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  • Lines of Charm: Brilliant And Irreverent Quotes, Notes, And Anecdotes from Golf's Golden Age Architects
    Lines of Charm: Brilliant And Irreverent Quotes, Notes, And Anecdotes from Golf's Golden Age Architects
  • The Future of Golf: How Golf Lost Its Way and How to Get It Back
    The Future of Golf: How Golf Lost Its Way and How to Get It Back
    by Geoff Shackelford
  • Grounds for Golf: The History and Fundamentals of Golf Course Design
    Grounds for Golf: The History and Fundamentals of Golf Course Design
    by Geoff Shackelford
  • The Art of Golf Design
    The Art of Golf Design
    by Michael Miller, Geoff Shackelford
  • Alister MacKenzie's Cypress Point Club
    Alister MacKenzie's Cypress Point Club
    by Geoff Shackelford
  • The Golden Age of Golf Design
    The Golden Age of Golf Design
    by Geoff Shackelford
  • The Good Doctor Returns: A Novel
    The Good Doctor Returns: A Novel
    by Geoff Shackelford
  • Masters of the Links: Essays on the Art of Golf and Course Design
    Masters of the Links: Essays on the Art of Golf and Course Design
  • The Captain: George C. Thomas Jr. and His Golf Architecture
    The Captain: George C. Thomas Jr. and His Golf Architecture
    by Geoff Shackelford
Current Reading
  • Men in Green
    Men in Green
    by Michael Bamberger
  • Unplayable Lies: (The Only Golf Book You'll Ever Need)
    Unplayable Lies: (The Only Golf Book You'll Ever Need)
    by Dan Jenkins
  • Professional Golf 2015: The Complete Media, Fan and Fantasy Guide
    Professional Golf 2015: The Complete Media, Fan and Fantasy Guide
    by Daniel Wexler
  • The Forbidden Game: Golf and the Chinese Dream
    The Forbidden Game: Golf and the Chinese Dream
    by Dan Washburn
  • Arnie, Seve, and a Fleck of Golf History: Heroes, Underdogs, Courses, and Championships
    Arnie, Seve, and a Fleck of Golf History: Heroes, Underdogs, Courses, and Championships
    by Bill Fields
  • Unplayable Lies: (The Only Golf Book You'll Ever Need)
    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
    The Magnificent Masters: Jack Nicklaus, Johnny Miller, Tom Weiskopf, and the 1975 Cliffhanger at Augusta
    by Gil Capps
  • Golf Architecture in America: Its Strategy and Construction
    Golf Architecture in America: Its Strategy and Construction
    by Geo. C. Thomas
  • The Course Beautiful : A Collection of Original Articles and Photographs on Golf Course Design
    The Course Beautiful : A Collection of Original Articles and Photographs on Golf Course Design
    Treewolf Prod
  • Reminiscences Of The Links
    Reminiscences Of The Links
    by Albert Warren Tillinghast, Richard C. Wolffe, Robert S. Trebus, Stuart F. Wolffe
  • Gleanings from the Wayside
    Gleanings from the Wayside
    by Albert Warren Tillinghast
  • Planet Golf USA: The Definitive Reference to Great Golf Courses in America
    Planet Golf USA: The Definitive Reference to Great Golf Courses in America
    by Darius Oliver
  • Planet Golf: The Definitive Reference to Great Golf Courses Outside the United States of America
    Planet Golf: The Definitive Reference to Great Golf Courses Outside the United States of America
    by Darius Oliver
Writing And Videos

I have always had strong convictions when it comes to patriotism and always loved representing my country. Every two years--actually every year in the case of the United States competing in both the Ryder Cup and The Presidents Cup--we have an opportunity in golf to bring together the spirited play of 12 young men and create a lifetime's worth of unforgettable images painted perfectly in colors of red, white and blue.



Here's A Cuban...

In the new SI, there's an awesome shot of Tiger Woods on No. 13 Sunday at Augusta by Fred Vuich, but then I checked out Golf World's gallery of images and I think J.D. Cuban may have snapped a shot for the ages...



Third Masters Question: Has The Telecast Style Altered Our Perspective?

There were so many great posts on the first two Masters "questions" posed (here and here), including Mark B's "rant" about changes to the presentation of the event and the impact the coverage window expansion has had.

And while there is clearly disagreement about whether the last two events are an aberration or the inevitable result of letting golf architecture's Jackson Pollock restore one of its Monet's, I wonder if we underestimate how much the lack of excitement for television viewers has been impacted by the pace of play and director Lance Barrow's different approach to the telecast.

Some of you noted that the high water mark for Masters telecasts came in 1986, which was followed by several more great finishes. Having grown up a student of that great stretch (and still owning them on VHS), I remember that the shorter telecast window and Frank Chirkinian's preference to show as many shots as possible lent a sense of urgency to the proceedings that seems to be missing today. There was also a sense of extreme control over the entire telecast back then, something noted in this Richard Sandomir piece from 1995 that's worth reading.

In Barrow's defense, the broadcast window has expanded, play has slowed, fans expect a graphic for each player's shot and the opportunity for a birdie run three or four in a row has disappeared.

But I'm wondering if we are unfairly judging the event based on a presentation style that went out with Chirkinian's retirement?

Has the length and pacing of the telecast exaggerated the negative reaction to the last two events? 


'08 Masters Cool Stat Of The Week...

Yes, there will never be another like the '86 Masters, we know. Yes, the wind was tough on Sunday. But how can you not notice the difference between what scorign was possible during the weekend then versus now?

From Brett Avery's Golf World stat package, the "Cool Stat of the Week"...



"This tournament has become all about playing defensively and minimizing damage."

They're not throwing snowballs anymore. This is an avalanche.

From John Hawkins' Golf World game story on the 2008 Masters:

Those who have begun comparing the Masters to the U.S. Open in terms of punitive nature aren't thinking clearly,

We'll let you tell that to Tiger and Phil's face...

...since the outrageous homestretch produced by the top of the leader board in 2004, this tournament has become all about playing defensively and minimizing damage. The addition of the second cut (rough), a billion trees and 500-plus yards, all of which occurred during the tenure of former Masters chairman Hootie Johnson, has resulted in a conspicuous subtraction of charm and suspense.

It's easy to blame Hootie and the Blowtorch for the growing pile of late-Sunday snoozers, but the game's sharpest minds failed to foresee the most obvious effect of the changes.

Oh do tell us why you see what the rest of us only saw five years ago...

A competition once weighted heavily to favor power players and good putters has fallen into the hands of the control freaks. You have to hit fairways to even think about winning. Scoring angles have been reduced to direct lines. Certain sections of the course have gotten alarmingly tight, but it's the congestion framing those alleys that has nullified the shotmaking and recovery skills that helped brand the Masters from its inception.

The Seve Ballesteros of the early 1980s couldn't make a cut at Augusta National nowadays.

Okay, that's a bit silly, but we'll let it slide because the point is well-intentioned.

Immelman hit 48 of 56 fairways and won. Zach Johnson averaged 265 yards per measured drive but hit 45 fairways and won. Heck, those guys made a cottage industry out of laying up on par 5s once routinely attacked by anyone with a little pop in his bat and designs on a seat at the Champions Dinner.

Not to indict the last two green jacketeers -- they only did what they could and had to do -- but things have really changed. Good strategy is now conservative strategy at a place where all hell used to break loose on a regular basis. "It usually doesn't turn out too well if you try to be aggressive," said Geoff Ogilvy, who shot six over on the weekend and finished T-39. Not that he needed to finish the thought, but Ogilvy did: "Aggression doesn't work, but the guys four or five back have to be aggressive because you're not going to win parring every hole."

After years of dealing with disadvantages one could trace to his lack of supreme power, a top-tier control player such as Jim Furyk might figure to factor, but even he speaks in somewhat jaded tones. "It's a pretty good test of golf," Furyk said. "I mean, it used to be a lot of fun to play. It's not fun anymore, but it definitely got a lot more difficult." Addressing the notion that people don't hoot and holler over solid pars, Furyk added, "I don't think we have [heard roars] for the last few years. It's obviously a decision they [tournament officials] made. It's their event, a different golf course, and there's a different way to approach it now."

All over a silly little golf ball that no one wanted to roll back. Such a shame.

Meanwhile, even one of the old guard proudly declares its continued love for using course setup ploys to put the flatbellies in their place -- except at the Masters. 

John Hopkins writes of the course changes in The Times:

Some of the unique appeal of the Masters has gone as a result.


Check out this great shot by J.D. Cuban Dom Furore accompanying John Hawkins' Golf World Masters game story.










See, there is a positive behind all of that tree planting. We get cool images like this. 


Angelenos Mark Your Calendars: Caddyshack At The Aero

If you don't live in L.A., scroll on.

Caddyshack comes to Montana Avenue's Aero Theatre's big screen April 25th.


“When do you say to the West Coast, ‘The tournament must end at 4 o’clock your time.'"

Doug Ferguson talks to David Fay about the U.S. Open finishing at 7 p.m. Pacific. Now, I'm a conoisseur of David's spin and do love his baseball metaphors. Which, I must say, would come in handy right about now:

“When do you say to the West Coast, ‘The tournament must end at 4 o’clock your time,’” USGA executive director David Fay said.

And that means what, exactly? Finishing at 4 p.m we are deprived of having dinner at a normal hour? Flying out of San Diego on Sunday night? Perish the thought!

“I know it puts Europe at a disadvantage. We tend to look east, where it’s just as easy to look to the west. If K.J. Choi (of South Korea) is leading, the time might be better for Asia.”

Always thinking of Asia. That's why he gets the big bucks! Thank God it wasn't something flimsy like wanting to finish in prime time to grab another Nielsen point.

Ferguson also notes:

The last time a major was held on the West Coast was Pebble Beach for the 2000 U.S. Open, and the final round was scheduled to end at 5 p.m. PDT.

John Daly Rehabs... injury. Yes, that's right, Doug Ferguson reports on the minor surgery Daly recently underwent. More stunning is the news from his doctor that Long John engaged in rehab of an injury.

Daly has cited injury as the primary reason for his poor play over the last two years, during which he has withdrawn eight times and missed the cut 14 times in 33 events. The injury dates to the ‘07 Honda Classic, when he tried to stop his swing upon hearing the click of a fan’s camera. More than a year later, his doctor believes he found the problem.

The surgery was to repair a torn muscle in his stomach.

“When he tried to stop swinging at the Honda Classic, he tore his rotator cuff and he also dislocated two rib joints where they attach to the spine,” said Dr. Steve Whitelaw, who works with the Arkansas Razorbacks. “We rehabbed all that, but the whole time he had dislocated ribs, he tore the ligaments around them.”

Whitelaw said when Daly complained of more pain, they ran a full body scan and discovered the muscle tear in the stomach.

“It was not attached, and the muscle shrunk down,” he said. “When he swings, he uses that area with his stomach and core strength. He could only go so long without hurting. He was in a cycle he could not get out of.”

In more ways than one. 


Tiger Has Knee Surgery Just In Time To Jeopardize Appearance In Fifth Of Four Majors

Thanks to reader Chuck for sending the news that Tiger Woods underwent arthroscopic surgery on his troublesome left knee and is scheduled to be out 4-6 weeks. The Commish weighs in:

"Of course, we're disappointed when Tiger is unable to compete in a PGA TOUR event," Finchem said. "He's the No. 1 player in the world and a fan favorite wherever he goes. There is really never a good time for an athlete - especially one of Tiger's caliber - to take weeks off from competition during the season, but his health concerns have to come first.
Even if it threatens his chances of playing in The Players Championship.
"We wish him the best toward a speedy recovery and look forward to welcoming him back to the TOUR when he is ready and able to compete."

And we hope it's really, really soon. 


Finchem Endorses Olympic Golf Movement...

...and does it in a blog post!

I’ve just returned from Augusta National and The Masters. I always enjoy Masters Week very much, not only for the great golf we see, but also because everyone involved with golf attends. It gives me an opportunity to discuss issues and ideas with everyone from around the world.

And see Tom Fazio in a seersucker jacket. Sorry, continue...

One of the matters that we have talked about over the last several years and which came up again last week is whether golf should be an Olympic sport. In 1993, we actually announced that golf would be in the 1996 games in Atlanta. However, this never materialized for various reasons.

Let's not go there.

Since then we have continued to examine the various issues presented by golf being an Olympic sport.  While there remain questions to be answered and issues to be resolved, I believe the time is now right to move forward. The LPGA and the European Tour have previously indicated their support for Olympic golf. Also, the R&A, the USGA and the PGA of America are evaluating the possibility of Olympic golf.

And David Fay and Peter Dawson have been dreaming of their next jobs.

Finchem goes on to explain how he's been inspired by a study that says golf in the Olympics will grow the game and bring peace to the Middle East.

Here's why it will be interesting to watch this unfold: the entire thing will be geared to what NBC and Dick Ebersol want.

Now, Dick could either be shallow and obsess about getting Tiger Woods to play, then settle on some dull, simple-for-TV format like 72 holes of individual stroke play. 

Or, Dick could be bold, forget trying to please Tiger and say, we need a compelling team format that brings out passion and patriotism. Something that will prove golf is Olympic-worthy. Something that stands alone from all others in golf, but also exciting for the world's best to be part of something unique.

Say, three-man teams in a Dunhill Cup style stroke/match play event? Suggestions?


Phil's Crowne Plaza Ads

The Feherty appearance is the highlight...


"Whatever happened to subtlety?"

Richard Sandomir in the New York Times isn't a fan of the Masters theme music (I love it!). He also offers several telecast notes, including this about the maudlin father-son themed opening.

...the script was fattened with phrases — “imbued with a towering source of inspiration,” “simply the circle of life at Augusta” and “walking in the green jacket footsteps of his hero” — that made my blood sugar spike. Whatever happened to subtlety?

Nantz ended the 2-minute-50-second piece by saying, “Bobby Jones built the foundation, a journey borne at the heart, from a father to a son, always by their side.” (It’s TV English, not Webster’s.) The final four words sounded like a subliminal nod to his new memoir, “Always By My Side: A Father’s Grace and A Sports Journey Unlike Any Other,” about his relationship with his father, who has Alzheimer’s disease.


Immelman On Letterman

Two out of ten decent jokes seems to be about the batting average for these Letterman top ten lists...



“Those trees were not there. He could not make the shot today."

Larry Dorman probably hasn't helped the healing process between ANGC and the New York Times with this assessment of the course changes and their impact on play.

There can be no doubt that the 1-inch fuzz on the face of Augusta has reduced the ability of long hitters to bomb drives into spots on the edges of holes that used to set up better angles into greens. The freedom that came from not worrying about the penalty the second cut exacted — reducing the spin on iron shots, thus reducing control — is gone.

I wonder if the club understands how important that sense of freedom was in making the players more aggressive and therefore, more likely to play freely? (And with that comes not only better play, but also big numbers when they get greedy.)

And the addition of trees to the left of the 17th hole has taken away the opening that led to the greatest charge in the past 25 years at Augusta. It has cut off the opening Nicklaus found during the final round in 1986, when he punched his ball onto the green and made the final birdie in his closing 65 to win his sixth and final green jacket.

Visiting the spot last Wednesday from which his father had made his great escape, Jack Nicklaus II pointed to some new pines and said: “Those trees were not there. He could not make the shot today. There’s no way.”

Come on, a Tom Kite win that year would have been just as memorable! 


Second Masters Question: What's The State Of The Masters "Brand"

masterslogo.gifI heard from a few folks today and all were bemoaning another less-than-fulfilling Masters. The callers ranged from a golf course superintendent to a guy manning a phone bank in Canada who had to tell me how dull it was after I revealed I was a golf writer.

However, the most surprising was a Southerner who has attended many Masters and respects Billy Payne.

This avid golfer excitedly attended Thursday for the first time in a few years. He and his buds arrived at noon and said they got bored and gone by 4 o'clock.

His main gripe was that a certain tension and sense of looming possibilities was gone. The sound of excitement has disappeared and the atmosphere altered beyond recognition. I asked why people were leaving in droves in the late afternoon (at least to us TV viewers), even with so many great names still on the course.

Boredom, was his reply. And then he said the words that you know make me wince for a number of reasons: "The Masters brand has been tainted."

Now you know how I feel about branding, and we can argue about the course changes.

So leave your architectural views behind for a moment, consider the last few Masters and what your friends are saying and tell us, has the "brand" has been tainted?


Stevie Reprimanded For Going Hatless

Thanks to reader Mark for this Reuters story about Steve Williams and his mysterious decision to remove his Masters green cap during part of Saturday's third round.

According to several caddie sources, Williams went several holes hatless before he was approached by a tournament official on the course and instructed to put his cap back on yesterday.

Williams complied and had the green cap, part of the official caddie uniform at the Masters, on his head during today's final round at Augusta National as Woods finished second, three shots behind Trevor Immelman.

"If I've got to wear the cap, everybody's got to wear the cap," said one caddie, speaking anonymously.

"Every caddie has heard about what he did and nobody approves of it. Some of these people forget they're just a caddie.

"It should be an honour to come to the Masters. If you don't want to wear a hat, don't come. Believe it or not, the tournament will still go on without you."

It's not the first time Williams has failed to follow a tournament's dress code.
No, really? Our Stevie?
Two years ago at the Dunlop Phoenix tournament in Japan, where caddies also have to wear Masters-style white overalls, Williams peeled them down to his waist.

Williams caddied that way for several rounds until Mark Steinberg, Woods' manager, told him that it was disrespectful to the tournament.



"There's more scoring in soccer."

img10779302.jpgSteve Elling joins the chorus calling for Augusta National to turn back the clock. Several fine points:

It's irrelevant what the television ratings will say, because history has proven people will watch the Masters no matter the conditions or leaderboard. But has there ever been a more dreadful two-year period in modern history with regard to excitement and goosebumps?

Short answer: No.


We watch the Masters for birdies and crazy rallies, like those managed over the past quarter-century by Jack Nicklaus and Phil Mickelson. Masters memories were not intended to be nightmarish, even for the winner.

And this quote, which I didn't see anywhere else from the former USGA President:

 "We've got them all in the honey holes," said Fred Ridley, chief of the ANGC competition committee, shortly before the leaders teed off Sunday.

Yeah, but the course itself was still a bear. Ridley, it has been sarcastically noted elsewhere, was once the president of the USGA, where extreme course set-ups that cross the line have become the stuff of legend over the years. But in fairness, the changes to Augusta pre-date Ridley's arrival.

But let's never forget just how closely tied the USGA and Augusta National have been in recent years. If it weren't Ridley, it'd be someone else protecting par.

As a final plea to the club for a return to moderation, consider the performance of arguably the greatest player in the history of the game over his past three-plus seasons at Augusta. Over his most recent 13 rounds, Woods has posted exactly one round in the 60s and broken par a total of five times.

Funny that the club has initiated a program last week to allow kids into the tournament for free. Had I watched Sunday's play as a teenager, I would have bought a soccer ball the very next day.

After all, there's more scoring in soccer.

Could Billy Payne's global initiative actually be opening the door for unprecedented criticism of the course? We'll see... 


Sunday Masters Overnight Rating Down Slightly

From AP, courtesy of

Sunday's coverage on CBS drew an overnight rating of 8.9 and an 18 share. That's down two percent from a 9.1/21 in 2007.

Of course, they ran 40 minutes into 60 Minutes and gave it a strong number, so the tournament accomplished its most important task.


First Masters Question: Did The Weather Really Deprive Us Of Excitement?

I thought CBS's Peter Kostis offered excellent commentary from his outpost on No. 13 and ably handled the awkward situation of having his prized pupil in contention (and then having to interview him...).

However, I'm curious what everyone thinks of this column remark:

For the second year in a row, the weather denied us a back-nine shootout, something we haven't seen since Tiger's win in 2005 over Chris DiMarco. The wind on Sunday forced players to be defensive or risk making big numbers. If the conditions had stayed as soft as they were Saturday, there would have been a lot more roars.

I'm wondering if the wind was really the reason we didn't get a shootout.

The ebb and flow of the week felt more to me like a U.S. Open, where the course has beaten the players down to a point where by Sunday they were so used to being on the defensive that even had weather cooperated,  sharp, aggressive play would have been scarce.

Also, isn't there something amiss when, despite being set up in such a forgiving a way (all tees forward, reasonable hole locations), it is still so unyielding in some wind?


"The only glimpse of nerves came on the 17th"

In writing about Trevor Immelman's win, the New York Times' William Rhoden says:

The only glimpse of nerves came on the 17th, where his tee shot landed in the bunker. Immelman clasped his hands behind his head and grimaced.

Now, as I recall it, Immelman hit it in the water on the previous hole. And on 17, that would have been his second shot that landed in the bunker, as there are no fairway bunkers. Other than that, it was a great observation.