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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

St. Andrews? I feel liek I'm back visiting an old grandmother. She's crotchety and eccentric but also elegant. Anyone who doesn't fall in love with her has no imagination.
TONY LEMA

 

    

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.”

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! 

Tuesday
May012007

“The money meter was running on all this stuff"

clubhouse.jpgLast week I wondered if Brian Hewitt had it right about the new $32 million price tag on the TPC Sawgrass clubhouse. Sure enough, Golfweek's Adam Schupak confirms it and shares some of the excuses reasons why the cost just about doubled.

It’s a far cry from the original TPC clubhouse that was built for $1.3 million and opened in 1981. Former commissioner Deane Beman built the project under strict orders not to use the Tour’s assets or put the Tour at liability. This time, the Tour’s co-chief operating officer, Charlie Zink, established a reserve fund that reached $45 million in anticipation of  renovations.

Those reserves will be replenished in five to seven years, according to Pillsbury. How so? Through a combination of club operations, tournament revenue and sponsorship fees.

The Tour sold three companies – UBS, PriceWaterhouseCoopers and Jeld-Wen – “proud partner” tournament-sponsorship packages that include TV inventory and dedicated hospitality and meeting space within the new clubhouse. Its predecessor had limited indoor space for entertaining and little useable space for hosting outdoor events.

The new clubhouse is more than just a place to change shoes and grab a hot dog. It features a Champions Lounge, separate member, player, and resort guest locker rooms, a golf shop, a 2,550-square-foot main dining area with a 1,300-square-foot terrace, and 13,800-square-
feet of banquet and meeting space.
Sounds so quaint!
The clubhouse’s second story is dedicated mainly to the three “proud partner” rooms, each large enough to seat 130 people. Each of the three companies signed a six-year deal that insiders estimate costs $12 million to $14 million annually. (Of that amount, $4 million to $6 million is earmarked to replenish the reserve fund.)
Efforts to further boost the clubhouse’s sponsorship revenue potential led to cost overruns. Initially, Tour executives had planned to build two “proud partner” rooms, but later added a third. The project originally was budgeted between $18 million and $22 million; it cost nearly twice as much to complete.

Satisfying sponsors’ needs also came with a price. During an early site visit, sponsors noted that the commissioner’s hospitality area had a patio. Now the “proud partner” rooms do, too.

Wow, those are some expensive patios!

While construction benefited from the driest summer in 22 years, the Tour still had to dip into its rainy day fund. To ensure the facility would be open for this year’s tournament, a construction schedule of slightly less than a year from demolition to completion was implemented, leading to $2 million in overtime. Normally, a project of this magnitude would take 18 to 24 months, Pillsbury says. Moreover, there was a 30 percent increase in the cost of materials such as steel and concrete during construction, adding $6 million to the final bill.

“The money meter was running on all this stuff,” Pillsbury says.

Tuesday
May012007

"It's a lot easier to privately fund-raise for the First Tee than it is to privately fund raise for the city and county"

In Ron Kroichick's report on the likely Yes majority for the PGA Tour-Harding Park contract, I couldn't help but find this disappointing:

Elsbernd had delayed the vote two weeks, so he could try to allay his colleagues' concerns. The proposal -- a revision to the city's original contract with the PGA Tour, announced in 2004 -- called for the tour to give the city $500,000 per event and the First Tee program another $500,000 per event.

Under the new terms, the tour would pay the city $1 million for each event. Any remaining money, after the costs of staging the tournament, would go to First Tee, a program designed to introduce young people to golf and "promote character development" through the game.

Isn't that nice? Take away the Tour's impressive donation for the First Tee to make up for bureacratic bumbling.
Elsbernd and First Tee officials feared the board of supervisors would reject the agreement without this compromise.

"It's a lot easier to privately fund-raise for the First Tee than it is to privately fund raise for the city and county," Elsbernd said. "I'm confident if there are any lost dollars to the First Tee, we'll be able to close the gap" with private donations.

 

Tuesday
May012007

New Look Golfweek.com

logo.gifI haven't spent much time with it yet, but the new look Golfweek.com looks to be a huge upgrade with plenty of fresh content.

I like the new Politico style columnist sketches, though something about them feels like they were done by a police-artist. Maybe it's the people in the sketches and not the artist's fault!

The Tour blog still lacks a comments options or linkable posts, so it's still not really a blog. But at least they are updating it with content, including some interesting posts about the tension heading into Tuesday's player meeting in Charlotte.

Tuesday
May012007

Ferguson On Tour's Double Standard

Doug Ferguson examines the Mickelson pro am situation and reminds us of recent embarrassing moves by the PGA Tour:

In 2005, Chad Campbell wanted to play the 84 Lumber Classic – the tournament even had his wife sing at one of its functions – but he asked out of the pro-am Wednesday to attend his grandmother’s funeral. The Tour made him choose between the pro-am and the funeral, and Campbell withdrew from the tournament.

And...

Wes Short Jr. wanted to skip out on a pro-am because his father was about to have quadruple bypass surgery, but he had to choose between the pro-am and spending time with his father.
Love this from Jim Furyk...
His solution was to fine a player $100,000 for missing a pro-am – if he still wanted to play. Furyk suggested making anyone who missed the pro-am for whatever reason make it up by attending a two-hour corporate function.

“If it boiled down to me going out and playing for four or five hours ... or sitting in a room with a sports coat on for two hours, I think I’d take the outdoors,’’ Furyk said.
Tuesday
May012007

"At the end of the day, this is not an issue about Phil."

Buried deep in Andrew Both's excellent summary of the Mickelson situation:

Indeed, Mickelson sought out Pampling after learning of the Australian's comments, in order to give his side of the story. Lefty need not have bothered, because Pampling was unmoved.

"He explained he was there (in Arkansas) not making any money out of it, which helped the (tour's) decision making," Pampling said. "At the end of the day, this is not an issue about Phil. I explained it's not personal and he understands that. It's the tour's decision. He was just the guy given the pass. I still don't think he should have been in the field."

Tour executive vice president Henry Hughes and tournament director Slugger White made the decision to allow Mickelson to play. One player speculated that the ruling has so riled the rank and file that there will be calls for Hughes's head.

 

Monday
Apr302007

Fifth of Four Majors Watch

So I try to start the second annual fifth of four majors watch--that's when we watch for a golf scribbler to declare the TPC The Players Championship THE PLAYERS The PLAYERS a major--and then we have Scott Verplank making a mess of things by declaring the Byron Nelson a fifth major.

But we must focus on to the real fifth of golf's four majors. The Players. And oh does this year figure to be the prime year for major championshp declarations.

Golf Digest featured Jerry Tarde listed five reasons it's a major:

tarde3.jpg

 

 

 

 
Sorry Jerry, but to win our watch, you have to actually leave humor and those traces of skepticism out of the equation.

No, to win our coveted prize, our judges here looking for that special scribe who in some delusional moment after a particularly good press room meal actually sits down, skims past Jodie Mudd and Craig Perks's names, and by golly, declares the Players a major. Preferably designating it the fifth major...of golf's four.  

sawgrasscomp2.jpgWhich makes Ron Whitten's feature story in the May Golf Digest a near winner. Ron starts humping away on the fifth major concept, but cleverly actually avoids making that inane sweeping declaration we so enjoy.

If ever the Players Championship is to be elevated to the status of a major golf championship in the mind of the players, the media and the public, this is the year. 

He also manages to get in a few interesting points.

For greens, Dye selected the latest turfgrass innovation, MiniVerde Ultradwarf Bermuda, as fine-bladed as any bent-grass green, so it can be mowed as short as bent. It’s never grainy, and it’s also the rare Bermuda that keeps its green color throughout the winter.

That's right, they're playing the fifth of four on Bermuda greens this year. Not something you see your run of the mill fifth major. Should be fun to see what the players say about this exciting new turfgrass development.

This is now a golf course, and a championship, that combines attributes of all four majors.

And isn't that precisely the problem? It borrows a bit too much from everyone? Oh, sorry, I interrupted. 

If the tour wants, it can grow U.S. Open- and PGA-style rough, because the May dates provide extra growing time. The Players’ finish is akin to Augusta National’s Amen Corner, only in reverse: a short, gambling par 5 followed by a treacherous little par 3 before the long, hard par 4. And it will surely play British Open firm and fast. The Players Stadium Course will play much like Royal Liverpool did for the British Open last year, forcing players to calculate roll, maneuver shots and invent strategies to avoid hazards and hit targets.

That’s the best of all worlds. Not even a major championship can say it has that. 

So close, but still, no fifth major declaration.

Readers, please help me keep a watch for our first declaration. I feel this is the year we're going to here a record number of declarations for fifth major status!

Monday
Apr302007

"Nobody is talking about it."

ESPN.com's Jason Sobel had better make sure he starts UPS after this column, because I think his Priority Overnight's might find themselves on the first plane to Darfur.

Chances are, he hasn't been hearing much lately, because nobody is talking about it. Halfway through the seasons of most other sports with a year-end playoff system, predictors and prognosticators try to interpret how first-half results will equate to those at the end of the season, how the standings may be rearranged in coming months.

Let's face it: Too many players will reach the PGA Tour's FedEx Cup playoffs this year. Luckily, the format is still a work in progress. At this time next year, perhaps, we could be discussing the race for the playoffs.

 

Monday
Apr302007

"They've opened a can of worms...it wouldn't surprise me to see a few players taking advantage of some of the loopholes..."

Shaun Micheel, quoted in an unbylined Sporting Life story:
"I would say 100% of the players, except for Phil, think he shouldn't be here," said Micheel, joining the growing chorus of condemnation at the tour's decision to let Mickelson play, even though he broke a tour regulation by missing Wednesday's pro-am.

"I'm really upset by it. A lower ranked player like myself would be (home) in Memphis right now. I'm not going to criticise Phil, but his responsibility is to be here. If that means he has to skip what he's doing to make sure he gets here, then he has to be here.

"He's a name player, but we have rules for a reason, on the golf course and in the regulations book, that we all have to play by. He did not met those rules, and he should not be allowed to play in the tournament."

Micheel, the 2003 PGA Championship winner, is speaking from bitter personal experience, because he was disqualified from the 2004 Bay Hill Invitational for missing the pro-am.

He did not realise the pro-am was scheduled for Tuesday, instead of the usual Wednesday, but the tour cut him no slack, banishing him from the event.

And just last year in Reno, Micheel missed the pro-am because he was vomiting in the locker room shortly before his tee time. The tour in that case allowed him to play in the tournament but, he says, penalised him financially.

"They docked $7,600 out of my retirement for that," he said. "I just wish they'd let me know that before, because then I might have gone out and played one hole. That would have been within the rules."

Micheel is so upset that he has already fired off an email to the PGA Tour, and he expects the matter will be the subject of heated debate when tour commissioner Tim Finchem hosts a players' meeting in Charlotte on Tuesday.
Oh but they'll get to hear how great the TPC Sawgrass clubhouse is!
But players are questioning why Mickelson was even playing a Tuesday outing in another state when bad weather was forecast.

"They call it an act of God (but) he could have flown here at six o'clock (Wednesday) morning," Micheel continued.

"A friend of mine playing the pro-am flew in (from Memphis) at 1.30 in the morning. Memphis and Little Rock are 100 miles apart.

"They've opened a can of worms. It's huge problem and it wouldn't surprise me to see a few players taking advantage of some of the loopholes in the rules in the next few months."