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There are more "Don'ts" in golf than there are in any other avocation in life.
ARNOLD HAULTAIN


    

Thursday
Jan152009

"It could be a blessing. They pulled him over 50 yards [outside the nightclub]."

John Hawkins talks to Hank Haney about the state of Charles Barkley's Golf Channel reality show after the NBA great's DUI.  Thankfully, it's still on despite the arrest report that has sponsors and other network execs fleeing.

Haney and Barkley had taped five of the eight episodes before the DUI. While production was on hiatus anyway, it's unclear when the final three episodes will be produced as Barkley deals with legal issues and an alcohol problem as big as the man struggling with it. Haney, who quit drinking in 1986, could see the situation getting more serious and had hinted to his friend that things weren't OK.

Still, grown men don't tell each other how to behave. Haney was with Barkley earlier on the night he got pulled over, which doesn't exactly lighten the load of regret, but, he says, "It could be a blessing. They pulled him over 50 yards [outside the nightclub]. They were waiting for him, and nobody got hurt."

Wednesday
Jan142009

"I'd like to know why Jack designed this"

Brian Lee in the Tucson Citizen takes a sneak peak at the Ritz Carlton Dove Mountain, new home to the WGC Match Play.

The signature Jack Nicklaus- built course, utilizing two of three finished 9-hole layouts, will be "typically" Nicklaus, said general manager Kenn DePew of The Ritz-Carlton, Dove Mountain resort. That means intriguing and multiple bunkers, tempting space and undulating greens with eight to 10 possible pin placements each.

"I'd like to know why Jack designed this," DePew said. "Not that I question it. I just want to know what the reasons are. There is going to be some good golf played here."

Well I'm sure he'll be happy to take your call anytime to answer questions about his thought process.

But a Ritz-Carlton designed for tournament play is not just about the worldwide pros. The change from the much narrower straight-out-and-in Gallery course of the first two years of Tucson WGC play, is a fans' delight or relief, depending on how you look at it.

"The Gallery was beautiful but was a lot of walking," DePew says. "It was a load of work. This is fan friendly."

And at just a few yards under 8,000, it's oh so quaint.

Wednesday
Jan142009

Woods Considering Early Comeback To Halt Endless Stream Of Inane Stories Speculating On His Return

I won't link any of the guilty scribes because they are doing their job (the few left). But please, Tiger, return ASAP and make them stop! 

Wednesday
Jan142009

Monty: Over 50s Out Of Touch With Today's Youth

I'm not sure where that leaves Monty since he'll be 51 when his self-appointed captaincy comes up (2014),  but he tells Mark Reason that once they turn 50, Ryder Cup captains lose all sense of what's going on!

Montgomerie said: "We found last time with Faldo's situation that you do lose as a captain over 50 [is this bad news for the 50-year-old Sandy Lyle] a sense of what's happening with the youngsters, a feeling of what's going on."

Given Faldo's obvious lack of empathy with parts of his team, was it surprising that he appointed only one assistant captain? And would Montgomerie be prepared to help out in Wales if he didn't make the team in 2010?

He said: "I would be willing to do anything to help. I said so pre-Faldo when he didn't pick me. I was surprised that Darren, who has played in five of these things, and myself, who has played in eight, were left sitting at home last time. I am sure we could have helped the European cause in some way.

"I was fully expecting some sort of call when the voicemail came through from Nick. At the end of his spiel about, 'I'm sorry, I haven't picked you because' – which I fully accepted, I didn't play well enough to get selected – I did expect the follow on: 'But would you come out to help in some way'. Anything. But it didn't happen. I'm sure Darren would have felt a similar way."

Wednesday
Jan142009

"And while we're on a roll, how about losing the cryptic jargon."

Bad day for the Brand Lady Carolyn Bivens as Ron Sirak reveals the name she gave her project to shed the LPGA Tour of all those pesky longtime sponsors in favor of new ones who spoke her language: "Vision 2010."

And in this week's SI, Dottie Pepper all but explains how the Commish has messed up. Somehow the vision of Paula Creamer picking up the phone to try and repair the ADT relationship may just mark an all-time low for Bivens:

The LPGA players are a tremendous asset when it comes to drumming up new business and trying to save sponsor relationships. Paula Creamer, for example, called ADT when it was announced that the company would no longer sponsor the year-ending tour championship. She did it because she had a personal connection with company executives and wanted to do whatever she could do to save the business relationship. The tour needs to use players in this manner and be thankful for their commitment.

And while we're on a roll, how about losing the cryptic jargon. For example, the LPGA's announcement said that it hoped to create "economic empowerment opportunities" and "to establish executional excellence as standard." How about "provide our members with as many business opportunities as possible" and "do the very best job we can"? Putting a human touch on the sport starts with the way you talk about it.

Wednesday
Jan142009

"That’s akin to eliminating the need to water six courses, saving an estimated 1.5 billion gallons each year."

Because I was going for a big picture take on Obama, bailouts, the WPA and golf, my Golf World viewpoint did not get into too many specifics regarding environmental retrofitting of existing courses. However, I can't think of a simpler, more sensical model for saving water, improving energy efficiency, creating courses that better co-exist with the environment or doing more to improve golf's image than the Southern Nevada Water Authority's "Water Smart Landscape Program."

Cindy Elliott recently wrote about it and other water-saving programs for Golfweek:

...the program provides courses and other property owners with a rebate of $1.50 for every square foot of turf converted to xeriscape, a lush but water-efficient landscape alternative that requires virtually no maintenance once established.

Major conversions at facilities, including Spanish Trails Golf and Country Club, Red Rock Country Club and Wild Horse Golf Course, have contributed to the transformation of 629 existing acres. That’s akin to eliminating the need to water six courses, saving an estimated 1.5 billion gallons each year.

Imagine how much water and energy could be saved if we could establish a federal program mimicking the SNWA's concept. Seems like a serious win-win here for our courses and the country.

Wednesday
Jan142009

"It's a big year for our talent"

Jim Gorant files a short profile of new Golf Channel man Tom Stathakes, who has shaken up the production team and is looking to elevate the channel's PGA Tour coverage. He's bringing in Paul Azinger for a few telecasts and evaluating the entire announce team. With incidents like this, sounds like there'll be some sleepless nights in Orlando.

Tuesday
Jan132009

Euro Committee Decides That They Better Not Look Indecisive **

First reported to be putting their decision off until May, the committee charged with selecting the next Euro Ryder Cup Captain decided that they might look indecisive if they didn't decide on a captain by the end of this month. Or so Mike Aitken reports:

It was originally believed that if the committee could not reach an agreement this week then the issue would go into cold storage and not be settled until their next scheduled meeting at the Irish Open in May.

While the committee were not prepared to rush their deliberations, it now seems they've listened to concerns that waiting until the spring would make the Tour look indecisive and was not in Europe's best interests.

The players' willingness to choose Europe's next captain this month rather than in May also eliminates charges of favouritism and the possibility of anyone being branded a "second choice" captain.

That means you Sandy!

Tuesday
Jan132009

How Much The Tour Misses Tiger Files

Bob Smiley notes this oddity from PGATour.com's Mercedes Championship coverage.

 

Tuesday
Jan132009

"The last few years we've got stuck in this narrow fairway, long rough kind of setup that's really quite similar every week we play, I think."

A highlight from Geoff Ogilvy's teleconference call today, answering a question about sameness on the PGA Tour:

GEOFF OGILVY: It wasn't really a comment about the architecture of the course we play; it was more about the setup we play. The last few years we've got stuck in this narrow fairway, long rough kind of setup that's really quite similar every week we play, I think. Kapalua is the exact opposite of that: wide fairways, rough is really not in play, big greens. Everything is just different about Kapalua than we play a lot of the year.

I just think a bit more variation in the setup. The TOUR, there was a big player meeting at Charlotte last year where the players and the TOUR got back on the same page about how we think we should set our golf courses up. Maybe we've got a bit off track trying to set them up as extremely narrow, as extremely hard as we can recently, kind of chasing the U.S. Open model, can we add a bit more interest back into our courses? Over the next few years, the TOUR is already taking about a bit more interest in the setup, maybe a little bit less rough. They've already done it at Sawgrass by cutting the rough down and changing the course. I think we're on the right track. I think for a while we got stuck in the narrow fairway, long rough kind of golf course. I think, to be honest with you, there's definitely a time and place for it, but every week it kind of gets boring. That was my point. It's more of a setup thing than an architecture thing.

Tuesday
Jan132009

Part Of The Solution?

My Golf World "Viewpoint" on Barack Obama, bailouts, the WPA and golf's place in the big picture has been posted at GolfDigest.com. Editor Geoff Russell also sets up the piece in his editor's letter.

Let me know what you think.

 

Tuesday
Jan132009

Tadd's Back!

Fujikawa Monday qualifies to spice things up at the Sony Open. I just wonder where he'll be staying. Oh wait, he lives there. 

Tuesday
Jan132009

“A union of uncompromised originals”

...uncompromised? The R&A? Aren't they the ones who change courses instead of the equipment rules? Anyway, score one for the USGA...

The R&A and SABMiller plc today announced that they have enteredinto a long term agreement under which Pilsner Urquell, the iconic beer brand from SABMiller, will become the Official Beer of The Open Championship.

The arrangement is effective from the upcoming 2009 Championshipat Turnberry and will last for five years, taking in confirmed future Championships at St Andrews, Royal St George’s and Royal Lytham and St Annes.

Vinod Giri, International Brand Director of SABMiller plc said, “The heritage, authenticity and premium nature of The Open Championship offer fantastic synergies for Pilsner Urquell. Both brands are the original, uncompromised leaders in their fields and set the gold standard. We are excited by this partnership, and look forward to building a long and successful association with The R&A.”

David Hill, R&A Director of Championships, said, “The R&A is delighted to welcome Pilsner Urquell as the Official Beer of The Open Championship. I’m sure spectators at this year’s Open at Turnberry will be delighted that such an iconic beer is available throughout the Open Championship site.”

Yes, especially since getting to the property will induce migraines.

Monday
Jan122009

"I like watching golf as much as the next sentient being, but four hours of it from the third round of a 32-man event? It's too much, and it leads to bad TV." **

Every member of the SI Golf Plus team--except for Steve the night janitor (who forgot his login name)-- piled onto golf.com's new weekly email roundtable to kick around Geoff Ogilvy's win at Kapalua. Weighing in at a hefty three pages - a novel by online standards - Gary Van Sickle opened up the conversation with concerns about, ironically, the length of Golf Channel's telecast.

While I love the chance to watch live golf in the evening, that doesn't mean I want to watch it the entire evening. What is this, the U.S. Open? I like watching golf as much as the next sentient being, but four hours of it from the third round of a 32-man event? It's too much, and it leads to bad TV.

Alan Shipnuck, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: Is a four-hour telecast too much? Obviously, yes ... every other week of the year. But I love watching the Mercedes because the course makes for thrilling golf, the surfers and spouting whales are a fun diversion, and I'm usually ready to plug back in after months without a meaningful golf tournament. But the mood quickly passes, and then I prefer a shorter telecast to assist my DVR'ing.

I agree that the oversaturation was too much even with those stunning views and much improved production values thanks to Brandt Packer and Jack Graham.

But a greater concern for the PGA Tour should be the burden these excessive telecasts have on the announce teams and the potential created for idiotic commentary. I contended last year that the Kelly Tilghman's back alley lynch remark was largely a product of the announce conditions (too many hours to fill, too many executives wanting ESPN-cutesy humor that is not Tilghman's strongsuit).

This year Rich Lerner was charged with killing time via lengthy interviews and as was pointed out here, Boo Weekley came dangerously close to saying something embarrassing. Readers also noted that Lerner, innocently killing time, may have crossed a line in questioning Davis Love about his return to Hawaii.

As readers pointed out, Golf Channel's sycophantic coverage of Anthony Kim signing autographs and driving off in his courtesy car bordered on the ridiculous. Throw in way too much time for Mark Rolfing to fulfill his obligations to whoever in Hawaii is paying for raves, and the Mercedes Championship was a reminder that more telecast hours do not necessarily translate to a better "product." At four hours with announcers who can only say so much, the pacing is setting the stage for a product liability disaster.

Monday
Jan122009

Euro Ryder Cup Committee Hopes A Few More Months Of Missed Cuts Will Convince Ollie to Reconsider

John Hopkins reports that the committee selecting Europe's 2010 Ryder Cup captain has postponed their decision, giving the British press until May to dig up every conceivable anonymous quote against Sandy Lyle.

Chief of these is that some of the 15-man committee want José María Olazábal, Nick Faldo’s vice-captain at Valhalla in Louisville last September, to be captain. However, Olazábal, 42, is reluctant to accept the challenge, preferring first to recover from the rheumatism and fatigue that disrupted his season in 2008 and then to assess whether he has a chance of making what would be his eighth appearance in the biennial event.

Meanwhile Lawrence Donegan considers the political situation influencing who might be selected, with this on Olazábal and Lyle.

However, if he plays well enough to be in contention for a place on the team, then the focus will shift back to Lyle, who remains the only member of European golf's "big five" from the 1990s (Seve Ballesteros, Faldo, Woosnam and Bernhard Langer being the others) who has not had the honour and the commercial windfall of the Ryder Cup captaincy. "I think it would be a terrible shame if he wasn't given the job," one well-placed member of the European Tour hierarchy said today. "With the right people around to support him he would be fine as a captain."

Boy, there's a ringing endorsement.

Sunday
Jan112009

"If you're trying to get one or two players, you're going to have to move it to San Diego or Orlando"

I should have known last week that there was more to the probing back-and-forth between Tim Finchem and writers over the future of Kapalua as a PGA Tour venue. Doug Ferguson reports that the tour is looking at other venues for the Mercedes, even though most players love it and it looks absolutely stunning on television. (Though it sure would be nice to see the course play faster in the approaches like it did in the early part of this century).

Lots of interesting stuff in the piece, but a few items jumped out:

Ogilvy is among those who took up joint membership on the European Tour this year, and one reason was a variety of courses that he believes the U.S. tour lacks. He finds it odd that a move from Kapalua is being discussed.

"After Florida, you probably play the same golf course 20 times in a row," Ogilvy said. "But to play such an extremely different setup, it's a cool place to start."

After Florida? How about starting with Florida!

Actually, it was wise of Geoff to put it that way. I think any knock on Florida golf architecture is a fineable offense.

The tour is said to be looking at Wailea, about an hour to the east on Maui, where the weather is more predictable. It might have more options for Mercedes' clients to play golf, but it doesn't have the caliber of course that Kapalua offers. Players often criticize the tour for not playing on the best courses available; this could be one of those example.

"I love coming here," said Stewart Cink, one of four players on the tour's policy board. "I like playing here. I think this is a fun course to play. It's different and a challenge in its own way. I would not want to move it. But it's a business decision, I'm sure."

Those tournament week golfing options for the Mercedes customers should take priority after all. Oy. I'm actually feeling sorry for the tour if they were in fact told by the sponsor that this was a concern at the current venue (and I guess it say the Mercedes people don't really like the Bay Course at Kapalua...but it was designed by Arnold Palmer!).

Here's your early evidence of Justin Leonard winning a future Jim Murray Award for giving scribes user friendly, succinct and wonderfully not-so-subtle quotes:

Some players believe the tour is looking at a move to the mainland to make it easier to travel.

"If you're trying to get one or two players, you're going to have to move it to San Diego or Orlando," said Justin Leonard, referring to Mickelson and Woods. "And even then, I don't think those guys would play. It's nice to start here."

Sunday
Jan112009

Ogilvy Win Upstaged By Mark Rolfing's Declaration Of Undying Love For All Things Hawaii

It only went overboard when the Golf Channel/NBC announcer gave those big props to the 50 spectators braving Sunday morning's rain and those frigid temps in the low 70s.

But at the conclusion of Geoff Ogilvy's impressive six-shot win, Rolfing noted that besides all of the week's great shots and relentless plugs for the great state of Hawaii, other highlights were those witty Boo Weekley interviews. I did catch one Friday where Rich Lerner teed Boo up by asking if he would be eating sushi for dinner (thankfully, for the sake of the poor folks in the PGA Tour Fines and Suspensions-We-Won't-Talk-Publicly-About Department still saddled with John Daly paperwork, Boo didn't touch it).

However, a reader sent in this note regarding Saturday's interview:

So last night I'm watching the Boo interview live from Kapalua and as usual the announcers are baiting him for redneckese. He obliges with hunting humor and the like. Then Lerner goes too far and asks him about his upcoming appearance at Qatar. Something along the lines of, has anybody prepped you about the culture over there. Boo's answer was "All I know is I don't have to wear one of them turbans". Awkward silence, then interview over. They replayed the broadcast and had Boo's interview up until that question (went to commercial before).

Wow, something controversial emanating from a Kapalua broadcast position? Can't be!

Sunday
Jan112009

Annika Weds; Photos Leaked Free Of Charge To Media Email Boxes

I guess with no Golf For Women around to sell to for seven figures, why not send photos of Annika Sorenstam's marriage to Nomar Garciaparra Mike McGee out to unsuspecting golf writers?  That's what happened this weekend and Sal Johnson at GolfObserver posts the images along with a report on the ceremony.

Saturday
Jan102009

"I've had a lot of deflated looks up at 18. That's the way it goes."

Enjoyable post round conversation between the scribblers and Geoff Ogilvy after his third round 65 gave him a six-stroke lead at sunny Kapalua, which looks oh so good on Golf Channel HD.

Q. Justin said he got to 18 and looked at the scoreboard and said it was deflating.

GEOFF OGILVY: Yeah, well, I guess it would be. I've never actually been this far in front before, but I've been this far behind a lot of times (laughter). I've had a lot of deflated looks up at 18. That's the way it goes.

And yeah, my pitching has been pretty good. It's probably the only part of my game that I really work on all the time. My golf swing and putting and all that comes and goes, but pitching is something I work on all the time. I think it's one of the most important parts of golf, especially the type of golf we play on TOUR. All the best players in the world are the best pitchers of the ball, so that's a part of my game I work on a lot. I guess this week, it's been pretty good.

Saturday
Jan102009

"Are you doing that old business of forgetting to grip with the third and fourth fingers?"

John Paul Newport's Saturday column covers an underserved topic in golf: the art of gamesmanship. Nice plug for our friend Jon Winokur's misunderstood classic on the subject, too:

The core gamesmanship concepts, in my reading and experience, fall into four categories, all of which prey on a golfer's lonely vulnerability. Implanting irrelevant or otherwise distracting thoughts deep in a player's mind is the most time-honored tactic. "Are those butterflies bothering you? I can try to shoo them away," one may offer. Unwanted instruction is also a perennial: "Are you doing that old business of forgetting to grip with the third and fourth fingers?"

The next category involves deliberately becoming an irritant. Matching your foe's brisk pace of play with a snail's pace of your own is hard to defend against, especially for Type As. Voicing political opinions known to be anathema often produces splendid results. Boldly repeating shopworn expressions -- such as "Never up, never in" when someone leaves a putt short -- is guaranteed to get under anyone's skin.

Next, and less sporting, comes active physical distraction, such as standing just a tad too close, or absent-mindedly jangling change. Mr. Winokur describes The Mangrum, named after former Tour pro Lloyd Mangrum, who was fond of wearing bright white shoes and, while standing just inside his opponent's peripheral vision, crossing his legs at just the right, or wrong, moment.