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Books
  • 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
  • Professional Golf 2015: The Complete Media, Fan and Fantasy Guide
    Professional Golf 2015: The Complete Media, Fan and Fantasy Guide
    by Daniel Wexler
  • The Golf Book: Twenty Years of the Players, Shots, and Moments That Changed the Game
    The Golf Book: Twenty Years of the Players, Shots, and Moments That Changed the Game
    by Chris Millard
  • The Forbidden Game: Golf and the Chinese Dream
    The Forbidden Game: Golf and the Chinese Dream
    by Dan Washburn
  • The Early Days of Pinehurst
    The Early Days of Pinehurst
    by Chris Buie
  • 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
  • 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
Classics
  • 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

The golf architect, therefore, should look upon himself as an artist; and the colors of his palette are the various types of hazards which he employs to lend interest and bring out the features to holes which he either invents or interprets from the ground. MAX BEHR

    

Tuesday
Sep182007

"Maybe now he'll start leaving decent tips."

Gary Van Sickle hands out FedEx Cup awards, including this one for Tiger:

Jed Clampett Award: The richest man in golf is Woods. He won seven times in 16 appearances and cleared $10 million for the year. At the Tour Championship, he snagged $1.26 million for the tournament victory and the famously deferred $10 million for capturing the FedEx Cup title. Maybe now he'll start leaving decent tips.

Meanwhile Doug Ferguson lauds the FedEx Cup's success and examines the problems with various "tweaks" to the Cup, including one that I initially thought was an essential fix. Now I'm not so sure the field sizes should change if the points volatility is improved, as expected.

Furyk offered the most comical assessment by noting that 125 players keep their cards, but 144 players start the playoffs. But the season began with 225 exempt players, so actually only 64 percent made the playoffs.

The biggest problem with this solution is that short fields make for dull tournaments and a lousy experience for the fans. Consider the 70-man field at Cog Hill, where an entire day of golf was over in six hours. There has to be consideration given to the tournament and its fan base. Plus, it's harder to win against a larger field.

The limited field events really are getting old, not because Tiger always wins them, but because you sense they might introduce more leaderboard competition as we saw at the first two playoff events. 

Tuesday
Sep182007

Drug Testing To Be Announced Thursday?

From Doug Ferguson's notes column:

The PGA TOUR will make it official this week that it will have a drug policy in 2008.
 
Golf has been under increasing pressure to come up with a policy against performance-enhancing drugs, and PGA TOUR commissioner Tim Finchem said earlier this year that while there is no evidence of steroids, drug testing in sports has become a reality and it was prudent for all golf organizations to deal with them collectively.
 
"I think we're at a point where to maintain confidence in the public and the fans, we have to take this step, even though there's great speculation about the extent to which substances can help you in this game," Finchem said two weeks ago in Boston.
 
A conference call to discuss the policy was planned as early as Thursday, although it was not clear what Finchem would announce. He has said any policy would start with an education plan and a list of banned substances, although testing might not begin until at least the second half of next year.

 

Tuesday
Sep182007

Any Bad Restorations?

230136-346187-thumbnail.jpg
MacKenzie or Nicklaus? (click to enlarge this fine piece of work by the La Habra and Minneapolis art departments)
I finally had a chance to sit down with Ron Whitten's Golf World column on restoration, and while his early statements are pretty negative regarding the restoration movement, the remainder of the piece and Whitten's positive portrayal of Kris Spense's work in the same issue softens the blow considerably.

I'm curious if anyone has heard of a classic course that chose to undertake a restoration using as much historical information as possible with minimal modification to original design concepts, and come away from that process unhappy that they did so?

Yes, there are always going to be unhappy members, but I'm wondering about an entire restoration-driven project that was considered a mistake.

To put it another way, has anyone undertaken a serious attempt at restoration that came back a few years later and went with a modern design redesign that was considered an improvement?
 

Tuesday
Sep182007

"They're mediocre, lack subtlety and require a one-dimensional aerial game.”

In his weekly golf column, Tod Leonard highlights portions of Bradley Klein's recent Golfweek review of Torrey Pines.
With Torrey Pines South on the clock for the 2008 U.S. Open, the reviews of the course are going to be more discerning, and in some cases, more critical. Golfweek architecture writer Bradley S. Klein fired the first harsh salvo last week with a critique subtitled, “I thought U.S. Open courses were supposed to be special.”

Among Klein's thoughts:

“Torrey Pines has come a long way and is in far better management hands than it ever has been. But all of the changes there for the 2008 U.S. Open cannot mask an underlying truth about the monotonous structure of the golf holes. They're mediocre, lack subtlety and require a one-dimensional aerial game.”

“The USGA formula for Open setups – added length, narrow fairways, deep rough – is anathema to everyday golf. It also makes for boring championship play by reducing the game to one dimension. That's more prevalent at a simple layout like Torrey Pines South that has little fairway contour and no diversity of angles off the tee.”

“For everyday players, it's a slog. And for premier golfers, it's a game with little strategy, because favoring the safe side to those tucked pins still leaves a favorable uphill putt.”

“So why Torrey Pines South for a U.S. Open? No surprise here: It has to do with logistics, since a 36-hole facility is ideal for staging all the infrastructure. And because taking the national championship to a true municipal layout is the right thing to do politically. “But let's not get carried away by mistaking site election here for a branding of quality.”
Monday
Sep172007

Another Castle Stuart Video

The previous making of videos for Scotland's Castle Stuart resort are posted here, here, here and here. Volume 5 looks at the heather "chunking" work taking place. That does not sound very interesting, I know, but it's the best one yet, especially in showing how little about this natural looking links style course is shaping up to be quite...natural.Oh, and I have no idea who the fellow is who is talking throughout the video.

 

 

Monday
Sep172007

FedEx Cup Post Mortems

fedexcuplogo.jpgConsensus seems to be building that it was all worth it, and now it's on to the major tweaking.

Steve Campbell offers solutions. Mark Lamport Stokes takes it all in and seems to come away impressed.

Dave Fairbank offers his tweaks. And Bob Verdi raises this point:
What's more intriguing is what he is saying in private to FedEx, Barclays, Deutsche Bank, BMW and the TV networks. Very important executives with those companies made very expensive decisions to fund the playoff, ostensibly on the assumption that all the best golfers were to play all the time. How could these CEOs be surprised when it didn't materialize? When Finchem was asked whether he guaranteed corporate angels that Tiger and Phil were on board, he replied, "you never can." Bingo. One wonders whether he told sponsors that during his sales pitch.

Monday
Sep172007

“He hasn’t hit a practice ball since the British Open"

Doug Ferguson wonders if this is the best Tiger Woods has ever played and reports, thanks to the ever-pleasant Stevie, that Tiger is hitting the ball so well he has not hit a post-round practice ball since Carnoustie.


Monday
Sep172007

Tilly Journal 2

tilly-illustration.jpgThe second Tillinghast Journal has been posted at Tillinghast.net.

Monday
Sep172007

The Wie's Of Palo Alto

Mark Soltau reports that Michelle Wie has arrived at Stanford, playing nine holes on the remnants of George Thomas and Billy Bell's 1930 Stanford GC design. She was accompanied by her parents, who have rented a house nearby.

Oh yeah, that sounds fun.

Monday
Sep172007

Tour Championship Ratings Skyrocket Thanks To Tiger and Phil...

...not up showing last year!

From Sports Business Daily:

NBC earned a 3.3/7 overnight Nielsen rating for the final round the the Tour Championship, the final leg of the inaugural Playoffs for the FedEx Cup,  from 1:30-6:00pm yesterday, up 200.0% from a 1.1/2 overnight rating for the Tour Championship in '06, which aired in early November on ABC from 1:00-5:00pm.  Tiger Woods won yesterday's event to clinch the FedEx Cup title.  Woods did not play in last year's Tour Championship.  Saturday's third-round coverage earned a 2.8/7 overnight from 2:00-6:00pm, up 86.7% from a 1.5/3 overnight on ABC last year from 3:30-7:00pm.  During the same weekend last year, ESPN aired coverage of the 84 Lumber Classic, and overnights were not available.

And who said there were no benefits to them skipping the 2006 finale?

Monday
Sep172007

"In the end it was just too easy at Easy Lake."

Based on the link, I believe this is Jim Moriarty's East Lake/Tour Championship game story for Golf World.

Besides evaluating the FedEx Cup as somewhat of a success, he writes:

In the end it was just too easy at Easy Lake. Poor Bobby Jones must have been weeping somewhere for the honor of his home course. Rain Thursday turned the greens from semi-dirt to soft dirt, and Tim Clark, one of the 24 non-competing markers in the field, tied the then course record on a rain-interrupted day with an eight-under-par 62, highlighted by a pitch-in for eagle on the 15th. The real rain, the remnants of Hurricane Humberto, was scheduled to hit Friday, but the worst of it took the I-285 bypass around Atlanta, and it was Woods who reigned instead.

In a six-hole stretch from the fourth through the ninth holes, Woods went seven under par for a front-nine 28 and felt pretty darn bad about it, too. He holed a bunker shot from a semiburied lie on the fifth and made a 70-footer for eagle at the ninth. "The ball was bouncing every which way. It was left of the hole, it was right of hole, left of the hole, right of the hole, and then it went in," he said. No fist pumps or finger-pointing this time, just a bowed head and a sheepish "gee-I'm-sooooo-sorry-about-that-guys" grin.

And skipping a bit...

Easy Lake, formidable only when someone drove it in the wet Bermuda rough, was so defenseless that through 36 and 54 holes only two of the 30 players were over par. It really bared its gums in the third round, however, when Johnson's 60 and Geoff Ogilvy's 62 were proof that even though the slow, soft greens were bad, they weren't unputtable.

Now I understand the situation with the greens.

But did this tournament also serve as a reminder that extreme, even outlandish measures would be necessary to keep a land-locked venue like East Lake relevant in today's game where a 6-iron is some players' 210-yard club and 3-woods carry 300? 

Now I know our friends Bacon and Grease over at Golf Digest think that it's okay for classics to become irrelevant, because you simply move to another venue that's 7,600 yards. But considering all that has been invested in East Lake and will be invested soon with the greens resodding, should there be some discussion at PGA Tour headquarters about the long term viability of this venue? And dare I say, some discussion about possibly asking the USGA when it's ball study will be wrapping up?

I sure don't see a U-groove ban making East Lake more relevant no matter how firm the new greens get, do you?  

Monday
Sep172007

Tour Championship Photo Caption Fun

That kiss-the-trophy moment, courtesy of Rob Matre's site. What's being said between Tiger and Finchem?

eastlaketim-tiger.jpg 

Monday
Sep172007

"They're not making it public yet, but they're done. And you can tell by the way he's swinging the golf club."  **

Based on the improved look of Tiger's swing and an inside source, Steve Eubanks blogs that Tiger Woods and Hank Haney have split up.

Before the start of the second round of the Tour Championship, Butch Harmon nudged Adam Scott in the ribs and said, "It's pretty sweet that Tiger's trying to swing like you now."

In fact, there have been some noticeable changes in Tiger's swing of late. Gone are the exaggerated follow-throughs, the long, flat backswings, and the flat left wrist. The Tiger of today looks remarkably similar to the Tiger of 2001, a time when everyone said Scott's swing looked just like Tiger's. According to those in a position to know such things, there might be a good reason for Tiger's new look. According to sources close to the situation, Tiger and Hank Haney are, in a word, done. As one source put it, "They're not making it public yet, but they're done. And you can tell by the way he's swinging the golf club."

If true, this has been coming for some time. As early as April, when Tiger finished second at Augusta after hitting tee shots in every direction, he was observed making some curt comments to his instructor. At one point, the number-one player in the world turned to Haney on the driving range and said, "Get the f--- away from me."

Then in August, Haney signed on as the new director of the International Junior Golf Academy on Hilton Head, Island, a move that had many people wondering how Tiger's coach planned to balance his instructor duties with the demands of running a full-time school.

The final clue came this week when Haney was nowhere to be seen during The Tour Championship. With $10 million on the line, most coaches would have at least made a cursory appearance.

While no one in either camp would confirm the rumors at this time, evidence is mounting of a split. Stay tuned.

 

Monday
Sep172007

''If this is going to be our playoffs, I'd get three better venues that are a little bit tougher that might wean out some [players].''

Jeff Shain looks at the low scoring at the playoff venues, and based on Woody Austin's remarks, this must be stopped because there was just way too much cheering, excitement and a fun viewing to be had! It MUST be stopped!

The notion that playoff tests are supposed to be stiffer is taking a beating during the PGA Tour's version. The average score at all four FedEx Cup events has come in below par.

Despite tougher conditions Sunday, East Lake GC ranks as the tour's second-easiest venue in 2007 at 1.68 strokes below par. Part of that stems from greens recently babied out of intensive care.

That wasn't a factor at the first three events, all of which ranked among the upper third of the PGA Tour's easiest layouts. Last week's BMW Championship was third, The Barclays 11th and the Deutsche Bank Championship 14th.
''If this is going to be our playoffs,'' Woody Austin said, ``I'd get three better venues that are a little bit tougher that might wean out some [players].''
If you are going to be Mr. Quotable Woody, let's crack open a dictionary before we use those big words like wean. And despite all of those birdies, somehow the playoffs managed to produce the best player ever as a winner.

Speaking of Woody, I thought it was peculiar no one (at least that I can find) wrote about his hiccup during Saturday's third round. They're bickering about it over on the NBCSports.com message board, and the clip is even up on YouTube.

 

Sunday
Sep162007

Colt Knost Unswayed By Masters Pairing With Just A Midwestern Guy From Cedar Rapids; Decides To Turn Pro In Time For Fall Finish

Love this comment to Art Stricklin:

"I will make my announcement this week, but I've been told to stay quiet until then," Knost said. "It's been very hard. Do I take a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to play in the Masters as an amateur? Or do I end my career as the No. 1 amateur in the world having won the U.S. Amateur and the Walker Cup with my team? I've been going back and forth."

 

Sunday
Sep162007

Tiger's Super Bowl Win Ushers In Avalanche Of Not Particularly Flattering Football Analogies

sept16_woodstrophy_426x600.jpgDoug Ferguson's Tour Championship/FedEx Cup finale game story features so much, well, cynicism. There's hope for the AP yet!

The FedEx Cup didn't change anything but Tiger Woods' bank account.

The PGA Tour's "new era in golf" came to a familiar conclusion Sunday when Woods captured the Tour Championship in record-setting fashion, closing with a 4-under 66 for an eight-shot victory at East Lake and his seventh title of the season.

The only difference?

This was the first time Woods walked away from one tournament with two trophies.

Along with winning the Tour Championship and its $1.26 million prize, Woods was a runaway winner of the FedEx Cup and the $10 million that goes into his retirement account.

If this was supposed to be the "Super Bowl" of golf, Woods spent most of the final round running out the clock.

It did seem like the worst case scenario was a Tour Championship battle in the final group whle another battle for the Cup took place in the early groups. Actually, a Tiger rout was much worse.

This is beautiful:
PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem first presented Woods with the crystal trophy from the Tour Championship. Before handing him the FedEx Cup trophy, Finchem alluded to the tour's promotion of the FedEx Cup by noting it had never been kissed.

And it still hasn't.

Woods simply held it aloft as the thousands around 18th green cheered.

Meanwhile, Steve Elling's football-inspired lede:

As it ultimately turned out, Tiger Woods could have taken a knee in the PGA Tour's so-called playoff finale and still won the biggest bonus in sports history.

But this is far more interesting:

None of the four players who had a mathematical chance of passing him this week earned enough points to eclipse what Woods had when he arrived at East Lake. So in addition to skipping the FedEx opener at Westchester, he could have taken a siesta this week, too.

Ric Clarson, one of the FedEx architects, seemed slightly taken aback when that fact was relayed during the final round. "That'll be a hard stat for us to look at, that he still could have won while only playing two," he said.

Gary D'Amato explores that angle a bit more in this piece and shares these astounding numbers, with-you guessed it-a football tie-in.

He breezed through 12 playoff rounds in a mind-blowing 59-under par. Throw out a "warm-up" 72 in his first playoff round and these are his scores: 64-67-67-67-67-65-63-64-63-64-66. That's not golf, it's the jersey numbers of the Green Bay Packers' offensive line.

Woods' adjusted scoring average this year is 67.79, which exactly matches his record average in 2000.

Meanwhile, Rob Matre posts final round images to go along some of his other fine work from the week, as does golf.com.

Sunday
Sep162007

"Well, I think that overall the FedExCup was a success."

A few highlights from Tiger's post-Tour Championship final round sitdown with the slingers.

Q. Kind of along those lines, aside from winning the TOUR Championship and the bonus, the FedExCup, how would you assess winning the first FedExCup?

TIGER WOODS: Well, I think that overall the FedExCup was a success. I think that there need to be tweaks, yes, there needs to be some tweaks, but I think overall it provided a lot of drama towards the end of the season, especially post-PGA when most of the guys shut it down. You know, post-PGA it's either Presidents Cup or Ryder Cup and that's basically all anyone ever talks about, now that the Bridgestone has moved to the week before the PGA especially.

I think we now know what they'll be wallpapering Tour headquarters with. 
Q. You talked about tweaks. Do you have any comments on what tweaks you would consider to make the tournament better? And what's it like, the final tournament for you this year, to go out with such a big bang?

TIGER WOODS: Well, I think -- what I described earlier to Fergie here, a couple days ago, I think that when you have 125 exempt players on TOUR and your first event is 144 guys, I thought a playoff was play all year for a smaller field, you're supposed to narrow it up, not have more players. Especially when we have limited field events, invitationals that have smaller fields, more elite, and I just think that the playoffs should be that many players. I think the playoffs you narrow the field down, and when you have 10 percent over what you do on the exempt player list starting off the first event, I think that's too many.

Consider it done!

Q. Have you ever considered playing the latest Jack Nicklaus course in Dominican Republic designed by Jack Nicklaus, 18 holes in the Caribbean with the capacity to receive the championship?

Huh? Oh sorry, Tiger...

TIGER WOODS: Say that again.

Q. Have you ever considered playing the latest course designed by Jack Nicklaus in Cap Cana, Dominican Republic, the only Jack Nicklaus designed 18 holes in the Caribbean with the capacity to hold a championship?

TIGER WOODS: I've heard about the golf course. I haven't been down there yet. I've always wanted to go. I haven't been down there yet.

Anyone have the slightest idea what that line of questioning was about? Television reporter/rally killer? Or are there actual rumors of the event moving to the Carribean?

Saturday
Sep152007

"I'm concerned that, if you were in a sinking ship with Finchem and there was only one lifeboat, you wouldn't get that lifeboat. He'd have it, and you'd go down with the ship."

John Huggan tries to understand Tim Finchem's buckets and mostly lets Peter Alliss consider the impact of the FedEx Cup on European golf:

While it is easy to make fun of the verbally-manipulative Finchem, the danger he presents to golf in the wider sense should not be underestimated. He thinks "outward looking" means anywhere inside the US. Hence his utter indifference when it was pointed out to him the damage the Fed-Ex Cup would almost certainly do to, for example, a suddenly star-starved European Tour.

"This so-called special relationship between Great Britain and the United States in all things doesn't seem to exist in golf," says BBC commentator Peter Alliss. "As much a politician as Tim Finchem is, I'm not sure he really cares about the European Tour. If we went under, I'm not sure it would register on his radar. He's always squeezing dates. The Ryder Cup is moving farther and farther back. All it will take is a bit of mist in the morning, and they won't get the next couple played in three days.

"He doesn't really seem to care. He's always going on about playing against the rest of the world, but only on his own terms. I remember when Greg Norman was going to start a so-called world tour. Finchem killed that, then virtually copied what Greg was proposing.

"I'm concerned that, if you were in a sinking ship with Finchem and there was only one lifeboat, you wouldn't get that lifeboat. He'd have it, and you'd go down with the ship. I really don't think he gives a shit. He'd be very apologetic, but at the end of the day he'd be looking after his own."

And... 
"The US Tour is a bit like going to see The Mousetrap every week, and going across the road from the theatre to eat the same meal," Alliss, a former Ryder Cup player, observes. "No matter how good the play is or the food is, you soon get bored with it. I know the counter-argument is that Finchem is not obliged to look at the bigger picture: he is employed solely to make money for his members, something he does very well. Look at the bonus system they have for making cuts. If Tiger were to retire when he is 40, he'd get some ridiculous sum of money.

"But for Finchem, the state of the game is neither here nor there. He is responsible for providing tournaments for his members to play in. I didn't think he could continue to find sponsors willing to put up a $1m first prize every week, but he has."

What has also boosted sympathy for Finchem's latest cause is the whining from players, most notably Mickelson, whenever the unavailability of the Fed-Ex prize-money is mentioned. The pampered souls will receive the cash only when they reach the age of 45.

"Professional golf has come so far in a relatively short period of time that I wonder how much longer it can go on and on," says Alliss. "The reaction of some of the players worries me. I never thought I would say there is too much money in professional golf. But I'm beginning to think there is. The top players are seemingly not tempted by anything. The Fed-Ex is worth $10m, and it can't get them to play every week. Money just does not stir them."


Saturday
Sep152007

Zack Johnson Shoots 60 Despite Being Just a Midwestern Guy From Cedar Rapids, Iowa

Pretty impressive consider how much he had to overcome after growing up there.

 

Saturday
Sep152007

"Choking freaking dogs!"

From a reader, one of six rising up early enough to catch The Golf Channel's Solheim Cup morning play.

The first morning match sees the Europeans get back to all square at the 18th when Sherrie Steinhauer, with the U.S. dormie, misses from inside three feet. Europe makes the putt and gets the half point. Golf Channel goes to commercial and the music rolls but the commercial doesn't kick in. And in that moment of silence Dottie screams "Choking freaking dogs!"

Our observant reader also noted that at the next commercial break, "they cut out so fast that Brian Hammond almost didn't complete his sentence!"

Nearly makes me want to rise early tomorrow just to watch. Nearly.