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Golf is the Great Mystery. Like some capricious goddess, it bestows its favours with what would appear an almost fat-headed lack of method and discrimination. On every side we see two-fisted he-men floundering round in three figures, stopping every few minutes to let through little shrimps with knock-knees and hollow cheeks, who are tearing off snappy seventy-fours. Giants of finance have to accept a stroke per from their junior clerks. Men capable of governing empires fail to control a small, white ball, which presents no difficulties whatever to others with one ounce more brain than a cuckoo-clock. Mysterious, but there it is.  P.G. WODEHOUSE



Tiger Talking About Al Ruwaya

Here's a clip of Tiger answering boring questions about his Dubai project. If anyone has seen the video presentation that was sent out to the press and which appeared on my local newscast, please let me see the link. Naturally, the footage of Tiger and entourage looking at the property (complete with massive power lines) is worth seeing.


Turner On Tiger

Thanks to reader Mark for this audio clip of Greg Turner talking about Tiger's entry into the course design world.


"His photographs are a little like the nude paintings of Bouguereau"

It's been a while since I've read some of that epic New York Times intellectual horsepuckey, but I got a nice pile of it while reading Charles McGrath's Sunday review of David Cannon's $195 coffee table book:

Many of the courses were photographed, moreover, either at dawn or at dusk, when most golfers never see them. The deepness of the colors — reds and yellows and shadowy greens — together with the lushness and grandness of the whole book and the great number of panoramic and aerial views, suggests that Cannon is less interested in the traditional aim of golf photography, which is to show you what it looks like from the tee of any given hole, than in evoking what the Romantics called the Sublime: an experience so dizzying it verges on the spiritual.

Or, maybe that's just the best time to photograph a golf course? Oh no, big metaphor coming. See if you can read this without rolling your eyes: 

His photographs are a little like the nude paintings of Bouguereau: they’re erotica that aspires to the condition of art.


"Landmark agreement that makes American Express the USGA’s first corporate partner in the Association’s 112-year history."

From that classy gang in Far Hills (hey, Barry Hyde finally did something!):


Relationship Will Enhance the USGA’s Mission for the Good of the Game

No, I'm not making this up. Just go to the website if you don't believe me. And love the big AmEx logo on he home page today.

American Express Cardmembers Gain Full Access to the Golf Lifestyle Now With Exclusive Trophy Club Ticket Packages for 2007 U.S. Open® and Beyond

New York, NY and Far Hills, NJ (December 4, 2006) – American Express and the United States Golf Association (USGA) today announced a landmark agreement that makes American Express the USGA’s first corporate partner in the Association’s 112-year history.  The multi-year agreement strengthens American Express’ association with the game of golf by bringing a premium level of customer service and unique benefits and experiences to Cardmembers and golf enthusiasts.  In addition, this agreement will allow the USGA to broaden its communication with golfers.

Love that last line.  Yeah, they get their logos on ads, like the full pager in today's L.A. Times. That's broadening its communication...

Beginning December 4, Cardmembers will have the exclusive opportunity to purchase daily or weekly otherwise sold-out Trophy Club tickets to the 2007 U.S. Open® at Oakmont Country Club in Oakmont, Pennsylvania.  American Express will also deliver benefits to Cardmembers across a broad range of golf experiences.  These experiences will include exclusive access to some of the USGA’s championships, exclusive access to play U.S. Open® courses, past and present, on select USGA-hosted days and a variety of benefits to enhance the enjoyment of the game.  

I bet the members at some of those courses past and present are looking forward to hearing about the access they've sold to AmEx cardholders.

Okay, it's quote time.

“American Express is thrilled to be the first corporate partner of the USGA, the national governing body for the sport of golf,” said Jud Linville, President of the Consumer Card Services Group, American Express.  “This relationship is just one of the many ways we bring special access and experiences to our Cardmembers in the world of golf and across all of their passions, and we’re thrilled to offer them Trophy Club tickets to the 2007 U.S. Open®, an event which has sold out every year for the last 20 years. Today is just the beginning of this great relationship and we look forward to working with the USGA to continue to bring our Cardmembers exceptional access to the golf lifestyle as well as increase awareness of all that the USGA has to offer.”

Access to the golf lifestyle. Hmmm...not one platform mention.

“We are very pleased to announce this new agreement with American Express, a company whose programs and values we’ve admired for a long time,” USGA President, Walter W. Driver Jr. said. 

What values would those be? 

“We believe this partnership will allow us to reach more golfers and make them more aware of our many programs that benefit their golf game.  For example, we want more golfers to have a USGA Handicap Index®, know the Rules of Golf, join our Members Program, and abide by and appreciate the game’s etiquette and traditions.  We believe that American Express is well positioned to help us make such outreach programs a success.”

Oh please.

While attendees can expect an enhanced experience, corporate signage displayed on the grounds at the U.S. Open® will remain limited, as it has been in the past.

Will remain limited? Uh, as far as I know there hasn't been any corporate signage. Will this be changing?
In a list of "benefits" for cardholders, this caught my eye...

·          Access to the USGA’s collection of golf memorabilia and content, for example private tours of the USGA museum and private rules seminars

Maybe they can actually photocopy stuff from old magazines, since no one else can?

Yes, it's a landmark day.

Anyone else see this as the prelude to the 2008 U.S. Open Presented by American Express?


First Ever Name Translation Contest!

You all leave so many great comments on posts, but now it's time to test your creativity...and knowledge of Arabic in the first ever site translation contest.

I'm not sure what the winner will get, probably a signed copy of Masters of the Links since I can see a stack of those from where I'm sitting.

But here's the contest: translate Al Ruwaya, the name of Tiger Woods's first design in Dubai.

For bonus points, include the actual translation of Al Ruwaya. And please, have fun with this! Don't worry about insulting him. He's got 40 million reasons to not care.

PS - I see there's a novel named Al Ruwaya. That poor bastard of a writer will probably get sued any day now! 


Catching Up With Renton

A nice Wynn Gray story on Renton Laidlaw for you Golf Channel European Tour fans...


Dubai, Here Comes Tiger!

I really don't even know where to start...

Tiger Woods –in Dubai-Unveils His First-Ever Signature Golf Course

“The Tiger Woods – Dubai” a Residential Golf Course Development Designed by Tiger Woods and Developed by Tatweer

Dubai: December 3, 2006 –Tiger Woods, the world’s number one golfer and chairman of Tiger Woods Design, and Tatweer, a member of Dubai Holding a leading UAE holding Company, announced today plans for ‘Al Ruwaya’, the first-ever course designed by Woods in “The Tiger Woods – Dubai”.

“The Tiger Woods - Dubai” will be an exclusive golf community that will include ‘Al Ruwaya’, a Tiger Woods designed Golf Course, professionally-staffed golf academy; a 60,000-square-foot clubhouse with the latest amenities and comforts; an 80-suite boutique hotel for VIP guests; 300 luxury villas; 20 mansions and a community retail area.

‘Al Ruwaya’ will be a 7,700 yards, par 72 championship-quality course, embodying Woods’ vision of the ideal course design. The course will include dramatic elevation changes, lush landscaping, stunning water features and an overall design program that will challenge and entertain golfers of all playing abilities.

“Why Dubai? Because I am excited about the challenge of transforming a desert terrain into a world-class golf course,” said Tiger Woods. “I have a vision of creating something that is uniquely mine – from the detailed layout of each hole to the Mediterranean architecture to the top-line gym equipment in the clubhouse - unlike anything else. And through my partnership with Tatweer, I want to realize this vision in Dubai.”

Okay, I was wrong. I do know where to start. Yes, he just said he has a vision that includes top-line gym equipment in the clubhouse. Sign me up!

The landmark golf course community is scheduled for completion in late 2009 over an area of 25.3 million sq ft at ‘Dubailand’, the region’s largest tourism and leisure project along Emirates Road, an outer by-pass road in Dubai.

H.E. Mohammed Al Gergawi, Minister of State for Cabinet Affairs and Executive Chairman of Dubai Holding said: “This initiative reinforces the great development pace that Dubai has achieved within diverse domains to become one of the most recognized cities in the world.”

Woods, who launched Tiger Woods Design in early November 2006, made a dedicated trip to Dubaito showcase his first golf project and to continue his hands-on involvement in the design of the golf course.


About Tatweer

Launched in December 2005 Tatweer is one the region’s most promising enterprises and a Member of Dubai Holding. It owns nine market-leading companies and managing an ambitious business development plan.

Its current portfolio is divided into Energy & Healthcare, Tourism & Entertainment, Industry & Knowledge. Its entities are Dubai Healthcare City, the region's hub for world-class quality healthcare services; Mizin, one of the most advanced real estate companies in the region; Dubailand, one of the biggest leisure, entertainment and tourism destinations in the Middle East region; Dubai Industrial City, an industrial township to develop Dubai as a leading manufacturing hub; Bawadi, the world’s leading hospitality and entertainment project bringing 31 hotels and more than 29,000 hotel rooms; Dubai Energy, investing in regional and global energy opportunities and building a diversified investment portfolio; Dubai Mercantile Exchange, the first commodity futures exchange in the Middle
East; Global Village, which brings together 160 different countries showcasing myriad cultures; and Moutamarat, the first Arab initiative organizing research-based conferences and exhibitions.

A Member of Dubai Holding, Tatweer and its entities will continue to consolidate a group of life-improving industries. In addition, it has pioneered the market with joint venture initiatives with leading companies such as the New York Mercantile Exchange or the Saudi Research and
Publishing Company.

Tatweer will continuously strive for world-class performance implementing leadership development to drive and sustain business excellence, quality and high performance.

About Tiger Woods Design

The philosophy of Tiger Woods Design is to further elevate the standards of golf course design and create enjoyable, challenging courses worldwide.  At the heart of this vision is Woods’ desire to apply his first-hand knowledge and personal experience to the design of each golf course.  For more
information on Tiger Woods Design, visit


Donald: Do It For Mom!

It seems The Donald is threatening to take his sensitive linksland development ideas to an undisclosed location in Ireland.

“I do have an option on another piece of land in another location,” he said. “It is not an option I want to exercise because the first choice is Aberdeen. I believe it’s the finest piece of land in the world for a golf course and my loyalty is to Mary Trump, my mother, who was born in Scotland.


Newport On Architecture As Art; Kuehne

Thanks to reader John for a pair of John Paul Newport stories in the Wall Street Journal's Weekend Report. The first looks at golf architecture as an art form, and includes a nice plug for

These days the best talkin' about golf aesthetics is done by course-architecture buffs, particularly the crowd that congregates online at (If you aren't familiar with the Web site, I recommend it.) In course reviews and forums there, a consensus has developed about what makes for the best courses: holes that blend naturally into the landscape, a variety of strategic options off the tee, routings that ebb and flow in pleasant ways, and occasional eccentric features that bring luck into play.

So naturally the story then includes a photo of the complete manufactured, strategy-free Shadow Creek, with this caption:

The Art of Golf: Golf-course designs (like Tom Fazio's Shadow Creek, top) can tap into some of the same emotions as landscapes like Cezanne's.

The other Newport story focuses on Trip Kuehne's life as an amateur golfer, and includes this motivational quote I know you'll all be jotting down for your whiteboards:

Mr. Kuehne, 34, has a compact, muscular build reminiscent of Bobby Jones's and wears his hair in a fifties-style crew cut. On the day we met last week, he was wearing corduroy trousers with a long-sleeved black pullover shirt, and sat at his desk in front of a large whiteboard scrawled with company "battle plans," client call lists and motivational messages such as "Master the ability to move people -- control the mood, mindset and pace."

Oy. And this claim is a bit hard to believe:

To balance work and golf, Mr. Kuehne is ruthlessly organized. He plays in only seven or eight tournaments a year, chosen for their point-generating impact on the amateur rankings and for promoting his selection to international teams such as the Walker Cup. Between October and April, he rarely picks up his clubs.

"When Mr Trump arrived for a fleeting visit this year, his comb-over haircut was given a battering by a moderate gale"

David Lister in the Times, writing about Donald Trump's Scotland development:
Although some, such as Mr Bennett, have vowed to resist the initiative, most appear to have been won over by Mr Trump. A detailed study of the development’s impact on the environment, and the public backing of Jack McConnell, Scotland’s First Minister, is also likely to head off concerns over the future of the many birds that breed in the 2½ mile stretch of sand dunes where the courses will be built.

Indeed, it seems that the main threat to Trump International Golf Links is from a source that the billionaire may have overlooked: weather. In winter, snow can drift up to five feet deep, and a typical day includes 70mph winds. When Mr Trump arrived for a fleeting visit this year, his comb-over haircut was given a battering by a moderate gale as he stepped off his jet. He appears not to have taken the hint.

Even in summer the sea haar — a fog that rolls in from the North Sea — can reduce visibility to just metres. Mr Bennett, 43, said: “We lose an average of two days per week from June to September from the haar.” His wife, Anne, 40, added: “It can be so bad that I’ve written off a car in daylight before.”

Whether anyone at Aberdeenshire Council has mentioned the weather to Mr Trump is not clear. One local said: “He’s going to need luminous golf balls or 40ft-high fans to blow it all away.”


Week(s) In Review, November 19-Dec. 2: Miscellany

WeekInReview2.jpgCatching up on a couple of weeks of posts, the most spirited discussions took place under posts on the LPGA's ADT Championship, the FedEx Cup, steroid testing and the various assaults on classic courses.

After seeing the ADT play out, RB made a great point on the FedEx Cup: It's been brought up before but it's worth repeating given the NASCAR season is now complete: The FedEx Cup will likely diminish winning the Tour Championship. I don't know about your paper, but mine had a man-on-moon headline trumpeting Jimmie Johnson winning the Nextel Cup. You had to read to the seventh paragraph to get this little nugget: Greg Biffle won the race for a third consecutive year. What happens when Tiger and Phil are dueling down the stretch for next year's Tour Championship, but three holes back FEDEX Cup leader Furyk is struggling to finish in the top 10 to win the Cup? Where's the story? Who do the network's train their cameras on? Who came up with this silly race anyway?

CBell on the ADT:  As for the telecast, I agree there was little buzz - hardly a hum - but for that I blame the crowds and the course. You need either a wall-to-wall crowd or a, uh, storied venue (okay, anything with a bit of history) to create much electricity, and this lacked both. A year from now, though, even a Trumped-up course like this has a chance, given the Webb-Ochoa meltdowns on #17 which created sort of an instant legacy.

Regarding my Golfdom essay on catch basins and generally schlocky drainage design work in golf architecture, Kris Spence weighed in with this:  I was recently asked by a member what I thought of a newly renovated fairway and hole on an old Ross course in NC that had 9 very symetrically positioned basins within the fairway cut. My answer, this hole has more catch basins than all of the other 400 + Ross designed courses combined.

On the PGA Tour's reported $5 million price tag for performance enhancing drug testing, JohnV countered with this: According to an article I found on the internet, it costs about $105 to do a steroid test. If they tested the champions, nationwide and pga tour players it would be about 500 players. With 4 tests a year, it would only be $210,000.

After USGA president Walter Driver's latest Q&A where he suggested that he would like to beef up the USGA website, reader Chuck suggested this: one of the ways that the USGA could better communicate with its members is to publish some of this data that they are apparently sharing with the manufacturers, data that was been developed with such care and with such expense by the USGA. According to the USGA itself. As Mr. Driver indicated to one of my questions, the people who criticize the USGA "don't have the facts that we [the USGA] do..." Well, okay. Use the internet. Give us 'the facts that you have.'

And NRH on the PGA Tour's latest attempt to enhance its media coverage: I'm glad the Tour isn't shoved down the throats of Joe Sports Fan like the NFL and all of its ESPN fueled drama. Nothing can really be done (or measured) beyond the majors, Ryder Cup or Tiger in the field to attract the fringe fan. Maybe free tickets for pre-teens. Of course the exceptions are Phoenix, the Nelson and Warwick Hills, where the lure is a good party. Does the Tour want more of that?


More From Q-School

Nice to see all of this great coverage from the PGA Tour and LPGA Qualifyings. Kind of bizarre to get such coverage, actually. I guess this is what happens when there's no press tent to sit in! Just kidding guys!

John Strege points out the oddity of Brock Mackenzie and sister Paige playing in Q-schools at the same time, along with other notes from PGA West on the Golf Digest blog.

Jim Achenbach looks at Bob May's resurgence while John Reger talks to Ricky Barnes. At the LPGA school, Sean Martin profiles Naree Song's spirited attempt despite suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome.

Here's the AP game story and scores from round 2 of Q school.


Making The PGA Tour More Media Friendly

Garry Smits reports on the a PGA Tour hosted brainstorming session to make the sport more media friendly. Though I wasn't invited (shocking, I know), my NSA sources say they may have a transcript or two of the "break out" sessions reported on by Smits.

In the meantime...

More than 100 members of the media, tournament directors, equipment representatives and players agents met with PGA Tour officials Wednesday at the Sawgrass Marriott. They discussed issues such as on-and off-tournament site media relations and functions, non-traditional media exposure for players (such as appearances on David Letterman and Jay Leno's shows), the effect of new media such as the Internet, satellite radio and blogs and player accessibility.

Oh yeah, I'm sure Leno's bookers are clamoring to get Chad Campbell.

The debate was nothing if not lively during full and break-out sessions.

Much of the discussion began with the results of a survey conducted among members of the media that showed they believe agents have been whittling away at access, especially those representing the top players, and the PGA Tour is doing little to control them.

Hey, they have to earn their 10%.

On the other hand, a survey of agents showed they think the media frustrates players by asking the same questions at every Tour stop, that they write the same "stale" stories and increase their demands on the time of players who find time an increasingly diminishing commodity.

The same "stale" stories. Why is stale in quotes? This implies doubt that the reporting has become stale. There's no doubt!

"There's a feeling that these guys make a lot of money ... What's the problem?" PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem said at the closing session. "But it's not that simple. Players' schedules have changed, and the job of the media is different. It's a real challenge, but it can work better."
Among the measures that will be launched or streamlined: weekly conference calls with key players, a smoother post-round interview process, and a Tour communications representative on duty at all times at practice areas to coordinate interviews.

The question is, will the communications representative also sit in on these interviews?


Wie Makes The Onion

She's officially become a joke. Thanks to reader David for this.


Another CMO In Golf

Since the USGA's CMO has been so productive in his nearly two years of touring the nation's finest layouts, I mean, strengthening the USGA brand, the LPGA Tour has hired their own Chief Marketing Officer according to Golfweek. 

Commissioner Carolyn F. Bivens Nov. 29 named William F. Susetka as the LPGA's chief marketing officer (CMO). He will assume the role Jan. 2, 2007.

Poor bastard. Oh, sorry, here's the rest.

Susetka will be responsible for all LPGA marketing functions – and will oversee the marketing, creative services, corporate sponsorships, original programming, concept development and emerging media departments – while working to strengthen the LPGA brand image among consumers and sponsors and raise the awareness level of the LPGA and its members.

Emerging media departments? Is that a euphemism for the Internet?

Most recently, Susetka served as chief operating officer of Nice-Pak Products (2005-06). Prior to that, he was president of Global Marketing for Avon Products Inc. (2002-05), where he led double-digit beauty growth for three years and introduced the most successful new product launches for skin care and fragrance in Avon history with Anew Clinical, Cellu-Sculpt and the Today, Tomorrow, Always fragrance trilogy.

He led double-digit beauty growth? Wow, he's good. 


Live From Q-School

If you have any friends or players to root for at Q-school, Golf World's John Strege is blogging from PGA West that's worth checking out. Day 1 was windy, as if playing at PGA West isn't hard enough.

The scoring average on the Stadium Course was 76.1, while the Nicklaus Tournament Course played to an average of 73.6. For context, we look to first-round averages here two years ago: 72.8 and 71.1, respectively.

This story has a first day roundup as well. Rex Hoggard has his take on day one, while John Reger profiles Dennis Paulson.


One reporter teed off in heels. Another hit the runway before the ball.

Jill Painter reports on the latest Tiger-hosted media gathering to show off the new Nike driver.

Oh to have YouTube video of this...
After Woods was done doing the demo, Nike representatives informed reporters that they could take a crack at the new club. Woods then laughed. Then he told everyone to not hit the ball in the street.

Had he stayed to watch the weekend hackers, he would've been as entertained as he imagined.

FSN West reporter Michael Eaves sliced his first shot onto 120th Street. One reporter teed off in heels.

Another hit the runway before the ball.


"Elite players are not afraid of distance advances. None of them are campaigning for rollbacks."

The Belly and Groove Bomb and Gouge boys are still at it, arguing with Chuck about their lack of concern for throwing St. Andrews and Augusta out to the trash heap so that grown men can shop unencumbered by regulation.

From Gouge:

The game advances and we deal with it. Augusta of 41 years ago would not be a test for today's players. Well, we don't exactly know that, but let's assume that it wouldn't be a test. Big deal. It's changed to become more of a test.

I always would love to hear people argue that Augusta has "become more of a test" since the recent changes. Besides the fact it is now one-dimensional off the tee with defined fairways, I wonder if they would say this to the faces of Hogan, Nelson, Snead, Nicklaus, Palmer and Player. Or even Ballesteros, Faldo, Crenshaw and Langer.  Because the insinuation is that without rough it wasn't a full test and that somehow, those old Masters are tainted.

Here's another howler:

Elite players are not afraid of distance advances. None of them are campaigning for rollbacks.

Actually, that's just simply not true. As this list attests.

The USGA has also studied the new drivers vs. the old drivers. Misses three-quarters of an inch off the center of the face travel almost 20 percent farther than they did off a mid-1990s driver. Now, in none of those cases is that distance harming the game (nor does it harm the game at the elite level, as you can't win tournaments hitting it three-quarters of an inch off the center of the face), but taking it away would remove some of that potential for someone actually getting around a golf course. You would take that away all in the name of preserving some tedious anachronism. Good job.

Today's drivers allow for someone to "actually" get around a golf course.

It's a wonder the game survived before today's equipment saved it! 

For more of these profound musings go here, here, here and for my original low self-esteem diagnosis, here.


Donegan On Trump International Aberdeenshire...

...Or whatever it's going to be called. Here's his Guardian story. Warning, I'm quoted. Sort of.


Rackham Gets Historic District Status

Reader Smitty shares this Naomi Patton story on the Huntington Woods City Commission approving a proposal to designate the Donald Ross designed Rackham Golf Course a historic district.

Huntington Woods residents and Rackham supporters applauded the vote, but they should expect a legal challenge from the private developer that plans to purchase the property.

Arthur Siegal, attorney for Premium Golf LLC, called the vote "politics at work," and said, "The main event is the litigation."
This is an interesting bit from Jennifer Chambers' Detroit News story:
The 123-acre course, designed by Donald Ross, is one of the earliest integrated golf courses in America, starting from the early part of the 20th century. Its clubhouse, an Arts and Crafts structure with a heavy Prairie and Romanesque revival influence, is a 1924 state-of-the-art building with a tile roof and a long, sweeping veranda with Pewabic tile.