I almost feel sorry for the folks running the Skins. Almost. But this is clearly punishment for exempting
the Players Championship The PLAYERS winner two years ago.
The educated taste admires simplicity of design and sound workmanship for their own sake rather than over-decoration and the crowding of artificial hazards. The strategic school above all aims at escaping formality by limiting the use of the artificial bunker, the excessive employment of which can easily crowd a course to the ruin of everything that contributes to spaciousness of design.
I almost feel sorry for the folks running the Skins. Almost. But this is clearly punishment for exempting
the Players Championship The PLAYERS winner two years ago.
I believe the coverage was pre-empted by fire coverage here in Southern California, but I'm not entirely sure because I forgot to turn it on. However, Freddie picked up some nice tip money.
After round 2 of the World Cup, more from Boo Weekley...
Q. You've been to a couple tournaments outside of the U.S. this year already, this is your third event outside the U.S., and now the season is over on the U.S. Tour. Would you like to come out more, especially after this experience in China, maybe this part of the world? Would you like to come out this way and play more events this year or maybe in the future?
BOO WEEKLEY: Yes, I like to travel. It's just a long ways from home. But you know, I'd like to come over and play different golf courses. I'd like to see a little more of what the actual culture of how they built the courses -- I know they all ain't like this out here. It would be interesting to go see something more of a links style or something that they had them over here.
Q. What about outside the golf course, would you like to see more?
BOO WEEKLEY: Oh, yeah. I'd like to go see where like The Great Wall, just look and see what all this place has to offer. You know, just kind of like you live in the south where we live at, you know, it's a bunch of rednecks. And then you go north, you got the Yankees. So it's different. I know it's different over here, too.
The excitement appears fully contained for the 25th Skins. I'd list the TV times, but do you really care?
The Wall Street Journal (thanks reader John) says Greg Norman paid $4.9 and is now offering it at $65 million, while the New York Post (thanks Tuco) says the Normans are moving closer and closer to Oliver and Barbara Rose territory. Get this man a brand coach.
Boo Weekley and Heath Slocum fired 61 to open the World Cup in China which gave them the lead, but more importantly, meant a press room visit for Boo.
Anyone know what this means?
BOO WEEKLEY: We played pretty solid today. We just brother in lawed it very well, kept it in play and kept us it front of us.Love this exchange:
Q. What did you know about China before you came here?Shockingly, Boo is not out and about much...
BOO WEEKLEY: Not much.
BOO WEEKLEY: No, sir. Rice.
Q. The Wall?
BOO WEEKLEY: Sir?
Q. The Wall.
BOO WEEKLEY: Oh, yeah, I know The Great Wall of China, but I thought it was closer to where we're at, and I found out it was a lot further away. But yeah, I knew the Wall was here.
Q. And what have been your impressions of China so far?
BOO WEEKLEY: We ain't been ever doing nothing. We go straight to the motel and straight here, but I know the people here are friendly. It's very nice, they always say hey and they are polite and stuff, and that's always a plus when you show up somewhere, especially in a foreign country and they are polite and nice. That's a plus for me.
For more Boo, check out his My Shot in the latest Golf Digest.
Granted, it needs to be built, but...
Thomas Dunne pens one of my favorite stories of the year in the November/December T&L Golf on an Alister MacKenzie design that was never built.
The course that the Good Doctor drew up for Anchorena turned out to be something special, even by MacKenzie’s standards. Though it would bear many hallmarks of other great courses he designed, it was in one way compellingly different: It features nine double greens of the sort that distinguish the Old Course at St. Andrews. The routing was an ingenious intertwining of two nine-hole loops, somewhat similar to that of Muirfield. MacKenzie apparently scouted the grounds, drew up the plans, handed them over and presumably collected a fee—but then the course was never built.
Why MacKenzie’s design for El Boquerón wasn’t executed remains a mystery. Instead, Anchorena hired Dentone to build a nine-hole course on the estancia grounds that, although situated in the location that MacKenzie had in mind, was only loosely based on his design. It too was called El Boquerón, it had a clubhouse, and golf was played on it for a generation by the Anchorena family and their friends. But after the patriarch’s death in 1951, the property was divided among his heirs, and the course gradually disappeared.
One of those heirs was Enrique Anchorena Jr., who turned the clubhouse into his permanent home and kept the original MacKenzie plans in a frame above the fireplace. There the document languished for the rest of the century, a faded star in the Englishman’s glittering career.
You know I got something wrong here the other day.
I pointed out that the various British writers gushing over the European Tour's "Road to Dubai" announcement also happened to have their way paid by the Tour.
Actually, that was not the case. It seems to have been much worse.
From Elling's Knockdown Shots:
News item: Members of the British press corps on Monday were flown to Dubai on the personal jet of the royal family of the United Arab Emirates in order to attend the announcement regarding the mega-money 2009 event.
Steve Elling is back with another edition, this time punching knockdown shots at the LPGA's season ending madness.
Here's the link to the printer friendly version in case you don't want to wade through four pages of someone brilliant way to generate page views. Or if you work in Daytona Beach and need to print this out for next Monday's staff meeting when the Commissioner asks who this Elling guy is.
News item: As one of the new wrinkles in the ADT Championship, the LPGA's quirky shootout with $1 million awarded to the winner, those advancing to the final eight were allowed to pick their playing spots for Sunday's round. One by one, before a crowd of perhaps 1,000 fans, players placed their names into openings in the four scheduled twosomes.
Knockdown shot: As the field filled out, the last available slot was in the pairing opposite prickly princess Cristie Kerr, who laughed aloud to the crowd, "Nobody wants to play with me, apparently." Actually, it was no joke. Minutes earlier, a very prominent player noted how she didn't want to play with the reigning U.S. Open champion, who is, to put it kindly, on the snooty side of condescending.
Oh and it's not all LPGA. Here's the YouTube clip he referenced where there is a special moment 29 seconds in...
Essentially, it appears the PGA Tour is admitting in its own special way that it made a mistake taking the
Western BMW out of Chicago:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 21, 2007
BMW CHAMPIONSHIP TO MAKE THREE-YEAR CHICAGO RUN (2009-2011)
Crooked Stick Golf Club to host PGA TOUR Playoff event in 2012
(PONTE VEDRA BEACH, FL) — The PGA TOUR, Western Golf Association (WGA) and BMW of North America today announced that the BMW Championship, the third event in the PGA TOUR Playoffs for the FedExCup, will play three consecutive years in the Chicago area beginning in 2009.
Crooked Stick Golf Club, outside Indianapolis, originally scheduled to host the BMW Championship in 2010, will now host the event in 2012. The previously announced 2008 schedule remains unchanged as the event will be played Sept. 1-7 at Bellerive Country Club in St. Louis.
The Dubsdread Course at Cog Hill Golf and Country Club, located 30 miles southwest of Chicago and the site of the 2007 BMW Championship, is set to undergo a re-design by Rees Jones in 2008. The tournament is scheduled to return to Cog Hill G&CC in 2009.
BMW entered a six-year partnership agreement in June 2006 with the PGA TOUR and the WGA to sponsor the third of four PGA TOUR Playoff events for the FedExCup. Tiger Woods won the BMW Championship at Cog Hill G&CC in 2007 en route to capturing the inaugural FedExCup. Woods is a four-time champion of the BMW Championship.
“The PGA TOUR is delighted with the support of Crooked Stick, the WGA and BMW for this schedule change. We believe this new sequence for the BMW Championship will only enhance the tremendous appeal of this great event,” said PGA TOUR Commissioner Tim Finchem. “The BMW Championship will be exceptional next year at Bellerive Country Club in St. Louis, and then Chicago-area golf fans will enjoy four straight years of watching the world's best players through three consecutive playings of the BMW Championship followed by the 2012 Ryder Cup.”
“The new schedule for the BMW Championship is a plus for everyone, especially the golf fans of Chicago and Indianapolis,” said Tournament Director John Kaczkowski of the Western Golf Association. “We’re looking forward to playing three consecutive years in Chicago beginning in 2009. It also makes sense to move the BMW Championship to Crooked Stick in 2012 with Chicago set to host the Ryder Cup that year at Medinah Country Club. Our partnership with BMW and the PGA TOUR allows us to generate significant funds for the tournament’s sole beneficiary, the Evans Scholars Foundation, and this schedule will enhance that commitment.”
“Chicago is a tremendous sports town, and 2007 marked an outstanding debut for the BMW Championship at Cog Hill,” said Tom Purves, Chairman and CEO, BMW (US) Holding Corp. “We look forward to returning to Chicago for another three years and are already working on ways to further enhance the BMW Championship experience for fans over the coming years.”
“We’ve been looking forward to the arrival of the BMW Championship in Indianapolis, but with our club already hosting the 2009 U.S. Senior Open, the 2010 date would have presented some challenges in preparation,” said Doug Cook, Crooked Stick Golf Club president. “With the club now scheduled to host the BMW Championship in 2012, we have some breathing room to get ready. We’re expecting great support from Indiana golf fans for the BMW Championship, and with the extra time to prepare, that support should only grow.”
**Thanks to reader Al for Ed Sherman's Chicago Tribune story where it's even more clear that they know they goofed:
Beyond 2012, indications are that the tour intends to keep the BMW anchored in Chicago. Bob Combs, the tour's senior vice president of communications, wouldn't speculate because current television and sponsor contracts only run through 2012.
However, Combs did say, "It's clear from the tour perspective that Chicago is the home of this golf tournament. We hope this change makes clear that's the case."
Combs acknowledged public reaction played a big part in this decision. The PGA Tour received a strong backlash with the tour's original plan to rotate the BMW out of Chicago every other year.
Players, led by Tiger Woods, thought it was ludicrous for the PGA Tour to abandon the nation's third-largest market, especially because fan support always has been strong at Cog Hill.
"The public and media response was a factor," BMW Executive Director John Kaczkowski said. "This is something we wanted to address and we can. From our standpoint, the Western Golf Association is Chicago-based. This is a big victory for the golf fans in Chicago."
In Golf World's year-end "newsmakers" issue, I pitch an alternate scenario the PGA Tour should consider for the conclusion to the FedEx Cup. Granted, I'm simply advocating that they adopt an ADT Championship-like format for the finale.
On the PGA and Champions tours, six players have won in a year and a half using Stack & Tilt: Aaron Baddeley (pictured), Mike Weir, Dean Wilson, Eric Axley, Will MacKenzie and John Cook. Converts also include: Jesper Parnevik, Steve Elkington, Charlie Wi and about a dozen others. Plummer estimates they'll add 10 more tour students before next season. But the Plummer-Bennett plan sees the tour as just a stopover. "Teaching tour players gets you great exposure, but we want to change the way the average person plays golf," says Bennett, 39, who grew up in upstate New York and still tries to Monday-qualify for tour events. "It's the simplest way to swing a club," adds Plummer. "For the same reason it works for the best players, it works for everyone. The geometry doesn't change."
Thanks to reader Hugh for this Robert Allenby rant on the morbid state of Australian professional golf events. It seems we read about this argument every year...
In an unprompted tirade during a press conference ahead of this week's Australian Masters in Melbourne, Allenby accused the media of having driven former world No.1 Norman out of the country through constant negativity.
And he said a similar thing was being done to the latest generation of Australian players.
"It's quite amazing that everyone plays in America, they think (Australian players) are pretty awesome in how we play and they love us over there, but sometimes we're perceived that we're not that good in Australia," Allenby said.
"I think it comes down to that tall poppy syndrome that Greg Norman fought for a lot of years.
"If you look back and look at the abuse that the media did give Greg Norman, eventually he'd just had enough and said I'm not coming back.
"That's kind of what happens to a lot of players.
"I'm not saying that's the reason why Geoff (Ogilvy) and Adam (Scott) are not here (for the Masters), but sometimes it can wear on you, especially when we're over the other side of the world playing for most of the year.
"We want to come back, we want to support the tour, but you come back and all you do is cop abuse from the media ... I think that's really hurt Australian golf."
Thanks to reader Patrick for the latest Martin Johnson gem, where this time he takes on the recent article bemoaning older golfers.
Not many of us were even aware of the existence of a magazine called The Golf Club Secretary Newsletter until it recently bemoaned the "leech" effect of increasingly elderly memberships at the nation's clubs. It paints a world of wheezing old Methuselahs, who do not so much require lessons from the club pro on the art of clearing the hips, as a consultation with their GP on the advisability of replacing them.Fast forward...
What we are now seeing on the country's golf courses, however, is merely a reflection of society as a whole, and more particularly, of the apparently limitless desire of a nanny government to make sure that we all live to be at least 150. They do not seem to have twigged that if they continue to issue dire warnings on everything from alcohol to bacon sandwiches, the social security system will eventually collapse under the sheer weight of wizened old fogies, and the reigning monarch will eventually be forced to sell off the royal tiaras in order to pay for all those 100th-birthday telegrams.
In any event, as we all know, it is not the seniors who cause the most frustration on a golf course, it's the confounded juniors. They have largely taken up the game from watching how the professionals do it on television, which means that they spend several minutes tossing up bits of grass to test the wind, decline to play until they have not only checked their yardage for the 15th time, but also the alignment of Jupiter and Pluto, and when they finally duff one about 10 feet, stand with hands on hips pouting and muttering for another 30 seconds.
The likes of Monty may take a bit longer to get to his golf ball, but when he does, the group behind is in little danger of sprouting a beard before he has hit it. When you are 84, and you have probably only got another 25 years of golf left in you, life is far too short to be hanging around.
It's about time The Golf Club Secretary Newsletter got stuck into the single most irritating genre of players, and we are talking here about all those who utter, about 30 times a round, such irritating inanities as: "Drive for show, putt for dough, I always say."
For these people, there is only one appropriate punishment. Get them to dig a six-foot grave, line them up in front of a firing squad, pull the trigger, and yell out at the top of your voice: "Get in the hole!"
You may recall that I wondered what was taking so long to nominate a replacement for beleaguered outgoing USGA President Walter Driver. After all, Driver's nomination for 2006 was announced in July, 2005, effectively rendering his fellow Augusta National member and then-president Fred Ridley a lame duck with six months to go.
Now we may know what took so long to learn that Jim Vernon was the nominee.
Several sources within the USGA report that the 2008 nomination was held up due to Driver's attempts to secure the position for an unprecedented third term as USGA president.
Though I first heard the rumor at the U.S. Amateur this summer and shrugged it off as idle gossip involving a widely despised leader, I've since learned that Driver's intentions were well known throughout the organization. My sources also say that once Driver had failed to convince nominating committee chair Trey Holland that a third presidential year would keep the USGA on the right course, Driver reportedly turned his attention to nominating Jim Hyler over Vernon.
No source could explain why Driver pushed so hard for Hyler even though Vernon has served on the Executive Committee longer and seemed to be the most logical replacement. In a few years, Driver will chair the nominating committee and you have to wonder if he will nominate himself again when given the chance.
To put this into some historical context, not since the inaugural term of Theodore Havemeyer in 1894-96 has anyone served longer than three years, and Havemeyer died midway through year three. Furthermore, since 1936 every USGA president has served a pair of consecutive 1-year terms.
My sources also report that Executive Director David Fay has been neutralized by the current Executive Committee and Driver in particular. The longtime head staffer holds far less clout within the current USGA power structure and reportedly has been asked to leave several recent Executive Committee meetings while other staff members below him on the chain of command remained in the room.
This may explain one of the curious quotes in Vernon's nomination press release:
“I look forward to working closely with executive director David Fay and his talented staff to make sure that we continue to conduct the very best championships in golf and to fulfill our responsibilities to establish equipment rules that are based on informed science and facts.”
Good times in Far Hills!
I just want to take this moment to apologize to the gang in Ponte Vedra for ever implying that you ever sell naming rights in tacky fashion.
Because after reading the slew of stories covering the European Tour's Monday announcement of a new sponsor--scooped a week ago by Lawrence Donegan--it really is hard to imagine a more dramatic
whoring sell-out by the Euro Tour. Oh, and by the way, what rich coverage from the various writers who made it to Dubai, reportedly on the European Tour's dime. Or Leisurecorp's? Or, well, they're one and the same now.
The Principal, who did not accept a free trip, naturally has a less than positive take on the news.
From Lewine Mair's Telegraph story:
The man who wins the inaugural Dubai World Championship, which is to take place at the Jumeirah Golf Estates from Nov 19-22, 2009, could make off with a cool £1.8 million. Aside from a winner's cheque of £800,000 from a £4.9 million prize-fund, which will make the championship the richest individual tournament in the game, he could also bag the top prize of £975,000 from a bonus pool worth another £4.9 million.
And how about his buried item:
Aside from the Dubai World Championship and the bonus pool, Leisurecorp will construct an international headquarters for the European Tour in the city which will take in a centre of excellence. Again, the Tour will combine with the company to create a global property operation to develop new tournament venues around the world.
Isn't that special?
James Corrigan notes the improvement with a traditional calendar year schedule:
With an overall prize pot of almost £10m, the Dubai World Championship will replace the Volvo Masters as the grand finale to the campaign – which will now run, blessedly, from January to November instead of October to October – with the Order of Merit giving way to the "Race To Dubai".
Douglas Lowe speculates that Tiger may be enticed to join the European Tour so he can spend even more time enjoying life in bucolic Dubai:
Woods, through his management company IMG, has already inquired what would be involved to join the club and he is not far away from meeting requirements which, critically, involves playing in 11 European Tour events, or 10 plus the new season-ender that will be limited to the top 60 in the order of merit that will be renamed Race to Dubai.
With major and world golf championships counting as co-sanctioned events, Woods starts off with seven. Add in tournaments like the HSBC Champions in which he played last year and the Dubai Desert Classic and he is just one short. The rules may even change as the European Tour's influential players committee are meeting in January in Abu Dhabi to discuss the rule of 11, although it is believed a reduction is not on the agenda.
John Hopkins pretty much (I think) finds the whole thing hard to fathom:
The $1.66 million that will go to the winner of the Dubai World Championship in 2009 and the $2m that a golfer will receive for winning what we now know as the Order of Merit but will be renamed The Race To Dubai at the same time undeniably add up to loads of dosh, much moolah and all that. But to win the bounty for TRTD the golfer will have had to compete very successfully on the European Tour for the previous year. And to win the DBC he will have to play very well for 72 holes in November 2009. It might be a lot of money that he is receiving but that is a lot of golf, too.
Has the world gone mad? How many more nurses could be employed if a fraction of that sum was diverted into the National Health. How many more teachers? How many more doctors?
Market forces, as well as a good any other things, were present at the Burj Al Arab hotel in Dubai when the Dubai World Championship and TRTD were announced on Monday. A burly Australian with an accent you could cut with a knife spoke of his pleasure at being able to announce that his company was investing $200m dollars in these two events and a few others and said that though the investment was for five years initially it would probably be extended to ten years. And George O'Grady, executive director of the European Tour, spoke of his pleasure at being able to announce two such whopping events as the DWC and TRTD.
Norman Dabell features this gem of a quote from George O'Grady:
"With the combined prize funds of the Dubai World Championship and The Race to Dubai we have the prospect of a player standing over a putt for $3,666,660.
And you thought deferred compensation was tricky to explain.
Speaking of The Road To Dubai, Lawrence Donegan, who does not appear to have accepted the complimentary junket to file from Dubai, puts things in perspective by considering those who build the roads.
The fanfare will sound next Monday when the European tour officially announces it will be staging the most lucrative golf tournament in the history of the game. Twenty million dollars (£10m) at stake over four days on a course in Dubai. Nice work if you can get it, or at least nicer work than the work done by the immigrant labourers in the so-called "world's greatest tourist destination" who went on strike last week in support of a claim that would see their wages rise from £52 a month to £79.
The good news is the labourers got their rise. The bad news they returned to a life - to quote the 2006 Human Rights Watch report Building Towers, Cheating Workers - of "wage exploitation, indebtedness to unscrupulous recruiters and working conditions that are hazardous to the point of being deadly".
No doubt the European tour would object to any suggestion that its willingness to accept the backing of the United Arab Emirates government for a $20m tournament is an endorsement of the kind of practices, unchecked by the very same government, described in the Human Rights Watch report.
Enjoyed this too. Score another one for Greg's brand.
Even if direct culpability could be established, it would be unfair to single out the European tour alone for criticism. Only this week Greg Norman turned up in Dubai to launch the Greg Norman Limited Edition Range Rover Sport - given away free to those who purchase one of the 66 luxury homes at the "Fireside by Greg Norman" estate. "Dubai has put itself on the map as the ultimate destination for golf and residence," declared the Great White Property Shark. Poor Greg, he probably thinks Human Rights Watch is a limited-edition timepiece.
Steve Elling inexplicably kicks off the year-in-review onslaught before the Ames-Johnson-Wetterich-Couples Skins Game is even played. Imagine that?
Here are both parts on a single page. My favorites:
It's the money, stupid
So, if the season is too long and top players need their offseason rest, which precipitated the creation of a FedEx Cup structure that ends in September, what's Mickelson doing playing in two events in Asia this month? If Els is leading the European Tour money list with one week left in the season, why is he playing in Asia instead of trying to fend off Justin Rose at the Euro Tour season finale in Spain? Chinese cha-ching, that's why. Draw your own conclusions about any apparent hypocrisy.
Oh the "H" word. You go!
Worst-course award, 2007 version
This is a crowded field with several deserving contestants, but the winner has to be the new host track for the Bob Hope event, the Classic Club. It was classic only if you happened to be born a camel, a roadrunner or a horned toad.
Built so far out in the desert along Interstate 10 that trees actually grow sideways from the prevailing and persistent winds, the final round was all but unwatchable as scoring skied and six players failed to crack 80. The experience was so awful, the lone top-10 player in the field, Mickelson, gave strong signals that he might not return in 2008. After he got through picking sand out of his eyes, anyway.
Once a popular event featuring the late comedian and his high-powered celebrity friends, the event has deteriorated into the weakest link on the early schedule. The sands of time on this fading event might have run out.
But they have George Lopez.
Speaking of Bob Hope ...
Or established entertainers like Glen Campbell, Sammy Davis Jr., Danny Thomas, Jackie Gleason, Andy Williams or Bing Crosby, for that matter. They all hosted tour events over the years and were huge stars of their era.
Saving one of its most head-scratching decisions for last, the tour this week elected to prop up former boy-band singer Justin Timberlake as the host of the largely overlooked Las Vegas event beginning in 2008. The sparsely attended Vegas event is in dire need of sizzle, but what key demographic in golf is he supposed to be attracting here, 13-year-old girls? To wit, here's a sample of the lyrics from his tune Rock Your Body:I'll have whatever you have; come on, just give it up girl,Ah, remember the painful throes of puberty? For another example of Timberlake's recent pop stylings, do an Internet search for the Saturday Night Live tune he recorded called D--- in a Box, which was so racy, NBC refused to air the uncensored version. Funny, yes. Classy, hardly.
See, I've been watching you, I like the way you move,
So go ahead girl, just do that ass-shaking thing you do."
With Timberlake as a front man, I'll never again poke fun at former M*A*S*H star Jamie Farr, even if it is ironic that the dude most famous for wearing a dress now hosts an LPGA event. Actually, it could have been worse. They might have picked their favorite purveyor of mindless Muzak, jazz musician Kenny G, who proved while serenading Players Championship winner Mickelson in May that it is indeed possible for a mediocre sax player to both suck and blow at the same time.