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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
  • 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
  • Professional Golf 2014: The Complete Media, Fan and Fantasy Guide
    Professional Golf 2014: The Complete Media, Fan and Fantasy Guide
    by Daniel Wexler
  • Every Shot Counts: Using the Revolutionary Strokes Gained Approach to Improve Your Golf Performance and Strategy
    Every Shot Counts: Using the Revolutionary Strokes Gained Approach to Improve Your Golf Performance and Strategy
    by Mark Broadie
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
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The caddie in golf occupies a position accorded to the attendants in no other game and paralleled only by the relationship of squire to knight in the lists.
ROBERT BROWNING


    

Thursday
Oct122006

The Sports Guy v. Woods

The prolific Bill Simmons shares some fun stuff from his 10 minutes of videogame time with Tiger.

Thursday
Oct122006

FedEx Cup Fiction?

The ESPN.com "Fact or Fiction" debaters had a hard time taking the stance that stars will turn out more when the FedEx Cup "playoffs" commence. (The two "Fact" presenters threw out the "for at least one year" caveat...quite the endorsement of the concept!)

They did however agree on the concept of a September finish working because golf can't compete with football and the baseball playoffs.

Why is it that no one wants to endorse that idea that golf, like all other sports, simply needs to go away for a month or two so the, uh, product and the uh, consumers can be refreshed?

Wednesday
Oct112006

Long Gone John?

Just 10 of the World Top 50 are teeing it up in Las Vegas. But note John Daly down at 190th on the money list and in the Vegas field (like there was any doubt he'd miss this week!).

I don't believe Daly does not have enough all-time money (76th) to get one of those little one-time exemptions, so barring a big check the next three weeks, the Skins Game may be Long John's tune-up for the Q-School finals.

Wednesday
Oct112006

Golf Digest "Index"

Have you seen the new "Index" magazine published by Golf Digest, with Deutsche Bank CEO Seth Waugh on the cover and Gil Hanse's Boston Golf Club featured prominently?

I'm curious what you think. (Their listed website, GolfDigestIndex.com doesn't seem to work.)

The publication has some nice stuff and a classy design, but it also seems like a wannabe Links Magazine only geared toward the conspicuous consumer who would actually heed Marty Hackel's fashion advice. There was just a bit too much rejected Buddies Issue content, including a Bryant Gumbel-Matt Lauer fashion spread that seemed better suited for The Advocate.

Thomas Friedman's half-hearted interview with Waugh was disappointing because Waugh is a charismatic chap and avid student of the game who deserved to be asked better questions than, "Can you really learn about a person's character by playing golf with him?"

There's a spread on the Top 50 private golf "retreats" (Firestone!?!?!?) and a fascinating piece by Marcia Chambers on a country club hustler.

Anyway, if you haven't seen it, look for it at finer clubs and resorts (I think).

Wednesday
Oct112006

Dismal?

As part of the package of renovation stories, a sidebar review of "different" courses is included. Brad Klein slipped this not-so-glowing review of Dismal River in:

Anytime you open a golf course with a windmill smack in the middle of a hole, you raise some eyebrows. Dismal River, a Jack Nicklaus design in the middle of Nebraska's Sand Hills, did just that, on its par-5 fourth hole, and the windmill looks perfectly natural on what was an old ranch. There are some fine, natural looking holes here, but also some significant tweaks that already are being planned to fix some rough spots, including a partial regrading of three fairways and significant softening of the slopes on a half-dozen greens.

Lest anyone think that rerouting a course out here on such natural terrain is easy, remember that in routing Sand Hills Golf Club, which sits only five miles east of Dismal River, co-designers Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw took two years to settle on a sequence of holes that would work in the wind and that would accommodate the ground game.

Dismal River couldn't be more different, not only in playing character, but also in its overall business model. A 26,000-square-foot clubhouse/lodge looms over the property, and the club includes high-end real estate, spa, bowling alley, corporate outings and an exclusive dining room for founding members.


 

Wednesday
Oct112006

The Renovation Trend

bp56011.jpgBrad Klein writes about the renovation/restoration trend.

If, as hoped, Morrish also gets to redo Las Colinas, he'll get a little meaner with tighter bunker patterns and longer tee shots. He'll do so admitting a little bit of confusion in dealing with distance these days – a problem that confronts all architects.

"I don't even know where to put bunkers anymore," said Morrish. In looking back at his four decades in the business, he sees a continual evolution of distance, and wishes it would come to an end. Forty years ago, when he supervised construction of Spyglass Hill Golf Club, everything in the industry was calculated on the basis of 750 feet (250 yards). When Morrish worked on Muirfield Village in 1972-73, Jack Nicklaus broke new ground by relying on 800 feet as a turn point for doglegs and for bunker placement, and less than a decade later at Castle Pines, a mile high in Colorado, they went to 850 feet. Now, 900 feet is commonplace.

When Pete Dye was redoing his original design at the Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass – Dye calls it "the fifth time he's gotten to rework it" – he settled on 330 yards, which also happens to be the distance Fazio relied upon at Augusta National for the carries required to clear fairway bunkers.

Klein also writes about the wonderful trend of big name architects getting to redo their own work because it was so bad the first time around (wait, wouldn't that be the case with Morrish redoing Las Colinas!?). Anyway, in this story he focuses on Doonbeg and this anecdote gave me a chuckle:
When it opened four years ago, the stunning links-style setting on 377 acres of rugged dunes overlooking Doughmore Bay in southwest Ireland was unrelenting to play and nearly impossible to enjoy. Evidence for that was clear enough in the inaugural match that saw course designer Greg Norman lose seven golf balls while playing against homeland favorite Padraig Harrington.

 

Wednesday
Oct112006

"Players need to bring the spirit back"

Greg Norman continues to pass on the Kool-Aid by daringly pointing out that the pro game is not in the best shape.

"Players need to bring the spirit back," Norman said. "There has always been great players to bring people to the game to lighten it up so that it's not so serious.

"Look at what (Rafael) Nadal has done for tennis because of the way he is, like a boxer. You never hear anyone coming out and saying I want to beat Tiger Woods - I haven't heard that," Norman added. "Nadal comes out and says he wants to beat Roger Federer because he's No 1 and that's great for tennis."

Norman, who has played little golf - and watched even less - since making his senior's tour debut last year, also said the technology used in making golf clubs should be reserved for amateurs only.

"I have a problem with someone winning a golf tournament without using a driver," Norman said. "The game has always been dominated by power-hitter players, but today you can't tell the difference between the players because of the technology."

 

Tuesday
Oct102006

It Would Have Been Such A Good Resolution Too...

Check out this Deadspin post* on a proposed Congressional resolution celebrating 90 years of the PGA of America (and no, it's not the PGA Tour as Deadspin and another blogger make the amazingly frequent mistake of confusing the two).

But more importantly, check out who was sponsoring the bill. Key word: was.

*Corrected link.
 

Tuesday
Oct102006

Silverman on Yardage Books

If you enjoyed my column on scorecards, then check out Jeff Silverman's WSJ take on yardage books.

But yardage books have personality, and every one is different. While they're all designed to fit in a back pocket, some open like novels, while others flip like a steno pad. Some have fancy covers with alluring photos and computer-enhanced 3-D depictions of each hole; others employ line drawings that are a short step up from finger paints.

Tuesday
Oct102006

Another Great CBS Move

CBS adds Ian Baker-Finch...wouldn't he be great on Amen Corner? Or 17 at Augusta, with Oosty moving to 12 and 13.

This just can't be good news for Bobby Clampett. 

Tuesday
Oct102006

Club Corp Sold

KSL is the buyer, but they don't get Pinehurst, which stays with the Dedman family.

Tuesday
Oct102006

Dis Be DLIII

During his post third round press conference at Greensboro, Davis Love tried to share some interesting thoughts on design. Unfortunately, the ASAP person handling the transcript had trouble finding their comma key (amongst other transcription issues):

And, you know, I think we knew what the golf course looked like, we knew the old style and, you know, we liked the kind of the Chicago golf club, that kind of style green and we thought it would fit very well here and give the members a chance to get the ball to run up on to the greens.

You can kind of tell the downhill balls the ball runs on to the green, uphill holes little bit of false fronts. Very, very traditional.

Somebody like Lee Jantzen who is studying old golf courses comes up and talks to me about them all the time. If you appreciate some of the old Master kind of things, there's like that goofy No. 2 green, there's some designers that put a green like that on every course they built and, you know, we didn't do a punch bowl and didn't do a "Rhodan" but we did really old style greens and I think the members like it especially if the rough is a little bit lower than it is right now, they have a lot of fun playing it.

Reading his words after they've been run through the Ali G translator (when do we get a Borat version!?), I think you'll find that he actually makes a little more sense.

and, yous know, i think we knew wot da golf course looked dig, we knew da batty style and, yous know, we liked da kind of da chicago golf cukabilly, dat kind of style greun and we thought it would fit well well in da house and borrow da members a chance to get da ball to run up on to da greens.you can kind of tell da downhill mr biggies da ball runs on to da greun, uphill battys little bit of false fronts. well, well traditional.
somebody dig lee jantzun who is angin batty golf courses comes up and natters to me about them all da time. if yous appreciate some of da batty masta kind of fings, there's dig dat goofy no. 2 greun, there's some designers dat put a greun dig dat on every course dey built and, yous know, we didn't do a punch bowl and didn't do a "rhodan" but we did for real batty style greens and i think da members dig it for real if da rough is a little bit lowa than it is right now, dey ave a lot of wicked playin it.

 

Tuesday
Oct102006

Simplify, Simplify

My latest Golfdom column on scorecards is now posted.

Monday
Oct092006

Champions Record!

From Golfonline:

Ponte Vedra Beach, FL (Sports Network) - On the Champions Tour next year, players will be competing for an average prize purse of $1.86 million -- a record-high in the senior circuit's 27th year.

Announced on Monday, the 2007 schedule features 29 official Charles Schwab Cup events worth a combined $54 million. Twenty-four of those tournaments have commitments extending at least through the 2008 season.

"The Champions Tour has made great strides working with our tournaments and title sponsors to strengthen our sponsorship foundation, the courses we play and the look, feel and dates of our tournaments," said tour president Rick George.

"As a result, we hope to add spectators in 2007 to take the look and feel of our events to a new level."
Oops, sorry, don't know how that last quote slipped in. Here's his actual carefully sculpted line...
"As a result, we feel the 2007 schedule is one of the strongest in the history of this tour and that we are well positioned for the next few years."
Monday
Oct092006

"College golf eats its young"

Gary Van Sickle looks at the best under-30 American golfers, and notes:

College golf eats its young in the U.S. Coaches aren't eager for their players to make big changes to improve -- they need a good finish at next week's tournament. And since the college season almost never ends -- September to mid-November, February to June -- there isn't time to worry about long-term goals. It's all about next week's or next month's tournament.

In Australia, regional sports institutes do just the opposite. They provide coaching -- mental and physical -- and nutrition and conditioning and competition. It's all about building better athletes. The result is, Australia is flooding golf with far more top-level players than a country of its size has any right to produce. American players need more resources and more down-time to focus on getting better for the long run.

Now, American collegiate golfers are playing quality events on decent courses, while also competing prior to those events through team qualifiers. They get free equipment. Most are following conditioning programs laid out by school trainers.

Meanwhile, international players are still populating the college ranks, with Paul Casey and to a lesser extent, Camillo Villegas having breakout years after U.S. college golf careers.

But does Van Sickle have a point about the long term approach issue? After all, this is a short term, instant gratification culture.

I still contend that the international players are more imaginative and talented all-around players because they've been exposed to a variety of designs and course setups.

Thoughts?

Monday
Oct092006

PGA Tour Driving Distance Watch, Week 38

pgatour.jpgThe PGA Tour driving distance average dropped from 289.6 yards to 289.2 after the cold and wet Greensboro event.

A few have emailed asking about these big shifts in recent weeks. You've wondered how there could be such big jumps or dips this late in the season, but do keep in mind that besides the impact of some extreme weather lately, there is also fluctuation week-to-week thanks to the number of players eligible for the season average.

Monday
Oct092006

GolfChix Appearance

golfchix.jpgI appear on this week's GolfChix radio show, which airs on Sirius satellite radio and for one week online. Just click on this link, and hit "Listen," then go to "this week's show."

When the little ipod-like device opens, click on segment 2 if you only want to hear yours truly talk about various issues of the day, though the rest of the show is pretty lively too.

Sunday
Oct082006

Amateurs On Sunday

Andrew Baker moans in the Telegraph about amateurs at the Dunhill Cup.
The cut is never kind, and at the Dunhill Links Championship it is crueller than at many more ordinary tournament. For here, the final day at St Andrews is reserved not just for the most proficient professionals, but also the most accomplished amateurs.

So, farewell then to Darren Clarke, Colin Montgomerie, and David Howell. But goodbye also to the Michael Douglas, Hugh Grant and rowing knights Pinsent and Redgrave.

This rower dude Pinsent penned a nice, albeit metaphorically challenged Times op-ed piece on St. Andrews and the Dunhill Cup.

Sunday
Oct082006

"I never felt that golf was something that should be sung about"

That's our pal Lloyd Cole, in a Telegraph profile discussing his new album.

Clearly Lloyd has not downloaded anything from John Daly's, uh, body of work.

It would be hard to imagine a better place to rubbish youth taste, and talk to Cole about his 14th collection of catchy-clever, grown-up songs, than Roehampton Golf Course. A regular player with a handicap of five, Cole has decided to commence a day of promotional activity with a swift nine holes.

As we drive off at the first, he explains that the sport he calls "my only hobby" has taught him a lot. The character needed to negotiate your way out of the rough is the same, he finds, as that required to improvise patter on stage when you're touring solo, as he has been, on and off, for most of the 21st century.

As he maintains a steady par through to the long and winding sixth hole, it turns out that Cole knows as much about the history of golf-course design – via an online discussion group – as he does about obscure krautrock bands.

These days, his social life revolves around fellow members of the local club at Easthampton, West Massachusetts, where he lives with his wife and two sons. His American buddies "have nothing to do with the arts. They're closer to blue collar than white collar and they couldn't give a shit what I do for a living." Disdaining the folderol of stardom, these are the sort of people Cole has hung out with ever since he moved to New York after the Commotions split up in 1988.
Golf has actually loomed large in his life for most of the past 45 years. Cole's parents managed golf clubs all over the UK. Buxton in Derbyshire was where he grew up before the family re-located to the Home Counties and then moved to Scotland. It was while Lloyd was studying English and Philosophy at nearby Glasgow University in the early 1980s that the band he had formed with a bunch of fellow students took off.

Around the time that he should have been finishing an honours degree, Cole released a modern classic with the Commotions – the album Rattlesnakes (1984) – and was being feted all over Europe as Scotland's answer to Lou Reed.
The new album tackles a range of middle-aged concerns from neo-con economics (Young Idealists) to how chat-up procedures alter as you get older (Woman in a Bar) and ends with a track called Rolodex Incident. The title track – a jokey number recounting the insecurities of a boy who works in Starbucks – was partly suggested by the death of his friend and sometime collaborator, the guitarist Robert Quine, who developed a lethal fondness for mixing anti-depressants and booze.

One of the few adult activities that Cole hasn't worked into any of his lyrics is now ending with a tricky putt on the ninth. "I never felt that golf was something that should be sung about," he says, sinking an impressive five-yarder.

Saturday
Oct072006

"They kill off imagination. There is only one shot."

John Huggan profiles Jose Maria Olazabal, who goes off an enjoyable rant about the state of course setup in America:
Now competing basically full-time in the US, the Dunhill represents for Ollie a rare opportunity to escape the seemingly-endless tedium of life on the PGA Tour. Never a fan of American culture, the proud Basque, one of golf's most accomplished shot-makers inside 150 yards from the hole, is increasingly frustrated by the on-course sameness that he endures almost every week.

"What I don't like is that there is less artistry in the game now," he sighs. "And the set-up of the courses contributes to that. When you have rough that is five inches high, not even a magician can create shots.

"I do believe players still have the skill. They can shape the shots, hit them high or low. But we don't find ourselves in situations where creativity is encouraged. As technology has advanced, players have hit more and more fairways, so the courses have adjusted. One seems to have led to the other, in an attempt to keep scores up.

"Now we have rough right up to the edge of the green. There is no imagination in that. All the long grass hurts people like me. I don't mind rough off the tee so much; there should be a penalty for being in the wrong place. But around the greens, it is silly. You can hit a shot to 15 feet from the hole and be just off the green, and another guy can hit to 45 feet, but on the green. He has the better chance. That is not right.

"They kill off imagination. There is only one shot. You don't have to think. Miss the green? Give me the 60-degree wedge, and I'll flop it up there. All the touch and finesse is gone.

"The great sadness is that you can make courses just as difficult - and so much more interesting - without any rough. And there is no need to have courses that are 7,500 yards long. I look at guys like Justin Leonard and Corey Pavin and wonder how they can compete most weeks. I'm not sure we are on the right path. Courses are getting longer and longer, and we see fewer and fewer where length is not the biggest factor in success. Which doesn't make it fair for everyone."