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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
  • 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
  • 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

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

The tournament [The Masters] had one thing going for it -- Bobby Jones. He was its sole raison d'etre. If it was assailable, he was not. Golf genuflected before the name of Bobby Jones. It was as if God put together the tournament. Let no man put asunder.  JIM MURRAY


    

Friday
Sep212007

Walk On

Thanks to reader Eric for noticing that the absurd mandatory cart rule considered for Long Island's Eisenhower has been dropped.

Friday
Sep212007

PGA Tour Declares Playoffs A Success On Many Levels

fedexcuplogo.jpgFrom the For Immediate Release files...

PGA TOUR Playoffs for the FedExCup a Success on Many Levels

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, FL. (Sept. 21, 2007) – The PGA TOUR Playoffs for the FedExCup, which culminated on Sunday with Tiger Woods being crowned the first-ever FedExCup Champion, brought an unprecedented level of late-season focus to and interest in the TOUR, as indicated by impressive increases in television and online audiences, tournament attendance and sponsor activation.

Oh yeah, sponsor activation baby. We have a new buzzword du jour. Stay tuned, if you can stomach it...

Interest in the Playoffs was driven by a run of some of the strongest fields in the history of the PGA TOUR, particularly for consecutive tournaments.  At least nine of the top 10 players on the FedExCup Points List and eight of the top 10 players in the Official World Golf Ranking played in each event.  The fourth and final event, THE TOUR Championship presented by Coca-Cola in Atlanta, boasted all 10 from both lists.  Since the PGA TOUR began keeping field strength records in 1980, never before have four consecutive events had fields as strong.

“In every aspect, the PGA TOUR Playoffs for the FedExCup and the FedExCup season as a whole represent a successful run for us and the sport, and we’re very pleased with the impact,” said PGA TOUR Commissioner Tim Finchem.  “Now that we’ve developed a strong foundation, we can focus on building on the enthusiasm that the players and fans have for this new competition.”

The judges just deducted a point for not taking advantage of an opportunity to drop an impactful or impactfullness.

Television
The four Playoff events delivered record television viewership at a time when sports fans historically have watched the start of the NCAA football season and NFL pre-season and opening games.

CBS, NBC and GOLF CHANNEL telecasts of The Barclays, Deutsche Bank Championship, BMW Championship and THE TOUR Championship presented by Coca-Cola cumulatively reached more than 65 million people, a record for the PGA TOUR in this time period.

The average television rating for the eight network telecasts during the Playoffs was 18 percent higher than telecasts for the same events last year.

Hmmm...I wonder how much that 233 percent increase at the Tour Championship helped? Oh wait...

The final round telecasts of the BMW Championship and THE TOUR Championship presented by Coca-Cola were two of the highest on record for the PGA TOUR against NFL football.  THE TOUR Championship presented by Coca-Cola’s final-round telecast received a 233-percent ratings increase over the rating of the event’s 2006 final round.  Moreover, GOLF CHANNEL’s early-round coverage of THE TOUR Championship presented by Coca-Cola delivered more than 2.5 times the households than the previous year; the second round was its highest-rated broadcast ever (1.7 rating).

See, it was a good idea to show us that on tape.

Let's get to the important numbers. Satellite radio.

PGATOUR.com and XM Satellite Radio
In addition to television, millions of fans followed the Playoffs through PGATOUR.com and PGA TOUR Radio on XM (Channel 146).  Unique users on PGATOUR.com were up 48 percent over the same four-week period last year, with a weekly average of 3.8 million uniques and 45 million page views.

The popular PGATOUR.com Live@ feature, which provides tee-to-green action for every player on a signature hole at each golf course, was streamed nearly 2 million times over the four weeks of the Playoffs, twice the number of streams of these events in 2006.

Interest in the Playoffs and on-line coverage at PGATOUR.com built significantly over the four weeks of competition, peaking at THE TOUR Championship presented by Coca-Cola. Traffic for the culminating event in the PGA TOUR Playoffs for the FedExCup was up significantly versus 2006, with unique users increasing 167 percent to 4.4 million and page views increasing 189 percent to 52 million.

PGA TOUR Radio on XM saw similar increases.  Audience figures for in-car listeners are not yet available, but streams of the XM Radio tournament broadcast on PGATOUR.com showed triple-digit increases for each event.

Tournament attendance
In addition to tuning in via their TVs, radios and computers, golf fans in New York, Boston, Chicago and Atlanta contributed to the success of the Playoffs by attending the four events in record numbers.  Highlights of Playoff market sales include:

THE TOUR Championship hospitality sales up 37 percent and ticket sales up 30 percent versus 2006;

Boy that's a relief.

BMW Championship corporate sales up 27 percent and ticket sales up 6.3 percent versus 2006;

Oh that number ought to get Ed Sherman and Len Ziehm on the phone this weekend.

Deutsche Bank Championship corporate sales up 10 percent and ticket sales up 20 percent versus 2006; and The Barclays corporate sponsorship up 30 percent, reaching a sell-out for the first time ever, and ticket sales up significantly versus 2006.

Ditto that weekend research project for Sam Weinman.

Oh now it's time to activate.

Sponsor Activation
The PGA TOUR Playoffs for the FedExCup received unprecedented activation by title sponsors and Official Marketing Partners of the PGA TOUR.  Fourteen PGA TOUR Official Marketing Partners activated around the Playoffs, with sweepstakes, giveaways, Playoff-specific advertising and other Playoffs-related promotions.  Additionally, the Official Marketing Partners supplemented their activation by hosting substantial Hospitality activities at each of the Playoff events for key clients, senior management staff and employees.

FedEx activated in a myriad of ways, including: Playoff-specific tags to television advertising, print advertising, retail promotions at 1,200 FedEx Kinko’s stores, a targeted on-line contest, special truck wraps, covering a building in New York City with turf and a flag stick, hiring “golfers” to walk around New York and Atlanta with a caddy and a gallery of fans, sidewalk stickers in New York and Atlanta depicting a golf hole, special uniform enhancements for FedEx employees, and promotional signage at public transportation areas in Atlanta.

After all that, I still don't know what it means to activate. But it sure looks like a good business to be in.

Friday
Sep212007

3500-plus?

Chris Wagner notes in covering day one play of the Turning Stone event...

A spectacular first day of weather for the inaugural Turning Stone Resort Championship produced several superb scores, a run at the leaderboard by three Upstate players and the withdrawal of the biggest name in the field, John Daly.

Jeff Gove roared to the top of the pack early Thursday, capping his round of 7-under-par 65 with one of the first eagles of the tournament. His 101-yard sand wedge shot landed a foot above the hole on the 18th green and sucked back into the cup to the delight of some of the 3,500-plus spectators at Atunyote Golf Club.

Just curious, was the old B.C. Open at Endicott better attended than that?  

Friday
Sep212007

Executive Committee Members Begin Hydrating Themselves On News of Southern Hills Landing Amateur A Year Early

As first reported by Leonard Shapiro Thursday... 

SOUTHERN HILLS TO HOST 2009 U.S. AMATEUR
 
Far Hills, N.J. – Based on a joint agreement, Southern Hills Country Club in Tulsa, Okla., will host the 2009 U.S. Amateur Championship, replacing Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Md., the United States Golf Association has announced. The dates of the 2009 championship are Aug. 23-30.
 
Southern Hills was originally scheduled to host the 2010 Amateur and Congressional, the 2009 championship.  The site of two previous U.S. Opens, Congressional is also scheduled to host the 2011 Open.
 
Recent weather trends in the mid-Atlantic region were extreme this past August and were exacerbated by prolonged drought, causing course condition problems at Congressional and many other clubs. In order to begin specified U.S. Open course revisions and complete them on time for the 2011 Open, the USGA and Congressional agreed to move the 2009 Amateur from Congressional and Southern Hills accepted the switch.
 
The site of the 2010 U.S. Amateur is to be determined.
 
“We are grateful to Southern Hills for its flexibility as Congressional prepares for the U.S. Open in 2011,” Jim Hyler, chairman of the USGA championship committee said. “In this way, the players at both the 2009 U.S. Amateur and the 2011 U.S. Open will have the kind of playing conditions that are the hallmark of USGA championships.  We and Congressional agreed that the movement of the 2009 Amateur made a great deal of sense and will provide enough time for Congressional to embark on plans that will result in a terrific venue for the 2011 U.S. Open.  We see this move as the right decision for both the 2009 Amateur and the 2011 U.S. Open.”
 
“Congressional Country Club is in total agreement with the USGA that relocating the 2009 Amateur would be in all parties’ best interests while allowing for a successful 2011 U.S. Open,” said Stuart Long, president of Congressional Country Club.  “The drought and unwavering high heat have proved to be tough on our courses and highlighted several areas that needed attention. By relocating the Amateur, we can give our courses time to recover from the stresses of the notorious D.C. summer, and make some course renovations for the Open Championship and implement several other course rehabilitation projects that will provide long-term benefits for our members, as well as forour involvement in future events at Congressional.”
 
The 2009 Amateur is the ninth USGA championship and second U.S. Amateur (Bob Murphy won in 1965), to be conducted at Southern Hills, a classic Perry Maxwell design, built in 1936. Previously, the club has hosted three U.S. Opens (1957, 1977, 2001), the 1946 Women’s Amateur, the 1953 Junior Amateur, and the 1987 Women’s Mid-Amateur.
 
Prior to 2009, the U.S. Amateur will be played at Pinehurst (N.C.) Resort from Aug. 18-24, 2008.
 
The USGA is the national governing body of golf in this country and Mexico, a combined territory that includes more than half the game’s golfers and golf courses.
 
The Association's most visible role is played out each season in conducting 13 national championships, including the U.S. Open, U.S. Women's Open and U.S. Senior Open.  Ten additional USGA national championships are exclusively for amateurs, and include the U.S. Amateur and the U.S. Women's Amateur. 

The USGA also writes the Rules of Golf, conducts equipment testing, maintains an official Handicap System, shuttles its president around the country in a private jet, unceremoniously fires longtime staffers in the middle of championship season, and administers an ongoing "For the Good of the Game" grants program, which has allocated more than $56 million over 10 years to programs that seek to grow the game.  For more information about the USGA, visit www.usga.org.

Just kidding there in the final paragraph! Only wanted to make sure you were still reading. 

Friday
Sep212007

British Mid-Am RIP

I guess they don't have enough college players to motivate the over-25 set to enter...

THE R&A TO DISCONTINUE BRITISH MID-AMATEUR
 
The R&A has elected to discontinue the British Mid-Amateur Championship and remove it from its championship calendar. The British Mid-Amateur, first played in 1995, restricts entry to male amateur golfers aged 25 and over.   Despite various reviews of the championship over recent years, small fields for the event and a subsequent lack of quality in depth, mean that the event is no longer viable.
 
Commenting on the decision The R&A’s Director of Championships, David Hill, said: "The British Mid-Amateur has produced some notable champions beginning with Gary Wolstenholme in 1995 but it has struggled to establish itself as a sufficiently distinctive event in the British men's amateur golfing calendar.”
 
Matthew Cryer will be the final player to have his name engraved on the Mid Amateur trophy, having won earlier this year at Alwoodley Golf Club. A place in history awaits the Englishman as the trophy is destined for the British Golf Museum in one year’s time.
 

Thursday
Sep202007

Tiger Not Playing An Official Event Until The Buick?

Thomas Bonk is usually right about Tiger's playing intentions, and he noted this in today's LA Times golf column:
And one final note on Woods: Don't expect him to play his first PGA Tour event of 2008 until the Buick Invitational, Jan. 24-27, meaning that he'll probably skip the Mercedes Championships at Kapalua for the third consecutive year.
Thursday
Sep202007

The Beauty of Short Grass

SouthernHills6th.JPGI celebrate the short grass at Southern Hills and warn Golfdom readers/superintendents that they should expect more courses to install short grass after yet another example of the tight stuff adding interest, challenge and fun to a classic course.
Thursday
Sep202007

Shoal Creek's First Black Member Passes Away

From the AP story:

Louis J. Willie Jr., a black businessman who helped defuse a racial dispute surrounding the 1990 P.G.A. Championship, died here Sunday. He was 84.
And...
The 1990 P.G.A. Championship was held at Shoal Creek Country Club, in suburban Birmingham. Protests mounted after the club president said Shoal Creek would not be pressured into accepting black members. Mr. Willie helped quiet the situation by accepting an honorary membership.

Thursday
Sep202007

Newsflash From The City: Dick Pound Is Still Not Happy!

From the wires...

World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) chief Dick Pound praised golf for aiming to rid the sport of doping, but balked Thursday at the World Golf Foundation's use of its own performance-enhancing substances list.

"Two or three months ago, the PGA was denying that there was ever a problem in golf," Pound said in a conference call. So, "there is quite a lot of progress that's been made."

Actually, they still suggest it's not a problem, and without testing, who is to argue with them?
"It's very disappointing to us, however, that they would not use (the WADA) list" of banned substances, he added.

US PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem earlier announced that golf's top professional players would face random drug tests beginning in 2008.

The list of banned substances is similar to one released by the women's LPGA Tour in March, including most muscle-building steroids and adrenaline-diminishing beta-blockers.

But it does not include substances that, Finchem said, do not enhance performance in golf.

"I don't understand that, unless it's simply organizational testosterone - they can't be seen to accept anyone else's list," Pound lamented.

"My question to golf would be: Is there anything on the list under the world anti-doping code that you think your players should be able to take?

"And if there is, then golf should indicate what they think their athletes should be able to take that the rest of the athletes around the world can't."
It's hard to get as worked up as Dick when you see that they have added some pretty significant stuff to the golf list, as Doug Ferguson reported:
The list of banned substances includes anabolic agents, hormones, stimulants, narcotics, beta blockers and masking agents. Golf did not adopt the World Anti-Doping Association list because Finchem said it would cause an additional administrative burden and “we do not consider the substances in any way impactful as a performance enhancement.”

Thomas Bonk talks to Dr. Gary Wadler, a member of a World Anti-Doping Agency committee, who is much more upbeat about the testing list than Pound:

"I applaud the PGA Tour and all of the other bodies in professional golf," he said. "I've said on many occasions, there's no sport that's inherently immune to doping. It's a sad commentary, but it's true."

And...

The number of prohibited substances and methods represents only a small percentage of what is banned by WADA. Its lengthy doping list is a 19-page document. While WADA chair Dick Pound said the entire list should have been adopted by professional golf, PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem said some substances were not included because of high testing costs and their irrelevance to golf.

Wadler said the inclusion of hormones on the banned list could be interpreted as testing for human growth hormone, which he said needed to be on every professional sports anti-doping list.

"It sounds to me as if they should not try to reinvent the wheel when that wheel has already been invented, so it sounds as if they used the World Anti-Doping Agency's prohibited list as a guide, and that's good," he said.

Thursday
Sep202007

"Will they really be minding their pees and queues?"

Steve Elling raises an essential question to the drug testing policy: will there be full or even partial disclosure?

Given how the testing issue relates to the PGA Tour, the most economically influential circuit in the history of the game, not to mention the most public-relations paranoid, here's something else to keep in mind.

Will they really be minding their pees and queues?

Make no mistake, the implementation of drug testing is mostly about maintaining appearances, not that there's anything wrong with that, per se. Thankfully, there has been zero evidence that any notable player has taken performance-enhancing substances over the years. Still, the tours decided to be "proactive," as they put it.
And... 
For years, Finchem has been prodded about revising the PGA Tour's absurd policy relating to the disclosure of fines, suspensions and player discipline. For example, Woods has been known to brag -- that probably isn't the right term, exactly -- that he has been fined more often than any other player in history for using four-letter words during TV broadcasts.

As the world tours study over the coming weeks how best to sanction players for potential performance-enhancing violations -- the sanctions darned well better be meaningful, starting with a first offense -- the folks in Paranoia Vedra might want to weigh this related issue as well.

Fast forward...

If Finchem's emissaries are pointedly asked whether a player has been suspended because of a blood-doping violation, how will they answer? Forget player privacy issues. Finchem can't afford to be so fiercely protective of the integrity of the tour and its individual contestants.

Competitors, if not fans and sponsors, have the right to know who's playing by the rules. Without working myself into a 'roid rage here, the bottom line on this drug-testing beaker is as clear as the glass container itself.

In an individual sport like golf, protecting a cheater is the same as the act of cheating itself.

Use the juice, get cut loose. Then make sure everybody knows about it.
Thursday
Sep202007

"But for the problems in other sports, I doubt we would be at this point."

The press conference on the "anti-doping" policies demonstrated that our governing bodies and assorted tours are on the same page. But I continue to be fascinated by Commissioner Finchem's stance on how this all came about. 

Q. If you don't mind me paraphrasing, you've always said that there was no evidence of any performance-enhancing drug use, and the honor system of golf, etc. All that said and wherever you are today, do you consider this a landmark day for golf or a sad day for golf?

TIM FINCHEM: Well, I think that as everybody else has spoken, it's a day where we are going to be proactive in light of the realities of what's happening in sport. But for the problems in other sports, I doubt we would be at this point.

But certainly the problems in other sports have created a growing perception among fans that athletes generally in many cases, in the minds of many fans who utilize substances that in other sports are banned. Now we don't ban substances in our sport, but when you combine that in the reality that for example, in the case of The European Tour, they have to undergo testing protocols because governments are requiring that they do; as does the LPGA in some instances, all of these things argue for moving forward.

I think it doesn't mean we like it and it does mean we are concerned about shifting the culture of the sport from one where you know the rules and you play by the rules, and if you violate the rules, you call a penalty on yourself; to if you engage in testing, perhaps creating the specter that an organization doesn't trust what the player says, which is certainly not the case.

So we are going to have to work hard on that point, but we are where we are given the way of the world and I think it's a positive day for golf because we are, A, together; B, we are spending a lot of energy to do it right. We are learning from watching what the other sports have done that in some cases have not been perhaps the right thing to do. It's taken them awhile to get it right, and we've been quite deliberate about where we're headed. And all of these things I think are positive. I think that's a positive message for the game.

"We are where we are given the way of the world." 

Okay, I can see that. Just like Jake could see the logic of Elwood trading the Blues mobile for a microphone.

However, let's ponder this for a moment. And to longtime readers, I apologize for sounding like a broken record.

We've heard for the last 10 years or so, and quite specifically from various leaders, that distance gains have been the product of improved athleticism with little acknowledgement that equipment might be the driving force. The most notorious was USGA President Walter Driver's claim that 75% of distance increases could be blamed on "improved athleticism." (And in Finchem's defense, he's also been quite clear that this evolving athleticism might lead to some form of distance regulation.)

So aren't we here today at least in part because golf's leadership wheeled out a suspect rationale for distance increases? A rationale that might drive young athletes to try performance enhancing drugs in order to improve their athleticism, and therefore, perhaps keep up distance-wise? 

Thursday
Sep202007

"The Model Prohibited Substance and Methods List"

Catchy, wouldn't you say?

Not much to glean from the statement, which was sent out by the R&A and PGA Tour. The USGA's version is still awaiting approval from legal.

STATEMENT REGARDING GLOBAL ANTI-DOPING POLICY IN GOLF

Leading Golf Organizations Come Together to Develop Anti-Doping Policy for Golf

St.  Augustine,  Florida  – The major governing organizations in golf today announced  that  they have agreed in principle to an anti-doping policy for professional  golf  on  a  global  basis  that  will be accomplished in two phases.

The  first  phase  of the policy, which has been completed, encompasses the development  of  The  Model Prohibited Substance and Methods List discussed later in this statement, a copy of which is attached.

The  second phase of the Policy, which is anticipated to be completed prior to  the  end  of  this  year,  will  include  general standards for all the fundamental  elements of an anti-doping program for golf organizations that become  signatories  to  the  Policy,  while providing flexibility for such signatories  to  develop  specific  policies  and  procedures  necessary or appropriate  for  their  organizations.   Such standards will encompass the Model  Prohibited  Substance  and  Methods  List, as well as medical waiver procedures, testing protocols, results management, penalties, sanctions and reciprocity of outcomes.

Leading  golf  organizations  who  have  lent their support, leadership and cooperation  for  the  development  of  the  Policy  as  a  result of their representation  on  the Board of Directors of the World Golf Foundation and who will, subject to approval by their governing boards, become signatories to the Policy include:

      Augusta National Golf Club
      European Tour
      Ladies Professional Golf Association
      PGA of America
      PGA TOUR
      The R&A for The Open Championship
      United  States  Golf  Association for the U.S. Open, the U.S. Women’s Open and the U.S. Senior Open

Other  leading  golf organizations who have agreed to become signatories to
the Policy include:

      Asian Tour
      Australasian Tour
      Canadian Tour
      Japan Professional Golf Tour
      Sunshine Tour
      Tour de Las Americas

The  Model Prohibited Substance and Methods List (modified as necessary for individual  golf  organizations)  will  be incorporated into the respective tournament  regulations of a number of signatories to the policy, effective in  2008.   Player education and outreach on the Model Prohibited Substance and  Methods  List  is  ongoing and will be given increased emphasis by the signatories of the Policy moving forward.

An Anti-Doping office of the World Golf Foundation will be created in 2008, and  will,  among  duties,  coordinate  and  share  information  with  golf organizations with respect to medical waiver procedures and therapeutic use exemptions  under  the  Policy.   Disciplinary procedures and penalties for violations  of  the  Policy  will  be  controlled  and  administered by the signatories  to  the Policy, and disclosed to other signatory organizations for  consistency and coordination purposes.  Testing protocols will also be within  the  purview  of the individual signatory organizations and will be developed  and approved by each organization on an individual basis.  It is anticipated  that  signatories  who  will  be testing under the Policy will commence and activate their testing programs in 2008.

Wednesday
Sep192007

Congressional To Redo Greens...Again!

Really, aren't they going to give Medinah a run soon for most renovations by a course miraculously beloved by the Golf Digest panel?

This time--like every other time in recent memory--the condition of the putting surfaces is the culprit. But hey, it gets them out of the 2009 U.S. Amateur, where they figured to lose money anyway.

Leonard Shapiro reports in the Washington Post:

The 2009 U.S. Amateur golf championship will not be played at Congressional Country Club as scheduled and will be moved to another site, most likely Southern Hills Country Club in Tulsa, according to sources at the Bethesda club and the United States Golf Association.

Concerns among PGA Tour players and club and USGA officials about the state of Congressional's putting surfaces during the inaugural AT&T National tournament in July prompted the decision.

The club plans to redo the greens on its championship Blue course and will begin the work in the summer of 2009, almost two full years before it is scheduled to host the U.S. Open in June 2011.

The USGA also wants to tweak some bunkers, fairways and tee boxes on the course before the 2011 Open, and the implementation of those fixes also will begin almost immediately after the 2009 AT&T National, Washington's PGA Tour stop hosted by Tiger Woods.

No need to tweak. Just rip the entire thing up and start over. No one will miss it.

Earlier this summer, Woods and several other PGA Tour players complained about the speed of the greens during tournament week. One source indicated that club members were not happy to read the criticism from the No. 1 player in the world and that some Congressional members and USGA officials were concerned about the greens even before the event.

The decision to move the Amateur also is expected to result in Woods's tournament remaining at Congressional in 2009. Last spring, club members overwhelmingly voted to approve a contract to host the event in 2007 and 2008. Woods has said he would like to play the tournament at the storied course off River Road every year, and the decision to reschedule the Amateur now clears the way for 2009, pending approval of the membership.

A club source also said last night that the PGA Tour had approached Congressional about playing Woods's event at the club in May 2009 instead of July, the better to give the course time to recover before the U.S. Amateur. But the club apparently had no interest in hosting two tournaments in the same year.

Wednesday
Sep192007

"I've been building short par 4 golf holes before that became famous."

Yes, they clearly hit rock bottom at the Turning whatever classic, where Tom Fazio was invited into the press center to help ease the assembled inkslingers into an afternoon siesta.

I really would not read this rambling mess of inanity unless you forgot to get your Lunesta refilled. Really, it's press conferences like this that make you understand why most golf writers think that course design is such a boring field.

The uh, highlights...

Certainly the opportunities are endless, and that is one of the unique things about golf design and what we strive for. We strive to create distinctive, unique, special, one of a kind pieces. The PR people add other words to those word pieces and call them lots of different things. But my goal is always to have it very distinctive.

Again, throughout those decades of my career, I've had the opportunity to do a lot of golf courses. None of them look like this golf course. The next group, assuming I'm fortunate enough to live longer, none of them will look like this golf course. Why would you do it again, the same thing?

Why, oh why? Especially when you can come back and "re-perfect" them 15 years later!
Obviously, you take the character and the style, but in the old days much golf architecture in America, golf is roughly only 120 years old, maybe now it's getting to be 130 from the beginning. Which is not a long time. And not many people knew about golf.

When golf was brought here by the Scots, mostly and some of the Irish and the UK countries, the UK Kingdoms of where golf kind of started the idea was a golf professional or someone who knew golf came over with the idea of building a golf hole in the early days of my career I used to hear the word Rodin greens, and Cardinal bunker, and all those old famous things that you can find in the British Isle golf courses. And people would come here to bring those ideas and incorporate them.

 

Well, we've had enough of those and plenty of those built. And now over the last, say, 50 to 75 years, five or six decades, we have so many golf courses we're always trying to create different styles. And certainly Turning Stone is a perfect example.

Of what? Yes, we've had enough of those Redans! We want our architecture boring and forgettable!

For example, we could have a U.S. Open here if the golf course is of that quality. But what happened what the USGA would require, and I don't speak for the USGA, even though I've done lots of renovations for U.S. Open golf courses. But you look at the history and their concern is the tee shot landing areas. They want to have a 23-yard fairway where the driving areas are. 30 years ago, that same location was 27 yards.

Uh huh.

So there's been changes even in that evolution, because again, it only makes sense if the golf ball goes straighter because of clubs and technology, why wouldn't you adjust those narratives and widths for the best players.

Now for the majority of us, we don't really know the difference between 23 and 27. You know, 27's not wide enough. We want 30. So there are just so many different ways that that could be done, and you would do that. And it wouldn't necessarily be a change, it would be the process because that's what golf is about. That's how it has evolved forever, decade after decade.

Peachy.

Q. Some people talk about the short par 4, the short risk-reward par 4 as being the most exciting hole in golf. Best tournament hole. Did you consider that when you built Atunyote?

TOM FAZIO: Yes, not individually. And I agree with that. I've been building short par 4 golf holes before that became famous. That became the in thing, because lots of people have.

He's such the innovator and precedent setter!  

Wednesday
Sep192007

Outside The Cup Thinking

A couple of interesting FedEx Cup "tweak" pieces were recently posted offering some outside the box thoughts. First, Steve Elling at CBSSports.com says the Tour should maintain it's "Top-10 and you're in" rule during the playoffs, offers other suggestions and notes this on the marketing push:

Week one, day one, we asked Finchem if he believed the initial outrage expressed by fans and media when Woods skipped the FedEx opener was partly attributable to the saccharine series of FedEx ads that have bombarded fans all year long. He insisted the advertising blitz wasn't too "cheesy or hype-y" and that he received great feedback on the incessant TV campaign while attending the British Open. Well, those people like Benny Hill reruns, too. The cheese factor was so high in these ads, fans became lactose intolerant. The 2008 campaign must be seriously reigned in for credibility's sake alone.
Probably because I get impatient with the registration wall or sheer laziness, I missed this from the Augusta Chronicle's Scott Michaux, posted almost a month ago. 
FLAW: RELATIVE WORTH. Let's say Woods doesn't win the FedEx thingy. Does the PGA Tour really think he's not the season "champion" already having won five times, including a major and two WGC events, and blitzed the rest of the tour in the points and money lists. Who's the player of the year?

SOLUTION: Market the FedEx Cup for what it really is - a gimmick to add a little intrigue to what typically is a meaningless end of the season. Don't try to sell it as the definitive answer for a year's worth of effort. What works in team sports is simply contrived here.

And...

FLAW: SHORT FIELDS. The PGA Tour borrowed from NASCAR's "Chase" for its format, but it missed the main point. In NASCAR's chase, every driver still races though only the chosen few are part of the Nextel Cup subplot. The PGA plan (which, to be fair, was foisted upon Finchem by the players) will winnow its field each week, which actually decreases the drama.

SOLUTION: Keep the fields full, bringing more variables into the tournament equation. There are already too many short field events on tour, and it limits competition. Limit the FedEx field within the field to the top 50 in the season-long points chase, reshuffle their points and let them try to play their way into the Tour Championship. To be eligible for the title, you have to play in all three events.


Wednesday
Sep192007

"She stopped playing golf soon after I introduced her to the game and decided she would rather eat cookies and tacos as a sport."

Thanks to reader Steve for this ebay post break-up rant/sale listing. Warning, some R-rated imagery here.

Wednesday
Sep192007

You Can Call Me Al

Reader Peter J. was perusing GolfLink.com and caught this course listing. Now, I understand typos as someone who has mastered the art, but this one looks like a silly GolfClubAtlas DG log in name.

The 18-hole "Ardsley" course at the Ardsley Country Club facility in Ardsley On Hudson, New York features 6,522 yards of golf from the longest tees for a par of 72. The course rating is 72.3 and it has a slope rating of 131 on Bent grass.  Designed by Willie Dunn, Jr./(R) Al Stermakenzie, the Ardsley golf course opened in 1895. John Brisson manages the course as the General Manager.

Al Stermakenzie is actually Ali G speak for Alister MacKenzie, no? 

Tuesday
Sep182007

IM'ing With The Commissioners, Vol. VII

My friends at the NSA have been waiting for LPGA Tour Commissioner Carolyn Bivens to return from the Solheim Cup, knowing that an inevitable instant message chat with the PGA Tour's Tim Finchem would take place after all of the FedEx Cup excitement died down. Previous chats are here, here, here, here, here and here).

twfPGATour©: Carolyn, are you there?

DaBrandLady: hi tim! wow, you never say hi first. what's wrong?

twfPGATour©: Well, the usual stuff.  More importantly, how about that product Sunday?

DaBrandLady: i know, who would have though morgan would beat annika!!!!!!

twfPGATour©:  Oh.

twfPGATour©: No, I meant the conclusion to the PLAYOFFS©

DaBrandLady: oh right. you know i tito'd it and was going to watch it this week after i got caught up.

twfPGATour©: Well it was pretty spectacular, even though Tiger chose not to embrace certain platform dynamics that we had outlined in the witty and truly spectacular FedEx Cup creative that ran in the first quarter of this year.

DaBrandLady: what, he didn't whistle eye of the tiger?

twfPGATour©: No, that was the third quarter creative. I was referring to the ingenious "Who will be the first to kiss the Cup" line from our friends at GDS&M.

DaBrandLady: you mean GSD&M?

twfPGATour©: Right! Always get that mixed up.

DaBrandLady: here's what i think. it's tiger's loss that he didn't embrace the brand momentum! especially since your prediction came true that the events would be "the most impactful series of events in the history of the sport."

twfPGATour©: Thanks Carolyn. Yes, I must say they were pretty special. And thanks for putting that in quotes.

DaBrandLady: anytime. speaking of impactful tim. are you a milk of magnesia man?

twfPGATour©: No, I eat a spinach salad every day when I'm here at headquarters and I really nurse the flax seed oil when I'm on the road. Family history with IBS.

DaBrandLady: you mean ubs? they did some nice stat work for us at the evian masters and we're really hoping to sign them up for an account in the fourth quarter of this year, preferably for something on the domestic schedule.

twfPGATour©: No, no, IBS, irritable bowel syndrome.

DaBrandLady: oh, sorry.

twfPGATour©: Well I've been lucky so far. And thankfully, I'm not one of players, it looks like one of the IBS drugs may be on our banned list.

DaBrandLady: oh how's that coming along tim? i'm anxious to see what you guys do with tetrahydrogestrinone and modafinil.

twfPGATour©: Big announcement Thursday. Email Ty. He'll get you in on the conference call if you'd like.

DaBrandLady: well, good luck with the testosterone issues.

twfPGATour©: I'm not having any problems. Did someone say I was?

DaBrandLady: oh tim, it's always about you!
DaBrandLady: i was talking about the testing for steroids and measuring rises in testosterone levels.

twfPGATour©: We are testing to detect the T/E ratio on testosterone to epitestosterone, drawing the line at 8:1

DaBrandLady: oh no, you have to go 6:1. you also have to subject the urine samples to gas chromatography and mass spectrometry

twfPGATour©: is that where they heat the product to turn it into gases so they can separate and analyze the molecular levels?

DaBrandLady: that's the one. characteristic “signatures” will betray the presence of banned substances every time.

twfPGATour©: Jeese. Most of our guys didn't understand deferred compensation, I can't imagine the player meetings on performance enhancing drugs.

DaBrandLady: but just think tim, this testing does so much for our brand positioning and upward integrity streaming.

twfPGATour©: That's right, just what I told the sponsors in a conference call today.

twfPGATour©: I need to run Carolyn.

DaBrandLady: the UBS acting up?

twfPGATour©: No, but close. Phil Mickelson on line two. Give my best to, uh...

DaBrandLady: he says hi back!

Tuesday
Sep182007

It's The Dimples!

Thanks to reader Graeme for this:

AUSTRALIAN golf great Peter Thomson has suggested golf balls should be redesigned to harness the distance they are being hit by pros and amateurs. In an article in the Australian Financial Review last week Thomson suggested the solution lies in the ball’s dimples. Ten years ago, testers found that the greater the area of the ball covered by dimples, the more aerodynamically effective it became and the better it performed in cross winds. They changed the dimple pattern to cover 100 percent of the ball. “If we restricted the dimple pattern to cover 40 percent or 50 percent of the ball, it would return the distance of the drive to 250 yards [228.6 metres],” says Thomson. “This would also reduce the incidence of balls flying over fences into neighbouring houses and onto roads.” The rules of golf state that every golf ball must comply with three things: its weight must not be greater than 1.62 ounces, its diameter must not be less than 1.68 inches and its initial velocity, when fired from a testing cannon, must not be greater than 250 feet (76.2 metres) per second. Manufacturers have been able to tinker with the ball’s cover, internal composition and dimple pattern to comply with these rules, and yet still get greater distance.

It can't be good for the USGA that one of the R&A's biggest supporters isn't talking up the grooves.  

Tuesday
Sep182007

"Maybe now he'll start leaving decent tips."

Gary Van Sickle hands out FedEx Cup awards, including this one for Tiger:

Jed Clampett Award: The richest man in golf is Woods. He won seven times in 16 appearances and cleared $10 million for the year. At the Tour Championship, he snagged $1.26 million for the tournament victory and the famously deferred $10 million for capturing the FedEx Cup title. Maybe now he'll start leaving decent tips.

Meanwhile Doug Ferguson lauds the FedEx Cup's success and examines the problems with various "tweaks" to the Cup, including one that I initially thought was an essential fix. Now I'm not so sure the field sizes should change if the points volatility is improved, as expected.

Furyk offered the most comical assessment by noting that 125 players keep their cards, but 144 players start the playoffs. But the season began with 225 exempt players, so actually only 64 percent made the playoffs.

The biggest problem with this solution is that short fields make for dull tournaments and a lousy experience for the fans. Consider the 70-man field at Cog Hill, where an entire day of golf was over in six hours. There has to be consideration given to the tournament and its fan base. Plus, it's harder to win against a larger field.

The limited field events really are getting old, not because Tiger always wins them, but because you sense they might introduce more leaderboard competition as we saw at the first two playoff events.