the impact on Tadd, though I certainly don’t enjoy it. 

Saturday
Jan172009

"Inevitably looming over Monty's Ryder tenure is the spectre of 'Jakartagate' and the Indonesian Open of 2005."

John Huggan says Colin Montgomerie has the necessary qualities to make for a fine Ryder Cup captain but reminds us that most of his peers haven't forgiven him for Jakartagate.

Many of Monty's better qualities could hardly be more suited to his new job. For example, no one in European golf has ever been better at creating publicity, self-serving or otherwise. No doubt Terry Matthews, the Welsh/Canadian billionaire owner of Celtic Manor whose fortune has recently taken a significant hit, is already salivating at the prospect of a stream of banner headlines generated by our tartan hero.

All will not be sweetness and light, however. Inevitably looming over Monty's Ryder tenure is the spectre of 'Jakartagate' and the Indonesian Open of 2005. While the vast majority of the golfing public have made it quite clear they care not a jot whether or not the former world No.2 knowingly or merely carelessly replaced his ball in a disgracefully favourable spot on that fateful bank almost four years ago, the same cannot be said for too many of Monty's fellow tour players.

Even now, this will be an issue within the team room, albeit likely an unspoken one. Only the other evening in Abu Dhabi a veteran member of the European Tour talked privately of how he has "lost all respect" for Monty. And he is far from alone in feeling that way. The 2010 side will likely contain a number of those who cannot forget what happened and view Monty only through narrowed and suspicious eyes.

Mark Reason shares this anecdote about Monday's committee meeting.

A consensus emerged at last week's Ryder Cup selection meeting that Nick Faldo had been too old and too out of touch at the last Ryder Cup – so no more 50-year-old captains. That made Colin Montgomerie too old for Gleneagles in 2014. He was effectively told it was now or never.

Montgomerie accepted the candidacy at a tempestuous team meeting on Tuesday night. Halfway through the meeting he stormed out of the room. At the time we assumed his preferred candidate, Sandy Lyle, had been rejected. We now know that Monty had been pushed into a corner.

Spectators who have seen their young trampled underfoot as the great Montysaurus crashes about the golfing undergrowth, may be surprised to hear that the volcanic Scot has emerged as the favourite to captain the European Ryder Cup team in Wales next year. But away from the anguishes of the golf course, Colin Montgomerie can be funny, charming, self-deprecating and frequently very acute.

The image of Monty storming out is comical but hard to fathom since the committee did have to meet without him at some point (one would hope). However, I much prefer the vision of British writers camping outside the meeting room trying to interpret the mood of committee members exiting to take a whizz!

Saturday
Jan172009

"Their sticks are on the bottom of the Hudson. Very good ones, I might add."

The Boston Globe's Eric Moskowitz and Maria Cramer tell us about the golfers headed to Myrtle Beach on the US Airways jet that landed in the Hudson.

Saturday
Jan172009

Hope!

The La Habra branch of this vast web operation was so inspired by the combination of Barack Obama's inauguration and Colin Montgomerie's assent to the 2010 Ryder Cup captaincy that he developed this homage to Shepard Fairey's Obama graphic, which will adorn future posts celebrating the naming of Europe's best man for the job.

Friday
Jan162009

Monty's Rare Great Mood Confirms He Has The Ryder Cup Captaincy Locked Up For 2010

John Hopkins declares that Monty has the 2010 Ryder Cup captaincy because, after all, it's just common sense really...

European Tour officials, having made a policy decision to select the best available captain for each future Ryder Cup, are doing everything they can to make sure that Europe regain the trophy that was lost at Valhalla last year and will shortly confirm that the Scot will lead the team in Wales.

It must be difficult to type with that brown stuff blocking one's view of the laptop screen? Wait, what? You say there's more?

Blessedly, Paul Casey lays out where Monty's street cred lies with the 18-49 year olds:

“He was very attentive.” Casey said. “He asked us what we wanted. We said, ‘A ping pong table in the team room.’ He showed good attention to detail. He spoke well at meetings. He got the guys nicely motivated. There was lots of consultation with us. We felt very much a team.”

It does take a younger captain to know which European Tour go-fer will be best at ordering the proper ping pong table. Over 50s only know about things like shuffle board and where to get a really great massage in Madrid.

This wire story reported that Monty has not been offered the role, and he can't imagine why anyone would be betting on him!

"It hasn't changed to that degree. I don't know why there's betting. I don't look at the bets -- I'm not a betting man. I don't know where this has come from. I have no idea," Montgomerie said.

Okay, one denial was enough! One more denial and someone might get the wrong idea. Monty is, however, sure of one thing: over 50-somethings have no business being captain!  Though as Lawrence Donegan reports, Monty feels for Sandy Lyle, even though a decision has not been made yet.

Montgomerie has been a vocal supporter of his fellow Scot but today he seemed to concede his efforts had come to naught. "It would be a great shame if Sandy missed out, but in the end this is not my decision," he said. "I am just one voice on a committee of 15."

Monty does have Europe's most accomplished player on his side, as Mark Reason reports Padraig Harrington's glowing praise for the decision that has not been made yet.

But really, do any of these stories matter compared to the ugly business Donegan first revealed yesterday and writes about in more detail today. The betting! Don't worry, new Dubai resident and Euro Tour head man George O'Grady is on the case.

O'Grady was more forthcoming on Thursday after it appeared the potential candidates learned all they needed to know from the online betting exchanges. In the aftermath of Tuesday's meeting Montgomerie, who was a 50–1 shot last weekend, suddenly appeared on the ­Betfair market as an odds-on chance. "No decision has been taken so far," the tour's chief executive said. "We are aware of the movements in the various odds. We invite any gaming company to contact the European Tour with any evidence of betting irregularity. This will be fully investigated."

For its part, Betfair said last night it would be happy to cooperate with any sporting body which had concerns over gambling. "Uniquely, we have a full record of every market on our exchange. We know the identity of every person who has made a bet and exactly how much money is involved," said a spokesman, Tony Calvin, adding that before Tuesday's meeting the market on the 2010 Ryder Cup captaincy suggested a contest between Olazábal, Sandy Lyle and Ian Woosnam. "Clearly, someone has had a whisper that Mr Montgomerie was in the mix."

Let the investigation begin to determine who whispered that no decision has been made yet!