Latest From
Latest From The Loop
To Get Posts Delivered To Your Inbox Enter Email Address Below:

Powered by FeedBlitz
  • 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 Golf Book: Twenty Years of the Players, Shots, and Moments That Changed the Game
    The Golf Book: Twenty Years of the Players, Shots, and Moments That Changed the Game
    by Chris Millard
  • 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
  • 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

Golf is a game in which attitude of mind counts for incomparably more than mightiness of muscle.  ARNOLD HAULTAIN




Sunday U.S. Open Clippings: Badds and Tiger

2007usopen_50.gifDoug Ferguson's AP game story captures Saturday's round and sets up Sunday's possibilities

Mark Lamport Stokes notes the green watering Saturday. According to Tim Rosaforte on Golf Channel's post game show, Sunday will not get the same treatment unless they determine in the morning that there is a need for some water. Sunday's forecast of humid weather and a chance of thunderstorms is also playing a part in that call.

0O8K0121.jpgJeff Rude at Golfweek says, "Tiger Woods hit the ball better Saturday than he has at any time during his three-plus years working with Hank Haney." Note the interesting top position (left) captured by one of Golf Digest's photographers.

John Huggan likes Europe's chances of continuing to wonder when one of their players will win a major.

"If it is somebody who has been around a while, like Padraig Harrington or Lee or Monty, then I would say he'd stand to make an awful lot. Paul Casey would earn a lot, too, as would Luke Donald. But if it is someone less well known, one who had been slightly off the radar, then he wouldn't make as much in endorsements.

"The strange thing is that it doesn't make that much difference in America. It's everywhere else that would generate the increase in earning power. If you only play the PGA Tour, winning a major isn't going to boost your income a whole helluva lot. Let's say Justin Rose won the US Open this week. If he did, he'd play a lot less in America during his year as holder. He'd be daft not to."

Chris Lewis captures some of the scariest Golf Channel images of the day on his blog where he also notes the similarities between Tiger today and Hoylake Tiger. Oh and can we get John Feinstein a Sharpee for autographing those books instead of some cheapy from the hotel nightstand?

Rex Hoggard talks to Lee Janzen about the state of his game, and the budding architecture junkie and two-time U.S. Open champion says:  “I’d love to play this kind of golf course with no rough. I think it’d be a ball.”

Steve Elling looks at Aaron Baddelay and his faith.

Josh Sanburn talks to Matthew Goggin who teed off first as a single and played in 2:50, leaving a seven hole gap between him and the next group.

Mike Wereschagin talks to volunteers about some of the disallowed items they've confisgated and some of the stuff really does make you wonder about the human race.

Michael Bamberger pens an appreciation of Oakmont and in particular, its fallaway greens.

And finally, Dave Seanor overheard this while visiting the Port-A-John:

Overheard in the Port-A-John (where some of our best material comes from):

“We’re running out of green,” a volunteer, who must have been assigned to one of the on-course scoreboards, said to another guy who was performing the same job.

He was referring, of course, to the green numbers that signify bogeys or worse.

“Yeah, I’ve got tons of reds and plenty of blacks,” replied his buddy. “They need to get us a whole bunch more greens."


U.S. Open Photo Caption Fun, Vol. 3

I think Getty Images' David Cannon was envisioning a caption contest with this one, lifted from




"That was the first taste I had of his reputation."

colinMOS_468x556.jpgPeter Higgs catches up with Monty's temporary Oakmont caddy, Billy Goddard, who reminds us why there is only one Monty!

The veteran caddie, hired to carry Montgomerie’s clubs after the 43-year-old Ryder Cup star sacked long-term bagman Alistair McLean last week, tried to find a kind word to say about his temporary employer.

"He’s a good guy but he just gets mad at himself," said Goddard. "And he got mad at me, absolutely."

On the course where he came close to winning the US Open 13 years ago — and 12 months after he blew his best chance of claiming America’s oldest major — Montgomerie’s second-round score of 12-overpar 82 left him languishing in 127th place and facing an early flight home.

After his round Montgomerie declined to offer an explanation to reporters. But Goddard, the genial local man who had been assigned to carry his bag and guide him around the brutal course, had plenty to say about spending two rounds in the presence of a player renowned as much for his grumpiness as for his undoubted golfing talents.

Even though Goddard is so valued that he has caddied for Jack Nicklaus, he was to learn that Montgomerie can be easily upset by what seem innocuous comments.

After a first-round 76 left him with plenty of ground to make up, Montgomerie was unable to cope with the increasingly difficult demands of Oakmont’s penal rough and slick greens as he tossed shots away like a high handicapper having a bad day.

Montgomerie was so distressed by an incident during the front nine of his second round that he walked over to speak to his girlfriend, Gaynor Knowles, on the 10th fairway and was overheard to say: "It’s such a shame. It’s really upset me. It really, really has."

When Goddard was asked whether he knew what had caused Montgomerie to become so agitated, he admitted being responsible, saying: "On the fourth hole he asked me what the yardage was and I said: 'Lay up or go for it?'. He said: 'I’m going for it'. After he made a bogey on the hole, he said to me: 'You should never have said the words lay up'. After that we hardly talked. That was the first taste I had of his reputation."
Poor lad, having to hear those awful "lay up" words! No one should have to hear such vile language on a golf course, especially from their caddie.
Although Montgomerie rallied to play the next four holes in one under par, including an extraordinary 30-foot birdie putt on the 14th which brought no reaction from the dejected figure, his chances of breaking 80 disappeared with three further dropped shots on the final two holes.

On the 18th his drive landed in such thick rough that he could not see the ball and hacked it only 10 yards forward.

When he launched his third towards the green, a youth yelled ‘Get in the hole’ to be greeted by the coldest stare Montgomerie could muster. As the object of his anger was identified, the spectator turned to the rest of crowd and appealed: ‘I was only trying to encourage him.’

Oh but why? 


Badds' Post Third Round Press Conference

The third round leader talked about Stack, Tilt and the Lord:

Q. Can you take us through the maturation you referred to of when your swing and confidence kicked in, when you got better, why you're better and so forth?

AARON BADDELEY: I would say in October, November, 2005, I was out working with Andy Plummer and Mike Bennett, and ever since I started working with them, there's really been an upward curve of improvement of driving the ball in the fairway, hitting better iron shots. Yeah, I mean, that's just been a constant improvement, and I feel like every time I go to practice with them or even by myself, I know exactly what I need to work on. And I just feel like I'm going to keep improving because of what I'm working on.

For you Stack and Tilt groupees, don't miss Chris Lewis's new book that includes this chapter on the teaching duo.

On his two wins at the Australian Open and how far he's come...
AARON BADDELEY: That does seem like a long time ago to be honest. What was it, eight years ago? I just look back at that time as like after the Australian Open, I look more at that time of when I struggled and was missing cuts, wasn't playing good. I look at that time as probably the most important time of my life, those two or three years -- probably three or four years when I struggled.
Because if I don't go through that, if I didn't struggle as much as I did -- if I had just struggled a little bit, it would be different. But to struggle as much as I did, that was the most important part of my life. No. 1, my relationship with the Lord grew like beyond anything what I could imagine, which is the most important thing in my life; who I am as a person, my character, everything has developed and become stronger. I feel a lot wiser now because of all that and things I did wrong.
And then I look back at that time, as well, and just say, if I didn't go through that, I wouldn't be sitting here today. I definitely wouldn't be sitting here right here right now leading a U.S. Open, if I don't go through that time of my life.
Good question here...
Q. Sunday is a long day for leaders. It takes a while for the leaders to get out; how do you make the day go by? Do you go to services or do you have a Bible study?

AARON BADDELEY: This morning actually went by really quick. I slept in a little bit until like 8:30, 9:00, got up. Every morning I always like study my Bible and wrote down some stuff and pray and stuff. So I'm just going to do that tomorrow like normal and have breakfast with Richelle, hang out. Probably be 11:00, 12:00 by then and get ready to come out here, come out here two hours before and do my regular routine.


 Q. What prompted you to wait behind the 18th green at Augusta for Zach? Is that from Wednesday nights and those type of things, and would this not be a good time to remind people out there because you're playing with you-know-who that you were actually born in the U.S.?

AARON BADDELEY: Yes, I was actually born in the U.S. I've got dual citizenship.
With Zach, Zach is a fellow brother in Christ, and I know it's very special to -- it's a special time in his life. I mean, he just won the Masters. We were at home watching the coverage, and when he birdied -- I think when he birdied 16, we were like five or ten minutes from the course. We drove straight back to make sure we were there on the 18th.

Hey aren't we all brothers in Christ?!

 Q. Your Web site has daily scriptural readings and the ones for tomorrow don't seem to be particularly pertinent to golf or to competition. Is there one that you key on when you're in a situation like that, anything, favorite verse?

AARON BADDELEY: I always use one verse, I used it at Hilton Head, it's the 2 Timothy 1:7, it says, "For God has give us a spirit of fear but power of love and a sound mind." I constantly quote that verse to myself. But I just enjoy reading the Bible. This morning I was just reading and writing and praying, and that's what is most important to me, every morning.

Did Jesus say anything about dealing with Tiger Woods? 


Tiger's Post Third Round Press Conference

Succinct session with the slingers...

 Q. What architectural features did you take from that course that you might want to use?

TIGER WOODS: None. Golf course is hard. I don't think anyone -- I wouldn't have any members.

Not exactly one they'll be adding to the club yardage book.

Ah the important stuff...

 Q. Gloves on 18 -- you switched golf clubs in the bunker on 18, how long had you been using them?


Q. Yeah.

TIGER WOODS: I do that all day. I was sweating.

Q. How long did you use the one previous?

TIGER WOODS: One hole, we switch three, four gloves, and let them dry out and rotate them. Sweat leaks into them.

Glad we got to the bottom of that.

Q. How long has it been since you hit it this good? That was a lot of fairways, 17 straight greens under these circumstances, and in punitive conditions it had to have been a long, long while.

TIGER WOODS: Good question. I really don't know.

Q. When you tapped in at 18, that was a tribute to Arnold Palmer?

TIGER WOODS: No. I said I was pissed. Happy with a 5? (Laughter.)

Uh huh.

 Q. Could you tell right away when you got to the first green that the golf course was receptive?

TIGER WOODS: The greens were holding. It was more receptive, yeah. They weren't anywhere near as hard as they were yesterday afternoon.

But the downhill putts were just as fast, but I think the nice thing was if you hit shots with a 6-iron or 7-iron. The ball was going to hold. It wasn't going to be repelled.

The Difference Between Davis and Meeks

As much as I hate seeing the course artificially softened on day three of a major, it's great to see Mike Davis err on the side of common sense by watering the greens prior to play today. Despite David Fay's declarations that the course was right where they wanted it yesterday and today, Davis clearly realized Friday was on the edge of goofy and made the call to throttle things back.

A few years ago such measures would not have been taken to such an extent and that's how we got fiascos like Shinnecock.

Now if Davis could just widen out those landing areas so they don't need to be slowed down, we'd really be making progress.


Saturday Live U.S. Open Blog

2007usopen_50.gifAll times Pacific Standard Time...because I feel like it.

10:55: I return from a workout and visit to the farmer's market to turn on the television and find...the house organ blaring! Nice Jimmy Roberts narrated puff piece on the USGA's square groove rule change that will put a premium back on accuracy! Ya, you go girl!

11:02: I've rewound the Tivo ad Johnny drops his first 63 mention at 10:12. And at 10:14 Pablo Martin power rams a 4-footer for birdie and has 35 feet coming back. Nice putt Pablo! Oh and then he goes back and forth on No. 3! Fun times!

11:11 - Still catching up, reaching the "what the USGA does" contractually obligated package, complete with plenty of schmaltzy horns and strings.  Dick Rugge on the USGA groove study: "exhaustive research to determine if the challenge of the game has changed and we determined that yes indeed it had changed. And the culprit may indeed be the grooves." And this is beautiful. The implication being, the players wanted this: "These are the best players in the world and they like the challenge to be able to show their skills because they are the best and the like that opportunity to show themselves."

11:23 - David Fay on the golf course: "Right where we want it to be." And on Phil's comment on the hazardous nature of the rough: "that was a new one to me." 

11:31 - Just about caught up, Tiger tries to drive No. 2, NBC tries to find the ball but the glaring white sand makes that impossible.

11:44 - Ah our first Tim Rosaforte visits breaks up the coverage of apparently the only twosome on the course, Tiger and Nick Dougherty. Bob asks about the ditches. Tim tells us about Fazio's restoration work with a rivetting anecdote about the members. I wonder if Tim can submit his little game show host cards to Golf House for future generations to study?

11:52 - We interrupt our coverage of Tiger Woods to show Angel Cabrera walking. Oh, back to Tiger. He makes birdie, he's "nailed" it here, we're really, really begging he stays in this at NBC because we know the rating depends on him! 

11:57 - Tiger hits it 334 on No. 4, has 275 left. Hits iron, lands on the green and finishes pin high. It's the grooves! Dan Hicks: "he looks really good today" ... doesn't he Dick Ebersol

12:02 - Johnny notes there is a "clinical" feel to Tiger's play after his near eagle on 4 and flawless play from the tee so far.

12:08 - Casey flies it over on No. 2 that Tiger drove it in, setting up a birdie. Uh, I don't know about you, but the course looks A LOT softer today.

12:14 - A reader notes this from today's USGA course setup notes: "Greens were watered last night. Firmness readings were taken last night after the watering and first thing this morning. The firmest greens (2, 3, 5, 6 and 13) were watered early this morning. Later this morning, all 18 greens have been watered in order (1-18) approximate 2 hours before play. Greens should not get firmer at point today that what we saw very late in the day yesterday. Translated: We should be firmer than Thursday, but not any firmer than yesterday."

12:18 - Dottie Pepper says the first green was also one of the greens given extra water, according to Mike Davis. Interesting that square grooves are such a problem, yet we're watering greens to make them more receptive. Hmmm...

12:43 - Casey two putts No. 4 for birdie and is looking like a likely winner. More importantly, the NBC gang hasn't asked Johnny to address the Paul Goydos remarks about Casey's 66 being better than Johnny's 63. Boo! 

12:47 - Did you know Zack Johnson is just a midwestern guy from Cedar Rapids, Iowa? 

12:51 - Bubba hits driver 370 yards down the pipe on No. 3, so naturally with that great contouring it rolled into the rough. 58 yards left and he missed the gree. But remember, he played the hole that way not because he could hit it 370, but because of the grooves!  

12:53 - Johnny gets choked up talking about his 63 outfit...wait, false alarm, it was that cherry danish he just snacked on making its way back up.  Get this man some tea.

12:55 - Niclas Fasth makes his first appearance of the day on NBC despite starting only 2 shots back. He makes eagle on 4 to move to within 1 after a poor start.  

1:00 - Reader Hawkeye reports that the interational feed isn't working. So an update: Cabrera and Watson at +1, Casey, Fasth and Ames at +2, Tiger at +2.

1:03 - Johnny says the greens appear softer today than they were Thursday, which followed Wednesday's rain. 

1:04 - Stephen Ames is one shot back and I don't think we've seen him hit a shot yet! But we've seen every shot Tiger has hit.

1:08 - Cool crain shot of no. 9 from NBC showing off the contours, bet it looks really cool in HD.  I wonder how Johnny's makeup look on HD?

1:10 - 2 hours and 5 minutes for Tiger's twosome to finish the front nine.  Imagine how slow it would be if they hadn't drenched the place.

1:14 - We have our first Villages ad!  Just as I was about to doze off too.

1:19 - Johnny says No. 10 fairway "too narrow" in his view. Oh I don't know, two golf carts could pass each other, looks wide enough to me. 

1:33 - Did you see Ben Hogan and Bobby Jones in that Lexus ad? I knew the brand dynamics were strong, but sheesh. I want to run out and buy one now. 

1:35 - Cabrera hits an awesome flip shot off the bank at 5. Think he's here to stay.  Oops, he missed the par putt. Oh well, at least NBC's showing him, which is more than we can say for poor Stephen Ames who reportedly was just two back! Wait, he just moved to +5...they're saved!

1:42 - That man of the people, Vijay Singh, bogies 18 for a 70. There's always hope. 

1:51 - Tiger drives is 389 - because he knows he has square grooves - with 243 left and hits a squirrelly short right shot.  

1:53 - Bubba birdies 7 and is takes the lead by himself. Angel is one back, Tiger, Casey and Fasth 2 back. But finds Sahara on 8. Meanwhile Tiger hits it 7 feet on 12. Will be tied for the lead by 2:00 PST? Scratch that, Tiger missed the birdie putt.

2:02 - Fasth flinches after putt because of a bug bite, Johnny wonders if he's emulating who else, but Johnny's stroke. It's all about Johnny! At least he was self depricating this time! Meanwhile Tiger hasn't missed a green in regulation and Bubba just got up and down on 8. And I'm getting woozy.

2:15 -  Oh boy Bubba's flipping out. Flubbed wedge in the crop left of 9, then hits the next one right away and then hits a home run with his fourth shot. And now he's hitting the next one. It's okay Bubba, you aren't on the clock! Wow, just like that, triple bogey. And all of that with U-grooves! 

2:18 - Fasth birdies the impossible 10th gives it a fist pump. He moves to +3. The excitement is overwhelming me here.  

2:24 - Anyone know what course that is in the Lexus ad where the dude plays the par-3 over the bay inlet?

2:35 - Tiger, Cabrera, Fasth and Baddelay tied for the lead. Casey, Watson one back, Pettersen and Ames two back. Gee I wonder who is going to win!

2:48 - Whoa just nodded off, I'm back. This is SO rivetting. Oh good commercials coming, something to liven things up. And at least we get to see how Tiger plays 17.

2:50 - Did you know that Zach Johnson is a just a midwestern guy from Cedar Rapids, Iowa? 

2:54 - We finally get to see Stephen Ames! He's one back. Okay back to golfers we care about. Tiger...driving 17... 

2:58 - How beautiful is that scene on 14 with the 18th hole and grandstands as a backdrop? 

3:05 - Johnny informs us that he kind of picked new leader Badds on that first hole. Uh huh! 

3:09 - Yes, I'm bored and stumbled on this explanation behind those cool tee markers at Oakmont. This from Steve Elling at CBS Sportsline:

The club was formed 104 years ago by a Pittsburgh steel magnate named H.C. Fownes, who originally used a device called a "piercer point" as the first markers at his beloved course. They were heavy, bullet-shaped pieces of metal used in the manufacture of seamless pipes, club historian John Fitzgerald said. The piercer points were shoved through pieces of metal to make the tubes.

Eventually, the markers needed replacing. So, during World War II, the club began using similarly shaped artillery shells from a Pittsburgh ordnance factory instead. Since 1940s-era artillery shells no longer are readily available, obviously, a specialty foundry makes cast-iron replacements for the club as needed, said Fitzgerald, a club member since 1962.

3:13 - Hey the promo says the USGA hosts the largest golf archive in the world. But can you make a photocopy? 

3:15 - Badds takes a two shot lead and Tiger is going to have to get up and down on 18 after plunking it in the fairway bunker.  The NBC guys act like it was a horrific shot, looks like a pretty deep bunker to me!

3:17 - Johnny on Tiger at 18: "He likes bogey free rounds." What a revelation! I know I don't! 

3:24 - Badds takes a three shot lead over Woods, Ames, Watson, Cabrera, and Casey.  Praise the...sorry.

3:42 - Tiger joins Bob Costas for the post round interview. We learn nothing. He has work to do on the range after hitting 17 greens.

3:48 - The hole-in-one-the-drinks-are-on-me-kid ad!! This just in, the kid has announced plans to enter Champions Tour Q-school this fall.  

3:52 - Johnny loves Badds and Stack and Tilt...well he likes the swing, says "forget all that" when Dan Hicks mentions the name. 

4:00 - Badds lays up on 17 into sideslope of bunker. Nice 5 inch lie awaits. Love this risk reward golf! What an amazing recovery though to the left fringe! How great does that rear camera view look with the skyline green, the lone flagstick with nothing around it! What an improvement over the 1994 look with trees.

4:12 - Stephen Ames eeks out a bogey at 18 to stay at +5 and retain some momentum as he prepares to defend his Skins Game win this fall. 

4:15 - What was that symbol Badds just flashed us walking off 18 tee? Bloods or Crips? Or Church of Nazarene? 

4:25 - Badds birdies 18 and gets Tiger in the final pairing.  

4:35 - The final group finishes, 4:30 later! The weary fans are filing out in droves. And you get to do it all over again tomorrow, with a forecast high of 87! Don't forget to stop by the Lexus trophy to pose with that replica trophy.  


"The U.S.G.A. is just as much about money, big-time profits and corporate connections.โ€

Ah just when you think the sportswriters simply don't care enough about the game to ask a few questions of the folks governing it, along comes Selena Roberts of the New York Times to shake things up.

Her issue? Uh your basic hypocrisy deal with the USGA, which I'm sure will include images this weekend of Walter Driver teaching young, poor, non-white children the joys of leveraging brand equity the game of golf. Some highlights for those of you who can't get behind the pay wall:

The private politics of the U.S.G.A.’s leaders say so. On the cover of this week’s Golf World magazine, the headline reads, “Can the U.S.G.A. Survive Walter Driver?” He is the corporate cowboy with luxury tastes who is forcing a Wall Street approach on a nonprofit organization.

The U.S.G.A.’s grassroots slogan is “For the Good of the Game.” Yet Driver projects what’s good for him as a member of at least three private clubs with reputations for discriminatory practices: Pine Valley in New Jersey, Augusta National and Peachtree Golf Club in Atlanta. Why join one cabal of bias when you can learn secret handshakes at all three?

Fast forward... 
Driver did not respond to a message about his contradiction of conscience. Fay, however, did concede the conflict. To his credit, Fay dropped his membership at Pine Valley, although he pleads guilty to playing the course on occasion.

There is a game of spin the bottle for U.S.G.A. officials when deciding whether they will A) choose memberships at open clubs or B) give in to the siren song of the great American course, which, as it happens, is often run by prejudiced elites in crested blazers.

“How do you square it?” Fay said. “Everyone has to deal with it on a personal basis. Everyone has to sort it out his own way. I’ve had to sort it out.

“It’s a struggle. That may sound like a cop-out. I can’t argue with that.”

Fay is honest. But the arbitrary scruples of executives poke holes in the U.S.G.A.’s credibility as a builder of culture clubs for all.

So nice to see there's an issue that even David can't and won't spin his way out of! There's hope yet for the man!

Oh and this is fun. I'm sure several of our leading scribes would like to have known this before Wednesday's press conference so they could not ask about it.

“Its leadership has never looked like America, with hardly any blacks or Latinos in its top positions, no matter for all the ‘Kumbaya’ multicultural ads it has run promoting itself with smiling kids of all backgrounds out on the course,” said the Duke professor Orin Starn, author of “Caddying for the Dalai Lama: Golf, Heritage Tourism and the Pinehurst Resort,” who is researching a book on golf and American society. “The U.S.G.A. has wanted to style itself as upholding a democratic, open-to-all version of golf, including picking public courses like Bethpage and Torrey Pines for the Open and those promos featuring golfers at folksy little starter shacks. The reality is that the U.S.G.A. is just as much about money, big-time profits and corporate connections.”


Weekend Live Blogging

We need to get through this together, so just like last year, I'll be live blogging for those of you watching the weekend U.S. Open coverage. Well, I'm not sure about that first hour, but probably around 2 EST.

So don't hesitate to comment or email me questions or comments and we'll survive this thing they call the national championship together! 


Saturday U.S. Open Clippings: Wristy Business

2007usopen_50.gifOakmont is separating the men from the the press room.

Nice to see some lively reporting filed Friday night, starting with John Huggan's game story:

Some, of course, will love that the pampered millionaires have been humbled yet again by the gray-haired and blue-blooded blazer brigade, but for every one of those deriving vicarious pleasure from such a spectacle there will surely be ten real golfers squirming at just what the game at the highest level has become in the 21st century.

Still, for all that, the championship continues to breathe beneath the blanket of long grass that all but covers the magnificent Oakmont course. And, as such, there is a competition to talk about, one that is led by perhaps the two longest hitters in the field, a man called Angel (Cabrera) on level par, with another named Bubba (Watson) one shot back. Ames, Justin Rose, Niclas Fasth and Aaron Baddeley are two over par and two shots off the pace.

Angel and Bubba? Justin and Aaron? Niclas? Whatever happened to good old golf names like Arnie and Jack? Gone the way of persimmon apparently.
Fast forward...
Indeed, almost every hole was a bit of a struggle for Woods, his two birdies more than swallowed up by the six bogeys that littered his card. But, for all that, he claimed to be enjoying himself.

"The U.S. Open is a fun challenge," he claimed, convincing no one in the process. "It's always going to be tough and you have to grind away. That's the fun part of it; it's just so different from any other tournament we ever play in."

And for that at least, we must all be grateful.
188912.jpgDerek Lawrenson on Paul Casey's brilliant 66:
So call off any planned debate right now about the round of the year. We have just witnessed it, complete with a dazzling array of statistics.

On the narrowest fairways possible without risking the accusation of unfairness, Casey missed only one; on the hardest greens by miles anywhere in the world, he had 10 single putts, and only 26 in all.

We should have no fear, therefore, in placing it alongside Monty’s fabled 65 in the 1997 U.S. Open at Congressional as the best round played by a British player in this event since Tony Jacklin became the last one to win it in 1970.

"Without a doubt, it is the best round I have ever played," said Casey. "This is the toughest course I have seen and I feel very lucky to walk off with a 66."

Golfweek's Jeff Rude talks to Paul Goydos about the 66:
“Johnny, are you listening, I think that’s better than your score -- by a lot,” said opinionated journeyman professional Paul Goydos, the former inner-city schoolteacher who wins once every decade or so on the PGA Tour. “That’s stunning. I don’t get it. There’s just no way. I want to know what hole he skipped.”

Lawrence Donegan reporting for The Guardian on the setup:

Or to put it another way, it quickly became clear yesterday that the USGA had once again turned its annual golf tournament into a festival of indignity, or a fearsome fiesta of double-bogeys, or indeed a farce. To the wrist-cracking rough and bowling-alley greens that marked day one, the organisers added murderous pin positions, and Mother Nature's mischievous nephew threw in a nasty little breeze. The result was as predictable as it was relentless. Leaderboards quickly became engulfed in the blue of bogeys, leaving the occasional red birdie looking like a distress beacon flickering against the perfect golfing storm.

The Pittsburgh Tribune Review breaks down stats from round 2. 

Mr. Negative Peter Kostis, who Thursday predicted the 36-hole lead would be even par and the cut at +10, was his usual curmudgeonly self over at

Oakmont is ...  "brutally hard, but I'm not sure if Oakmont is truly a great test of golf. I'm sorry, but I don't think hard automatically means great. Do you have any idea what the following players have in common: Tim Clark, Adam Scott, Padraig Harrington, Nick O'Hern, Phil Mickelson, Paul Casey, Zach Johnson, K.J. Choi, Sergio Garcia and Henrik Stenson and 18 other guys? They are the 28 players who did not score a birdie on Thursday. If competitors are forced to play defensively all the time, that's not a great setup. I think there must be a blend of holes where you can make birdie with good shots and bogeys with bad shots."

Thomas Bonk takes us through Tiger's day from beginning to end.

Oh and Tiger had this to say after the round:

TIGER WOODS: It's close. It's right on the edge, I think. The first green, that was -- thank God I have spikes on, because I think it would have slipped right off the back.

Lorne Rubenstein notes Stephen Ames and Mike Weir's excellent play and offers this from Weir:

After he heard that Phil Mickelson, for one, had described the rough as "dangerous," Weir said he had the sort of shot there where he could have done some physical damage to himself.

"You could see somebody injuring himself trying to hit some kind of creative shot," Weir said, adding he was trying a shot in practice from the rough and had to ice his wrist down after his session.

Fast forward...

Many players believe the USGA has gone overboard with the rough this year. "Some guys, with the [club] speed they get, they could hurt themselves," Ben Curtis said.

But it's not easy for anybody to know how to challenge the best players these days, because they hit the ball so far. The USGA along with the Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews long ago dropped the ball in not, well, controlling how far the ball can go. Now, they're left with pushing courses to the edge, and, sometimes, over the edge.

Even that's okay, and understandable. But dangerous?

Ames said a player usually can tell when trying a shot will cause an injury. But what if he had to pull off a shot that could potentially win the championship for him? What if trying the shot could cause a serious injury?

"I'll just hack it out," Ames said. "Taking that opportunity to end my career? I won't do that."

More disheartening was news that 16-year-old Richard Lee also was injured, making him the second player to withdraw because of a wrist injury.

The youngest player in the field didn't make the cut at the U.S. Open. He didn't even make it to the end of his second round. Richard Lee withdrew after 13 holes Friday with a wrist injury. The 16-year-old was 11 over for the day, 20 over for the tournament when he stopped.

``I am disappointed,'' he said. ``But I'm still happy that I came here this week to this wonderful golf course, Oakmont. A lot of history to this course. It's an honor that I played here.''

Lee was trying to chip out of the rough beside the green on the par-4 11th when he tweaked his right wrist.

``I took a full swing at it because it was all the way down there,'' he said. ``After that shot, I was like, `Whoa, what happened to my wrist?' I was just trying to concentrate, but I couldn't. There was a lot of pain.''

Lee played the 12th and 13th holes and then withdrew.

Tim Dahlberg says the guys are whining too much considering it's the US Open and that they have to grin and bear it. Of course if it goes over the top, Dahlberg will return to his usual eloquent self and join the chorus.

Dan Gigler on the Post-Gazette blog deals with a ridiculous question asked of Jim Furyk.

One reporter asked Jim Furyk if the extreme difficulty of the course at Oakmont somehow mirrored the gritty "blue collar" image of Pittsburgh. Uhhh ??? sure. That's a bit of a reach, don't you think? Oakmont is a Pittsburgh treasure and we should be proud that our city is for this week, the epicenter of the sports world, but let's be honest here: it's a golf course on a country club, that probably has close to a six-figure initiation fee, and an annual membership fee in the range of most "blue collar" workers salaries. I don't think Joe Magarac played Oakmont very much.

Mark Soltau talks to Jeff Brehaut, all around good guy who makes the cut in his first major in 21 years as a professional.

The third round pairings are here, with the leaders going off at 3:15 EST. Considering it took everyone around 5:15 today, hard to imagine the boys finishing tomorrow's round before NBC's planned sign-off time.

And finally, a Simon Bruty image for of Geoff Ogilvy that the opponent of bathing a course in high rough surely won't be using for his autobiography cover...



U.S. Open Photo Caption Fun, Vol. 2

Tough to find pictures capturing the flavor of the event and scene, but this one on by Sam Greenwood seemed fitting...



Round 2 Course Stats

I've circled a few of the more eye-opening course stats, including the par-5 12th playing as the second toughest hole, the 9th's excessive cost of rough, the 8th's paltry 15.4% hitting the green in regulation and to keep in mind Sunday, only 37.4% hitting the 18th fairway today.

(click to enlarge)


"I think once a year the golf world, and maybe even the players, to a degree, they want to feel like they've been in a fistfight."

Rich Lerner interviewed David Fay and Golf Channel aired it during their Friday night post game show. A few highlights from the spinmaster:

I think once a year the golf world, and maybe even the players, to a degree, they want to feel like they've been in a fistfight.

Uh, except in this one you take away their driver with silly fairway widths and rough, which is like fighting with your hands tied behind you back.

Is there an athletic competition that's conducted nowadays at the collegiate level or above, that does not have some sort of commercial involvement? There are a lot of things that I sometimes scratch my  head about, but this passion about advertising and about what the USGA has done in this area and how it reflects a fundamental sea change, I just don't see it.

See, everyone else is sold out, so we're just keeping up!

And this, commenting on player study results of the USGA's groove study:

All of them had the belief, that when we changed to square grooves, the skill required to play this game at the highest level, that the grooves were acting too much like radial tires. That it was too easy to control the ball from rough. And that's really what's driving it.

But the ability to hit the ball 350 yards? Sure that had nothing to do with it!  


A Wonderful Test of Golf?

That's what Mark Rolfing just called Oakmont through two rounds. Thankfully, Frank Nobilo was there to restore some sanity.

Is this a wonderful test of golf?

To put it another way, Ernie Els just told Golf Channel's Rich Lerner that Oakmont is still fair because the "fairways are still holding." Mike Davis said leading into the tournament that he had concerns about the fairways getting too fast.

Is it a sign of a reasonable setup when the fairways must hold a shot for the game to be played?


"You know, I'm hitting 5- and 6-irons on some of the par-4s off the tee."

Bubba Watson's post second round comments would seem to reinforce Ogilvy's comments that the US Open does not in fact aid the short, straight hitter...
Q. Some players have said this week that this course does not put a premium on length. How has your length been an advantage these two days for you?

BUBBA WATSON: You know, I'm hitting 5- and 6-irons on some of the par-4s off the tee. That's a little bit easier to hit than somebody hitting a 3-iron or 2-iron or 3-wood or 5-wood.

The hole that everybody has been talking about, No. 8, I'm hitting 3-iron both days and not having a problem with it. So, I mean, you could say it's helping me a little bit. Just I can hit shorter clubs into some of these holes and maybe hit it a little bit higher to stop it. Just happy to hit 'em straight right now.

"Q. Do you see the USGA in some ways as kind of the last guardian of the game?"

Here's a beautiful post round exchange between Tom Pernice and a scribbler...

Q. Do you see the USGA in some ways as kind of the last guardian of the game? There's a struggle between the modern power player and the old guard, and I know they feel as though the emphasis on hitting fairways has been lessened at the professional level. Do you see them as the last sort of guardian and do you agree with that position?

Yes, the last guardian would use a golf course to mask increased driving distances!  Oh Tom, your answer...

TOM PERNICE, JR.: Well, it's almost Oakmont. I don't know that it's USGA. Their fairways average 26 or 27 yards wide here with probably the most severe bunkering of any course you'll ever play, so let alone the rough. The fairway bunkering and 28-yard wide fairways, I'm a firm believer if the tour average was the same, you'd see some similarities.
I think it's Oakmont. What they are notorious for is building a hard golf course and having their golf course play hard. They got it there. And obviously the USGA has come in and thickened the rough, which is another added feature. It would still be a difficult golf course if the conditions were like this and firm and fast without the thick rough.But I think the narrowing of the fairways and the very difficult fairway bunkers in itself is doing it, not so much the USGA. I think the USGA is trying to set the golf course up where you can play it, but it's tough to play. You have a lot of contouring and slope on the fairways and it makes it difficult, 26, 27 yards wide.

Q. Gives guys a fighting chance versus guys who can put it out there at 320?

Right. Again, use the golf course to regulate equipment. I love this guy! How about netting at 320 to stop those buggers!

TOM PERNICE, JR.: No question it's a positioning golf course. You have to maneuver the ball, hit 3-wood, 5-woods, 2-irons where you can and where you need to and you need a specific strategy and more importantly you have to have control of the golf ball.

"Handed the keys to a brand new Lexus"

The inevitable first Lexus plug for the U.S. Open's new presenting sponsor came not from Lexus pitchman Johnny Miller, but during a Jimmy Roberts essay on qualifiers this week. But it was so subtle. And yes, these are NBC images, not a commercial!

(click to enlarge)
(click to enlarge)


Putting Phil's Frustration Into Perspective

I suppose because it's a nuanced issue that would actually require some thought and consideration, a lot of people are going to shrug off Phil Mickelson's rough-induced-wrist-injury comments both on Golf Channel Wednesday night and after his round today.

There was the irony (or ignorance?) of the injury-plagued Johnny Miller blowing off Phil's remarks as the product of mistaken overpracticing. There was also the remainder of the NBC crew chiming in with a similar attitude, disregarding the fact David Howell also pulled out this week with a rough-induced injury. They also suggested this is typical of the U.S. Open, but is it?

Sure, like other years, this rough is a man-made hazard harvested to keep scores in check at apparently any cost.

But don't forget that the USGA's Mike Davis ordered that the rough cut be lowered to a unprecedented low of 2 3/4 inches prior to this week because it was so dense. There were plenty of other reports leading into the event about how unusually thick the grass was.

It's one thing for Mother Nature to leave a course so lush that such injuries are possible, but we know that the Oakmont mentality is in love with the idea of making the player suffer with over-the-top conditions.

So I find it shocking that there seems to be so little consideration that just maybe Phil has a legitimate point about the efforts to grow such dense rough and the possible impact on the players.


"I wasn't out there practicing out of the rough from the fairway, I was practicing around the greens"

Mickelson, after the second round, in spite of a rally kill attempt...

Q. The injury and not be being able to prepare the way you wanted to and not being able to practice the way you wanted to?

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, it's disappointing to dream as a kid about winning the U.S. Open and spend all this time getting ready for it and have the course setup, injury, you know? To think that the end of this tournament -- you're trying to win and hit great shots but you're also trying to not end your career on one shot, which -- or at least suspend it for a while. That's a little disappointing, yeah.

Q. The U.S. Open, as big as it is, is it disappointing the way they decide to go, the way they went the last few years?

PHIL MICKELSON: That's not for me to say. I know they're doing the best they can, they are. They're doing the best they can -- they're doing all they can.
Rally kill here...and then... 

Q. Would you reevaluate your preparation for the majors?

PHIL MICKELSON: Absolutely, I'm going to have to change things. This really was dangerous doing what I did because the rough was twice as long and I thought that they may play it like that, and certainly with this liquid fertilizer and these new machines that make the grass suck straight up it absolutely is dangerous.

The first practice round on Monday, Jim Weathers had 6 other appointments, people hurting their ribs, their back, their wrists, it's dangerous, it really is. You've got 5 or 6-inch rough and you can only get a wedge in there, what good is it to practice?

Q. You're going to have to hit a high-lot of, club, right?

PHIL MICKELSON: I wasn't out there practicing out of the rough from the fairway, I was practicing around the greens so those are shots everybody is going to have.


Midday Carnage Update

Andy North and Mike Tirico just had a good laugh about their 2:47 over-under bet on when no one would be left under par. Nick Dougherty fell to even par at 2:48! is working swimmingly today, with all the stats in full view including for the first time (I believe), we can see the dreaded "cost of rough" stat. Check out No. 9's cost of rough today and the GIR's on No. 12!