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  • 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
  • Men in Green
    Men in Green
    by Michael Bamberger
  • Unplayable Lies: (The Only Golf Book You'll Ever Need)
    Unplayable Lies: (The Only Golf Book You'll Ever Need)
    by Dan Jenkins
  • Professional Golf 2015: The Complete Media, Fan and Fantasy Guide
    Professional Golf 2015: The Complete Media, Fan and Fantasy Guide
    by Daniel Wexler
  • The Forbidden Game: Golf and the Chinese Dream
    The Forbidden Game: Golf and the Chinese Dream
    by Dan Washburn
  • 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
  • Unplayable Lies: (The Only Golf Book You'll Ever Need)
    Unplayable Lies: (The Only Golf Book You'll Ever Need)
    by Dan Jenkins

    Kindle Edition

  • 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
  • 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

What strikes us--in truth, assaults us--are the massive sandhills, the profusion of gorse (overpoweringly golden in spring, impenetrable at any time), and the heady views. Then comes the challenge of playing the course. And that, by and large, is a matter of the bunkers and the bounces and the "blinds." Half a dozen holes, beginning with the 2nd, entail a blind drive over a dune ridge to reach the narrow fairway that--we must take on faith--lies somewhere on the far side. Add to that three or four occasions when the green itself is hidden. JAMES FINEGAN on Royal County Down



Online Handicap Access

The question was raised once before here, but I think that based on the many interesting comments in the post below on Merrill Lynch CEO Stanley O'Neal getting caught playing golf while the company burned, there is an interesting debate here on the positives and negatives of so easily researching handicaps online.

I'd love to hear if you all think this has been a good thing for the game or if incidents like this only do golf harm? After all, as many noted, O'Neal might have been doing some entertaining and who is to say there was much he could do back at the office? But in general, his undoing was in part driven by the image of him out enjoying our beloved sport. And based on the fact he was canned, the imagery is not positive to the outside world.

Anyway, is it a good thing that handicaps are available to see for anyone and everyone in the world?

Or might it be better to only allow access for other registered handicap golfers (if that's even possible)?


Tough Look At The Golf Industry

Phil Kosin in Chicagoland Golf takes a tough look at the golf industry on news that course closing will outnumber openings for a third straight year.
 While data for 2007 has yet to be compiled, golf course closures nationwide are expected to outpace openings for the third straight year.

After nearly 20 years of strong growth, the nation’s total number of golf courses topped off in 2004 with 16,057. That represents an increase of 3,211 courses – about 25 percent – in 15 years.
Those 3,211 new courses represent this country’s second “Golf Boom” – the first coming during the 1920s when clubs and balls became affordable for everyone thanks to machinery that allowed for mass production. Previously, clubs were affordable only to “the privileged” because they were made one at a time by skilled craftsmen; while wound balls were being mass-produced, the market was small.

After the number peaked at 16,057, in 2005 the nation’s total golf course supply dwindled by five; last year, that number jumped to 62. Insiders are saying that number may be closer to 80 or more in 2007.

Tiger Woods To Build Home In Dubai To Help The Keep Other Empty Mansions Company

Erik Matuszewski of Bloomberg News reports the "news" that Tiger is in fact so drawn to the area, he's already reviewing floor plans and building a home away from home. I'm sure it wasn't included in his deal. Nope, no way. He just loves the area and all of those other empty neighborhoods that 60 Minutes showed us.

Tiger Woods plans to build a 16,500- square-foot mansion, complete with gym, theater, library and pool, that will overlook the private Al Ruwaya golf course he's designing in Dubai.

Woods, the world's top-ranked golfer, has selected one of the property's 287 home sites, which sell for between $12 million and $23 million, and is reviewing floor plans for his residence.

``He's been very interested in this Arabian concept that we've put to blend with the golf course,'' Abdulla Al Gurg, project manager for the Tiger Woods Dubai development, said today in an interview in New York.
Uh huh.
Al Gurg, 27, wouldn't disclose the location of Woods's future home on the 7,800-yard, par-72 course for security reasons. He said it wouldn't be among the biggest in the ``exclusive,'' invitation-only community.

There are 22 planned palaces that will average 33,000 square feet of living space and boast 10 to 12 bedrooms.

Three holes -- the par-3 12th, par-4 17th and par-4 18th -- have been laid out at the Al Ruwaya course, which is scheduled to open in late 2009. Also under construction are the clubhouse and an 80-room boutique hotel. Many of the property's 10,000- square-foot signature luxury villas will be completed by March 2010 and Al Gurg said demand has been high.

``The target market for these villas is not an investor profile,'' Al Gurg said. ``The target market is maybe a secondary homeowner or a trophy real-estate owner -- a person who actually owns a few villas and wants to have a piece of the Tiger Woods Dubai and the first-ever golf course designed by Tiger.''

That's me! 

Meanwhile reader Chip caught this AP piece proclaiming the completion of three holes (on paper?) and Al Gurg has some more to say about Tiger's design.

Tiger Woods has completed the designs for three holes on his first golf course in Dubai, and it doesn't look like he's too concerned about the area's desert terrain.

Woods and his design company are developing a 7,800-yard, par-72 course called Al Ruwaya in Dubailand, the region's largest tourism and leisure project. It's the marquee attraction in a 55-million square-foot development that also will include a hotel, golf academy, community center and luxury homes.

Woods' three completed holes feature lush greenery, including grass and shrubs, and greens well protected by bunkers or water. It's the first glimpse of his course style since he created Tiger Woods Design last year.

"The complexity in those three holes ... has set a different benchmark in the golfing industry," said Abdulla Al Gurg, the project director for The Tiger Woods Dubai.

I do believe those are three holes completed on paper. Not the ground.


Hewitt Notes

Brian Hewitt has a couple of interesting tidbits in his column. The first relates to the Phoenix Open:
Meanwhile, also don’t be surprised if the TPC Champions course, located right next door to the Stadium course at the TPC Scottsdale, shares the venue for the FBR Open starting in 2009.
In the past the FBR Open, played in early February, has had to limit its field to 132 players due to frost delays in the mornings and dwindling daylight in the late afternoon.
Utilizing two courses, the first two days, it would enable the TOUR to better handle a 156-man field. The use of the two courses at Torrey Pines is why the field at the Buick Invitational is 156 players.
Under this plan, the weekend rounds for the FBR Open would remain solely at the TPC Scottsdale.

He also drops this item on Michelle Wie, the Sony Open and here recent WD from the Casio which I don't think I've seen elsewhere:
The question of whether Michelle Wie will play in the Sony Open in January is a complicated one and one without an answer at the moment.
Sony Open officials say they will announce their sponsor’s exemptions in November.
Meanwhile, Wie still represents Sony products. But she missed the cut there earlier this year by 14 shots. Casio World Open officials this week basically disinvited Wie to their November event, saying, according to one spokesman, “Basically, we have determined that she cannot play to her full potential because she has yet to recover from hand injuries suffered early in the season.” 

"They got the Great Wall of China."

Boo Weekley and Heath Slocum sat down with the scribblers to talk about playing in the World Cup.

Naturally Boo came through again with more transcript gold...

STEWART MOORE: Heath and Boo, thank you for spending a few minutes with us in the Children's Miracle Network Classic interview room. You guys are going to be representing the United States in the World Cup November 19th in China. I'm sure the world is awaiting Boo Weekley's arrival in China. Maybe talk about what you guys are going to look forward to and then we'll take some questions.

BOO WEEKLEY: I think it will just be fun just to go over there. I know I've only left the country one time, and that was to go to Scotland, and it will be fun to see what's going on.

Q. You played in Mexico, didn't you?

BOO WEEKLEY: Yeah, Mexico, but --

HEATH SLOCUM: That's still North America.

BOO WEEKLEY: Twice then. Yeah, that's still part of North America. Thanks, Heath.


 Q. What do you know about China?

BOO WEEKLEY: It's a long ways away. They got the Great Wall of China.

Or...on playing in the World Cup:

Q. Boo?

BOO WEEKLEY: I'm excited to go over there, and like Heath said, it's an honor to represent your country. I wouldn't have gone by myself, though; it's not that I didn't want to represent my country, but I ain't into traveling, especially during hunting season.

Q. What season is it?


Q. It would be deer season if you were at home now?

BOO WEEKLEY: I would have gotten up at 4:30 in the morning, and I'd probably still be in the woods right now.

Preparing for a future as a player architect, no doubt.

Q. How do you get from home to China?

BOO WEEKLEY: The way I got it figured up. We are going to have to fly to Atlanta or Charlotte --
(Cell phone ringing.)

BOO WEEKLEY: Now I got a phone call. How do you turn this thing off --

Q. You can answer it.

BOO WEEKLEY: I think we go to Charlotte or Atlanta, and then somewhere else, and then over.

Q. How long does it take? Did you look?

HEATH SLOCUM: Eighteen hours.

BOO WEEKLEY: I just know --

HEATH SLOCUM: Atlanta to Seoul to Hong Kong, eighteen hours flying time.

Glad it's them and not me!


But The Demos Are Strong!

Jon Show and John Ourand pen a Sports Business Journal story on the Golf Channel's ratings for season one of 15.
Though numerous sources acknowledge that the network did not meet its ratings guarantees to advertisers this season, Golf Channel executives said a majority of its current advertisers already have renewed for next year, with several cutting multiyear deals. In the first of a 15-year deal with the PGA Tour, Golf Channel has aired full coverage of 13 official money events, and early-round coverage of 30 official money events.

“We will deliver on all, or the majority, of our deals by the end of this year,” said Tom Knapp, Golf Channel’s vice president of strategic partnerships. “The PGA Tour and the Golf Channel is no different than any program on CBS, on NBC; it’s a wide array of deals on different demographics and different terms and conditions.”

For the most part, ad buyers contacted by SportsBusiness Journal said they are not concerned about the network’s ratings shortfall, calling it a common situation among networks, and said they are happy with Golf Channel’s upscale demographics.

But Larry Novenstern, executive vice president for media buying agency Optimedia, cautioned that the ratings shortfall could hurt Golf Channel more than it would bigger, over-the-air broadcasters.

“When you get a contract as big as the PGA [Tour], you have to be careful what you wish for,” he said. “When you’re dealing with [ratings of 0.3 and 0.4], it’s different.”

Though they would not get into specifics, network executives said advertisers are renewing at a brisk pace and paying more than they paid last year.

“Last year (buyers) speculated what they would get,” Knapp said. “This year they know what they’re going to get.” Knapp added that some companies that took a wait-and-see approach this year are signing on for 2008, and the network has had “a lot of success” among nonendemic categories such as financial services, luxury cars, pharmaceuticals, technology and consulting.
And they're happy in Ponte Vedra. For the most part.
“We have some ideas on how the Golf Channel and the networks can probably explain (the FedEx Cup) better next year,” he said. “A little more emphasis on our players and profiling them, I think, is the only thing we would look for them to do in addition next year.”
Data provided by Golf Channel shows coverage of events from the season-opener in early January through the Tour Championship in mid-September, which signaled the end of the inaugural FedEx Cup season, delivered 29 percent more 25- to 54-year-old male viewers with income of more than $75,000 than the comparable coverage on USA and ESPN last year, and 21 percent more adult 25-54 viewers in the same income bracket. Comparisons are made on an event-to-event basis.

In each demo, half of the viewers watched the live coverage and half watched the prime-time re-air.
The PGA Tour coverage helped increase year-to-date total viewership on the network by 49 percent over 2006. That includes increases of 44 percent and 42 percent in males 25-54 and adults 25-54, respectively.


No Love For USGA News?

Ryan Ballengee comments on the naming of Jim Vernon as USGA President and notes at the end that the only place he's seen any conjecture about the news was on this very web site.

Now, I know it's not as big a news item as say, the Srixon buys Cleveland deal or Ernie Els skipping the Volvo for a big payday elsewhere or even the recent rule of golf tweaks, but still, it seems odd that not one major online golf publication or newspaper picked up the story.

So is this a product of bad press release timing by the USGA, or simply a statement about how irrelevant the golf media thinks the organization has become?  


"The R&A...strengthens ties with sponsor Rolex"

I don't know, is it me or does this sound tacky: 

For Immediate Publication


Valderrama, Spain, Wednesday 31 October 2007: The R&A, golf’s world rules and development body and organiser of The Open Championship, today publishes revisions to the world’s most widely read rule book, The Rules of Golf, and extends its sponsorship arrangement with Rolex to 2012.

At least the USGA sends out separate releases for their corporate whoring out. Old chaps, do we have to include it in a Rules of Golf related release?

Golf has 34 playing rules and in 2008, 28 have been amended to a greater or lesser extent. All changes are agreed, jointly, by The R&A and the United States Golf Association, and can be characterised as improving clarity or reducing penalties to ensure that they are proportionate. They are effective from 1 January 2008.

Of the more significant changes, the most likely to be encountered by golfers in regular play are: revised Rule 12-2 allowing a player to lift a ball in a bunker or water hazard for identification purposes.  There is a consequential change to Rule 15-3, which introduces a penalty for playing the wrong ball in these circumstances.

This was far more interesting:

Revised Rule 4-1 reduces the penalty for carrying, but not using, a non-conforming club from disqualification to, in stroke play, a penalty of two strokes per hole, with a maximum penalty of four strokes per round.  In match play, the state of the match is adjusted by deducting one hole for each hole at which a breach occurred, with a maximum penalty of two holes per round.

Hmmm...interesting timing! Except, no announcment on a U-groove ban?

Let's get to the important stuff: the corporate partner.

Commenting on Rolex support for The Rules of Golf Head of Sponsorship, Jean-Noel Bioul said:

“The support from Rolex of The R&A Rules of Golf fits perfectly into the overall philosophy and the values Rolex is proud to endorse through its portfolio of golf activities. Golf requires precision, skill and pursuit of excellence. These are qualities which Rolex shares and admires.”

Actually, I got an early draft that was later edited. Here's the first version of Jean's quote:

"Golf requires a lot of money, precision, skill and pursuit of excellence. These are qualities which Rolex shares and admires.”



GHIN Claims A Victim?

Well, victim might be an inappropriate choice considering the golden parachute awaiting now former Merrill Lynch CEO Stanley O'Neal, but several media outlets have noted that the real kicker in his own meltdown was news that he was playing golf as the sub-prime meltdown kicked in and his company faced staggering losses.


Tiger Speaks...

He denies the split-with-Haney rumors and reveals that Sam has already held a club, but it's seven months before she's required to swing it. I know this vital information makes your day, but hey, it's a slow news day.

It appears the Woods web site comments were in response to this John Hawkins column. Of course, Woods could have put this to rest with a stronger answer when he met with the press in Boston. 



"I used to play exhibitions, and the club pro, because he knew the course, had a chance to beat me. There isn't anybody who is going to beat Tiger or Phil or these guys today."

Bill Dwyre talked to Jack Nicklaus during a stop in LA and instead of talking about the golf ball, he elaborated on the widening gap between the elite players and the merely good:
The message was that the game is worldwide, and retaining that popularity is why Nicklaus is concerned about one trend -- the widening gap between the average player and the touring pro. He said the pros can do more with the new equipment -- the longer balls and perimeter-weighted club heads -- and that separates them way too much from Mr. and Ms. 15 handicap.

"For years and years, they weren't that far apart," Nicklaus said. "Today, we've gone exactly the opposite of where we should go. Can you imagine playing against Tiger Woods today, the average club pro trying to compete with him?

"I used to play exhibitions, and the club pro, because he knew the course, had a chance to beat me. There isn't anybody who is going to beat Tiger or Phil or these guys today."

Nicklaus said the average golfer hits it farther now, but the pros hit it so much farther that it has become a different game. They hit it farther, but can control it. Most amateurs can't.

"We lose people when they hit the ball 330 yards and then they can't find it," he said. "If they hit it 230-240, they can find it and keep playing. It speeds up the game."


Vernon As USGA President

As a fellow southern Californian, I know Jim Vernon a bit and frankly I am surprised he was able to ascend to the presidency of the United States Golf Association.


Because he's intelligent, considerate, friendly, passionate about the game, knows his golf history, is an astute observer of golf architecture and appears forward thinking, yet respects the game's past.

All attributes lacking in recent USGA presidents.

He's the perfect guy to right the ship, if it hasn't already sunk yet.

Oh, and note that he waited to have his presidency announced after the USGA's fall executive committee meeting, whereas the previous president prematurely announced his ascention in July of the previous year, rendering the then current president and purported friend a lame duck. So Jim's already got a leg up.


Vernon Named USGA President; McKinney Ties Joe Jemsek's Record For Shortest Executive Committee Stint

vernon_ins.jpgThat enormous cheer New Jersey residents just heard was the staff at Far Hills celebrating news that Jim Vernon is the next president and Walter Driver is now officially a lame duck.

Far Hills, N.J. – James F. Vernon of Pasadena, Calif., has been nominated to serve a one-year term as president of the USGA by the Nominating Committee of the United States Golf Association. The election of officers and the full 15-member USGA Executive Committee will take place Feb. 9, 2008, at the USGA’s Annual Meeting in Houston, Texas.
As president, Vernon, 57, will lead the Association’s professional staff and nearly 1,400 volunteers who serve on more than 30 committees.
He will begin his sixth year as a member of the Executive Committee, a term that has included two years as vice president of the USGA and four years as chairman of the Equipment Standards Committee.
Vernon is a past president of the board of directors of both the Southern California Golf Association and the California Golf Association. He currently serves on the board of directors of the SCGA Foundation. He started his volunteer work with the USGA as a member of the USGA Sectional Affairs Committee in 1998.  He is a member of Lakeside Golf Club in Los Angeles and the Monterey Peninsula Country Club in Pebble Beach, Calif.

Vernon is the owner of Frank Vernon Diamond Brokers and Wholesale Jewelers, a family business that was started under his father’s name more than 50 years ago. The business has its offices in Los Angeles.
Outside of his golf interest, Vernon serves as secretary for the Diamond Club West Coast Inc., a member of the World Federation of Diamond Bourses. He received his undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering and his law degree from Stanford University in 1972 and 1975, respectively.  He practiced law for nine years before resigning from his firm to take over the family diamond business.
“This is an exciting time to become president of the USGA with 226 million page views online during the 2007 U.S. Open,” said Vernon. “Thanks to online and new media, as well as the assistance from our corporate partners, we are aggressively developing innovative ways to interact with all golfers, especially our 950,000 members, as well as the state and regional golf associations, the PGA of America, and all the allied groups that care deeply about this game.

950,000! We're already seeing his sense of humor!


“I look forward to working closely with executive director David Fay and his talented staff to make sure that we continue to conduct the very best championships in golf and to fulfill our responsibilities to establish equipment rules that are based on informed science and facts.”

As for the others...

The other nominated officers of the Executive Committee are: James B. Hyler Jr. of Raleigh, N.C., and Cameron Jay Rains of San Diego, Calif., as vice presidents; Emily R. (Missy) Crisp of Mill Neck, N.Y., as secretary; and Fredric C. Nelson of San Francisco, Calif., as treasurer.
The other seven returning members of the Executive Committee are: Christie Austin of Cherry Hills Village, Colo.; James T. Bunch of Denver, Colo.; Irving Fish of Wayzata, Minn.; John Kim of Farmington, Conn.; William M. Lewis Jr. of New York, N.Y.; Steve Smyers of Lakeland, Fla.; and Geoffrey Yang of Menlo Park, Calif.
Glen Nager, a partner in the Washington, D.C., law firm of Jones, Day, Reavis and Pogue, has been chosen as the Association’s general counsel for a third consecutive year.
There are three new nominations to the Executive Committee for 2008. They are Patricia Kaufman of Fort Washington, Md.; Thomas J. O’Toole of Chesterfield, Mo.; and Bridgid Shanley Lamb of Mendham, N.J.

My beloved USGA sources called to immediately voice their pleasure with the O'Toole and Lamb nominations and knew little about Kaufman:

Kaufman, 63, is a lawyer who has specialized in wills and estates and civil litigation. She serves as legal editor for a national newsletter on corrections law, and she writes for other legal journals as well. Additionally, for more than five years, she has been a science writer for the National Institutes of Health. She holds a law degree from Catholic University (1979) and a Masters of Science in Biology from West Virginia University (1970).
She was a member of the USGA Women’s Committee for six years, through 2007. She served on the U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur Championship Committee, where she was chairman for the past four years, and on the USGA Regional Affairs Committee until 1998.
In addition, she served as president of the Maryland State Golf Association Women’s Division from 1995-1999. She is a long-standing board member of the Women’s District of Columbia Golf Association and the Middle Atlantic Golf Association.
An avid golfer who began playing the sport at age 8, Kaufman has been married for 40 years to husband, Lou, and they have two daughters and five grandchildren.
O’Toole, 50, is a partner in the law firm of Doster Mickes. He specializes in real estate transactions, construction litigation and zoning issues. He received both his undergraduate degree (1979) and law degree (1985) from St. Louis University. A native of St. Louis, O’Toole has been involved with the USGA since 1988.
He has served as a Rules official at more than 100 USGA championships, including every U.S. Open since 1990. He also has been the lead official in conducting more than 120 qualifying rounds for USGA championships. O’Toole has been “certified” as a Rules of Golf expert each year since 1990, and he has been a consulting member of the Rules of Golf Committee since 2004.
In 1992, he founded the Metropolitan Amateur Golf Association, a regional association that serves eastern Missouri and central Illinois. He serves on the executive board of the Association.
Shanley Lamb, 61, retired from her law career in 1984 after having served in both private practice and government positions. She also was active in state and national political campaigns following graduation from Newton College (1969) and Seton Hall University School of Law (1976).
She served on the USGA Women’s Committee for three years, through 2007. She began her USGA service as a member of the U.S. Girls’ Junior Committee in 1995.
Two years earlier, in 1993, Shanley Lamb joined the board of the Women’s Metropolitan Golf Association. She was board president from 1998 to 2000. In 2006, she received the Judy Bell Award for contributions to women’s golf in the metropolitan New York, New Jersey and Connecticut area.
She has competed in one U.S. Girls’ Junior and four USGA Senior Women’s Amateurs. She and her husband, Jim, have three children.

And for the traditional buried lede...

The three current Committee members who will be retiring at the upcoming Annual Meeting are current president Walter W. Driver Jr. of Atlanta, Ga.; Pat McKinney of Charleston, S.C.; and Loren Singletary of Houston, Texas.

McKinney departs after joining last year, dashing hopes for the great state of South Carolina. As for Singletary, no idea who that is. And as for Driver, ah, what can we say but, it's a bright, bright day seeing his name next to "retiring" in a USGA press release.


Marucci's Re-naming As Walker Cup Captain Met With Mixed Apathy

Marucci_Inside_WC_Captain.jpgSuch exciting news I can hardly contain myself. But, Buddy Marucci does bring several key attributes to the job: a willingness to pretend that he likes people like Walter Driver and Fred Ridley, a huge chip on his shoulder and of course, the deep-seeded belief that there is no more important job in the world.

Frankly, I'm much more concerned about him continuing on as Merion's Green Committee chair. He could inflict a lot more damage that way than with some negative influence on the committee's Captain picks.



Golf No Longer The Worst Business In Myrtle Beach

Thanks to reader Scott for catching this Alan Blondin story about the end of the course closing trend in Myrtle Beach thanks to overbuilding and now, the housing market meltdown.

Sixteen area courses closed in 2005 and 2006, all with redevelopment plans that included housing developments.

But as the Beachwood and Azalea Sands owners struggled to gain approval of their jointly proposed planned-unit development and annexation into North Myrtle Beach by City Council, the business climate around them changed.

The rash of course closures has remedied a struggling golf market that had been saturated with layouts, and contributed to the flooding of a housing market that has been burdened with increased listings but slower sales over the past two years.


National homebuilders, who swarmed the area seeking large tracts of land and spurred the fire sale of courses, are no longer knocking on clubhouse doors.

"Builders overbuilt in 2006, and they've cut back," said Tom Maeser, president of the Fortune Academy of Real Estate and market analyst for the Coastal Carolinas Association of Realtors. "We're not seeing a lot of land acquisition right now. It's more selling existing inventory. I don't think we'll see the need for these golf courses being converted."

Where there were going to be up to 2,500 residential units, a town center featuring a regional shopping center, a resort hotel, offices and marina at Beachwood and Azalea Sands, there are now increased golf rounds and profits.

Though paid rounds on the Strand are down 215,000 through the first three quarters of the year compared to 2006 - to 2.69 million rounds according to statistics compiled for marketing cooperative Myrtle Beach Golf Holiday - paid rounds per course are at 31,551, which is the highest since 1999.

Demand has increased and Strand course operators have raised rates nearly across the board in the past two years to further increase profitability.

"We're up like we're accustomed to being in years gone by," Elliott said. "Indications are for the courses that remain in play, the profitability factor is much better."

Boo Is Going To China

131677.jpgCharity was at the heart of the PGA Tour's decision to invite Boo Weekley to represent America in the World Cup, November 19-25.

Can't wait for those interview transcripts where Boo opines on the food, culture and other worldly insights.


Azinger Appears Overwhelmed By Leroy Neiman's Captain's Portrait

Portraits.jpgI know what you're thinking. Leroy Neiman still paints?


He was commissioned by the PGA of America to capture the current Ryder Cup captains for reasons unknown. Azinger could not look more pleased, don't you think?  The look says, "this will look great in my garage right next to the Leroy Neiman African safari prints that the previous owners left behind."

But Azinger won't have to make room for it, charity will be the uh, beneficiary.

The works of art will be auctioned to benefit the Ali Center and The First Tee of Louisville.

The unveiling was held in the LeRoy Neiman Gallery of the Ali Center, which also features Neiman's famed portrait and other images of Ali.

The Ryder Cup Captains' portraits will move to the Cobalt Artworks Gallery nearby on Louisville's Main Street. Both pieces of original art will be auctioned off by public bidding, which will continue until Sept. 17, 2008, when the portraits will be awarded to the highest bidders during the Ryder Cup Gala Dinner.


Ryan Ballengee, prompted by posts here and on Golf Digest about their Panelist Summit, makes several interesting points on the restoration debate, particularly related to Tom Fazio's remarks. Though Ryan loses all credibility when he labels me a Great American but could win some points for the creation of fine new term to describe the Fazio/Jones approach to classic courses: technofitting.


The PGA Tour Really, Really Loves America... much so that they are willing to fight a Scottsdale city variance, all so their new "Superstore" can proudly display the stars and stripes. Peter Corbett reports in the Arizona Republic:

The PGA Tour Superstore plans to seek a variance from the city to allow the stars and stripes - 30 feet by 50 feet - to fly from a 100-foot flagpole, said Paul Rodriguez, district manager for the Atlanta-based company.

The 47,000-square-foot golf and tennis store northwest of Shea Boulevard and Loop 101, opened Oct. 11.

A new Chandler PGA Tour Superstore has a 30-foot-by-50-foot flag on a 100-foot pole, and other stores in the chain have even larger flags on poles of 135 feet.

"With the wind blowing, they are just plain awesome," Rodriguez said. "You can see them from a mile away."

Scottsdale's zoning code limits spires, which includes flagpoles, to no more than 65 feet, said Tim Curtis, a Scottsdale principal planner.


"It's like a glorified club championship."

Bob Harig reports that you can kind of feel the Fall Series dying right before our eyes and offers up some tough comments from Steve Flesch:

Dubbed the Fall Series, the final seven events on the PGA Tour schedule will mercifully come to an end next week in Orlando, where the biggest stories will revolve around players losing their full-time status (despite making $700,000 this year) or secure veterans who try to fit in golf around visits to the Disney theme parks.

"There were 100 people following the final group last Sunday in Scottsdale," said PGA Tour veteran Steve Flesch. "It's like a glorified club championship. I don't think that's what the tour intended. And I think they need to address it."

And this from another reliable mind: 
"It's a slap in the face to some of those events to almost label them B-class events," said Daniel Chopra, who was in contention for his first PGA Tour victory at the weather-plagued Ginn. "Disney's been around for years. Vegas has great history at that event. ... We need to do something because these sponsors are putting up a lot of money, and the tournaments are not getting the respect they deserve."

Harig also explores possible solutions, including one that I remember hearing in the early FedEx Cup chatter: points in the fall counting for the following season.

I've always wondered why that notion died. Seemed like a win-win for the Tour, FedEx and the fall event sponsors. Oh, and those guys the Tour revolves around, the players.