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  • Lines of Charm: Brilliant And Irreverent Quotes, Notes, And Anecdotes from Golf's Golden Age Architects
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    by Geoff Shackelford
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  • The Good Doctor Returns: A Novel
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  • 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
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  • Golf Architecture in America: Its Strategy and Construction
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Writing And Videos

Golf course architecture is art. You couldn’t learn everything there is to know about it in a lifetime of study. It’s all part and parcel of the learning experience and, like golfers, architects learn more from their mistakes than their successes.  BEN CRENSHAW



Tiger Lands With Gatorade Which Thankfully Sponsors No USGA Events...

...therefore, no surprise clinics, not yet anyway.

Golfweek's Scott Hamilton shares the deal, uh, dynamics ($100 million).


The Donald Fires Another Fazio

Don't worry Tommy, it's a compliment really. And just think, you'll never have to sell your soul and pose for a photo like this one from Golf Digest:

fazio%20and%20trump.jpg Anyway, the release on The Donald's last ditch effort to save his Scotland project all while luring the R&A by hiring their Open Championship Doctor. 


Aberdeen site will set new standards in the ‘home of golf’

New York, NY: 6th September, 2007, Donald J. Trump is teaming up with famed British golf course architect Dr. Martin Hawtree on plans to create what Mr. Trump hopes to be the finest golf course anywhere in the world.  With its majestic sand dunes stretching four miles along the sea in Aberdeenshire, Mr. Trump decided that Martin Hawtree was perfect to transform the Great Dunes of Scotland into a world class championship golf course, with construction scheduled to being in January, 2008.  

The course will be a Martin Hawtree Signature Design. Hawtree Limited, of Woodstock, England belongs to the longest continuous golf course architectural practice in the world. Hawtree, consulted by the R&A on some of the Open Championship links, is regarded as the leading authority of links golf and because of this coupled with Mr. Trump’s passion for building a true world class British Links Course in North East Scotland, Hawtree has been appointed as the lead architect on this development. He is world-renowned for his work at Royal Birkdale, Portmarnock, Lahinch and Carnoustie to name but a few.

“Martin Hawtree brings a distinct vision and flair to every course he touches,” Mr. Trump said.  “His work is impeccable.  He and I share such a passion for links golf and the tradition of the game is evident in the golf courses he designs. This is ideal for Trump International Golf Links, Scotland. This piece of land is so special and my relationship with Scotland is so special, that I wanted to work with the world’s best links course architect to deliver Trump International Golf Links, Scotland”

Hawtree said, “I am intrigued by balance in the composition of a golf hole, trying to ensure that the wider landscape surrounding a hole, in the case of this project towering dunes, is fully balanced by great playing interest within the fairway and green; that the one does not dwarf the other and that the interest is in some way generated by and in complete harmony with the surroundings.”
Wait, has Desmond Muirhead inhabited Martin's body?
A third-generation golf course architect, Hawtree has continued a family legacy that began in 1912.  The Hawtree list of courses built, reconstructed and/or consulted on totals more than 750, with partnerships and collaborations with historic golfing greats J.H. Taylor and James Braid.  The Hawtree history – begun by Frederick George Hawtree, who was joined by his son, Frederick William Hawtree in 1938 -- is revered within the industry for its experience and knowledge that are the heart of a multi-disciplinary practice known throughout the world.

Donald J Trump’s passion for Scotland stems from his pride in his Scottish roots.  His mother, Mary MacLeod, grew up on the Island of Lewis in Stornoway where her first language was Gaelic, before moving to New York City at age 20.  His decision to build the Trump International Golf Links, Scotland is the fulfillment of a long-held dream.


“Tournament competition is one of the most important and certainly the most visible area of our business."

logo_header_LPGA.gifHere's a newsflash from Daytona Beach:

Sept. 7, 2007 –Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) Commissioner Carolyn F. Bivens has

 Excuse me, is the "F." new? Does have more brand gravitas, I must say. Sorry, continue...

announced that Jane Geddes has been promoted to LPGA vice president of competition, effective Sept. 1.  Geddes recently held the position of senior director of tournament business affairs.

One vice president added, just 700 more to catch the PGA Tour.

I am pleased Jane will assume a leadership role in the area of LPGA competition,” said Bivens.  “Tournament competition is one of the most important and certainly the most visible area of our business. 

And here I thought streaming upward brand dynamic models was the most visible area of LPGA business.

It not only impacts the LPGA players who compete week-in and week-out, but also impacts our fans and sponsors attending the tournaments, as well as the online and broadcast experiences.  Jane will lead our tournament officials and operations team, ensuring that the venues and the staging of events are optimal for maximum fan enjoyment and showcasing the very best golfers in the world.”

As vice president of competition, Geddes will oversee the selection and set up of all LPGA Tour golf courses and facilities, as well as the conduct of the competition, from the membership regulations process through the holing of the last putt.  She also will serve as the LPGA liaison to the recently acquired Duramed Futures Tour on matters regarding venues, competition and membership regulations.

Sounds like a job for about 9 people.

“I am excited about my new role since this is an opportunity to use my experiences as a player and, most recently, in tournament business, to further enhance the LPGA tournament experience for our players, our sponsors and our fans,” said Geddes. 

Today's key word: experience. How long before they start changing tournament names to the the ADT Experience?


Super Bowl Site Issues

image_5810592.jpgBecause they don't have enough problems, the PGA Tour is facing potentially poor greens at East Lake, according to the AJC's Stan Awtrey. And it sounds like the members aren't wild about the Tour's hope of converting to the new Champion bermuda strain...

Finchem said plans had been made to resurface the greens, but the schedule didn't work out with the club. Such a change would require club to close for member play for three or four months.

"We are now again in discussions, we knew we would be anyway, even if it was a cool summer," Finchem said. "Going forward we've got to prepare for this to be the norm and deal with it, and we can."

Players and members shouldn't be afraid of the change, Cink said.

"When the course was redone, we didn't have this kind of bermuda," Cink said. "Now we've got lots of choices that are better tolerant to mold, that cut better. The day of the stigma against bermuda are in the past and members who think otherwise need to take a look at the facts."
Meanwhile, Tiger was asked today about East Lake and he said the darndest thing. I don't think I've ever heard him say this before about a course. 
Q. Can I get you to talk about East Lake as a venue, as a golf course? Do you like it? Do the sight lines fit you?

TIGER WOODS: Well, East Lake is a great golf course. It's right in front of you. The Bermuda rough can be tricky there. The weather can be very interesting there, and when we play the TOUR Championship there we can get some pretty cold days, but obviously not this year.
The greens are always perfect there, so if you drive the ball well there, you can shoot some pretty good scores.

It's right in front of you! We really do need to get him a new throwaway line.

Q. Have you heard anything about the greens there this year?


Q. They're supposed to not be very good.

TIGER WOODS: I haven't heard anything. With the heat? Oh, well.


"Too many players just want to hear the yardage from their caddy"

Craig Dolch thinks the players need to start reading their green sheets when it comes to the FedEx Cup and other PGA Tour issues:

As much as the PGA Tour has been force-feeding the media and fans about the FedEx Cup for more than a year, I can’t believe they weren’t using the same approach with the players. The problem is, too many players either don’t listen or care.

I remember going to this year’s Buick Invitational at Torrey Pines to do preview stories for the newly-placed Honda Classic, and I was struck by how few players were aware of how the Florida Swing had been shifted. Granted, it was still a month away, but it might have been years away as far as they were concerned.

Too many players just want to hear the yardage from their caddy, so they can hit the next shot. They’re not concerned about what happens on the next hole, the next week or the next year. Too few see the big picture, leaving the decision making to the tour’s four-man Policy Board.

Meanwhile scribblers from all over blasting the FedEx Cup. You can read them here, here, here, here, here and here.



The Latest Golf MBAspeak Guide


Kuehne Tops This Month's Golf Digest Ranking, Validating Walker Cup Selection

maar01_wallstreetrankings.jpgI think we know now how the USGA Walker Cup committee tabbed Trip Kuehne for the Walker Cup team: he landed first on Golf Digest's ranking of really rich, really white Wall Street golfing dudes. Surely it wasn't based on his tournament play over the last year.

Meanwhile, USGA President Walter Driver finished a disappointing T-32 but did  take first prize in the Blackberry typing category, clocking in at an impressive 62 words per minute all while measuring closest to the hole in a first round U.S. Amateur match.  


"The PGA Tour has subjected these guys to working conditions that border on real life."

Bill Nichols, writing for the Dallas Morning News, in what may be a common theme in the coming days...
The reality is that Mickelson made a statement by skipping this week's BMW Championship. It said: Professional golfers are so pampered, they don't mind damaging the inaugural FedEx Cup because it's not exactly how they wanted it.

After being showered with so much money that about 80 players earn at least $1 million a season, they are biting the hand that feeds.

"I think we're in our own cocoons sometimes and we don't get the information, but yet most of us don't seek it out"

I'm curious what you all think, but reading the transcripts from Wednesday at Cog Hill, I found myself again actually feeling slightly sorry for Tim Finchem. Granted, tough questions need to be asked of the Commissioner, but the press has passed on numerous occasions, so it seemed odd reading this interview only to see so many questions finally being asked long after they should have come up and at a time when it seems somewhat inappropriate.

Granted, the timing of this is somewhat understandable because Phil Mickelson made a spectacle Monday and the flaws in the FedEx Cup structure are showing. But after two pretty exciting events that brought a lot of good players together, I'm having a hard time understanding the sudden dismay at so many elements that were questionable a year ago when this concept was revealed.

More disturbing is this collective whining that is beginning to take place from players who apparently have forgotten that their predecessors drove without air conditioning between stops and played as many as two months in a row, and that there are thousands of aspiring players who would gladly have to deal with the burden of playing four weeks in a row for $7 million per and $35 million more in deferred compensation  But even that's fine, I can appreciate that they have different obligations today that help them pay for jet fuel and that you lose touch with reality at a certain income level.

No, the capper was this from Doug Ferguson's story on the player griping:

"Personally, I don't like it," mild-mannered Steve Stricker said. "It's a lot of golf in a short amount of time. I do like the end of the season that it's in the middle of September, where if you play well enough you don't have to chase for your card."

Now here's a guy who didn't have a place to play not that long ago and he's got a chance to win $10 million in deferred compensation and he doesn't like it?

Yes, the system is not perfect and yes the Tour pandered to its two biggest stars, but come on Steve.

This was interesting too, also from Ferguson's piece:

For as much as Els complained about the lack of communication, it's not clear who's responsible for the breakdown. Players rarely attend meetings or read the "green sheet," a weekly bulletin the tour leaves in their lockers and e-mails to them. At a mandatory players' meeting at the Wachovia Championship, more than half of them left early.

"I think we're in our own cocoons sometimes and we don't get the information, but yet most of us don't seek it out," Arron Oberholser said. "And I think to a certain extent, the PGA Tour does its best to get us the information."

Butch Reveals The Tiger Secret And It's Really Not That Interesting

Brian Hewitt has the scoop on what Phil was watching for last week:

Specifically, Harmon told Mickelson to note how Tiger slows down his central nervous system simply by walking more slowly in the heat of battle. Harmon told Phil to watch how Woods putts out when he has the opportunity rather than wait around and let his opponent finish.

That made Phil laugh?  Wow, he's easy.


"Q. Did you ever think you'd see the day where you would put up $63 million in prize money over four weeks and guys would be bitching about it?"

I'm curious about the circumstances surrounding Commissioner Tim Finchem's press gathering today. I suspect it was like last week's scrum where he simply appeared in the press center and the slingers moved in with their antiquated tape recorders.

Anyway, after talking about what a great American Phil is and how he won't divulge their conversations, Ernie Els' press conference came up and I think he did a nice job clarifying the deferred compensation question.

Q. Did you have a chance to read Ernie's comments today because he was pretty vocal and critical in his complaints that the Commissioner's office and the players are growing apart, and the players had next to no input on all of this.

COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: No, somebody mentioned the no input question. I've heard that from two or three players. You know, I think if you go back and look over the last three years, the number of player meetings that have been called to discuss the details of the Cup, the number of PAC meetings that have been called, the amount of information that's been distributed to players, you know, in hindsight I feel comfortable that we did a good job in reaching out to players on the details.

Now, over the last six months, we've discovered that a lot of players, regardless of the amount of information that might have been discussed, didn't necessarily for whatever reason want to pay much attention to it. When we got to the Playoffs, the players were calling the office saying, how come I'm not an alternate. There's no alternates in the Playoffs, they didn't pay attention to that.

When a player comes to me, which I had one do in the last ten days, and say, well, wouldn't it be better if this cash wasn't in the form of an annuity, and I said, well, it's not an annuity. Well, it means that the TOUR puts up less money. No, that's not the case. If you win the Cup you have $10 million in your account. It's not an annuity that you buy something for a certain amount of money and it grows and you get $10 million a number of years from now. That's not what happens. It's $10 million that's earning interest tax-free.

When I hear a player say, well, the problem I have with the deferral is I don't see the money for 20 years. That's not the case. You earn the money and get the money right away in your account. You can spend it starting at 45 or when you retire, whichever is later.

So a lot of players just for whatever reason are focused on some of the details. I say a lot. Some players. I talk to a lot of other players that say, yeah, I knew that.

But the point is right now I think the important thing about the FedExCup and the Playoffs is, is it accomplishing what it was designed to accomplish, not whether we have little details in the structure of it that players didn't focus on or we need to look at going forward.And in my view, my strong view, it's accomplishing what it's set out to do, create a better end of the season, create some really powerful events in business markets around the country, get the best players playing, and most importantly, give the fans something that they can enjoy. I believe strongly that's happening over the first two weeks.

So I don't want to get off on worrying about these detail issues. I'm sure that when we get through with the Playoffs we'll have a complete opportunity for any player to have the opportunity which he may not have chosen to utilize over the last two and a half years to say wait a second, I didn't know this and I'm not so sure I agree with it.

As I was reading the transcript, I had a similar sentiment...

Q. Did you ever think you'd see the day where you would put up $63 million in prize money over four weeks and guys would be bitching about it?

COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: I don't think they're bitching about it. I wouldn't characterize it that way.

Q. Whining?

COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: We've got $28 million in cash and $35 million that's going to go into players' deferred accounts. I think that's -- our job is to take actions and make decisions that are in the best interests of the TOUR players generally and the fans, and I think that's what we've done in this case.

Can it be done differently? When you stand back and look at -- you guys are taking a couple comments here, and I understand that, but when you stand back and look at the import of what these comments are about, these, again, are not fundamental questions.

Well, I don't know about that.

Q. Referencing back to Els' comments, did the players actually have an up-down vote on this thing?


That's a no!

The players get together and give us their comments with our directors present at multiple meetings. We have a Player Advisory Council, and we have a board of directors, just like any company. We call it the PGA TOUR Policy Board. I'm not going to get into the details here, I'm just going to say we worked reasonably hard, I think very hard, to reach out to players over an extended period of time. If something is far off in the distance, perhaps they don't get as focused about it.

If the policy board made decisions without fully understanding the detailed focus of the players, we should correct that. I think it's important to recognize on this question of deferred money, there's no benefit to the TOUR whichever way it goes. The money is either going into an account for a player and the interest is deferred, or it's going into his bank account and he goes and spends it now. That's the only difference. There is no benefit to the TOUR. There is no agenda as to why it's in the interest of the TOUR.

So when the TOUR directors made that decision, they did it on the basis of what they believed was in the overall best interest of the players.

Now, having said that, I would recommend that we do whatever the players basically want to do, within reason. If it's all cash, it's all cash. But what we heard was a lot of players saying that, look, why don't we take advantage of the vehicle, and that's what you would do and I would do and most people would do, but not everybody would do it. And a number of players feel differently for whatever reason. It doesn't matter, they're entitled to that view. There's no point in arguing. The merits are the merits. I think the board should, going forward, make decisions on the basis of what players feel.

And if what players feel about that issue was not properly measured, we should go out and measure it again, because candidly, I certainly don't care, nor does the TOUR care, it's just what's in the best -- from a fiduciary responsibility, we have a fiduciary responsibility to make decisions that are in the best financial interest of the player. So they made that decision and they made a decision to provide more options to the players because, just so you know, I don't know if I mentioned this, this is self-directed investments. The players determine the vehicles to which the funds will be invested to their benefit.


Q. Did you get a commitment from the high profile players, or at least an understanding from the high profile players, like Phil and Tiger, that they would play in all four events?

COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: No, I never asked for a commitment. I never ask for a player to tell me, if we schedule the Presidents Cup, will you play it. We go out and say, here's a tournament we're going to play, this BMW tournament with the Western Golf Association, it's got this date on it. Do you like moving in this direction? I don't ask a player to commit to me that he's going to play. It's just not the way we go about things.

"I just feel in certain ways we've kind of grown apart a little bit, especially the players and the Commissioner's office."

Ernie Els opened up to the Western BMW Championship press today and ignited a bit of a firestorm...

Q. It seems like the top players, three in a row is the max where they feel they can give everything mentally maybe more than physically. Do you think maybe scheduling four weeks in a row is just one too many?

ERNIE ELS: You know, as we said, when I announced all the changes at the end of last year, beginning of this year, everybody was like, what do you think, what do you think, and we all said, let's see how it all pans out. Nobody knows exactly how this thing is going to work. Let's see how it works out.

Obviously the way things have been going, I haven't realized really through the year, but since the U.S. Open we've had big events upon big events, right through until now. The guys that play Europe events like myself, we played the Scottish Open before the British Open, so there's another two weeks. And then you come over and then there's the Bridgestone, then the PGA. Then we had a week off, and then before now, and then we get a week off and then we play The Presidents Cup. Next year they have the Ryder Cup. I don't know what they're going to do next year.

As we said, nobody really knew how this thing was going to pan out, and obviously now with guys playing and making up all our excuses, but that's the way we feel. Otherwise we can't give it our best shot, so that's the way it is.

Making up excuses? Hmmm... 
Q. You're one of the star players out here. Did they consult with you before this thing went into effect as far as the schedule was going to be so bunched up, and what did you tell them at the time?

ERNIE ELS: That's a good question. Unfortunately, no, they did not express anything to the players. They asked those questions, but they didn't come out and say, okay, look, this is what we're going to do, what do you think. It was all about -- you know, it wasn't directly asked. And unfortunately, we are in this position now because they didn't either listen or they just went on with the decision, and this is where we are.


Q. Would it work to just have a bye week, maybe have an off week right in the middle of the FedExCup?

ERNIE ELS: As I say, you know, I'm just throwing out a little -- throwing out a bone there. Two in a row, look at stuff that's happened this year and see if we can have a bit of a different way forward. You're putting the world golf players really under strain, guys like myself, guys like Tiger, guys like Phil, guys that play on the world stage because you really want to be up for the majors, and then after the majors are now, now you've got to be up for the FedEx. It's tough physically, mentally, on your family, business, everything, to keep yourself away from so-called real life for nine weeks almost. You know, it's difficult.

That's why you need a G5! Oh wait, you already have one right? Sorry. Continue...

Q. Sorry for the bizarre nature of this question, but if you seem at all lukewarm or not sure about the FedExCup thingy or what have you, and this isn't the only scheduling issue you've had with the TOUR in the last three or four years, why do you keep doing so many commercials for them?

ERNIE ELS: I think we like them. You almost have fun with them, and you kind of meet people. I think a lot of players do a lot for the TOUR. Let's face it, the TOUR does a lot for us, too. I just feel in certain ways we've kind of grown apart a little bit, especially the players and the Commissioner's office. We've grown apart from each other because of these big decisions that were made without the real knowledge of the players, you know?

The $10 million deal was a big deal. I don't think Tiger knew about it, Phil didn't know about it, I didn't know about it, a lot of people didn't know. When we heard about it, we thought, geez, that's unbelievable. It still is, but it's -- we're going to see that money hopefully 20, 25 years down the line.


Q. When did you find out about it?

ERNIE ELS: Kind of when everybody found out about it, the first couple of weeks into the season.
You know, you still want to support the TOUR. We love what the TOUR has done for us, but we just need to get closer to the big decisions because then we won't get into problems down the line, you know? I know there's a board and there's another board. There's two boards. There's a players' board, which I don't think means much. They don't have any ballot. The ballot is all done behind closed doors. That's kind of where we're growing apart.


"I just don't understand why we can't play here year after year."

Tiger Woods at the Western BMW Championship:

Q. Has the format been working out? There were concerns about how many weeks in a row you'd have to play, but it seems like players have been able to schedule a week off at some point.

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, a lot of guys are taking weeks off. I took the first week off, Ernie took last week, Phil and Paddy are taking this week off. If you combine the total for the guys who are playing The Presidents Cup, it's seven out of nine weeks, end of the year, end of the summer. Guys are finding it out to play seven out of nine weeks, except for Vijay. He's the only one.

Q. When this things was pitched to you, the idea that the schedule was going to be so bunched, did you express reservations about your ability to play that many in a row?

TIGER WOODS: We all did. We all didn't think it was in the best interest for us as players to play that much. We normally don't play that much, especially towards the end of the year. Most of the guys usually shut it down post-PGA, and maybe the only time you start playing a lot is maybe trying to get ready for the Ryder Cup.
Hmmm, no comment for the moment but weren't you the one who wanted a shorter season?
Q. Should the TOUR maybe have listened a little bit more to you guys instead of scheduling the tournaments the way they are, especially going into next year when you have the Ryder Cup right after that?

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, it's going to be interesting to see what happens. It's a lot of golf for a lot of guys. These are all big events. It's not like these are small events. They're all big events that you have World Golf Championships follows by a major, and then you have these four events and then you have The Presidents Cup and Ryder Cup.

It's a bunch of big events. It's not like you have events where most of the guys like at Kapalua take it easy out there and go have fun at night, and if they play good golf, great. That's not the case.

And we finally get some clarification where he stands on cash versus deferred compensation. He has been rumored to have been displeased with the latter of the two options. 
Q. The deferred issue, where do you come down on that? I know you talked about how you might be dead by the time you collected it, but how much is it an issue, and could that be solved?

TIGER WOODS: Well, I think it is an issue. I don't think -- well, I know a lot of the players weren't aware of it this year, that that's what we were playing for. If the players aren't aware of it, obviously the public won't be aware of it. I think that's one of the major issues for all of us is that it's not the true payout. It's like, how great would it be like in the World Series of Poker, at the first tee starting the first day of the TOUR Championship, that's all you see is it stacked up there and that's what you're playing for. That would create a lot of buzz. But as you said, I may not be around to collect it.

And regarding the Western...

Q. How disappointed are you to not come back to Chicago for two more years?

TIGER WOODS: Hey, I didn't like that idea. I think this is a great town. It's one of the biggest sport towns, if not one of the biggest markets we have in our country. I just don't understand why we can't play here year after year. People have always come out and supported the Western Open. They've always come out in big droves and really supported this tournament, and it's unfortunate that we're leaving here. I have a fondness for this tournament because I used to play here as an amateur, and it's always been near and dear to my heart.

This is interesting...

Q. Would you support either a U.S. Open or a PGA Championship being held here at this course?
TIGER WOODS: Well, it's not quite ready for that. It's not up to that level yet. I think after Rees gets a hold of it and makes some alterations to it, I think that it depends on how severe he's going to tweak the golf course, then yeah, you could possibly say you could get a PGA here or maybe a U.S. Open. But probably a PGA, if anything.

So does that mean he thinks a full Rees-toration increases the chances of landing a major? Oh let's hope not.

Now back to the schedule...

Q. Would building in a week off in the playoff schedule, would that address some of the problems? Would that help?

TIGER WOODS: Well, it's the way the schedule is with where you moved the Firestone event, prior to the PGA. Even if you put it post-PGA, it's still there. And then you have these four events, and then next year we have the Ryder Cup in there, as well. That's a lot of events for the guys. As I said, it's not easy events. They're all big events and events that you feel like you have to play well. It is what it is.

And it is what you wanted it to be.

Q. It sounds as if there's really no logical place on the calendar to put something like this.

TIGER WOODS: There really isn't. If the schedule is this short, there really isn't. That's kind of what you're running into.

Q. Does it seem strange that it's early September and the TOUR Championship is like next week already instead of two months away?

TIGER WOODS: You're right, that does seem different. Plus also, I think a welcome change for all of us, too. Most of us are going to take some time off and shut it down -- some of the guys, Vijay will still continue to play.

But some of the guys it's nice for them to take a break before they head down to Australia and support their Tour or South Africa and support their Tour. You know, Phil has usually built in his break post-Firestone event. But I think it's great for a lot of guys. It's a time for them to take some time off before they have to go out and support their Tours and travel all over.

Welcome change? Ugh...I'm confused.


Ominous Chicago Forecast

Ed Sherman on the lousy weather forecast for the Western Open BMW Championship and the tour's decision to move up tee times in hopes of finishing Sunday.

Flashback: "Woods and Mickelson didn't draw up the plan, they simply were the strongest voices."

Just in case Phil Mickelson or Tiger Woods try to put all of the blame on Commissioner Tim Finchem for the shortened season, they might want to read Doug Ferguson's July, 2006 column on how the shortened season came about. It was originally posted here.

"I think for us to compete against football, and for us to continue our season after the PGA Championship as long as it does, I just think it kind of loses its luster," Mickelson said at La Costa in February 2005. "It's just not exciting. I'd love to see a lot less tournaments on tour, so the top players play in a greater percentage of those events."

Woods and Mickelson are not the best of friends, but it sounded as though they were in cahoots on this one. For it was only two days later that Woods also argued for a shorter season.

"End it Labor Day," he said.

A week later at Doral, Woods was more expansive on his wish for an early end to the regular season, which would allow top players to compete against each more often besides the eight biggest events — four majors, The Players Championship and three World Golf Championships.

"It would be more exciting for the fans, and I'm sure the sponsors and TV and everybody, if we did play more often together," Woods said. "The only way you could do that is if we shortened the season, which I've really been trying to get into Finchem's ear about."
And Ferguson ended with this....
Woods and Mickelson didn't draw up the plan, they simply were the strongest voices.

And until the PGA Tour goes through its first season under the revamped schedule, no one can be sure it's a bad idea.

If it is, blame them.



Boston Ratings Nearly Double Westchester

From Tod Leonard's San Diego Union Tribune golf column, writing about Phil Mickelson skipping Cog Hill:

Is it a terrible blow to the FedEx Cup? Absolutely. With Mickelson and Woods battling down the stretch on the Monday holiday, when many people are presumed to be out in the pool, NBC's overnight ratings were nearly double (4.0 to 2.1) that of the previous week's Woods-free playoff opener. And now, with your No. 1 “team” taking a bye in the “semifinals,” what kind of “playoffs” are these?


Larry Craig Stealing Phil and Tiger's Line!


FedEx Cup Reviews, Week 2

fedexcuplogo.jpgGary Van Sickle says Tiger-Phil and TPC Boston was the highpoint of the 2007 season as does Jim Litke. Neither notes that non-coincidence that the dramatic week happened to be carried out on a course with interesting design twists and was set up in a way that allowed the players to play golf. Yes, those awful 63's were possible and even fired, yet somehow the game survived double digits under par.

Van Sickle also offers his second SI piece on remedies for the FedEx Cup, which he says is not looking anything like a playoff. He looks at scheduling issues and finishes with the points.

What do you do with all your FedEx Cup points once you've been eliminated? No, you can't put them toward a flat-screen TV.

Oberholser, who jumped from 67th to 29th in the standings, was asked if he'd prefer FedEx Cup points or Marriott points.

"I'd rather have Marriott points," he said, "but neither one gives you enough for what you expend."
Steve Elling reports from Chicago where they aren't too happy about Phil's WD:
In uncharacteristically blunt terms, tournament director John Kaczkowski said he was both disappointed and surprised when Mickelson --the FedEx points leader midway through the four-week series -- elected to skip the tournament. When the tour approached event officials months ago and pitched the FedEx concept, there were certain assurances made, he said, before the ink had dried.

"Yes, absolutely, it was an understanding that all the top players were committed to play, and going to play," he said.
And he shares this, which based on the degree of eloquence, comes from a Notre Dame grad... 
But for those who watched the bedlam in Boston on Monday, when Mickelson outdueled Woods mano-a-mano for the first time in the same final-round pairing, the prospects of the two being again paired in the first two rounds at the BMW must have been enticing.

However fleeting it proved to be.

"It's a joke," said Larry Polanski, 42, a fan from nearby Rockford who watched the practice rounds on Tuesday. "You buy a ticket assuming these guys are going to be here, then they're not. It's like false advertising or something."

Golf World's John Hawkins takes a stab at reasons for Phil's little spat with the Commissioner:

Why was Mickelson, one of golf's straightest shooters, being so cryptic? More than one top-tier player, according to a source, is unhappy with the tour's decision to defer payment on the $10 million grand prize awarded to the postseason champion (see accompanying story). It's not the idea of waiting on the money that irks them, but the prevailing notion among several superstars that officials at PGA Tour headquarters make crucial decisions without consulting the players.

Mickelson also mentioned the season-end cluster that asks the top-tier tour pros to play seven important tournaments in nine weeks -- a stretch that began with the British Open and concludes next week with the Tour Championship in Atlanta. It was a strange way to end such a big day, but then, Lefty had been just as vague after firing a second-round 64 while paired with Woods and Vijay Singh, when he awoke a half-slumbering press gathering with one of his vintage riffs.

And Doug Ferguson on Mickelson:

Anyone who thinks this FedExCup finale isn't working because one player stays home hasn't been paying attention. These "playoffs" are bringing together a great collection of players and producing exciting golf. Through two weeks, there is no denying that.

No one remembers that Woods skipped The Barclays. No one knew Els was missing last week at the Deutsche Bank. And the BMW Championship will get by just fine without Mickelson.

For some reason, though, Mickelson wanted to make it personal.

Fast forward...

Mickelson doesn't like that the $10 million payoff for the FedExCup champion is deferred -- and he's not alone on that point. He has argued that the TOUR should designate 20 tournaments a year in which the top players must compete, and he has never been a big fan of being required to play in pro-ams. He doesn't believe the TOUR should subsidize the purses at events opposite the World Golf Championships.

Which issue became the trigger, only Mickelson knows. The surprise was the shot across the bow, especially considering how guarded Mickelson is when the lights come on.

For a guy who fiercely protects a polished image, Mickelson risked that by taking a sucker punch at Finchem on national TV.

His statement Tuesday didn't help, particularly when he said that withdrawing from Chicago "in no way is meant as disrespectful to the TOUR or 'sending a message' to anyone."

Mickelson said he's looking for balance, and that his family has sacrificed a lot this year because it's been a very difficult schedule. But this is the same guy who said at the PGA Championship last month that he was excited for the FedExCup because of all the time he lost this summer with a wrist injury.

It probably didn't help that when Mickelson announced he was pulling out of the BMW Championship, he was a half-hour away at Medinah Country Club playing in a corporate outing. The outing was planned long ago, but it didn't look good. 


"Phil's imagery is interesting"

Tim Rosaforte looks at what appears to be a developing theme: elite player dissatisfaction with the details surrounding the deferred compensation package for the FedEx Cup.

The confusion stems from the tour's business plan of taking $19 million of FedEx money, adding it to their pool of resources (which according to former policy board member Tom Pernice Jr. includes $16 million from the tour's retirement fund) to make a total of $35 million -- with an eye-popping $10 million to the winner. "[The message] the tour wants to get across is that [the playoffs are] more about winning the FedEx Cup than the money," Pernice said. "But they've made it a money issue [by making the prize money] deferred."
Some players -- Davis Love III and Jim Furyk, most notably -- have been outspoken proponents of the deferred payment idea. The griping has come as a surprise to tour officials. Tour executive vice president Ty Votaw explains that the deferred plan went through all the proper channels, from the PAC to the board of directors, which includes both players and four leading businessmen. Votaw also noted that Woods, Els and Mickelson were asked for their input during the process (although a representative for one of the Big Three told Golf World that the tour received some opposition and not support for the deferred concept).

"Phil's imagery is interesting," Votaw said. "We could still roll out $10 million in a wheelbarrow. The difference is the $10 million is being deposited into an account. An annuity is different. The $10 million starts growing the day it goes in."

As compelling as the idea of cash is for the average fan, Votaw and players like Joe Ogilvie are able to make a compelling case that the deferred compensation is great for the rank and file players. What I'm not understanding is why the elite players like Mickelson and Woods may be so against it. Unless they are simply looking at this from a fan perspective and realizing that "deferred compensation" is a lot less sexy than cash.

This is interesting...

As for Pernice's claim that a portion of the $35 million came from the retirement fund, Votaw told Golf World the FedEx payout, which includes $32,000 for last place, was part of the tour's overall budget. "I'm not going to get into sources of revenues, but there's an allocation of resources that takes place, and that takes place every year," he said. "Our job is to create as many economic opportunities as possible for our players."


Says former policy-board member Olin Browne, "It's a lot easier to tuck the money in a safe corner rather than hand somebody a check. It stands to have much greater value down the line. In the meantime, nobody's on the hook for the cash. It's in there somewhere. It's on the books. But I don't know the whole thing seems a little convoluted to me."

"These wedges he's designed have really paid off for him this week."

Did you catch when Johnny Miller said that during the final round telecast of the 2007 Deutsche Bank Championship after yet another of Phil Mickelson's miracle up and downs?

I couldn't help but think of our beloved old pal Stu Schneider, who not only would have been all over Example 492 of Johnny's blatant Callaway conflict of interest (I know, I know, he mentioned the Sasquatch after a Tiger drive...yada, yada).

But it should also be said that Stu might have noted the telecast as perhaps NBC's best of the year and a classic example of how good NBC's golf coverage can be when given a compelling finish and course.