Professionals complain a lot, I’ve found. They seem to want fairway traps from which they can reach the green, holes that are not too long, rough that is not too deep, greens that are dead-flat…perhaps if I made my living playing golf I would feel the same, but the fact is that if we turn golf into a putting contest, nobody will care and there won’t be a living.
ROBERT TRENT JONES
Note that the PGA.com version of the AP notes column omits this anti-corporate, anti-brand equity story all together. Touching to see the PGA of America looking out for their good, good friends in Ponte Vedra.
Vardon's Illegitimate Son Not Demanding Back Royalties For Success at Golf: Hints for the Player of Moderate Ability
On the Nike Sumo2 driver mess, Gene Yasuda slips this in his Golfweek.com story:
According to Nike officials, a competing manufacturer contacted the USGA and urged it to test the new Nike driver on suspicion that the Sumo2 was "hot." Upon inspection of drivers purchased from four retail shops in the New York-New Jersey area, USGA officials confirmed that some of them exceeded the CT (Characteristic Time) limit – a measurement that determines spring-like effect. Nike was notified in late February.
They had to buy four of those things? No wonder they have to cut employee benefits!
Thanks to Steven T. for noticing this Joe Logan sit down with recently retired USGA Executive Committee member Craig Ammerman, who gets right to the point:
Q: What are the biggest issues facing the USGA and golf?
A: The USGA needs to find a new revenue source or two, which is why you've seen announcements about corporate sponsors (American Express, Lexus). Over the last 15 years, the staff of the USGA has more than doubled because we are doing things nobody thought of 20 years ago. To continue doing them is going to require additional sources of revenue because the single biggest source - TV rights fees - are declining.
Hey, I can think of oh, at least $500,000 in savings that could go to the recently scratched tuition assistance program.
This is interesting.
Q: The USGA has been criticized by some of the biggest names in golf, like Jack Nicklaus, for dropping the ball on the golf ball. Are they correct?
A: In 2002, the executive committee approved spending whatever was required to learn all there is to know about the golf ball. The staff and those they've retained have done that. The final piece, or a final piece, should be obtained this year when balls made by leading manufacturers to go 15 and 25 yards less than today's ball will be field-tested with players of all skill levels. Decisions that follow will no doubt be influenced by those field tests.
Now, why is that no one at the USGA can give that answer when asked about the ball testing? That wasn't so hard, was it?
Q: Any disappointments or business left undone?
A: The worst thing that happened in my five years was [the super-slick seventh green] Sunday at Shinnecock. It was embarrassing. I was supposed to be out on the course as a rules official that day. Once I realized what was going on, I spent the day in the media center, so I could give [USGA president] Fred Ridley and [championship committee chairman] Walter Driver a summary of what reporters and players were saying.
But they took that information and handled it so well!
What, they weren't able to see for themselves it was a disaster. Oh that's right, no, they couldn't.
From Craig Dolch, who outlined Vijay's problems with the media before sharing these antics from Bay Hill:
Another tale, albeit a minor one, occurred last weekend at Bay Hill. For some reason, Singh kept parking his car in a media parking spot instead of where the players park. Why? Who knows? A parking attendant told me Saturday morning how he and several of his fellow volunteers had gotten into a heated argument with Singh because after he was told he couldn’t park his car there, but he did so, anyway.
Singh did the same thing Sunday, even though a media official told the lady in his car it needed to be removed. She refused, saying they needed to speak to Singh, who at the time was starting his 67 that won Arnold’s tournament by two shots. Of course, this is a minor incident, but it says plenty about Singh. He never adheres to the philosophy that you should treat people the way you want to be treated.
There's a lede buried in this buried lede, but since this is a family values website, I ain't touching it!
Brad Faxon was busy Monday morning, but he wasn't working on his swing.
"I'm writing notes to my pro-am partners," Faxon said. "And then I'm going to write Arnold and thank him for the invitation and tell him how much I liked the course. Although I'm having a tough time getting started on that one."
The limited field issue appears to not be going away as Doug Ferguson tackles the issue of veterans not getting in Doral for that one last crack at Augusta. He also declares the WGC events a giant mistake.
The World Golf Championships have lost some zip the last few years, even when Tiger Woods wins them, which is often. They were designed to bring together the best players in the world. Now, the WGCs are best identified by players hardly anyone knows.
And a popular PGA Tour destination is worse off because of it.
The WGCs were a good idea when they were formed in 1999, but that was when the world's best players rarely got together outside the major championships. In this global environment of golf, the WGCs have quietly gone away — except they took Doral with them.
The Accenture Match Play Championship really is the only one left, and probably will stick around because of the format. The Bridgestone Invitational remains at Firestone, but look what it replaced in '99 — the World Series of Golf, which already was a WGC without the fancy title.
The other was the American Express Championship — now CA Championship with a new title sponsor — that alternated venues between the United States and Europe. Now it has been folded into Doral.
Instead of 144 players trying to keep it out of the white sand and blue water, there will be a 74-man field playing for free money. And there will be 70 other guys — more, really, considering the many non-PGA Tour members at Doral — who are home this week.
Worse yet, this is the last week to qualify for the Masters.
Golf.com's Cameron Morfit offers a different angle by making a case for the injustice of Ryan Moore struggling to find a place to play.
The problem is, thanks to limited fields, Palmer's Bay Hill party is a tough invite, just as Jack's is and the majors are, just as the WGC events are, just as the four FedEx Cup playoff events will be.
Rather than apply for a medical waiver last year, Moore played through the pain and found that by pointing the club directly out from his belt buckle at address, as if it were a fishing pole, he could minimize discomfort. He finished T2 at the Buick Championship and T9 at the PGA, his first major as a pro, and ended the year 81st on the money list.
It was reminiscent of 2005, when Moore, after making the cut in the U.S. Open, turned pro and made enough money in eight starts to earn his PGA Tour card without having to go to the PGA Tour Qualifying Tournament. He was the first person since Woods in 1996 to advance directly to The Show without enduring golf's dreaded bar exam.
Moore has his foibles. He doesn't use a yardage book and only recently decided to use a professional caddie instead of his brother. But Tom Lehman was speaking for many when he said recently that Moore could start winning in bunches any day. Ping prominently features Moore, a UNLV product, in its TV advertisements, waiting for him to blow up.
He blames himself, not his injury or Tour policy, for failing to qualify for this week's WGC-CA Championship, or the Masters. But when one of America's top prospects says he's finally healthy again and nabs a top-10 to prove it, and when that player is then snubbed from the following week's invitational in favor of players like Rummings and Stanley and sponsor's invite Mike Hulbert (MC), something is out of whack.
...with a classy new look that is not too cluttered, though the text in bold could be a bit darker, at least on my screen.
But as with any great site, it's easy to find stuff. The course finder feature looks promising too. Though there isn't much "stuff" to find on there, so I don't yet see a reason to check in daily (not yet).
However, it's definitely is worth bookmarking and giving a shot.
Golfweek TV introduces Robert Lohrer, Golfweek's new Fashion Director, and let me just say that this attempt to counter Golf Digest's one-and-only Marty Hackel is not off to a roaring start with the hole directors chair/cable access show set thing.
But more importantly, I can now say I've met Marty Hackel, and there is only one Marty Hackel!
In fact, we're only a few weeks away from his Masters fashion and merchandise tent reports, easily one of the highlights of Golf Channel's daily post round coverage (and now that I've said that, it probably means they've replaced him with a segment of Andrew Magee's top ten most incoherent thoughts of the day, sponsored in part by Grey Goose).
During Friday's Bay Hill telecast (before I switched back to the NCAAs), Arnold Palmer endorsed limited field events because they're easier to operate and pace of play is faster. (In the same interview he also endorsed the idea of ending Q-School...)
On the subject of Tiger's new D.C. event as a limited field tournament, Ron Sirak pointed out the brewing battle over the emergence of the Tiger Tour.
The situation brewing here--a player revolt against the tour's most valuable player--is both unprecedented and potentially ugly. Beem says the players can override the PGA Tour Board with a two-thirds majority. If that happens it will formalize what we already know. There is the Tiger Tour--and then there is everything else. And the players will be biting the hand that has fed them well.
Now, I know this is probably an oversimplification of the issue, but it seems that pace of play should be the real issue here. Tiger this week:
TIGER WOODS: Oh, I always liked reduced fields, because obviously play moves along a lot faster. You get around in a much more rhythmical pace. You know, I think that's important.
You can't blame the rank-and-file for today's pace of play, just as you can't blame the elite players. It's in everyone's best interest to adjust to the tepid pace of the rest of the field. This corresponding response has allowed the situation to fester as it has.
I guess it's hard to fathom how a problem that is so clearly impacting spectator interest (on the "Tiger Tour" or run of the mill PGA Tour stops) and lies at the heart of this limited field debate, is not being addressed more forcefully by the Commissioner and the Policy Board?
Reason 3,916 That Tiger Woods Names His Yacht Privacy And Probably Wants Nothing To Do With People In General...
...from "Def Poet" Alvin Lau, courtesy of reader Jon, who clearly wants upset me:
Helen Jung reports on the Nike spin control conference call and attributes several interesting comments to Bob Wood. Unfortunately he is not directly quoted on a few of these topics (anyone with a transcript?).
My favorite bits from the story...
Nike Golf learned of the clubs' illegality from the USGA, the governing body of golf, which had been notified by a competing club manufacturer, Wood said.
Wood said that current tests for USGA compliance aren't keeping up with club technology. In the past, measuring the club face might have been a sufficient test for determining a club's "spring-like effect." But now, those tests might not be considering enough factors to give a true reading.
Yes, that's right, it's the USGA's antiquated testing that didn't stop Nike from manufacturing illegal clubs!
Seriously, he's not trying to blame the USGA for having not caught the illegal clubs from reaching the market? Someone tell me the comments were mischaracterized?
Nike's loud and ugly new driver has just a little too much non-conforming spring like effect and should be returned asap for a replacement.
According to Golf World's Bollocks and Gimcrack:
A source familiar with the document said that the document indicates that a manufacturing problem led to a number of the clubheads having "a conformance issue in regards to [spring-like effect]." According to the source, conforming versions will be shipped within a month and will have a circular sticker noting that it is USGA conforming. In addition, the source said, Nike will provide a website for consumers that will allow them to trade in their current Sumo2 driver for the new version.
The driver has been used by several PGA Tour players, including K.J. Choi, who won the Chrysler Championship in October with the club in his bag.
The driver is currently on the USGA's conforming list, and the document states that a new version of the club has already been submitted to the USGA and is expected to be on the new conforming list when it is published on Monday.
In the release sent to its sales team Friday afternoon, the company states that no Nike staff professionals, including marquee player Tiger Woods, are using product that does not conform to all USGA rules.
Boy that's a relief!
Golf World and Scotland on Sunday correspondent John Huggan shares this dispatch on the Richie Ramsay situation that precluded the reigning U.S. Amateur Champion from playing Bay Hill this week.
Dear Arnold (or can I call you ‘your majesty?’),
Greetings from sunny Scotland.
Over the course of your long career in professional golf, I’m sure you will agree that the land that gave the game to the world has been especially generous to you. Even on the many occasions when you couldn’t be bothered to come and play in the Open Championship – 13 times between your first and last appearance - we Scots did our bit to keep up the myth that the biggest event on the planet today owes its very existence to the fuss and bother caused by your first visit back in 1960. We even provided you with Tip Anderson, the best caddie you ever had. I hear you like our whisky too.
Anyway, less than a year ago one of our own ventured across the big water hazard to our left and your right and emulated your good self by winning the US Amateur Championship. That, as you can imagine, was a big deal back here in the land that gave golf to the world and amongst the people that perpetuate the aforementioned myth re yourself and the Open. We are very proud of Richie Ramsay and his achievement.
As a result of his victory our Richie has received many invitations to take part in events across the globe. One of them very kindly came from you and I know first hand that Richie was very much looking forward to competing in the “Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard” at Bay Hill.
Well, he was until he arrived in Florida to find that he was being denied entry to ‘your’ event because of a stupid and pointless PGA Tour rule that should apply only to professional golfers. Besides, would it have killed you or your office to have reminded Richie that officially “committing” – an apt word in this context – to the tournament was a necessary part of his schedule? Surely not.
When this nonsense came to light, I am perplexed by your apparent indifference to the plight of young Richie. Would it have killed you to take time away from those sycophants on the Golf Channel long enough to tell the PGA Tour pedants that at ‘your’ tournament amateurs who are no threat to anyone’s prize money and who are not taking up anyone’s precious spot in what is not even a full-field event will be allowed to tee it up even if they haven’t been told that they must officially confirm their presence? Surely not.
One last thing. You may not be aware that Richie’s month-long trip to America – during which he will take on Amateur champion Julian Guerrier for the Georgia Cup, compete in the Masters and then the Heritage tournament at Hilton Head – is being paid for by the Scottish Golf Union. The SGU, as you may not be aware, is largely funded by a levy taken from every golf club member in Scotland. In other words, me.
Arnie, can I have my money back please?
Yours in sport,
PS. I hear Richie is switching from Mastercard to Visa. So there.
Former USGA Technical Director Frank Thomas weighs in on the proposed U-groove change...
Based on the USGA’s approach to equipment regulation over the last several years, and assuming the manufacturers don’t mount a concerted effort to object, I’d say the proposal for a rule change on grooves is very likely to be adopted. I’d also say such a rule is irrational and illogical – and, sadly, it’s in keeping with the USGA’s recent actions I first discussed this topic in my November 2006 Frankly Friends Newsletter.
The concern that has been cited as the impetus for the proposal revolves, first around .001% of the golfing population and secondly and more importantly the problem which is trying to be resolved has not been adequately defined. Also there is no evidence that the game (on the tour or elsewhere) will benefit from the change. It will certainly be different and may be costly to implement and difficult to monitor.
I've heard from several local golf association officials already that they would like to know how this is going to be monitored, on top of the questions that Thomas is raising.
The USGA explains this proposal by saying that the rough is not enough of a penalty for the long and wayward golfers using U-shaped grooves on the professional Tours. What they haven’t said is that this problem – if it is a problem – applies only to light rough (1 to 2 inches thick). If it’s any longer, there’s no performance difference between any types of grooves; the grass is too long for it to matter.
Would this last point be the reason that the USGA study seems to avoids defining rough heights in their field study?
From Rich Lerner at TheGolfChannel.com...
A quick perusal revealed that on the subject of “inferior equipment” Phil was joking, suggesting that Tiger dominates without having gone to the super high tech gear most players had already put in their bags---the longer drivers, lighter shafts and monster heads. He wasn’t bashing Nike, but people took the ball and ran with it anyway like Steve Nash and the Suns.
In any event, in the parking lot after his pro-am round, Tiger did open up to a small circle of reporters and while talking about power in the modern game unintentionally exonerated Phil on the long ago inferior equipment comment. “I don’t use raw power,” said Tiger. “If I really wanted to use raw power I’d go to a spinnier ball and a lighter shafted driver like most of the guys and get an extra 20 yards.” So the verdict’s finally been rendered: Phil Mickelson, innocent on all counts on the charge of defamation of a manufacturer’s character.
Well let's not go that far.
After his opening round 64 at Bay Hill...
Q. Does Elin still cook pasta?
TIGER WOODS: She does.
Q. Do you still eat it?
TIGER WOODS: Of course. (Laughter).
That's great, remind him of the food poisoning his wife gave him!
In reading yesterday that Arnold Palmer was considering the club's invitation to serve as the Masters Honorary Starter, I noticed that he's sounding more likely to reprise one of the tournament's great traditions.
While reading Scott Michaux's piece on it today, I wondered about this quote from Palmer:
"I'm giving it some careful consideration now that I have stopped playing competitively. And you know Augusta is one of my very favorite places, and of course Bill Payne is a good friend and I think he is a great guy to have as the chairman.
"So as of this day, I am really giving that some serious consideration. It isn't that I have anything against doing it. I just want it to be the right time when I decide to do it. That's all."
Is he giving his more careful consideration because of the timing, or because Billy Payne is the chairman (and you-know-who is not running the show).
Thanks to reader Mike for this latest story in the San Francisco city golf course saga. This time it's Alister MacKenzie's Sharp Park and Pacifica's interest in operating the facility.