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In the beginning there was golf, but later there were the rules of golf, and then the trouble started. For it is a regrettable fact that although rules are necessary in organized sport, their introduction tends to mar the careless rapture of pastimes unhampered by rigid conditions.



Grading The Golf Websites Week!

Golf Channel has Bay Hill week, I have grading the golf websites week. Hey, as the kids say, it is what it is.

Since this is a slow news time and we appear to be in the developing stage of websites surpassing their print counterparts in importance, I thought it would be fun to analyze a golf news-website-a-day over the next seven days or so.

I'll offer a few quick comments but mostly this is about your insights as a web user. The people involved in these sites may be looking in, so try to keep things constructive, please. Think about what you like, don't like and what you'd like to see more of from the sites.

To kick things off, I'd love to hear you rank your top 5 golf news-related websites. If you'd like to offer up a few comments about why certain sites earn regular visits, that would be even better.


"I’ll do my yoga in the morning and get out here and see if I can keep it going.”

To track the final day of PGA Tour Q-School online, you can watch scores here. To prepare us for the finale, Sean Martin leads with Notah Begay's 63 Sunday to jump 74(!) spots.

Begay’s bogey-free round Saturday moved him up 74 spots on the leaderboard and into a tie for 21st at 15-under 345. The top 25 and ties after Monday’s final round will earn PGA Tour cards.

“I hit it great the last two days,” Begay said. “(In the fourth round), I had 11 looks inside 15 feet and only made one. I didn’t know if it was going to happen today or tomorrow or next year, but I knew I was going to have a good round at some point.”

Begay will have to tackle PGA West’s tougher Stadium Course in Q-School’s final round while most of the contenders play the Nicklaus Tournament Course.

“I won’t change anything,” Begay said. “I’ll still make dinner for my brother tonight and we’ll still do our same routine. I’ll do my yoga in the morning and get out here and see if I can keep it going.”

Martin's piece also offers easy to read capsules on various players and lists all scores through four rounds.

John Strege profiles another great story, former Ryder Cupper Chris Riley who enters the last day in a tie for 16th. 


"It's unfortunate that the very top percentile, which is so minuscule, has really benefited."

The Orlando Sentinel's Josh Robbins talks to some of the geezers playing in the Father/Neerdowell Challenge about biggest changes to the game. My two favorites:

Raymond Floyd: Technology. Equipment and technology. ... It's unfortunate that the very top percentile, which is so minuscule, has really benefited. The masses have also benefited, but not to the [same] extent, because they've developed the ball and the club for the high swing speed. So that makes the ball go so much farther. However, the lighter club, the perimeter weighting, has benefited the masses as well. So, where do you draw the parallel? It's benefited everybody, but it's almost making old golf courses obsolete because of what happens exponentially with head speed, the distance the ball goes. ... I'm 66 years old, and I hit the ball farther than I did when I was probably 55.

But you workout Ray, don't discount that!

And Fuzzy...

Zoeller: I'd like to see the USGA step in and calm some things down, or some of these golf courses that have been over the years are just going to be obsolete. Personally as a player, I don't think they're doing their job. That's just the way I feel about it. ... [The technology and the equipment] has gotten out of hand. It seems like the manufacturers are light years ahead of the USGA. I think they need to stop it and put a cap on it somewhere. It's like a runaway dog right now.

What, no love for the groove rule change? I'm shocked!


"I've kind of had the door shut on me a couple of time. But they can't do it anymore."

Eric Soderstrom talking to David Leadbetter about Michelle Wie qualifying for the LPGA Tour:

“She needs the LPGA; I think the LPGA needs her,” Leadbetter said. “I think you can see by these crowds here. I don’t think that would have been the case if she wasn’t playing.

“So I think it’s wonderful for all concerned.”

Steve Elling on the final day scene:

LPGA commissioner Carolyn Bivens watched a few holes from her electric cart, no doubt deliriously happy that Wie and fellow American Stacy Lewis, who was the medalist by three strokes at 18 under, were earning their cards. Page Thompson, the head honcho at the Golf Channel, drove up from Orlando to watch Wie's final round. Media on hand included the New York Times, USA Today, Sports Illustrated, both weekly golf magazines and a slew of writers from various sports websites.

"You ask whether the LPGA needs Michelle?" Leadbetter said. "Look around here."

Ron Sirak offers this about medalist and all-around amazing story Stacey Lewis:

While not as extensive as Wie's run-ins with the LPGA, Lewis, a scrappy 23-year-old who endured a nearly decade-long battle with scoliosis, has had a couple odd brushes of her own. In 2006, she led an LPGA tournament in Arkansas that was washed out after one round and was erased from the record books. A victory that wasn?t.

Then this year she earned enough money by finishing third in the U.S. Women?s Open to have secured her card for next year off the money list, but the tour has a rule saying U.S. Open money does not count because the purse is so much larger than normal LPGA tournaments. Thus she had to come to Q school.

"I've kind of had the door shut on me a couple of time," Lewis said. "But they can't do it anymore."

In less positive news, Elspeth Burnside reports on Vikki Laing's DQ:

Laing had posted a 76 on day three and was tied for 56th place on one-over par, but she signed for a six instead of a seven at the 14th hole. The error was only discovered after she had left the scorer's hut. Laing, who held non-exempt status for the LPGA Tour in 2004 and 2005, had been hoping to gain one of the fully exempt cards for the 2009 circuit. But she now faces another season on the secondary US Futures Tour. 


"Imagine the long-term impact on the kids who would want to pick up golf clubs just because Tiger hit it."

Geoff Ogilvy used his Australian PGA win to mention what a Tiger appearance would mean to Australian golf. From Reuters:

"We could stack some pretty good players against him, it would be a pretty stunning tournament," the former U.S. Open champion told reporters.

"Imagine the long-term impact on the kids who would want to pick up golf clubs just because Tiger hit it.

"Imagine 25,000 people leaving the golf course telling everyone they watched Tiger Woods play and the amazing impact it could have."

We imagine the same thing here in Los Angeles these days, but I don't think anyone coming to Riviera for the Northern Trust Open will get the pleasure again. Sorry Aussies, Tiger doesn't add to his schedule. He only subtracts.


"I think we've finally bridged the gap"

John Paul Newport focuses in on two of golf's best landscape photographers and learns this about how Joanne Dost and Larry Lambrecht work.

Ms. Dost, who sells framed photographs as large as 40 inches by 80 inches in her gallery in Monterey, still shoots her most ambitious work on film. "Digital is great. For books, for magazines, for smaller prints, it's perfect. But when you get up into the really big prints, the depth and tonality is just not quite there for me yet," she said. Mr. Lambrecht, by contrast, has gone almost exclusively digital, thanks to an expensive new digital back for his trusty old medium-format film camera. It can record images of 39 megapixels, compared with 10 to 12 megapixels for today's top-line consumer digital cameras. "I think we've finally bridged the gap," he said.

And while we're on the subject of cool golf images, reader Michael noticed this Jaoa Padua shot from MSNBC. It's of Marta Mamani, an Aymara indigenous woman who is on the construction crew at La Paz Golf Club in Bolivia, considered the world's golf facility highest above sea level.



“I had to force some small talk"

Ron Sirak says that "Pretty much all Michelle Wie is going to have to do Sunday at LPGA Q school is make sure she signs her scorecard," which is why all attention is focused on the epic 59 in La Quinta by Harrison Frazar. The Golf Channel studio gang takes you through the round.

Sean Martin, filing for

Frazar’s group had to wait a couple minutes before teeing off on No. 18. Frazar spent part of that time standing alone at the edge of that tee box, talking at times about college football with playing partners Robert Garrigus and James Nitties.

“I had to force some small talk,” Frazar said. “Robert and James were great to play with. They were laid aback. I tried to make some small chatter with folks wherever I could, try to keep my mind off of it.”

Jim Achenbach files an anatomy of a 59 and is pretty much in awe of everything except the cleaning up of the PGA West courses.

PGA West is in the midst of a total renovation. The two golf courses used for this event – the Nicklaus Tournament Course and the infamous Stadium Course by Pete Dye – have been cleaned up, spruced up, prettied up and manicured as carefully as a girl heading to her first high school prom.

Peter Yoon reminds us that this is not the first 59 Q-school, nor does such an incredible round ensure a PGA Tour card.

When Gossett shot 59, it came in the fourth round of Q-school. But Gossett failed to break 70 in any other round that year and did not receive his PGA Tour card. Frazar now has a four-shot lead with two rounds to go and he's 10 shots clear of the top 25 who will earn playing privileges for the 2009 PGA Tour season on Monday. Still, he's not taking anything for granted.

"This isn't the last day and this isn't over," Frazar said. "We've got two days left. On these courses, as you can see, you can get at it, but you can also get bit pretty hard."

John Strege profiles Notah Begay, who is just happy that he'll be playing on an organized tour, even if he doesn't make a comebackt his week.


"In terms of the bigger picture, she had little to offer, a state of affairs that will have to change when she ventures out into the wider world."

John Huggan is not very bullish on Annika's ANNIKA's post golf course career:

Showing admirable understatement, McGee acknowledges that his partner's marketing income will "go down slightly" after her public profile plunges. That assessment, however, may turn out to be more than a little optimistic. If the quietly spoken Sorenstam's efforts in the world of commerce are anything like her admirably machine-like but ultimately dull style of play, the credit crunch will before long have another victim. Her qualifications for entry into the esoteric world of course design, for example, remain something of a mystery to me.

And let's not get into the fact that, throughout her distinguished career, the long-time world No.1 only rarely, if ever, said anything remotely interesting (an accusation that can also legitimately be made against Tiger Woods). Anything Sorenstam ever did for the growth of women's golf and the tour she played on resulted from the quality of her golf rather than her rhetoric. In terms of the bigger picture, she had little to offer, a state of affairs that will have to change when she ventures out into the wider world.


Sensing Need To Contribute To Masters Par-3's Circus Atmosphere, Greg Wants Chrissie To Caddy

Thanks to reader Andrew for Josh Robbins' story on Greg and Gregory Norman. Dad knows his cheesy Tony Robbins metaphors:

"I've learned from Gregory his tenacity and his desire to be good at whatever he does," the father said. "It resonates out. When you're under pressure, you could see the intensity that comes out of an individual. What do you want to do? "Do you want to fly like an eagle or fly like a buzzard? And Gregory wants to fly like an eagle."

Gregory responded: "I learned how to do those things from him."

Gregory Translation: "Okay dad, that was a bit over the top. I'm going to keep my answer brief."

Now the real news:

It's possible, however, that Evert, not Gregory, may caddie for Norman in the Par 3 event on the eve of the Masters. In fact, it's an idea that Gregory endorses.

"She should definitely caddie," Gregory said when a reporter brought up the possibilityon Friday.

Norman agreed, saying anything is possible.

"[Chris and I] have talked about that actually," Norman acknowledged. "Whether that happens or not, I don't know."



"Tell a British golfer that the 90-degree rule is in effect and you’ll get a blank look."

Alistair Tait files a nice rant about American golf courses and golfers, and just as he was making fun of our propensity to tuck a towel into the waistband he thankfully switched to his British golf rants and addressed the issue of grown men wearing socks to their knees. Wise move Alistair, wise move.


The End of Newspapermen Covering Golf Near?

With the news that Jim McCabe has left the Boston Globe to replace Rex Hoggard at Golfweek (now at, Sal Johnson recaps the dizzying changes in golf newspaper coverage over the last decade. I also understand there has been a shake up at the Daily Telegraph, so it's not just an American issue.

Let's face reality, this isn't an isolated problem to fall on just the Boston market but a total purge on golf writing in not only this country but around the world. Just in the last couple of months we have seen the golf writers of the Los Angeles Times, Thomas Bonk, take a buy out. In Chicago, Ed Sherman of the Chicago Tribune left after the PGA Championship. Vartan Kupelian is no longer with the Detroit News, the writer of a paper in Washington is waiting to see if his contract will be renewed in '09. Just this week Bill Huffman is writing his last column for the East Valley Tribune and in neighboring Phoenix, the Arizona Republic told it's golf writer John Davis that he would be cut in half on golf, had to focus on just local golf no longer writing about the PGA and LPGA Tours and would be on the copy desk for half of his 40 hour week. Cities like Atlanta, St. Petersburg, Florida, Palm Beach, Florida, Kansas City, Houston, Texas and Hartford, Connecticut no longer have golf writers. Of course many of you may wonder why this is so important, but in the scope of things it's very important and one of the growing problems for the PGA Tour in the months ahead.


Golf Digest Reveals Latest Best New Courses List

Ron Whitten reports on places with Dickensian names like Gozzer and Tobiano winning, along with Faz's Saucon Valley work capturing the best renovation, meaning it's nicely positioned for 2014's new category, best renovation of a best renovation.

There's also a photo slide show of the winners.


Azinger Now Issuing Non-Denial Denials

Steve Elling is the latest to try and find out where the Ryder Cup captain stands in his desire to head the 2010 U.S. effort.

Azinger was asked a half-dozen variations on the same question, and though the answers never much changed, he all but telegraphed his renewed interest in the position two years hence -- if not that the position is already in the pipeline.

"I'm not going to go there," Azinger said.

Which doesn't mean he won't be going to Wales in 2010, when the U.S. defends the Cup. The host PGA of America ought to lease the jet for his trip, like, yesterday.

Azinger, playing this weekend in the Del Webb Father/Son Challenge, openly gushed about the experience of leading the American team three months ago in Kentucky, but when it came time to discuss whether he might re-up, he was uncharacteristically mum.
"Anything regarding the future Ryder Cup captaincy needs to be directed to them," Azinger said. "I don't want to step on their toes."

Paul, do you dread those Champions Tour pro-ams that much?


"Who knows what would have happened then.”

Ron Balicki, who reported last week that the Old Memorial pro shop sales will take a 2009 hit with the cancellation of Walker Cup winter practice sessions, talks to Colt Knost who says he wouldn't be on the Nationwide Tour today wouldn't be a former USGA champion if it weren't for those sessions. Thanks to reader John for this:

“I definitely wouldn’t be where I am now,’’ he said, had he not been named to the U.S. Walker Cup practice squad two years ago.


As a senior at Southern Methodist, he was considered – even by himself – as a longshot to make the 10-man team. He entered his senior season with every intention of turning professional after the spring. However, he was one of the 20-plus players selected for the Walker Cup practice squad and went to Tampa, Fla., for a three-day practice session.

“I knew I wasn’t very high on their (USGA) list, so I felt pretty lucky to be picked,” Knost said this week. “Being able to go there and show what I could do and how I could get along with the other players was huge, especially for a guy like me. It gave me a lot of confidence and made me feel if I played well that next summer, I would have a good chance of making the (Walker Cup) team. That had always been a goal of mine.

“There is no doubt in my mind, if I hadn’t been picked for the practice squad I would have turned pro right after college, played a bunch of the mini-tours and then tried (PGA Tour) Q-School. Who knows what would have happened then.”

This much is certain: If Knost had not been a member of that practice squad, a different name would appear on the trophies of the U.S. Amateur Public Links and U.S. Amateur championships. And maybe, the U.S. would not have left Ireland with a 12 1/2-11 1/2 victory in the 41st Walker Cup Match.

Also, the sun might not have continued rising in the east and Barack Obama might still just be a junior senator from Illinois.


Nice Get For USGA Museum?

Sarazen's double eagle wood...


Burrito The Golfing Dog!

Eat your heart out lefties...


“Golf thrives on intelligent conversation. We need to talk more about where the game is headed.”

Mark Brooks talking to Golfweek's Jim Achenbach:

The big campaign for Brooks is the golf ball. He, along with many traditionalists who enjoy working the ball and creating a multitude of different shots, would like to see spin put back into the ball.

Among other consequences, this would reintroduce the slice to golf. With today’s low-spinning, dead-straight golf balls, the slice has disappeared from the game. Sure, shots still go to the right because they are pushed or blocked, but they fly straight right rather than slicing out of control.

“It would put more emphasis on shotmaking, which would be a good thing,” Brooks said. “I’ve been screaming about it for some time, but it hasn’t done any good.”

It hasn’t done any good because the U.S. Golf Association failed to control the golf ball. For all the positive achievements of the USGA, the organization flatly failed to comprehend the ingenuity of the golf ball companies.

Along the way, golf turned into a straight-line game. A new philosophy emerged: Aim it at your target and swing like hell.

Brooks contends that an element of skill was removed from the game. Controlling the ball became too simple.

“It’s very frustrating,” Brooks said. “Shotmakers are artists. They are highly skilled at moving the ball around. Now suddenly you see a bunch of guys who never think of playing that way. The reason they can swing so hard and hit it so far is that the ball is so easy to control.”

Brooks still loves the game. He still will support the USGA, although he will lobby for change whenever he gets the opportunity.

When you shoot 66 in an important tournament, you have the opportunity.

“I’m not going to shut up,” Brooks concluded. “Golf thrives on intelligent conversation. We need to talk more about where the game is headed.” 


Q-School Miscellany, Day 1

Sean Martin with the story of Ted Oh, who has reappeared on the golfing radar with an opening 67 at PGA TOur Q-school. John Strege fills us in on the progress of some other next-can't-miss players who are teeing it up this week.

Peter Yoon shares some some celebrity sightings:

Brooks, the veteran who already has status as a past champion on the PGA Tour, free-wheeled through a pressure-free round using his 22-year-old daughter as caddie.

Mark Brooks, the 1996 PGA Championship winner, is one of the most well-known players who teed it up Wednesday in the first round of Q-school at PGA West, and he lived up to the billing with a 6-under 66 at the Stadium Course that has him a stroke out of the lead.

Brooks, however, might not have been the biggest name on the course. That belonged to Anthony Kim, the Ryder Cup star who lent his caddie to childhood friend Seung-Su Han and walked with Han on the back nine as Han shot a roller-coaster 1-over 73 on the Stadium Course.

The two provided microcosms of the contrasts going on at Q-school.

Beth Ann Baldry at LPGA Q-school on Michelle Wie's first round:

Wie created a buzz at Q-School that hasn’t been seen since Ai Miyazato came through in 2005. Of course, those were all Japanese reporters.

Normally on a Wednesday at LPGA Q-School, two, maybe three print reporters are on hand. This year, several national outlets – including Associated Press, ESPN, and USA Today – walked 18 holes with Wie. Golf Channel even did hourly on-air updates of Wie’s progress.

Say what you will, Wie remains a story. As many as 100 fans followed Wie, though that number dwindled as the day progressed. There are no ropes here in Daytona, but there is a new set of bleachers behind the 18th green at the Champions Course, where play concludes on Sunday. Fans are up close and personal here at Q-School, so much so that security asked one man to get out of the middle of the ninth fairway.

And Eric Adelson at paints this picture:

Michelle Wie played 18 holes Wednesday without a Nike rep watching, without a William Morris rep watching, without a Ken Sunshine rep watching, without a deep-pocketed Hawaiian benefactor watching, without a physical therapist watching, without a live television camera watching, without a six-deep gallery watching and even without a standard-bearer watching. Those days, and witnesses, are gone, at least for today. But the 100 or so fans and reporters who were watching got the answer to the question that still intrigues many golf fans, including the Trashman:

Michelle is doing just fine. 


"We've got to assume and prepare for some slippage, and prepare for some replacement there."

It seems Reuters convened some sort of sports summit and Commissioner Finchem appeared with his posse to spin things. He did reveal a few things worth noting...

"We've got to assume and prepare for some slippage, and prepare for some replacement there."

Finchem said the PGA had already held a wide range of discussions with companies about adding new sponsors or expanding existing deals if necessary.

Finchem said Toyota Motor Corp, the world's largest automaker, could be one candidate for a bigger marketing presence in U.S. golf, while others could come from industries that "have performed relatively well during the downturn".

Such sectors include energy, the environment and retail, and Finchem mentioned the world's largest retailer Wal-Mart may be one company that could broaden its role.

More interesting was this Reuters blog item from Robert Macmillan. He either doesn't understand the Commissioner's extraordinarily, painfully dry sense of humor or the Commish is living in a fantasy world when it comes to Tiger Woods:

If there is a silver lining, it’s that Tiger downtime means that other nascent players might come to the fore, perhaps making them tomorrow’s stars. To understand how the PGA views Woods in this respect, Finchem pointed out that President-elect Barack Obama *might* be the first person in a very long time to knock Tiger off his perch as the most-recognized American.

Might? Really, you think? For the sake of our country I hope so.


"But we did notice that at this year's U.S. Open at Torrey Pines that the public authorities there in San Diego banned smoking in the public areas."

Ty Votaw, while speaking for the PGA Tour on a number of subjects, was asked about banning smoking at PGA Tour events.

"We certainly had conversations and discussions with John in the past when certain behavioral issues have come up," Votaw said. "We hope to not have many more of those conversations."

Votaw also said the tour has no plans to ban smoking at events, as has been done at the venues of some other sports.

"We play our sport on an expanse of geography that's a little bit different than contained stadium situations," he said. "But we did notice that at this year's U.S. Open at Torrey Pines that the public authorities there in San Diego banned smoking in the public areas."

And it was wonderful not to smell that rancid odor created by grown men sucking on a bobcat turd.

Seriously, the smell I and others connect with the tour stop at Riviera is not the wonderful eucalyptus scent or that distinctive acacia fragance that floats through the property in February. No, it's cigar smoke. Not a nice connection.

I'm setting 2010 in the PGA Tour bans smoking over/under. Place your wagers!