I do not believe the Augusta National will impress anyone as a long course, as although undulating, it is not hilly. There are no irritating walks from greens to tees and moreover it will be so interesting and free from the annoyance of searching for lost balls, that players will get the impression that it is shorter than it really is. ALISTER MACKENZIE
"A yellow school bus idles in its parking lot; the driver collects ten dollars from those who board."
Clementon Amusement Park in South Jersey is not exactly a place brimming over with good cheer. Although it is celebrating its hundredth anniversary this year, Clementon carries a distinct aura of hard luck—all faded paint and sharp edges and arcane dangers.In a strange coincidence, a Links profile by the late, great Pam Emory was posted over at CBSSports.com.
But once a year, usually on the last Sunday afternoon in September, the park becomes a portal to another world. A yellow school bus idles in its parking lot; the driver collects ten dollars from those who board. The bus heads down a nondescript lane and then, minutes later, pulls up at the end of a gravel road, where local kids sell burgers and hot dogs off a grill and soft drinks from a cooler. Nearby, a small green-and-white building serves as both town hall and police station and hints that the territory beyond is a separate and sovereign place, far removed from the strip-mall tedium of the surrounding burbs.
A man in a blazer waits near a guardhouse and hands the visitor a scorecard. "Have a nice time," he says. And just like that, one steps, blinking in disbelief, inside the sylvan fold and onto the grounds of what's commonly regarded as the greatest golf course in the world: Pine Valley.
"Just giving him the respect he deserves is really all it would take for Finchem to carve out a relationship with the No. 2 draw in golf."
In this week's "Quiet Please" column, Golf World's Tim Rosaforte writes:
Tim Finchem might learn a lesson from Phil Mickelson's appearance at this week's Fry's Electronics Open. Mickelson is playing at Grayhawk GC for no other reason than he's a loyal guy. He's carried the club logo on his bag without re-upping his contract since 1994, has the grillroom named after him and is the front man and course designer at Whisper Rock, just north on Scottsdale Road. It's his way of paying back a community that has been supporting him since his days at Arizona State. The lesson: Phil is good to people who are good to him. Just giving him the respect he deserves is really all it would take for Finchem to carve out a relationship with the No. 2 draw in golf.
Now, off the top of my head, I can think of one embarrassment Finchem saved Mickelson from this year.
So I'm struggling to understand what it is that the Commissioner is supposed to do that he's not doing now for Mickelson?
While we're on the subject of Whisper Rock, Tom Dellner profiles it for the current issue of Links.
"You pass the genes on," says his mother, Sharon, by phone from South Africa. "I've got Irish blood in me, and I've got a very, very short fuse. And I also speak my mind, and it gets me into trouble as well. You get to a boiling point, and you explode, and obviously you regret it afterward. But most people appreciate me for being straightforward. I'm not one of these mundane, boring people, and neither is my son. I've always let him be himself."
"Which is why they’re going to wear full rain gear to practice Thursday, regardless of the weather."
Sean Martin's Golfweek.com excellent profile of the UCLA men's golf team and issues they are facing, starting with the fact they haven't played an event yet.
Then there's the team member who is playing round 1 of PGA Tour Qualifying school the day after UCLA finishes their first event (they call this amateur golf!?) and there's the incoming freshman who had a rough summer...after missing three PGA Tour cuts.
Oh and this reminder that college coaches have been known to overthink things from time to time.
Even the course that’s hosting the Bruins’ first tournament – Chambers Bay Golf Club in University Place, Wash. – is a mystery. The links-style layout opened just four months ago, but is already No. 2 on the recently-released Golfweek’s Best New Courses list. The late-October weather in Washington could throw another wrench in the Bruins’ debut, which is why they’re going to wear full rain gear to practice Thursday, regardless of the weather.
If they're playing Riviera, should be nice and warm in those suits.
Shocking as it may seem, but I elected to have baseball on instead of the Grand Slam of Golf. But thanks to TNT, we can still relive Bobby Clampett's most profound day one insights:
Notes from TNT’s Coverage of the 25th Annual PGA Grand Slam of Golf from the Mid Ocean Club in Bermuda
First Round – Tuesday, October 16, 2007
Clampett on Zach Johnson’s early-round struggles: “(Zach Johnson) has been like a deer in headlights on these greens. (The greens) have really spooked him.”
Like a deer in headlights? Never heard that one before.
Clampett on the different style of play at the Grand Slam: “Players are not used to playing in foursomes, so it’s a different pace of play. That’s why I like a guy like (Angel) Cabrera who plays so quickly in this format. The slower player feels like he is in everybody’s way if he takes extra time.”
Or the fast player gets itchy and cranky thinking that he picked the wrong month to quit smoking.
Clampett on Angel Cabrera’s physical fitness: “(Angel Cabrera is) a modern-day John Daly.”
I'm sorry, did I miss something? John Daly is still alive and playing isn't he?
Clampett on player’s hitting off the scenic 18th tee along the shoreline: “It’s a challenge to get set up on a hole like this with all this beauty around.”
Kratzert: “(Players) find (themselves) staring and kind of dreaming.”
Clampett: “Zach Johnson and (Angel) Cabrera (are) looking out in the ocean more than they are looking at (Jim) Furyk (hitting his tee shot).”
Boy am I sorry I missed that exchange when it happened.
Mike Dudurich reports on Oakmont Country Club closing it's neighboring 1938 Emil Loeffler public course, possibly for good.
The 18-hole public layout, which borders historic Oakmont Country Club's 3rd hole, was closed for play in the fall of 2006 as preparations began in earnest for the 2007 U.S. Open.
It has not opened in 2007 and, while no decisions have been made beyond 2008, the possibility exists that it may not reopen at all.
"With all of the considerations for the 2010 Women's Open (which will be held at Oakmont CC), at least for 2008, we are not going to open the Oakmont East golf course," said Oakmont CC general manager Tom Wallace. "It would require rebuilding the course so that it's safe again for play and then it would be put back in use for the Women's Open. We need a clearer picture about what the footprint will be for the Women's Open before we make any long-term decisions. We're reviewing all options."
If the USGA Executive Committee were in touch with reality, they might understand that the closing of a public course to make it a one week permanent tent village every few years or could ultimately reflect poorly on them and their all important corporate partners.
Lorne Rubenstein writes about Michelle Wie and features some strong comments from her coach, David Leadbetter.
“If she hadn't played those [men's] tournaments, then everybody would have considered 2006 her best season yet,” Wie's swing coach, David Leadbetter, who had made his opinions known to her and her family, said Monday from his home in Orlando. “It was absolute madness for her to play them. That started the whole debacle. Now with Greg Nared leaving, you feel like this is the Titanic.”And...
Wie has also been dealing with injuries. She'd developed tendinitis in her right wrist. Then, in February, she broke her left wrist. She came back too early.
“First, the wrist hadn't healed properly and she'd done very little rehab,” Leadbetter said. “You don't come back and play so fast. The injury has to heal and then you have to rehab it. Then you have to get stronger. When you don't use your wrist, the forearms and upper body atrophy. After you get stronger, you have to hit balls and get competitive. Then you play. Michelle bypassed the whole process.”
Wie is a wealthy young woman because of endorsements with Nike and Sony. For a time anyway, it seemed reasonable for her to play PGA Tour events. She had a dream, and she came close to making a PGA Tour cut when she was 14. But at some point, as Leadbetter said, her and her parents' approach became unrealistic.
“It's not even logical,” Leadbetter said. “I'm scared for her future.”
1. Golf Channel. First it misplaced its 'The.' Now the Masters has dumped USA for a new Thursday-Friday cable provider, but it snubbed the so-called home of golf in favor of ESPN. Talk about a lost opportunity.
This man is hands-on! And it's definitely a slow news day since I see nearly every paper online picked up this vital story.
Tiger Woods will have his own brand of sports drink next year under an endorsement deal announced Tuesday with Gatorade that marks a couple of firsts for the world's No. 1 golfer — his first U.S. deal with a beverage company and his first licensing agreement.That's so good to know!
Gatorade said it will introduce "Gatorade Tiger" in March, with more products to follow. Woods even picked out the flavors himself, with the drink available in a cherry blend, citrus blend and grape.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed, although Golfweek magazine reported last month it was for five years and could pay Woods as much as $100 million, moving him closer to the $1 billion mark in career endorsements.Fascinating!
"There have been some licensing elements to things we've done," said Mark Steinberg, his agent at IMG, who cited video games produced by EA Sports as an example. "But everything he does with Gatorade is going to be creating new products. It's something Tiger and I and our licensing business has been looking at for some time."
"Gatorade has been part of my game plan for years, whether I'm training or competing, so this is an ideal match," Woods said in a statement. "I'm eager to launch my first signature product in a few months and look forward to developing additional sports performance beverages with Gatorade in the coming years."
It's almost like he said that himself. Almost.
Woods, with 61 victories on the PGA Tour and 13 major championships, joins a stable of star athletes at Gatorade — Michael Jordan, Derek Jeter, Peyton Manning and Mia Hamm. None of those athletes has licensing deals, which also is a first for Gatorade, a division of PepsiCo.
"His iconic nature resonates everywhere he goes," said Jeff Urban, senior vice president of Gatorade. "Bridging that iconic nature with his will to win, those things make this a big deal for us."
Urban said it was too early to say how Gatorade would market Woods and his new product line, especially since the drink will not be available until the spring.
On pins and needles here.
The company released video of Woods going through sweat analysis testing with the Gatorade Sports Science Institute, which tested such things as his sweat rate and energy needs during exercise.
Woods has endorsed everything from sports equipment and apparel (Nike) to financial services (Accenture) to automobiles (Buick) to shaving products (Gillette). His first beverage deal comes after 11 years as a professional.
"We wanted to get away from a straight endorsement deal in the beverage category," Steinberg said. "We thought this would be the best fit for his first licensing deal. It's authentic to what Tiger does every day, as hard as he works out every day."
Okay I gotta cut this one off.
I missed this story last week while traveling but I'm not sure what excuse the golf press has for not reporting it. Here it is, first reported (in English) by Marcus Oscarsson in the Times:
This Daily Express story explored things a bit more:
The golfer Tiger Woods has missed the baptism in Sweden of his three-month-old daughter, Sam, according to Swedish media reports.
Woods is married to the Swedish model Elin Nordegren, whose family turned out in force for the christening ceremony in Stockholm yesterday. But one source close to the family said: "“Everybody was very surprised over the fact that Tiger did not show up.”
While the traditional christening was important to Elin and her family, insiders said Woods’s Buddhist beliefs meant the ceremony was less of a priority.
However, photos of Woods, 31, posing with his arms around Desperate Housewives star Teri Hatcher at the fund-raiser 6,000 miles away merely fuelled gossip. One columnist wrote: “Hey, hasn’t the guy heard of a daily planner?
“Couldn’t he and Elin, have picked a free day – no charity events, no golf, no shooting a dozen TV ads – then had their daughter baptised?”
Elin’s Swedish relatives were reportedly “very surprised” her husband was not there.
After flying into Stockholm on a private jet, Elin, 27, and baby Sam Alexis Woods were picked up by the model’s twin sister Josefin and the baby was christened in a specially decorated gymnasium. Meanwhile, last Saturday’s Tiger Woods Block Party in California raised £500,000 for a school learning programme.
A friend said Woods was “in great spirits”, adding: “He was the life and soul of the party. We had no idea his baby was being christened on the same weekend.”
Allan Maki in the Globe and Mail was the only writer to question Tiger's decision:
But hey, hasn’t the guy heard of a daily planner? Couldn’t he and his wife, Swedish model Elin Nordegren, have picked a free day – no charity events, no golf, no shooting a dozen new TV ads – then had their three-month-old daughter baptized?
Now, I could care less what Tiger does or does not do with his spare time. And frankly, I can't say I blame him for skipping a baptism in a gymnasium halfway around the globe.
But considering that way too many questions asked of Tiger this year in press conferences were schmaltzy, lame and mindless softballs revolving around the birth of his daughter, resulting in countless "fatherhood will make him a more complete man" columns, shouldn't some of the scribblers who peddled that at least report this?
"Three weeks ago I did not know who Gary Player was. And I am sure that - with much greater reason - he had never heard of me either. But now we are tangled up in one of South Africa's messiest controversies."
George Monbiot apparently started the Burma nightmare for Gary Player and probably doesn't make things any better with this Guardian guest column discussing his questions for Player's design group following Player's response.
He first explains how the controversy came about:
I came across him while researching the column I wrote about Burma a fortnight ago. In trying to discover which western companies have been operating there, I stumbled upon a list of the country's recent golf course developments. He was named as the designer of the Pun Hlaing course in Rangoon. His website boasted that he had turned "a 650-acre rice paddy into The Pride of Myanmar".
I asked his company who owned the land on which the course was constructed. How many people were evicted in order to build it? Was forced labour used? As his company is based in Florida, did this work break US sanctions? It refused to answer my questions. I suggested in my column that Nelson Mandela should remove his name from the charity golf tournament Player is due to host next month.
My call was taken up by Desmond Tutu and the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu). The Nelson Mandela Children's Fund, which claims to own the event, asked Mr Player to stand down as the tournament's guest of honour. Player's company responded by claiming that it was in fact the joint owner of the event; he has refused to stand aside. The controversy is still raging. Cosatu has promised to turn up and protest if Player does not withdraw.
One result of the fuss is that the Gary Player Group was obliged to issue a statement about its involvement in Burma. It maintained that "the company's decision to design the course in Burma was actually humanitarian in that it took no profit from the endeavour, but rather encouraged the developer to put the money toward creating jobs, as well as the establishment of a caddy & agronomy program ... the company was paid expenses only". Converting 650 acres of rice paddy in a country suffering from malnutrition into a golf course likely to be used by the generals looks to me like an unusual object for charity, so I asked Player's company to provide some evidence for these claims.
Oh boy, here's where it reeeaaaaallllyyyy awkward.
The same statement maintained that "Gary Player has always been a great supporter of human rights" and has "a solid record of campaigning for democracy around the world". To test this claim, I ordered the book he wrote in 1966, when he was 30 years old and at the peak of his remarkable career. Grand Slam Golf is well-written and strangely compelling: it makes the game seem almost interesting, even to me. But chapter two contains the following statements: "I must say now, and clearly, that I am of the South Africa of Verwoerd and apartheid ... a nation which is the result of an African graft on European stock and which is the product of its instinct and ability to maintain civilised values and standards amongst the alien barbarians ... The African may well believe in witchcraft and primitive magic, practise ritual murder and polygamy; his wealth is in cattle. More money and he will have no sense of parental or individual responsibility, no understanding of reverence for life or the human soul which is the basis of Christian and other civilised societies. ... A good deal of nonsense is talked of, and indeed thought about 'segregation'. Segregation of one kind or another is practised everywhere in the world."
Journalists in South Africa pointed me to allegations that Gary Player was used as a kind of global ambassador by the apartheid government. In 1975 he collaborated with the Committee for Fairness in Sport, which was set up by the government to try to overcome the global sporting boycott. In 1981 he featured on the UN's blacklist of sports people breaking the boycott. So I asked Player's company questions about these incidents as well.
All this is a long time ago, and Gary Player's attitude towards the apartheid regime is very different today. But another human rights issue is still current. There is a real problem with golf, and it is not confined to the dress sense of the participants. All over the world the construction of golf courses is associated with dispossession and environmental destruction. You'll find a flavour of the controversies it stirs up in Aberdeenshire at the moment, where Donald Trump is promoting a project to create the "world's greatest golf course" on a site of special scientific interest.
From there it spirals into a rant about environmentally destructive practices in golf, not all of which are true.
From Sports Business Journal:
After 10 years, IBM presses ‘escape’ on PGA Tour deal
Oh wouldn't you love to know the Cialis-inspired headlines that were considered?
The company has been the tour’s “official information technology partner” for 10 years and has wide-ranging rights. It is embedded deeply enough into the sport that it may still be involved with the tour or possibly provide products or services to its successor as the tour’s technology sponsor, sources said, but it won’t return as an official sponsor.
Darn, and I was hoping this meant no more lousy IBM laptops in press rooms.
IBM provides the ShotLink real-time scoring system and the TourCast application, which provides online graphical webcasts of tour stops on PGATour.com.
Other than pricing, sources said IBM was distressed that some competitors gained access to tour equity through affiliations with local events, like EDS’ title sponsorship of the Byron Nelson Championship.
Gained access to tour equity. That's a keeper.
Hey, but at least now we all know what business EDS is in.
IBM has been a Masters sponsor for more than 20 years, and with its official PGA Tour status winding down, it is looking at more tournament affiliations. However, the tour is asking its tournaments not to do any exclusive deals with IBM in deference to any future sponsorship it may cut with a technology partner. An e-mail this month from PGA Tour CMO Tom Wade to tournament directors, obtained by SportsBusiness Journal, stated, “A continued relationship with IBM beyond 2007 is uncertain.” It went on to say the tour is in discussions with “a few different technology partners” who would “invest significantly with many of our tournaments.” Wade asks event directors to contact the tour before granting IBM official or exclusive rights.
Meanwhile, Cialis will not renew its official marketing partnership with the tour. Eli Lilly signed the four-year deal late in 2003 as it prepared to go to market with the erectile dysfunction drug.
But their ad looked so good on the scoreboards. And think of all the fathers who will be deprived of the privilege of explaining Cialis to their sons and daughters.
Greg Nared makes it number two to bid farwell.
Based on the Wie family statement, Nared sounds like he was a driver...
Statement on Greg Nared’s Departure from Team Wie
LOS ANGELES—The following is a statement by Jesse Derris, of Sunshine, Sachs & Associates, on behalf of Michelle Wie and her team at the William Morris Agency concerning Greg Nared’s resignation:
“While we are sorry that Greg will no longer be handling the road management of Michelle, we wish to thank him for his work and wish him the best going forward. The core group of agents handling Michelle’s business relationships remains intact, as it has from day one of her professional career.”
While Kirk Semple's New York Times piece on the Kabul Golf Course and passionate proprietor Mohammad Afzal Abdul makes for a fine read, you absolutely must not miss the video feature that Semple narrates to bring his piece alive.
It's almost 8 minutes long, but well worth your time. Abdul is my new hero.
Over the 43 years of its existence and through as many as half a dozen disparate title sponsors from Piccadilly to Colgate to Suntory to Toyota to Cisco to HSBC -- with another on the way -- the World Match Play Championship at Wentworth has been accused of many things, most of them relating to the tournament founder, the late Mark McCormack, packing the field with his own IMG clients.
In truth, Mr. Ten Percent was an easy target, as was his Cleveland-based company's acronym. "IM Greedy" was a popular alternative, as was "International Money Grabbers," with neither barb, of course, by extension doing anything for the World Match Play's standing in the game. "Nice event, good fun, but no integrity," was the widely held view.
But that was then. With a quantifiable and public qualifying system in place nowadays, this long-standing autumnal event has grown in both stature and credibility. Take this year. Of the four semifinalists, only one, Hunter Mahan, pays a percentage of his earnings to IMG, a point worth making in an event offering golf's biggest first prize, a cool £1 million. And even better, eliminating any hint of blatant bias seems to have brought with it a greater diversity, too. Not only were the final four all from different countries, each hailed from a different continent: Ernie Els from Africa, Angel Cabrera from South America, Mahan from North America and Henrik Stenson from Europe.
Such a cosmopolitan lineup has to be commended in a so-called "world" event, even if, with only 16 starters, there remains an air of exhibitionism about the proceedings. And let's not get into the fact that with the arrival of the WGC-Accenture World Match Play Championship that features the planet's best 64 players, the global claim of this event's title is, if one is honest, more than a little dubious.