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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
  • The Golf Book: Twenty Years of the Players, Shots, and Moments That Changed the Game
    The Golf Book: Twenty Years of the Players, Shots, and Moments That Changed the Game
    by Chris Millard
  • The Forbidden Game: Golf and the Chinese Dream
    The Forbidden Game: Golf and the Chinese Dream
    by Dan Washburn
  • The Early Days of Pinehurst
    The Early Days of Pinehurst
    by Chris Buie
  • Arnie, Seve, and a Fleck of Golf History: Heroes, Underdogs, Courses, and Championships
    Arnie, Seve, and a Fleck of Golf History: Heroes, Underdogs, Courses, and Championships
    by Bill Fields
  • The Magnificent Masters: Jack Nicklaus, Johnny Miller, Tom Weiskopf, and the 1975 Cliffhanger at Augusta
    The Magnificent Masters: Jack Nicklaus, Johnny Miller, Tom Weiskopf, and the 1975 Cliffhanger at Augusta
    by Gil Capps
  • His Ownself: A Semi-Memoir
    His Ownself: A Semi-Memoir
    by Dan Jenkins
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

Every great golf hole possesses many natural feature which collectively make it a great hole, each dovetailing with the others without all of them there is something lacking which spoils the whole. It is not Nature’s ensemble. So why not consider the material which Nature has given us to work with to the exclusion of any attempt to distort it to a sorry imitation.
A.W. TILLINGHAST

 

    

Thursday
Jun212007

"It's one of the most irrelevant rules ever proposed in golf."

Thanks to reader Sean for catching John Davis's excellent story on the U-groove rule change proposed by the USGA.

In a joint proposal with the Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews, U-grooves wouldn't be banned, but clubs would have specifications so they performed like V-shaped grooves, which were the standard before U-grooves were approved.

"Does that mean I would have to buy new clubs?" Kevin Largent of Scottsdale said before a golf round last week. "I just got these."

The answer is yes, although not right away. If adopted, the rules would take effect for high-level competition in 2009 and for all new equipment in 2010. Recreational golfers would have a 10-year grace period in which they can use clubs that currently conform.
I wonder how many golfers actually know this?
Tour pros have had mixed reaction to the proposal, but most club manufacturers are strongly opposed, saying it not only would cost them millions of dollars to meet the specifications but also would be costly for golfers.
Oh come on.
"More than 100 million clubs that are being played around the world would be non-conforming. That's a lot of clubs," said John A. Solheim, president and CEO of Ping. "I'm totally opposed to this thing."

An open comment period runs through Aug. 1, during which anyone can send comments to the USGA about the proposal. In recent years, equipment proposals have been "tweaked," but the end result has been a new rule in each case.

If approved, it would mark the first rollback in equipment since the move to a lighter ball in 1931.

And why is it again the ball can't be rolled back? That's easier to replace than a set of irons.
Benoit Vincent, chief technical officer for TaylorMade, thinks the proposal is "disconnected."

"Their point is that golfers aren't concerned about driving accuracy," Vincent said. "How do they control that? By regulating the spin of the ball on shots out of the rough?

"The probability that this rule is going to solve the problem is very low."

Vincent thinks it unfair that clubmakers and regular golfers would pay a steep price simply because of shots being executed by highly skilled tour pros. He estimates that golfers would pay 10 percent more for the new clubs.

"In order to meet those specifications would cost millions of dollars," he said. "This rule is insignificant to the vast majority of golfers in the world except that they would have to change their equipment. It's one of the most irrelevant rules ever proposed in golf."

This argument looks particularly silly after Oakmont:

 

Rugge doubts that the proposed changes would have much change on the tour's money list. "Tiger Woods is still going to be the best," he said. "We would expect to see some changes, but these guys are so good, they would adapt their games perhaps to focus more on staying in the fairway."

Right, because they are aiming at the rough. Kind of hard not to when the fairways are 22 yards wide. 

Thursday
Jun212007

"The FedExCup thingy"

Thanks to reader James for this Norman Dabell Reuters story where you can just feel the excitement oozing from Ernie's lips...

Even though Els found Oakmont exasperating he still maintained the British Open at Carnoustie in 1999 was "the toughest major I've ever played".

After playing Carnoustie for next month's British Open, Els's schedule then really takes off in America -- whether he likes it or not.
   
"It's the start of the FedExCup thingy," he said. "I think I'm going to play six out of seven weeks and try and make some silly points."

Thursday
Jun212007

"It was frustration talking."

Thomas Bonk notes in his LA Times golf column that Phil Mickelson is apologizing for something he shouldn't have to apologize for.

Mickelson, who after missing the cut at the U.S. Open blamed the USGA for his wrist injury because of the length of the rough at Oakmont during his practice rounds, backed off his comments on his website Wednesday. He said he was simply upset about being hurt: "It's probably why I said some of the things I did on Friday and some of them may have been a little out of line. It was frustration talking."

Uh, frustration was also talking Wednesday night on The Golf Channel.

More importantly, as one golf scribe said to me today, these calls for Phil to apologize for saying what was on his mind (and what was clearly the case since two players WD'd because of rough-induced wrist injuries), is precisely the reason  players offer so few original, profound or bold statements anymore.

Thursday
Jun212007

Questions Raised About FedEx Cup; Tour Elated Someone Cares Enough At This Point To Have Questions

Ken Gordon in the Columbus Dispatch wonders about how this FedEx Cup thing will work (Golf World's John Hawkins declared it dead on arrival last week). If nothing else, perhaps the story raises money for John Rollins' charity of choice:

"Your career is based on majors," John Rollins said. "Quite honestly, if I won two majors this year, I could care less if I won the FedEx."
You can't tear down a brand like FedEx and not be fined. Come on John!

This is fun from Ty Votaw
"Whenever you create something new and different, there is no small amount of skepticism," he said.

Uh, we've moved beyond skepticism to apathy.

Thursday
Jun212007

Cherry Hills Invites U.S. Amateur

Anthony Cotton reports that the club would like to host one, while Coore and Crenshaw's new Colorado Golf Club is doing all it can to attract USGA events.

Thursday
Jun212007

USOpen.com Sees Record Hits

Thursday
Jun212007

The Dangers Of On-Site Blogging

Shelly Anderson of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette questions the NCAA's concern$ over writers doing live game updates and mentions the USGA's policy on live blogging on site at Oakmont (don't even think of whipping out a PDA on the course...unless you are Walter Driver!).

Wednesday
Jun202007

"What's the difference between God and Walter Driver?"

From Bob Verdi's Golf World column on the U.S. Open:

...you know what they say around USGA headquarters. What's the difference between God and Walter Driver? God doesn't go around acting like Walter Driver.

I think Bob has just moved ahead of me on the hit list! 

Wednesday
Jun202007

"If I'm Phil Mickelson, I'm crafting a letter of apology to the USGA"

Sigh. Yes, Tim Rosaforte says Phil needs to apologize for his remarks about the rough at Oakmont causing his injury.

If I'm Phil Mickelson, I'm crafting a letter of apology to the USGA and the membership at Oakmont, then, at my next press conference, I'm saying I really messed up after missing the cut by blaming my wrist injury on "course set-up." For his competitiveness, and the way he treated the people in the town of Oakmont during his stay, Mickelson really won everybody over. But his comments were damaging and he needs to make it right before moving on. Another good move would be to enter Tiger's tournament, the AT&T National, but that would mean three straight weeks of tournament golf -- Lefty's already committed to Loch Lomond the week before the Open Championship.

Damaging? To? 

It seemed to me no one took Phil seriously?

Well either way, Rosaforte needs to add Chris DiMarco to the list then, since he told Golf World's Jim Moriarty in this week's issue (story not posted yet):

"It's going to take somebody swinging through and breaking an arm or something for them to finally realize that maybe the rough is a little too much. It's going to take somebody getting hurt for them to maybe gear down a little bit."

Wednesday
Jun202007

Erin Hills And The U.S. Open?

Gary D'Amato says Erin Hills is looking decent for the U.S. Open, perhaps 2017, though buried deep in the piece is this from the USGA's Mike Davis.
"But it really is so premature it would be unfair to comment other than to say they have the infrastructure there to do it."
Wednesday
Jun202007

Drug Testing Policy Almost Done

Wow, a PGA Tour drug testing policy is almost here but still no ball study complete. And just think gents, all we had to do was throttle the ball back 15-20 yards and stop having everyone telling us that you were better athletes and you wouldn't have to pee in a cup the rest of your careers! Oh well!

The Commish Wednesday:

“It’s unfortunate that these realities are with us, but they are,’’ Finchem said Wednesday at the Travelers Championship. “And we have to deal with them, and I think it’s important that golf deal with them collectively.’’

 

Wednesday
Jun202007

"The great coincidence about this birth was the timing."

Doug Ferguson weighs in (tastefully I might ad, thus likely ruling him out for GWAA award consideration) on the birth of Tiger and Elin's first child.

The great coincidence about this birth was the timing.

Woods’ daughter was born the morning after he finished second by one shot at the U.S. Open, needing a 30-foot birdie putt on the last hole to force an 18-hole playoff Monday. It might be the one time, in hindsight, Woods didn’t mind settling for second.

Eight years ago, Phil Mickelson was about to become a father when he missed a 25-foot birdie putt on the 72nd hole at Pinehurst No. 2 that would have forced a playoff against Payne Stewart. His daughter was born the next afternoon.

Everyone knows the Mickelson children because they are dressed to the nines when they run out to the 18th. The exception was The Players Championship, when Amy and the kids were in San Diego, and Mickelson had to settle for a hug from Butch Harmon.

The only time Elin Woods was a prominent part of the picture was last summer at Hoylake, and only because Woods was a blubbering mess of tears having captured his first victory since the death of his father.

Elin once talked about wives and children going out to the 18th green to celebrate victory, and while she thought it was “very cool,’’ she had a hard time doing it herself because “it’s just not my personality.’’

I'm actually looking forward to the press questioning Tiger about the timing of the birth. It seems like there is a decent chance he had some inkling Sunday that she was about to give birth.

I'd be curious what he knew, when he knew it, and most of all, where he drummed up the audacity to not milk the situation like you know who did back in '99!

Wednesday
Jun202007

Carnoustie Chaos

Seems things are not shaping up very nicely at Carnoustie, where superintendent John Philp has been suspended over a personnel issue and apparently conditions aren't exactly thriving in his absense. Thanks to reader Jim for catching this.

Wednesday
Jun202007

"Improved aerodynamic efficiency, resulting in increased flight distance for golfers of all swing speeds"

Thanks to reader Kevin for noticing David Dawsey's latest golf patent post, this one on a new ball from Titleist:

A golf ball is provided that has improved aerodynamic efficiency, resulting in increased flight distance for golfers of all swing speeds, and more particularly for golfers possessing very high swing speeds, such as those who can launch the balls at an initial speed greater than 160 miles per hour and more particularly at initial ball speed of about 170 miles per hour or higher. The golf ball of the present invention combines lower dimple count with multiple dimple sizes to provide higher dimple coverage and improved aerodynamic characteristics.

 

Wednesday
Jun202007

"Phil Mickelson, for all the abuse he took for offering an honest opinion, wasn't entirely wrong, either."

Steve Elling played Oakmont Monday and lives to write about just how correct both Tiger and Phil were in their assessments:

 Speaking for the parade of media hacks who hung around Oakmont Country Club on Monday, we're sorry we doubted you, man.

Moreover, Phil Mickelson, for all the abuse he took for offering an honest opinion, wasn't entirely wrong, either.

Last week at the U.S. Open, Woods twice asserted that a 10-handicap player, counting every shot and playing by the rulebook, couldn't crack the century mark at absurdly difficult Oakmonster, the hardest course he had ever played.

"No chance," Woods said.

Mickelson, in a parting comment that prompted some to characterize him as a whiner, said the course was "dangerous" because the rough was so deep, players risked injuring their wrists and hands.

After spending five murderous hours on the course Monday, we're here to offer assurance in first-hand fashion that both were right on the money, in either fact or principle.

You'll have to click on the story link to find out how Elling broke 100! 

Wednesday
Jun202007

"The winner of the last hole picks where to hit from"

Thanks to reader John for this Stu Pospisil story on Ballyneal.

Love this little local touch...

 A caddy at Ballyneal is a golfer's best friend. One reason is the caddy discreetly carries a GPS device in the pocket of his bib, giving precise yardages to the flagstick every time. The caddy will take you on the short walks from the green to the next tee. Better follow closely, or beware of the yucca and the occasional cactus or lizard.

 Each hole on the 6,995-yard, par-71 course, routed through an area of chop hills by course architect Tom Doak, has at least three teeing grounds. Downwind holes, head to the Tiger tips. Wind gusting in the face, consider moving up one or two tees.

"How we play is that the winner of the last hole picks where to hit from," Ballyneal owner and developer Rupert O'Neal said.

The tees at Ballyneal are truly works of art. Great to hear they take full advantage of their versatility.

Wednesday
Jun202007

News of the Weird, Vol. 8912

Thanks to reader Tom for this AOL Fanhouse blog post on a golfer starting a brush fire...with a swing!

Tuesday
Jun192007

Two Classics From Oakmont

Bill Fields does his Darwin thing and files another enjoyable essay from Oakmont with a couple of nice anecdotes.

As part of a magazine issue that featured a number of swing sequences, I wrote LPGA Hall of Famer Mickey Wright, who was among several legendary players Golf World asked to submit their five favorite swings in golf. Less than a week after sending Wright my request, I received a handwritten response from her. Along with Sam Snead, Ben Hogan, Gene Littler and Louise Suggs on Wright's list was the name of Angel Cabrera. All Wright did was win 82 tournaments and 13 majors with one of the best swings--male or female--the game has ever seen. When Cabrera seized the halfway lead at even-par 140 last week, it felt like I had a bit of insider-trading information.
And...

The fate of that tee ball was a metaphor for the whole week: The line separating success and failure was as fine as it ever gets in golf, a skinny thread of demarcation that separated the golfers left with a headache and the one that hoisted the trophy. "I just don't like the black-and-whiteness of the guaranteed one-shot penalty for hitting it in a bad spot," said defending champion Geoff Ogilvy, who finished T-42 at 19-over 299. "But as I said, I'm frustrated, so it's a bad time to interview a player."

SI's John Garrity goes in an entirely different but most enjoyable direction with a tongue-in-cheek (I think!) chat with an Oakmont member.

I had gotten a lunchtime call from a stranger, who told me the Oakmont members were angry because their course was playing too easy. "Two guys broke par yesterday," he said. His voice cracked on the word broke. "Paul Casey just shot a 66. A 66!" This last lament was pitched so high that I pictured the Hindenburg going down in flames.

I can't say I was surprised. Look up sado masochism in the Physician's Desk Reference, and you'll find a thumbnail photo of the Oakmont clubhouse along with footnotes on Church Pew bunkers, overgrown ditches and H.C. Fownes, the Pittsburgh businessman who designed the course more than a century ago. Fownes loved his golf course the way Torquemada loved the rack, and he passed his cruel streak on to his son Bill. "The virility and charm of the game lies in its difficulties," wrote Bill Fownes. "Keep it rugged, baffling, hard to conquer. . . . Let the clumsy, the spineless and the alibi artist stand aside!"

"So what are you saying?" I asked. "That the USGA comes in and sets up Oakmont to play easier than normal?"

His hands flew up. "Do I have to spell it out for you? Who ordered our super to cut the rough over the weekend? Who made him slow the greens to 13 1/2 or 14? Who told you media guys that Oakmont would be 'tough but fair?' " Realizing that his nose had popped out of the shadows for a second, Deep Rough drew back. "Fair? Who said golf was supposed to be fair?"

Regaining his composure, he let his voice drop to a melodramatic whisper: "Follow the dandruff."

Tuesday
Jun192007

Classic Cuban

How does he do it? As usual, Golf World's J.D. Cuban was at the right place at the right time to capture this shot of Paul Casey's unplayable bunker shot Sunday at Oakmont. Though I'm not sure this is exactly the mark of brilliant bunker construction...outside of Oakmont, PA anyway.

01fields.jpg 

Tuesday
Jun192007

"You would think the Tour would place some value on Hartford's long tradition and effort, but the suits in Ponte Vedra Beach had their eyes on bigger money."

Bruce Berlet pens an SI My Shot reminding us that they are playing in Connecticut this week despite the Commissioner's bizarre effort to kill the event on the regular schedule.