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Professionals complain a lot, I’ve found. They seem to want fairway traps from which they can reach the green, holes that are not too long, rough that is not too deep, greens that are dead-flat…perhaps if I made my living playing golf I would feel the same, but the fact is that if we turn golf into a putting contest, nobody will care and there won’t be a living.
ROBERT TRENT JONES


    

Wednesday
Apr112007

LPGA Line of Succession Established

Copied and pasted with the LPGA's deranged font settings and spacing kept intact:

Galloway named LPGA deputy commissioner

REUNION, Fla., April 11, 2007 – Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) Commissioner Carolyn F. Bivens today named Elizabeth “Libba” Galloway to the newly created position of deputy commissioner.  The announcement was made following the LPGA’s spring Board of Directors meeting in Reunion, Fla.

           “I am pleased to name Libba to the position of deputy commissioner,” Bivens said.  “Libba’s leadership, insight and commitment to the growth of the LPGA in all facets of our business have been significant in the LPGA’s success.  She will continue to lead the organization for corporate governance and compliance. Libba and I will share the activities we have underway with various association business, including representation of the LPGA in the golf industry and in women’s sports.”

           Galloway most recently held the position of executive vice president, office of the commissioner, where she was responsible for corporate governance and compliance as well as the association’s legal affairs, tournament operations staff and the LPGA’s television distribution.

In addition, she has taken on leadership positions with numerous organizations outside the LPGA on various Boards of Directors: the College of William and Mary Alumni Association; the Sports Lawyers Association; the Daytona Beach and Halifax Area Chamber of Commerce; and the Florida Tennis Center Foundation.

“Carolyn and the entire professional staff of the LPGA have made tremendous strides in the last year and I look forward to continuing what has been one of the most professionally satisfying experiences of my tenure with the LPGA,” said Galloway. “The members of the LPGA are world-class golfers and world-class people and I'm thrilled to be part of our organization's continued growth and success.”

Galloway has a wide range of legal experience, including commercial transactions, mergers and acquisitions, sports law, financing and regulatory, corporate, real estate and banking law.  Prior to joining the LPGA in February 2000, Galloway was a partner in the Cincinnati-based firm of Taft, Stettinius & Hollister, where she was a member of the business and finance department.  For two years prior to her Taft position, Galloway was an associate for Louisville-based Greenebaum, Doll & McDonald in the real estate and finance department.

Wednesday
Apr112007

Covering The Snap

A classic SI cover this week, with Robert Beck's shot of Tiger wrapping his 4-iron around an Augusta National Christmas tree.

0416_large.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Golf World's J.D. Cuban also captured a fantastic sequence of the same moment, but from the side (viewable here along with other Round 4 images).

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_JCC0420.jpg

Wednesday
Apr112007

LPGA "Cross Cultural Professional Development Program"

Exactly as it was sent out...and, yes, the simple answer is, the LPGA has a sponsor for their program to teach players how to speak English.

KOLON signs as title sponsor of

KOLON-LPGA Cross-Cultural Professional Development Program


DAYTONA BEACH
, Fla., April 11, 2007 – KOLON has been named the title sponsor of the Ladies Professional Golf Association’s (LPGA) professional development program that offers educational and cross-cultural communication training for all members and will now be called the KOLON-LPGA Cross-Cultural Professional Development Program.
           “We are excited with our partnership with KOLON, which emphasizes the importance of communication among all individuals, regardless of where they call home,” said LPGA Commissioner Carolyn F. Bivens.  “We successfully test-piloted the cross-cultural program in 2006, and we are eager to expand the program in 2007.”
KOLON has led the way in the development of golf in Korea since 1985, when the honorary chairman of KOLON Group, Dong Chan Lee, was appointed as the chairman of Korea Golf Association

“We are delighted to embark on this new partnership program with the LPGA. Our participation in this program is a tangible reflection of our enhanced contribution to golf,” said Hwan S. Jae, CEO and president of FnC KOLON.  “We believe this program will assist not only Koreans, but all international players to learn the English language and acquire a better understanding and appreciation of the cultural diversity within the LPGA.”

The KOLON-LPGA Cross-Cultural Professional Development Program was designed to assist all LPGA members in developing core skills that will help them be successful as an LPGA professional.  The LPGA showcases an international membership and a global business footprint that establishes the LPGA as the premier women’s professional golf organization in the world.  It boasts a Tour membership exceeding 450, including 117 international players representing 26 countries, while the LPGA Teaching and Club Professionals includes nearly 1,200 golf professionals who are teachers, coaches, managers and entrepreneurs.
            In 2006, Phase I of the program focused on the importance of effective English language communication skills including conversational, survival and golf “speak.”  The program was successful in its inaugural season integrating onsite tutoring sessions into real-life situations, such as weekly pro-ams, media interviews, practice rounds, informal settings with other players and LPGA staff.
Moving forward, the KOLON-LPGA Cross-Cultural Professional Development Program will focus on building social and professional skills with an emphasis on bridging cultural differences; growing awareness of, and sensitivity to, cultural differences exemplified by differing values, assumptions, and communication styles.  The program also emphasizes the skills espoused by the LPGA’s Five Points of Celebrity – Appearance, Relevance, Approachability, Joy/Passion, and Performance; as well as establishing the ability to respond to demands of global golf sport entertainment business.

Wouldn't most other leagues keep something like this a secret?

And an entire press release went by without mentioning the brand. The times they are a...
           
  

Wednesday
Apr112007

Masters Photo Caption Fun, Vol. 4

In light of Jaime Diaz's piece below...

I'm going with "I know it was you Fredo. You broke my heart. You broke my heart!"

Wait, Smith is Fredo. That doesn't work.

Ah, you all can do better.

mickelson_harmon3.jpg 

Wednesday
Apr112007

"Hey, thanks for looking after my buddy for me."

mickelson_harmon2.jpgOh how I love when overpaid swing instructors clash. Golf World's Jaime Diaz shares some great firsthand observations of the budding Rick Smith-Butch Harmon catfight over who gets to tell Phil Mickelson he needs to stop obsessing about distance. And great Dom Furore photo too (left).

Highlights:

Smith made it clear how he feels about Harmon’s forays with Mickelson when he saw Harmon on the practice putting green at the Masters and said, sarcastically, "Hey, thanks for looking after my buddy for me."
And Smith, more blunt: 
"[There has] probably been a lack of communication," said Smith Saturday, acknowledging that the partnership had stalled. “After awhile, the same message doesn’t get through as well. This morning before the round it got a little tense on the practice range because he was hitting the driver poorly and got confused. Finally, he sort of snapped at me, ‘Could you just give me one thing?’

Awkward!


Tuesday
Apr102007

One Last Masters Question

masterslogo.gifIt seems Tiger Woods never came into the press center after his Tuesday chat, right scribs?  And based on his Sunday post round scrum held with TV folks (the lame questions give them away), there are many questions left unanswered about his final round.

Since Tiger will inevitably be dogged by questions at his next Tour event, I'm curious what you would like to have clarified.

I know I have two simple questions that I'd like on the record:

Was the club broken on No. 11 the one you wanted to hit into No. 15 Sunday?

Did the trees on 15 block a straight shot a the flag?

Questions you'd ask if you had the chance? 

Tuesday
Apr102007

Rees-toration of Oakland Hills Update

Thanks to reader Noonan for this Jason Deegan story on the rees-storation of Oakland Hills, site of next year's PGA.

The $1.8 million renovation of the south course at Oakland Hills Country Club, famously dubbed “The Monster” by golf legend Ben Hogan after the 1951 U.S. Open, is nearing its completion.

Architect Rees Jones, hired by the Bloomfield Township club to protect par against the world's best players at the 2008 PGA Championship, has stretched the course more than 300 yards, repositioned fairway bunkers and narrowed fairways to fend off modern players who hit farther and more accurately than ever.

No, they just work out more than ever.

“This will be a significant story in the golf world for Oakland Hills to change,” said Ryan Cannon, the tournament director for the 2008 PGA Championship. “It is like being asked to improve upon the Mona Lisa.”

Well, let's just not say it's the first course to bastardize its architecture for a major championship event. Let's see, there was Oakland Hill in 19...oh.

The length of Oakland Hills ballooned to 7,446 yards from 7,099 yards with 15 new tees. At least 28 bunkers were repositioned or rebuilt and 14 more were added. Some fairway landing zones were shrunk to 22 yards wide. The par-5s at the No. 8 and No. 18 holes will play as par-4s for the tournament, giving the layout four par-4s of at least 490 yards. Only the par-3 third hole remains intact.

22 yards wide. Why not be the first uner 20?

Club officials worried about the course's integrity after seeing elite college players at the 2002 U.S. Amateur bomb tee shots over fairway bunkers and hit wedges to what used to be long, challenging par-4s.

“The members who have seen it so far are thrilled with it,” said Rick Bayliss Jr., Oakland Hills COO. “It is a major championship venue. Our resistance to scoring has always been the greens. With the lengthening, it is a knee-knocker now.”

The job was personal to Jones, who is based in Montclair, N.J. The storied career in golf architecture of his father, Robert Trent Jones Sr., was launched by his Oakland Hills remodeling work before the 1951 U.S. Open.

Ah here comes the quote to rub it in Bobby's face.

“This course meant the most to my father,” Jones said, and the chance to work on it was “the call I was waiting for my whole life,” he added.

“Oakland Hills is one of those wonderful rolling pieces of property where the holes fit like a glove,” said Jones, who has renovated seven U.S. Open courses and six PGA Championship sites. “When we made the changes, it was natural. If somebody blinked from 50 years ago to now, you wouldn't know we touched it.”

Jones said he tried to follow his father's blueprints. At the par-4 16th hole, the pond that has been the site of some of golf's historic moments was enlarged back toward the tee and tucked behind the green. The pond on the par-4 seventh also grew in size. A new tee can stretch the par-3 ninth to 257 yards if needed.

“I don't think it will ever be a monster again. These (pro golfers) are so good,” Jones said. “The game has changed. Oakland Hills is now right at the top of the list (of championship venues) with these advances.”

Well, for now anyway.

Tuesday
Apr102007

Images of Griffith Park

230136-763160-thumbnail.jpg
Colorized view of a historic Griffith Park clubhouse photo by Tom Naccarato (click to enlarge)
I'll be out all day but just as a follow up to my L.A. Times commentary proposing a restoration of George Thomas's Griffith Park designs, here are a few images to enjoy.

Besides Tom Naccarato's enhancement of a historic clubhouse image (left), I've also included one from opening day and an aerial view of the course in 1929.

Enjoy! 

230136-763164-thumbnail.jpg
Willie Hunger, George Thomsa, Ed Tufts, Paul Hunters and W.P. Johnson on opening day
 230136-763922-thumbnail.jpg
Griffith Park's courses in February, 1929

 

Monday
Apr092007

Another Augusta Question

Just consider this with regard to the earlier post on Tiger Woods and the 15th hole as the turning point.

If Tiger has a clear shot at the 15th green Sunday instead of having to hit some silly cut around a Christmas tree, is there not great potential for the kind of explosive golf that so clearly defined the Masters in the previous century?

In other words, with a shot at the green and the potential roar of an eagle putt (and birdie at worst), does that reverberate through the property and influence Zach Johnson's play on 17 or 18? 

Monday
Apr092007

The Future: Relatable Golf?

On the news that ratings were actually up for this hardly satisfying 2007 Masters, I've heard from a number of people that they argued with friends over the weekend about the setup and the joys of watching great players suffer.

There is a sizeable audience of the viewing public that enjoys watching the best players struggle. They like seeing them humiliated and brought down to a lower level of skill.

"They know how I feel now."

This mentality has been around a long time and many of the games lesser-informed writers have celebrated the notion of pro golfers serving as modern day gladiators served up for the people to devour in humiliating spectacles. 

So I'm wondering if championship golf is going to go the way of everything else in our society. Will it have to become "relatable" (as the marketing folks like to say) for big-time golf to succeed? In other words, will professional golfers eventually serve at the pleasure of the people, with major events played to publicly humiliate millionaire golfers on overcooked layouts in order to make the average man feel better about his lousy game?

Personally, I find it to be an incredibly selfish way to view golf. It's a lot more fun to see the talent of these great players exposed, celebrated and savored. But maybe that's old school?  Thoughts?

Monday
Apr092007

Letter From Augusta

Bill Fields at GolfDigest.com with a Darwinesque letter from the 71st Masters.

Monday
Apr092007

Solid Masters Ratings

Up 1% despite Easter Sunday. Just what the committee needs...encouragement that people enjoyed that kind of golf... 

CBS SPORTS’ RATINGS RISE FOR COVERAGE OF MASTERS® FINAL ROUND

CBS Sports’ coverage of the 2007 Mastersâ on Easter Sunday, April 8, in which Zach Johnson won an improbable green jacket, earned an average overnight household rating/share of 9.1/21 in the metered markets.  This year’s final-round rating/share was up 1% from last year’s 9.0/19 when Phil Mickelson won his second Masters title.  It was also was up 25% from the last time the final round was played on Easter Sunday in 2004 (7.3/18), when Mickelson won his first green jacket and first career major title.

CBS Sports’ final-round coverage of the Masters peaked with a rating/share of 11.2/24 from 6:00-6:30 PM, ET.

This year’s final-round coverage of the Masters was higher rated than any of the other final rounds of golf’s majors in 2006: +82% higher than the 2006 British Open final round (5.0/14); +78% higher than the 2006 U.S. Open final round (5.1/12); and +26% higher than the 2006 PGA Championship final round (7.2/16).

CBS Sports’ coverage of the 2007 Masters on Saturday, April 7 earned an overnight metered market rating/share of 6.1/13, up 20% from last year’s Saturday third-round coverage which earned a  5.1/11.

This year’s 6.1/13 rating for third-round coverage of the Masters is the highest overnight metered market rating/share since a 6.2/14 in 2003.


Monday
Apr092007

L.A. Times Public Golf Special Section

230136-763160-thumbnail.jpg
Colorization of a historic Griffith Park clubhouse photo by Tom Naccarato (click to enlarge)
The L.A. Times has published a meaty special section today on L.A. public golf. It includes my plea for a restoration of George Thomas's Griffith Park restoration and my architectural critique of 10 great values. and five overrrated layouts.

There's also Daniel Wexler's guide to historic courses and his look at desert golf.

There's also Tiger's memories of SoCal golf and Thomas Bonk looks at the renovated Torrey Pines South.

Peter Yoon covers the impact of internet-based tee time reservation systems.

Glenn Bunting talks to Dave Pelz.

And the editors make their picks for the best of SoCal golf.

Monday
Apr092007

"The course was certainly as firm as most (British) Open venues"

I don't know what these guys watched, but the last four days, the fairways at Augusta didn't look that firm and fast to me.

The greens did, but not the fairways.

Anyway, Brian Hewitt at TheGolfChannel seems to be reaching with this one:

It’s my contention Jones and MacKenzie gleefully would have told the second-guessers that this 71st Masters played much more like an Open Championship than a U.S. Open.
 
This notion began incubating in my brain early in the week when defending champion Phil Mickelson came off the course and explained the difficulty of the green complexes and their putting surfaces. It’s not so much reading the break that’s hard, Mickelson said. It’s figuring out exactly where the ball is going to stop rolling.
 
This, of course, is exactly what links golf is all about. And the more of this Masters I watched, the more I became transfixed by the troubles the best players in the world were having getting their golf balls to stop where they wanted them to stop on and around the greens.

"The course was certainly as firm as most (British) Open venues," Doak informed me. "Some people think it's impossible to keep it that firm and have it green, too. But it is possible if you have enough money to hand-water the dry spots. And Augusta certainly has the resources to follow through.

Well, I suppose if you think some British Open venues of late have been way too soft and green, yes! 

Sunday
Apr082007

ANGC's (Lack of) Tee Flexibility

apr8_johnsonmain_372x400.jpgAs appalling as the rough or tree planting plays in light of Bobby Jones's eloquently stated design philosophy, it appeared Sunday that the lack of tee flexibility hindered the committee's ability to make a few holes more vulnerable.

Every time there was a wide view of a tee shot, it seemed the markers were placed as far forward as possible. On holes playing into the wind where you want to tempt players to attack (13, 15), there was no alternate tee between the back and forward tees that might have forced led to some more aggressive golf. (And therefore, perhaps more drama?)

Also knowing that Jones and MacKenzie were hoping to import elements of links golf to their inland site, tee flexibility would be seemingly vital to preventing what Jones lamented:

…with our own best courses in America I have found that most of our courses, especially those inland, may be played correctly the same way round after round. The holes really are laid out scientifically; visibility is stressed; you can see what you have to do virtually all the time; and when once you learn how to do it, you can go right ahead, the next day, and the next day, and the day after that.

I've never understood the club's obsession with the "clean" look of two sets of tees along with the odd decision to bulldoze the old tees when extending the course.

Add it to the list of architectural oddities that has the place just not playing as well as it should.

Sunday
Apr082007

Final Round Masters Clippings Vol. 1

masterslogo.gif

Zach Johnson, Masters Champion. Nothing against Zach, but let's face it, another freakish setup produced a surprise winner. Albeit one who held up beautifully under the pressure, but nonetheless, not someone who you sensed was one of the world's elite.

Lawrence Donegan in The Guardian:

The stunning climax came after three days peppered with double bogeys and broken spirits. Fortunately, the gentlemen in green blazers remembered their tournament has earned its place in folklore because it has long been a byword for excitement. But there are precious few thrills to be mined from the sight of the world's best players fearfully plotting their way round the course as if walking to their own funeral party.

So when play began yesterday morning it quickly became clear everything possible had been done to bring the scoring down. Tees had been pushed forward, the greens had been heavily watered and the pin positions were about as friendly as a Labrador puppy. The overnight changes had the desired effect. For the first time all week cheers echoed along the alleyways and canyons of Alister Mackenzie's classic links.

Ron Sirak is trying way too hard to win one of those Masters lifetime achievement writing things they gave out Wednesday:

Going into Sunday, there was real doubt among many that perhaps something of the Masters magic had been lost by the way the course had been renovated. But let the record also show that almost all of the players were fine with the way the course played -- calling it severe but fair, challenging but not tricked up. The patrons, adjusting to the scarcity of eagles and birdies, were probably the ones who needed the most convincing, but even they were finally won over by a Sunday that, while lacking a Tiger victory, was both inspiring and well played.
Let's see what the people at Nielsen say.

Doug Ferguson on Zach Johnson. Here's Johnson's post round press conference.


Lorne Rubenstein says that the more tricked up the course gets, the easier it is for a clever strategist and great putter like Zach Johnson to win.

The hole stats are here. Final tally for the week was 75.884.

The final round hole stats are here. The average for Sunday was 74.331.

The driving distance numbers are here.

The eagle summary is here (18, 10 Sunday).

The birdie summary is here.

The putting summary is here.

Driving accuracy is here.

Okay on to the columns. Martin Johnson in the Telegraph:

You'd be hard pressed to find a whiter set of teeth anywhere in sport, but when Tiger Woods starts to breathe on the rest of the field in a major championship, the effect is usually like a blast of halitosis. Terrible choking noises and dead bodies everywhere.

It's certainly been nippy in Augusta this weekend, but Royal Dornoch in January it is not. In any event, if it's cold, why don't these players wear woolly hats like the rest of us?

The answer to that one, of course, is that they're all paid ludicrous amounts of money to wear caps and visors with sponsored logos, so much so that there are some players on tour you'd never recognise with a bare head. You can just imagine the vicar at Woods' wedding. "Excuse me, Mr Woods, but before you take this woman to be your lawful wedded wife, would you mind removing your Nike hat?"

But there's no denying that the severity of the course this year has altered the character of the tournament. There has not been such a funereal silence around Amen Corner since Greg Norman's final-round implosion in 1996, when the Great White Shark turned into a rollmop herring, and all you could hear was the splash of another of Greg's golf balls plunging into Rae's Creek. The severity of the course this year is such that when Tim Clark, joint leader on Saturday morning, went round in 80, he still found himself no worse than four strokes off the lead.

There have been suggestions that the Masters is turning into the US Open, head down, grind it out, and try to keep a triple bogey off your card.
Ken Carpenter calls it the worst Masters ever and calls it a boring week of "generally awful" golf.

Art Spander said Sunday was "exciting and fascinating."  

AP's Jim Litke had this on Tiger: 
"It was difficult, very difficult," Woods said. "It was the hardest Masters I've ever seen, with the wind, the dryness, the speed of these things. I told a couple guys out here this week, 'I was glad I had metal spikes on, or I would have slipped on the greens, they were so slick.'"

Woods exited the clubhouse soon after, surrounded by his agent and four security guards, sipping a diet soda and carrying a new driver under his arm. He headed for the driving range and so strong is the legend that's grown up around Woods that a few people following him actually thought he was going to practice.

Instead, he used a back entrance to the players' parking lot, started up the car and drove down Magnolia Lane. There would be no more golf this day. This Masters was over, and with it went a piece of Tiger's aura of invincibility.

Gary Van Sickle says Tiger looked mortal Sunday. 

Frank Hannigan shares some thoughts on CBS's Masters approach.

Mick Elliott says the U.S. Open-like antics have turned the Masters into divine comedy.

Dave Seanor believes that Augusta needs to build mounds to help spectators and that they can bulldoze them after each tournament. He makes up for that nutty post with this on the same blog:

Phil Mickelson, who just opened Round 4 with a triple-bogey 7, was spotted working with Butch Harmon on the range at Doral and Tucson.

Bumping into Harmon in the Augusta National pro shop, I posed the question: When are you going full time with Phil?

"I don't know what you're talking about," Butch said, turning his back to me. "I'll let you know when I find out."

Sounded cryptic enough for Rick Smith to be concerned.

Sunday
Apr082007

The Snap

Well it was mentioned earlier on the live blog that plenty of editors were surely waiting anxiously to see if their shutterbugs captured the shot of Tiger breaking his club on one of those silly 11th hole pines. SI's Jim Herre surely was pleased that Robert Beck delivered. From golf.com:

tigerbreak02_600x600.jpg 

 

Sunday
Apr082007

Tiger's Post Final Round Press Conference

Looks like they couldn't get him in the media center, so a lot of questions didn't get asked in the scrum:

Q. Were the scoring conditions a little bit better today?

TIGER WOODS: They were, definitely. The pin locations were a little bit softer. They didn't quite -- they were probably one or two steps from where they normally are. So they gave us a break, which was nice. And gave us a chance to go out there and score.

And 69 was low.

Q. Does it make it even more disappointing to not get a couple more --

TIGER WOODS: It still wasn't easy. Look at the scores out there today. I'm sure there weren't a whole lot of rounds under par today again.

I had a chance, but looking back over the week I basically blew this tournament with two rounds where I had bogey, bogey finishes. That's 4-over in two holes. The last two holes, you just can't afford to do that and win Major championships.

Oy vey:

Q. How hard is it to win that second Major. What's it going to take for Zach to maybe step up and win that second one?

TIGER WOODS: Well, just keep giving yourself chances. That's the thing. The more chances you give yourself the more likelihood you're going to end up winning tournaments. Just like any other regular tournament event or Major. The more times you're up there, the more you learn from the experiences, but also the more chances you gave yourself to win.

And it was fair...

Q. The Masters generally is a bunch of birdies on the back nine, this definitely wasn't that today. Would you like it like this or would you like to see a lot more birdies on the back nine?

TIGER WOODS: Whatever it is, I don't care, as long as I come out on top. But this golf course the way it's playing right now, as dry and as fast as it is, it was a fair test. That's the thing. Granted, it was extremely difficult, but at least it was fair.

Sunday
Apr082007

Was 15 The Turning Point?

masterslogo.gifPrior to the recent tree planting between 15 and 17, Tiger Woods would have had an open shot at this par-5 green and a great chance of knocking it on in two, making birdie or even possibly eagle. That would have set off one of the collosal roars that the CBS boys kept trying to tell us were happening Sunday.

Instead, Tiger has to hit a cut around one of the trees, knocks it in the water and struggles to make a great par.

There were many other instances where the new trees and rough eliminated attacking shots, but this seemed to be the most blatant and the most significant in stripping the tournament of some of its past excitement.

Thoughts? 

Sunday
Apr082007

Green Jacket Ceremony Live Blog

4:10 - Billy Payne thanks everyone including the Argentine and Bolivian Golf Associations.

4:11 - Tepid applause for Fred Ridley. 

4:12 - Even more tepid applause for "chairman emeritus" Hootie Johnson.

4:13 - Zach Johnson thanks "commissioner" Payne.

4:13 - And because it's Easter Sunday, "thank you Jesus."  I think he got the message!