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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

A first class architect attempts to give the impression that everything has been done by nature and nothing by himself, whereas a contractor tries to make as big a splash as possible and impress committees with the amount of labor and material he has put into the job. ALISTER MACKENZIE


    

Friday
Oct122007

Gary Player Clarifies Burma Ties; Refuses To Apologize For His Design Atrocities

PlayerMandelaSit2002bg.jpgWell, sort of.
Gary Player, whose involvement in the Nelson Mandela Invitational annual charity event has been called into question over a course he designed in strife-torn Burma, has hit back fiercely at those who wish the event to distance itself from the man who has been the driving force behind it.

In a statement placed on the official Nelson Mandela Invitational website on Friday, nine-time major winner Player had this to say:

"I would like to take this opportunity to reiterate that my company’s involvement in the design of a golf course in Burma has been taken entirely out of context.

"We did business there when the world’s relations towards the regime there had thawed. We believed that the talks in which the regime was engaged with the democratic opposition would lead to free and fair elections and that, like South Africa, Burma would embrace the chance to free their people and live harmoniously as an example within Asia.

"With that in mind, we completed the design of a golf course in 2002 – an effort for which we were paid expenses only. At the time we were appointed, Dawn Aung San Suu Kyi had been released and it seemed as though real political change was in the air.

"Sadly, since that time it has proven to be a false dawn.

"I therefore, once again, want to make it abundantly clear that I decry in the strongest possible terms the recent events in Burma and wholeheartedly support Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu in his efforts to bring peace and transition to that country, including his call for sanctions.

"The Nelson Mandela Invitational charity golf tournament has been, and still is, my way of thanking and paying homage to our truly remarkable former President, whom we all love and respect."

Friday
Oct122007

“Monty’s a tough one. He was the only one whose emotions I had to deal with.

The all time worst buried lede award may go to John Hopkins for sticking this quote from Nick Faldo at the end of a boring piece on Faldo's "Captain's log."

“Monty’s a tough one,” Faldo said. “He was the only one whose emotions I had to deal with. He only came to two of the five team meetings, so that was disappointing. Then he had to be teased out on to the 18th green to support his team. The bottom line was that he hadn’t won a point. That’s why I sent him out first in the singles. That’s the place to get a point. And he did.”

 

Thursday
Oct112007

Masters Can't Compete With Law And Order Reruns?

From Ron Sirak's blog post on the Masters moving to ESPN:

The move also makes sense for USA Network, which at one time had Thursday-Friday coverage of the PGA Tour but is now out of golf, except for the Masters. In 2007, USA Network was live from 4-7 p.m. on Thursday and Friday, with replays from 8-11 both days. CBS did the live weekend coverage from 3:30-7 on Saturday and 2:30-7 on Sunday. One source said the prime-time replays on USA Network hurt its evening ratings and that while the Masters is a prestigious event, it was not worth the price tag needed to secure it.

 

Thursday
Oct112007

Stevie The "Sportsman" Makes Massive Donation

You know when a caddie is making $1 million donations and establishing his own foundation, that his loop is just really, really good. Especially since the looper in question has about as much personality as...oh how dare I? He loves children:

Williams announced the donation to hospital staff, patients and their families during a holiday in New Zealand.

"My wife Kirsty and I decided we wanted the foundation to support another area that was in real need, where we could make a big difference," Williams said.

"We talked to the Starship Foundation and were immediately sold on the Starship cancer ward.
This left me confused:
Williams has been caddie to Woods, the world golf No.1, since 1999, and is one of the highest-earning New Zealand sportsmen.

Sportsmen? Did he win the World Camera Tossing contest? When did caddying become a sport? 

He is also a New Zealand speedway motor racing champion.

Oh, sorry. 

Thursday
Oct112007

Local Hero?

Shocking as it may seem, but yes, The Donald is running into all sorts of trouble in Scotland. Shocking because, how on earth could anyone not want luxury homes, lots of gold crests everywhere, a massive hotel and two courses on environmentally sensitive dunesland? What is wrong with these people?

Thanks to reader Larry for this David Lister authored story on a fisherman who is standing in the way of The Donald.

To say that Mr Forbes, 55, is a thorn in Mr Trump’s side is an understatement. His 23 acres of land sit directly between the tycoon’s two proposed 18-hole golf courses and a planned 450-bedroom five-star hotel. A golf academy and driving range would be next door. Just a few hundred feet away would be the majestic sweep of Trump Boulevard, the main access road to the £1 billion resort.

“I’m right in the middle, you see,” Mr Forbes said yesterday. “I wasn’t against the golf course from the start, but then they just went mental because I wouldn’t sell. They said they’d make my life a misery and they are.”

Mr Forbes’s land, where a saltire hangs in one corner and a barn emblazoned with the words “No Golf Course” greets visitors as they arrive along the single-track unmade road, has become an embarrassing symbol of defiance to Mr Trump.

“All my family came from around here. My grandfather fished down here and all my uncles as well. I’m the last in line and I’ll see it out.”

Although the billionaire has insisted that he will build around Mr Forbes’s property, his irritation burst into the open this week when he launched an extraordinary attack on his neighbour.

Describing the land as “in total disrepair”, Mr Trump said: “Take a look and see how badly maintained that piece of property is. It’s disgusting. There are rusty tractors, rusty oil cans. I actually asked him, ‘Are you doing this on purpose to try and make me look bad, so I have to pay some more money?’”
It's always all about your Donald! And he took the words right out of my mouth...
The dispute has all the hallmarks of the plot of Local Hero, the 1983 cult film in which an American tycoon seeks to buy a tiny Scottish village, though on this occasion the dispute is about golf, not oil. Mr Trump has submitted plans to turn a 1,400-acre site at Balmedie, 13 miles north of Aberdeen, into “the world’s greatest golf course”, with two championship links courses, a five-star hotel, a golf academy, almost 1,000 holiday homes and about 500 private houses.
This AP story also looks at some of the issues facing the project:
The billionaire property developer aims to turn sand dunes at the Menie Estate, 15 miles north of Aberdeen, into a $2 billion golf resort with a pair of 18-hole courses, a luxurious 450-bedroom hotel, 950 vacation homes, 36 golf villas and 500 upscale homes.

Standing in his way are the feathered residents of the beach and rolling dunes -- seven species of endangered rare birds including Skylarks and breeding waders, particularly Lapwings and Redshank.

Local residents in the quiet nearby village of Balmedie are also up in arms at the proposed resort, branding it a "gated community" with too many houses which would spoil the bucolic atmosphere of the area.

Concerned that his investment is about to be pitched into the rough, Trump flew into Scotland this week to set out his plans ahead of a crunch meeting later this month by local council members. He warned he would drop the project if the houses were rejected and claimed the course would improve the local environment.

"Each and every golf course I have built has got awards for environmental protection, and I do not think anyone has got as many awards as we have." Trump told reporters at a press conference on the estate. "I believe environmentally, when we are finished, the course will be better environmentally than before we started.

"It's possible I could lose a great deal of money. It would cost a lot less money if we did not care about the environment."

Local protesters claimed the visit was designed to put the heat on members of Aberdeenshire Council, who are expected to make a decision on Oct. 29. If approved, it would then go to the Scottish government for final approval later in the year.

Local opinion is divided. The planning application lodged at Aberdeenshire Council in June has attracted more than three times as many letters of support as it has of objection -- 327 to 105. There is also a petition objecting to the proposal with 28 signatures.

In July, planning officials recommended approval for the project, which would create more than 800 jobs during peak season. But the plan is so controversial that councilors deferred their decision and are refusing to comment until after a consultation process is completed.

 

Thursday
Oct112007

Trouble At St. Andrews Beach

...in Australia. Martin Blake reports the unfortunate news that the course closed temporarily because it's not paying its bills. You have to love Clayton's quote:

One source said the course's co-designer, US golf course architect Tom Doak, was owed at least $250,000.

Mike Clayton, Melbourne golf professional, course architect and Age columnist, was the other designer. Mr Clayton said he was disappointed to see the concept struggling. "It's clearly one of the best courses in the country and it needs to work," he said. "We can't afford to lose great courses. We've got too many bad courses around without losing something like this."

 

Wednesday
Oct102007

"He's the No. 1 golf man. He believed it when he saw how I read the greens and how I hit it."

maar01_gd0711kindred.jpgI finally had a chance to peruse the November Golf Digest and was rivetted by Dave Kindred's investigation into purported hole-in-one specialist Jaqueline Gagne. Do read the entire piece as it's great entertainment told only as Kindred can when he's hot on the trail of a shyster.

Most entertaining of all...

Gagne lapped up the attention. Her website, jacquelinegagne.com, carried 39 citations of national and international media outlets reporting on her, including Golf Digest, Golf World, USA Today, The London Times and The Wall Street Journal. She hired a Los Angeles public-relations firm. She planned a book, Turning Up Aces. She posted a Titleist feature bragging that she used the Pro V1 ball on every hole-in-one. She waxed enthusiastically about Cobra clubs (the company sent her a set and a staff bag). She did a testimonial for the Q-Link pendant (over the signature, "Jacqueline Gagne, World Record Holder, Most Hole In Ones in One Year"). She agreed to play in certain events as a national spokesperson for a breast-cancer charity.

Gagne twice appeared on CBS television's "The Early Show." Co-anchor Harry Smith began the first segment saying, "Oh, do I love this story." Later he brought her to New York, where he enlisted golf analyst Peter Kostis. When Gagne revealed that she reads the green from the tee, Kostis declared that "the first clue" to the holes-in-one. Then she made a few swings, and Kostis liked what he saw. His conclusion: "It's the real deal."

Another feather in his every growing plume! Oh wait, Kostis gets an endorsement too...

Anyway, Gagne and I had talked only briefly, but it was clearly long enough for her to decide she didn't like the way it was going. When I asked if she could help me find the SilverRock witnesses, she said, "Nope."

"Why not?"

"They've already been interviewed."

"I haven't seen a word from them," I said.

She said, "I'm really getting tired of this."

She thought the Kostis chatter should have convinced me. "He's the No. 1 golf man. He believed it when he saw how I read the greens and how I hit it."

Nice read Peter.

Meanwhile, it seems Gagne is a blogger now and she's fighting back at Kindred, confirming she weighs 140 pounds, not 155 as was reported. Oh and Kindred's wife was rude on the phone to some of her friends.

So glad we got that cleared up!

Wednesday
Oct102007

Brand Lady: Media "Put too much on" Wie

Thomas Bonk looks at the state of Michelle Wie's game, and former teacher Gary Gilchrist sounds most in touch with reality, particularly after you read LPGA Commissioner Carolyn Bivens' assessment:
"I don't have a crystal ball," she said. "Has the media put too much on her in terms of expectations? The answer is yes. But if Michelle were never to play another day of professional golf, she's had a pretty rewarding career for someone who came on so young when she was 11 and 12 to 17.

"No, she didn't win four or five Opens, but that doesn't necessarily portend anything for the future."
Wednesday
Oct102007

Report: Game Would Not Be Where It Is Without Tiger

This one reeks of a managing editor in features telling a sports editor that he had this great idea over the weekend: tell our readers what golf would have been like without Tiger Woods coming along. Bet there was lots of head nodding and back massaging going around the editors room down in central Florida over this one.

 Jeremy Fowler of the Orlando Sentinel was given the uneviable task of researching this unresearchable story.

Here's a real newsflash:

Considering how Woods has altered the game, there's reason to believe his absence would have stunted the sport's growth.

"Would the game be as exciting? Probably not," said David Leadbetter, the famous golf coach of players such as Nick Faldo, Ernie Els and Nick Price. "He makes golf interesting everywhere, from the prize money to TV to the international aspect of it. You can go anywhere in the world, and in all probability, they've heard of Tiger Woods. The game hasn't always had that, and I don't know if it would without him."

 

Wednesday
Oct102007

Bearing Point Out Before It's Ever In

You may recall a post about Bearing Point taking over for Nissan as sponsor of the L.A. Open. It was based on Thomas Bonk's story in the L.A. Times, confirmed prematurely by Riviera's Michael Yamaki.

Now, you may wonder why this is of interesting since most people around here will still call it the L.A. Open.

In that post I speculated that Phil Mickelson's bizarre outburst at Tim Finchem following the Deutsche Bank had something to do with the PGA Tour (rightfully) rejecting an idea to make Mickelson the player host of a Bearing Point Open.

Well, now I'm wondering just a bit more since it's not exactly a well kept secret that Bearing Point will not be sponsoring the L.A. Open, but instead, several sources reveal that Northern Trust will be taking over for Nissan.  

Wednesday
Oct102007

Masters Announces New Brand Initiative, And I'm Not Joking

Note the lede in the Masters.org press release...Bobby Jones just heaved a chair across the room, and not because he's been watching ESPN's golf coverage. No, because officially arriving in Augusta is the fantasy that corporate involvement will somehow "grow the game." And it's neatly disguised with MBASpeak.

Billy Payne, Chairman of Augusta National Golf Club and the Masters Tournament, announced today three new strategic relationships as part of a worldwide initiative to utilize the Masters brand to further promote the game of golf.

Yes, if Cliff were here today, he would be looking for ways to platform this underutilized brand in order to build international equity and leveragable brand dynamics.

Payne announced that the Masters’ new cable affiliate for the Thursday and Friday telecast will be ESPN. He added that the Tournament would also be partnering with a small number of prominent international companies to support the telecast and golf development programs outside of the United States. The first two to be announced are Mercedes-Benz and Rolex.

Sigh...

In addition to its significant impact domestically, ESPN’s global reach extends to 194 countries including Europe, Latin America, Canada and parts of Asia, the Middle East and Africa. A Spanish-language telecast of the first two rounds of the Tournament will also be presented in the US on ESPN Deportes.

“With the worldwide reach of ESPN, and their demonstrated leadership in new media, we think ESPN is uniquely positioned to showcase the Masters and golf to new audiences,” Payne said.

Maybe deliver some stronger numbers in the male 18-34 demo? Afterall, the Masters is in trouble financially you know! And let's be honest, underexposed too.

“For sports fans, the Masters represents a most hallowed rite of spring with its rich tradition and indelible imagery,” said ESPN President George Bodenheimer. “We are honored by the opportunity to work with the Tournament to help it achieve its goal of growing the game of golf around the world.”

Television times remain the same as 2007 with live coverage slated from 4:00-7:00 p.m. Thursday and Friday and a rebroadcast from 8:00-11:00 p.m. each evening.

Payne added: “Bob Jones once wrote, ‘. . . I think it can be said that the tournament has performed some service to competitive golf . . . .’ Cliff Roberts said that, ‘The Masters is operated for the single purpose of benefiting the game itself.’ We feel it is imperative to continue the legacy of our two founders.”

Now about that second cut...oh, sorry, it's time for my favorite portion of the press release. The empty quote pile on:

“We are honored and delighted to be partnering with Augusta National Golf Club and the Masters Tournament, helping bring the game of golf to new audiences in new countries all around the world,” said Dr. Dieter Zetsche, Chairman of the Board of Management, Daimler AG. “As the inventor of the automobile we understand the importance of heritage and the role it can play in growing your future.”
Yes, that's right, Mercedes invented the car and now it's going to grow the game of golf. I certainly can see the connection.

"The Masters is one of the most popular and revered events globally, and we are proud of our new international association," said Patrick Heiniger, President and CEO of Rolex. "The Masters stands for tradition and innovation and is universally respected. We look forward to working with the Tournament in many activities."

“We think our new worldwide initiative is important,” Payne said. “The other major golf organizations have rightly identified a need to accelerate the growth of golf throughout the world. We will utilize the goodwill of the Masters and our other resources in support of these bodies and programs. We are pleased that CBS, ESPN and our present television sponsors, AT&T, ExxonMobil and IBM, as well as these new international partners and our international broadcasters will help us with this program that will have a particular focus on young people.

“This new international initiative compliments our longstanding support of golf domestically as evidenced by our contributions of over $32 million dollars the last 10 years to organizations including golf’s ruling bodies, The First Tee, Augusta’s Community Foundation for the CSRA and the Tiger Woods Foundation,” said Payne.

Well there is good news. On ESPN.com they report that Mike Tirico will be the Thursday-Friday host. I know, you were hoping for Berman.

Did anyone else find it odd that there was no mention of USA Network and the club's 25-year relationship ending? There was this generic best wishes from Dick Ebersol at MSNBC.com. 

 

Tuesday
Oct092007

Overheard In Palm Beach...

Totally unsubstantiated, entirely unconfirmed and coming from disreputable sources (golf business people!), a whopping three people have told me (unsolicited) over the last few days that Tiger Woods is eyeing property on Bridge Road, the main route from I-95 into his future home in bucolic Hobe Sound. 

My lousy sources weren't sure if this was a site for his own private course or a private club, ala Greg Norman's nearby Medalist or Pete Dye's new Dye Preserve.

I had the privilege of driving Bridge Road today and I can tell you the elevation change must be at least 3 feet in spots. Though I'm pretty sure I spotted some properties on the south side that were not swamps filled with aligators.

If I were Tiger, I would buy one of the south side ranches that is for sale, keep the discreet dirt road entry, and build a fun course for myself and friends. Oh and have someone good design it.

Tuesday
Oct092007

Now Wie Should WD!

The tone of this AP piece (I smell Ferguson) and Ron Sirak's GolfDigest.com column all but come out and say she shouldn't be playing the Samsung. Earlier this year she's rightfully ripped for her 88 rule avoidance round, and now she's just trying to tee it up so she can collect that last place check that might cover about half her dorm bill. 

Normal handlers would have had her pull out of this one. But these aren't normal handlers running her career.

Tuesday
Oct092007

Gary Player Finally Condemned For His Course Design Work...

tn_2007-10-09T110012Z_01_NOOTR_RTRIDSP_2_OZASP-MYANMAR-MANDELA-GOLF-20071009.jpg...and they didn't even see the courses in question.

Oh that Desmond Tutu...from Reuters:

South Africa's former Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu had urged a boycott of Player over his involvement in a property development in Myanmar.

Last month, Myanmar's military rulers sent in soldiers to end the biggest pro-democracy protests since 1988, rounding up and arresting scores of people. Official media say 10 people died in the crackdown, although Western governments say the toll could be higher.

And...

The Mandela fund said it was not fully aware of Player's involvement in Myanmar nor the political impact of this involvement.

Player denies Gary Player Design has profited from developments in Myanmar, and argues he only became involved there when it appeared political repression had eased.

"I am very disappointed that my integrity and support for human rights has been brought into question," Player said in a statement. "The company's involvement in the design of a golf course has been taken entirely out of context."

Monday
Oct082007

"Floyd suggested that the club and the Champions Tour consider 'buffering' the greens so that players won't be penalized so drastically."

Don Markus reviews the Senior Players at Baltimore CC and it seems the players want faster greens.

"It's a great golf course, but if they want to take that extra step, they could probably speed the greens up and firm the greens up just a little bit if they wanted to," Loren Roberts said after shooting a four-round score of 13-under-par 267 to win by six strokes over Tom Watson. "I hope they don't hear me say that, but ..."

Roberts echoed the sentiments of many players who appreciated the old-style layout of the 81-year-old Five Farms course and the original design of legendary golf architect A.W. Tillinghast, but said that modern technology and the severely back-to-front sloping greens are not necessarily a good match.

Hall of Famer Ray Floyd said that when the course was built, "they were only mowing twice a week and it made sense to have that kind of speed and slope in the greens." Floyd suggested that the club and the Champions Tour consider "buffering" the greens so that players won't be penalized so drastically.

"Raymond could be right," two-time Masters champion Ben Crenshaw said. "The slopes are tough, there's no question about that. The first championship here to prepare something like this. I'm sure they're looking at the speeds, the play. They're tough, they're really tough."

 

I'm sorry. I was in the heat and sun too long today and my brain is fried. What does green "buffering" mean!? I'm assuming he means to flatten out contours.

If that club, with that gem of a course, touches those greens for the fifth of five senior majors... 

Monday
Oct082007

Whatever Floats Their Boat...

Brent Read talks to Geoff Ogilvy about his year and about the upcoming Australian Open. And it includes this note:

Director Paul McNamee revealed the tournament would have a strong emphasis on fashion, holding parades for female spectators. The golfers will be included, with daily awards to the best dressed player.
Meanwhile Douglas Lowe reports on Ian Poulter getting into women's fashion, with this quote from Pouter:
Poulter believes both men's and women's golf fashion has moved up a notch in the last few years, but not to the level of the 1970s. "When I came out on tour in 2000 there wasn't as much fashion in golf as there was then," he said.

"If you look at pictures of Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Doug Sanders & Co, they were wearing tartan trousers and bright colours and it was fun. Why can't we get back to how it was back then?"

Tartan and bright I can see. But Doug Sanders? 

Sunday
Oct072007

FedEx Cup Suggestion Box

fedexcuplogo.jpgI'm on the road the next few days so posting will be light. But I thought it would be a good time to get some views on the FedEx Cup and PGA Tour "playoff" now that it's been a few weeks since the conclusion.

Granted, it's hard to judge it with the Fall Finish still ongoing. And personally, my favorite element of the playoff concept is that it gets golf off the national radar for a few months like other major sports (but for whatever reason, PGA Tour officials can't just say that). And since we have just begun that element of the new tournament structure, it may be early to tell if that is such a great idea.

Of course, if you read Steve Elling's latest piece, the prospects for the Fall Finish aren't so hot, meaning this off season could grow in the coming years and that's not necessarily a good thing.

Nonetheless, I'm curious what you all think of how the playoffs worked out and what you would do to "tweak" it

Personally, I think there's way too much emphasis on protecting the season long points leaders and not enough of a "playoff."  

But enough about me. Work that comment button! Big brother is watching in Ponte Vedra. 

Sunday
Oct072007

"The sport that already lost complete control of the equipment manufacturers who have juiced the tools and taken a certain element of skill out of the game is now trying to regulate what its performers put into their bodies."

Scott Michaux in the Augusta Chronicle is the first major columnist to note that we have equipment on steroids and golf is opening up a major can of worms with drug testing first. He doesn't quite go all the way and ask why the folks in charge aren't taking a look at equipment in conjunction with the drug testing, or perhaps asking if they may be encouraging performance enhancing drug use by attributing distance gains to athleticism, but he still earns big points for at least noting that it got away from certain governing bodies.
In short, golf was forced to act like every other sport in the modern era.

One simple question - why?

It doesn't make much sense. The sport that already lost complete control of the equipment manufacturers who have juiced the tools and taken a certain element of skill out of the game is now trying to regulate what its performers put into their bodies.

If this was just about illegal steroids, it would be understandable. The whole idea of creating artificial strength - at a potential cost to personal health - is unseemly. Since other sports are failing every day to try to regulate that brand of performance enhancers, why not join the club for appearances sake.

But golf is stepping into an even murkier realm trying to regulate drugs that decrease heart rate, sharpen attention or increase stamina - basically all the things the pharmaceutical companies have trained us to do in our everyday lives. This is where the whole system leaves the rails.
Saturday
Oct062007

TV Execs Thrilled With FedEx Cup Sales

Golfweek's John Steinbreder talks to a few network suits who say the sales numbers were up on the PGA Tour and in particular, the FedEx Cup.

More important, the FedEx Cup likely will help make the first year of the Tour’s new TV deal profitable – at least for some of its TV partners, says a network executive speaking confidentially. (CBS and NBC as a matter of policy do not comment about contract finances.)

Another network source confirmed the improved fiscal performance, saying “the rights fees we are now paying are probably 10-15 percent less than they were before, while our sales revenues are up 10 percent.” Such gains, in part, came from a “slight” advertising premium charged for FedEx Cup events, new business from pharmaceutical companies and continued support from the financial services and auto industries, according to the source.

The turnaround in golf viewership is significant, considering the networks reportedly lost millions during the final years of the previous TV deal that expired following the 2006 season.

Said NBC Sports president Ken Schanzer in an e-mail: “Golf advertising sales were very strong for both our PGA Tour and USGA packages. We were delighted with how the first year (of the new TV contract) went. Our numbers were strong, overall interest was high, and the public seemed to like it.”

Steinbreder then details the less than large ratings numbers and how that may impact perceptions of the Cup. 

Saturday
Oct062007

"The judge marveled at how "crowded" the art of golf ball manufacturing is -- that is, how subtle the differences often are from one patent to the next."

Thanks to reader John for John Paul Newport's Saturday Wall Street Journal column on the recently settled Bridgestone-Titleist suit. I'm sure our Fairhaven readers were tickled by this:

The public filings in these cases, although carefully stripped of trade secrets, are filled with fascinating tidbits, including testy exchanges between lawyers ("Bridgestone is asking for a Mulligan here"). Who knew, for instance, that Titleist got its start when an avid amateur in Massachusetts missed a 3-foot putt to lose a match in 1932? Convinced that his ball had wobbled, he X-rayed it afterward at a friend's dental office and discovered that indeed the core was off-center, and immediately set out to build a better ball.

In one exchange in the Bridgestone suit, the judge marveled at how "crowded" the art of golf ball manufacturing is -- that is, how subtle the differences often are from one patent to the next.

This strikes me as good news for golfers, and helps explain why golf balls, especially at the high end, are virtually indistinguishable for everyone except the very best players.

Which is even better reason that a little rollback won't hurt anyone, right?

Not that this will stop us from wanting to play the Pro V1s of the world. In golf, what you believe about a product is at least as important as what you know.