Ogilvy's figuratively old head, perhaps made wiser by growing up next to Royal Melbourne, startled me the first time I asked him a question. "Golf was better before," he said in October 2005. "There was more art. It doesn't create a really rounded golfer." At a time when the shortcomings of the emerging twentysomethings were still well below the radar, Ogilvy captured the issue in three quick sentences.
"The complicated thing is making it simple, if that makes any sense," he said, offering as good a definition of a first-class mind as any. Indeed, in quotes over the last year including an upcoming interview with John Huggan in Golf Digest, Ogilvy produces one pearl after another.
Of Woods: "I mean, Tiger is the angriest player on tour. He's also the best at controlling it."
Of Sergio Garcia: "When he starts making putts again -- which he is going to do -- he's going to win 10 times in a year. He is the best ball-striker in the world, probably. … But he is so analytical about his putting and not about anything else. … He's like Seve, only in reverse."
On golf architecture: "I like there to be a relationship between the quality of your drive and ease of your second shot."
To a good man his wife should be a goddess, a being far above him to whom he can offer worship and reverence, a beacon-star guiding him over the tossing seas of life. She should be ever on a pedestal and in a shrine. And when she waggles for a minute and a half and then jerks her head and tops the ball, she ceases to be so. And Mrs. Fisher was not merely a head-lifter and a super-waggler; she was a scoffer at Golf’s most sacred things. She held up scratchmen. She omitted to replace divots. She spoke lightly of Green Committees. P.G. WODEHOUSE
Steve Elling, writing about the new look Florida swing, offers this from Luke Donald:
“If the course is good, it’ll attract players, and that’s the bottom line,” said 10th-ranked Luke Donald, who won the Honda last year at nearby Country Club at Mirasol.
Having failed to try and make a point the first time, I'm going to take another crack at this.
In the press release announcing their proposed rule change, the USGA goes out of its way to note that it is not impacting the average player. In the same announcement, they are bending the rules on adjustable equipment for the average player. And then there's the language about conditions only for "highly skilled players."
Reader Michael in the original post on this gets to the essence of my point much more succinctly than I:
According to the language of the proposal, clubs that conform to the new standards would be required in “…competitive events conducted after Jan. 1, 2009…” with the USGA recommending that this “…Condition apply only to competitions involving highly skilled players.” If implemented as written, would this proposal not amount to a defacto bifurcation of the rules of golf as they apply to golfers of differing skills?
The proposal also raises the question of just how the USGA and other sanctioned Competition Committees will determine what constitutes a “skilled player.” Looking at the handicap requirements for golfers attempting to qualify in various USGA competitions, one can’t help but notice that it will be quite a chore. Persons wishing to compete in the US Open, US Amateur, US Amateur Public Links, or the US Junior Amateur, for example, are required to have handicaps of not less than 1.4, 2.4, 8.4, and 6.4, respectively. Will all of those competitors be considered skilled players?
What about events for Seniors and Women, whose minimum handicap requirements are much higher? Are they all skilled players or will there be some bifurcation of the rules to account for differing skill levels? Will the NCAA rule that all college golf competitors are skilled players? Under this proposal, a situation in which Division I players would be required to carry 100% conforming clubs, while Division II and III players would carry differing numbers of conforming clubs –a trifurcation of the rules - is not as far-fetched as it seems at first glance.
So is the USGA, which has long scoffed at bifurcation of the rules, in effect bifurcating the game with the groove announcement?
Wouldn't a bifurcation via a rolled back "highly skilled" player ball spec be simpler than this?
PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem announced yesterday that the tour had reached a long-term agreement with the Tiger Woods Foundation, the educational charity established by Woods and his father in 1996, to be the host organization and beneficiary of a tournament in the Washington area July 5-8. The site of the event is undetermined, but the tour is in negotiations with Congressional Country Club, site of the 2011 U.S. Open, to host the event in 2007 and 2008.
Woods is expected to be a regular presence at the tournament, though his participation this year might be affected by the birth of his first child. Woods and his wife, Elin Nordegren, have not announced a due date, but he has said he might not play in the British Open July 19-22 because the baby is due around that time.
"When Tiger's foundation is involved, he has a pretty good track record of playing in the event," his longtime agent, Mark Steinberg, said yesterday. "This year, it may be something of a wild card because his wife is expecting at around that time, so everything is pretty much up in the air. But I can tell you he's very excited about the Washington event."
The proposal to re-emphasise skill over power is to be welcomed, but it will not silence critics of the modern game. They say that the game’s rule-makers are stirring the embers of the fire caused by the present problem — the distance the ball travels — when they should be putting out the fire itself.
So let's just ignore the whole ban-grooves-to-distract-from-distance-issue for a moment and consider that the USGA has come out with this proposed ban on U-grooves to restore skill, and at the same time, in a pathetic pandering to manufacturer marketing departments, announced changes in the rules for adjustable equipment.
(Pathetic pandering: The USGA believes these changes regarding adjustability can help many golfers obtain clubs that are well suited to their needs without causing any harm to the game.)
So the USGA is touting its defense of skill in changing the groove rules, where equipment was overcompensating for a lack of skill, yet bending the rules to help those with less skill by easing the rules on adjustable clubs.
The PGA Tour confirms what Ron Kroichick dared to report a few weeks ago:
Under the terms of the agreement, Harding Park will serve as the host venue for The Presidents Cup in 2009; the Charles Schwab Cup Championship, the Champion’s Tour season-ending event, in 2010 and 2011; an event from the four-tournament PGA TOUR Playoffs for the FedExCup series in either 2013 or 2014; and one additional event in the period 2014-2019 to be selected from among The Presidents Cup, a Playoff for the FedExCup event or a World Golf Championships event.
“We are absolutely delighted to reach this agreement with the City, ensuring that Harding Park will continue to periodically serve as the site for some of the TOUR’s premier events,” said PGA TOUR Commissioner Tim Finchem. “As our experience with the World Golf Championships - American Express Championship proved in October, 2005, the golf course is a wonderful venue for the world’s best players, and San Francisco is a terrific host city. Our players and sponsors had a tremendous experience at Harding Park, and we are eagerly looking forward to our return.”
Not to be picky, but shouldn't the Commissioner have referred to the American Express Championship as the CA Championship? After all, that's what it's called on the 2005 schedule, even though it was played as something else. You know, for brand consistency.
Does this mean Tiger really hates Denver's altitude that much?
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 27, 2007
PGA TOUR, TIGER WOODS FOUNDATION ANNOUNCE
NEW TOURNAMENT IN WASHINGTON, D.C.
Finchem, Woods to Announce Event Details at March 7 Press Conference
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, FL - The PGA TOUR, in conjunction with the Tiger Woods Foundation, announced today that the TOUR will return to Washington, D.C. as a result of the two organizations reaching a long-term agreement to create a new PGA TOUR event in the nation’s capital, beginning in July, 2007.
The new tournament will be held the week of July 2-8 with the Tiger Woods Foundation serving as the event's host organization and primary charitable beneficiary. A press conference is scheduled for March 7 in Washington, D.C. where PGA TOUR Commissioner Tim Finchem and Tiger Woods will announce further details of the tournament, including the title sponsor, total purse, and the charitable vision for the event.
"After an extensive search, we are very excited about our partnership with the Tiger Woods Foundation to bring a PGA TOUR event back to our nation’s capital over the 4th of July holiday celebration," Finchem said. "We are delighted to be able to work with Tiger and his Foundation, and I look forward to joining him on March 7 to announce a very strong title sponsor and additional details of the tournament."
"This is a wonderful opportunity to expand awareness and interest in the work we're doing for millions of kids across the country," said Woods, founder of the Tiger Woods Foundation. "I'm grateful the PGA TOUR selected us as partners and am very excited my Foundation will host another amazing event, this time in our nation’s capital. I'm delighted to think of all the young people this will help us reach."
Additional information on the time and location of the March 7 press conference will be released later this week.
...a U-groove ban has been proposed.
The key lines from the press release:
The proposal calls for two key additional groove specifications for clubs. One would call for groove edge sharpness to be limited to an effective minimum radius of .010 inches. The second would limit the total cross-sectional area of a groove divided by the groove pitch (width plus separation) to 0.0025 square inches per inch.
The changes in grooves required under the USGA’s proposal would have very little effect on the performance of Surlyn balls favored by most golfers. More than two-thirds of golf balls sold in the U.S. are Surlyn covered. The impact of this proposal would be felt primarily by highly skilled players using urethane-covered balls.
The USGA proposes that these new groove rules become effective for all new clubs covered by this rule change that are manufactured after Jan. 1, 2010. A related Condition of Competition would be added to the USGA Rules of Golf to become effective Jan. 1, 2009. This Condition would allow a Committee to require the use of clubs that conform to the new groove rules for competitive events conducted after Jan. 1, 2009. Similar to other equipment-related Conditions of Competition, the USGA would recommend that the Condition apply only to competitions involving highly skilled players.
The Brood and Gloom guys at GolfDigest.com report that the USGA's
pathetic backdoor attempt at not dealing with the real issue elimination of the U-groove is about to be announced, and someone at the R&A seems to have confirmed so.
Still, several industry sources contacted by Golf World believe the ruling is coming sooner rather than later. The R&A's David Rickman commented recently that a rule proposal was in the offing. "We are in the throes of various meetings and wouldn't want to pre-empt their outcome,” Rickman told The Scotsman newspaper. “But all the signs are that we're very close to going out with 'notice and comment.’ ” When asked about Rickman’s statement, USGA senior technical director Dick Rugge did not dispute that a proposal could happen in the near future, although he declined to offer a specific timetable.Bowel and Groin also address how this might affect the average golfer.
The good news for average golfers? You won’t have to buy all new conforming stuff by next year. I’m guessing old stuff will be grandfathered for a pretty significant period of time (minimum five years is my guess). The other good news? It’s either going to make everybody a better golfer (increased pace of play) or half the golfing population quit (plenty of tee times for the rest of us). You start flying greens or having short chip shots run 30 feet by, and you either learn to hit fairways and greens or you throw your clubs in the woods. Whatever you do, though, buy a urethane-covered ball, which is the real hidden gem in the USGA's 180-page report on grooves research.
Okay, they lost me there. Anyone know where we can read up on this urethane stuff in the 180-page report?
Meanwhile, for more on what actually goes on with the grooves and why the USGA sees this is a backdoor approach to the distance issue, check out Mike Stachura's (is he Bulldoze or Gravel?) recent Golf Digest story on grooves.
Has there ever been a more conscise summary of what the distance issue is all about?
We have about 16,000 courses in the United States. Almost all of them are obsolete for tournament play. For them to become relevant, we need to roll back the ball about 40 yards. That or rebuild all the fairway bunkers at 300 yards. Which is what we’re doing, and it costs a fortune. Instead of changing equipment, we’re changing golf courses. It’s great for my business. I’m making a living redoing my old courses. But the game should be able to go back to the classic courses just as they are. Why should we be changing all those golf courses? It’s ridiculous.
Trying to build great courses today is more complicated than ever. I’ve decided it’s best to basically design for the enjoyment of the average golfer. That’s what works best for the owners, who are selling memberships and selling their land. I was once accused of designing courses that were too severe. A lot of that was because I was designing a lot of tournament courses.
Creating a true challenge for the best professional players for one week of golf makes it too tough for the average player who is going to play it the rest of the year. I’ve come to the conclusion that the only way to make the game better for more golfers is to take the driver out of the hands of the elite player. So I tighten up the landing areas for them. It’s kind of a sad compromise, but I think it’s the only solution we’ve got.
Actually, it's not a sad compromise if we could just make driver absolutely worthless on all championship courses. Then driver sales would plummet and just maybe some of the companies would say wait a second we need to roll back the...ah forget it, what was I thinking?
Cameron Morfit says the match play is in need of a lift, so he recommends inviting the LPGA Tour to contest their own match play at the same time.
The Accenture is golf’s version of a tennis tournament: single-elimination, with most everything resting on the quality of the semifinal and final. One of the things tennis has going for it is that men and women play concurrently at the same venue. Right away you double your chances of having at least one star in a final, and of getting at least one compelling match in the prime viewing hours Saturday and Sunday.Now I don't know about this next point, since I don't believe it's accurate.
The LPGA, in fact, bettered the PGA Tour with its most recent match play event, the season-ending ADT Championship, won by Paraguayan pixie Julieta Granada, who pocketed $1 million, the largest purse in women’s golf, and promptly bought herself a new Range Rover. (A million bucks still means something on the LPGA.)
It was stroke play wasn't it?
Anyhow, the concept seems interesting since even with a great final match, the WGC Match Play is a dud on television. As much as I love match play, if it's going to be played only at real estate developments willing to pay for the privilege, then they need more, uh, "product" to distract us.
Ron Sirak on the match play and state of American golf:
What we saw at Tucson was the world. And there is nothing wrong with that. In fact, there is everything right with that. Much of the rest of the world has caught up to the United States in golf. And if the Americans are going to keep from falling farther behind some questions need to be asked, and some solutions need to be found.
Too bad Big John, Eyebrows, Tillie and Sham aren’t around to help sort this out. They may not have the answers, but I’m pretty sure they would identify this problem: America needs to figure out how to get better at golf. Maybe in defeat motivation will be found.
Hey I have a thought. How about no longer embracing mediocrity as something to be proud of?
We've got a new FedEx Cup streak going. For the second straight week Joan Alexander has noted a player's FedEx Cup point pickup, and once again it led to a brand-tarnishing reaction.
From Geoff Ogilvy's post WGC final press conference:
JOAN v.T. ALEXANDER: Geoff, thank you for joining us in the media center for a few minutes at the Accenture Match Play Championship. I know you're disappointed right now, but you've got to be really proud of yourself for the way you've played in this tournament and as far as you've come.
Along with your second place finish today, you earn 2,835 FedExCup points.
GEOFF OGILVY: That's exciting (laughter).
With the Nissan Open and the Golf Industry Show, I'm finally getting around to Jack Nicklaus's essay in the March Golf Digest.
Written with the assistance of Jaime Diaz, the piece is monumental on a number of levels. First, it is by far the most space devoted in a major golf publication to the distance issue and its impact since Nicklaus and George Peper penned similar views in Golf Magazine (circa 1998 I believe).
What I loved most here is Nicklaus's defense of the claims that his motives are not pure. Actually there's a lot to love here, and I know our Fairhaven readers will especially enjoy this week-long look at Jack's rant.
The best golfers should be better today than the best golfers of yesterday. At the moment, I’m not sure that’s the case. I realize I’m an old fuddy-duddy, and that previous generations always say that their game was better. I guess I’d plead guilty—in part. But here’s the difference. The game in terms of equipment barely changed for 60 years. Then with the equipment revolution that began with metal clubheads in the ’80s and accelerated with dramatic ball technology in the late ’90s, the game changed radically. The best players suddenly found themselves able to hit shots more easily and consistently, as well as pull off shots they never would have tried in the past. It made the game for elite players simpler and easier.
Simpler. Very nice. Attention Ponte Vedra: that means less interesting to watch.
As a result, I don’t care as much for today’s game as I did for the one played for most of my career. I like the old game of moving the ball both ways and using strategy with angles, and hitting all the clubs in the bag.
My greatest concern, because I believe it has the most effect on the most parts of the game, is the golf ball. I’d very much like to see the U.S. Golf Association and the R&A institute at least a 10-percent rollback in the distance the golf ball travels. I know the ruling bodies are looking at limits on equipment, including possibly reducing the size of driver clubheads and eliminating square grooves, but that’s treating an effect more than a cause. The desired results from such moves could be taken care of by a rollback in the ball. In fact, there would be much less need to limit equipment innovations that help amateurs play if the ball were rolled back.
Which once again raises the question, why do Callaway, Taylor Made and Nike oppose a ball rollback?
And just to put the tournament ball talk to rest...
I don’t think a rollback should restrict an elite player’s options in customizing the golf ball he or she would play. It’s OK with me for, say, a player with a low ball flight to get some help by using a model of ball with a dimple pattern that creates a higher launch, or a guy whose angle into the ball generates an excess of spin getting a ball that spins less. In other words, I wouldn’t want to see every player having to use the same exact “tournament ball” picked out of a jar on the first tee. As long as players could keep the ball characteristics that best suit their games, I honestly believe it would take them only a few rounds to completely adjust to a rolled-back ball that doesn’t fly quite as far.
And because USGA officials are excited about Erin Hills' potential, don't be surprised if that course lands the U.S. Amateur in the next five to seven years and the U.S. Open before 2020. Both would be firsts for Wisconsin.
What initially struck many golf fans as good, sensible news - The Golf Channel landing live coverage of PGA Tour events - has thus far proven to be a terrible joke.
TGC's latest co-produced train wreck - this one with NBC - began Wednesday, 64 of the world's best in match play for the World Golf Championship. Unless one tuned in to see scenery (mostly cactus), commercials, interviews, promos and insanely unnecessary cuts to TGC's studio, coverage was infuriating.
At one point, TGC abandoned live golf for a chat with Geoff Ogilvy, who'd just won his match. Among the questions TGC's Rich Lerner asked was what Ogilvy thought of Tiger Woods' seven-PGA-events win streak. "It's impressive," Ogilvy replied. Live and learn.
Then it was off to commercials, then to the studio, where we were shown clips of Woods from last year's WGC - and encouraged to watch the WGC on TGC. (We'd love to, if you only let us!)