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Because it involves the reduction of activity to some dead mathematical formula, the giving of handicaps has always been a difficult problem to solve. In golf this difficulty has been further accentuated in the failure to perceive that a round of golf is not a continuous performance such as a race, but is divided into 18 separate parts. MAX BEHR



Ryder Cup Drug Testing Possible, No Word Yet On Whether Captain's Will Be Tested Too

Steve Elling notes the confirmation from George "Big Mouth" O'Grady, not from the PGA of America

The Ryder Cup is the PGA of America's other signature event. A total of 24 players, featuring many of the top stars from around the globe, make up the two Ryder Cup teams.

"There's facilities in place for drug testing to take part," O'Grady said. "The PGA of America announced last week that they would be the first major to have drug testing; that they would be welcoming the PGA Tour's system and it will be in place for The Ryder Cup. Whether we choose to use it or not hasn't been decided yet. But the drug testing unit will be on site."

Meanwhile Ron Sirak notes that the LPGA is reportedly going to try again this week after their messy trial run earlier this year.


Deere Rents Mavs Jet

Steve Elling reports on the latest John Deere Classic tournament perk, a chartered jet to the Open Championship (invitation not included). It's the same jet bringing the lugs back for the Canadian Open. These Guy Have It Good!

Anyway, in an attempt to build the field strength, tournament officials have taken the Deere by the horns and chartered a jet plane for a Sunday-night redeye flight to Manchester, promising to ferry for free the players and their families to the British in time to practice on Monday morning. Tournaments have been in an all-out arms race to out-hustle one another with gifts, spa treatments, free food and the like, but this is a novel idea that just might boost one of the weaker fields of the regular season.

From the sounds of it, the jet seems downright posh. Clair Peterson, the Deere tournament director, said they have lined up a 100-seat 767 that will be parked at the Quad Cities Airport, warmed up and ready. All the seats are first class, he said, and it should arrive by 8 a.m. in England.

"It's a big deal," Peterson said. "Obviously our date and our location have made it difficult for players to get to the British Open. We had eight players last year that played here and made the trip over. Our expectation is that we'll at least double that this year.
The jet has frequently been used by Mark Cuban's NBA team, the Dallas Mavericks, and is going to run more than $300,000, a Deere tournament official said. Rather than choosing to dump the money into the purse, where it wouldn't have attracted much attention from the players, they figured the jet service would make a splash.

Royal North Devon Told To Cease Coastal Erosion Efforts

painting.jpgThanks to reader Chris for Robert Booth's Guardian piece detailing the bad news about England's oldest course.

As coastal erosion accelerates, the seventh and eighth holes at the 144-year-old Royal North Devon Golf Club near Westward Ho! could disappear as early as next year, according to senior club members.

But there is frustration that Natural England, a government agency, has ordered the club to stop "potwalloping", the practice of holding back coastal erosion by rounding up local people twice a year to replace by hand the stones which have been washed away.

The agency said the coast must be allowed to erode in a "managed realignment" because continued human intervention will alter the way the sea naturally interacts with the sand dunes in an area of special scientific interest.
There are also concerns that diverting the tidal flow could expose an old landfill site further along the coast, which is thought to contain tonnes of asbestos.
Until this year, the banks of the windswept links were disappearing at a rate of about a metre a year, with the pebble ridge which defends the course retreating 50 metres between 1947 and 2000. Fierce storms earlier this year tore a 27-metre chunk off the exposed tip of the course and the unstable land has since continued to crumble, leaving the eighth hole 18 metres from the edge.

"If something isn't done to stop it, we will lose a significant portion of the course in the next 12 months," said David Lloyd, a senior club member.

The club web site has more information and you can also read Ran Morrissett's excellent profile here, which includes one of my favorite Mike Miller paintings (linked above as well).


Faldo Will Consider Monty For Captain's Pick If Seve And Sam Torrance Aren't Available

Lewine Mair shares Captain Faldo's lukewarm comments.

Yesterday, though, Faldo indicated that Montgomerie is still very much in his thoughts despite languishing at 90th in the world rankings. "I believe Monty will turn it round," the captain said. "He has a great way of producing the goods when it's really needed - and in theory, a player of his ability has enough time to make it happen."
Later, he added that he might well ask his some of his more senior players to voice their opinions on his picks - and that is something which could definitely work in Montgomerie's favour.

"You never know for sure if you're going to get one because there's so many variables like blood type and heart size that have to match."

Craig Dolch reports on Erik Compton getting a second heart transplant just in time and talks to Jim McLean about the prospects of another return to golf by Compton.


"I couldn't care less whether a President chops wood or plays Chopin in his free time."

gwar01_080523bush.jpgBill Fields weighs in on the president giving up golf to help grieving families with a common sense point and some strong quotes from an Iraq vet. First, the common sense:

I couldn't care less whether a President chops wood or plays Chopin in his free time. If he happens to enjoy golf, hail to the chief for that, multiple mulligans and all (Gerald Ford seems to have been the presidential exception in not utilizing breakfast balls). I want a president to have his eye on the ball and keep his head down when he is in the Oval Office. What he does when he is away from it is his business, although I would prefer that he has something deeper than the latest John Grisham best seller on his nightstand and that his vacations can be counted in days, not weeks.
I say Fields is offering common sense wisdom because I had just seen some of the reader comments over on the Press Tent blog. My favorite was posted by "rmadsen" who writes: 
I remarked to a friend several years ago that if I were invited to play Pebble Beach with Bill Clinton, that I'd have to decline. This is coming from a certified fanatic of the game. I hope all you sad people that are bashing President Bush are not really true fans of the game; because in my experience; people who truly understand the game tend to be conservative and honorable. Bush has made mistakes of course. I wish he could communicate better to an American society that unfortunately is made up of mostly juveniles who understand very little of what makes a country great and vote like they are choosing a prom queen. He also should have vetoed a lot more spending bills and used his position to try and reign in congress. But the biggest failures of our government lately have little to do with the position of president, be he a democrat or republican.

Now, I think most of those juveniles he refers to would not turn down a round at Pebble Beach with Bill Clinton. Talk about juvenile! 


"Get that golfer off my football field."

goydoshallaran.jpgThanks to reader Warren for noticing this Q&A with Paul Goydos conducted by Laury Livsey that includes a fun story about his Long Beach State days and the school's ever-so-brief football coaching stint by George Allen.
Long Beach State had a driving range that the football team wanted to use to practice on when George Allen got there for his one year as coach. I'm on the golf team, so one day I was out there hitting and shagging balls, and he yells, 'Get that golfer off my football field.' I never met the man, but let's just say he definitely knew who I was.


Ogilvie Really Wants To Meet Bill Gates And Find Out Where Vista Went Wrong

Colin Fly profiles Joe Ogilvie on his aspirations outside of golf, including possibly becoming a PGA Tour vice president in hopes of someday warranting consideration for the Commissioner's job. After all, where else in golf can you make that kind of money?

In the meantime, Ogilvie, who has eaten with Buffett about 10 times, is keeping busy with investments and thinking about how he would pick Gates' brain if the two met.

He said he's much more interested in the philanthropic work of the billionaires like Gates as opposed to how they amassed their fortunes.

"I can understand philanthropic work more than I can understand the Vista operating system," said Ogilvie, who admitted he owned a Mac. "Obviously he's one of the smartest tech guys that ever lived, so it would be fun just to think about, 'Where we would go from here?' — that type of thing."

Or, I would submit, "is Vista the biggest disaster in the history of operating systems?"


"Well, Alex, I guess that's why I played on the tour, and you were a teaching pro."

maar01_newtonqa.jpgGolf Digest's U.S. Open preview includes John Huggan's interview with the engaging Jack Newton. So many great stories, but my favorite involved Huggan asking Newton how he lost his BBC announcing gig:
I was commentating with Alex Hay at the 1984 Open. John Bland, Baker-Finch and Fred Couples came to the last hole at St. Andrews. The wind was into their faces off the right. The pin was left and over the Valley of Sin. Bland got up and hit his drive way left, onto the first hole. Alex said he'd pulled it, hooked it and come over the top of it. Then Baker-Finch did the same thing, maybe 20 yards farther. Alex said the same. He'd either hooked it or pulled it. So Fred gets up there and smashes it 40 yards past Ian on the same line. So Alex said the same again.

The upshot was that Bland and Ian both made 3. And Fred holed his pitch for a 2. When Couples hit his drive, I had said, on air, that all three players had gone where they did so that they would have the best angle for their second shots. They took the Valley out of play and were hitting back into the wind. Alex disagreed, again on air, which is a bit of a no-no. Anyway, Fred is interviewed. Clive Clark told him there had been some disagreement over the way he had played the last hole. So Fred says he was trying to hit a low hook up the left so that he would have the best angle and be hitting into the wind.

When we came back to the commentary box, I was expecting Alex to say something about it. But he ignored me. So I thought, Mate, you're not getting away with this. So I said, "Well, Alex, I guess that's why I played on the tour, and you were a teaching pro."

I never worked for the BBC again.

Deja Vu All Over Again: Torrey Vandalized In The Middle Of The Night

met-vandalism.jpgWhat is it about these USGA venues and vandals working in the middle of the night?

Tod Leonard reports on the latest minor incident (thanks NRH for the link), which has prompted officials to install a chain link fence around the third green. Some crime scene tape for the character-free front bunker wouldn't hurt either.

South Course – City Golf Manager Mark Woodward said workers arrived before dawn to find fresh footprints in the dew and heavy heel marks stamped into the surface of the green.

Woodward said a two-word vulgarity was etched in the sand of one bunker, and that several sprinkler heads were broken off. The incident was reported to San Diego police and is being investigated.

The damage to the green was minimal and quickly repaired, Woodward said, and though a Torrey Pines men's club outing that was to begin at 6:30 a.m. was delayed by 10 minutes, several golfers said they didn't notice any problems with the green after they played it.

The incident follows another act of vandalism on the same green about a month ago. In that case, Woodward said, it is believed the flagstick was used to scrape an obscenity into the green's surface, but the effect was cosmetic and was fixed with routine mowing.


Leroy Neiman Unveils Ryder Cup Print; Pentagon Inquires About Possible Use On Detainees

neiman_ryder_cup.jpgGary Van Sickle at's press tent blog tracks down the image on Neiman's web site and offers his thoughts on this latest masterwork.

Personally I think you can tack that baby to any wall in the Guantanamo Bay prison, throw on Celine Dion's greatest hits, and no one will ever ask about waterboarding ever again.


Dai Davies, R.I.P.

Lawrence Donegan salutes Dai Davies who passed away at the age of 69 and talks to many who remember him fondly.
Davies was the golf correspondent at the Birmingham Post from 1965 until 1982, when he joined the Guardian. He retired in 2004 but continued to file stories and columns for a number of magazines and newspapers. It was, as he wrote in a note to colleagues recently, a perfect career. "I have lived the life I always wanted to, working for a newspaper I always wanted to, going to lovely places around the world, populated in the main by people I would have chosen to be with. Surely no journalist could ask for more?"


The Farmers Almanac Schedule

Rex Hoggard tackles the question of what an ideal tour schedule based on weather would look like. The current one doesn't look so bad after all.

Brand Lady Scores Three-Year Extension, Media Yawns

06lpga7.jpgRon Sirak reported the stellar news in the May 16 Golf World and no one seemed to notice, including (no press release or denial).

Sirak says that Carolyn Bivens' contract now runs through 2011.

I'd like to take this opportunity to personally thank the LPGA Board of Directors for a gift that will keep on giving. 


"Have the stretching exercises led to shaft changes with any clubs other than your putter?"

The Star-Telegram's Jimmy Burch asked Phil Mickelson about his growth spurt and other uh, shaft changes as a result of stretching.

What kind of stretching do you do to increase your height?
Just legs, low back, stuff like that. It has helped the elongation through motion. It's like a pitcher when he throws. He can't get his arm into certain positions statically when he throws a baseball. It's the same thing as using motion to stretch his length. It helped.

Have the stretching exercises led to shaft changes with any clubs other than your putter?

Not really. But my posture has been more consistent and easier to hold throughout the swing, so that's led to a little bit more consistent ball-striking.

"If I hear one more person complain about slow play I’m going to punch ‘em in the nose and look at their face as they try to figure out how, and what just happened."

214631.jpgThanks to Ryan Ballengee for noticing lowering the bar with Michael Collins' "Caddie Corner" groaner of a column:

The Darwinesque lede: 

Yes, we’re slow; do you work for a chance at 9 million bucks a week? No? Then shut up.

If I hear one more person complain about slow play I’m going to punch ‘em in the nose and look at their face as they try to figure out how, and what just happened.

I think that was supposed to be funny. Either way, Collins announces for XM Radio's PGA Tour coverage and shares this wonderful anecdote:

Last week at THE PLAYERS I’m on the fifth hole waiting by the green for Tom Lehman and Greg Kraft to putt out so I can call the shots of Phil Mickelson and Bernhard Langer when this “Goober” in a NASCAR hat, dirty t-shirt, and 13 teeth says to me, “These guys are too damned slow. Look at this Bill Shaft guy (he meant Greg Kraft), he’s backed off this putt twice already and it’s only 4 feet.”

I patiently waited for Greg to drain his putt (nice par save); he did back off four times, before I turned back to “Goober” and said, “Yeah, I bet you’d be much faster than these guys out there if you were playing.”
“Hey man, they’re professionals!” He said back getting extremely defensive and for good reason, I’m a scary looking dude…or not.
“Exactly,” I explained. “So if it takes the best players in the world five-and-a-half hours to play a course with 35 mph winds and greens you couldn’t hit, more or less putt, maybe you should respect the fact that for 9.5 million they’re here giving it their all while you’re in THAT hat and t-shirt drinking a beer complaining. What do you do for a living?”

That's the way to build that satellite radio listening audience! 


"A lot of living down"

Lewine Mair reports on Richard Finch's epic finish to his Irish Open win, captured on this YouTube posting with an odd choice for an audio overdub. Hopefully a clip from the telecast with the announcer comments will be up soon.

A Slow Play Penalty!

After hearing how horribly slow the NCAA regionals were last week, I was interested to see the Jeff Shain story reader Brian sent with the appropriate question wondering if this was the start of a trend.

Shain was reporting on the U.S. Open local qualifying at The Club at Emerald Hills where a playoff determined the final advancing spots. 

Ty Tryon, who has fallen on tough times since earning his PGA Tour card at age 17, was one of two golfers to miss the playoff when their group was penalized for slow play. He and Miami's Milko Brito saw their 75s turned into 76s.

''We played as fast as we could. We never even saw the group behind us, either,'' Tryon said. ``Whatever. It's over now.''

Does anyone know what slow play guidelines they would have been playing under? Was the USGA Pace of Play policy instituted for local qualifyings?


"But on initial examination, the layout would not constitute a links course and is certainly not a championship course."

Hardly a shocker here, nonetheless The Scotsman's Frank Urguhart reports that The Donald has rejected an alternate routing for his Scotland course by a gent named Mike Wood. The new sequencing of holes would have avoided the most sensitive portion of the site.

DONALD Trump last night rejected an alternative golf course design that environmental groups claimed would allow him to go ahead with his project without destroying the protected dune system at the Menie Estate.

RSPB Scotland and the Scottish Wildlife Trust (SWT) revealed they had commissioned Mike Wood, a respected golf course architect, to come up with a new plan for the Aberdeenshire resort.

They claimed the alternative showed Mr Trump could have a "championship level" course at Menie without damaging the vulnerable sand-dunes on the Foveran site of special scientific interest (SSSI) – the focus of the environmental objections to the £1 billion golf resort and housing development.

Mr Wood's design is to be formally submitted this week to the public inquiry into the Trump International Golf Links development as a potential way forward.

Anne McCall, the head of planning at RSPB Scotland, said: "The developers continually claimed they could not change the course design, but have said they might do so to take account of environmental destruction. Rather than the minor tweak that their new indicative plans would mean, we hope they will now agree with us that it's entirely possible for them to have a top golf course without building on the SSSI in the north or the sensitive dunes to the south."

Who is Mr. Wood you ask? 

Mr Wood, who chairs the environment committee of the European Institute of Golf Course Architects, said: "I believe there is ample room on this site to accommodate a golf course designed to the highest modern standards without using the valuable mobile dunes."

But George Sorial, the Trump executive in charge of the Menie development, said: "We sincerely appreciate the RSPB's efforts at golf course design, but on initial examination, the layout would not constitute a links course and is certainly not a championship course."

Does not constitute a links eh? Someone's going to have fun with that remark. 


"Just as invested in seeing her brand succeed as we are."

2004416963.jpgThe Seattle Times business staff reports on Annika re-signing with Cutter and Buck, talking to Cutter's Ernie Johnson.

News this past week that the 37-year-old Sorenstam plans to retire when the season's LPGA Tour ends was not a shock to Johnson.

"We've known for sometime that starting a family was in her plans, so this didn't come as a surprise to us," he says. "We're very happy for her."

Under a multiyear contract signed in 2003, Sorenstam gets quarterly royalty checks based on sales of the Annika collection, Johnson says. In exchange, Cutter & Buck gets to use her name and image — and the exposure that goes with her appearances.

Sorenstam is "just as invested in seeing her brand succeed as we are," says Cutter & Buck spokeswoman Meghan Graves. Sales grew in double digits this past year, she says.

Isn't it touching to see a major brand putting someone else's brand above their own? Who says corporations don't have hearts?