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If we examine courses in general, we shall find that wherever the modifications of the ground have been so inwrought as to seem inevitably a part of their surroundings, not only are they liable to manifest beauty, but we can be relatively sure the work promises to endure.  MAX BEHR


    

Thursday
Nov302006

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.

Thursday
Nov302006

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?

Thursday
Nov302006

Wie Makes The Onion

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

Wednesday
Nov292006

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. 

Wednesday
Nov292006

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

Wednesday
Nov292006

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.

Wednesday
Nov292006

"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.

Wednesday
Nov292006

Donegan On Trump International Aberdeenshire...

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

Wednesday
Nov292006

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.

Wednesday
Nov292006

"There were no failed tests."

Curtis Eichelberger reports that the World Amateur Team contestants passed all of their drug tests.
"I am pleased to be able to tell you that all test results from the World Amateur Team Championships were negative,'' Dawson said in an e-mail. ``There were no failed tests.''

The tested golfers -- six men and six women -- were picked at random from the 70 male and 39 female teams of three golfers each at the championships, Fay said.

"`You are relieved when the results all come back negative,'' Fay said in a telephone interview from his office in Far Hills, New Jersey. ``But there was a high degree of education. These players were made aware there would be a random test and it confirms for these two championships that we're clean.''

The tests were conducted by the South African Institute for Drug Free Sport following guidelines set by the World Anti- Doping Agency, Fay said. The women's championship was held Oct. 18-21, and the men's Oct. 26-29.


Tuesday
Nov282006

"The USGA has more important things to worry about than thinking about changing the groove configuration"

Over at the Golf Channel's web site, former USGA technical director Frank Thomas was asked about grooves and spin and reiterated what he wrote (and what we discussed here) in Golf Digest.

Frank,
I really do enjoy your column and I know that you will be able to answer my question about grooves on wedges. Do new sharp grooves make a difference to the spin on the ball when I hit the ball from a tee? -- Jim, N.C.

Jim,
The answer is NO they don’t. If you have a sandblasted face this will probably do as much or more to increase the spin than a grooved face. When you are hitting out of the rough then grooves do matter and the better defined they are the better off you are to get some spin on the ball. The rough condition will always reduce the spin from a wedge when compared to a dry condition but from deep (4 to 6 inch) heavy rough it doesn’t matter what ball you play or configuration of grooves you have on your wedge.

Again, it will be interesting to see if the USGA will claim otherwise in the coming months. Let me guess: "Our rough is 3 1/2 inches."

And again, Frank offers up a perfectly wretched solution for the game:

The USGA has more important things to worry about than thinking about changing the groove configuration because some pros are able to get out of the rough relatively easily with out too much concern about being there. My proposal is to lengthen the rough for those situations where this is important. The upheaval of changing groove specifications is not worth it.

I wonder if ever occurs to people that rough has only been introduced into golf as a method to combat distance gains that begin to outdate architecture? 

After all, what caused Augusta to go from its roughless golf course to one with a silly looking "second cut?"

Sudden distance gains they couldn't keep up with.

And we've also learned that even when courses do catch up via lengthening, the fairways never get widened back out...

So I suppose the good news is that at 20-25 yards, they can only narrow so much more before rough harvesting and narrowing is no longer an option.

Tuesday
Nov282006

Tiger Playing Through

Since I complained about not getting to see Tiger hitting into the group in front of him, reader Aleid has posted the clip along with his other play on the short par-4. (Note that he hits 3-wood off the tee to drive it the next day!).

 

Tuesday
Nov282006

Wie Should Apply For The LPGA Tour

Doug Ferguson issues a strong commentary saying that it's time for Michelle Wie to apply for LPGA Tour membership. Since his AP column is picked up all over the place, I bet Doug's caller ID sported a William Morris Agency number at some point today.


Tuesday
Nov282006

"We'll continue to make equipment rules based on science and fact"

Stan Awtrey in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution conducts a Q&A with the USGA's Walter Driver.

Q. What's new in terms of restrictions on equipment?

A. We'll continue to spend a lot of time and energy on research on equipment. We spent a lot of time and money last year looking at spin and groove research, and we've given manufacturers a big book of scientific data to look at. We'll continue to make equipment rules based on science and fact, as opposed to the opinion of whatever happens to be the prevailing mood of the day.

Right, like getting all upset that players are hitting drivers no matter how narrow you make them, and using that to blame the grooves since that's much easier politically than rolling back the ball. Yep, it's all about science and fact.

In 1997 the ball manufacturers came to us and said that in five years no one would be playing with a balata ball. Every ball made would be solid and with a Suryln cover, or some variation. We thought that sounded highly unlikely; it took three years.

It's easier to buy a new club or a new ball than it is to work on a new swing, and that continues to drive changes in the equipment.

I think that last line is pretty interesting, though it's hard to evaluate since it's likely out of context.

Q. What's planned for the next year?

A. I'm serious about finding ways to use the Internet to communicate with USGA members and golfers in general.

Ah, spoken like a lame duck USGA president! 

Tuesday
Nov282006

White's Final Column

George White signs off as a columnist for TheGolfChannel.com...

Tuesday
Nov282006

Indian Wells: We Want Wie

Larry Bohannan speculates on possible Skins Game invitees for next year and slips in this little nugget about Michelle Wie:

It's interesting that the Skins Game's contract with the city of Indian Wells mentions only two players by name who must be at least extended invitations, Woods and Wie.

 

Monday
Nov272006

"No one looks like they're on anything."

Garry Smits pens a lengthy piece on the possibility of steroids in golf and once again various players just howl about the audacity of those who suggest a PGA Tour player might resort to performance enhancing drugs, and therefore, testing should be in place to ensure that the players of tomorrow don't resort to extreme measures.

Considering that many of these players are the same chaps who refuted the idea that lax equipment regulation led to distance increases but instead said the distance was coming from those rigorous minutes hours they were spending in the fitness trailer getting a deep tissue ego massage.

Yes, the same folks who cited athleticism as the primary source of distance increases, now say that the idea of strength enhancing steroids entering the game is simply not fathomable!

You know, if only today's poorly regulated equipment didn't give a disproportionate advantage to those with strength and height, this debate might not be happening. Just a thought.

Anyway, the highlights from the Smits piece. Starting with Vijay, who doesn't sound like he's ready to pee in a cup.

"Look up and down the range," Singh said. "No one looks like they're on anything. No one comes back from the offseason looking like Barry Bonds."

Rank-and-file players from struggling young professionals to Hall of Fame members say there isn't a problem now, and don't anticipate one in the future. Many say until examples surface, a mandatory testing program would be a costly exercise in proving the obvious.

"Testing would be a complete waste of time," Jesper Parnevik said. "I think you're talking about drugs that would ruin someone's game, not help it."

A guy who eats sand says that testing is a waste of time?

This is fun from Davis Love...

Love has been a party to those discussions and will, with the rest of the board, sign off on any future testing program. He isn't happy that the Tour could be forced to test because of public opinion, rather than hard evidence that a player is using steroids.

"We've been told it will cost between $3 and $5 million a year to test, and that's for urine testing," Love said. "Blood testing will be higher. That's $5 million that could be going to charity. But you don't see a whole lot of huge guys on the PGA Tour. Do we have a problem now? I don't see it."

$5 million? Is PGA Tour Championship Management handling the testing?

I don't believe this next point has been raised in other stories about why steroid usage would be bad...

Walter Taylor, a sports medicine physician at the Mayo Clinic, said there is no evidence anabolic steroids would help a golfer's overall game, especially at the PGA Tour level.

"You would obviously see an improvement in physical strength, but from what I know about golf, that's not the most important thing," Taylor said. "The side effects also would seem to be detrimental to a golfer. One of them is severe mood swings, and to succeed in golf at that level, I would guess the players would want to be on an even keel."

Tour players say holding their emotions in check is an important component of any round, tournament and season. Holmes, for example, said he would be leery of anything that got him too high or too low.

"Controlling your emotions is a lot more important than distance," he said.

Riehl said Tour players are afraid of two things: taking substances they think might be detrimental to their game (Woods, who suffers from frequent colds and allergies, won't even take over-the-counter medication on days he plays) and losing flexibility in their swings.

"Golf is a technique sport and the strongest guy doesn't always win," he said. "And distance is not necessarily a derivative of strength. Distance is being able to manufacture a faster clubhead speed through the ball. The faster the club hits the ball, the further it will go. You get that by being flexible. And I can also tell you right now, these guys [Tour players] are afraid of taking anything when they're playing."

And in the buried lead of the year department, Smits offers this from Gerry James, two-time World Long Drive champion...

James would not reveal any names, but he said he knows of some PGA Tour players who use a low-dose testosterone cream to help recovery from muscle strain and fatigue. He said they are being used in amounts small enough that don't enhance a player's ability to hit the ball farther.

Whether the amount in those situations is within tolerance limits under a future Tour testing program is up to the Tour, he said.

Monday
Nov272006

Lyle On the PGA Tour

Bruce Matthews writes about Jarrod Lyle who got a PGA Tour card via the Nationwide Tour. You may remember Lyle for his breakthrough play in the Heineken at Royal Melbourne a couple of years ago, and for his incredible life story.

Monday
Nov272006

Architecture Blog and DG Watch

Robert Thompson recently posted a fun rant on modern golf course development...

The iseekgolf discussion board is trying to get architect Tony Cashmore to reveal another of these mysterious Alister MacKenzie items that only he has seen (Cashmore also claimed to see Seth Raynor's routing of Cypress Point). 

Ian Andrew is celebrating the joys of the short par-4. 

Ian also went looking for photos of Riviera and several were posted on GolfClubAtlas, including No. 10's new Orlando themed look.  

Monday
Nov272006

Skins Leftovers

Gary Van Sickle says Faldo and Azinger prevented the Skins from becoming unwatchable, meaning they might as well fold it up since the ABC duo won't be back.

And since the Skins is not a PGA Tour managed or owned event, The Golf Channel's Mercer Baggs is free to pick on it, and boy does he dismantle any notion that the event should be kept going.

Back in ’83, the total purse for the Skins Game was $360,000, which was huge money.

Player, Palmer and Nicklaus never earned that much in a single season in their TOUR careers. Nicklaus made $316,911 in 1972, but it took seven wins, including two major titles, to get to that number. And, prior to that inaugural Game, Watson’s best financial season was $530,808 in 1980, when he won six times.

Player was the first Skins Game winner, taking home $170,000 – or just $7,336 less than his richest TOUR campaign in 1978.

And...

There are several reasons why the Skins Game should die a merciful death. For one more: Ames was the big winner this year – now he has to be invited back in 2007.

For a lighter take, check out the Principal's Nose's take.