Golf is the only game that I know of that actually becomes harder the longer you play it.
I was perusing ebay and searching for items related to architect George Thomas when I stumbled upon a baseball signed by Hall of Famer "George Thomas Seaver," aka Tom Seaver, who was signing his legal name.
The late, Charlie Seaver, Tom's father, played a lot of golf during his teenage years with George Thomas at Los Angeles Country Club and also played a round with MacKenzie at Cypress Point. (When I interviewed him for The Captain, he told me had film of the MacKenzie round, though he did not want to have it transferred to tape at the time).
And for trivia buffs, Seaver was one win away from facing Bobby Jones in the final of the 1930 U.S. Amateur.
Anyhow, I'm presuming that Seaver named his son after Captain Thomas. And I know this makes your day!
Does anyone have any idea what Tom Seaver is these days?
Thanks to readers Tuco and Michael for this New York Post tidbit:
Tiger Woods got ambushed by an evangelical guest of Nike on Oct. 9 during an exclusive golf outing for top business and entertainment executives. According to our spy, 30 people - including Clear Channel Radio CEO Mark Mays, Louis Vuitton North America chief Daniel LaLonde and Details magazine editor Daniel Peres - gathered at the Trump golf course in Los Angeles for the 2006 "Tee It Up With Tiger Woods" event, which included a private golf session and lunch with the living legend. "During the lunch, there was a Q&A session with Woods, and most people were asking about their swings or golf questions," our source said. "Until some guy - a guest of Nike - stood up and said, 'Have you accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior? And if not, prayfully, would you?' " The source added, "You could have heard a pin drop. People were mortified. But Tiger was as unflappable as he is on the golf course and responded, 'My father was a Christian - of course Christianity was part of my life - but my mother is Asian and Buddhism was also part of my childhood, so I practice both faiths respectfully.' "
Reader BillS writes:
In my opinion, the easiest (and cheapest) way to control distance would be to limit the size of the head. Back in the days of persimmon, there were guys who could hit it a mile but the small margin of error made bombing it a risk.
With giant heads, the bombers can swing for the fences without penalty.
So I'm curious what everyone thinks about the driver head's impact on the 10-yard PGA Tour increase since 2002 when the USGA and R&A drew the line in the sand (well, on paper anyway)?
Would regulating driver head size on the PGA Tour make a big difference?
Steve Trivett in the Daily Sun, the official paper of The Villages--yes, The Villages has a daily and it's online!--puts a rosey spin on the Disney event with it's lousy field and even lousier prospects for next year when it becomes
part of the scrap heap part of the post-FedEx Cup schedule.
Anyway, I loved this from the tournament director. I'm surprised it hasn't been wheeled out to justify record scoring by some player trying to suck up to his equipment maker:
The Disney-hosted tournament has been a favorite among players in the past — especially those players with young families who see a trip to Walt Disney World as a chance to mix a vacation with work.Yeah, right. And more evidence that he's been spending too much time at Disney World:
“This is a special place,” Weickel said. “It’s a tournament where the players can go to work and then go out and play with their children.
“And I really believe that contributes to the low scores we see here. The players are more relaxed, and that shows in their play,” he said.
And he’s hoping that a change in the game will keep the excitement of the tournament alive.
“If you step back and look at it, there is a natural progression in golf just like there is in any sport,” he said. “There is a generational shift coming in golf just like there is in football, baseball and basketball.
“As the younger players make a name for themselves, they will have a bigger impact on the game,” Weickel said. “And they will become the players who have the kids who want to come here.
“The attraction of the tournament is not going to change,” he said.
He just hopes that a prospective sponsor sees it the same way.
If they do, the magic is still alive.
This Businessweek story explains Callaway's huge stock drop yesterday.
The stock price tumbled 11.3% to $12.51 per share on the New York Stock Exchange in afternooon trading Tuesday.
Callaway, which is in the midst of a restructuring announced in September, 2005, noted challenges such as lower sales at key golf retailers during June through September, and a related decrease in wholesale re-orders. The company had introduced no major new products during the quarter; the FT-3 driver, Fusion fairway woods, X-18 driver in Japan, and HX-56 golf ball hit the market during the same period of 2005.
Sales of the Top-Flite and Hogan products have not performed to expectations. "We are in the process of restoring these brands, targeting a formal re-launch of Top-Flite in 2007," George Fellows, President and CEO of Callaway Golf, said in a press release.
Restoring the Top Flite brand? From cheap bottom of the barrel rock hard balls to...?
Thanks to reader Mark for this Australian story by Louis White that details Paul McNamee's efforts to enhance the Australian Open.
Unfortunately, no mention throughout the piece about moving away from stinker venues like The Grand or The Australian.
McNamee agreed to become the executive chairman of the men's and women's Australian Open tournaments. He got a shock upon taking up the position in April.
"I didn't realise that the financial situation was as bad as it was," he said, sounding surprised still. "There was virtually no revenue streams for the sport and Channel Seven had lost interest. Everyone was receiving freebies to attend the event and the Australian players weren't happy either.
"What blew me away was that the women's championship hadn't even been played for three years. I took that as being not a good sign."
A federal government report into the state of Australian golf had resulted in the amalgamation of the Australian Golf Union and the Australian Ladies Golf Union to form Golf Australia. The new entity was entrusted with overseeing the men's and women's Australian Open championships.
McNamee took a pay cut, and his job was on a part-time basis. Before accepting the job he headed to the US to get a grip on staging a successful tournament. He spoke first-hand to the Australian players to find out their concerns about the Australian Open - all at his own expense.
"The players weren't happy and had a long list of complaints," McNamee said. "It ranged from no functions for the wives and girlfriends to no creche, to no food for the caddies and even the pro-am taking too long.
"Most importantly though, they did want to come back to Australia and play golf. They all understand the importance of the Australian Tour and want to support the Australian Open."
Not only did McNamee convince the players that things would be different this year - he personally spoke to 12 of the top 13-ranked Australian players - he knew he had to overcome the negative publicity associated with the event and do things differently.
"I decided to focus on showcasing Australian players because we are the No.2 golfing nation in the world at the moment," he said.
"Australia has 10 players ranked in the top 100 in the world and had 24 players in the British Open this year. I honestly believe that these group of golfers are the best group of players in the history of Australian golf."
And let's put them on a course to match? Eh...no.
As reported by Lewine Mair in the Telegraph:
"Originally, I said that I would do it once and that would be it, but I can see circumstances in which I might allow my name to go forward again," he said as a little bubble appeared over his head with Monty's picture in it.Oh okay, I added that last part just to see if you were reading.
Woosnam was speaking at Cardiff Airport on his way to a corporate day at Celtic Manor, venue for the 2010 match against the Americans.
A sudden desire to have another crack at the job is not untypical of the withdrawal systems experienced by past captains. Bernhard Langer thought briefly about the possibility of a second run before asking for his name to be removed from the list of candidates. Sam Torrance, for his part, had a momentary wobble before returning to his long-held belief that once was enough.
Given a few days to think about it, Woosnam could well come to the same decision. Why would he want to take the risk of bowing out on a different note to September's runaway victory?
True, there are things he may think he could do better next time around – his speeches could have been rather more polished, while it would have been better had he not had champagne erupt from him on the K Club balcony.
But Lewine, he worked so hard on those speeches!
The Golf Digest Bomb and
Shill Gouge boys are at it again! This time with "5 suggestions for the USGA on the spin issue," and like the good ole boys at USGA who believe the ball is going too far and not spinning the way it should, every conceivable solution must avoid dealing with...the ball!
Here's Bomb. Or Gouge, does it matter?
I'd like to think we can come up with five ways to combat the spin issue WITHOUT touching any of your clubs under 50 degrees.Because even these two know that when the USGA bans U-grooves in all irons, everyday golfers will be saying, "Gee, wouldn't it be easier to just tinker with the ball or make the Tour pros play by a different set of rules."
And since you're the Gouge part of this operation, I'm gonna need help on a couple. But here's a couple on my end:
1.) I know it sounds like a broken record, but just grow the darn rough. And I'm not talking about some wimpish 3- to 4-inch grass but some real salad of 6 to 8 inches. Get in that and you could have grooves sharp enough to saw through one of these and you still wouldn't get any spin.
Brilliant! Pass the cost and burden on to the golf course operators of the world, and inflict misery on the player! This is vital to health of the game. Eliminate the fairway, I say! Socialize the cost and privatize that profit! (Though I would recommend that the Bomb and Gouge guys read Golf Digest's own Frank Thomas, who says grooves don't matter at the 3-4 inch rough height. I'm guessing that would also include 6-8 inche hay.)
2.) Sorry Philly Mick, but lofts on wedges have kinda gotten out of hand. And I don't just want to keep the 64-degree that Lefty had in his bag for a while out of play.
Hey, 64 degree wedges only make up a tiny portion of the $17 billion club industry, so they're fair game!
GOUGE: I'll give you two more and I'll bet we can combine on a third.
Oh these bloggers have bonded! Do share more pearls of wisdom...
3) There is no doubt that grooves are better today at channeling out grass juice than they used to be. And dirt and grass make golf balls not work right. The volume on the new grooves has increased, bottom line. Second, grooves are better with modern balls in that the urethane covers are able to get gripped by the sharper groove edge radius. You could attack this issue around the greens by making all clubs with lofts higher than 50 degrees be furnished with v-shaped grooves only. And there cannot be any additional face roughness either.
So the ball is playing a part in this extra spin stuff and distance. Well then, we should...have different grooves for different clubs? Oh yeah, that'll be easy to enforce.
4) Shhhhh. But the real answer everyone is afraid of (unnecessarily so) is bifurcation. It's time for the ruling bodies to seriously consider backing off their stand against separate rules for elite competitions. The best golfers in the world are freaks that are even better in real-life than they are in their video games and letting them play with equipment designed to help average golfers isn't like cheating, it is cheating. The soap box derby gets pretty high tech, but none of those vehicles would make it much farther than down the driveway. Tour players should compete with the crudest tools possible, not the most advanced. With two different sets of rules (only in the area of equipment), you could make every club v-grooved. You could even reduce driver sizes to 260 cc if you wanted to. Hmmm. Might be what all that talk at Muirfield Village was all about earlier this year.
Wait, did I just read that? Warning boys, this kind of common sense stuff will prompt an email from you-know-where.
Of course, bifurcation wouldn't be necessary if you just made a few changes to the...oh that's right, anything but the ball. I keep forgetting!
BOMB & GOUGE: And then there's this.
5) Do. Nothing.
Nice mop up. And they speak as one. Peace at last, peace at last.
Maybe there won't be an email from you-know-where.
I watched parts of the rain-delayed Las Vegas final round as it moved yesterday from ESPN on ABC, to ESPN on ABC on and finally, to ESPN on ABC on ESPN2. (International readers...it's a long story. A branding thing.)
Besides the lack of star power, the lack of a fan base was painfully obvious. Ed Graney in the Las Vegas paper notes that it's a problem likely to worsen when the event moves to the "Fall Finish."
Golf is about to undergo a change that will either re-energize an indifferent fan base or continue to keep casual followers at an AccuFLEX shaft distance away from any event that doesn't include Woods, a transformation that could ultimately determine where the Las Vegas tournament fits into the sport's long-term landscape.
The question is not whether the event can improve greatly (if at all) in stature -- Hoffman couldn't be more correct in his assessment that it is what it is -- but whether a newly designed PGA playoff system will lessen its appeal to golfers (and in turn fans) even more.
There always will be a place at the event for the golf purist, for those who truly appreciate the idea of walking alongside the world's No. 2 player (it's Jim Furyk for those who don't know, which means most everyone) and not having to strain their neck glancing over rows of heads to watch him putt.
But when the FedEx Cup portion of the 2007 schedule concludes at the Tour Championship next mid-September and the $10 million payday has been awarded to the first points champion, how much interest will remain for a seven-tournament fall series than includes the Las Vegas stop?
And what can those running the event here do to make it more than just another week for those players merely trying to avoid Q-school or improve their world ranking?
The PGA Tour driving distance average rose from 289.2 yards to 289.5 after Las Vegas.
With one more full field event to go, it's worth noting that there have been 909 drives over 360 yards this year (816 in 2005). And there have been 412 drives over 370 yards (334 in 2005.) We'll get the over 350 tally in a couple of weeks. I know you can't wait.
Most of the Palmer retirement tributes are pretty syruppy, but I thought Scott Michaux's in the Augusta Chronicle was respectful without sailing over the top (and includes a nice reminder that The King really is wanted on the first tee at Augusta!):
That the end came in the first round of something called the Administaff Small Business Classic on a course, Augusta Pines, that sounds like an assisted-living community hardly matters. Whether it was the Masters Tournament or the Bob Hope Desert Classic, Palmer was always bigger than the event itself.
These goodbyes to Palmer have been accelerating with the years. He had a couple of them at Augusta National (his final major appearance) and a couple more at his Bay Hill Invitational (his final PGA Tour event). And now he has reached the point where he's not willing to even play with the seniors anymore.
Even a peer and fellow legend like Lee Trevino appreciated the significance of the moment. Playing with John Mahaffey and Palmer on Friday, Trevino pilfered the King's ball out of the final cup and whipped a Sharpie out of his pocket for the official end of an era.
"While he had the Sharpie, I said, 'Sign that glove, too,' " Trevino told The Associated Press. "We didn't take his shoes."
Palmer's final official round ended with the word "withdrawn." But even with that Palmer displayed the class that has characterized his career for more than half a century. After telling Trevino to stop keeping his score and officially citing a sore back for his premature exit, Palmer kept on playing.
"I can't leave," he told Trevino, saying he owed it to his legion of fans to press on despite the mental and physical pain.
That's what made Palmer the most beloved player in the history of golf. He was not its greatest champion and didn't possess the finest swing, but nobody before or since has ever had the charisma that Palmer holds in spades. Whether it's on the golf course, in the clubhouse or on the dance floor, Palmer oozes with the magnetism that has drawn his Army of fans for every step of the ride.
That the ride is finally over is as traumatic to his fans as it is to him. That Palmer never won a major championship in my lifetime didn't stop him from being as giant a figure to my generation as he was to his own. That it has been 18 years since I witnessed him win his last tournament at the senior Crestar Classic in Richmond, Va., hasn't made every sighting since any less thrilling.
Is it really over?
"My father used to say that this life would pass so quickly it would make your head spin," Palmer wrote in his autobiography, A Golfer's Life. "And you know what? He was right about that. This life, my life, has done just that."
Now we can only wish that Palmer will take the stage that late greats Byron Nelson, San Snead and Gene Sarazen took before him on the first tee of the Augusta National Golf Club for an honorary start to the Masters. With no other places to get a glimpse of the King, it is our last hope.
Palmer understands that no matter how awkward it might be to stand up in front of the world trying to give it that good shot, just a fix of his radiance is all we want.
You know how I love these synergistic platforms merging to gain traction for their brands, so kicking off volume 1 of our new "Branding Gone Wild" series, we have this gem sent in by reader Noonan:
An Albuquerque firm now will have exclusive use of the Golf Digest name on its putting greens and synthetic turf training aids.
Market Group Inc. announced it has a licensing partnership with the golf magazine to use the Golf Digest name on its Turf Avenue line of products in the United States, Canada and South America.
Excited? Well guess what...
The company also announced that distributorships and installation partnerships are available throughout the U.S.
Turf Avenue products include artificial turf for commercial, residential and institutional applications.
Heading into the final regular Tour stop in Tampa, below is a look at the "quest for the card." For what it's worth, I suppose there really isn't much of a race at the 125 spot since 125-150 have status next year...and #123 has already been exempted for next year by the Commissioner.
Then again, since Q-school and Nationwide grads will be lucky to get in 20 starts before the "playoffs," maybe landing in the top 125 is more important than it used to be?
116 115 Jason Gore 28 $717,005
117 113 J.P. Hayes 19 $701,433
118 114 Stephen Leaney 25 $696,599
119 118 David Branshaw 27 $693,705
120 117 Shane Bertsch 32 $685,346
121 120 Mathias Gronberg 28 $674,002
122 124 Paul Azinger 28 $672,675
123 121 Darren Clarke 11 $660,898
124 127 Rich Beem 25 $658,225
125 122 Brian Bateman 24 $645,153
126 123 John Cook 20 $644,505
127 141 Bubba Dickerson 31 $641,252
128 125 Lee Westwood 14 $630,566
129 131 Duffy Waldorf 26 $609,871
130 130 Brent Geiberger 28 $590,478
131 126 Omar Uresti 22 $583,704
132 128 Jonathan Kaye 30 $578,714
133 129 Jeff Overton 27 $577,132
134 139 Tim Petrovic 28 $558,405
135 132 Jerry Smith 28 $554,206
136 134 Bob May 19 $548,712
T.J. Auclair has the rivetting details of the Davis Love/
HarryDenny Hamlin photo op to plug the PGA Tour's new "FedEx Cup" NASCAR entry.
One of the fastest sports in the world collided with one of the slowest at the Atlanta Motor Speedway on Tuesday to unveil a special FedExCup car, which will be driven here by NASCAR rookie Denny Hamlin in the Bass Pro Shops MBNA 500 on October 29.So my question to you fans of NASCAR: is this a one-race deal? Or is this going to be a regular Tour sponsorship deal for this car? The article makes it sound as if this is a one-race thing.
But if this is a one-year deal, isn't the price outrageously high?
Please, help me resolve this vital branding matter.
John Huggan is in fine curmudgeonly form while looking at the havoc the FedEx Cup schedule is creating on the European Tour.
As America's PGA Tour embarks on a lucratively-reshaped season that will "climax" with something called the Fed-Ex Cup - oh, the history, the mystique - and very likely pull many of Europe's leading players across the Atlantic even more than has already been the case, the European Tour's money-list is destined to be won by someone who picks up the vast majority of his cash in so-called co-sanctioned events - where prize- money is eligible on more than one circuit - rather than by a man ranked outside the world's top-50, and thus "relegated" to playing most of his golf outside of the United States.
So it is that the just-released European Tour International Schedule is all about filling dates. Next season, as the blaring press release was quick to trumpet, the European Tour will consist of at least 50 events - a "momentous milestone" - as it winds its often mediocre way across the globe.
Also, Golfweek's Rex Hoggard fires a few shots at the FedEx Cup as he looks at issues with the Champions Tour schedule. And he notes this about another major change in the Valiant Competitors Tour:
Starting with next month's Q-School, players will no longer play for a Champions Tour card. Instead, the hopeful will vie for a chance to qualify for events. The top-30 finishers from Q-School will earn a seat at the Monday qualifying table each week and play for nine spots in that week's tournament.
With the move, golf's most closed club just went private.
"There are some positives and some negatives," George said of the new qualifying system. "How will it impact the international players on the tour? I want to make sure the tournaments aren't impacted by the qualifying. We're going into it very cautiously."
But back to Huggan and Hoggard's pithy FedEx Cup remarks.
Isn't it interesting that time has not helped the Tour's concept age like fine wine, but instead has some of golf's finest inkslingers realizing just how flawed the schedule and points concepts are?
Steve Elling tries to get excited about the Disney field minus Tiger, and he also notes that John Daly withdrew. I guess it's safe to say Daly is going to rely on sponsor's exemptions next year.
Does anyone know if Long John is entitled to unlimited sponsor exemptions as a veteran PGA Tour member?
America's lousy showing on the world stage (and questions about possible influences) generated more comments during an otherwise slow news week.
Reacting to Jose Maria Olazabal's course setup related comments in a John Huggan column, ken-one-putt writes: You know, I am currently less concerned about the obsession with lengthening golf courses, and more concerned about the lack of options around the greens...But for the past two years I have been playing a course with perfect Zoysia fairways and large, flat greens. These insipid greens are almost all elevated 3 to 5 feet above the surrounding terrain, and they are surrounded by slopes covered in rough. Worse, the area away from the slopes is a morass of clumpy grass and cuppy lies. Like JMO, I have concluded that this is anti-skill for a short-game specialist. And it makes the game BORING.
And while some of us see this change impacting the younger American players, SI's Gary Van Sickle suggested that the U.S. collegiate system is not developing players properly.
Reader Chuck disagreed: Among the International players there are a few (i.e., Garcia) who simply turned pro at a very young age when they were endowed with overwhelming talent. And I don't think that any 'national sports program' had much to do with anything. There are others (Donald, Casey, Villegas) who, for all practical purposes, have been American collegiate players almost from the moment that they left the junior ranks. Montgomerie, Elkington, etc. -- U.S. collegiate players all, going back many years.
Smolmania: A broad attack on NCAA golf and its affect on the creation of great players is put to the lie by precisely the examples you raise of Villegas and Casey -- seems to me that some young guy at Stanford who used to be know as Urkel turned out okay playing a couple of years of college golf. Would Justin Rose have benefitted from a couple of years at Oklahoma State? Who can really say? He would probably have had a lot more fun going to college football games and chasing sorority girls than missing 50 cuts in a row (or, whatever the number was). Would he therefore not be having the same degree of success he seems to be working toward?
Pollner offered a different take: the population differences between the US and Australia do lead one to wonder why they produce such a strong amount of golfers? I doubt that I would blame the college ranks alone (if at all), though. Of course, the fact that the Aussies et al. come over here for college has contributed to their seeing all sorts of courses. The US player that stays home doesn't really get anything extra.
Four-putt writes: Maybe today's instructors are to blame. Too much emphasis is placed on having a "perfect, picturebook swing" instead of teaching players, well, to play. Too many of today's golf swings take place on ranges. We have become a counter culture of "practicers," where most players make perfect swings from perfect lies. No one visits a range to buy a bucket of balls and hit them off choppy ground, like we often find on real golf courses. From my observations, great-looking golf swings do not win tournaments. Some of the ugliest golf swings -- Palmer, Floyd, Trevino, Furyk, Rodriguez -- all were "players."
Lip-out: This conjecture about the Ryder Cup is just that...conjecture. Any team with Wetterich and Vaughn Taylor on the back end, while the other team has Ian Poulter sitting at home watching is going to lose. It's got NOTHING to do with collegiate golf or its coaches. It's just an opinion that Gary felt nobody had thrown out there. But nice try!
And Ardmore Ari writes: Lets teach our junior players to putt (one could substitute shooting free throws and playing team basketball instead of dunking as TEAM USA keeps losing as well) instead of thinking its so great to bomb it 300 plus yards off the tee!
In the current Golf World "Bunker" (not posted online), Stu Schneider talks to Peter Kostis about the hiring of Nick Faldo.
"Someone's going to have to define Nick's role," Kostis said. "Nick is a very funny guy, but he's not going to compete with [David] Feherty or McCord, and we don't need an excess of funny on our telecasts. I think he's being hired because of his golf knowledge and his ability to communicate it."
So two questions.
Are Feherty and McCord really funnier than Faldo these days?
And, CBS does not need an excess of funny on their telecasts?