Golf championships are a good deal like omelettes. You cannot have an omelette without breaking eggs, and you cannot have a golf championship without wrecking hopes.
I've been searching my email box for a PGA Tour press release celebrating Mac O'Grady's first ever Champions Tour appearance (he played in the U.S. Senior Open in '05, but come on, that's not the CHAMPIONS TOUR).
Thankfully, the good folks at Brener-Zwikel delivered the news on the eve of...two shotgun pro-am starts, with Toshiba Classic play starting Friday at Newport Beach Country Club:
2008 Toshiba Classic Qualifying Tournament
At Goose Creek Golf Club (Par 71, 6,676 yards)
Mira Loma, Calif.
Tuesday, March 4
(Top 7 players qualify to play in the Toshiba Classic Friday-Sunday at Newport Beach CC)
Pos. Player Hometown Score
1. Jim Ahern Phoenix, AZ 64
T2. Phil Blackmar Corpus Christi, TX 65
T2. Boonchu Ruangkit Bangkok, Thailand 65
T2. Mitch Adcock Apopka, FL 65
T5. Mac O’Grady Palm Springs, CA 66
T5. Mike Goodes Reidsville, NC 66
T7. Kenny Knox Monticello, FL 67
(NOTE: Knox won the final qualifying spot with a par on the first playoff hole.)
T7. Jimmy Powell La Quinta, CA 67
T7. Mark Morrison Holualoa, HI 67
T10. Dick Mast Forest, VA 68
T10. Gary Trivisonno Aurora, OH 68
The root structure of the greens was so meager and the surface grass was so sparse, club officials three weeks ago elected to remove the sod in the affected sections, replace the sand base, then re-seed the greens with winter rye grass, a PGA Tour official said Tuesday.
The root of the crisis, if you will, remains unclear. The tournament begins March 13.
"It stumped a lot of people," said tour rules official Jon Brendle, who took a first-hand look at the ailing Bay Hill Club & Lodge greens on Monday. "They brought in a lot of people to look at the problem and they didn’t have a clue."
Emergency surgery or not, Brendle said the greens have grown in nicely and should present better surfaces than those seen at some of the West Coast stops, like ever-bumpy Pebble Beach, he said.
"I can tell you they have come a long way in 2 1/2 weeks," he said. "I mean, it's fixed for the tournament."
My Golf World story on PGA Tour course setup has been posted.
Tomorrow I'll post some further reflections (because I know you can't wait) on the time I spent with the rules officials and players that I spoke to for this, as well as some photos to supplement the images captured by J.D. Cuban.
"They don't do comedy at the Masters. The Masters, for me, is like holding onto a really big collection of gas for a week."
Cam Cole in the National Post ably documented David Feherty's appearance at the PGA of British Columbia's breakfast at the Vancouver Trade and Convention Centre. Thanks to reader Tony for this:
-On the 14 years since CBS colleague Gary McCord was banned from the Masters: "They don't do comedy at the Masters. The Masters, for me, is like holding onto a really big collection of gas for a week. It's like having my buttocks surgically clenched at Augusta General Hospital on Wednesday, and surgically unclenched on Monday on the way to Hilton Head."And...
-On McCord's recent revelation, at the annual JCC Sports Awards banquet in Vancouver, that Tiger Woods' caddy Steve Williams and Feherty often try to outdo one another on the course in the area of flatulence, Feherty said Tiger is no slouch himself: "He can lay 'em down like a crop duster."
-On Gary Player's unsubstantiated suggestion last year about use of performance-enhancing drugs in pro golf: "Gary thinks he invented fitness because he used to do pushups on the airplane. He's just upset because you can't win a major any more with a low, flat hook and a Napoleon complex."
-On the poor life advice Michelle Wie's parents have given the teenage phenom: "She could be adopted by Britney Spears and be better off. I want my 16-year-old daughter to have an enormous phone bill, a case of the giggles and to be pissed off at me for killing her first three boyfriends. I do not want her out on Tour under that kind of pressure."And I know this one has appeared elsewhere, but it's still a good one.
-On Phil Mickelson: "Phil is brilliant, but he's nuts. There's something not quite right about that boy. Phil is watching a movie that only Phil can see. His mother told me, 'Phil was so clumsy as a little boy, we had to put a football helmet on him until he was four because he kept bumping into things.' I told her, 'Mary,
Mary, I'm a writer, you can't keep handing me material like this.' So the next time I saw Phil I said, 'You didn't really wear a football helmet in the house until you were four, did you?' He said, 'It was more like five.' "
-On televised golf 's obsession with Tiger: "I've had people say to me, 'It's amazing Tiger Woods can make a swing with you hanging out of his [butt].' "
-The first time he ever watched Woods play, Feherty examined the lie Tiger had in the trees, where he'd hit the ball into deep rough alongside a large root, and said on-air that the only available play was to wedge out sideways. Tiger promptly hit a towering 200-plus-yard, sweeping slice with a 2-iron that rolled to within 12 feet of the flag.
"I just stood there watching him walk past," Feherty said, "and thinking, 'I don't know what that is, but I know there weren't two of them on Noah's Ark.' "
-As an example of an expert opinion on just how great Woods is, Feherty recalled a shot Tiger hit several years ago at Firestone, out of high rough just off the 18th fairway, when he was paired with Ernie Els.
Feherty and Els had looked at the horrible lie Woods had drawn as they walked past en route to Els' tee shot. Tiger's ball was not visible from directly above.-As an example of an expert opinion on just how great Woods is, Feherty recalled a shot Tiger hit several years ago at Firestone, out of high rough just off the 18th fairway, when he was paired with Ernie Els.
Feherty and Els had looked at the horrible lie Woods had drawn as they walked past en route to Els' tee shot. Tiger's ball was not visible from directly above.
"Shame," dead-panned the big South African.
Standing side by side in the fairway, Feherty and Els saw Williams hand Tiger a wedge, then watched as Woods took a violent swing that removed a divot "like a bag of Donald Trump heads" and launched the ball nearly 200 yards, over a pair of trees and onto the green, landing eight feet behind the flag.
Feherty, after a bout of speechlessness, had just opened his microphone to comment on the shot when Els, not aware that the mic was live, turned and said, quite audibly on-air: "F---me!"
"Was that Ernie?" the CBS producer said into Feherty's earpiece.
"Yes, it was," he said. Pause.
"Fair enough," said the producer.
...Adam Scott joins in:
"People play way, way too slow," the Australian said at the Johnnie Walker Classic in India.
"They need to hurry up. They should start penalising people. Just penalise them."
“Every TPC we will do going forward is either built or operated with the idea that ultimately it’s going to host competitive golf on one of (our) three tours,” Pillsbury said. “That’s the core purpose of the brand.”That's good to know what the core purpose is.
The AT&T contract complements the Tour’s recent mission to upgrade its TPC network. According to Pillsbury, typical naming-rights deals will run for five to 10 years. The majority of the proceeds will be earmarked to improve the sponsor’s property, but some funds may be allocated to aid other facilities within the TPC network.
Is that a nice way of saying to redo the other dogs in the network?
The Tour owns 17 TPC locations and is developing three others: San Antonio, TPC Treviso Bay in Naples, Fla., and TPC Cancun in Cancun, Mexico.
“We’re focused on growing with the right assets,” Pillsbury said. “We don’t need to grow for growth’s sake, only if it’s good for the portfolio and the brand.”
And don't forget the share price!
“As human beings and golf-course designers, we want perfection. And because of equipment and technology, we can go in and create that. On the perfect golf hole, I would have framing mounds everywhere and bunkers that set up the perfect strategy and line of sight, all making it conform to every single rule of thumb ever written about course design. But does that make it fun? No. It makes it a kind of algebra.”
Thanks to reader Edward for the story, broken by The Observer's Richard Wachman:
United Arab Emirate Dubai is teeing up bids worth at least £400m for three premier Scottish golf courses: Turnberry, Gleneagles and Loch Lomond.And...
It is understood that Dubai World, a state-owned business with interests in leisure, property, financial services and container ports, is in advanced talks to acquire the Turnberry course and adjacent luxury hotel from its US owner, Starwood Hotels and Resorts.
Turnberry, which is hosting the Open Championship in 2009, was put up for sale at the end of last year. Starwood is selling on condition it retains the right to manage the resort after a sale is agreed.
A source in the Gulf says: 'Dubai is seeking trophy sporting assets. It wants to be behind leading golfing tournaments, which would help it to promote its own Dubai Desert Classic competition.'Oh this ought to be fun.
Golfobserver's John Huggan catches up on the state of Monty. Buried deep was this...
Elsewhere, Monty’s propensity for self-promotion has seen him looking further into the future, first to this year’s European Ryder cup side and then to 2014 when the biennial contest with the Americans will make only its second ever visit to Scotland, at Gleneagles. Monty, not surprisingly, has been talking himself up as a possible wild-card pick for later this year – given his current form, he is unlikely to qualify directly - and then non-playing captain for 2014, when the event will take place just down the road from his soon-to-be marital home in leafy Perthshire.
On the face of it, that second scenario would seem to represent a perfect fit: In Scotland, with a proud nation’s finest-ever Ryder Cup player leading the European hordes into battle. And Monty’s chums in the media have, it must be said, been doing their level best for their man. Over the last few months, a procession of pro-Monty pieces has appeared in friendly publications (not coincidentally, at least two golf correspondents, both with right-wing English newspapers, have been invited to the upcoming Monty nuptials) openly and rather blatantly promoting just such an eventuality.
Significantly, few if any of those glowing articles have included quotes from Monty’s fast-depleting band of chums on the European Tour. Yet again, the spectre of Indonesia - and that dodgy replacement of his ball in a spot barely reminiscent of where he should have played from - hangs over the Scot’s rapidly greying head of hair. Call him ‘Colin No-mates.’
They don't forgive or forget.
How about that Bear Trap, the work of PR gurus!
You know I still get trapped trying to figure out which is No. 15 and which is No. 17, but that's another story.
Mercifully, Greg Stoda in the Palm Beach Post explains why some of us spent most of our time watching UCLA-Arizona and the Lakers-Mavs:
Hey, it's as rugged track as re-designer Jack Nicklaus intended it to be. The 15th through 17th holes aren't called the Bear Trap for no reason. And it gets windy in these parts. But what would have been wrong with a couple of more accommodating pin positions late in the test? There simply was never a sense someone would, or could, do something sensational.
There just wasn't an opportunity make a closing rush under pressure. Green's birdies at the 16th and 18th holes don't qualify, and neither does Robert Allenby's finishing birdie that got him a quiet share of fourth place with Jones and Calcavecchia.
They weren't contenders.
The 77-player field managed all of 30 birdies across the final five holes in the fourth round. The field made 25 double- or triple-bogeys across the same stretch. The finishing five holes, in order, ranked as the sixth, third, fourth, first and seventh toughest statistically in the final round.
"You're just trying to make pars," Jones said.
Without question, the most pitiful element of it all is No. 18, potentially a compelling risk-reward hole that is mostly a whole bunch of risk. Would it have killed them to play the tee up today at least? Or has the old tee been bulldozed?
Joe Logan reports that Aronimink is a strong candidate to fill in for Congressional when the 2011 U.S. Open is played in the D.C. area. This caught my eye:
This much is known: There is enough interest that representatives from the tournament visited Aronimink several months ago to scope out the course.Wouldn't it be refreshing if Tiger, hot off his slow play concerns going public in a bigger way, told them not to add the length because the walks to those new back tees just add to the length of rounds? I can dream can't I?
The club also brought in one of course designer Tom Fazio's top guys to determine how much the 7,152-yard, par-70 layout could be stretched, if needed. (Answer: 7,500 yards).
Then, in December, representatives from Aronimink flew to the Target World Challenge in California, another Woods event, where they met with AT&T National officials and Woods himself.
Thanks to readers Rob and Patrick for Stan Awtrey's story on the planned changes to East Lake.
Six holes will undergo changes, the result being a course that will play 7,300 yards to par 70 from the championship tees.
• No. 3: A new fairway bunker is being added to the left side, about 310 yards away from the tee.
• No. 7: An additional bunker is being placed on the left side, about 310 yards away from the tee. The green is also being moved about 40 yards up the hill, lengthening the par 4 to 440 yards.
• No. 8: The championship tee box is being moved back 20 yards, stretching the par 4 to 435 yards.
• No. 15: A new championship tee is being built 35 yards further back, making the easy par 5 to a bit testier 525 yards.
• No. 16: The fairway bunker complex is being 30 yards farther down the fairway.
• No. 17: This hole features the most significant change. The trees along East Lake on the left of the fairway have been taken out and the fairway moved 8-10 yards toward the water. The green will be moved about 20 feet to the left, giving errant shots a better chance to get wet.
I know from talking to some folks involved with the work that the new No. 7 caused a lot of consternation and disappointment with the USGA's lousy job regulating technology. But that was most offset by their excitement surrounding the new No. 17, which figures to be a promising upgrade for both tournament and member play.
Thanks to LPGA Fan for noticing Commissioner Carolyn Bivens's response to concerns that the LPGA Tour has been invaded by Asians. It's good to see her command of the English language still stinks:
"Yes, there is a huge number (of Asian players), but if the LPGA Tour is going to remain home to the best women's golf in the world, the last thing you want to do is put quotas on it," Bivens told reporters during Thursday's opening round of the $2 million HSBC Women's Champions championship in Singapore.
"I am not concerned about Americans getting squeezed out.
"Do you want to have the best tour, do you want to have the most competition, do you want to have the highest level of performance? Or do you want to protect a nationality? We think we are doing both."Wait, so you are protecting a nationality? Would that be, like, the Oscar party thing?
"I don't think there are any Americans out there today who wouldn't say that Asians have made this tour better and more competitive," she added.
Bivans said the LPGA was working hard to overcome the challenges of limited exposure and media coverage, but she said she was convinced this could be achieved by attracting the world's best to the tour.
"If we have the most competitive tour in the world, we'll draw the best sponsors, we'll draw the most rabid fans and our media challenges will be lessened," she insisted.
"Performance is the very first standard that we have to uphold."
Wow, not one mention of branding. This is disturbing.
"The concept of opening the premises up to local youngsters is something that is not only frowned upon, it is never actually considered by club committees whose next original thought will be their first."
After reading the New York Times cover story on dwindling U.S. participation, John Huggan sees many of the same issues afflicting golf in Scotland.
Of course, increasing participant numbers is never really going to happen, no matter how many schemes golf's alphabet-soup organisations come up with to justify their increasingly pointless existences. As long as the golf club system itself is in place, the game is doomed to stagnate. Clubs, after all, are by their very nature exclusionary and exclusive. Especially at the so-called 'high-end' establishments, wonderful golf courses sit all but empty on far too many beautiful summer evenings. The concept of opening the premises up to local youngsters is something that is not only frowned upon, it is never actually considered by club committees whose next original thought will be their first.
Is it any wonder then that Scotland's best golfer is a rapidly ageing 44-year-old whose best days are very much behind him? Is there a less-welcoming environment for young people than the typically rule-ridden and grey-haired golf club? No you can't wear your jeans or your trainers. No you can't play before 4pm in the winter months. No you can't play off the back tees even if you can beat 99% of the members (who should be playing off what are still archaically referred to as the 'ladies tees'). No. No. No, no, no.
And what is being done to arrest this decline in Scotland? Well, take a look around at all these lovely new golf courses being built. What do you mean, you can't? They won't let you in the gate, you say? They're not looking for people like you? All they want are the affluent minority who will buy a gaudy home in the expensive housing estates surrounding these high-end clubs? And they cost the earth to play anyway?
Oh well, there are other less time-consuming games where the equipment is cheaper and you can actually play with the kids. Anyone for tennis?
Ryan Herrington reports that USC's Tom Glissmeyer fired a 28-33-61 at Bel-Air Country Club, needing only 20 putts. Having just been at Bel-Air recently, I can safely say the greens are running about 12. And these are not exactly flat greens.
The really good news is that unlike at some classic courses, the club can't go and destroy more of the original Thomas design in a knee jerk reaction to such a low round! It's already been done...in spades
"Golf, especially with the chronic amount of time it takes to play a round these days, can be pretty boring most of the time, which is why it needs characters as well as just good players."
It's Martin Johnson writing on golf, need I say more? Just in case The Telegraph web site disappears some day:
They clamoured around Paul Casey after the Englishman won his second-round match, not to ask Casey anything much about himself, but about Colin Montgomerie. "Tell us Paul, just what is it with Monty?" referring to a character who convinces many of us that global warming can be traced back to Scotland's only active volcano.
American golfers, in general, have the ability to put you into a hypnotic trance as they drone on about their sand saves, or how they're hitting it "real solid", but when Monty is heading for the interview tent people get knocked over in the rush. He knows it, too, and when they were still pouring in to hear his pre-tournament thoughts before last year's Open at Carnoustie, the great man beamed with delight. "Come on," said Monty. "Come along. There's still a bit of room at the back." For many of us, the thrill of attending a golf tournament is not to watch Woods thumping a drive 350 yards, or firing a three-iron to six inches, but being able to say "I was there" when a photographer triggers his lens on the top of Monty's backswing, or a spectator jangles his change on his putting stroke.
Golf, especially with the chronic amount of time it takes to play a round these days, can be pretty boring most of the time, which is why it needs characters as well as just good players. So fingers crossed for Monty qualifying for next month's US Masters. If Woods will not be quaking at seeing Monty's name on the starting sheet, the Augusta National head greenkeeper certainly will be. One bad round and he could see his entire azalea collection reduced to a smouldering heap of garden compost.
"Insiders have told me Golf Channel cut Honda’s telecast by an hour because the car company wouldn’t purchase additional ads."
A pair of online surveys worth your time, the first on the lower right of ESPN.com's golf page asking if PGA Tour courses should "be set up to encourage low scores or protect par?" You can explain your thinking here and just maybe your comments will appear in Golf World.
As of this posting 299 votes have been cast and 74% say protect par. Apparently with all of the bad news surrounding Ambien the 74%ers are searching for sleeping pill alternatives.
Meanwhile Steve Elling is trying to decide who to vote into the World Golf Hall of Fame and is asking for reader suggestions.