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Books
  • 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
  • Men in Green
    Men in Green
    by Michael Bamberger
  • Unplayable Lies: (The Only Golf Book You'll Ever Need)
    Unplayable Lies: (The Only Golf Book You'll Ever Need)
    by Dan Jenkins
  • Professional Golf 2015: The Complete Media, Fan and Fantasy Guide
    Professional Golf 2015: The Complete Media, Fan and Fantasy Guide
    by Daniel Wexler
  • The Forbidden Game: Golf and the Chinese Dream
    The Forbidden Game: Golf and the Chinese Dream
    by Dan Washburn
  • 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
  • Unplayable Lies: (The Only Golf Book You'll Ever Need)
    Unplayable Lies: (The Only Golf Book You'll Ever Need)
    by Dan Jenkins

    Kindle Edition

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

The tournament [The Masters] had one thing going for it -- Bobby Jones. He was its sole raison d'etre. If it was assailable, he was not. Golf genuflected before the name of Bobby Jones. It was as if God put together the tournament. Let no man put asunder.  JIM MURRAY


    

Wednesday
Oct102007

"He's the No. 1 golf man. He believed it when he saw how I read the greens and how I hit it."

maar01_gd0711kindred.jpgI finally had a chance to peruse the November Golf Digest and was rivetted by Dave Kindred's investigation into purported hole-in-one specialist Jaqueline Gagne. Do read the entire piece as it's great entertainment told only as Kindred can when he's hot on the trail of a shyster.

Most entertaining of all...

Gagne lapped up the attention. Her website, jacquelinegagne.com, carried 39 citations of national and international media outlets reporting on her, including Golf Digest, Golf World, USA Today, The London Times and The Wall Street Journal. She hired a Los Angeles public-relations firm. She planned a book, Turning Up Aces. She posted a Titleist feature bragging that she used the Pro V1 ball on every hole-in-one. She waxed enthusiastically about Cobra clubs (the company sent her a set and a staff bag). She did a testimonial for the Q-Link pendant (over the signature, "Jacqueline Gagne, World Record Holder, Most Hole In Ones in One Year"). She agreed to play in certain events as a national spokesperson for a breast-cancer charity.

Gagne twice appeared on CBS television's "The Early Show." Co-anchor Harry Smith began the first segment saying, "Oh, do I love this story." Later he brought her to New York, where he enlisted golf analyst Peter Kostis. When Gagne revealed that she reads the green from the tee, Kostis declared that "the first clue" to the holes-in-one. Then she made a few swings, and Kostis liked what he saw. His conclusion: "It's the real deal."

Another feather in his every growing plume! Oh wait, Kostis gets an endorsement too...

Anyway, Gagne and I had talked only briefly, but it was clearly long enough for her to decide she didn't like the way it was going. When I asked if she could help me find the SilverRock witnesses, she said, "Nope."

"Why not?"

"They've already been interviewed."

"I haven't seen a word from them," I said.

She said, "I'm really getting tired of this."

She thought the Kostis chatter should have convinced me. "He's the No. 1 golf man. He believed it when he saw how I read the greens and how I hit it."

Nice read Peter.

Meanwhile, it seems Gagne is a blogger now and she's fighting back at Kindred, confirming she weighs 140 pounds, not 155 as was reported. Oh and Kindred's wife was rude on the phone to some of her friends.

So glad we got that cleared up!

Wednesday
Oct102007

Brand Lady: Media "Put too much on" Wie

Thomas Bonk looks at the state of Michelle Wie's game, and former teacher Gary Gilchrist sounds most in touch with reality, particularly after you read LPGA Commissioner Carolyn Bivens' assessment:
"I don't have a crystal ball," she said. "Has the media put too much on her in terms of expectations? The answer is yes. But if Michelle were never to play another day of professional golf, she's had a pretty rewarding career for someone who came on so young when she was 11 and 12 to 17.

"No, she didn't win four or five Opens, but that doesn't necessarily portend anything for the future."
Wednesday
Oct102007

Report: Game Would Not Be Where It Is Without Tiger

This one reeks of a managing editor in features telling a sports editor that he had this great idea over the weekend: tell our readers what golf would have been like without Tiger Woods coming along. Bet there was lots of head nodding and back massaging going around the editors room down in central Florida over this one.

 Jeremy Fowler of the Orlando Sentinel was given the uneviable task of researching this unresearchable story.

Here's a real newsflash:

Considering how Woods has altered the game, there's reason to believe his absence would have stunted the sport's growth.

"Would the game be as exciting? Probably not," said David Leadbetter, the famous golf coach of players such as Nick Faldo, Ernie Els and Nick Price. "He makes golf interesting everywhere, from the prize money to TV to the international aspect of it. You can go anywhere in the world, and in all probability, they've heard of Tiger Woods. The game hasn't always had that, and I don't know if it would without him."

 

Wednesday
Oct102007

Bearing Point Out Before It's Ever In

You may recall a post about Bearing Point taking over for Nissan as sponsor of the L.A. Open. It was based on Thomas Bonk's story in the L.A. Times, confirmed prematurely by Riviera's Michael Yamaki.

Now, you may wonder why this is of interesting since most people around here will still call it the L.A. Open.

In that post I speculated that Phil Mickelson's bizarre outburst at Tim Finchem following the Deutsche Bank had something to do with the PGA Tour (rightfully) rejecting an idea to make Mickelson the player host of a Bearing Point Open.

Well, now I'm wondering just a bit more since it's not exactly a well kept secret that Bearing Point will not be sponsoring the L.A. Open, but instead, several sources reveal that Northern Trust will be taking over for Nissan.  

Wednesday
Oct102007

Masters Announces New Brand Initiative, And I'm Not Joking

Note the lede in the Masters.org press release...Bobby Jones just heaved a chair across the room, and not because he's been watching ESPN's golf coverage. No, because officially arriving in Augusta is the fantasy that corporate involvement will somehow "grow the game." And it's neatly disguised with MBASpeak.

Billy Payne, Chairman of Augusta National Golf Club and the Masters Tournament, announced today three new strategic relationships as part of a worldwide initiative to utilize the Masters brand to further promote the game of golf.

Yes, if Cliff were here today, he would be looking for ways to platform this underutilized brand in order to build international equity and leveragable brand dynamics.

Payne announced that the Masters’ new cable affiliate for the Thursday and Friday telecast will be ESPN. He added that the Tournament would also be partnering with a small number of prominent international companies to support the telecast and golf development programs outside of the United States. The first two to be announced are Mercedes-Benz and Rolex.

Sigh...

In addition to its significant impact domestically, ESPN’s global reach extends to 194 countries including Europe, Latin America, Canada and parts of Asia, the Middle East and Africa. A Spanish-language telecast of the first two rounds of the Tournament will also be presented in the US on ESPN Deportes.

“With the worldwide reach of ESPN, and their demonstrated leadership in new media, we think ESPN is uniquely positioned to showcase the Masters and golf to new audiences,” Payne said.

Maybe deliver some stronger numbers in the male 18-34 demo? Afterall, the Masters is in trouble financially you know! And let's be honest, underexposed too.

“For sports fans, the Masters represents a most hallowed rite of spring with its rich tradition and indelible imagery,” said ESPN President George Bodenheimer. “We are honored by the opportunity to work with the Tournament to help it achieve its goal of growing the game of golf around the world.”

Television times remain the same as 2007 with live coverage slated from 4:00-7:00 p.m. Thursday and Friday and a rebroadcast from 8:00-11:00 p.m. each evening.

Payne added: “Bob Jones once wrote, ‘. . . I think it can be said that the tournament has performed some service to competitive golf . . . .’ Cliff Roberts said that, ‘The Masters is operated for the single purpose of benefiting the game itself.’ We feel it is imperative to continue the legacy of our two founders.”

Now about that second cut...oh, sorry, it's time for my favorite portion of the press release. The empty quote pile on:

“We are honored and delighted to be partnering with Augusta National Golf Club and the Masters Tournament, helping bring the game of golf to new audiences in new countries all around the world,” said Dr. Dieter Zetsche, Chairman of the Board of Management, Daimler AG. “As the inventor of the automobile we understand the importance of heritage and the role it can play in growing your future.”
Yes, that's right, Mercedes invented the car and now it's going to grow the game of golf. I certainly can see the connection.

"The Masters is one of the most popular and revered events globally, and we are proud of our new international association," said Patrick Heiniger, President and CEO of Rolex. "The Masters stands for tradition and innovation and is universally respected. We look forward to working with the Tournament in many activities."

“We think our new worldwide initiative is important,” Payne said. “The other major golf organizations have rightly identified a need to accelerate the growth of golf throughout the world. We will utilize the goodwill of the Masters and our other resources in support of these bodies and programs. We are pleased that CBS, ESPN and our present television sponsors, AT&T, ExxonMobil and IBM, as well as these new international partners and our international broadcasters will help us with this program that will have a particular focus on young people.

“This new international initiative compliments our longstanding support of golf domestically as evidenced by our contributions of over $32 million dollars the last 10 years to organizations including golf’s ruling bodies, The First Tee, Augusta’s Community Foundation for the CSRA and the Tiger Woods Foundation,” said Payne.

Well there is good news. On ESPN.com they report that Mike Tirico will be the Thursday-Friday host. I know, you were hoping for Berman.

Did anyone else find it odd that there was no mention of USA Network and the club's 25-year relationship ending? There was this generic best wishes from Dick Ebersol at MSNBC.com. 

 

Tuesday
Oct092007

Overheard In Palm Beach...

Totally unsubstantiated, entirely unconfirmed and coming from disreputable sources (golf business people!), a whopping three people have told me (unsolicited) over the last few days that Tiger Woods is eyeing property on Bridge Road, the main route from I-95 into his future home in bucolic Hobe Sound. 

My lousy sources weren't sure if this was a site for his own private course or a private club, ala Greg Norman's nearby Medalist or Pete Dye's new Dye Preserve.

I had the privilege of driving Bridge Road today and I can tell you the elevation change must be at least 3 feet in spots. Though I'm pretty sure I spotted some properties on the south side that were not swamps filled with aligators.

If I were Tiger, I would buy one of the south side ranches that is for sale, keep the discreet dirt road entry, and build a fun course for myself and friends. Oh and have someone good design it.

Tuesday
Oct092007

Now Wie Should WD!

The tone of this AP piece (I smell Ferguson) and Ron Sirak's GolfDigest.com column all but come out and say she shouldn't be playing the Samsung. Earlier this year she's rightfully ripped for her 88 rule avoidance round, and now she's just trying to tee it up so she can collect that last place check that might cover about half her dorm bill. 

Normal handlers would have had her pull out of this one. But these aren't normal handlers running her career.

Tuesday
Oct092007

Gary Player Finally Condemned For His Course Design Work...

tn_2007-10-09T110012Z_01_NOOTR_RTRIDSP_2_OZASP-MYANMAR-MANDELA-GOLF-20071009.jpg...and they didn't even see the courses in question.

Oh that Desmond Tutu...from Reuters:

South Africa's former Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu had urged a boycott of Player over his involvement in a property development in Myanmar.

Last month, Myanmar's military rulers sent in soldiers to end the biggest pro-democracy protests since 1988, rounding up and arresting scores of people. Official media say 10 people died in the crackdown, although Western governments say the toll could be higher.

And...

The Mandela fund said it was not fully aware of Player's involvement in Myanmar nor the political impact of this involvement.

Player denies Gary Player Design has profited from developments in Myanmar, and argues he only became involved there when it appeared political repression had eased.

"I am very disappointed that my integrity and support for human rights has been brought into question," Player said in a statement. "The company's involvement in the design of a golf course has been taken entirely out of context."

Monday
Oct082007

"Floyd suggested that the club and the Champions Tour consider 'buffering' the greens so that players won't be penalized so drastically."

Don Markus reviews the Senior Players at Baltimore CC and it seems the players want faster greens.

"It's a great golf course, but if they want to take that extra step, they could probably speed the greens up and firm the greens up just a little bit if they wanted to," Loren Roberts said after shooting a four-round score of 13-under-par 267 to win by six strokes over Tom Watson. "I hope they don't hear me say that, but ..."

Roberts echoed the sentiments of many players who appreciated the old-style layout of the 81-year-old Five Farms course and the original design of legendary golf architect A.W. Tillinghast, but said that modern technology and the severely back-to-front sloping greens are not necessarily a good match.

Hall of Famer Ray Floyd said that when the course was built, "they were only mowing twice a week and it made sense to have that kind of speed and slope in the greens." Floyd suggested that the club and the Champions Tour consider "buffering" the greens so that players won't be penalized so drastically.

"Raymond could be right," two-time Masters champion Ben Crenshaw said. "The slopes are tough, there's no question about that. The first championship here to prepare something like this. I'm sure they're looking at the speeds, the play. They're tough, they're really tough."

 

I'm sorry. I was in the heat and sun too long today and my brain is fried. What does green "buffering" mean!? I'm assuming he means to flatten out contours.

If that club, with that gem of a course, touches those greens for the fifth of five senior majors... 

Monday
Oct082007

Whatever Floats Their Boat...

Brent Read talks to Geoff Ogilvy about his year and about the upcoming Australian Open. And it includes this note:

Director Paul McNamee revealed the tournament would have a strong emphasis on fashion, holding parades for female spectators. The golfers will be included, with daily awards to the best dressed player.
Meanwhile Douglas Lowe reports on Ian Poulter getting into women's fashion, with this quote from Pouter:
Poulter believes both men's and women's golf fashion has moved up a notch in the last few years, but not to the level of the 1970s. "When I came out on tour in 2000 there wasn't as much fashion in golf as there was then," he said.

"If you look at pictures of Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Doug Sanders & Co, they were wearing tartan trousers and bright colours and it was fun. Why can't we get back to how it was back then?"

Tartan and bright I can see. But Doug Sanders? 

Sunday
Oct072007

FedEx Cup Suggestion Box

fedexcuplogo.jpgI'm on the road the next few days so posting will be light. But I thought it would be a good time to get some views on the FedEx Cup and PGA Tour "playoff" now that it's been a few weeks since the conclusion.

Granted, it's hard to judge it with the Fall Finish still ongoing. And personally, my favorite element of the playoff concept is that it gets golf off the national radar for a few months like other major sports (but for whatever reason, PGA Tour officials can't just say that). And since we have just begun that element of the new tournament structure, it may be early to tell if that is such a great idea.

Of course, if you read Steve Elling's latest piece, the prospects for the Fall Finish aren't so hot, meaning this off season could grow in the coming years and that's not necessarily a good thing.

Nonetheless, I'm curious what you all think of how the playoffs worked out and what you would do to "tweak" it

Personally, I think there's way too much emphasis on protecting the season long points leaders and not enough of a "playoff."  

But enough about me. Work that comment button! Big brother is watching in Ponte Vedra. 

Sunday
Oct072007

"The sport that already lost complete control of the equipment manufacturers who have juiced the tools and taken a certain element of skill out of the game is now trying to regulate what its performers put into their bodies."

Scott Michaux in the Augusta Chronicle is the first major columnist to note that we have equipment on steroids and golf is opening up a major can of worms with drug testing first. He doesn't quite go all the way and ask why the folks in charge aren't taking a look at equipment in conjunction with the drug testing, or perhaps asking if they may be encouraging performance enhancing drug use by attributing distance gains to athleticism, but he still earns big points for at least noting that it got away from certain governing bodies.
In short, golf was forced to act like every other sport in the modern era.

One simple question - why?

It doesn't make much sense. The sport that already lost complete control of the equipment manufacturers who have juiced the tools and taken a certain element of skill out of the game is now trying to regulate what its performers put into their bodies.

If this was just about illegal steroids, it would be understandable. The whole idea of creating artificial strength - at a potential cost to personal health - is unseemly. Since other sports are failing every day to try to regulate that brand of performance enhancers, why not join the club for appearances sake.

But golf is stepping into an even murkier realm trying to regulate drugs that decrease heart rate, sharpen attention or increase stamina - basically all the things the pharmaceutical companies have trained us to do in our everyday lives. This is where the whole system leaves the rails.
Saturday
Oct062007

TV Execs Thrilled With FedEx Cup Sales

Golfweek's John Steinbreder talks to a few network suits who say the sales numbers were up on the PGA Tour and in particular, the FedEx Cup.

More important, the FedEx Cup likely will help make the first year of the Tour’s new TV deal profitable – at least for some of its TV partners, says a network executive speaking confidentially. (CBS and NBC as a matter of policy do not comment about contract finances.)

Another network source confirmed the improved fiscal performance, saying “the rights fees we are now paying are probably 10-15 percent less than they were before, while our sales revenues are up 10 percent.” Such gains, in part, came from a “slight” advertising premium charged for FedEx Cup events, new business from pharmaceutical companies and continued support from the financial services and auto industries, according to the source.

The turnaround in golf viewership is significant, considering the networks reportedly lost millions during the final years of the previous TV deal that expired following the 2006 season.

Said NBC Sports president Ken Schanzer in an e-mail: “Golf advertising sales were very strong for both our PGA Tour and USGA packages. We were delighted with how the first year (of the new TV contract) went. Our numbers were strong, overall interest was high, and the public seemed to like it.”

Steinbreder then details the less than large ratings numbers and how that may impact perceptions of the Cup. 

Saturday
Oct062007

"The judge marveled at how "crowded" the art of golf ball manufacturing is -- that is, how subtle the differences often are from one patent to the next."

Thanks to reader John for John Paul Newport's Saturday Wall Street Journal column on the recently settled Bridgestone-Titleist suit. I'm sure our Fairhaven readers were tickled by this:

The public filings in these cases, although carefully stripped of trade secrets, are filled with fascinating tidbits, including testy exchanges between lawyers ("Bridgestone is asking for a Mulligan here"). Who knew, for instance, that Titleist got its start when an avid amateur in Massachusetts missed a 3-foot putt to lose a match in 1932? Convinced that his ball had wobbled, he X-rayed it afterward at a friend's dental office and discovered that indeed the core was off-center, and immediately set out to build a better ball.

In one exchange in the Bridgestone suit, the judge marveled at how "crowded" the art of golf ball manufacturing is -- that is, how subtle the differences often are from one patent to the next.

This strikes me as good news for golfers, and helps explain why golf balls, especially at the high end, are virtually indistinguishable for everyone except the very best players.

Which is even better reason that a little rollback won't hurt anyone, right?

Not that this will stop us from wanting to play the Pro V1s of the world. In golf, what you believe about a product is at least as important as what you know.

Saturday
Oct062007

"Architects like Robert Trent Jones and his regrettably prolific scions dotted the American landscape..."

Thanks to reader Mark for Dean Barnett's wonderful look at the rise of the minimalist movement in architecture, highlighted by his look at Sand Hills, Bandon Dunes and Ballyneal. But it's the setup and conclusion that prove just as  entertaining:

But there followed several decades of golf architecture dreck. Architects like Robert Trent Jones and his regrettably prolific scions dotted the American landscape with courses that were difficult and unpleasant to play--largely because they deviated from the tradition born in St. Andrews. Instead of letting each player figure out his own route from hole to hole, they funnelled all into a single narrow path.

Rees Jones, Robert Trent Jones's son, is still one of golf's most prominent architects. He describes his theory of golf architecture as follows: "My style emphasizes definition. I work hard at giving the golfer a concept as he stands over the ball. I want him to see the intended target and be able to visualize the shot." What Rees Jones omits from his reckoning is that some golfers, indeed most golfers, may be incapable of pulling off the shot that he compels them to see. Golfers have enjoyed finding their own way around St. Andrews for over 500 years. Speaking on behalf of the modern golf architecture establishment, Rees Jones in essence insists that he has discovered a better way: He will officiously preside over each and every golfer's each and every shot.

Jones family members haven't been the only architects guilty of committing affronts to golf history and ignoring the imperative that the game be fun. Perhaps the most serious offender has been Jack Nicklaus, arguably the greatest golfer ever. Nicklaus has had a hand in designing 207 courses. While some of his courses are picturesque, few are fun unless you're able to play golf as well as Jack Nicklaus. On many of his courses, the average player will lose half a dozen balls a round, many of them having found a watery grave in one of the man-made water-hazards of which Nicklaus is so fond. As a player, Nicklaus probably wouldn't even notice many of the water hazards that litter his courses. But the typical golfer does.
And the conclusion to the piece...
There remains the pressing question of what long-term impact places like Sand Hills, Bandon Dunes, and Ballyneal will have on golf architecture and the game itself. The early attempts at golf-course design by Jack Nicklaus's successor as king of golf, Tiger Woods, may offer a clue.

For his first project, announced in 2006, Woods took a commission to build a course on a piece of flat desert in Dubai. It was a move right out of the Nicklaus school: Put a golf course where nature didn't intend there to be one, substituting one man's limited imagination for nature's infinite variety. The "Tiger Woods, Dubai," its website says, "will feature 20 palaces, 75 mansions and 190 luxury villas that offer the perfect blend of exclusivity and luxurious community living"--about as far as conceivable from the austere fun to be had at a place like Sand Hills.

For his second commission, Woods undertook to build a golf course on a piece of rolling terrain outside of Asheville called the Carolina Preserve. When the project was announced a few months back, Woods insisted that the land is perfect for golf, and that no man-made lakes or waterfalls will blight his first American design. The course will be walking only.

So has Tiger undergone a conversion? Only the finished product will tell. But this much we know: When someone asked him to describe his design philosophy, Tiger Woods used the magic word: "I'm more of a minimalist," he said.

 

Saturday
Oct062007

Annika Turns Down Exemption Created Just For Her

That new exemption created for Annika Sorenstam to get into the Samsung? It looks like the LPGA once again was not prepared for the backlash.

Mark Steinberg, head of the golf division at IMG and Sorenstam's agent, said the Swede became concerned last week upon hearing that some players were told the top 18 on the LPGA Tour money list would get in to the event at Bighorn Golf Club in Palm Desert, Calif.

The rest of the field is comprised of the defending champion, four major champions, leader on the Ladies European Tour money list, one special exemption (Michelle Wie), and the rest coming from the money list.

"She didn't want the perception that she was taking a spot," Steinberg said. "She decided to do what's best for the LPGA."

This is also rather incredible regarding Michelle Wie's exemption: 
Wie, who has made only two cuts on the LPGA this year and just began her freshman year at Stanford, accepted the special exemption in March. This will be her fourth straight year playing the tournament.

If not for Wie getting a special exemption, the last spot in the field would have gone to Evian Masters champion Natalie Gulbis.
Friday
Oct052007

Duval and The Family Crisis Rule...

As much as I understand the premise behind the new PGA Tour family crisis rule, and as much as we all wish this was never a topic for debate, something still bothered me about the announcement. It took all week, but I now know what it is.

First, here's Doug Ferguson's story on the announcement.

The result is "family crisis" being part of the medical extension regulations, and both Duval and Hart will be eligible.

"He's treated as if he had a back injury," said Andy Pazder, the tour's vice president of competition.

Duval returned to competition last week at the Viking Classic, where he tied for 44th, and he plans to play one more event in the Fall Series. His schedule next year will be based on the average number of starts among the top 125 on the money list this year.

"It's the right thing," Duval said last week. "I actually got thanked for bringing this up. I said to them a couple of months ago, whether they make it retroactive or not, it needs to be done."

As for other situations that might arise? Pazder said like any medical extension request, the decision lies with Finchem.

"It's got to be a serious family crisis," he said. "It's a hardship caused by the illness of immediate family."

As reader Chris noted, a litany of excuses will come up and it could be a nightmare for the Tour to sort through. Let's hope that's not the case. Because the Tour deserves credit for showing compassion and heading off a potentially awkward situation should, God forbid, there be another tragedy like Heather Clarke.

But something about this spoke to a larger question of reducing playing opportunities on the PGA Tour, as well as the top 125 rule gone slightly awry? Namely, why is David Duval getting yet another chance?

Just for some background, let's recall his comments about Ben Crenshaw in Golf Digest last year.

Duval: There were a few guys who felt they should be paid for playing a Ryder Cup, which is fine; that's their position. I didn't want to get paid, but I got beat up. I got a kick out of some of the other players who weren't on the team giving me crap for talking about Ryder Cup money when they actually got paid for doing stuff at the Ryder Cup, like clinics for companies during the matches. The only guys who don't get paid at the Ryder Cup are the players in the Ryder Cup. The captain makes money. That's a problem I had with Crenshaw in 1999.

Q. Explain.

Duval: Well, he talked about the purity of the Ryder Cup, and what he did with all that purity is make a bunch of money off the thing. He wrote a book about it; he had his clothing company involved. He kept saying how it burned his ass, us talking about charity dollars and hurting the sanctity of the event. But after he took his big stand and sold everybody else down the river, he did what we did with the charity money. I asked him point blank, "If you were so against this, why would you want anything to do with that charity money?" He took his $100,000 and sent it to the charity of his choice. Where's the purity in that?

Fine, fair point.

However, as someone who portrays himself as ferociously independent, strong-willed and "pure" --the PGA Tour's Howard Roark--he is now accepting his second less-than-pure exemption to play for essentially another year on the PGA Tour? One was entirely within the rules, one is a new rule created retroactively with Duval and Dudley Hart in mind.

It seems that if your actions in golf are all about purity, wouldn't you accept that your wife had a rough pregnancy and that's the tiny price to pay for having a large, wonderful family life?  Furthermore, thanks to the PGA Tour, he still has the chance to play Fall Finish events in hopes of keeping his card. And if not, he can head to Q-school like all of the other independent contractors?

No? Thoughts?

Friday
Oct052007

Wild Dunes 18th RIP (Again)

wild+dunes+web.jpgThanks to reader Mike for this local news segment on the unfortunate loss of No. 18 at Wild Dunes...again. This time not to a Hurricane, but "beach erosion."

Worth watching to hear the main part of the piece: that the course is still great even though it's a par-70 instead of a par-72. 

It never ends! 

Thursday
Oct042007

"Despite having recently signed a new five-year deal, they are still underpaid and overworked."

oct07_feherty_299x359.jpgWhile doing my traditional power flip through October's Golf Magazine, I managed to slow down enough to avoid a paper cut and stumble on David Feherty's column celebrating the career of retiring PGA Tour rules offical George Boutrell.

While the column is classic Feherty, repleat with several plum fart and hemorroid jokes, he isn't too wild about the Tour's treatment of its officials.

One reason George retired early was his compassion for the people who sat beside him in coach after a week of dealing with prima donnas who wanted drops from lies where the grass wasn't growing in the right direction, viewers calling in with idiotic rulings, missing and presumed stolen courtesy cars, and frequent cavity searches at airport security.

After years of being seated next to hideously cheerful "Isn't flying fun? What do you do for a living?" nimrods, he knew that eventually he was going to kill and eat one of them. In an age during which professional golf is rolling in cash, Rules officials still have to fly in the back of the airplane.

The Tour is lucky to have such great officials. Despite having recently signed a new five-year deal, they are still underpaid and overworked. Now it seems the ones with the most experience are becoming an endangered species.

Thursday
Oct042007

Kuehne Win Confirms Golf Digest's Ability to Rank Wall Street Golfers

kuehne.jpgThey were criticized for lumping Trip Kuehne in with America's richest, whitest men who get their company to pay for a NetJets fractional share, but with his U.S. Mid-Amateur win, look for Golf Digest to consider ending its week-long Local Knowledge blog sabbatical by noting this historic rankings validation.

Golfweek's Ron Balicki reports on the win but fails to give us Kuehne's final Adidas-Taylor Made logo count. Looks like he has a hat-shirt-glove-bag-irons-driver-ball deal.

Oh and what's with that trophy?