Imagine, for instance, a repetition of eighteen holes, all of the supreme excellence of the most exceptional hole we can think of at the moment - the Seventeenth at St. Andrews. The strain of it all! Eighteen tee shots of the same intensity or eighteen approaches which courted disaster in the same dire form. It would to a certainty break our hearts and leave us nervous wrecks or golf lunatics in real earnest. TOM SIMPSON
Given the choice between TiVoing the old geezers playing one of the twelve majors over a colorful, textured, rich, eccentric and slightly nutty design or an elite field playing a "classic" "U.S. Open style" "test," you can imagine what I picked.
Honestly, told I have six months to live, it's a toss up what I want to watch to make time stand still. Medinah or Congressional?
Now that Congressional's old 18th has been bulldozed by Rees Jones and replaced by a hole only he could design (click here for Tim Taylor's photos on GCA...but view with caution, it's not pretty), the final stroke of quirk has been stripped from the place. Therefore, as much as it pains me to not single out Medinah's relentless mediocrity, I think Congressional gets the nod for not taking better advantage of interesting terrain.
Ah, but the players love it! Why, I have no idea other than to merely confirm that they have no architectural sense whatsoever.
Billy Mayfair said:
"You put Tiger Woods as host and a great course like Congressional and you've got something people want to be involved with. What happened here this weekend was amazing. You put it down the street [at Avenel], and you're probably not going to have the same kind of field. Guys will come here, to Congressional. Guys want to play old-fashioned, U.S. Open-style courses, and that's what this is."
And Robert Allenby...
"This is a great golf course," Allenby said. "It's easy to run a good golf tournament here. You've got a great venue. It's pretty awesome."
It may be what you want to play fellas, but in terms of viewing it's deadly.
Sure, Whistling Straits goes over the top and the fairway widths looked absurd (exposed for their lack of room as soon as the wind came up Saturday). I also don't know what the USGA was trying to prove playing the 17th so far back Saturday, making it a 250 yardish shot when the hole is plenty brutal at 160 yards in benign conditions.
But wasn't it fun to see all sort of different shots, including a few played on the ground? And recovery shots. And most of all, a colorful, lively example of architecture's most inspired possibilities.
Let the gushing begin...
"I didn't think we'd get this type of turnout and this type of energy," Tiger said, still in mild disbelief after his final round.
Well that's why you're not a PGA Tour executive Tiger. They knew it all along!
Considering the rough week Walter Driver's had, what with having to constantly sign autographs of that Golf World story where he comes off as tired, bitter and pretentious (and that's just the cover shot), you'd think Tom Watson would have the decency to have won one for his beleaguered fellow Stanford alum to cap off Driver's fairy-tale USGA Presidency.
They tell fairy tales in hell right?
Sal Johnson, noting the unfortunate airing of the U.S. Women's Open and Buick Open at the same time last weekend passed this note along.
This year the U.S. Women's Open won the slot with a 1.7 (1.47 million) rating compared to the Buick Open's 1.7 (1.3 million) rating. Now both shows were drastically down over last year, the Women's Open was 39% down but that had to be expected. The reason, Annika Sorenstam and Michelle Wie were in contention last year and the Sunday show went to 7:30 because they played 36 holes on Sunday.
As for the Buick Open they had a bigger drop, 60%. That was because last year the event was played in August and there was no competing golf show against it but the main reason for the drop was Tiger Woods won last year.
Mark Garrod reports on our man's big win in the European Open, making him a favorite to be asked for pre-tournament press center visits at Loch Lomond and Carnoustie.
Hmm...resistable.Montgomerie fired a closing 65 to win by one from Swede Niclas Fasth, having started the day in joint seventh place four behind. The Scot's odds for winning the forthcoming Open Championship at Carnoustie have now been cut from 100/1 to 50/1 by William Hill who also offer him at 20/1 to win the Scottish Open at Loch Lomond next week.
"This is not an important win - it's a very, very important win," he said. "You wonder if it's ever going to happen, of course you do. You have self-doubts and I'm so glad. I'm thrilled with the success.
"I've never made a winner's speech and said I was unlucky and I was fortunate at the last two today."
O'Hara, Gamble, Fisher Tabbed For Golf In The Kingdom; Straight To Video Release Pegged For Summer '08
Golfweek's Scott Hamilton reports that the infamous Michael Murphy book is finally set for production and (spoiler alert) I've learned some key plot details. First, Hamilton writes:
Production of “Golf in the Kingdom” is scheduled to begin shortly after summer, with the entire shoot taking place in Oregon.
The movie version of Michael Murphy’s book of the same title has been tabbed with a modest $3 million budget. Production company Golf in the Kingdom LLC has enrolled sports marketing and management company Octagon to enlist corporate sponsors and handle all licensing and product placement for the film. John Ashworth is overseeing costume design, while Industrial Light and Magic, George Lucas’ special-effects firm, has signed on as the film’s visual designers.
What, no Marty Hackel?
Shooting is scheduled to wrap Dec. 1 with a release date planned to coincide with the 2008 U.S. Open or British Open. Golf scenes will be shot on location at Bandon Dunes with other scenes to be filmed in a Eugene, Ore, studio.
The cast includes David O’Hara, Mason Gamble, Frances Fisher and Malcolm McDowell. Mindy Affirme, the film’s producer, also said several actors have been approached for cameos, including Sean Connery and Hugh Grant.
Industry sources the delays were influenced by the book's lack of a second or third act.
However after veteran scribe Paul Haggis (Crash, Letters From Iwo Jima, thirtysomething (three story arc in 1987)) brushed up the script, a rivetting finale will now include Michael Murphy scaling the Golden Gate Bridge to talk Jim Flick (the Connery cameo) down from jumping after learning another of his students has adopted Stack and Tilt.
That will be followed by a dramatic chase through the streets of Palm Desert in which Shivas (now caddying at San Francisco Golf Club and reunited with Murphy in a quest for the meaning of life/golf) helps the author's character track down Mac O'Grady at Mesquite Country Club for a final instructional sequence that will leave audiences questioning everything they've ever read in Golf Magazine, while also marking the long-awaited digital media release of O'Grady's instruction thoughts.
It's Baggar Vance meets Memoirs of a Geisha in the vein of Traffic.
Thankfully, my Saturday viewing priorities went like this: Spinal Tap reunion during the climate change concert, U.S. Senior Open at Whistling Straits, Angels-Yankees, and then maybe a few minutes of the AT&T National from Congressional if everyone else was taking a commercial break.
Therefore, according to reader Jon, I missed this from Tiger Woods, talking to Jim Nantz about the future prospects of the AT&T National:
"Hopefully, we can build some equity [in the new tournament.]"
That's why I'm not watching.
"Once you reach a certain speed, the greens just aren't as interesting anymore, because it limits the type of places you can put the holes"
Thanks to reader John (as always) for John Paul Newport's WSJ column, this time looking at the race for more green speed in light of this week's R&A course setup boondoggle.
Insights from Ran Morrissett and Rees Jones stood out:
In recent years, the introduction of heartier bentgrass varieties that can thrive when cropped to an eighth of an inch or even shorter, plus other advanced agronomic techniques, have ushered in an era of expensive green-speed oneupsmanship among clubs. "It's like a nuclear-arms race. Nobody wins," says Ran Morrissett, host of the authoritative Web site GolfClubAtlas.com.And...
The pity, both at older courses and at some new ones, is how many potentially great hole locations have been lost because of galloping greens. "Once you reach a certain speed, the greens just aren't as interesting anymore, because it limits the type of places you can put the holes," says Mr. Morissett. In the olden days, rapping the ball up and over undulations and banking it off slopes was a fun and challenging part of the game. "I'm not sure it didn't take as much skill to putt those old greens as it does the modern fast ones," says Mr. Jones. "There was a lot of technique involved in hitting the ball properly. Now the players basically just have to guide the ball, tap it in the right direction."
After his second round 67 put him in a tie for 2nd, Ben Crenshaw talked about plenty of fun stuff, including Whistling Straits:
Q. As an architect yourself when you see a course like this, does that possibly inspire you maybe to?
BEN CRENSHAW: This is a great piece of work. You know, I know a little something about what was here, which was not anything like this. This is unbelievable.
Q. What's the most unbelievable thing about it?
BEN CRENSHAW: Well, this is, to make a course look like this from what it was, is just spectacular creation. This is incredible.
Q. Does it go along with your design philosophy?
BEN CRENSHAW: Well, Pete is probably the best with working with material and just working at it. God, it's just unbelievable.
Okay I have now officially had it preachy-sports-columnist-fathers taking this Tiger-fatherhood thing way too far. This time Rick Maese in the Baltimore Sun is suggesting that Tiger should have left Oakmont when he learned his wife was in the hospital with completely normal and non-emergency conditions...to be by her side and be the subservient man that some apparently want him to be.
What would you do? What would your wife want? What would your doctor recommend? They're personal questions that only allow for personal answers.
Thankfully, for Woods and his wife, everything worked out OK. He took a private jet to Orlando immediately after the tournament, and Elin gave birth to Sam Alexis the following day, reportedly by Caesarean section.
I'm guessing most wives wouldn't be so lenient, and most husbands wouldn't choose to remain on an out-of-town business trip knowing what was happening back home.
What I do know is that whatever we make of Woods' decision to remain in the U.S. Open says an awful lot about priorities. How could the tournament have been that important?
Everything Woods said leading up to and since his daughter's birth indicates that he understands golf will now take a back seat. So why didn't it that week? He didn't need the money. He didn't need another major. And he'll surely play in 20 more U.S. Opens before he hangs up his spikes.
Oh here we go...why did I know this was coming?
You can't help but think back to the 1999 U.S. Open, when another of the sport's superstars was expecting his first child. Phil Mickelson's wife, Amy, due any day, stayed in Arizona while Mickelson competed in Pinehurst, N.C. He had a pager in his golf bag and said repeatedly that as soon as it went off, he was dropping the club and boarding a plane. Didn't matter if it was the first tee Thursday or the 18th green Sunday.
Uh, but he was still playing with her on the verge of giving birth? Right? So really, he should not have been at Pinehurst, no?
Under this line of thinking, why does Phil get a pass and not Tiger?
Like Woods three weeks ago, Mickelson finished that Open in second, one stroke off the lead. If he happened to have a share of the lead, Mickelson said he would've skipped out on the playoff if that pager started buzzing. What would Woods have done? Even after his baby was born, he still wouldn't say what should be obvious: You go be with your wife.
"I'm not going down that road," Woods said when asked about the possibility of a playoff at Oakmont.
Woods comes from loving parents and has great family support and so it feels like a pretty safe bet that Sam Alexis Woods will grow up with a good father around her.
Oh spare us.
But let's please avoid falling into the trap of mythicizing Woods' 2007 U.S. Open performance, glorifying the greatest golfer in the world for nearly winning despite the burdensome knowledge that his wife was nearly 1,000 miles away in a hospital room.
How about mythicizing this need for the husband to be there every step of the way? Should Tiger have done pregnant yoga classes with Elin too? Been there to feed her the last 10 meals before the birth? Washed her feet and scrubbed her belly for good karma?
Woods was asked earlier this week how he was able to maintain his intense focus at Oakmont, knowing what was happening down in Orlando.
"You just do," he said. "You just do. You just do."
Unless, of course, you don't.
Just two days before Elin was admitted into the hospital, Woods told reporters, "All I know is that Elin and I are excited, and that this is far more important than any game of golf."
The safe guess is that when Woods finally did join his wife in her hospital room, that undeniable truth was more evident than ever before.
Oy...yes, let's do our best to make him ordinary like the rest of us, so we can feel good about ourselves.
No, I want the Tiger that's different than everyone else. The one with the cajones to play the US Open with this on his plate and who is not milking (no pun intended) a childbirth for something more than it is.
After all, it has been done billions of times before, and not every father was there for the occasion.
Thanks to reader Sean for this Neil Amdur-New York Times story on science making bowling easier and how it's
driving not impacting participation levels. Hmmm...
Twenty-five years ago today, Glenn Allison bowled three consecutive 300 games, the first to record the feat in a sanctioned league. But nothing has been the same in the sport since Allison’s 36 strikes in a row were initially heralded, then, after a protracted legal fight, disallowed because of what officials cited as noncomplying conditions at La Habra 300 Bowl in California.Fast forward...
Four other bowlers as far back as 1931 preceded Allison with 900 scores, but none were in a sanctioned league or under tournament conditions. Allison said he was not upset that noncompliance with oil distribution on his lanes left him as an asterisk in bowling record books. If Allison rolled a 900 series in a league tonight, it would be approved without an inspection. Rule changes now allow for season-long certification of lanes, another accommodation that rankles traditionalists.Therefore...
But as tennis and golf have had technical and tactical shifts in their sports with the introduction of new equipment, science has found bowling. Allison used one ball for every shot, but many league and pro bowlers now have three or four. The new balls “grip the lanes better,” he said, creating a coefficient of friction that is much higher than years ago. “You can buy a hook with these new balls, and it’s so much easier,” Allison said.
“It’s an altogether different game,” said Mickey Curley, who has worked at the lanes for 44 years and whose son Dennis bowled with Allison on the night of his perfect series. “Fitting and drilling bowling balls now is a science.”
Roger Dalkin, the chief executive of the United States Bowling Congress, said: “One of the difficulties we have as a governing body is trying to manage the technology and not eliminate it. There’s always a debate: What’s too much, what’s too easy?”
Registered membership in the bowling congress fell to 2.7 million last year from close to 10 million in 1982. But according to Simmons Research, 70 million Americans (37 million men, 33 million women) bowl at least once a year, and many are prepared to spend $10 a game and more for the lively social activities at places like Bowlmor Lanes in Manhattan.
The bowling congress has also initiated Sport Bowling, a division that tries to emulate pro tour-type conditions for more serious competitors. Begun three years ago, it has 40,000 members and has doubled in membership each of the last three years.
“Thirty years ago, 90 percent of bowling was leagues,” Mark Miller, a bowling congress spokesman, said by telephone from Las Vegas, where the Bowl Expo, which ended Friday, attracted 5,000 exhibitors, including bowling center proprietors and product manufacturers. “Now, 60 percent of all bowling is recreational. The game has changed, and you can’t go backwards.”
Wait, it's going backwards in terms of cost and participation? No?
Multiple sources confirm that USGA President Walter Driver has spearheaded the end of Marty Parkes' reign as Senior Director of Communications, effective at the end of the month immediately (*These USGA types really are going corporate. I wonder if he has to be monitored by a security guard too?)
Apparently Parkes should have prevented the recent Golf World cover story (cached link, old link no longer works) where Driver came off sounding less than shrewd. It is also believed that Parkes followed Executive Director David Fay's staff suggestion to put concerns about recent benefit cuts in writing to the Executive Committee.
That's two longtime staffers that Driver has overseen the exit of in the last week and both were reportedly high on his target list.
And no one believes he is done seeking retaliation for the Golf World story and other embarrassments during his presidency (there have been plenty). Apparently, looking inward would be too traumatic.
It's embarrassing for me to have missed such a brilliant rally killer, but frankly, I can only read so many "Tiger, now that you are a father..." questions before moving into skim mode.
Well, Chris Lewis not only caught one incredible rally kill effort during Tiger's Tuesday press conference at the AT&T National, but he dissects it with entertaining precision.
Leonard Shapiro writes that Phil Mickelson and Fred Funk are the two who found something to like, though Funk's comments are a tad frightening:
"I've been somewhat involved with the redo at Avenel," Funk said yesterday of a $20 million renovation of the course and clubhouse scheduled to begin next month. "And if they do a really good job, as far as making it look like it's a finished product, I think it will be well-received. When you go to Muirfield Village [site of the PGA Tour's Memorial in Dublin, Ohio], you see the streams that are through the golf course. It looks like it's well-manicured and not overgrown.Those darn creeks and wetlands that capture all that storm runoff and provide wildlife with sanctuary have no business being all messy! Man can do sooooo much better with flower beds and chemicals!
"There's a lot of attention to detail, and Avenel never quite had that look. You have to make it look good and really present the best product, even off the areas where you don't play, where you hope the ball doesn't go. I think it could be a really good golf course, but it still is not ever going to be a Congressional."
Hmmm...let's hope it's not that boring.
Thanks to reader Mark for catching the Washington Post's front page piece by Joe Stephens conducting an in-depth investigation of the Tiger Woods Foundation's charitable giving and expenses. Stephens finds that, yes purses are a tad excessive in golf.
Tell me what you think, but I felt like the piece was stretching to make the point that there are too many conflicts of interest surrounding Foundation operations.
The charities that host such PGA Tour events collectively raise millions of dollars for good works in the community. Last year, the PGA and related tours reported having raised a total of $105 million. "We're very proud of that," said Ron Price, the Tour's chief financial officer.For me, this seemed to put a damper on most of the conflict-of-interest issues:
Less well known is that much more money goes toward expenses and operations -- especially the purses taken home by golfers. Tour officials said their average tournament provides golfers with a purse of $5.7 million and, after paying costs associated with the event, generates $1.75 million for charity.
"You can certainly question the validity of calling something a charitable event when so much money goes to individuals," said Sandra Miniutti of Charity Navigator, a watchdog organization that rates nonprofits on efficiency.
Charity specialists say such disparities are not uncommon when it comes to special fundraising events. "It is not unusual for them to be on the expensive side, and relatively slim on the charity," said William Josephson, a New York lawyer who specializes in the ethics of philanthropy.
Charity Navigator gives the Tiger Woods Foundation four stars -- its highest rating. One reason is that the foundation in 2005 reported spending $1 million, a relatively low percentage of revenue, on management and fundraising expenses. A factor keeping those numbers low, but not considered in the rating, is the foundation's receipt of millions of dollars raised by its sister nonprofit, the Charity Event Corp., which reports its expenses separately.
The Charity Event Corp. is the least known of Woods's charities but brings in the most money. The organization's fundraisers include the Target World Challenge golf tournament at Sherwood Country Club north of Los Angeles and Tiger Jam concerts in Las Vegas.
From 2004 through 2005, Charity Event Corp. raised $29 million and gave $6.7 million in grants and contributions to Woods's foundation and other charities, IRS records show. Much of the remainder went toward expenses, including golf prizes totaling more than $10.25 million. As in the case of many tournaments, officials at the charity said, the PGA Tour subsidizes part of the purse in exchange for television rights.
This part was intriguing...
From 1999 to 2002, records show, the Tiger Woods Charity Event Corp. paid $375,000 to IMG for what the nonprofit's tax returns describe as consulting services. IMG has helped develop Woods's public image and helped win him millions of dollars in corporate endorsements.
In 2000, the head of IMG's golf division, Mark Steinberg, joined the board of the Tiger Woods Foundation. Steinberg is Woods's agent at IMG.
Charity watchdogs are always on the lookout for conflicts of interest and self-dealing at nonprofit organizations. One charity has established a Web site that offers stark advice about how sports agents can use athletes' foundations to collect a bigger paycheck.
"By setting up a foundation . . . for your client you can obtain COMPENSATION FOREVER from gifts made from this foundation," says the Web site of the National Heritage Foundation. "You, the agent, may receive compensation directly."
McLaughlin said there was no conflict of interest between Steinberg's board position and the payments to IMG. The payments were commissions for the company's work attracting sponsors for its tournaments, he said. In recent weeks, IMG has been working to line up financial backers for the AT&T National, and IMG will be paid commissions for any sponsorship money it brings in, he said. Such commissions are paid competitively and IMG receives no special consideration from the charity.