Blindness in an undulating, tumbling terrain such as linksland presents is quite different from that we are subject to in this country. The greens are not separate creations apart from the whole. They are as the Creator made them. They belong. They eye can pick up distance as it wanders from one hillock to the next till it arrives at the pin. It does not meet with a sudden blockage such as artificially created green the contours of which are separate and apart from its surroundings. MAX BEHR
Golf World's John Hawkins first:
The International's demise is a dangerous sign as to the widening chasm between Tiger events and the non-Tigers. Never have the haves and have-nots been so easily defined or so mindlessly categorized by the presence of a single player--it's the frightening downside of Woods' competitive dictatorship. When he doubles the size of a viewing audience in a strong golf economy, the rich get richer. When he does it in lean times, the poor get really poor.
And John Garrity with this in SI:
Did the International have to die? Vickers thought not. But as he turned away from the window, he considered a bleaker landscape than the one outside. "There's a sense of greediness in the air," he said. He was ready to begin the postmortem.
At the press conference Vickers had sprinkled pixie dust on Denver reporters, saying, "Hopefully this is not the end of the International tournament. When time and conditions are right, I think that we'll be back here." Now, however, he conceded that it was probably wishful thinking. "We're here," he said. "The assets are here. But it's not our move." If anything, he saw his tournament as the canary in the coal mine -- the first to fall off the perch, but no different from a dozen other Tour events suffering from Tiger Deficiency Syndrome and low ratings. "I'm trying to be helpful to Tim, who's a good friend," Vickers said, "but if something isn't done, you're not going to have a Tour. Right now it's a one-man show."
Greatest option par-4 in golf? Yes, many would vote for Riviera's 10th, which was recently discussed and celebrated in Links Magazine (yours truly was a contributor, no link available).
But as we all know, options can lead to birdies, and we know that can't happen! So in their on-going attempt to do something to Riviera, Tom Marzolf and gang have made two almost mind-bogglingly poor change to the great 10th. Almost, because, well, they've made others in recent years.
The first I knew about and lament as I see it in person this week. The aiming bunker that the smart player goes out to the left, has been expanded toward the green to cut down on the number of drives going for the green (because you know, that's so boring to watch!).
The other change is subtle but far more egregious. A good portion of the left approach and lefthand drop off area, mown as fairway from 1993 to 2006, have been converted to light rough. This keeps missed approaches or attempts to drive the green closer to the putting surface. (This in the second photo you can see the outline of the old fairway area that ran balls well away from the green.)
Yes, this is one of those minor things that us architecture junkies howl about, but this short grass area was precisely the type of element that makes No. 10 such a playing and spectating joy. The short grass added dimensions to the decision-making process and were left with all sorts o of weird shots, particuarly to the back hole locations.
Now balls will stay closer to the green and the hole should play easier. But worse than that, the growing of rough were there was once short stuff will eliminate options around the green, making it less interesting to watch or play.
No chance you read this without an eye roll...
The PGA TOUR celebrates Valentine’s Day this week with the launch of “First Kiss,” a new commercial in its year-long campaign to promote the inaugural season-long FedExCup points competition. It debuts during this week's telecast of the Nissan Open on GOLF CHANNEL and CBS.
“First Kiss” features players Adam Scott, Camilo Villegas, Sean O’Hair, Zach Johnson, Dean Wilson, J.J. Henry, Lucas Glover and Aaron Baddeley courting the coveted, new FedExCup trophy with lines delivered in the spirit of Shakespeare. About the new prize, O’Hair exclaims, “Other men have seen angels, but I have seen thee. Thou art enough,” while Scott pledges, “I will be the first to kiss her.”
The FedExCup trophy and a $10 million prize will be awarded for the first time following the four week PGA TOUR Playoffs for the FedExCup in September.
To preview the spot, click here.
Sunny, fresh, lovely day here at Riviera, which is why I'm in the press tent surrounded by the nation's finest scribblers.
Actually I just spent an enjoyable ten minutes listening to Jim Nantz and his associate producer Tom Spencer telling me about this April's pre-Masters re-broadcast of the 1960 Masters. His production outfit has brought in the folks who make the golf scenes in the Aviator so cool to colorize the footage, and of course added interviews with Palmer and CBS's Frank Chirkinian about the telecast. Sounds very cool.
Somebody is now in the interview room...oh, Retief Goosen. Sheesh, the way the inklsingers are running to the room, you'd think Bill Parcells was in the house.
The course is in fine shape considering the weird winter weather we've had. The architectural changes are pitiful as always, but more on that later.
More importantly, lunch was outstanding, so look for rosey coverage from the scribes this week.
Peter Yoon explains why no one is using the square drivers.
"The biggest issue for tour pros is that the clubs hit the ball too straight," said Jeff Colton, vice president for research and design at Callaway.
Hey maybe these ugly things will sell despite Tour player use and we can finally bifurcate the game?
Just a thought.
The lower photo shows the "restoration" of 2006 based on the old photographs. The 1929 image above shows the look left behind by George Thomas and Billy Bell. I don't know about you, but I see a resemblance...to Bethpage!
From Ed Sherman in the Chicago Tribune, following the news that Harding Park would be getting the tournament-formerly-known-as-the-Western-Open:
The former Western Open might really be going west. But in another bizarre twist, it appears as if the Western Golf Association might be the last to know.But the Tour is claiming the SF Chronicle and AP story on the Harding situation were incorrect:
The BMW Championship--the new title for the Western Open--will be played at Harding Park Golf Course in San Francisco in 2013 or 2014, with perhaps another one to be held there between 2015 and 2019, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
The BMW would be used to help the PGA Tour fulfill a five-tournament deal it made with San Francisco.
BMW tournament director John Kaczkowski said Sunday he didn't know anything about a proposed move. It seems inconceivable that the tour neglected to contact the WGA to at least say this option was on the table, but sources confirmed that's the case.
"We haven't had any official conversations about San Francisco," Kaczkowski said. He added that the WGA hadn't looked beyond 2010 in terms of rotating the BMW out of Chicago.
"We're far from the end of the process," Combs said. "We're in the middle of discussions. We need more discussions within the city and our own policy board."
Asked about the possibility of the BMW being held in San Francisco, Combs gave a blanket statement.
"As it relates to the first three playoff events, you'll see some rotation of markets and/or venues," he said.
JIM NUGENT JOINS PGA TOUR PARTNERS MAGAZINE AS PUBLISHER
Distinguished Golf Industry Leader Joins Official Publication Of the Largest Golf Membership Organization in North America
Does this mean he won't be continuing the newsletter that was so well received by the Golfweek folks?
I wonder if he'll finally get to make his case for Tiger as an NFL-caliber athlete?
Gosh, and I was almost missing his pro-technology shilling in Golfweek, except of course I stopped subscribing.
Minneapolis, MN & Ponte Vedra Beach, FL – North American Media Group, an industry leader in publishing and affinity marketing, jointly announced with the PGA TOUR that veteran golf business leader Jim Nugent has been named publisher of PGA TOUR Partners magazine.
Affinity marketing? Is that a fancy way of saying propaganda publishing?
In his new role, Nugent will direct all advertising sales efforts and lead the brand vision of the magazine.
The brand vision...oh to be in on those meetings.
Nugent will work closely with both the PGA TOUR and PGA TOUR Partners editor Tom Stine to continue to broaden the appeal of the magazine to both readers and advertisers alike. He will be based in Orlando, FL and will report to Vice President/Group Publisher Russ Nolan in Minneapolis.
Nugent joins PGA TOUR Partners after a distinguished career with Golfweek. A seasoned media executive with 25 years of experience in the print, broadcast and digital environments, Nugent is a well-recognized and respected member of the golf industry. He joined fledgling Golfweek shortly after it was acquired by Turnstile Publishing Co. and led the business and editorial teams that developed it into a solid business enterprise and an award-winning national journal. Prior to his 16-year tenure at Golfweek, Nugent served as Vice President of Pegasus Broadcasting, where he directed all revenue functions, including a financial restructuring and ultimate sale of the highly leveraged company. Nugent spent the early part of his magazine career at Ziff Davis and Time Inc. He sits on the Board of Directors for the American Junior Golf Association and the Executive Board for Golf 20/20, whose mission is to address the future of golf in a strategic manner, with an emphasis on accelerating growth and participation, and creating new avenues of access into the game. Nugent earned his MBA at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management and holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Georgetown University.
Nugent succeeds PGA TOUR Partners’ former publisher Seth Hoyt, who retired in January after an illustrious publishing career spanning four decades.
And now its time for the group hug quotes.
“We’re very confident that Jim’s vast experience in the golf market combined with his enthusiasm for our unique publishing model and forward thinking can take PGA TOUR Partners to a new level of success,” said Nolan.
"The PGA TOUR is delighted to welcome Jim as the new publisher of PGA TOUR Partners," said Tom Wade, Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer for the PGA TOUR. "Jim's very significant experience and knowledge of the golf industry will be a key ingredient in making the PGA TOUR Partners magazine even more relevant and informative for the TOUR's growing fan base."
“This is a special time in the history of this magazine property, and I am honored and thrilled to be chosen to lead the development of this brand," Nugent added.
I have no photo caption writing talent whatsoever, so as the Nissan week progresses, I'll be posting the occasional image. Your suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
Today's entry is a FedEx Cup truck on the 14th hole that is entirely surrounded by potted plants. Why, I have no idea. Your thoughts?
Former USGA Executive Director Frank Hannigan shares his thoughts on the ramifications and politics behind a possible U-groove rule change.
Having been afraid to do anything to restrain distance, which matters enormously, the USGA is evidently bent on trying to salvage what’s left of its reputation by being dramatic on a subject that matters very little – grooves.
A golf equipment manufacturer leaked a copy of a USGA report to Golf Digest magazine. Mike Stachura, one of the editors, analyzed the report and then interviewed Dick Rugge, the USGA Technical Director.
The report seems to put the club-makers on notice that the USGA will soon change the specifications for grooves on iron clubs. The report says that, contrary to a central tenet of the USGA for the last of 20 years, modern grooves have changed the game dramatically. The right U grooves, according to the new USGA, make the game much easier for Tour players.
During the 1980s there were great conflicts as to whether U grooves provided significantly more spin that traditional forged V grooves. (Full disclosure: I was then the USGA’s Executive Director). The answer was presented in two massive volumes titled “USGA Groove Study”. It said that grooves don’t matter at all on clean hits, which is what Tour players get on par-3 tees and in most of their fairway shots. U grooves, the study said, sometimes put more spin on a ball played out of light rough but the difference is never more than a couple of feet when it comes to stopping the ball. Moreover, there are a great many variables including the strains of grasses.
(Please note: when a ball stops 2 feet quicker it does not follow that the ball is 2 feet closer to the hole. Most shots stop short of the hole anyway so that if a U grooved iron caused a ball to stop quicker the end result could be a 12 foot putt instead of a 10 foot putt.)
Meanwhile, the scoring numbers on the Tour don’t change. The raw average score in 2006 was 71.2, right where it’s been for more than a decade. Greens hit in regulation numbers also remain the same. The average is 11.7 per round, same as it was back before the distance explosion starting in 1995.
The PGA Tour has kept these numbers static by making the courses much harder to play. Courses are longer, have more rough, fairways are narrower and holes are cut today in parts of greens unthinkable 10 or 15 years ago as suitable locations for holes. Grooves? Don’t matter.
Harder courses have been forced on the Tour by the USGA’s failure to control distance. Tiger Woods is 30 yards longer than Jack Nicklaus because the USGA blew it first on modern drivers with excessive spring like effect (the whole Tour got 10 yards longer overnight) and then with vastly improved balls.
I found Dick Rugge’s answers to Stachura’s questions surprisingly hard edged. I thought of Rugge as a nice man who is trying to hold on to a wickedly difficult job that is much more political in nature than scientific. Dealing with the USGA Executive Committee, some of whom have a fair understanding of golf and others who have no clue, is no bed of roses.
But in response to Stachura’s probing as to how the USGA could now adopt a position diametrically opposed to what had been its policy Rugge made some smart aleck comment about how lots of people used to think the earth was flat too. He went on to say that he has 3 people with Ph.Ds doing research, a kind of expertise unavailable to the USGA in the past.
This leads me to Frank Thomas, Rugge’s predecessor as USGA Technical Director and the overseer of its historic groove studies. Thomas was not exactly working with guys he dragged in off the street. His assistant had come to the USGA from West Point where he was a professor of ballistics.
Rugge’s resume includes a stint at Taylor Made where he was the enabler of bubble shafts. Remember those? The marketing was effective.
Poor Frank Thomas had to put up with a scientific ignoramus, myself, demanding to know how we could allow bubbles in shafts that would change the game. Thomas laughed, saying that bubbles in shafts had nothing to do with performance and would soon go away, like so many hyped equipment products.
When I had a long chat with Rugge I tried to push a button by asking why I should take him seriously as the USGA’s wizard on golf equipment given his history of espousing bubbles in shafts. His face reddened.
Rugge also told Mike Stachura something he had also told me – that he was tremendously influenced by Arnold Palmer who said to him that the USGA gave the game away by allowing U grooves.
Arnold Palmer on golf equipment? Whatever happened to all those Arnold Palmer equipment companies? But the Palmer magic endures. If, perchance, Arnold announced that the world is flat, both Rugge and USGA President Walter Driver would be very careful where they stepped.
Frank Thomas now has a gig with Golf Digest where he is buried in the back of the book (Full disclosure: I used to write for the magazine). Not long ago I laughed aloud when I read some stuff of his in answer to ostensible reader questions about groove performance.
He knows what the USGA is up to, considers it nonsense, and was trying to make the point softly. I suspect that when Frank left the USGA in a state of great animosity he signed a piece of paper saying that if he directly speaks ill of the USGA in public he endangers some of his tin parachute money. These things happen.
As I’ve said, Dick Rugge is a pleasant man with political skills. If he were to run for public office, say for a place on a town council, with Frank Thomas as his opponent, Dick would come in with an overwhelming majority. On the other hand, I would rather have Frank look under the hood of my stalled car.
For the world of golf to get a feeling for what grooves do and don’t do, I offer a simple solution. The USGA should release Frank Thomas from whatever hold it has on him. There should be a public debate on The Golf Channel, one hour, no commercials, with only Rugge and Thomas on stage.
We need a moderator. Tim Russert probably doesn’t play golf. Tom Friedman, the esteemed columnist of the New York Times, a golf whacko who as a kid caddied for Chi Chi Rodriguez in a US Open, would be excellent. But Tom might consider this too trivial.
I know. We get The Hon. Dan Quayle, former vice president of these United States. He may not be Jack Kennedy, but he can break 80.
Saugerties, New York
February 12, 2006
To read other Hannigan letters, here is his commentary on the recent USGA-AmEx deal where he revealed that the USGA lost $7 million this year. He also shared his thoughts on the USGA's private jet package, and provided this take on USGA President Walter Driver's revealing views on distance.
The Western Open the BMW Championship! But it'll be spun as falling in line with the old Western, which moved around the country and was once played at Presidio.
Maybe that year they could play the Western in Chicago on July 4 weekend? Just a thought. The date is open.
Hey, did you know Laurie Auchterlonie won the second BMW Championship at Midlothian? Just an FYI.
Anyway, Ron Kroichick details the move and Harding getting the President's Cup in '09 despite the temptation to bring it to Riviera so that they could play before lackluster crowds and even less enthusiastic corporate support.
The revised deal also will bring the BMW Championship, one of the PGA Tour's "playoff" tournaments, to Harding in 2013 or '14. That event, scheduled this year for Sept. 6-9 outside Chicago, is the third of four postseason tournaments in the tour's new FedEx Cup schedule, a yearlong points race designed to create a climactic finish to the season.
Harding would host one other elite-field, PGA Tour event in the next 12 years, plus the Schwab Cup, the Champions Tour's season-ending tournament, in 2010 and 2011.
The original contract between the city and tour called for five marquee events at Harding over a 15-year period. San Francisco officials hoped those tournaments would help pay for the course's extensive renovation in 2002 and '03, which was projected to cost $16 million but ran more than $7 million over budget.
...I'm sorry for every complaining about too much Ray Romano during Saturday Crosby coverage. Really, even if he doesn't have a sitcom on CBS, show us more of him and less of Danny Gans.
While it pains me to admit that Gans does a nice Al Pacino impersonation, did we have to go through his entire repertoire today? Der Bing and uh, Harry Caray? David Feherty setting him off of a pre-planned list?
Does he own nude photos of Lance Barrow?
Well, for those of you interested in Gans's work, you can get his "My Lord My Life" CD for just $5.
Operators are standing by!
Doug Ferguson filed a follow up to the Vickers-Finchem press conference stories by going to the Commish so that he could rebut the Vickers post-press conference claims. (Wouldn't it have been easier if they were just honest when the mikes were on?)
The PGA Tour has narrowed it search to four cities to replace the International, and commissioner Tim Finchem said Friday that a return to Washington likely would be the first choice if all options were equal.
The other cities being considered for the Fourth of July spot on the schedule are Portland, Ore., Minneapolis and another market he declined to identify that "just came across the tracks.''
Nothing like a good railroad metaphor.
"When we get done and we're ready to prioritize, if all is about equal and Washington was one of them, we would probably prioritize Washington because we know it's a great time with the Fourth of July ... and it would be nice to have members of Congress involved.''
Why would it be nice to have members of Congress involved? Am I missing something?
Finchem said Congress has been supportive of The First Tee, a program aimed at getting kids involved with golf.
"On the one hand, the Tour's asking for a new five- or six-year commitment and you've got a one-man show out there right now that is the big difference,'' Vickers said Thursday.
Finchem disagreed. He said if that were true, "we would have a schedule of 18 events.''
"That's just not the case,'' Finchem said. "When Tiger Woods plays, more people watch on TV and more tickets are sold. When he doesn't play, a lot of tickets are sold, a lot of money is raised for charity and our TV numbers are solid for the value of a sponsor.''
“I'm starting to play well and I want to play more,” Mickelson said. “I'm real excited about the way I'm driving the ball. In the past, I've missed a lot of fairways (at Riviera). But if you can put it in play there, you can really attack the course.”
Mickelson said he would attempt to commute to L.A. each day from his home in Rancho Santa Fe by using his private jet, flying from Palomar Airport to Santa Monica Airport.
Nice questions and slow play rant from Nick Price during an early week conference call to kick off his Champions Tour debut.
Q. One last question, with respect to pace of play, which I know you've always felt strongly about, it's certainly showing no signs of abating. What are your thoughts about it?
NICK PRICE: Fines. Fines. Fine them. Penalties, two-shot penalties, a fine. A warning, a fine and then a penalty. That's the only way they're going to stop it. I don't know how they're going to enforce it, but the only time any guy is going to pay attention is when you penalize him for slow play because it's such a disease, and there is no way on this earth that three professional golfers should take more than 4:15, 4:20, to play 18 holes of golf.
Q. You'll find on the Champions Tour we play quickly.
NICK PRICE: That's what I'm looking forward to, threesomes. McNulty has given me the heads up there because that was one of the first questions I asked him, what's the pace of play like. I think most of the guys out here, we learned a long time ago that the longer you take, the worse it gets.
Q. The players have somewhat of a responsibility. Obviously average golfers look to the pros and see that as an example.
NICK PRICE: It's terrible. It's terrible. The problem is that there's only maybe a handful of slow players certainly on the PGA TOUR who make everyone else's lives a misery. There's maybe 12 or 15 or 20 guys who are slow players, and they just slow down the rest of us. A fast player has to play at the pace of a slow player; a slow player doesn't have to play at the pace of a fast player. That's what's so one-sided.
Anyone who's played rapidly or doesn't mess about on the golf course, there's nothing more frustrating than playing with a guy who pulls the same club out three times, then puts his glove on, then looks at the yardage again, throws the grass up, asks his caddie 15 questions and then suddenly decides to hit it. You know, there's nothing worse, and those guys should be fined.
Q. What was your strategy for combating it or dealing with it?
NICK PRICE: I just used to put my mind in neutral. You had to. You had to. You had to learn to deal with it. If you're playing with someone who was really slow, then I would walk slowly, as well, up to my ball so I wouldn't have to wait around at my ball while he was fiddling around getting ready to hit.
So I'd sort of walk around 20, 30 yards away from my ball and then get to my ball just as he hits, so I could go through my same time zone. So you learn as the years go by how to deal with it. There's nothing more selfish than a slow golfer.
No Tiger, but Mickelson signs up unexpectedly and it looks like 8 of the top 10, 15 of the top 20, and 36 of the top 50 in the world. Finally a 2007 PGA Tour field better than the Euro Tour.