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Books
  • Lines of Charm: Brilliant And Irreverent Quotes, Notes, And Anecdotes from Golf's Golden Age Architects
    Lines of Charm: Brilliant And Irreverent Quotes, Notes, And Anecdotes from Golf's Golden Age Architects
  • The Future of Golf: How Golf Lost Its Way and How to Get It Back
    The Future of Golf: How Golf Lost Its Way and How to Get It Back
    by Geoff Shackelford
  • Grounds for Golf: The History and Fundamentals of Golf Course Design
    Grounds for Golf: The History and Fundamentals of Golf Course Design
    by Geoff Shackelford
  • The Art of Golf Design
    The Art of Golf Design
    by Michael Miller, Geoff Shackelford
  • Alister MacKenzie's Cypress Point Club
    Alister MacKenzie's Cypress Point Club
    by Geoff Shackelford
  • The Golden Age of Golf Design
    The Golden Age of Golf Design
    by Geoff Shackelford
  • The Good Doctor Returns: A Novel
    The Good Doctor Returns: A Novel
    by Geoff Shackelford
  • Masters of the Links: Essays on the Art of Golf and Course Design
    Masters of the Links: Essays on the Art of Golf and Course Design
  • The Captain: George C. Thomas Jr. and His Golf Architecture
    The Captain: George C. Thomas Jr. and His Golf Architecture
    by Geoff Shackelford
Current Reading
  • The 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
Classics
  • Golf Architecture in America: Its Strategy and Construction
    Golf Architecture in America: Its Strategy and Construction
    by Geo. C. Thomas
  • The Course Beautiful : A Collection of Original Articles and Photographs on Golf Course Design
    The Course Beautiful : A Collection of Original Articles and Photographs on Golf Course Design
    Treewolf Prod
  • Reminiscences Of The Links
    Reminiscences Of The Links
    by Albert Warren Tillinghast, Richard C. Wolffe, Robert S. Trebus, Stuart F. Wolffe
  • Gleanings from the Wayside
    Gleanings from the Wayside
    by Albert Warren Tillinghast
  • Planet Golf USA: The Definitive Reference to Great Golf Courses in America
    Planet Golf USA: The Definitive Reference to Great Golf Courses in America
    by Darius Oliver
  • Planet Golf: The Definitive Reference to Great Golf Courses Outside the United States of America
    Planet Golf: The Definitive Reference to Great Golf Courses Outside the United States of America
    by Darius Oliver
Writing And Videos

Good players have the power to think while they are competing. Most golfers are not thinking even when they believe they are. They are only worrying. HARVEY PENICK

 

    

Wednesday
Jun202007

Carnoustie Chaos

Seems things are not shaping up very nicely at Carnoustie, where superintendent John Philp has been suspended over a personnel issue and apparently conditions aren't exactly thriving in his absense. Thanks to reader Jim for catching this.

Wednesday
Jun202007

"Improved aerodynamic efficiency, resulting in increased flight distance for golfers of all swing speeds"

Thanks to reader Kevin for noticing David Dawsey's latest golf patent post, this one on a new ball from Titleist:

A golf ball is provided that has improved aerodynamic efficiency, resulting in increased flight distance for golfers of all swing speeds, and more particularly for golfers possessing very high swing speeds, such as those who can launch the balls at an initial speed greater than 160 miles per hour and more particularly at initial ball speed of about 170 miles per hour or higher. The golf ball of the present invention combines lower dimple count with multiple dimple sizes to provide higher dimple coverage and improved aerodynamic characteristics.

 

Wednesday
Jun202007

"Phil Mickelson, for all the abuse he took for offering an honest opinion, wasn't entirely wrong, either."

Steve Elling played Oakmont Monday and lives to write about just how correct both Tiger and Phil were in their assessments:

 Speaking for the parade of media hacks who hung around Oakmont Country Club on Monday, we're sorry we doubted you, man.

Moreover, Phil Mickelson, for all the abuse he took for offering an honest opinion, wasn't entirely wrong, either.

Last week at the U.S. Open, Woods twice asserted that a 10-handicap player, counting every shot and playing by the rulebook, couldn't crack the century mark at absurdly difficult Oakmonster, the hardest course he had ever played.

"No chance," Woods said.

Mickelson, in a parting comment that prompted some to characterize him as a whiner, said the course was "dangerous" because the rough was so deep, players risked injuring their wrists and hands.

After spending five murderous hours on the course Monday, we're here to offer assurance in first-hand fashion that both were right on the money, in either fact or principle.

You'll have to click on the story link to find out how Elling broke 100! 

Wednesday
Jun202007

"The winner of the last hole picks where to hit from"

Thanks to reader John for this Stu Pospisil story on Ballyneal.

Love this little local touch...

 A caddy at Ballyneal is a golfer's best friend. One reason is the caddy discreetly carries a GPS device in the pocket of his bib, giving precise yardages to the flagstick every time. The caddy will take you on the short walks from the green to the next tee. Better follow closely, or beware of the yucca and the occasional cactus or lizard.

 Each hole on the 6,995-yard, par-71 course, routed through an area of chop hills by course architect Tom Doak, has at least three teeing grounds. Downwind holes, head to the Tiger tips. Wind gusting in the face, consider moving up one or two tees.

"How we play is that the winner of the last hole picks where to hit from," Ballyneal owner and developer Rupert O'Neal said.

The tees at Ballyneal are truly works of art. Great to hear they take full advantage of their versatility.

Wednesday
Jun202007

News of the Weird, Vol. 8912

Thanks to reader Tom for this AOL Fanhouse blog post on a golfer starting a brush fire...with a swing!

Tuesday
Jun192007

Two Classics From Oakmont

Bill Fields does his Darwin thing and files another enjoyable essay from Oakmont with a couple of nice anecdotes.

As part of a magazine issue that featured a number of swing sequences, I wrote LPGA Hall of Famer Mickey Wright, who was among several legendary players Golf World asked to submit their five favorite swings in golf. Less than a week after sending Wright my request, I received a handwritten response from her. Along with Sam Snead, Ben Hogan, Gene Littler and Louise Suggs on Wright's list was the name of Angel Cabrera. All Wright did was win 82 tournaments and 13 majors with one of the best swings--male or female--the game has ever seen. When Cabrera seized the halfway lead at even-par 140 last week, it felt like I had a bit of insider-trading information.
And...

The fate of that tee ball was a metaphor for the whole week: The line separating success and failure was as fine as it ever gets in golf, a skinny thread of demarcation that separated the golfers left with a headache and the one that hoisted the trophy. "I just don't like the black-and-whiteness of the guaranteed one-shot penalty for hitting it in a bad spot," said defending champion Geoff Ogilvy, who finished T-42 at 19-over 299. "But as I said, I'm frustrated, so it's a bad time to interview a player."

SI's John Garrity goes in an entirely different but most enjoyable direction with a tongue-in-cheek (I think!) chat with an Oakmont member.

I had gotten a lunchtime call from a stranger, who told me the Oakmont members were angry because their course was playing too easy. "Two guys broke par yesterday," he said. His voice cracked on the word broke. "Paul Casey just shot a 66. A 66!" This last lament was pitched so high that I pictured the Hindenburg going down in flames.

I can't say I was surprised. Look up sado masochism in the Physician's Desk Reference, and you'll find a thumbnail photo of the Oakmont clubhouse along with footnotes on Church Pew bunkers, overgrown ditches and H.C. Fownes, the Pittsburgh businessman who designed the course more than a century ago. Fownes loved his golf course the way Torquemada loved the rack, and he passed his cruel streak on to his son Bill. "The virility and charm of the game lies in its difficulties," wrote Bill Fownes. "Keep it rugged, baffling, hard to conquer. . . . Let the clumsy, the spineless and the alibi artist stand aside!"

"So what are you saying?" I asked. "That the USGA comes in and sets up Oakmont to play easier than normal?"

His hands flew up. "Do I have to spell it out for you? Who ordered our super to cut the rough over the weekend? Who made him slow the greens to 13 1/2 or 14? Who told you media guys that Oakmont would be 'tough but fair?' " Realizing that his nose had popped out of the shadows for a second, Deep Rough drew back. "Fair? Who said golf was supposed to be fair?"

Regaining his composure, he let his voice drop to a melodramatic whisper: "Follow the dandruff."

Tuesday
Jun192007

Classic Cuban

How does he do it? As usual, Golf World's J.D. Cuban was at the right place at the right time to capture this shot of Paul Casey's unplayable bunker shot Sunday at Oakmont. Though I'm not sure this is exactly the mark of brilliant bunker construction...outside of Oakmont, PA anyway.

01fields.jpg 

Tuesday
Jun192007

"You would think the Tour would place some value on Hartford's long tradition and effort, but the suits in Ponte Vedra Beach had their eyes on bigger money."

Bruce Berlet pens an SI My Shot reminding us that they are playing in Connecticut this week despite the Commissioner's bizarre effort to kill the event on the regular schedule.

Tuesday
Jun192007

Tiger Becomes Dad; Writers Pounce On Potential GWAA Award Winning Fodder

And you thought it was bad when he turned 30!

Like obit writers prepared for a celebrity passing, it appears America's finest golf scribes were armed and ready for the birth of Tiger and Elin's daugher. Poor (well...) Sam Woods wasn't even 48 hours old and the preachy, maudlin and utterly meaningless but oh-so-award-hopeful columns have already begun (here, here, here, here, here, here) about Tiger's role as the very first father in the history of the human race.

Tuesday
Jun192007

"The decision to pull out of the John Deere Classic is the first glimmer of hope that some better decisions will be made down the road."

Ron Sirak hopes that Michelle Wie's decision to pull out of the John Deere Classic is the sign of better career management to come. He also

A defense of giving Wie a free pass into the Deere becomes especially difficult for the PGA Tour when it is hyping the first year of the FedEx Cup, and its points race, and then denies a spot in a tour event to a potential qualifier for the playoffs in favor of a 17-year-old girl who is out of her league against the best players in the world. It may be too conspiratorial to think the tour and Deere were working behind the scenes to get Wie to pull out -- no doubt offering an invitation somewhere down the road -- but there is no question both the tour and the tractor-makers are breathing a sigh of relief.

 

Too conspiratorial? Well now that I think about it, you are talking about the same people who killed the Western Open. So it's doubtful they were that creative in this case.

Tuesday
Jun192007

French Lick Restoration

bildeMark Montieth in the Indianapolis Star looks at Lee Schmidt's restoration of French Lick Spring Resort's Donald Ross course while noting it's fascinating history.
Tuesday
Jun192007

Meet Angel Cabrera

angel2.jpgJaime Diaz offers plenty of fresh insights into who exactly Angel Cabrera is and how he won the U.S. Open.


Tuesday
Jun192007

Elin Delivers; PGA Tour Awards Her FedEx Cup Points For Much-Needed Early Arrival

...And Tim Finchem will be gladly paying off all those over-under bets he lost after his "clear to me" July 11 or 12 prediction.

Congratulations to Tiger and Elin on Sam Alexis Woods.

Monday
Jun182007

A Firm Progression?

The most interesting player comment out of Oakmont came from 2006 final group contender Kenneth Ferrie, talking to Gary Van Sickle:

"This is the first time I've played a golf course where it didn't rain and the course has gotten softer every round.
"It's mind boggling, really. Thursday and Friday you're trying to bounce the ball up onto the greens. Today, I actually had a few shots hit the green and spin back."

The USGA's Mike Davis gets points for applying water to prevent an all out debacle. And as you may recall, the Masters this year saw borderline firm and fast all week, then applied water to the greens after the committee had gotten in their licks.

But that's the Masters and at least they recognized the need for the traditional Sunday fireworks.

The U.S. Open is a different beast. It should be the most difficult major of the year, but shouldn't that difficulty ideally progress from day one to the finish, with Sunday's "examination" being the culmination of a week's worth of golf?

Personally, I have long respected the USGA history of giggling at the PGA Tour's willingness to play lift, clean and place. You may remember that Tom Meeks noted they would not be playing "lift, clean and cheat" after Wednesday's deluge at the 1996 U.S. Open. ("Commissioner, I have Mr. Meeks on line 1 to apologize...)

The blue coats are big rub 'o the green guys and gals, touting their devotion to playing the ball down no matter what. And firm greens and landing areas have always been priority 1.  Play it as it lies.

Yet they now set up courses with such confining width, extreme speeds and different rough heights for different holes that they are having to use water to dictate the way the ball reacts when it hits the ground.

So I'm interested in what everyone thinks of this notion of a tournament course getting softer each day without rain. Were the measures taken at Oakmont a positive direction for the game or will it open the door for all sorts of strange antics (particularly with the advent of Sub-Air systems where a committee could present radical extremes from day to day)?

Monday
Jun182007

Two More Takes On The Open

2007usopen_50.gifGreg Stoda in the Palm Beach Post talks to Torrey Pines super Candice Combs who is all excited about inflicting torture on the players next year (uh, how about we establish some turf first!) and asks, "Isn't it all getting to be a little too much?"

The USGA simply went too far this time. It packed muscle onto a course already plenty strong enough to defend itself. The organization always indicates its desire - it's "purpose" to use Combs' word - is to identify the best player. Not in the world, necessarily, but for the week of the U.S. Open examination. It's terrific, for my money, when a Cabrera or an Ogilvy or a Michael Campbell (even-par 280 at Pinehurst two years ago) wins the tournament. Anyone who bemoans Tiger Woods or Phil Mickelson or some other superstar not winning all the time is missing the point.

Cabrera, by the way, was the only player in the field to break par twice. He beat Woods and Jim Furyk, runners-up a stroke back, three rounds out of four. Who was Oakmont's best player?

But the 10-over-par cut was absurd. And the weekend's treachery was best exemplified by that same 10-over-par finishing score, which at 290 ended up being good enough for a share of seventh place. That's not competition; it's attrition.

Douglas Lowe takes a more shallow approach, celebrating the sadistic pleasures and bellows on about the dreaded "integrity of par."

The integrity of par has taken a beating in recent years, if not decades. In bread-and-butter tournaments, par is nowhere near good enough and David Fay, executive director of the USGA, said: "All we want is for par on any of the 18 holes to mean something."

Wait, I thought he said they are not fixated on par?

Monday
Jun182007

"Woods’s lack of impact on anything other than the marketability of golf has been achieved by virtue of his banality."

The Times' Matthew Syed considers the positioning branding something or other of hot new grand prix driver Lewis Hamilton in the context of Tiger Woods.

Lewis Hamilton will soon become familiar with the rules of this depressing game. Even now the 22-year-old, who was competing to win a second consecutive Formula One grand prix in Indianapolis yesterday, is being schooled in the art of saying nothing. His handlers recognise that by presenting their client as a blank canvas it will be easier to persuade multinationals to emblazon him with their logos. Like Jordan, he will soon become a walking billboard.

Hamilton has been compared with Tiger Woods, but for all the wrong reasons. Many have suggested that his ethnicity — he was the first driver of black heritage to win a grand prix — will inspire a new generation of young black drivers to enter the Formula One paddock in the same way that Woods has transformed the demographics of professional golf. But this is a pipedream — and not just because of the formidable economic barriers to entry in Formula One.

The truth is that Woods has not had anything like the influence on global black consciousness that his cheerleaders suggest. Not one black player has joined the PGA tour since Woods turned professional in 1996 and there has not been a black player in the Ladies Professional Golf Association since 2000. There are today no home players from an ethnic-minority background playing on tour and of the 60 teenagers in the English Golf Union’s elite programme only two come from minorities.

We should not be surprised by any of this. How could Woods become a role model for young people from, say, the ghettos of South Central Los Angeles when his target constituency is across town among those who can afford the mark-up on his red Nike replica shirts?

Woods’s lack of impact on anything other than the marketability of golf has been achieved by virtue of his banality. He has managed to present a public persona of such blandness that few people can remember him taking a stand on anything except the stern of his $20 million yacht. When he was asked to criticise the men-only policies of some private golf clubs he declined, saying that it was a matter for them. His press conferences are a masterclass in insipidness that drain the soul.

Monday
Jun182007

“We’ve got to get back to basics, back to A.W. Tillinghast, to Donald Ross-type courses"

Lee Trevino tells the Boston Herald's Joe Gordon:

“I’m real concerned about golf because we’re losing golfers every day,” Trevino said. “Golf has declined since 2000. The PGA, the USGA - no one is doing a damned thing about it. And I’ll tell you what the (problem) is: It’s too expensive to play and the reason is that these courses they’re building are too difficult and the maintenance is too high. People can’t play them, they lose too many balls. It takes too long to play.”
And...
“We’ve got to get back to basics, back to A.W. Tillinghast, to Donald Ross-type courses,” he said. “They’re 7,000 yards long and tight, but without a lot of water or hazards, so people can get around. I want to get into it full time because I’m 67 and I don’t play much any more. I’ve got nothing but time.”
Monday
Jun182007

2007 U.S. Open Ratings Up

Take that David Stern!

From PGATour.com:

With Tiger Woods back stalking the lead, the U.S. Open's television ratings made a big jump from a year ago.

Sunday's final round on NBC earned a 7.0 overnight rating and a 17 share, up 37 percent from last year's 5.1/12 after Woods missed the cut. It was the best Sunday overnight rating since a 9.3/21 in 2002, when Woods won at Bethpage.

Overnight ratings measure the 55 largest TV markets in the United States, and each ratings point represents about 735,000 households. The rating is the percentage watching a telecast among homes with televisions, and the share is the percentage tuned into a broadcast among those households with televisions on at the time.
It's down to 735,000 households now for each ratings point? Oh right, the changing media landscape...

 

Monday
Jun182007

A Few More Monday U.S. Open Clippings

2007usopen_50.gifThomas Bonk takes on the tricky task of pointing out that Angel Cabrera doesn't exactly seem to slip into that all star cast of winners at Oakmont, while getting to the most important question: is this championship about the course and USGA or about the players?
Somewhere along the way, the venerable layout, the scene of eight historic U.S. Opens and renowned for a power table of winners, might have lost a little bit of its luster. The list includes Armour, Snead, Hogan, Nicklaus, Miller, to name a few, and now Cabrera. Are we sure it's a proper fit?

Next June at Torrey Pines, Woods will be working on a six-year streak since his last U.S. Open title. Mickelson has none, in 17 tries. Yes, Cabrera has more U.S. Open titles than Mickelson.

Maybe that's just the way it is, and even the way it should be. After all, Cabrera didn't do anything wrong, he earned his championship, the only player in the field who had two rounds under par, his opening 69 and his closing 69.

But something just seemed wrong. A total of eight scores under par for four days? Only six players shooting better than 10 over par? A course so brutally difficult that even par doesn't even get a sniff?

And...
At the end of the day, it's getting harder and harder to distinguish the significance of the U.S. Open, certainly if you go by judging the relevance of its recent champions. We've traveled this road before, of course, when Jack Fleck won in 1955 or when Orville Moody won in 1969 or Lou Graham in 1975.

These days, more and more, the extreme difficulty of the courses is the dominant factor of the U.S. Open — not the players.

Bonk also looks at the state of Ernie Els' game 13 years after winning at Oakmont and concludes his knee isn't fully healed and that Els may never be the player he once was.

Gary Van Sickle is alarmed by some of the things happening with Tiger's game.
Forget that stat about never coming from behind to win a major on the last day. At the Masters and at Oakmont, he grabbed the lead on Sunday ... and couldn't hold it either time!

At the Masters, the par 5s cost him. He was spooked by No. 8 and hit 3-wood off the tee (3-wood?), and then he made a rare poor decision to go for the 15th green in two from a bad lie when he didn't need to (he found the water). At Oakmont, he committed a no-no by bunting it over the third green, biffed his third shot across the green, muffed his next pitch and made an un-Tiger-like double bogey. The Old Tiger makes par from the fairway there 9 out of 10 times, and the 10th time, he doesn't make double.

The biggest concerns of Tiger-watchers? Whatever happened to his tempo? It used to be fluid. Now he seems to be trying to hit everything as hard as he can, like he did when he overpowered Augusta National in 1997. Is it possible to have too much muscle? For once, it was his near-flawless play Saturday that looked like the aberration.
Larry Stewart reports on Saturday's ratings, which prove the remarkable impact Tiger has...
Saturday's third round got a 4.6 overnight rating, compared with a 3.2 for the third round last year. In Los Angeles, Saturday's round got a 4.0 and beat the 3.9 for the Dodgers versus the Angels that day on Channel 11.

The 4.6 overnight was the highest for a U.S. Open third round since a 4.8 in 2004. The final round that year from Shinnecock Hills earned a solid 6.3 national overnight rating. Phil Mickelson three-putted from five feet for a double bogey at the 17th hole, and Retief Goosen won by two shots.

When Woods last won a U.S. Open — at Bethpage in 2002 — the overnight rating for the final round was a 9.3.
Monday
Jun182007

What Was Jim Drinking Last Night?

Thanks to a media member who got this email release last week, and which probably answers the question of what Jim Furyk turned to last night for uh, reassurance.

Good afternoon, my name is Lauren from Taylor PR in New York. Diageo has created a new event between Johnnie Walker and Jim Furyk. It is the “Johnnie Walker Jim Furyk Sweepstakes.” From July 5- September 15, 2007 golf fans can enter online for a chance win a round of golf with one of the best, PGA Tour Stars, Jim Furyk! For more information go to http://www.johnniewalker.com/PlayWithJim. Golf fans can also feel like a Pro on the course this summer by sipping on Jim Furyk’s own signature Johnnie Walker cocktail. This round is on Jim!

Furyk’s Best Ball
1.5 oz. Johnnie Walker Black Label
1tbsp. honey
3 oz. Unsweetened tea
1 wedge lemon

Preparation: Add Johnnie Walker Black Label, honey and unsweetened tea; stir and serve over ice: garnish with lemon wedge.

And voila! All of those flashbacks about the 17th hole go away.