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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 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

Ladies, I have a message for you. The members request that you do not shelter in front of the window, you are obscuring the view.
Royal and Ancient Golf Club STEWARD, 1908 British Ladies Championship

 

    

Sunday
May062007

"And that's all you can do."

Deane Beman is featured in a PGATour.com interview and handles the dreaded fifth major question well (in other words, he's proud of what's become and admires the operation and leaves it at that...)

PGATOUR.com: Now, the major question. Is it or isn't it?

Beman: It's the best tournament that can be put on -- in every respect. From the standpoint of -- the golf course and the fairness of the challenge of it, the volunteers, the organization, the field, the financial reward, the clubhouse facility -- now it's the highest standard in the world. It's the standard by which all facilities will be judged in the future. And we can't do anymore than that. I consider it the best tournament in the world. The moniker the press puts on up ... it's up to them. We did all we could do to make it the best event in the world. And we did it. I did that for the 21 years I was there and Tim Finchem and his crew have done a fabulous just of taking it to a new level. And that's all you can do.

Sunday
May062007

"The fans want to see a car wreck, and that's what it is."

sawgrass.219.jpgMartin Blake, quoting Mike Clayton on TPC Sawgrass's 17th:

"It's American golf," says Mike Clayton, the renowned Melbourne golf course architect. "It's entertainment. The fans want to see a car wreck, and that's what it is."

The placement of the hole in the rota at No. 17 is significant, too, for no player is safe in the lead until he gets past the island green at the penultimate hole.

Clayton remembers Tom Doak, the great American designer, having a dim view. "He (Doak) called it the germ that started the plague," says Clayton. "It's been copied too often, fortunately not in Australia, but mainly in Asia where they think that everything American is great.

"It's a decent-sized green. You have to hit a good shot. At the 71st hole, you find out who's in control and who's not. The history of that tournament is that the leader's always hit a great shot."

Blake also has a note on the health problems of several players that started at the Masters. 

Saturday
May052007

"That's just ridiculous, in twosomes"

An unbylined story on Tiger fuming about slow play at golf's sixth major where it's all right in front of you...

Woods, playing with Vijay Singh in the final pairing, finished the 18th hole in semi-darkness, a few minutes past 8pm local time at Quail Hollow.

The start of play was delayed by two hours due to nearby lightning, so Woods and Singh did not tee off until 3.40pm.

He could not understand why it took more than four hours, 20 minutes to play 18 holes, especially on a course well designed for walking, without many long distances between holes.

"That's just ridiculous, in twosomes," said the world number one, who bogeyed the last two holes to finish a shot behind leader Rory Sabbatini of South Africa.

"I didn't think we were going to finish and Vijay didn't either, but we got it in somehow.

"It's like playing under caution all day. No-one ever gave us a green to go. That was the way it was and we had to deal with it."

Saturday
May052007

"The teaching of golf is a bitchy business."

John Huggan uses his Inverness On Sunday Scotland On Sunday column to highlight the drama queen antics of golf instructors and players...
Especially at the top level, the teaching of golf is a bitchy business. Typical was the vitriolic reception that Hank Haney received from many of his peers in the wake of his assuming the role of coach to Tiger Woods, replacing the aforementioned Harmon. For a while there, things were neither hunky nor dory.

The last word in that particular skirmish, however, belonged to Haney. In the immediate aftermath of the 2005 Masters Tournament - Woods's first of four major victories under the tutelage of his new coach - the Dallas-based instructor lifted a leaf out of Harvey Penick's Little Red Book, and took dead aim at one of his biggest critics, wannabe star teacher Jim McLean, describing him as "the biggest asshole I have ever met" - a label that left little room for misinterpretation.

"As for other teachers who have been critical [most notably and ironically, Harmon and Smith], it was obvious where they were coming from," Haney declared. "I viewed them speaking out as a form of pre-emptive strike. They wanted Tiger to lose patience with me before we even got started, so I wasn't surprised by the crap they were talking. Those other instructors never wanted to give us a chance. The result was never going to make them look better."

Saturday
May052007

"In case you haven't noticed, Mr. Ross isn't building any more courses"

Thanks to reader Trevor for this Robert Bell story on the debate breaking out over the Greensboro course of the future and the possibility of moving to Donald Ross's Sedgefield. You know, the one that no one famous will play because it's scheduled the week before the playoffs starting.

"That would be cool, that would be really cool," said tour player Rocco Mediate, who slipped away from Forest Oaks during last year's tournament in Greensboro to play a round at Sedgefield.

Mediate said many tour players who annually skip Greensboro's tour stop would reconsider if the tournament moved to Sedgefield's Donald Ross course.

"In case you haven't noticed, Mr. Ross isn't building any more courses," Mediate said. "Getting an old course like Sedgefield as a regular stop would be a brilliant move, and I think players would respond to that."

Five years ago, the Greensboro Jaycees signed a 20-year agreement to play the tournament at Forest Oaks through 2022. But sources at Sedgefield and Forest Oaks say Greensboro businessman Bobby Long, director of the charitable foundation that runs the Wyndham, is negotiating a buyout with the Japanese company that owns Forest Oaks.
And... 
Jerry Kelly said Sedgefield would do for the Wyndham what Quail Hollow Club has done for the Wachovia.

"There's a reason (27) of the world's top 30 golfers are here and it's not the courtesy cars," the tour player said, referring to the Mercedes automobiles.

Does that mean it could become the seventh major?

Many players have not embraced fellow tour player Davis Love III's 2003 redesign of Forest Oaks.

Robert Gamez said Love took out all the curves of Forest Oaks.

"It was always one of the best courses we played, but now you don't have to maneuver the ball at all," Gamez said. "Just hit it straight and hard and don't worry about working the ball. Sedgefield is different. It makes you have to think."

Kelly said Love "tried to make Forest Oaks a little more Pinehurst-ish. I just don't know if the land and routing was there to turn it into what he wanted."

And this from the ever jovial Charles Warren, who I would expect to say something like this:

"Just being a Ross course doesn't make it a good course," Warren said. "It's hard to find a lot of (Pinehurst) No. 2s around the country. I'd like to see it stay" at Forest Oaks. "They always seem to get good crowds, and the atmosphere is always high."
Saturday
May052007

"Watch the start of golf's 5th Major on the The Golf Channel."

Even as they were televising golf's sixth major, according to reader JT, the Golf Channel GOLF CHANNEL's "own commercial for THE PLAYERS says 'Watch the start of golf's 5th Major on the The Golf Channel.'"

It's official, The Players Championship  THE PLAYERS   The PLAYERS  The Players is golf's fifth of four majors.

After all, they say it on TV, it must be true. 

Saturday
May052007

"A Masters-like aura"

PT-AF353_Golf1_20070504204023.jpgThe WSJ's John Paul Newport visits the home of the fifth of four majors, gets a personal tour from Commissioner Finchem, and uncovers some real nuggets. Where to start?

How about yet another variation on the tournament's name.

The tournament formally known as the Players Championship, played in March and viewed by the pros as a kind of warm up for the Masters, will henceforth be known simply as "the Players" and anchor its own month on the calendar, May. The first one is next week.

Any similarity between the new name and "the Masters" is purely intentional. And the PGA Tour, which owns and runs the tournament, will probably not object if, in an undisciplined moment, you happen to say something like, "Gee, it's almost like a fifth major."

Oooh, a slightly sarcastic fifth major reference. But more importantly, are we now not capitalizing the T in the? That's probably just a WSJ thing. Weakens the brand if I may say so myself.
Tim Finchem, the Tour's commissioner, knows he cannot simply wave a wand and decree that the Players is a major, but he and his compadres are doing everything they can to give the tournament, in his words, "a Masters-like aura."
And to do that... 
The primary design goal of the new, 77,000-square-foot Mediterranean Revival-style structure, one of Mr. Finchem's vice presidents explained, was to create a sense of "instant tradition." During the tournament, bagpipers will play at dusk every day from the two faux bell towers.

Okay everyone on three...one, two, three...Oy Vey!

In fact, there's a Disneyfied, made-for-TV quality to every aspect of the project, from the balustraded "presentation lawn" where the winner will receive his huge cardboard check to the "master storytellers" who will be stationed in the clubhouse lobby during the other 51 weeks of the year and regale visitors with tales of the tournament's legacy.

Those Jodie Mudd, Craig Perks and Stephen Ames stories ought to knock 'em dead.

One foursome at the course each day will be allowed to pay extra for a "PGA Tour experience." Its members can change shoes in the small locker room reserved, Augusta-like, for past Players champions, lunch in a PGA Tour members-only dining room called Pub 17 and stride down the fairways alongside white-bibbed caddies bearing the players' names on their backs.

Yes, I can really see the connection with Augusta and the Masters.

This isn't the way other tournaments became majors, but that's the world we live in today, and Mr. Finchem and his recently beefed-up corps of vice presidents are no slouches.

If the top pros in the world keep coming to the Players (it has traditionally attracted the best field in golf) and fans get used to seeing high drama play out in front of the clubhouse edifice, who knows? Maybe some other major, such as the PGA Championship, will begin to lose luster by comparison, and our children or grandchildren will come to think of the Players in the same hallowed way we think of the Masters. Majors come and go. Remember the Western Open, anyone?

I think it's the bagpipes that will really put it over the...top. 

Friday
May042007

"We want them to feel it is fair and that they can score well on it."

Lawrence Donegan reports on Open Championship media day and you can almost envision Peter Dawson rehearsing this Sandy Tatum-lite mantra in front of the mirror all morning.

"We are not seeking carnage," said the R&A's chief executive, Peter Dawson. "We are seeking an arena where the players can display their skills to the best effect."
And...

The biggest changes, however, will be in the rough, which will not be as thick as it was in 1999, and in the width of the fairways, at least one of which was only 12 yards wide back then.

12 yards! Can't imagine why things went awry.

The course's head greenskeeper, John Philp, was accused by some players of being determined to make them suffer and of toughening up the course by adding fertiliser to the rough - claims which he dismissed yesterday as "utter baloney".

"That was just players whinging because they didn't play so well," he said. "What was never mentioned in all the criticism was how well the course was presented in the fairways and on the greens, where they were supposed to hit the ball."

That's right, and those Titanic passengers never dared to mention how good the food was either!

"If the players want to think Carnoustie is a monster just because they haven't done so well, then so be it," he said. "But we don't want them to feel like the course is a monster and that it has been tricked up. We want them to feel it is fair and that they can score well on it."

So the players were just whining because they didn't play so well, yet they are going to make sure it's not tricked up just in case?

Why do they let this man do interviews? No one learned the last time around?

Friday
May042007

"It is a very right-brain course."

The Chicago Tribune's Ed Sherman looks at Erin Hills, and features this Ron Whitten rebuttal to Brad Klein's criticism of the course.

While most of the reviews have celebrated the quirks, one harsh critique stood out. Under the headline "Errant Hills Award," Bradley Klein of Golfweek called the routing a mess and accused the designers, particularly Whitten, of taking "trendy minimalism to its absurd extreme." Klein concluded, "They should have thought 'inside the bun' on this one."

Whitten, who said he is friends with Klein, suspected he was getting payback for a Connecticut course he criticized in which Klein had a hand designing.

"It's just one opinion," Whitten said. "I always said the course isn't for everybody. It is a very right-brain course. If you don't like blind shots and quirky bounces, it isn't the course for you."

 

Thursday
May032007

"I told myself there ain't but one way to get them out of there, and I reckoned I was gonna have to do it the manly way."

boo2.jpgYes, there are actually people who speak like that. Boo Weekley to be exact.

Golf World's John Hawkins profiles Weekley and shares this among several classic anecdotes:

By October the bumpkin had turned back into a pumpkin. Perhaps the lowest point came when Boo used a Port-a-Pottie at a tournament and dropped his courtesy-car keys in the toilet about two hours before a flight. The good news was the airport was only 20 minutes away. The bad news was Weekley didn't have a fishing rod. "I told myself there ain't but one way to get them out of there, and I reckoned I was gonna have to do it the manly way," Boo says. "So I put some snuff up my nose to cut down the smell, stuck my arm in there and reached around until I found 'em."

 

Thursday
May032007

"I just hope they never host an (U.S.) Open on it. The USGA would screw it up.โ€

I saw the Golf Channel's nauseating opening to the sixth major today via TiVo, but when Kelly Tilghman breathlessly called Quail Hollow a "work of art," I deleted the telecast and went back to the Mavericks-Warrior's first half.

The lovefest continues with this Golfweek blog post from Rex Hoggard, which is forgiven since it includes a reminder of just how admired the USGA is these days:

How good is the Quail Hollow layout, stage for this week’s mid-major PGA Tour gathering? As one player said last night, “It is incredible . . . I just hope they never host an (U.S.) Open on it. The USGA would screw it up.”

All of which makes us wonder what to expect next week at TPC Sawgrass. Hard, dry conditions combined with thick rough could turn The Players into a U.S. Open Lite.

 

Thursday
May032007

TPC...Clubhouse Reviews In

conway.200b.jpgGolfweek's Brad Klein reviews the new TPC clubhouse architecture, giving him a chance to use words like variegated.

The structure offers an expansive, wide-angle view of the course. The building follows the Spanish Mediterranean vernacular tradition of historic St. Augustine, Fla., replete with rope-style columns, clay tile roof, Moorish loggia and numerous Mediterranean arched spaces that offer unrestricted views. The variegated roofline, however, doesn’t have the massive, undifferentiated presence of the previous building and its graceful design can be spotted from most holes on the course.

Meanwhile PGATour.com offers a few pictures and a tour with locker room attendant Conway Murchison. 

Thursday
May032007

New Site Search Feature

Note the new feature in the lefthand column called "Site Search" that lets you search any of my past insults, lame predictions or even your own brilliant insights (by using the advanced search and only searching Journal Comments). And of course you can also still search past posts using the "Journal Topics" link.

Thursday
May032007

The Other Fifth Of Four Majors?

John Dell writes about how the Wachovia event is all things wonderful, with several players implying that the course should host something beyond the prestigious Wachovia. Because after all, it's all right in front you!

“When you have a great golf course the guys will come, and this is one of the neat golf courses we get to play all year,” said Woods, who is playing in just his sixth PGA Tour tournament this year. “It’s straightforward, right in front of you. You have to shape the ball both ways, and on top of that, you’ve really got to putt here.”

And George Cobb, the poor guy who designed it, appears to have been been forgotten. But hey, if we call this a Fazio, he'll finally have the tournament course he's always wanted. Maybe then he'll stop butchering good designs?

Johnny Harris, the president of Quail Hollow who brought his course and the PGA Tour together, agreed that the biggest reason that the top players are here is because of the course.

“I go back to Tom Fazio, who did a wonderful job with our golf course, and our patrons know golf and love being here,” Harris said. “You know, bringing the best players here to North Carolina is something my father always talked about.”

Tom Fazio and patrons. Don't about you, but I'm thinking we may have to go on another fifth major watch here.

Joe Ogilvie, a former star at Duke, said he has heard about Quail Hollow possibly playing host to a bigger tournament.

“This is a pretty good place,” Ogilvie said. “And with this field you could make an argument that it’s better than the PGA Championship field will be in August. This has a major feel to it.”

Whoa, that was close! I think there's a fine Joe for declaring anything other than The Players Championship The PLAYERS a fifth major.  Be careful!

Wednesday
May022007

"When you start a relationship, you pretty much know that eventually it will end."

The USA Today's Jerry Potter reports on Phil Mickelson's press conference and the delicacy of teacher-pupil relationships. So he goes to THE source on this subject...

Peter Kostis, a teaching pro and analyst for CBS Sports golf coverage, said teacher-pupil relationships in golf usually change over time.

"There's a half-life to it," he said. "When you start a relationship, you pretty much know that eventually it will end."

Peter, Peter, Peter. So negative! Aren't you the same person who referred me, Norman Vincent Geoff, to some Dr. Phil-like book about being more positive.

Wednesday
May022007

And Then There Were Three...

According to Martin Blake, it's down to Kingston Heath, Metropolitan and Royal Melbourne for the 2011 President's Cup.

Wednesday
May022007

"How do we build the platform together?"

faldotilghmanbeach_299x299.jpgSI's Alan Shipnuck pens a long (and I mean long!) feature on The Golf Channel Golf Channel and how it's really all things wonderful. So touching to see how fatherhood has mellowed Alan to the point he can listen to Jerry Foltz drone on and not want to scream like Howard Beale.

Well, we learn that Nick Faldo and Kelly Tilghman engaged in carefully conceived exercises (they hiked, they surfed!). And we learn that when you combine the ratings of all the telecasts the numbers are actually up, which still doesn't settle the Sportscenter issue that was the heart of those begging for some ESPN involvement. And we learn that a 15-year deal was necessary because, as Tim Finchem asks inanely rhetorically, "How do we build the platform together?"

Oy.

I did love this from Dave Manougian, who apparently bamboozled the PGA Tour's army of VP's with this logic:

 

"I'm not sure if there's much difference between 15 years or 12 or 10," says Manougian. "To increase our distribution, we obviously needed a long-term commitment from the Tour, but quite honestly, once you get past six or eight years you sort of say, Well, we might as well go for it now!"
One revealing quote comes from Joe Ogilvie:
"There's no question all of us benefit as the channel grows," says Ogilvie. "There are kickers in the contract to guarantee that. I think players are slowly starting to realize we're married to the channel, so to speak. It's in our best interests to help it succeed."
And isn't this precisely the danger?

 

That the PGA Tour becomes a soft core version of the Big Break, with the separation of media and player turning each telecast into an infomercial?

Or is an infomercial-like brand plugfest just what today's America finds most comforting?

Oh please thoughtful readers, chime in.

Wednesday
May022007

Wachovia Photo Caption Help

Courtesy of the new-look Golfweek.com...
 tigermike.jpg

Wednesday
May022007

Women's British News

They get a new sponsor (Ricoh) and some fine future venues...

Carolyn Bivens, Commissioner of the LPGA commented, "I am delighted that Ricoh will be sponsoring one of our Major Championships. The tournament is played on some of the world's most famous courses and showcases many of the greatest golfers in the world. We are looking forward to travelling to St Andrews in August for the first of what I am sure will be many Ricoh Women's British Open Championships."

It just rolls off the tongue...Richoh Women's British Open.

And...

Sunningdale, Royal Lytham & St Annes and Royal Birkdale set to be Venues for the 2008-2010 Ricoh Women’s British Open

2nd May 2007

Royal Lytham & St Annes Golf Club and Royal Birkdale Golf Club will host the Ricoh Women’s British Open in 2009 and 2010, with the Championship Committee in the final stages of negotiations with Sunningdale Golf Club to host the 2008 Championship, following this year’s historic visit to the Old Course, St Andrews.

Wednesday
May022007

"Awkward tee shots in relation to fairways surfaced as the 'No. 1 issue'"

Jimmy Burch on D.A. Weibring and his marching orders to fix the TPC Las Colinas.

But if Tiger is to remain in the mix at Texas-based events, his history says he'll play the Nelson before he surfaces elsewhere. Weibring said Woods offered feedback on the best way to improve the TPC layout: Eliminate "awkward" tee shots on holes No. 10, 12, 15 and 18.

He's not alone. Weibring said awkward tee shots in relation to fairways surfaced as the "No. 1 issue" pros want him to correct this off-season. The greens, they figure, will thrive when resurfaced with fresh bent grass.

I wonder what awkward means? I haven't seen the course, fortunately. Anyone? Are they goofy awkward, or awkward because they force guys to make a decision? I'm guessing goofy awkward.
As an architect, Weibring has skins on the wall. Some of his notable tweaks for 2008 look inviting, particularly a cascading, four-lake water feature down the left side of the 18th fairway.

 

Oh that ought to have them coming back in droves!