Reagan, Bush, Clinton, Bush, and now Obama keeps golf in the presidential spotlight.
For what Hogan meant, it's the old story. For those who know golf, no explanation is necessary. For those who don't, no explanation is possible.
Doug Ferguson's AP story on the Augusta National course changes kindly notes the increased "flexibility." That's charitable considering we're talking about adding 7-10 yards to the front of a tee leaving the core setup problem intact: the old tees are gone, meaning it's almost impossible to diversify the course from day-to-day as the USGA did at Torrey Pines. And there is likely not enough flexibility to accommodate weather extremes we've seen in recent years.
In considering the timing of this announcement a bit more, note they sent their release out on a Tuesday, missing (intentionally?) Monday deadlines at Golf World and SI (no Golfweek this week), and sending it out on a day that everyone's attention will be turned elsewhere.
Now, they are without a media representative after Glenn Greenspan left to work for Tiger Woods, so the odd timing could be caused by not having an experienced figure there manning the ship, reminding the chairman that you leak this news on a Monday in time for the print world or the AP notes column. Some might argue that the driving range project is their sole focus right now, therefore the course changes were not a priority. But I'm more inclined to believe that the club is loyal to Hootie Johnson and does not want to embarrass him, even though time has shown Hootie's judgement on nearly every topic to have been poor.
Or could the election day timing be telling us that the club is embarrassed to be announcing so little news after unprecedented player and media criticism of the course changes? Doubtful, but those hoping to see the course restored can hope.
Either way, it is perplexing that in light of the glaring deficiencies exposed in recent years, greater action hasn not been taken to provide more tee options and to address the widely despised narrowing via tree planting and rough.
My, what interesting timing. Subtle, I tell ya.
No significant changes to report (sadly). In fact I'd say it's much less than what we thought we'd see after Mike Weir's comments last month. Nonetheless, a gentle chipping away at some of the more disastrous moves but ultimately, a long way from where they need to be.
Click on the image to read the full release:
The Guardian's Frank Keating ponders Tuesday's presidential election and golf's place in White House history.
Is it compulsory for golf to enhance the CV of a US president? John McCain remembers to tell how he "hit a mean ball" at naval college, and only as the election campaign hotted up, we're told, did Barack Obama suspend his "seriously committed" golf lessons with his Springfield club pro. Another source announces that George W Bush has begun to beat his father, even as the 84-year-old 41st president is now playing off the ladies' tee.
"All I would say is that Turnberry would have to give a lot of consideration to giving up their course to host the European Open"
Douglas Lowe shines a light on the R&A's latest act of hypocrisy reports that the R&A is not thrilled about Leisurecorp considering the European Open for years that Turnberry does not host the Open Championship.
David Hill, the R&A's director of championships, said at a news conference at Turnberry: "I don't think it would be ideal from the Open Championship's point of view if there was a European Open here for the next nine years. That doesn't mean to say that the European Open couldn't come here occasionally, but that's very much up to the Dubai team."
Key word there: Dubai.
Now, isn't the Open Championship played at a course that hosts an enormously tacky pro-am each fall? Oh yes, Mr. Lowe I didn't mean to steal your thunder:
Hill said the same principle applied to all other Open venues - Carnoustie, Royal Troon, Muirfield and St Andrews in Scotland and Royal St George's, Royal Birkdale, Royal Lytham and Hoylake in England - except for St Andrews, which stages the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship every October.
"St Andrews is unique," he said. "It has lots of other courses, the Dunhill comes right at the end of the season, and St Andrews is the home of golf. Basically, if you look at the other venues, having the Open there gives us lots of marketing kudos as part of our relationships and these courses are also hosting the Amateur Championship, Senior British Open and Women's British Open from time to time. So already these clubs are hosting a lot of events.
"All I would say is that Turnberry would have to give a lot of consideration to giving up their course to host the European Open as an annual event and be aware that if they did that they probably wouldn't get the Senior British Open, Women's British Open and Amateur Championship, and therefore leave a question mark over the Open."
Wow, such subtle blackmail.
I know it's ESPN and this is pocket change, but I continue to be astounded by the dollar figure being reported as a possible Open Championship rights fee, noted in this case by Mike Aitken:
An imminent new American TV deal, thought to be worth around $25 million a year, will aid the Royal and Ancient, the organisers of the Open, in a bid to keep admission costs down for spectators at the only major championship held outside the US.
After confirming yesterday that ticket prices for the 2009 Open at Turnberry, as well as prices on site for catering and merchandise, will be kept at the same level as this year's championship at Birkdale, David Hill, the R&A's director of championships, revealed the organisation is close to clinching a new agreement for TV rights in the USA.
"At least 60 per cent of our income comes from television revenues," he explained. "All our key contracts are in place. As we speak we are re-negotiating in America. Without saying too much, we are pleased with the progress we're making."
"I used to be proud to be a Scotsman, but I'm going to take both of my kilts out and burn them after this"
It is the ramshackle eyesore standing in the way of Donald Trump's great dream: a 23-acre spread of rambling farm buildings and rusting tractors sitting beside the future site of the world's greatest golf course. But despite offers as high as £450,000 from Trump for their home at Mill of Menie, and now the threat of living in a £1bn construction site, Michael Forbes and his wife Sheila are refusing to sell.
"They reckon the construction will last 10 years, but I'll never, ever sell to that loudmouth bully," Forbes said last night.
"As I said before, I would rather give my land away to travelling people than sell to Trump, if it comes to that."
Yesterday's decision by Scottish ministers to approve Trump's resort made him feel "sick", he added. Once a Scottish National party voter, he would never be one again. "I used to be proud to be a Scotsman, but I'm going to take both of my kilts out and burn them after this," he said.
In this story on Ernie Els turning his attention to 2009, there is this item thrown in at the end:
Els said he would play a little bit more in Europe because he believes that the US Tour in particular could suffer from the credit crunch.
"The US-Tour schedule is normally out at this time of the year but it is not yet out, it hasn't been printed yet some of the events might be under threat, a couple of tournaments might not take place," he said.
"These are very, very difficult times at the moment and probably to the next year."
FYI Big Easy, the PGA Tour announced the 2008 schedule on November 14th.
Thanks to all of the readers who passed along the news that Donald Trump received Scottish government approval for his Aberdeenshire links. Now about the $2 billion he says it's going to cost...
"We are greatly honoured by the positive decision and believe that the people of Scotland will be extremely happy with the final product," he said.
"It will be a tremendous asset and source of pride for both Aberdeenshire and Scotland for many generations.
"I would like to personally thank the thousands of people and organisations who have supported us throughout this process.
"As I have often said, because of the quality of the land we are given to work with, we will build the greatest golf course in the world."
Clearly humbled by the process!
Karen Crouse of the New York Times went to some LPGA Tour events and got to know Korean players. She also talked to the Brand Lady (from what I can gather), and it seems the Commish said something unusual and upsetting to some players. (Shocking, I know.)
First, Crouse summarizes:
Although language has become a primary talking point on the tour, the cultural gap may be wider than any English-speaking policy can bridge. Bivens has since strained relations more by indicating that her plan was also meant to help the South Korean players shake their omnipresent fathers. By singling out the South Koreans, Bivens has reduced them to one-dimensional stock characters, which is like reading no break in a putt on a contoured green.
There's a resume quote for ya CB!
Bivens’s motivation extends beyond the fiscal health of the tour. In a recent interview, she said her goal was to help assimilate the South Korean players into a culture starkly different from their own and to emancipate them from what she characterized as overbearing fathers. Forcing the players to learn English and threatening their livelihoods was the best way she saw to accomplish that.
“The language is part of the control the parents have over their young daughters,” Bivens said. “If they don’t even know survival English, they’re totally dependent on the dad.”
Seon Hwa Lee, the L.P.G.A. rookie of the year in 2006 and a two-time winner this year, is considered one of the quieter South Koreans, but she was outspoken about Bivens’s emancipation proclamation.
“I don’t think that’s her job,” Lee said.
You mean to be the tour's in-house, strict Freudian?
Of course, considering that the NY Times ran four player capsules in the print version, including one of Mi Hyun Kim. There it's revealed her parents wouldn't let her marry a guy until she won a major. Maybe the Commish isn't so far off?
The meat of Crouse's excellent reporting:
In Korean culture, parents will do whatever is necessary to help their children’s prospects. They have a name for it, child farming, and cultivating successful sons and daughters confers great prestige on the parents. For golfers, that means fathers leave their jobs to travel the circuit and serve their daughters in many unofficial roles: coach, caddie, chauffeur, counselor, critic and cook.
At night during the Danville tournament, the halls of an Extended Stay America Hotel smelled of garlic and kimchi as parents of the South Korean players made dinner. Filial obedience and financial independence are not mutually exclusive to the South Koreans, who see nothing contradictory about taking home the bulgogi (barbecue beef) and letting their mothers or fathers fry it up in a pan.
Some of the fathers turn up the heat, pushing their daughters to practice and berating them when they do not play well. Three caddies who work for them said there were a handful of South Korean players on the Tour who have been ostracized by their compatriots because of their overzealous fathers.
Christina Kim said: “I can understand and appreciate what Carolyn is trying to do in regards to emancipating Korean players from their fathers. However, it is my firm belief that just like in any other culture, one has to go and reclaim their independence, learn who they are as humans in this world, of their own volition. If someone is not ready to leave the comforts of the nest, or they haven’t got the strength to do it, I feel that it is their own choice.”
Daly said it could have been avoided if his friends had realized he tends to sleep with his eyes open when he’s tired, stressed and has been drinking. He said the driver of his private bus, parked near Hooters, panicked when he saw Daly and called the paramedics.
“If I had seen someone like that, I probably would have done the same thing,” he said. “They were only trying to protect me.”
But he said he was not arrested, nor was he thrown out of Hooters. The restaurant closed more than an hour before police arrived.
“The thing I want people to know is when I called my girlfriend at 11:30 p.m., I was going back to the bus to go sleep,” Daly said. “I’m not going to say I wasn’t drunk. I did have a few drinks. I said to them, ‘I’m tired, I’m drunk and I’m going to bed.’”
Daly said his friends woke him up about 2 a.m.
“The bus driver called 911 because my eyes were open,” Daly said. “I said, ‘What’s going on?’ He said, ‘We thought you were dead.’ Anybody who knows me ... when I’m tired, I sleep with my eyes open. They know it takes awhile to wake me up.”
The credit crunch forces Lyle Anderson's hand...
Its 700-strong membership is thought to include no more than 100 UK members, each paying fees of up to £40,000.
In a letter to members, Mr Anderson said: "I am confident the bank shares my view that Loch Lomond Golf Club is one of a kind in the world.
"I have explored many alternatives, including restructured loan arrangements and potential sources and terms for additional equity.
"Regrettably, I have been unable to conclude arrangements for a restructured credit facility with the Bank and have been unable to raise new equity or debt."
He wrote that plans to take "a co-operative approach with the bank" to avoid disruption at the club and said he had agreed to "facilitate change of ownership at the appropriate time".
Mr Anderson added that he is pursuing his own "vigorous independent search for new equity or debt funding for the communities and clubs."
And it's not just Loch Lomond:
Upscale golf course community developer Lyle Anderson Cos. has lost control of four large projects including Superstition Mountain in the southeast Valley.
The other properties include Las Campanas in Santa Fe, N.M., Hokuli'a in Hawaii and Loch Lomond Golf Club of Scotland.
The Scottsdale-based developer's lender and partner in the projects, the Bank of Scotland, has taken control of the properties and handed over management to a firm named Oasis Management Resources.
Art Spander catches up with the Champions Tour player about how he was the Kenny Perry of his day and how people still haven't gotten over his various idiotic remarks.
"I think the one thing that's been held against me so long,'' agreed Hoch, "Was what I said about St. Andrews. People (used) that as a blanket statement for all the British Open courses. I was talking about one course.
"They actually have my favorite course over there. My favorite course in the world is Muirfield, over in Scotland. But, no, 20 years later, they take (the quote) about all British Open courses. That's not the case.''
"But it felt like I was always just a foot into the deep stuff and a foot away from having a perfect lie, and it wore on me."
Steve Elling looks at the concept of PGA Tour players fleeing for the European Tour and includes this more detailed version of Robert Allenby's suggestion that course setup is influencing his decision.
Next week, while the Disney event will be mostly filled with journeymen seeking to retain their cards for next season, the HSBC field is expected to include Mickelson, Padraig Harrington, Adam Scott, Kim, Henrik Stenson, Sergio Garcia and Trevor Immelman. To be sure, the European Tour allows players to receive appearance fees, but the imbalance of power is pronounced.
Allenby said he's looking for variety, too, and took a thinly veiled shot at the PGA Tour's prevailing bomb-and-gouge mentality.
"I joined because I wanted to expand my golf, I wanted to play a different style of golf," said the Australian, who has lived in Florida for nearly a decade. "I thought I was getting a little bit stale. The golf courses (in the States) are set up the same way every week. I kept getting injuries over here, pretty much because the rough was so high, and I got sick of it.
"I got sick of playing out of six-inch rough every week. I'm not bitching or moaning about it. I know I am a great ball-striker, and I drive the ball very straight. But it felt like I was always just a foot into the deep stuff and a foot away from having a perfect lie, and it wore on me."
Fair enough. But like they say on the police shows, if you want to find the real reason behind the mystery du jour, follow the money.
Part two of Sandy Tatum's GolfClubAtlas.com feature interview is posted. It includes talk of the 17th at Cypress Point, The First Tee, Oxford golf, Pine Valley and the demise of fun golf design.
What is an example of a design in the past ten years that lends itself to a fun game with one of your grandchildren?
I can’t think of one.
From the sad but true files, Martin Kaufman writes about John Daly and says the folks at Golfweek are wondering if they should start preparing his obit.
Club throwers that is. Straka.com's first ever club hurling championship has eight finalists.
Ty, I still say it would make a heck of an Olympic sport.
That's the question Ron Sirak asks and answers rather convincingly. And it's one many of us asked when the LPGA seemingly was going in a different direction with it's English-only saga:
Why not go to Asia and tap into the huge popularity of women's golf there? In Japan, for example, the women routinely gets better TV ratings than the men and throughout Asia LPGA players are treated like rock stars. Follow the money, baby, follow the money.
Besides, it is certainly true that the main thing on the minds of American sports fans this time of the year are matters pigskin:
Will Joe Paterno have his fifth Penn State team to go undefeated and not win the college national championship?
Are the Tennessee Titans really that good?
Think it's not difficult to pry eyes and minds away from football this time of the year? Just check out the TV ratings for the World Series, were you have to go back to when there were still day games to find numbers this low -- and in at least one case not even then.
"You have to be patient here and realise that the same kind of thing is happening to everybody else."
In all of this worldly turmoil, it's comforting to know some things never change. Like players hating Valderrama, as Lawrence Donegan reports after day one of the final Volvo Masters:
The players are never less than respectful about the course but they are occasionally given to grumbling about its difficulty and unfairness.
"I hit a great tee shot on the 8th tee and still ended up behind trees," Westwood said pointedly. "You have to be patient here and realise that the same kind of thing is happening to everybody else."