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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
  • 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
  • His Ownself: A Semi-Memoir
    His Ownself: A Semi-Memoir
    by Dan Jenkins
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

Bad putting is due more to the effect the green has upon the player than it has upon the action of the ball.  BOBBY JONES

 

    

Wednesday
Jun132007

USGA Press Conference: What They Asked Bud Selig

2007usopen_50.gifThat's right, the inaccessible Bud Selig stopped in the US Open press center after the USGA press conference and here's what the assembled scribes peppered him with:

You must be so happy with the resurgence of the Milwaukee Brewers. Even though you are no longer their owner, how much of their great play do you believe is attributable to your wonderful leadership over the years? 

Have you had much of a negative reaction from fans about taking the 2008 All-Star Game to Yankee Stadium?

As a follow up, have you seen the plans for the new Yankee Stadium? We had Joe Torre in here earlier and he says it's going to be the best in America. Would you agree?

Joe also said the World Series is the one that most players really want to play in and win. What do you think of that assessment?

You must be excited about Barry Bonds and his chase of Hank Aaron's record? Will it be televised?

Okay, enough. You get the point. There's a USGA cover story in Golf World, injuries to two top players induced by course conditions, major questions about square grooves and USGA operations, even more major questions about next year's venue and the scribblers are asking David Fay, Walter Driver and Jim Hyler if they agree with new Lexus pitchman Johnny Miller about the brilliance of Oakmont?  

Mighty, might impressive! 

Wednesday
Jun132007

U.S.G.A. Press Conference: The Questions

Just consider the brainpower necessary to pose such thoughtful, creative and compelling questions!

 Q. I know you don't have a target score, but do you ever intentionally try to make a venue more difficult because scoring was very good, for instance, 2003 at Olympia, the last run of Opens have been more difficult; and any reaction to that?
 Q. Jim, when you set up a course for the U.S. Open, how much are you endeavoring to test the intangibles, poise, patience, maturity in addition to skill?

 Q. You mentioned the renovations, all of the trees that were taken away; one addition from '94 is the new bridge. Just your thoughts on the USGA's impact on that bridge and making it a better golf course for the gallery.

 Q. Wonder if anybody up there could respond to the idea of what reaction you're getting from players thus far, and how does the USGA define the difference between rigorous and sadistic? (Laughter)

Hardeeharhar...

 Q. This is for Walter and/or David. Johnny Miller came in yesterday and said he thought that this was the -- I think he said, "Greatest golf course in the world right now." I'm interested in your reaction to that, and do you agree with that? I know you have other courses in your rotation.

 Q. Maybe my question will follow-up on that. Yesterday we heard players and Johnny Miller talk about, this is the greatest golf course, this is the hardest golf course we've ever seen. My question is, what's the correlation between something has to be the hardest golf course to be the best golf course for your purposes or can it be something less than that?

You're asking the chairman emeritus of the Rees Jones Fan Club this question?

 Q. Another thing that Johnny Miller said yesterday was he's hearing more and more players talk about how this is a tournament they love to win but sometimes hate to play and there have been some examples in the past eight years or so of events that did get across the line a little bit in certain places. Do you think this is an important week for you guys with the weather, the course conditions to prove that you can walk that fine line between fair and unfair?

 Q. Wonder, did the USGA get involved at all in any decision making on the trees and the tree removal; were you consulted, were you happy with the course in '94 the way it was?

And that helps us how? 

Wednesday
Jun132007

C.B. Mac Is In!

This is long overdue...

Charles Blair Macdonald to Enter World Golf Hall of Fame

Oakmont, Penn. (June 13, 2007) –  Charles Blair Macdonald, instrumental in the founding of the United States Golf Association and credited with building the first 18-hole golf course in the United States, will be inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame on Nov. 12 as part of the 2007 Class of Inductees.   

“Charles Blair Macdonald is recognized today as the Father of Organized Golf in the United States,” said David Fay, Executive Director of the United States Golf Association and Member of the World Golf Foundation Board of Directors. “Without Macdonald, the USGA would not have been created. And without his leadership and strong character, the game in this country could easily have gone astray. As a player, administrator, architect, rule maker, and chronicler of the game’s history, he was one of golf’s true giants.”

Wednesday
Jun132007

"There's a chance somebody with the USGA will take a look at it"

img10223160.jpgSteve Elling on Phil's wrist injury, with an interesting take on the support device he's wearing:

Mickelson received a cortisone shot last week, has been trying muscle massage, rehab therapy and various forms of stimulation to increase blood flow to the affected area, and is traveling with a shaman of sorts, former Green Beret Jim Weathers, whose business card lists him as "motivational speaker, shiatsu master and reflexologist."

The wrist is so iffy that doctors ordered Mickelson not to practice, sign autographs or participate in any "strenuous workouts." (Note to Tiger Woods fans: Insert punchline here).

Facts are, the Open isn't a place you come when you are nursing a hand injury -- it's a place you leave with one. Witness Woods at Shinnecock in 1995, when he hit a ball into the high rough, tweaked a wrist while hacking out of the hay, and had to withdraw.

Mickelson might face another uncomfortable hurdle, as in whether the wrist wrap is copacetic in the eyes of the golf rulebook. USGA rules official John Morrissett said Tuesday that he had not inspected the wrap Lefty is wearing, but said it appeared to be made of an "Ace bandage material with no rigid parts." Players are prohibited from using swing-aids and devices designed to restrict wrist movement.

The bandage covers part of Mickelson's left thumb, the back of his hand and encircles his entire wrist. Clearly, taping the wrist is intended to keep Mickelson from further straining the injury and any swing benefit would not be his directed intent. Mickelson joked there could be a crossover effect.

"I would say this will help me keep it one shot at a time, and this brace will help me alleviate any extra wrist break at the top of the swing that I may have," he said.

Then Mickelson turned to a nearby USGA media official and cracked, "Is it OK if I use this (bandage) now that I said that?"

Let's not dismiss it with a flip of the wrist. Morrissett said the bandage "doesn't appear to inhibit movement in the wrist," though it will likely restrict and support it to some degree. Otherwise, why wear it at all? Mickelson even indicated he would tighten the bandage before hitting shots.

"There's a chance somebody with the USGA will take a look at it," Morrissett said.

Okay rules aficionados, what do you think? 

Wednesday
Jun132007

"The ball just keeps rolling and rolling."

Thanks to reader Kevin for this Robert Dvorchak story in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette looking at the history of the Stimpmeter.

This beautifully sums up Oakmont's greens:

On six of the 18 greens, the surfaces aren't flat enough to get a Stimpmeter reading. The ball just keeps rolling and rolling. So the numbers from the 12 flatter greens are used for the course average.

 

Wednesday
Jun132007

Lucky '13 for TCC?

Jim McCabe notes Trevor Immelman's ace on the par-3 8th in practice and says this about The Country Club and the 2013 U.S. Amateur.
When US Golf Association officials meet today with reporters, expect confirmation of what has been reported by some publications -- that the 2014 US Open will head to Pinehurst No. 2. Nothing will be announced about the 2013 US Amateur (dates for that are out only through 2010), but all indications are it will go to The Country Club in Brookline, Mass., as a way of commemorating the centennial of Francis Ouimet's historic US Open victory. As most Bostonians know, Ouimet walked across the street from his home to win the 1913 Open, a stunning triumph that is credited for popularizing the game in this country. The 50th and 75th anniversaries were saluted with US Opens at TCC (in 1963 and 1988), but the National Amateur would be a fitting tribute, for Ouimet was a lifelong amateur and twice the US Amateur champ. Architect Gil Hanse, his star on the rise for his design of The Boston Golf Club in Hingham, Mass., is working with TCC officials on whatever changes will be necessary for the 2013 US Amateur and possibly the US Open several years after that. Since a second club is always necessary to help accommodate a large US Amateur field, look for Charles River CC in Newton to fill the bill in 2013.
Wednesday
Jun132007

"The USGA is looking to expand its number of corporate partners to four"

Jon Show in the Sports Business Journal writes about Johnny Miller joining Lexus for several synergistic cross platforming upward product valuation and branding opportunities.

NBC golf analyst Johnny Miller will spend this week as a spokesman for Lexus, part of the company's activation of its new sponsorship with the U.S. Golf Association that includes rights to the U.S. Open.
There's that activation word again! 
Miller is scheduled to make appearances on behalf of Lexus through Sunday, including appearing via satellite on morning shows to promote a Lexus-sponsored survey asking golfers how they improve their game.

Good to know he's got his priorities straight. 

He also will appear in ads running in major golf publications and will be featured in TV spots running on NBC, which is televising the majority of the event.

Oh, but will he plug the product on the air as he did with Ford? Will he go easier on the USGA now that he's working with one of their sponsors?

This year also marks the first U.S. Open to have large-scale corporate backing. Lexus and American Express signed separate deals this winter with the USGA, which conducts the U.S. Open. Each is activating heavily in its first event.

Activating heavily! As opposed to merely activating.

And the story drops this little surprise.

The USGA is looking to expand its number of corporate partners to four, hoping to announce one in January 2008 and one for 2009. USGA CMO Barry Hyde said he expects efforts in that arena to ramp up this fall, after the organization¹s 13 national championships conclude.
Wednesday
Jun132007

Get Out Your MBASpeak Bingo Boards!

Actually, this Jon Show-Sports Business Journal interview with AmEx's Rick Lehrfield contains all sorts of new verbs, adverbs and nouns to add to the list.

Rich Lehrfeld is overseeing American Express first year under a new corporate partnership structure marketed by the USGA. He spoke recently with correspondent Jon Show about the allure of this week¹s U.S. Open. How much of your activation efforts are you pulling from your sponsorship of the U.S. Open of tennis?

Oh nice, activation efforts. And that was just setup!

LEHRFELD: We¹ve taken a good amount, between the fan and cardholder card-member experiences and the welcome pavilion. It¹s not a true takeoff but a lot of the engagement for the U.S. Open tennis we tried to use [for] the golf event.

Hmmm, anyone care to tell me what a true takeoff is vs. an engagement?

What attracted you to the USGA?

LEHRFELD: Who they are and what they represent in the game of golf. It¹s an organization that runs 365 days a year with multiple events. There are a lot of different platforms that we can build on with them. The USGA really wants to keep the event as special and pure as possible. We¹ve worked with them on where we should and shouldn¹t be branding, how we can deliver benefits and access.

Platforms and branding. Yawn. And I don't know about the pure part if they are taking on sponsors.

How do you measure success in year one?

LEHRFELD: First is trying to develop impactful programs and working to develop a comfort level with the USGA. That¹s hard to measure. Engaging consumers and building programs and experiences through content or on-site. Delivering real value through a brand perspective, which we determine through research and response. And then, the business perspective.

Impactful value through a brand perspective. Amen brother.

Any plans to expand your interests in golf?

LEHRFELD: We¹re definitely looking to grow our efforts in golf. Maybe in event sponsorship, maybe not.

Wow, stop teasing us like this!

Should anything be done to improve the World Golf Championships events, one of which is title-sponsored by AmEx?

LEHRFELD: They¹ve done a good job with the players. I think they probably have to do a little more rotation and make it more global, which is tough with the players¹ schedules. They¹re faced with a big challenge in trying to make it a global property.

Wow, that's a fancy way of saying the WGC's aren't working!
 

Tuesday
Jun122007

Wednesday's Open Clippings: Phil's Wrist

2007usopen_50.gifThankfully no one hurt themselves Tuesday, but the boys sure had plenty to say about the course and setup.

John Huggan shares thoughts on the setup and several player reactions.

Has Oakmont, almost universally feared and revered as the toughest, most brutal and most unforgiving track on the US Open rota, been prepared in a way that will allow the best to prosper? Or has the USGA blindly done what it normally does and eliminated any semblance of strategy and flair in a misguided effort to make America's national championship 'fair,' while at the same time producing a winning score some way north of par?

Sadly, the initial signs are that the latter policy has yet again reared its tedious head.  

Monty tabs a local Oakmont looper to suffer for four days with him (well...assuming he doesn't fire him too).

Josh Massoud talks to Adam Scott, who has some interesting thoughts on the setup.

But Scott said the experts had confused greatness for toughness.

"That's not what the game is about. It's got to be fair in every area. I think everyone is so hung up with par; there's an obsession with par. If you put the world's best players on a golf course, they should be able to break par."

Rick Starr looks at the 12 amateurs in the field.

This AP story summarizes Johnny Miller's Tuesday press conference remarks.

Furman Bisher says things have never been better at the USGA under Walter Driver, and cites the Shinnecock Hills U.S. Open under Driver's Championship Committee watch as evidence of how Driver gets an unfair rap.

Driver was chairman of the USGA’s competition committee, which means the responsibility of setting up the course was his. “His arid setup,” as Golf World phrases it, “was an embarrassment,” a term to be questioned.

“Arid” refers to the rain which was forecast, but didn’t fall, and the winds which dried out the greens. Curses to the competition chairman.

Wow, I guess Google hasn't made it to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Rain in the forecast? Oy...

And finally, back on the planet earth, Craig Dolch blogs about the day's interviews and the demise of the scrum.

And finally, the USA Today's Joe Saraceno writes one of those so-over-the-top-it's-funny columns about Tiger's impending fatherhood.

Tuesday
Jun122007

Tuesday's U.S. Open Interviews

I was out all day so I only looked at the Ogilvy, Woods and Mickelson press conferences. I found no really good rally killers because that would mean there were rallies to be killed.

So, the few highlights I could find. Geoff Ogilvy said:

It's a great property. It looks fantastic without any trees on it. I can't picture it without any trees on it. That's how good it looks without trees. Collection of the best greens I've seen anywhere.
The bunkers are tough and the rough is really tough. It's a great golf course. It's completely different from Winged Foot, a different type of property, a different type of golf course, but Winged Foot is fantastic, too.
Tiger Woods had this to say:
 Q. Have you played out of the church pews at all during your practice rounds --
TIGER WOODS: No.

Q. Have you dropped a ball there?
TIGER WOODS: No.

Q. Is it like 17 at Sawgrass --
TIGER WOODS: I don't really think that you should be practicing negativity. You're not going to place the golf ball there, and if you are, if you do make a mistake there, you just basically are going to wedge out anyways. Accept your mistake, and move on. I'm practicing where I'm trying to place the golf ball and tendency is I think where the greens, even with good shots, balls with run-off to certain areas, and that's basically what I've been doing so far.

And before the questions about becoming the first father in the history of the world... 
Q. You had mentioned, I think earlier on, that this course had supplanted Shinnecock has the hardest you had played; I wonder if you still subscribe to that? And part two would be the greens here seem to be the thing that everybody talks about, arguably the hardest, anywhere, if you could just touch on those two issues.

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, they are by far the most difficult greens I've ever played. I thought Winged Foot's pretty tough, Augusta's pretty tough. But both golf courses have flat spots. You know, Augusta may have these big, big slopes, but they have these flat shelves that they usually put the pins on. Here, I'm trying to figure out where a flat shelf is.

And most of the greens here are all tilted. Some even run away from you, which is not the norm in modern course design. Overall, these greens -- like I said, depends on how the pins are set; if they give us a chance to play, or if they are going to make it really impossible. We'll see.

And from Phil Mickelson:

PHIL MICKELSON: I had a chance to play nine holes today. It was the first time in a while and it was nice to get out on the course and get to hit some shots.
As you know, I've had a bit of a wrist injury the last two weeks. And since Memorial, I took four or five days off and had two doctors look at it. Fortunately I had the same diagnosis from both doctors; that it was inflammation. I took four or five days off and tried to play last Tuesday and hit balls and just wasn't able to do it

 Q. I didn't get to see all of the holes this morning; did you play any shots out of the rough and if you did, how did it feel?

PHIL MICKELSON: I didn't hit any shots out of the rough. I don't want to aggravate it. Tried not to hit too many drivers yet. I don't want to go at it full speed just yet. I think I hit one or two drivers at the most. Just kind of easing into it.

I've got a really good game plan mapped out for the tournament. I'm just not sure if I'm going to be ready to implement it because I haven't had the normal practice and preparation that I would have going into it a major.

But I'm still looking forward to being able to play and hopefully implement or put together the game plan that I had hoped.

And...

 Q. As a follow, do you have any concern as you go in Thursday that you'll be able to perform this week?

PHIL MICKELSON: Sure I do, I have concerns. But I'm going to do the best I can do it. I'm going to do all that I can to do that.

At least he's honest. And this...

 Q. We all remember Shinnecock a few years ago, and last year No. 1 at Winged Foot had to be looked at and watched very closely. Are there any greens that if they are not careful --

PHIL MICKELSON: Oh, yeah, there's six or seven of them, sure.

Tuesday
Jun122007

A Few More Tuesday Clippings

2007usopen_50.gifThe John and Sherrie Daly matter is getting downright ugly.

In lighter news, Steve Elling looks at Oakmont's 8th and wonders if the USGA's 288-yard setup is within reason.

At 7,230 yards, the course isn't punitively long by modern standards, but the crazy eighth should generate a cacophony of complaints. From the back tee, the 288-yard par 3 is the longest in U.S. Open history -- funny how that general theme is repeated each June in some respect -- and stands an attention-getting round-wrecker.

Moreover, if the USGA set-up sadists put the flagstick on the back of the green, the hole can measure an intimidating 300 yards. Mind you, technology gains or not, the average driving distance on the PGA Tour is 285.1 yards.

In other words, this hole, as they used to say in the mills hereabouts, will separate the steel from the slag. Pittsburgh has morphed into Titanium Town.

And this from Phil Mickelson...

 "I love the hole because, in architecture -- and I've been slowly getting into architecture -- the longest par 3 you ever see is about 240 or 250 yards, and the shortest par 4 is about 330," Phil Mickelson said. "There's 80 or 90 yards there, where you don't know what to call them." 

Scott Michaux weighs in on the tree removal with this.

Ford says that the greatest irony of it all is the fact that the same course architect who oversaw the conclusion of Oakmont's deforestation project is the same one resembling Johnny Appleseed with mature trees cropping up all over Augusta National Golf Club.

"It's very coincidental that Tom Fazio is our architect who help cut them all down and he's the architect at Augusta National and they're planting trees," Ford said. "It's pretty wild, isn't it?"

It's quite a lark considering that Augusta National played the defining role in Oakmont's shaded canopy era to begin with.

"If it weren't for Augusta, we never would have planted the trees in the first place," said Ford.

Mike Dudurich explores some of the wild and weird occurrences on the wonderful short 17th. He also has this interesting playing strategy from Phil Mickelson, who you may recall, bungled Riviera's 10th earlier this year with a similarly peculiar approach.

It looks like the majority will play aggressively on the 17th. At least that's what the No. 2 player in the world, Phil Mickelson, is thinking.

"You drive it up the left of the 17th fairway and then we'll see how thick that rough is," Mickelson said. "I had a tough time hitting the green with a wedge out of there. But it's still the play, hitting it over there because it takes bogey out of play. If you don't hit a driver, you're risking a five. I'll be trying to hit it in the left rough if the pin's in the back right or in the "Big Mouth" bunker if it's front left." 

Rory Sabbatini's philosophy is even more confusing:

"Take out the driver and go for the green," the South African said without hesitation. "The rough front left of the green is the thickest on the golf course. I think you only make things more difficult on yourself if you lay up in the fairway."

Ok! Whatever floats your boat.

Tuesday
Jun122007

Questions For Walter Driver

Scribblers: food for thought for Wednesday's sitdown with USGA President Walter Driver and Executive Director David Fay. Naturally, it quick read of Chris Millard's Golf World cover story would be wise preparation for the news conference (though my press room sources noted that it was conspicously absent from the toilet reading giveaway table).

  • In the recent Golf World profile, you stated that one of the roadblocks to a COR rollback would have been the formulation of some sort of compensation program for golfers who owned to-be-illegal clubs that had been manufactured and purchased in good faith. Yet on the issue of square grooves, the same good faith manufacture and purchase was the case, yet the USGA plans to change the rules on grooves without any announced form of rebate or return program. Will you be looking at some sort of compensation program for golfers to replace their illegal clubs purchased in good faith?
  • Five years ago the USGA was annually depositing $10-15 million in reserve accounts, but last year the organization added two corporate sponsors and lost $6 million. In light of the R&A making an announcement yesterday that they netted nearly $18 million (US) in 2006, what specifically in the last five years has led to such a drastic change in the financial picture?
  • Follow up: why did the USGA championships cost an additional $32 million to operate in 2006?
  • The R&A, since becoming independent of the golf club, now makes an annual announcement about its financial condition. Why doesn't the USGA do the same thing?
  • Regarding your use of a private jet which you defended by saying it was suggested by the past presidents, you responded to those saying it was inappropriate that you and future presidents won't do "those things." Could you elaborate on "those things" and why they are important to the game. And perhaps you could also give some specific examples of trips on the jet to help us better understand "those things"?
  • In Tod Leonard's story on the dual role that Executive Committee members Cameron Jay Rains plays in serving on the committee while personally profiting from the 2008 U.S. Open head of the Friends of Torrey Pines, you responded to conflict of interest questions by saying, "Doesn't work that way."  Could you elaborate on why this is the case when the story reveals that Mr. Rains will actually be the direct beneficiary of a payment from the USGA?

  • With apologies to Colbert...Golf World, a great golf publication, or the greatest golf publication?
Tuesday
Jun122007

R&A Rolling In Cash!

The R&A makes news with this release in several ways.

One, they are actually sending out a press release on their finances, which the USGA does not do. Second, the R&A actually made money last year, unlike the USGA! That said, the R&A doesn't do many things the USGA does, so maybe they can't start coughing up a little of their profit, you know, for the effort.

Finally, and best of all, last year's R&A press release on 2005 finances was sent out May 25, whereas this year's goes out June 11 on the eve of the U.S. Open. Did someone at the R&A want to add some fun to Wednesday's USGA press conference?

R&A REPORTS STRONG FINANCIAL PERFORMANCE AND NEW ASIA-PACIFIC FOCUS IN 2006 ANNUAL REVIEW
 
The R&A, golf’s world rules and development body and organiser of The Open Championship, reports a strong financial performance, including increased support for golf development projects, and a new focus on the Asia-Pacific region in its 2006 Annual Review published today.
 
Operating profit, for the year to 31 December 2006, stood firm at £9.1m (£9.1m) after increased grants totalling £2.9m (£2.3m) were awarded to external golf development bodies. The surplus was again taken to reserves to ensure continuity in The R&A’s global governance role at no cost to the sport.
 
Also, at the year-end, The R&A’s founding club, The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews, made the last in a series of asset allocations to The R&A Foundation, taking its net assets to £13.3m (£11.4m).  The Foundation made increased awards in the year totalling £1.6m (£1.4m) to golf-related educational programmes.
 
More work in the Asia-Pacific region is reported where The R&A has its first Regional Director in post and where initiatives such as an agreed programme with the China Golf Association, to train over 100 new Chinese golf referees, is underway.

Commenting on the year under review R&A Chief Executive Peter Dawson said:
 
“The Open at Hoylake was both a great Championship and a strong commercial success. We forecast £50m in golf development funding and other governance benefits for the game, by the end of the decade, when we adopted corporate ownership structures in 2004 and we will deliver on this ahead of time.”

 That's $100 million for those of you keeping track here in the land of the free.

Monday
Jun112007

Tuesday Open Clippings: Another Wrist Injury

2007usopen_50.gifDavid Howell, making his comeback at the U.S. Open after a back injury "hurt his wrist practising and confirmed today that he won't play."

Meanwhile the first high-profile Oakmont casualty is not hitting many balls, according to Gerry Dulac on the Post-Gazette blog: 

It's beginning to look as though Phil Mickelson's wrist injury might be more bothersome than indicated. At the very least, it appears it could jeopardize his chance to be a serious contender in the 107th U.S. Open.

The world's No. 2 player, who has withdrawn from the past two PGA Tour events, did not play a practice round yesterday on the first day for spectators at Oakmont Country Club -- the third day in a row he has failed to play because of an injury to his left wrist.

Mickelson hit approximately 30 balls on the practice range and spent nearly 45 minutes on the putting green. But he never hit a full shot on the range -- he hit his driver once -- and never went on the course.

Mike Dudurich talks to Tommy Roy and the NBC point man likes the look of Oakmont.
"The final four holes at Winged Foot were long, hard par-4s that nobody could distinguish one from another," Roy said after a production meeting before the start of The Players Championship in May. "At Oakmont, there are some drastically different holes. There are holes that are very recognizable, I think."
And for those of you betting that Johnny will sob when NBC does the inevitable 63 feature, think again.
Roy said NBC won't be doing any major coverage about Miller's history at Oakmont, including his record 63 in the final round in 1973.

"We've pretty much made the decision that I think Johnny is going to get so much attention by newspapers, TV stations and magazines, the Internet -- you name it -- we're not going to do a big blowout feature on him, because I don't think it's going to be necessary," Roy said.

According to Julian Taylor, Sandy Lyle thinks Monty's got a great chance. Hey, if he doesn't hurt his wrist, I might be inclined to agree.

Monty's future biographer, John Huggan, recalls his red and chubby cheeks in 1994 (Monty's, not Huggies!).

While Alistair Tait says Monty's pretty much lost his mind after firing his caddy following a poor showing at the Austrian Open. That's the Monty we know and love!

Jason Sobel at ESPN.com looks at the correlation between high scoring at majors and the governing bodies who run them while also having done a lousy job regulating distance. It's interesting to see this connection made more often than ever.
Everywhere, that is, except at golf's four majors, where demanding, devious, deceitful course setups have never been more en vogue.

"I think the people who set the courses up use that technology debate as their reasoning for making the courses harder," said 2004 British Open champion Todd Hamilton. "Their reasoning is, 'Well, you guys are hitting shorter clubs in, so we can make the greens harder and faster.'"

And this... 
Even Woods, whose four most recent major victories have all seen numbers under par into the double-digits -- 2006 PGA (18-under); 2006 British (18-under); 2005 British (14-under); and 2005 Masters (12-under) -- acknowledges that red numbers shouldn't be so tough to come by in the four biggies.

Finally, Ron Green Jr. confirms reports that Pinehurst is getting the 2014.

Monday
Jun112007

12-Year-Old Qualifies For U.S. Women's Open

Pretty amazing...

THOMPSON BECOMES YOUNGEST TO EVER QUALIFY

FOR U.S. WOMEN’S OPEN CHAMPIONSHIP

Far Hills, N.J. – Twelve-year-old Alexis Thompson of Coral Springs, Fla., became the youngest to ever qualify for the U.S. Women’s Open when she did so Monday to earn a spot in the 156-player field via sectional qualifying for the 2007 championship, which will be played June 28-July 1 at Pine Needles Lodge & Golf Club in Southern Pines, N.C .

Sixty-eight players were fully exempt into the championship, leaving 87 spaces open in the field for qualifiers. One spot is still being held open for the winner of next week’s LPGA Tour event, should that winner not already be fully exempt into the Women’s Open. The sectional qualifier at the Turtle Bay Club in Kahuku , Hawaii , where three players were competing for one spot, had yet to finish Monday.

Thompson, after recording scores of 72-71 at Heathrow Country Club in Heathrow , Fla. , qualified at the age of 12 years, 4 months and 1 day, besting the previous record of Morgan Pressel, who was 12 years, 11 months and 21 days old when she qualified for the 2001 Women’s Open, which was also conducted at Pine Needles.

 

Monday
Jun112007

Questions for David Fay

To those scribblers choosing to attend the USGA's annual Wednesday press conference (and please ladies and gents, no emails that you forgot to go like last year!), here are a few questions you might consider for USGA Executive Director David Fay.  I'm sure readers will chime in with a few (please, no bowtie jokes).

  • You were very involved in making sure that the Bethpage U.S. Open benefitted the state of New York with minimal cost increase to the regular Bethpage golfer, and that was viewed as a tremendous success in virtually all regards (well, there is Rees's bungling of the 18th hole...). In light of Tod Leonard's San Diego Union Tribune story detailing losses that the city of San Diego will incur and the inconvenience to local municipal golfers, do you feel that San Diego and its golfers have been treated fairly?
  • After USGA staff benefit cuts were announced, you recommended that staff members personally write to the Executive Committee to voice their displeasure. Did you voice concerns internally about these cuts, and why did you recommend the staff members do this, possibly risking alienation or retaliation?
  • What exactly does lobbyist Powell-Tate do for the USGA and the game of golf?

  • Why has the USGA ball study taken 5 years to this point and when do you think it will be concluded?
  • And with apologies to Colbert, Brian Cashman, great GM or the greatest GM?
Monday
Jun112007

Stuck On 63

2007usopen_50.gifMy Links Magazine cover story is now posted online, and in light of the reports on the rough and predictions of a high winning score, this passage seems fairly relevant:
“The rough’s gotten so healthy in just the last few years,” he says. “You see footage of 1973 and Johnny Miller is hitting 6-irons out of the rough and onto the green from 170 yards. Not to put down Johnny Miller’s 63, because I’ve gotten to hear about it from Miller Barber, who played with him that day and it’s without a doubt the best round of all time, but it’s a lot tougher to recover from the rough on a lot of today’s major venues.”

Sometimes the conditions are too tough, and the prime examples are the 2004 U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills and the 1999 British Open at Carnoustie. At Shinnecock the USGA set up the course too firm and fast for the final round; putts on the 7th hole were rolling off the green, which the grounds crew eventually had to water between groups.

Carnoustie’s fairways were so narrow that even Ben Hogan, who had won at the same course with a masterful display of driving accuracy, might have had trouble hitting them.

“It’s unfortunate that they set up courses to try and keep you from shooting a low score,” says Love. “The U.S. Open to me is getting over the top. Augusta is getting over the top. The Open Championship, other than Carnoustie in ’99, is by far the most fair and the one you look forward to playing the most.”
Monday
Jun112007

Oakmont Tours

Oakmont3t.jpgIf you're looking to get in the mood for Oakmont and's wonderful quirky character, GolfDigest.com's interactive flyovers and Ran Morrissett's recently updated course profile at GolfClubAtlas.com are your best bets.

The USGA's official site promised hole flyovers starting June 11, but so far, no luck.
Monday
Jun112007

"There’s black walnut furniture in those tents and every other amenity."

Bill Pennington in the New York Times looks at the production the U.S. Open has become and a couple of things jumped out:

“You learn quickly that the U.S.G.A. doesn’t mess around; they are a well-oiled machine,” said Ron Tola, Haverford College’s director of facilities management. “I was awe-struck by the advance planning. Then again, when you go to an Open, and you walk into one of those giant buildings that they call corporate tents, you realize what you’re dealing with.

“There’s black walnut furniture in those tents and every other amenity. My wife would say, ‘Give me this for my living room, and I’ll be happy.’ They call it a corporate village; it’s really a city.”
You know that black walnut can really seal the deal!
Because of that, and other reasons like golf’s popularity in the Tiger Woods era, the Open has become a cash machine for the U.S.G.A. The association does not reveal its finances, but recent federal tax records show it reported about $40 million in annual profits from its 16 championships. (The U.S.G.A. also puts on men’s, women’s and junior amateur championships as well as the United States Women’s Open.) The bulk of that profit, perhaps as much as 75 percent, comes from the United States Open.
You're telling us that the Senior and Women's Opens bring in 25% of the championship profit? Please.

 

Oh I know, the TV money, because you know NBC takes on the U.S. Open to get to that lucrative U.S. Senior Open!


By the way, according to the annual report, the USGA netted $24 million in 2006 on championships and $31 million in 2005.

Monday
Jun112007

"The Asian Tour is appalled with the European Tour's plans..."

Sheesh, I try to take a lunch break and the hits just keep on coming.

You may recall that George O'Grady mentioned the idea of the "other" tours joining forces and that was quickly shot down by the Asian Tour reps. And now this...

JUNE 11, 2007

ASIAN TOUR STATEMENT

The Asian Tour is appalled with the European Tour's plans to stage a tournament in India without the sanction of the Asian Tour next February. This move is clearly unethical and against the protocol that exists within the framework of the International Federation of PGA Tours, of which both the Tours are full members.

Despite media reports and quotes attributed to the European Tour, there has been no approach or communication to inform the Asian Tour about the event or its intentions.

Since the Asian Tour became a member of the International Federation of PGA Tours, all new events that the European Tour has been involved within Asia have been co-sanctioned with the Asian Tour.

Over the past decade, the Asian Tour has provided a strong platform for the success of India 's current crop of top players and the Asian Tour is fully committed to the growth of golf in India and Asia.

The Asian Tour fully respects and cooperates with the Indian Golf Union and was happy to step in to ensure the continuance of one of Asia's longest standing national Opens, the Hero Honda Indian Open, in 2005
when support was required.

The Asian Tour was also fully supportive of the formation of the Professional Golf Tour of India and is actively cooperating in the development of playing opportunities for Indian and the Asian Tour players.

However, with the latest developments, the Asian Tour disagrees with the unethical actions of the European Tour which has avoided contact with the Asian Tour whilst announcing this new event in India.

This action reflects on the European Tour's aggressive direction without any concern for the protocol of the International Federation of PGA Tours and highlights an invasive position on Asia.

Kyi Hla Han
Executive Chairman
Asian Tour

Well, not a lot of grey area in that statement!