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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
  • 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

  • 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
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 true links have an intimacy with the waves; they are much on the same level, in close relation, almost cousins and part of the ocean if you can imagine sea turned into land or the land suffering sea change into something rich and rare.  H.N. WETHERED

 

    

Tuesday
Feb122008

Bush Denounces Use Of "Lynch"; "Back Alley" Left Open To Interpretation

Certainly not timely, George Bush seems to have Kelly Tilghman on his mind:

"The noose is not a symbol of prairie justice, but of gross injustice," the president said. "Displaying one is not a harmless prank, and lynching is not a word to be mentioned in jest."

As a civil society, Americans should agree that noose displays and lynching jokes are "deeply offensive," Bush said.

"They are wrong. And they have no place in America today."

 

Sunday
Feb102008

The Power Of Short Grass

For my recent Golf World story on short par-4s, the PGA Tour's communications department provided me all sorts of fascinating stats and "scatter charts" produced from its ShotLink system. There were so many interesting little details that popped up, but one of my favorite was this clear demonstration of how a change at Riviera's 10th impacted play in 2007.Riviear10_2007.jpg

From about 1993 to 2006, a short grass chipping area had been cut on the front left of the green and was one of the reasons the hole vaulted to its place as the world's best short par-4. As I noted in the Golf World sidebar on No. 10, this was the work of Jim McPhilomy, Peter Oosterhuis and consulting architects Ben Crenshaw and Bill Coore.

In 2007, apparently having not gotten the memo that the 10th hole was cited as one of the best holes in the universe, architect Tom Marzolf jacked around with the bunkers, adding several tacky capes and bays while expanding the lay up aiming bunker. But worst of all, he eliminated the short grass area next to the green that had added so much intrigue (see above photo).

I believe it's one reason why there was a 20% increase in players driving the green in 2007. Having longer grass near the green meant balls would stay closer to the putting surface and provide a simpler recovery shot.

So check out the 2006 "scatter chart" with the short grass area (blue means pars made from that tee shot location, red means birdie, blue means par, black means bogey and yellow means eagle).

 Riviera10th2006.jpg

 

 

 

 

 
And now look at the 2007 chart, with the cluster of birdies congregating in the front left area that used to be tightly mown. A fine example how short grass makes a hole more difficult...in a good way:

Riviera10th2007.jpg 

 

Sunday
Feb102008

Chambers Bay Aftermath

628630462_0dae26229f.jpgThe cynical interpretation of the USGA's decision to award the 2015 U.S. Open to Chambers Bay is that this was a money grab designed to prevent the PGA of America from moving in. And what's not to love? It's a muni in the Northwest market where they can structure a favorable contract, erect tents galore and host a concert at the amphitheater currently under construction next to the course.

The optimistic take (the only way I read these things) says this is a victory for architecture and USGA course setup man Mike Davis who is trying to shake things up. Chambers Bay is an all-fescue course, meaning the USGA's usual bowling alley corridor concept simply won't happen in 2014. It's also a Robert Trent Jones Jr. design (well, Bruce Charlton and Jay Blasi), marking a break from the stifling litany of Rees Jones renovated courses fueled in part by David Fay and the Executive Committee's lousy eye for architecture. Most of Rees' work severely limits a creative course setup man like Davis. Couple this with deteriorating relationships at Winged Foot and Shinnecock, and Chambers Bay may be ushering in an era of surprising U.S. Open venue selections.

Now, if the USGA sells a reality show to NBC where Rees is named the Chambers Bay Open Doctor and we get to sit on conversations between he and Bobby over a Rees-jigging of the course, then we know it's a cash grab. But in the meantime, I like the move and look forward to seeing a new course injected into the rotation.

Though I'm curious what you all think of the concern raised by Tom Doak who wrote on GolfClubAtlas.com:

Nothing against Chambers Bay in particular, but I think it's a bad thing -- only because it will make everybody developing a new public course drool unrealistically about hosting a U.S. Open themselves.

We don't need architects to create more potential U.S. Open venues.  We need the USGA to do something about preserving the ones we've got.

He does have a point, no? 

Sunday
Feb102008

Vernon Delivers Acceptance Speech, Manages To Remain On Podium Throughout

Vernon_home.jpgUnlike his predecessor who demonstrated that he was a man of the people by leaving the podium to explain how he planned to become the most maligned president in USGA history, new head man Jim Vernon opted to remain on the stage as he delivered his acceptance speech.

Ken Klavon reports on some of the speech's key lines. This one ought to be news to someone's ears, though I'm not entirely sure who. 

“We are committed to basing the rules on scientifically supported facts and not anecdotes,” said Vernon.


Sunday
Feb102008

"Unbelievable, this guy."

perez021008-183x256.jpgThanks to reader Jeremy for this AP story on Pat Perez pondering the possibility of playing Tiger Woods in the match play. Definitely a much better answer than Stephen Ames gave:

The more Perez thought about the prospects of facing Woods, however, the better it sounded. Last year, those who lost in the first round still earned $40,000.

"It would be a free show for me, watch him play," he said. "Unbelievable, this guy. I can't lose either way. If I beat him, I'm a hero. If I don't, I'm not supposed to win. If I beat him, I may quit, just pack in it. If anybody asks, 'When was the last time you played? Aw, I beat Tiger. I'm done.'"

According to this Doug Ferguson story filed after the completion of AT&T Pro-Am play Perez will get Woods in the opening round.

Sunday
Feb102008

Lowery Win Could Pave Way For Razor Purchase Sometime This Week

lowery_trophy_t1.jpgGritty and Steve Lowery normally wouldn't register with me, but hey, he just beat Vijay in a playoff as the former No. 305th ranked player in the world. 

Doug Ferguson reports, including a hint that perhaps he's not sold on Vijay's revamped swing. Not that Vijay was ready to talk about it, since I don't see a transcript for him on the ASAP page. Now posted are his comments. Short and sweet!

Meanwhile several readers wrote to make sure that Bill Walters win with Frederic Jacobsen was noted for it's ridiculousness.

Jacobson finished -4 (T-14) for the event and considering the team finished -38, that would mean Mr. Walters contributed a healthy -34 to the team.

Anyone know who this fine 11 is?

He's not Bill Walters of "Billy Walters" fame is he? 

Sunday
Feb102008

Charismatic Hoch Wins His Second Champions Event; Could Be Just The Final Nail Tour Needs

hoch.jpgThen again, Allianz winner Hoch is an entertaining interview so maybe I'm misjudging his potential to elevate the Valiant Competitors Tour.
Saturday
Feb092008

Meet The New President

08Vernon_Headshot.jpgUSGA.org has full coverage of the USGA Annual Meeting in Houston, with this story on Jim Vernon taking the reins as President, this Q&A with him, the 2007 annual report (come on numbers junkies, parse that baby and post your findings!), and finally, emotionally, upsettingly, depressingly, Walter Driver's final president's letter.

Saturday
Feb092008

Ernie's Final Rounds

I skimmed this week's columns on Ernie Els's final round difficulties. Chris Lewis links them here with some of his own thoughts.

Well apparently a closer read of the pieces got John Huggan worked up because he thinks Ernie lost his edge in 2004.

Then again, it has been easy for Els' growing band of critics – most of whom seem to be located in the United States – to portray his lofty ambition as mere bravado, designed to deflect attention from the fact that Tiger 'owns' Ernie when it comes to competing late on Sunday afternoons. Ever since 1998, when Woods made up a yawning seven-shot deficit over the closing nine holes before beating Els in a play-off for the Johnnie Walker Classic, the world's best golfer has not yielded once to the man who – it says here – is still the second most talented player in the professional game.

There were, for example, the US Open and Open of 2000. Both were comfortably won by Woods and both times Els was the distant runner-up, a man who could easily be forgiven the thought, "I can't beat this guy".

But, despite the pile of pompous psychobabble spouted by various columnists over the last week or so, it is not Tiger who has cut deepest into Els' confidence over the last few years. In truth, the 24-time European Tour winner has not looked quite the same golfer since 2004, when he suffered two crushing blows at the very highest level. First, Phil Mickelson birdied the final hole to pip Els to the Masters at Augusta. Then, three months later, the unlikely Todd Hamilton took him out in a four-hole play-off for the Open at Royal Troon.

Look closely at the photographs of Els in the immediate aftermath of both defeats. On the practice green at Augusta and on the 18th green at Troon he has the same glassy-eyed gaze into the middle distance. Each time, he seems to be saying to his suddenly disembodied self, "I can't believe this".

Saturday
Feb092008

How To Keep Courses Fun

PT-AH628_Golf1_20080208164102.jpgJohn Paul Newport uses his Wall Street Journal column to question Gil Hanse about what he thinks is fun, and uses the example of Soule Park in Ojai to illustrate the difficulties of being an architect in a world full of entitled idiots golfers armed with opinions.
Golf courses need hazards and obstacles the way good needs evil. Research done for the PGA of America suggests that what golfers love most about the game are the one or two great shots they manage to hit every round. But architects will tell you that the thrill of those shots is immeasurably greater in the context of risk. What fun is a course with 100-yard-wide fairways and no bunkers, ponds, trees or other hazards? You might as well stay at the range.

"When you think back to your most memorable shots, they aren't just the times you flushed a five-iron. They are when you hit that great shot in the face of some adversity," Mr. Hanse says. "Even less-accomplished players want to have to hit the ball over something sometimes, like a bunker or a stream. To take that challenge away is to water down design to the point where golf almost becomes bowling."

So architects try to scatter obstacles around the course in just the right mix to fulfill designer Alister MacKenzie's oft-cited definition of the ideal golf hole: "One that affords the greatest pleasure to the greatest number." But given the varying skill levels of golfers, it's not an easy formula to perfect.

One problem is that many golfers are so focused on the immediate task at hand -- getting the ball airborne -- that they don't think about strategy. Then, when they get off their best shot of the day, and helplessly watch it roll into a bunker, they aren't inclined to view that bunker as a catalyst for pleasure the way architects do. They see it as an abomination.

Mr. Hanse is unapologetic. His bunkers at Soule Park received many complaints for being too deep. But in his view, hazards need to pose "real penalties" or they lose their effect. "Where's the joy in avoiding a bunker if you know that, if you'd gone in, it would have been easy to get out of?" he asks.
Saturday
Feb092008

Bandon Crossings Review

asset_upload_file287_4329.jpgJohn Kirk provides the most extensive review yet of Bandon Crossings in the latest Links. Sounds like it's a worthy addition to a Bandon itinerary, particularly if you are looking to save a few bucks.

Friday
Feb082008

"Networks should put course architecture on the agenda"

Lorne Rubenstein wonders why televised golf doesn't pay more attention to architecture, and he talks to yours truly to help figure out why.

Friday
Feb082008

SI Scraps Last Supper Master Preview Cover Idea Out Of Respect For Golfweek's Noose Cover

f87106a026bcaac500a6864709ec7978_actorsaccess.jpgAfter all, there really is no competition at this point for lamest cover of 2008, is there?

Seriously, it seems the borderline creepy TigerWoodsIsGod.com broke the news that SI was kicking around the idea of some sort of Masters preview cover involving a "Last Supper" homage. SportsbyBrooks has the document in question. Of course, it's all moot because SI Editor Terry McDonell denied it. Sort of.

Published reports indicating that Sports Illustrated is considering a cover or any visual treatment referencing Leonardo da Vinci's "Last Supper" for its Masters preview or any other issue of the magazine are totally inaccurate.

A related concept tied to the magazine's 50th Anniversary cover, which depicted sports greats as Leonardo might have painted them, was discussed among a small number of editors without my knowledge. The casting call in question was a mistake and should not have been posted. — Terry McDonell, Editor, Sports Illustrated Group

So the casting call was a prank?  

I find it odd that SI even acknowledged the report.  

Friday
Feb082008

AT&T National Pro-Am Photo Caption Help, 2008 Edition

What are Greg and Chrissy thinking? From golf.com:

feb8_norman_600x476.jpg 

Friday
Feb082008

"This is a course we can almost set up like a British Open. I am so excited, I can hardly stand it."

Steve Elling talks to Mike Davis about the selection of Chambers Bay. Lots of interesting stuff here, including comments from Ron Whitten, but the quotes about Chambers stand out:

 "We get calls all the time about places that think they might be a potential U.S. Open site," Davis said Friday. "When I got there, it was, like, 'Holy cow.' My jaw dropped. It was beyond spectacular."
And this ought to be neat... 
"There is no question, sometimes we have been a little cookie-cutter with regard to the set-up," Davis said. "This is a course we can almost set up like a British Open. I am so excited, I can hardly stand it."


Friday
Feb082008

Bobby Gets A U.S. Open Before Rees!

chambers03.jpgBradley Klein reports that the awarding of Chambers Bay near Tacoma makes it three muni's in the unofficial U.S. Open rota. Hopefully by 2015 the weird Close Encounters of the Third Kind dunes scraping look will have disappeared. Chambers also gets the 2010 U.S. Amateur.

More interesting is that Robert Trent Jones gets a U.S. Open awarded to one of his original designs before brother Rees. That ought to spice up an already heartwarming feud!  (Even though we all know Bruce Charlton and Jay Blasi did the real work on Chambers Bay, it's still going to enhance the brotherly dynamic.)

Also intriguing is the news in the press release print that Erin Hills gets the 2011 U.S. Amateur, which surprised me because only recently I've heard from USGAers that the course needed a lot of work before they would award a big prize there. So either the course will see some big changes, or the U.S. Amateur isn't a "big prize."

Here's the full release, which oddly is not up at USGA.org yet *now posted (but annoying videos that play unprompted now are!):

USGA AWARDS 2015 U.S. OPEN, 2010 U.S. AMATEUR
TO CHAMBERS BAY IN WASHINGTON STATE AND 2011 U.S. AMATEUR TO ERIN HILLS GOLF COURSE IN WISCONSIN
 
Far Hills, N.J. (Feb. 8) – The United States Golf Association has announced that it has awarded the 2015 U.S. Open Championship to Chambers Bay, the spectacular municipal links course located on the scenic lower Puget Sound in University Place, Wash.
          
The USGA also announced that Chambers Bay, designed by Robert Trent Jones Jr. and Bruce Charleton, will play host to the U.S. Amateur Championship in 2010.
 
Chambers Bay will be the third municipal course to play host to the U.S. Open, following Bethpage Black in New York (2002, 2009) and Torrey Pines in California later this year.  Chambers Bay will be the first golf course in the Pacific Northwest to hold the U.S. Open.
 
"We are excited to take the U.S. Open Championship and the U.S. Amateur to such an awesome site,” said Jim Hyler, chairman of the USGA Championship Committee. “This is the first time the U.S. Open has been to Washington and we are confident that the golf course will provide a challenging test for the best players in the world, as well as a great spectator experience for those who attend the event and watch it online and on television.
 
“The local leadership provided by Pierce County has been superb and we look forward to partnering with them and the great sports fans in Washington to host a truly unique Open Championship. And, the U.S. Amateur will give us great insight into the golf course architecture and championship setup. For the first time, the National Open will be played on fine fescue grasses, including the putting greens,” continued Hyler.
 
Chambers Bay, opened in June 2007, is the centerpiece of a 930-acre park purchased by Pierce County, Wash., in 1992 that today features scenic trails and coastline vistas where a sand and gravel quarry once stood.
 
“Our hard work has paid off as we have done everything possible to attract the attention of a prestigious championship,” said Pierce County Executive John Ladenburg. “Even so, we never dreamed we’d be chosen by the USGA to host both the U.S. Amateur and U.S. Open championships. Especially not so close to the opening of the course. It is a true honor.”
 
“Chambers Bay golf course is a jewel for the entire state of Washington and the Pacific Northwest,” said Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire. “The U.S. Open and U.S. Amateur Championships will be a wonderful opportunity to showcase the natural beauty of our state and share it with golf enthusiasts from around the globe. I applaud County Executive John Ladenburg for his hard work on delivering the championship events to Pierce County.”
 
The USGA also announced that Erin Hills Golf Course in Wisconsin will play host to the 2011 U.S. Amateur. Erin Hills is located in Hartford, Wis., about 30 minutes northwest of Milwaukee, and is also home to the U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links Championship in 2008 – a USGA championship awarded to Erin Hills before the golf course had opened in 2006.
 
Erin Hills is a links-style championship course designed by Mike Hurdzan and Dana Fry of Hurdzan-Fry Architects, and Ron Whitten, Architecture Editor of Golf Digest magazine. Golf Magazine named Erin Hills its Best New Golf Course in January 2007.
 
“Erin Hills is a wonderfully unique golf course that really takes a minimalist approach to the golf course design and architecture,” Hyler said. “The course is cleverly routed on a great piece of golf landscape. The venue will be a terrific test for the competitors in the U.S. Amateur.”
 
“On behalf of the entire state of Wisconsin, we look forward to the incredible opportunity to host the 2011 U.S. Amateur at Erin Hills Golf Course,” said Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle. “As a public course open to all, Erin Hills fulfills the USGA promise and is a world-class facility that showcases Wisconsin’s future as a premier golf destination.”
 
“Everyone associated with the journey of Erin Hills is pleased and we look forward to the unique opportunity to host the 2011 U.S. Amateur,” said Bob Lang, owner of Erin Hills.
 
The awarding of championships to Chambers Bay and Erin Hills was approved by the USGA Executive Committee at its Annual Meeting in Houston. The formal approval of all three championships is pending contractual agreement. 
 

Thursday
Feb072008

Undisputed Evidence That IMG Overworks Its Clients

Thanks to reader NRH for finding this Yahoo golf page shot of new IMG client Natalie Gulbis continuing her rebranding by appearing fully clothed while looping for IMG owner Teddy Forstmann.

capt.5e32f8fd37094c7bacaad546dc863061.pebble_beach_golf_caer116.jpg 

Thursday
Feb072008

"That process could nullify Callaway's victory."

Golf Digest has moved Banal and Gawky's online shtik to the print edition where in the March issue they pretend to argue in cutesy fashion over issues. Their first conversation went nowhere over USGA ball testing, but this bit on the Pro V1 lawsuit was interesting related to the prospects of Callaway landing a big award from Acushnet, even if I don't really understand what this patent laws stuff is about:
Nearly two years ago, Callaway Golf sued Acushnet (parent of Titleist) in U.S. District Court in Delaware, claiming the company's Pro V1 infringed on its patented golf-ball technology (patents that Callaway acquired when it purchased Top-Flite in 2003). In December, a jury found in favor of Callaway. Now the company wants monetary damages and an injunction against sales of the Pro V1. The case is intriguing not just because it went to trial and ball category leader Titleist lost. The court's ruling contradicts U.S. Patent and Trademark Office actions, which initially found the disputed patents invalid and during an ongoing review again has found one patent invalid. That process could nullify Callaway's victory.

"I'm sure there's a constitutional law professor scratching his head wondering how this will play out," says David Dawsey, a patent attorney in Columbus, Ohio, and founder of the website golf-patents.com. "Both sides know the risks. It wouldn't surprise me if Callaway discounted what it perceives to be its value in this case by 50 percent [settles the case], knowing the patents could be declared invalid. Acushnet knows it faces the potential for a huge damage award. But there's really no predicting it."

Thursday
Feb072008

Atwal Might Want To Stay In India After All

Steve Elling reports that Florida Highway Patrol investigators have recommended that Arjun Atwal, currently making a return to his home country for this week's European Tour event, be charged with vehicular homicide for his role in a fatal car accident.

Thursday
Feb072008

Nuts!

35316392.jpgToday's L.A. Times Page One column features an extensive Paul Lieberman story on what it takes to be a Golf Nut of the Year.