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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

Don't worry about your caddie. He may be an irritating little wretch, but for eighteen holes he is your caddie. ARNOLD HAULTAIN


    

Sunday
Mar022008

Aronimink In AT&T Mix

Joe Logan reports that Aronimink is a strong candidate to fill in for Congressional when the 2011 U.S. Open is played in the D.C. area. This caught my eye:

This much is known: There is enough interest that representatives from the tournament visited Aronimink several months ago to scope out the course.

The club also brought in one of course designer Tom Fazio's top guys to determine how much the 7,152-yard, par-70 layout could be stretched, if needed. (Answer: 7,500 yards).

Then, in December, representatives from Aronimink flew to the Target World Challenge in California, another Woods event, where they met with AT&T National officials and Woods himself.

Wouldn't it be refreshing if Tiger, hot off his slow play concerns going public in a bigger way, told them not to add the length because the walks to those new back tees just add to the length of rounds? I can dream can't I?

Sunday
Mar022008

East Lake Changes

Thanks to readers Rob and Patrick for Stan Awtrey's story on the planned changes to East Lake.

Six holes will undergo changes, the result being a course that will play 7,300 yards to par 70 from the championship tees.

• No. 3: A new fairway bunker is being added to the left side, about 310 yards away from the tee.

• No. 7: An additional bunker is being placed on the left side, about 310 yards away from the tee. The green is also being moved about 40 yards up the hill, lengthening the par 4 to 440 yards.

• No. 8: The championship tee box is being moved back 20 yards, stretching the par 4 to 435 yards.

• No. 15: A new championship tee is being built 35 yards further back, making the easy par 5 to a bit testier 525 yards.

• No. 16: The fairway bunker complex is being 30 yards farther down the fairway.

• No. 17: This hole features the most significant change. The trees along East Lake on the left of the fairway have been taken out and the fairway moved 8-10 yards toward the water. The green will be moved about 20 feet to the left, giving errant shots a better chance to get wet.

I know from talking to some folks involved with the work that the new No. 7 caused a lot of consternation and disappointment with the USGA's lousy job regulating technology. But that was most offset by their excitement surrounding the new No. 17, which figures to be a promising upgrade for both tournament and member play.

Saturday
Mar012008

Brand Lady: We Love Asian Women!

196427.jpgThanks to LPGA Fan for noticing Commissioner Carolyn Bivens's response to concerns that the LPGA Tour has been invaded by Asians. It's good to see her command of the English language still stinks:

"Yes, there is a huge number (of Asian players), but if the LPGA Tour is going to remain home to the best women's golf in the world, the last thing you want to do is put quotas on it," Bivens told reporters during Thursday's opening round of the $2 million HSBC Women's Champions championship in Singapore.
"I am not concerned about Americans getting squeezed out.
"Do you want to have the best tour, do you want to have the most competition, do you want to have the highest level of performance? Or do you want to protect a nationality? We think we are doing both."
Wait, so you are protecting a nationality? Would that be, like, the Oscar party thing?
"I don't think there are any Americans out there today who wouldn't say that Asians have made this tour better and more competitive," she added.

Bivans said the LPGA was working hard to overcome the challenges of limited exposure and media coverage, but she said she was convinced this could be achieved by attracting the world's best to the tour.

"If we have the most competitive tour in the world, we'll draw the best sponsors, we'll draw the most rabid fans and our media challenges will be lessened," she insisted.

"Performance is the very first standard that we have to uphold."

Wow, not one mention of branding. This is disturbing.

Saturday
Mar012008

"The concept of opening the premises up to local youngsters is something that is not only frowned upon, it is never actually considered by club committees whose next original thought will be their first."

After reading the New York Times cover story on dwindling U.S. participation, John Huggan sees many of the same issues afflicting golf in Scotland.

Of course, increasing participant numbers is never really going to happen, no matter how many schemes golf's alphabet-soup organisations come up with to justify their increasingly pointless existences. As long as the golf club system itself is in place, the game is doomed to stagnate. Clubs, after all, are by their very nature exclusionary and exclusive. Especially at the so-called 'high-end' establishments, wonderful golf courses sit all but empty on far too many beautiful summer evenings. The concept of opening the premises up to local youngsters is something that is not only frowned upon, it is never actually considered by club committees whose next original thought will be their first.

Is it any wonder then that Scotland's best golfer is a rapidly ageing 44-year-old whose best days are very much behind him? Is there a less-welcoming environment for young people than the typically rule-ridden and grey-haired golf club? No you can't wear your jeans or your trainers. No you can't play before 4pm in the winter months. No you can't play off the back tees even if you can beat 99% of the members (who should be playing off what are still archaically referred to as the 'ladies tees'). No. No. No, no, no.

And what is being done to arrest this decline in Scotland? Well, take a look around at all these lovely new golf courses being built. What do you mean, you can't? They won't let you in the gate, you say? They're not looking for people like you? All they want are the affluent minority who will buy a gaudy home in the expensive housing estates surrounding these high-end clubs? And they cost the earth to play anyway?

Oh well, there are other less time-consuming games where the equipment is cheaper and you can actually play with the kids. Anyone for tennis?

 

Saturday
Mar012008

A 61 At Bel-Air!

tom_glissmeyer.jpegRyan Herrington reports that USC's Tom Glissmeyer fired a 28-33-61 at Bel-Air Country Club, needing only 20 putts. Having just been at Bel-Air recently, I can safely say the greens are running about 12. And these are not exactly flat greens.

The really good news is that unlike at some classic courses, the club can't go and destroy more of the original Thomas design in a knee jerk reaction to such a low round! It's already been done...in spades 

Friday
Feb292008

"Golf, especially with the chronic amount of time it takes to play a round these days, can be pretty boring most of the time, which is why it needs characters as well as just good players."

It's Martin Johnson writing on golf, need I say more?  Just in case The Telegraph web site disappears some day:

They clamoured around Paul Casey after the Englishman won his second-round match, not to ask Casey anything much about himself, but about Colin Montgomerie. "Tell us Paul, just what is it with Monty?" referring to a character who convinces many of us that global warming can be traced back to Scotland's only active volcano.

American golfers, in general, have the ability to put you into a hypnotic trance as they drone on about their sand saves, or how they're hitting it "real solid", but when Monty is heading for the interview tent people get knocked over in the rush. He knows it, too, and when they were still pouring in to hear his pre-tournament thoughts before last year's Open at Carnoustie, the great man beamed with delight. "Come on," said Monty. "Come along. There's still a bit of room at the back." For many of us, the thrill of attending a golf tournament is not to watch Woods thumping a drive 350 yards, or firing a three-iron to six inches, but being able to say "I was there" when a photographer triggers his lens on the top of Monty's backswing, or a spectator jangles his change on his putting stroke.

Golf, especially with the chronic amount of time it takes to play a round these days, can be pretty boring most of the time, which is why it needs characters as well as just good players. So fingers crossed for Monty qualifying for next month's US Masters. If Woods will not be quaking at seeing Monty's name on the starting sheet, the Augusta National head greenkeeper certainly will be. One bad round and he could see his entire azalea collection reduced to a smouldering heap of garden compost.

Friday
Feb292008

"Insiders have told me Golf Channel cut Honda’s telecast by an hour because the car company wouldn’t purchase additional ads."

Craig Dolch explains the consequences of the Golf Channel reducing its Honda Classic coverage from a normal three hours to just two. Frankly, I think they're doing the viewing public a favor.

Friday
Feb292008

Cast Your Vote!

A pair of online surveys worth your time, the first on the lower right of ESPN.com's golf page asking if PGA Tour courses should "be set up to encourage low scores or protect par?" You can explain your thinking here and just maybe your comments will appear in Golf World.

As of this posting 299 votes have been cast and 74% say protect par. Apparently with all of the bad news surrounding Ambien the 74%ers are searching for sleeping pill alternatives.

Meanwhile Steve Elling is trying to decide who to vote into the World Golf Hall of Fame and is asking for reader suggestions.

Friday
Feb292008

"I know this is a complicated issue. Hopefully it can be addressed in the near future."

Tiger Woods made a little bit of news in his blog/newsletter post this week:

When I was in Tucson last week, I did a little shopping and noticed my new "Gatorade Tiger" in a store. Must admit it was pretty cool and weird; first my own video game, and now a sports drink. A lot of personal time went into the creation of this product and I am proud of all three of the initial flavors we have created, especially Red Drive.
Sorry, copied the wrong part. Here it is:
Before I go, I would like to talk about slow play. It's been an ongoing problem on the PGA Tour for a long time. I honestly believe the pace of play is faster in Europe and Japan. It has been suggested offenders be penalized with strokes. The problem is, you may get one guy that slows down a group for playing at a snails pace and gets them all put on the clock, which isn't fair. I know this is a complicated issue. Hopefully it can be addressed in the near future.

Nice somebody in his position will point it out. And funny, but in the same email he talks about his match with J.B. Holmes. Coincidence? 

Friday
Feb292008

"Nick Faldo enters agreement with TaylorMade-adidas Golf Co."

You can read the exciting, albeit old here. Meanwhile I've managed to procure an early draft of the press release that might explain last weekend's events:

Nick Faldo enters agreement with TaylorMade-adidas Golf Co.

CARLSBAD, Calif. -- World golf icon Nick Faldo has entered a long-term relationship with the TaylorMade-adidas Golf Company (TMaG) in a role that touches on marketing, product innovation and creation, product testing, player evaluation and blatant shilling during his on-air duties with The Golf Channel.

"Nick Faldo is one of the game's true champions, and we're excited to add such an amazing asset to the TaylorMade-adidas Golf family of truly awesome brands," said Mark King, TMaG president and CEO. "Nick's knowledge of the game, his passion and ability to offset Kelly Tilghman's ties to Nike should help us better reach with Golf Channel's puny but loyal audience."

As a TMaG team member Faldo will contribute in very few ways. In addition to playing TaylorMade® clubs and balls and wearing adidas Golf apparel and footwear in his sleep, he will be involved in the design and testing of TMaG products. He will also act as a loudspeaker for marketing and advertising campaigns during his on-air duties, glowingly evaluating only up-and-coming players using TaylorMade® clubs while posing for photos in adidas glasses, pretending to be helping in the upcoming redesign of the golf range at TMaG headquarters in Carlsbad, Calif. Faldo is also expected to offset Jim Nantz's deep admiration and love for all things Titleist during CBS golf broadcasts.

Friday
Feb292008

LPGA: Just Kidding!

gwar01_gw20080111drugs.jpgTurns out that two hour wait to pee in a cup was just a test run, only the players didn't know it (and they aren't too happy!).

Ron Sirak reports.

Thursday
Feb282008

Noose Found at Tilghman Estates...Who Knew There Was A Tilghman Estates?

I haven't been to Myrtle Beach in a while, but the real news to me is in the third sentence of this unbylined AP story:

Police have removed a noose found hanging on a subdivision sign where an announcer for The Golf Channel used to live.

The announcer, Kelly Tilghman, was suspended for two weeks last month after saying golfers who wanted to overtake Tiger Woods should "lynch him in a back alley."

The noose was found at the entrance to Tilghman Estates, which includes the description, "Home of Kelly Tilghman, Golf Channel."

 

Thursday
Feb282008

NGF Response To NY Times: "Mortality/Infirmity – some of the infirm return to play another day"

National Golf Foundation Vice President Greg Nathan took issue with the recent New York Times front page article on the Americans giving up golf, and sent out an email to "friends and colleagues in the golf industry."

One of those friends forwarded his comments:

I’ve received a few inquiries regarding The New York Timespiece that appeared last Thursday (“More Americans Are Giving Up Golf”).  Since the article included National Golf Foundationdata to support the writer’s negative view on the state of golf participation, I wanted to make sure you had the straight story on the numbers, directly from me and the NGF.    
 
There were a number of factual errors in the story and the general perception may be that all the data and conclusions are completely consistent with the NGF's perspective. That is not the case, however, and the NGF has forwarded a correction to The New York Times.
 
To clarify a few things:
The article correctly cites our data showing that the number of Core golfers (those playing eight or more rounds per year) has fallen from 17.7 million in 2000 to 15 million in 2006. This drop is due, in large part, to golfers “on the cusp” who have reduced their play from eight or 10 or 12 rounds per year, to seven or less rounds, and thus are reclassified as Occasional vs. Core golfers.
 
While the reduction in core golfers presents a meaningful challenge to the growth of golf businesses, the damage to the industry is mitigated by the stability of overall U.S.rounds played.  Annual rounds have remained static at roughly 500 million over the past five years. So, effectively, the activity of the 28.7 million U.S.golfers is holding stable at approximately 17 rounds per year, on average.
 
I’m not sure where the writer found his data for avid golfers (those playing 25 or more rounds annually). These are not from the NGF, though many readers came away with the impression that we were the source.
 
Regarding attrition, the writer stated that “about three million golfers quit playing each year and slightly fewer than that have been picking it up.”  The NGF never discussed this topic with the writer. In a study we did a few years ago, we estimated that about three million golfers come into the game each year. Of these, half, or 1.5 million, are retained for at least one year and the other half try it, and then decide golf is not for them. Meanwhile, 1.5 million previously existing golfers leave the game for three main reasons:
 
Mortality/Infirmity – some of the infirm return to play another day
The mortality ones probably don't make it back another day.
Hiatus takers – they return later

That's why they call it a hiatus!

Quitters – they don’t return
Thus, there is a net gain of roughly 1.5 million newand a loss of 1.5 million existing golfers per year – resulting in little or no growth.
 
The article also states that the total number of golfers dropped from 30 million in 2000 to 26 million currently. This is not correct, and NGF did not provide these numbers to the writer. Our data shows that the number of total golfers actually increased from 28.1 million in 2000 to 28.7 million in 2006, an increase of approximately 2%.
 
The NGF's mission is to Help Golf Businesses Succeed.  Reporting the most accurate possible data to the industry is central to our efforts.  I hope this was a helpful clarification of the flat, yet stable participation we've experienced in recent years.  The results of the NGF's 2007 participation study are starting to come in and initial numbers are positive.  More to come on that in the spring.

Flat, yet stable. And the spring collection looks strong. Especially in Canada, as reader Patrick noted this Garth Woolsey article saying things are better north of the border.

Staying interested is another matter. But a Stats Canada study in 2005 established that among Canadians aged 15 or over, golf had the highest participation rate of all sports, at about 22 per cent (one of the highest in the sport among all nations), ahead of, in order, hockey, baseball, swimming, basketball, volleyball and soccer.
Thursday
Feb282008

"Depending on what survives the editing room, these promise to be funnier"

28golf.190.jpgLarry Dorman reports that the new Phil Mickelson ad campaign for Crowne Plaza aspires to deliver something last year's roundtable discussions managed to avoid: laughs.

Generating the lines for the laughs was the star, Phil Mickelson, whose sometimes barbed, often self-deprecating sense of humor has been confined to the relative privacy of PGA Tour locker rooms, pro-am pairings and interview rooms. His audience will grow considerably now that Crowne Plaza, which last April started a series of amusing, golf-themed ads, is shooting a new batch starring Mickelson for release this April.

Depending on what survives the editing room, these promise to be funnier than last year’s six 30-second and three 15-second spots of unscripted banter from golf celebrities, moderated by Feherty.

Love the quote from Phil:

“I like doing this,” Mickelson said. “The gist of the humor is self-deprecating, which I like. It gives me a chance to laugh at myself in different settings. And I get to work with Feherty, who is really hilarious. Honestly, I’d rather be out playing tournament golf, but this is a different and challenging part of the game that every top player has to deal with.”

Ah the burdens of being on top...filming cutesy ads. 

Thursday
Feb282008

"It's a great warm up for Doral, frankly. It's like Westchester was prior to the U.S. Open."

Jim Moriarty on the Golf Digest's Local Knowledge blog quotes the Honda Classic tournament director on their new date in '09:

"Looking at the big picture it's going to help us," says Ken Kennerly, the Honda event's executive director. "Wedged between the two World Golf Championships with Match Play being the event before us I think will help. Half the field is eliminated by Wednesday and then another 16 by Thursday. If it was a full field event prior to us and a full field event after us, that's a lot of big golf right in a row and I think that would be a little bit more concerning. But, I think with Match Play before us a lot of the international players are going to stay in America because they're going to want to play at Doral.

"We've really upgraded [the Honda Classic] substantially. It's a very similar golf course to Doral, in terms of condition. Bermuda greens, Bermuda grasses. It's a great warm up for Doral, frankly. It's like Westchester was prior to the U.S. Open."

Honda is to Doral as Westchester is the U.S. Open. I smell an SAT question.

Thursday
Feb282008

Attention Lawyers: What Do You Think?

I've received a fun email from staffers of a certain organization in golf that would make for amusing blog fodder, but the email in question contains this disclaimer: 

The information in this email and any attachments may contain legally privileged, proprietary and confidential information that is intended for the addressee(s) only. If you are not the intended recipient, you are hereby notified that any disclosure, copying, distribution, retention or use of the contents of this information is prohibited. When addressed to our clients or vendors, any information contained in this e-mail or any attachments is subject to the terms and conditions in any governing contract. If you have received this e-mail in error, please immediately contact the sender and delete the e-mail.

Now lawyers, since I'm a journalist who has obtained something revealing and worthy of public consumption, just how seriously should I take this?

Thursday
Feb282008

"Does the TV lifestyle make you soft? Apparently!"

From Alan Shipnuck and his golf.com Hot List: 

5. Rick Reilly. My esteemed former colleague and soon-to-be ESPN star was visiting NorCal and asked me to arrange a round for us at Pebble Beach, which I happily did. (And it was comped, too.) On the appointed day, a refreshing light mist was falling, so Reilly begged off, saying he doesn't like to play in bad weather. Does the TV lifestyle make you soft? Apparently!

Now, NOBODY gets comped at Pebble Beach. So to turn that down you really have to be special...in your own mind.

Thursday
Feb282008

Walters Cleared; AT&T Invite Will Not Be Lost In Mail Until 2010

Brian Hewitt reports that America's most famous sandbagger has been cleared to defend his title next year and quotes a USGA official who suggests that the pro handicaps are "the real handicap crooks."

Wednesday
Feb272008

"He started the round by playing a lunch ball off of the 1st tee"

John Hussar of PRNewsWorks submitted this item to the Desert Sun:

Playing at Eldorado Country Club in January, Baker-Finch shot the 61 (32-29) from the tips - two shots better than the new Fazio-course record of 63. Without hitting any practice balls at Eldorado, he started the round by playing a lunch ball off of the 1st tee which officially kept him from claiming the course record.

Okay, I give up. What's a lunch ball? 

Wednesday
Feb272008

"The typical worker has five years experience and makes about $250 a month -- a better wage than at a legitimate foundry."

gwar01_080229counterfeit.jpgI first read E. Michael Johnson's excellent Golf World story on club counterfeiting with great interest and even sympathy for the buyers who were duped. But upon further reflection and a closer reading of a few key graphs, I decided to sit down with this tragic tale, dimming the lights, burning candles and setting up an continuous Itunes loop featuring Roberta Flack's Killing Me Softly With His Song.

Why? Well, apparently now that the big four have outsourced all manufacturing to China and sold out the club pro first to non-green grass accounts and now the Internet, guess what? There are big consequences. And naturally, it's all someone else's fault.

Check out this:

At a typical counterfeit operation in China, it is not unusual to see young women sifting through castings while other individuals constantly work on grinding wheels, moving through the heads at a rapid rate. Another floor might contain those doing the cosmetic work, including paint filling, shaft painting and packaging. According to Golf Digest, the typical worker has five years experience and makes about $250 a month -- a better wage than at a legitimate foundry.

Yes, that's right. The counterfeiters pay better than the legit operations. And the counterfeiters are charging a lot less than the brand names.

Oh there's more:

The owners of such shops, some a front for organized crime, others no more than a mom-and-pop operation, can make upwards of $750 a week selling the counterfeits -- a much better life than grinding the toe and heel of the latest batch of 100-to-a-tray sand wedges for 10 hours a day. Although it would be easy to label China as an ever-expanding pit of deceit where no good brand is safe, the sad fact is counterfeiting offers a better way of life for those involved -- especially when the threat of being caught or prosecuted is minimal.

Again, isn't this the price of doing business in China?

This bit warmed my heart:

In an effort to stem the supply of phony golf products, the Golf Manufacturers Anti-Counterfeiting Working Group -- consisting of Acushnet, Callaway, Cleveland, Nike, Ping and TaylorMade -- was established in 2004. That golf's largest companies and fiercest competitors would come together speaks to the industry-wide dilemma. According to Rob Duncanson, moderator for the coalition, the group was formed to petition governmental authorities in the U.S., China and other countries jointly to enforce laws against counterfeiting of golf products.

 Because they surely have nothing better to do!

Some headway has been made, including several raids and criminal prosecutions, but it is a case of winning some battles while the war still is being lost.

I have an idea. Don't outsource and maybe this stuff won't happen?

Oh I forgot...those precious margins...