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  • Lines of Charm: Brilliant And Irreverent Quotes, Notes, And Anecdotes from Golf's Golden Age Architects
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  • Masters of the Links: Essays on the Art of Golf and Course Design
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    The Captain: George C. Thomas Jr. and His Golf Architecture
    by Geoff Shackelford
Current Reading
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    Unplayable Lies: (The Only Golf Book You'll Ever Need)
    by Dan Jenkins

    Kindle Edition

  • The Magnificent Masters: Jack Nicklaus, Johnny Miller, Tom Weiskopf, and the 1975 Cliffhanger at Augusta
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    Treewolf Prod
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    Reminiscences Of The Links
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    Planet Golf USA: The Definitive Reference to Great Golf Courses in America
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    Planet Golf: The Definitive Reference to Great Golf Courses Outside the United States of America
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Writing And Videos

If you’re going to be a player people will remember, you have to win the Open at St. Andrews.



Poulter Does Not Deny Posing Nude; Thematic Differences Explain The Rest

Anything to liven up what will be another Tiger rout...Poulter clarifies his Golf World remarks:

"I was misquoted," Poulter told reporters after opening his Dubai Desert Classic campaign with a two-under-par 70. "It was taken out of context."

Poulter, ranked 22nd in the world and with seven European Tour wins to his name, said the level of media reaction to the article had weighed heavily on his shoulders.

"I have had it on my mind since last night," he said. "You put the Internet on and it's THE (golf) story.

"The story is also I couldn't get my word (of reply) in before everyone else. I have to try and explain the situation of how it was actually said, as opposed to how it has been written.

"Two very different themes."

Non-denial denial duly noted. This is funny: 
"You let people in your house for three hours and you do a nice, private interview and this is what happens. Very unfortunate."

A private interview? Is that an oxymoron?

And since when do you pose nude for a private interview? 


Two New Handy Blogs

A pair of blogs have recently appeared from occassional posters to this site that are worth adding to your daily browsing.

Author Daniel Wexler fills a nice void by summarizing tournament results each day while making it easy to find leaderboards for events around the world and if your life has come to it, easy to make fantasy league picks.

Longtime rules official and NCGA staffer John Vander Borght is keeping an eye on rules-related matters and I look forward to his thoughts the next time a controversial ruling is made (which should be any day now).


Drivable Par-4s

gwar02_080201shack.jpgMy Golf World feature on the rise of driveable par 4s in PGA Tour golf is now posted at

Make sure to check out the "scatter charts" Golf World created using the Tour's ShotLink data to see what players scored from the location of their tee shot. (Mini version here on the left, the full version is embedded in the article.)


"I absolutely just spend hours, you know, just looking at plans and thinking and creating."

Tiger dodged some truly dreadful questions when the scribes convened in rustic Dubai. Thankfully, talk did veer into the course design category...

Just having so much fun with the one in High Carolina and the one here. It's been eye-opening for the detail that goes into it. I didn't really realise that, but I've also loved it, too. I absolutely just spend hours, you know, just looking at plans and thinking and creating and then that to me is fun, trying to give the developers what they want. That's my responsibility, and hopefully I can do that and deliver that.
Okay, who's going to break the news to him that you can't design a great course on paper? It's like saying you sit inside and spend hours looking at tape and creating the ideal swing in your mind.
Q. You've already touched on your golf design business interests. Can you tell us is there one hole in the world of golf that's your favourite hole, and why, and are you planning to incorporate that into the design?

TIGER WOODS: There's no one hole, no. You know, my favourite golf course is St. Andrews. Obviously it's the home of golf and the history behind it; that golf course, the nuances and the intricacies behind it and understanding how to manage your way around that golf course, that's fun.

The different wind conditions, I just think that's just a lot more cerebral than people think of how to manage your game around that golf course. I enjoy that type of golf.
Q. To pick out one hole at St. Andrews --

TIGER WOODS: There isn't one. I like them all. The only weird tee shot is obviously 17 because it doesn't fit the golf course because there's no other hole that you play that way, but that's about it.

Guess we can scratch a blind tee shot over faux railway sheds off the list. 


Zinger Changes Up Format; Let The European Conspiracy Theories Begin

Bob Verdi reports that American Captain Paul Azinger has decied to play foursomes prior to four-balls on each of the first two days of the Ryder Cup. Can't wait to see what the European writers spin this. Lord knows, they are going to need column material once Tiger departs Dubai.


"It's getting a bit narrower."

Geoff Ogilvy was dragged into the inkslinger's lair at Scottsdale and offered this about the TPC:

Q. What is your impression of this golf course right now?

GEOFF OGILVY: It's pretty good. It's probably tougher than we've seen it for a while. They've narrowed some of the fairways. I've hit a couple of drivers off the tee and I thought they were fine and they've actually cut the fluff on about three or four holes than they used to, so it's getting a bit narrower. The ball goes short when it's cold like this, so it's playing quite long especially after all that rain on Sunday. It's usually quite firm here. It's actually quite soft off the tee which makes it play long, so it's tougher than it has been previously. I think the forecast is going to get a bit warmer on the weekend and it dries out pretty quickly because we're in the desert. Could be back to normal by the weekend, but today it was longer and a little bit tougher than it has been, very easily.

"Par is just a number."

06.jpgDoug Ferguson wonders why Torrey Pines South's No. 6 has to be a par 4 for the U.S. Open and gets Tiger's thoughts.
The sixth hole played as a par 5 at 560 yards last week, and it's worth noting that Woods never reached the green in two in any of his three rounds on the South Course. He didn't even make a birdie at No. 6 until the final round.

The hole will be just over 500 yards as a par 4 in the U.S. Open.

"The USGA just thrives on that,'' Woods said. "Par is just a number. What I mean by that is that Pebble could set up for a 72, and I would have been what, 16-under par? So under par doesn't really matter that much. It's just going out there and shooting a number.''

More than anything, it's a head game.

"When you have four par 5s in a U.S. Open, you always feel a little bit more comfortable because you're going to have some more birdie opportunities,'' he said. "When you get to par 70s and 71s, those opportunities are taken away.''


If You Took "Under" Super Bowl Sunday In Cuts Rule Review Pool: You're A Winner!

Doug Ferguson reports that it's now "under review" and undergoing debate during the Northern Trust Open.
"The players I've heard from are generally upset with any reduction of guys playing on the weekend,'' Finchem said. ``On the other hand, a lot of guys don't like it, but would be in favor of something else.''
"What I said to the PAC was there's a lot of interest in this, we ought to have a thorough discussion the week of L.A. and made sure we're looking at all possible alternatives,'' Finchem said. ``I wouldn't predict we would change anything.''


Poulter Says He's Spent Too Much Time Worrying About His Outfits To Rival Tiger

PoulterNaked_468x702.jpgTherefore Ian undressed (and you thought his attire could not get any worse) for the March edition of Golf World (UK) and look what came out of his mouth:

"The trouble is I don't rate anyone else," said the extrovert Englishman. "Don't get me wrong, I respect everyone who is a professional.

"But the problem is I haven't played to my full potential yet. And when that happens it will just be me and Tiger."
Well, at least he's honest about the competition.
The 32-year-old Poulter, when asked for his predictions on who would win the Masters in April, replied: "Put Tiger down for that one".

For the year's second major at the US Open, he said: "You can put me down for that one".

Scramble me a jet to Vegas now.


Poulter, pictured nude in the magazine with only a golf bag guarding his modesty, admitted he was nowhere near challenging Woods yet.

"Tiger is one in a million," he said. "Actually Tiger is one in 10 million."

That's better.

Thanks to reader Nick for this treat.


Drug Policy Meetings Flash: Players Realize They Better Give Up The Reefer And Vick's Vapor Inhalers

Doug Ferguson reports on last week's player meetings on the new drug policy:

"I was caught off guard," Jim Furyk said. "I thought everyone was pro-testing. What I drew out of the meeting was that a few guys aren't. Not a few. Let's say more guys had negative opinions."

Lickliter doesn't understand why the tour adopted WADA guidelines for golf, noting that Vick's Vapor Inhaler is prohibited.

"If I use Vick's nasal spray three times, they can kick me off the tour forever," Lickliter said. "Now, do you think Vick's nasal spray is helping me compete out here? Half the stuff they're testing for doesn't help golfers. These so-called experts are not experts in golf."

Furyk told of a player who confided having a disorder that required drug treatment. Requesting a TUE for the drug means letting his secret out.'s not like they'll be posting these "TUE's" in the locker room, right?
Tim Herron wonders if Danny Edwards' failed attempt to start a players' union 10 years ago was ahead of its time.
Love how you just slipped that in, Doug!
For many, it was the thought of a positive test for something not intended to help them lower their score, even if no one has been able to identify a drug that will do that.

"I don't think anyone on tour is in the business of trying to find something to enhance performance," Jeff Maggert said.
Oh dear lord. Obviously he hasn't bought a Medicus.
"Maybe there is, and I'm naive. There's a bigger chance of someone getting tested positive who has absolutely no intent of trying to break the rules. The downside outweighs the upside by 1,000-to-1. The downside is just terrible."


For the millionth time guys, you can't have it both ways. You can't tell us you're better athletes and working out to hit it longer and then claim performance enhancing drugs are out of the question. Okay, I'll stop bringing that up...this week. 


"Finchem reportedly responded with a blistering e-mail in return, but Ogilvie wasn't fazed."

gwar04_080201pgapolicy.jpgIn the lastest Golf World, Tim Rosaforte offers an informative look at the PGA Tour Policy Board structure. Several items caught my eye, starting with this from Stewart Cink on the new cut rule:

"The rule was passed to make a better tour," says Cink. "We knew it was going to ruffle some feathers, and obviously we've been called some horrendous names since Hawaii, but we believe it was a good decision. If we get to the end of the year and players are still making noise, we can always change it back. There are no egos involved. It was a business decision that [the board] made. We're standing by it."

Now for the fun inside the beltway stuff on Richard Ferris, who seems to have sat on just about every board in golf:

Ferris' boardroom skills were tested almost immediately during a player meeting in San Antonio in 1993 when two-thirds of the players signed a petition calling for a meeting to discuss hiring its own representative to oversee the player directors, in effect creating another layer of government and potentially weakening the policy board. To stave off the revolt, Ferris called a PAC meeting two hours before the player meeting and the issue never made it beyond that room. By getting the PAC behind him, Ferris was able to diffuse the player movement. "They just divide and conquer," says a tour player who attended the meeting. The following year Beman announced his retirement as commissioner and Ferris headed the search committee that ultimately elevated Finchem from deputy commissioner.

Because the independent directors make up the search committee, the players had little say in Finchem's appointment. Nor were they consulted in March 2006 when Finchem was granted a six-year contract extension. (The independent directors also make up the compensation committee, which determines Finchem's salary.)

Isn't that nice!

And finally my favorite anecdote, which has me tapping my sources for a copy of the correspondence from Finchem to Joe Ogilvie referenced below. After setting Ogilvie up as a potential commissioner some day, Rosaforte writes:

Recently Ogilvie made headlines by lambasting Finchem and the tour's brass for not bothering to show up at the season-opening Mercedes-Benz Championship in Hawaii. Finchem reportedly responded with a blistering e-mail in return, but Ogilvie wasn't fazed. "I have tremendous respect for Tim," Ogilvie says. "I think he's extremely smart. I think he has done a very, very good job. But we're at a point with the tour in the last 10 years -- pretty much since Tiger came on board -- where we've grown so much that the old way of doing things is no longer valid. But it takes a different mentality to get away from the old and change."

Hmmm...wonder what he's getting at? Thoughts?


"Tiger isn't the TV draw he used to be."

Chris Lewis offers up an interesting analysis of television viewership numbers for the last three Buick's won by Tiger Woods.


"If you want to see how utterly silly the PGA Tour's new policy of "made cut, did not finish" is..."

As silly as the player complaining is over not knowing about the new cut rule caused by slow play, the big picture view says it still is cheating fans and could be solved with a Saturday cut, as Larry Bohannan writes.

If you want to see how utterly silly the PGA Tour's new policy of "made cut, did not finish" is, look no further than the story of Justin Leonard at the Buick Invitational over the weekend.

Leonard struggled in the first two rounds of the tournament at Torrey Pines in San Diego, making the cut at even-par 144, 12 shots behind Tiger Woods. But he was one shot from the 19 golfers who tied and made the cut but weren't allowed to play on the weekend.

Leonard then put together a strong weekend with rounds of 65 and 72 and moved up from a tie for 48th to fifth. He earned 3,450 FedEx Cup points and a check for $208,000.

But if Leonard had missed a single putt in those first two rounds, the chance for those points and that money would have been denied to him by a rule change that just seems unreasonable at best, short-sighted at worst.



"Obviously, it was a blowout, but it will still end up being one of the highest-rated tour events on a Sunday."

Reader Al wonders what to make of the lower Buick ratings spin by CBS, and I would have to agree that it doesn't make much sense. Someone help us please...

In the first network golf coverage of the year, CBS got a 4.6 overnight rating from Sunday's final round at Torrey Pines, where Woods led by as many as 11 shots before winning by eight for his fourth consecutive Buick Invitational title.

It was golf's highest rating since the PGA Championship last August, but still down 18 percent from the Buick Invitational a year ago, when Woods held off Charles Howell III over the final holes to win by two. The final round last year drew a 5.6 overnight rating.

The overnight rating for Saturday was 3.2, up 28 percent from the third round last year.

"We were up Saturday," said Rob Correia, senior vice president of programming for CBS. "Obviously, it was a blowout, but it will still end up being one of the highest-rated tour events on a Sunday. We have no complaints."

Is that all time? Or a Sunday in January 2008? 


"So long as he has incentive, he isn't likely to throttle back, consciously or subconsciously."

I vowed not to read another "can he win the Grand Slam" column until we're at least within throwing distance of the first major, but I thought John Strege raised an interesting point:

Winning is never tedious, but what of the effort required to do it consistently and dominantly over an extended period? Woods played the South Course at Torrey Pines in the summer of 1993 and finished fourth in the Junior World Championship. Another lackluster performance in a junior event later that summer convinced his father, Earl, that he was bored with junior golf, that winning had become mundane. He never played another junior tournament.

Woods is dominating professional golf as though it were junior golf, once more a man among boys. His victory in the Buick was the 62nd of his career, tying Arnold Palmer for fourth on the all-time list. It was his third straight PGA Tour win, dating to the end of last season.

At 32 and with a growing family, it's fair to ask how long he can retain the focus and dedication necessary to dominate a sport that with few exceptions has effectively repelled efforts at dominance.

It's fair to ask, but the answer is obvious. Junior golf gave way to amateur and college golf, which gave way to PGA Tour golf, which is giving way to history. So long as he has incentive, he isn't likely to throttle back, consciously or subconsciously.


"There is no doubt that getting a good drive away with a modern driver is easier than it was with an older driver. That’s a fact."

Reader GuttaPercha raises a great point on the post parsing Peter Dawson's comments to John Huggan.

I am confused.

"...there is no doubt that getting a good drive away with a modern driver is easier than it was with an older driver. That’s a fact."

If that's so, how come every second sentence I read is saying that pros don't have to be accurate any more (better grooves, lack of strategic challenge in course set up, penal rough anyway, etc)? Just bomb and gouge, etc.

If it's easier to hit a modern driver, but at the same time we're seeing lesser percentages of fairways hit (or whatever the best indicator is), then what is going on?

So far, the various papers and administrator comments on the impact of U-grooves have ignored any significant discussion of fairway widths as possibly impacting driving accuracy. I suppose it does get in the way of the USGA/R&A's argument, but as GuttaPercha notes, the governing bod's might want to resist the temptation to suggest the modern driver is having the most significant impact on skill or distance, and then lamenting the decline in driving accuracy.


Northern Trust Tweaks

I know most of you don't care, but since it's my hometown event I have to say this press release is actually quite exciting for those of us who have viewed the L.A. Open as a mini-major just lying in wait, hoping to be given the extra care it deserves to become one of the elite golf tournaments of the year.

It sure sounds like the PGA Tour is nudging them in the right direction. Even better, I hear the Junior Chamber of Commerce isn't pleased, which definitely means Northern Trust is asking them to step it up a notch.

Before you go commenting, I'm not referring to the new trophy by Tiffany or the Michael Douglas and Friends B-lister strokefest on February 10th. Nor am I saying they are reinventing the wheel here, but it's nice to see attempts to round out the package:

"In planning for this year's inaugural Northern Trust Open, we looked at how we could improve the experience for everyone involved, from the players and their families to tournament viewers worldwide," said Frederick H. Waddell, president and chief executive officer of Northern Trust Corporation.

This year's Northern Trust Open is projected to raise $2.5 million to support charities in Southern California, an increase of more than 30 percent from last year's event. To further align the event with the Los Angeles community, the tournament will include new celebrity and media components. The Michael Douglas and Friends Celebrity Golf outing will be held at Riviera Country Club on February 10, and GOLF CHANNEL will broadcast live the entire tournament week from a custom-built on-site studio.
Let's hope that's more successful than this disaster from last year.
Players will share a larger, $6.2 million purse and will enjoy smaller Pro-Am teams, and fans around the world will be able to use the new interactive Web site ( to check the leaderboard and talk with others online about the tournament -- 24 hours a day.

"We look forward to working with the Los Angeles Junior Chamber of Commerce and the PGA TOUR to expand on what is already a world-class event," Waddell explains. "We are committed to improving the tournament each year, shining the spotlight on this historic event, establishing Southern California as the destination for the TOUR's global spectators and increasing the amount we give back to the community."

"We are very pleased about Northern Trust's plans to elevate the profile of this tournament, which has such a wonderful history on the PGA TOUR," said PGA TOUR Commissioner Tim Finchem. "Northern Trust understands the importance of a title sponsor becoming fully engaged with all aspects of the tournament in order to maximize the overall experience. We are very excited about the future of the Northern Trust Open."

"He's like Randy Moss"

In the latest installment of John Hawkins' Agnostic Golfer column, he buries this lede on John Daly:

I called several tournament heads last week to get a read on whether Daly's ability to sell tickets is worth the headache he has become. Kennerly didn't return my phone call, but others were quick to reply, and there remains little doubt that Long John Seismograph moves the needle more than a hundred John Sendens. "It's a pretty easy decision for us," says Clair Peterson, who runs the John Deere Classic and already has extended Daly an offer to join the field in July.

"He's like Randy Moss," says another. "He's a freak, he can be a huge burden, but in terms of what he brings you, it's a very unique dynamic. The NASCAR crowd, whatever you want to call it, is why 80 to 90 percent of the events will give him an exemption if he's anywhere near the top 100."

Or 531st, which is where Daly currently resides in the World Ranking, as if the NASCAR gang really gives a Hooters how well their man has been playing or whether he'll ever contend again on the weekend. The recent face-saving contest between PGA Tour brass and Westchester CC reminds us that every sputtering, non-Tiger event is a possible endangered species. Perhaps 15 to 18 tournaments are in excellent health; the rest lack significance or sound economics.

Make that two buried ledes: First is that tournament directors still want John Daly, and two, that the non-Tiger events are so desperate they will actually take someone totally unreliable and clearly melting down.  


"We're really good for selling real estate"

Thanks to reader Hugh for this Martin Blake story on Karrie Webb cutting back on her schedule, with this nugget:

The good news for Golf Australia, which is bringing the national women's Open to Kingston Heath for the first time, is that Webb has had an eight-week break at home in Queensland and feels fresh. Retirement is not on the doorstep quite yet, and she will start a short-priced favourite in this week's tournament.

Venturing out to the course for her first practice session yesterday, it occurred to Webb that many people in golf have no clue how good Melbourne's sandbelt is. The LPGA plays three-quarters of its tournaments on dreadful, new courses.

"We're really good for selling real estate," Webb said. "We go to a lot of courses that are new developments. Obviously, it costs money for tournaments to go to golf courses. Newer golf courses will waive the fee or even pay us to go there because they're trying to sell houses. They can say, 'The LPGA plays here'."



Dawson Speaks! 2008 Edition

Dawson52695878.jpgUnlike Mike Aitken's insight-light Scotsman piece, John Huggan manages to squeeze some nuggets out of the R&A's Peter Dawson.

Naturally, the R&A head man is best on the subject of rangefinders:

“It’s very difficult to come up with a logical reason why, if a caddie can give you a yardage, or a book can give you a yardage, or a sprinkler head can give you a yardage, anyone needs that same number produced electronically. It could happen, of course, that players will end up doing all of the above. But my personal fear is that this is the first step towards the vision that every golfer should have a machine that can tell them wind speed, wind direction, the yardage and which club to use. The other end of that scale is that you pay golf the old way, with none of that sort of help.

Here's the best part:

“So where should the line be drawn? You could argue that the line should say ‘no such devices,’ but here it is has been drawn at ‘one such device.’ There are some arguments that it will speed up play, but I find it hard to believe that a device that zones in on the flagstick can do that when you have to wait for the flag to be replaced in order to use it.”

How can you argue with that? That's right, the USGA will.

On groove rule change timing:

"Right now, we remain in discussion with the USGA and would expect an announcement fairly soon.

This is very encouraging:

“Our motivation has never been to make rough more meaningful; we want to make driving accuracy more meaningful. It should matter that you hit the fairway, at least to a reasonable extent. That there should be no correlation between driving accuracy and success cannot be right. Which doesn’t mean that we want to see every fairway lined with rough. I’m not sticking up for rough. “There is also a bit of an issue with little shots from rough around the greens. Again, the combination of modern balls and modern grooves seems to produce too much of ‘bite’ on the ball when it lands. Especially when you combine that with the loft on the clubs. With a lot of loft on the club, you can hit the ball harder than you used to, even on a very short shot.

“Something is going to happen with the grooves and there may even be more action. At the Orlando show I saw a wedge that had over 70-degrees of loft. That has to be a concern.”

I don't get why loft should ever be regulated? If someone can use a spatula like that, let 'em!

This was a nice product of my interview with Pete Dye for Links:

On course architect Pete Dye’s recent comment on the USGA (“They’ve escalated the cost of maintenance. They’ve slowed down play. And they’ve completely lost control of the equipment. Outside of that, they’ve done a pretty good job.”)

“No comment. You’re not sucking me into that! You’re not going to get me to comment on Pete Dye’s designs. If he wants to comment on us, he can carry on.”

Well that's not much fun Peter.

And because it's a Peter Dawson interview, that means most of the great stuff is wiped out by absurd statements. On distance advances:

“We have the problem surrounded. Driving distances have stablised. In the last five years there haven’t been any technological innovations that have increased how far the ball goes. So the heat is coming out of the subject to a degree. But we remain committed to action should any further increases occur.

“Which is not to say that we are happy about where we are. But the game is certainly not in crisis over this issue. I’m not sure the argument that the game at the top level is less interesting to watch is any function of hitting distance. And I include in my counter argument this theory that the ball does not move sideways as much as it used to.

The game is not in crisis. Okay let's see here.

Thousands of courses are facing safety issues and are spending money to lengthen, the world's number one player says if it's up to him, they'd play balata and persimmon, ratings stink, pace of play has never been slower with bottlenecks caused by more reachable par-5s and par-4s, the R&A and USGA are considering an unprecedented rollback in equipment is being considered to help offset the problem, players are now going to be tested for drugs because distance has become so vital to success, and finally several great layouts are in danger of no longer being viable major sites, destroying one golf's unique connection to its origins.

But most of all, the technology boom has not grown the game. Some could argue that the side effects of the techology race are driving participation down.

When does it become defined as a crisis?

“If we have our robot hit shots with old balls and new balls and set the dial to hook or slice, then the results are identical. Except with the driver. The modern driver head is what prevents the ball from bending. It has nothing to do with the golf ball. The irons still bend the ball just as much.
“As Walter Driver of the USGA said to me recently, ‘everyone is entitled to their own opinions about distance and technology, but they are not entitled to their own facts.’

Oh good one Walter! Aren't you the one who said distance advances were 75% athleticism? How did you come up with that, uh, fact?

“The driver is very different. The way the head deforms at impact takes out sidespin. You can hit straight pulls or pushes. But slicing and hooking is more difficult.

“So there is no doubt that getting a good drive away with a modern driver is easier than it was with an older driver. That’s a fact. But is it too easy? I think there is merit to the argument that it is easier to get round in 66 than it used to be, but it is not easier to win a golf tournament. There are so many other factors involved in winning. In fact, you can easily argue that finishing first has never been harder."

Yeah, because of Tiger!