Golf is the Great Mystery. Like some capricious goddess, it bestows its favours with what would appear an almost fat-headed lack of method and discrimination. On every side we see two-fisted he-men floundering round in three figures, stopping every few minutes to let through little shrimps with knock-knees and hollow cheeks, who are tearing off snappy seventy-fours. Giants of finance have to accept a stroke per from their junior clerks. Men capable of governing empires fail to control a small, white ball, which presents no difficulties whatever to others with one ounce more brain than a cuckoo-clock. Mysterious, but there it is. P.G. WODEHOUSE
John Gunther details the "team-driven" design process planned for the fourth course at Bandon.
The course, to be named Old MacDonald, will be the result of a bold and unique concept - a team-driven design process led by Pacific Dunes architect Tom Doak and his design partner Jim Urbina.And...
“I think I'm not employing Doak and Urbina as architects,” Keiser said. “I'm employing them to design as C.B. MacDonald and Seth Raynor, his apprentice and successor, would build it if they were alive today.”
A panel of other noted architects, including George Bahto, an expert on MacDonald, will work with Doak and Urbina on the project. Bahto is the author of “The Evangelist of Golf,” a book about MacDonald's life.
Old MacDonald will be located to the north and east of Pacific Dunes, which has received the highest ratings to date among the resort's three links-style layouts.
“The concept to the average golfer is I believe the team will pull off something that is fun,” Keiser said.
When Keiser decided on his concept for the new course, Doak was a natural choice as lead architect. He is regarded as one of the top students of architecture in the United States and already was familiar with Bandon Dunes from when he and Urbina designed Pacific Dunes.
“I feel as if I'm hiring C.B. MacDonald myself,” Keiser said. “I trust (Tom) and Jim is fantastic.”
The design board could have as many as 12 members, all of whom will have input.
“This is interpretive,” Keiser said. “It isn't just, ‘Tom do it.' It's, ‘You and Jim, along with George, being C.B. MacDonald.'”
Keiser, Lesnik, Doak and Bahto are scheduled to meet on Halloween at the National Golf Links to begin discussing the makeup of the group.
Because of the nature of the project and because of a new role Keiser has taken, there is no hurry for construction of Old MacDonald.
Old MacDonald will be located to the north and east of Pacific Dunes, which has received the highest ratings to date among the resort's three links-style layouts.
The general timeline for Old MacDonald is for design work to be done through 2007, with construction in 2008 and 2009 and the opening in 2010.
As the season winds down and the hot-button tech issues figure to heat up, news of Callaway's lousy earnings prompted JPB to make this astute point about the demise of the Top Flite "brand": Actually if top-flite has a problem, it may be a symptom of the things we talk about here. Fewer players playing fewer rounds at more expensive courses. If a lot of top-flites sell it might mean a lot of average or bad players are playing, maybe at cheaper courses. Not my brand, but there are worse products than top-flites. For what they are, they work better than they need to.
Reader Bill S suggested the driver head size be regulated as a way to deal with distance and your comments were interesting, with nearly all of the 20 weighing in agreeing that it has played a major role in the distance explosion of the last few years.
Hawkeye: The launching characteristics would be altered since the weight distribution in the clubeheads would have to be somewhat different, and subsequently it would't be as easy to launch the high, floating drives that are the norm today. Now, if we could just introduce a limit to tee-peg height as well...
Scott S: Many, many things have happened over the years with equipment that it is difficult to pinpoint the culprits, but driver head size is big in the spotlight. We like to think of the tour guys hitting everything dead-center all the time, but this isn't reality. With smaller clubheads on a tense tournament day, people would be skying and topping them all over the place.
DAW: I own a persimmon-head driver that I use from time to time. I don't think I can hit it as far as my normal driver, but in the summer it's quite close. I hit it much, much lower, however. On courses with forced carries, this is a big disadvantage. Not just because of fairway bunkers, but consider a hole where the fairway runs a bit uphill and then flattens out at 230 yards. If I catch the wooden driver a bit thin, it doesn't land on the plateau and goes nowhere. I also think that I lose a larger percentage of the height on imperfect strikes with the wooden driver compared to the big metal one...If limiting the head size would significantly lower the trajectory for drivers then it might be a worthwhile idea.
Bill S: If you read the history books, way back in the days of hickory sticks and before Titleists people hit 300 yard drives now and again. If you let your swing speed get faster, you will hit the ball farther. BUT - with small Persimmon (and even early steel) heads, there was a cost/benefit analysis to be made. If people let their swings out and missed (even a little bit) they wouldn't miss the fairway, they would miss the state. As a result, players like Jack rarely aired it out. Furthermore, mediocre players almost NEVER aired it out b/c they could not control the direction of their shots. In 2006, everyone knows the sweet spot is huge and everyone knows the clubs have incredible MOI's to keep the ball in play. Even hackers like me can play "feerless golf" with a 460cc driver.
Smitty: All you have to do is remember Jay Haas popping up his drive at the Ryder Cup to realize what a difference head size makes--especially under pressure...The problem still overwhelmingly is THE BALL!
And while we can joke about his various farewells, Arnold Palmer really did say goodbye to competitive golf this week and things just won't ever be the same. But if we could just get them to Augusta Thursday morning...
Hawkeye: For some reason, the first golfing stars of the TV age (Palmer, Nicklaus, Player) have all seemed to believe that they would be, truly, forever young. Sadly, that's not the case, and it took Palmer thirty years to realize that. Let's hope Nicklaus and Player also change their minds on being "cermonial players" and reconvene on the first tee at Augusta next April!
ken-one-putt: If we can get the Big Three on the first tee for Thursday at Augusta next year it would truly be a wonderful thing for golf.
And echoing his comments, Smolmania: Mr. Palmer's best days were long since done by the time I came along, but no one since has had the personal magnetism, the ability to make everyone in his presence feel that he was friends with the King. Palmer, Nicklaus, Player. Big Three golf lives. 1st group out on Wednesday afternoon in the Par-3 Tournament, and 1st tee shots on Thursday morning. All would be right in the world for those 18 hours.
From Kevin Robbins' Austin American-Statesman golf blog, a reminder that at least one Tour player understands the course design related ramifications of deregulated technology:
Funk grew up playing courses like Oak Hills. He comes from the generation of persimmon woods and balata balls and 1-irons. As tournament courses exceed 7,500 yards, Funk feels the tug of sentiment, a certain yearning for the way things used to be. Backspin concurs. What’s wrong with a tree-lined golf course that repels the impulse to pull driver on every tee?
“It’s sad to me,” Funk said this afternoon. “That’s the trouble with golf course design now. The designers don’t know where to put the bunkers. They don’t know where to turn the fairways. They’re having a hard time learning how to defend the golf ball.
“It’s becoming more of a one-dimensional game. It’s become a power game. There’s not as much room for finesse anymore.
“Those kinds of courses, we don’t have anymore.”
Exhibit #1291 of the PGA Tour's unfortunate disregard for the tricky business of golf course development was noted in Doug Ferguson's AP notes column:
Not quite two months after the PGA Tour announced its fall schedule, it has hit a speed bump with one of them.
Because of construction delays and financial issues surrounding the Running Horse Golf and Country Club, Tour officials will be going to Fresno, Calif., this week to meet with the developers.
The Running Horse Golf Championship is to be played Oct. 25-28 next year, the second-to-last event on the 2007 schedule. Along with falling behind on the course, KFSN-TV in Fresno has reported that the managing partners are trying to sell it.
"Things at the golf course are going slower than we thought they were,'' PGA Tour spokesman Bob Combs said. "I understand there are one or maybe more groups looking at investing in it. But from our perspective, we're playing in Fresno.''
One option for the Tour if Running Horse is not ready would be to move it to another golf course in the area, such as Fort Washington.
"We believe Running Horse is going to be the site,'' Combs said. "If it turns out to be another one, we'll cross that bridge. The key thing is we'll be there.''
You may be there, but so far, there is no there there.
Thanks to reader Brian for this David Helwig story on the latest and greatest invention to make the blind shot a little less painful...for those who might get hit. Somehow, I don't see one of these popping up on the 4th at Fisher's Island anytime soon.
CaddyCam, the first-ever wireless solar powered monitoring system that allows golfers to view a remote blind spot from the tee, removes the threat of striking other golfers who may be playing ahead on the same hole.
The CaddyCam monitoring system can also be used to see a detailed view of the pin placement on an elevated green.
The CaddyCam monitoring system is comprised of two units.
The camera unit is an aesthetically pleasing ten foot pole structure on which the camera and transmitter are mounted as well as the solar panel.
The location of the camera unit is typically to the side of the fairway in a location that does not interfere with play.
The monitor unit is also a ten-foot pole structure that supports a mounted receiver, solar panel, and an enclosed color LCD monitor for viewing.
The monitoring unit is conveniently positioned by the tee box or cart path.
What, it's not wireless transmitted to the cart GPS screen? Disappointed!
Now, wait. Maybe this is the key to making blind shots acceptable again? Granted, some of the mystery isn't there, but imagine a group being able to report to their playing partner where his shot came down? ;)
With two full field events to go (for some reason I kept forgetting there's the
Parallel Fairway Classic Innisbrook event next week...can't imagine why!), Golf World's John Antonini also looks at the bubble boys and the rather meaningless stakes for some players.
He also points this interesting stat out:
Here are some final numbers to throw at you from last year's money list: The players who finished between 116 and 125 in 2005 averaged 25.1 events this season. The players who finished between 126 and 150 in 2005 averaged 21.72 events. The 10 players who didn't improve their status somehow and had to play from that category averaged 19.2 events, and that figure includes two players who were injured for most of this year. However, those outside the top 150 with no other status, have a slim chance of playing on tour. Among players ranked 151-170 last year, 13 had status of some kind in 2006 (past champion, career earnings, Q school, medical); the seven who didn't combined to play just 15 events on tour.
I was perusing ebay and searching for items related to architect George Thomas when I stumbled upon a baseball signed by Hall of Famer "George Thomas Seaver," aka Tom Seaver, who was signing his legal name.
The late, Charlie Seaver, Tom's father, played a lot of golf during his teenage years with George Thomas at Los Angeles Country Club and also played a round with MacKenzie at Cypress Point. (When I interviewed him for The Captain, he told me had film of the MacKenzie round, though he did not want to have it transferred to tape at the time).
And for trivia buffs, Seaver was one win away from facing Bobby Jones in the final of the 1930 U.S. Amateur.
Anyhow, I'm presuming that Seaver named his son after Captain Thomas. And I know this makes your day!
Does anyone have any idea what Tom Seaver is these days?
Thanks to readers Tuco and Michael for this New York Post tidbit:
Tiger Woods got ambushed by an evangelical guest of Nike on Oct. 9 during an exclusive golf outing for top business and entertainment executives. According to our spy, 30 people - including Clear Channel Radio CEO Mark Mays, Louis Vuitton North America chief Daniel LaLonde and Details magazine editor Daniel Peres - gathered at the Trump golf course in Los Angeles for the 2006 "Tee It Up With Tiger Woods" event, which included a private golf session and lunch with the living legend. "During the lunch, there was a Q&A session with Woods, and most people were asking about their swings or golf questions," our source said. "Until some guy - a guest of Nike - stood up and said, 'Have you accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior? And if not, prayfully, would you?' " The source added, "You could have heard a pin drop. People were mortified. But Tiger was as unflappable as he is on the golf course and responded, 'My father was a Christian - of course Christianity was part of my life - but my mother is Asian and Buddhism was also part of my childhood, so I practice both faiths respectfully.' "
Reader BillS writes:
In my opinion, the easiest (and cheapest) way to control distance would be to limit the size of the head. Back in the days of persimmon, there were guys who could hit it a mile but the small margin of error made bombing it a risk.
With giant heads, the bombers can swing for the fences without penalty.
So I'm curious what everyone thinks about the driver head's impact on the 10-yard PGA Tour increase since 2002 when the USGA and R&A drew the line in the sand (well, on paper anyway)?
Would regulating driver head size on the PGA Tour make a big difference?
Steve Trivett in the Daily Sun, the official paper of The Villages--yes, The Villages has a daily and it's online!--puts a rosey spin on the Disney event with it's lousy field and even lousier prospects for next year when it becomes
part of the scrap heap part of the post-FedEx Cup schedule.
Anyway, I loved this from the tournament director. I'm surprised it hasn't been wheeled out to justify record scoring by some player trying to suck up to his equipment maker:
The Disney-hosted tournament has been a favorite among players in the past — especially those players with young families who see a trip to Walt Disney World as a chance to mix a vacation with work.Yeah, right. And more evidence that he's been spending too much time at Disney World:
“This is a special place,” Weickel said. “It’s a tournament where the players can go to work and then go out and play with their children.
“And I really believe that contributes to the low scores we see here. The players are more relaxed, and that shows in their play,” he said.
And he’s hoping that a change in the game will keep the excitement of the tournament alive.
“If you step back and look at it, there is a natural progression in golf just like there is in any sport,” he said. “There is a generational shift coming in golf just like there is in football, baseball and basketball.
“As the younger players make a name for themselves, they will have a bigger impact on the game,” Weickel said. “And they will become the players who have the kids who want to come here.
“The attraction of the tournament is not going to change,” he said.
He just hopes that a prospective sponsor sees it the same way.
If they do, the magic is still alive.
This Businessweek story explains Callaway's huge stock drop yesterday.
The stock price tumbled 11.3% to $12.51 per share on the New York Stock Exchange in afternooon trading Tuesday.
Callaway, which is in the midst of a restructuring announced in September, 2005, noted challenges such as lower sales at key golf retailers during June through September, and a related decrease in wholesale re-orders. The company had introduced no major new products during the quarter; the FT-3 driver, Fusion fairway woods, X-18 driver in Japan, and HX-56 golf ball hit the market during the same period of 2005.
Sales of the Top-Flite and Hogan products have not performed to expectations. "We are in the process of restoring these brands, targeting a formal re-launch of Top-Flite in 2007," George Fellows, President and CEO of Callaway Golf, said in a press release.
Restoring the Top Flite brand? From cheap bottom of the barrel rock hard balls to...?
Thanks to reader Mark for this Australian story by Louis White that details Paul McNamee's efforts to enhance the Australian Open.
Unfortunately, no mention throughout the piece about moving away from stinker venues like The Grand or The Australian.
McNamee agreed to become the executive chairman of the men's and women's Australian Open tournaments. He got a shock upon taking up the position in April.
"I didn't realise that the financial situation was as bad as it was," he said, sounding surprised still. "There was virtually no revenue streams for the sport and Channel Seven had lost interest. Everyone was receiving freebies to attend the event and the Australian players weren't happy either.
"What blew me away was that the women's championship hadn't even been played for three years. I took that as being not a good sign."
A federal government report into the state of Australian golf had resulted in the amalgamation of the Australian Golf Union and the Australian Ladies Golf Union to form Golf Australia. The new entity was entrusted with overseeing the men's and women's Australian Open championships.
McNamee took a pay cut, and his job was on a part-time basis. Before accepting the job he headed to the US to get a grip on staging a successful tournament. He spoke first-hand to the Australian players to find out their concerns about the Australian Open - all at his own expense.
"The players weren't happy and had a long list of complaints," McNamee said. "It ranged from no functions for the wives and girlfriends to no creche, to no food for the caddies and even the pro-am taking too long.
"Most importantly though, they did want to come back to Australia and play golf. They all understand the importance of the Australian Tour and want to support the Australian Open."
Not only did McNamee convince the players that things would be different this year - he personally spoke to 12 of the top 13-ranked Australian players - he knew he had to overcome the negative publicity associated with the event and do things differently.
"I decided to focus on showcasing Australian players because we are the No.2 golfing nation in the world at the moment," he said.
"Australia has 10 players ranked in the top 100 in the world and had 24 players in the British Open this year. I honestly believe that these group of golfers are the best group of players in the history of Australian golf."
And let's put them on a course to match? Eh...no.
As reported by Lewine Mair in the Telegraph:
"Originally, I said that I would do it once and that would be it, but I can see circumstances in which I might allow my name to go forward again," he said as a little bubble appeared over his head with Monty's picture in it.Oh okay, I added that last part just to see if you were reading.
Woosnam was speaking at Cardiff Airport on his way to a corporate day at Celtic Manor, venue for the 2010 match against the Americans.
A sudden desire to have another crack at the job is not untypical of the withdrawal systems experienced by past captains. Bernhard Langer thought briefly about the possibility of a second run before asking for his name to be removed from the list of candidates. Sam Torrance, for his part, had a momentary wobble before returning to his long-held belief that once was enough.
Given a few days to think about it, Woosnam could well come to the same decision. Why would he want to take the risk of bowing out on a different note to September's runaway victory?
True, there are things he may think he could do better next time around – his speeches could have been rather more polished, while it would have been better had he not had champagne erupt from him on the K Club balcony.
But Lewine, he worked so hard on those speeches!