Twitter: GeoffShac
Writing And Videos
  • Tommy's Honor: The Story of Old Tom Morris and Young Tom Morris, Golf's Founding Father and Son
    Tommy's Honor: The Story of Old Tom Morris and Young Tom Morris, Golf's Founding Father and Son
    by Kevin Cook
  • His Ownself: A Semi-Memoir (Anchor Sports)
    His Ownself: A Semi-Memoir (Anchor Sports)
    by Dan Jenkins
  • Players: The Story of Sports and Money, and the Visionaries Who Fought to Create a Revolution
    Players: The Story of Sports and Money, and the Visionaries Who Fought to Create a Revolution
    by Matthew Futterman

Almost without exception the old seaside rabbitty turf has disappeared and been replaced by grasses entirely unsuitable for golf. The turf near the clubhouse is usually worse than that farther away as on most seaside links there still remain a few rabbits on the outskirts of the course.



"I enjoy playing where single-digits is a good winning score."

Carlos Monarrez wonders if the post-Buick Tiger will return to Warwick Hills (no!) and points out this comment from a few years ago:

After Woods' last Buick victory, he said he liked the traditional tree-lined layout at Warwick Hills and how it set up for his game. But Woods also admitted he was not a fan of the low-scoring nature of the event.

"As far as enjoying this type of golf tournament, no, it's not my favorite," Woods said then. "If you look at my tournament schedule, I usually don't play events that are like this. I enjoy playing where single-digits is a good winning score. ... Here, you will get run over with spike marks all over your back."

I wonder if such a remark about single-digits drove the PGA Tour to accentuate the higher-rough, old school U.S. Open course setup mentality?

Naw...not possible.


"A suspected robber wearing underwear on his head to hide his identity was chased down Monday afternoon by customers in a golf cart..."

Erin Alberty, reporting for the Salt Lake Tribune...

The 48-year-old is suspected of approaching a clerk at Golf in the Round (600 W. 3300 South), demanding money and threatening the clerk with a 10-inch butcher knife, police wrote in a statement.

The clerk noticed the man was wearing men's underwear as a mask and replied, "You gotta be kidding," police wrote. When the robber moved forward with the knife, the clerk tried to wrest it away. The blade broke off, and the robber left the store and ran across the driving range, police wrote.

The clerk, whose hands were cut in the struggle, alerted customers to the robbery, police said. The customers used a golf cart to chase the man and keep him from escaping until officers arrived, police wrote.

The man was booked into jail.


"A source of mirth in some circles because Woods is reported to drive a Porsche."

A few interesting bits regarding the Tiger/Buick break up, starting with some added information in Greg Bensinger and Michael Buteau's original Bloomberg story.

Sales of Buick vehicles in the U.S. plunged 58 percent to 185,791 units from 1999 to 2007, more than any other GM brand in the period. Sales of the 105-year-old Buick brand peaked in 1984 at 941,611, according to trade publication Automotive News.

The median age of new Buick retail buyers in 2008 was 68 in the U.S., the same as in 1997, said Alexander Edwards, head of the auto research division at the San Diego-based firm. Only about 1 percent of the Buicks sold at retail in 1997 went to consumers 34 or younger, and that share fell to less than half a percent for those sold in 2008, Edwards said.

Lawrence Donegan writing in the Guardian, reminds us that Stevie's going to be carrying a new bag next year.

The deal between GM and Woods, said to be worth more than $10m (£6.6m) a year to the golfer, had endured for almost a decade and become one of the most visible sponsorship arrangements in sport, not least because Woods' golf bag had been transformed into an advertisement for Buick, one of the carmaker's brands.

As part of the deal, the world No1 also took part in television commercials for the budget-priced range of cars - a source of mirth in some circles because Woods is reported to drive a Porsche.

Yes, the PGA Tour has signed deals with every one of its sponsors through at least 2010 -- including the two tournaments sponsored by Buick. But there is far more to these events than the title sponsor, which help put up funds for the purse and get the events on television.

Thankfully, Doug Ferguson says Steiney is on the case.

Steinberg said he would ``expect there to be some exposure on the bag'' when Woods next plays.

``I've got a few ideas, and we're in the process of working through that,'' he said.

And Bob Harig sees this is a bad sign for the PGA Tour:

The actual running of the tournaments is left to local organizing bodies, most of them non-profit organizations that solicit dozens if not hundreds of lower-level sponsorships and must rely on a horde of volunteers to even exist.

While it is not the $7 million or so necessary to be a title sponsor, big money -- often six-figure fees -- is spent on hospitality tents or corporate chalets. Doesn't it seem logical that these companies would cut back, too?


"I guess he's a walking train wreck and, unfortunately, people turn their heads to watch the train wreck."

Martin Blake reports that Stuart Appleby is excited about John Daly getting an invite to the Australian Masters field this week.

As the 42-year-old Daly arrived in Melbourne yesterday for the $1.5 million tournament at Huntingdale, Appleby expressed regret that the two-time major championship winner had become far more famous for his off-course antics than any prowess on the fairways.

"That [image] has got to the stage now where that is who John Daly is, unfortunately," he said. "His game hasn't been to the level he wants it, and the sponsors have seen fit to see John Daly [play]. Unfortunately, there's a million guys who hit it as long as John Daly now. Very few, I guess, make it look as effortless as John does, but I don't think John's here because of his world ranking [788].

"I'm not quite sure how that works. I guess he's a walking train wreck and, unfortunately, people turn their heads to watch the train wreck."


“He expressed an interest in growing his own Tiger brand and we have been looking for marketing savings.”

According to this Marketwatch story the timing is "coincidental," but as Bloomberg's Greg Bensinger reports, the Tiger-GM split obviously comes at a time when the car company needs to save money to fuel its fleet of private executive jets. Thanks to readers Adam and Chuck for the heads up.

Woods, 32, endorsed GM products including the Buick brand for the past 9 years, Pete Ternes, a spokesman for the Detroit- based automaker, said today. The golfer had been under contract through 2009.

“We began speaking with Woods earlier this year,” Ternes said in an interview. “He expressed an interest in growing his own Tiger brand and we have been looking for marketing savings.”

The announcement comes as GM seeks to cut marketing expenses by 20 percent in the U.S. A weakening U.S. economy that’s taken a toll on auto sales is prompting GM’s Chevrolet brand to “significantly” reduce spending on sports sponsorships, the company said last month.

Woods’s agent, Mark Steinberg, wouldn’t comment on the golfer’s future endorsements. “We’ve put together a plan, but it’s nothing that I’m going to discuss at this time,” Steinberg said in a telephone interview.

Not to worry, I'm sure Tiger will always return to Warwick Hills out of his love for the spending time studying Michigan's finest architecture.

Here's the early Golfweek take on the split.


"USGA officials did not respond to e-mailed questions or a request for an interview."

Thanks to reader Mike for Eleanor Yang Su and Brent Schrotenboer's breakdown of U.S. Open expenses for the City of San Diego. Total tab according to the San Diego Union-Tribune: $10.7 million, with $9 million recouped through tax revenue and reimbursements.

The $1.7 million difference stems in part from a series of decisions the city made early on. They ranged from giving up the ability to negotiate directly with the United States Golf Association for the tournament contract, to spending more than its obligations for the event, to not bidding construction jobs that resulted in dramatic cost overruns.

At least someone is willing to acknowledge reality:

Mark Woodward, who headed San Diego's U.S. Open preparations, said the city “did exactly what it needed to do” in spending about $8 million upgrading the Torrey Pines Golf Course before the tournament.

Woodward pointed out that San Diego's golf courses are self-supported, so golf user fees, not city general fund money, paid for the course improvements.

Woodward made no apologies for the costs, but he acknowledged the city could have negotiated a better deal.

For the 2002 U.S. Open, the only other time a public course hosted the tournament, the USGA paid more than $2.7 million to renovate the Black course at Bethpage State Park in Farmingdale, N.Y.

“This event was a huge success. It put San Diego on the world map,” said Woodward, who now serves as CEO of the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America. “Could we have gotten a better contract in 2001? Probably so. But the fact is we didn't.”

Now, let's get to the good stuff. Contractor gouging!

The documents never mentioned whose responsibility the bills would be. Despite the fact that the city's agreement stated it would pay for turf and landscaping work, and not “architectural or permanent structural changes,” the city ended up covering most requests.

Maddern said the city paid more because it failed to properly maintain the 51-year-old course after the major renovation in 2001.

The city hired Nebraska-based Kubly Golf Course Construction to fulfill many of the USGA's requests.

Two elements made Kubly's work unusual: It did not bid against others for the city's contracts, and its change orders inflated the original contract amounts by 38 percent, to $2.3 million.

Got to love those change orders.

Also accompanying the piece is a "Behind The Story" sidebar explaing how Yang Su and Schrotenboer went about their investigation.

The San Diego Union-Tribune submitted more than a dozen public record requests to the city of San Diego, seeking contracts, purchase orders, correspondence, budgets and other documents related to the U.S. Open.In the past five months, city officials provided more than 1,000 documents.

The newspaper also asked for a financial accounting from the Friends of Torrey Pines, a tournament co-host. The group provided the accounting five months after the newspaper's request.

Figures in the story and graphic are based on the records, as well as estimates and calculations provided by city staff.

And the USGA, a non-profit with seemingly nothing to hide? From the main story:

USGA officials did not respond to e-mailed questions or a request for an interview.

Well, I guess the positive news there is that they are holding out to better prepare for the next negotiation.

Another sidebar lists costs. The golf course work sure sounds like a bargain compared to the parking lot. Really, how can a parking lot cost $3.27 million? I parked in it many times. It's a nice lot, but not in my top 100 Parking Lots in America.

Torrey Pines Golf Course improvements

South Course improvements: $2,431,244
Reimbursement to Friends of Torrey Pines: $950,000
New parking lot*: $3,270,000
Clubhouse maintenance*: $520,438
Storage facility for maintenance equipment (half the project cost attributed to the Open)*: $320,000
Improvements to concession stand and restrooms*: $175,467
New facility to wash mowing and other equipment (half the cost attributed to the Open)*: $60,000
Storage bins and area to mix sand and seeds. (half the cost attributed to the Open)*: $60,000


NY Times Flash: Viagra May Be Performance Enhancing...

...well, in ways you didn't know about. For athletes. In competition. Looking for an edge.

Ah...forget it. Here's what you need to know: Viagra may be headed for the WADA banned substance list. A development that could make the economic crisis look like small potatoes for the future well being of the Champions Tour. Shoot, from what I hear about some young guns' love for the little purple pills, the PGA and European Tours too!

Jere Longman writing for the New York Times explains how the effects of Viagra are being tested on athletes and the prognosis for the future.

Anne L. Friedlander, an author of the 2006 Stanford study, said that she expected Viagra would be banned for sports use. But, she noted, it does not benefit everyone. Only 4 of the 10 participants in her study responded to the drug. And Viagra merely elevated the performance of those four to the level of other participants less affected by altitude, rather than enhancing performance beyond normal, the way steroids do, Dr. Friedlander said.

Merely elevated? I wonder if the editors debated the use of the word elevated?

“That’s something to think about,” she said.

Well thank you. Oh, you meant...

Whether Viagra is allowed or prohibited, it remains illegal for athletes to use prescription medication not ordered for them, Mr. Tygart of Usada said.

That'll set 'em straight. Wait, that didn't come out the way I had hoped. Okay that's enough boner-pill humor for one week.


“Me too, but I try.”

Watching the ADT today I couldn't help but think what a great event it must be for the LPGAers. You get a week in sunny and warm Florida, The Donald throws a swank party for you to give out some awards and then you play a wild format with a very unique pairings event on Saturday afternoon that shows off player personalities and adds a fun twist to the whole affair.

So glad we're getting rid of that!

Well the finale was exciting and the winner can put the money to good use, which just makes it that much more satisfying for a fan. Beth Ann Baldry writing for Golfweek about winner Ji-Yai Shin and her lucky looper:

Shin’s caddie for the year, Dean Herden, decided he didn’t want to make the trip from his home in Australia to West Palm Beach. (He must be kicking himself.)

Herden got the job earlier this year thanks to Rick Kropf. The longtime looper worked for Shin five times last year, but when Shin asked him to caddie in 2008, he had already made a commitment to Louise Friberg. Kropf recommended Herden to Shin, and this week, “Dean was nice enough to pay back the favor.”

Kropf, a local resident, told Herden that if Shin won this week he’d buy dinner – in Australia. After this ADT paycheck, easily the biggest of his life, consider Kropf’s bags packed.

As for Shin, she’ll use a good chunk of her earnings to buy a house in the U.S. The smiley Shin should get along fine wherever she chooses to live. Her English has improved immensely with Herden on her bag, so much so that she didn’t even use an interpreter in the press room.

“Many Korean players worry – (they) speak good English – but worry (about) mistakes,” Shin said. “Me too, but I try.”


Working With A Jail Cell Tip, Daly Fires 62

John, so funny you should be here wearing an orange jumpsuit, I've been watching you for weeks now and the clubface looks a tad shut at the top, you should just...ah well, it didn't got down like that. Looks like Long John  got to a country where there are no Hooters, meaning his booze isn't paid for.


Golf Architecture Magazine Issue 11 Is Out

You can order it here. I have a piece in the current issue about finishing holes. 

I also believe there's an interview with Geoff Ogilvy by John Huggan, and the usual mix of articles and photos you can't get anywhere else.


And Then There Were Eight...One Last Time

Greg Stoda reports on Paula Creamer's gutsy effort and the eight players remaining for Sunday's last-ever ADT chase for $1 million. (That's right, I have no hope that it'll be resurrected as part of a season opening event.)

One day, eight players, $1 million. Not as simple to explain as the FedEx Cup, of course. But it'll do.

Annika Sorenstam and Lorena Ochoa - the ADT's main attractions - were cut after two rounds.

"That's the danger of the format," said an LPGA Tour official.

The field includes Suzann Pettersen (68), Angela Stanford (69), Creamer and Seon Hwa Lee (70s), Ji-Yai Shin and Joeng Jang (71s) and Karrie Webb and Eun-Hee Ji (72s). Webb and Ji pushed into the final round by getting through a playoff when Sun Young Yoo three-putted to bogey the first extra hole.

Creamer long since had become the big news of the day.

"I didn't know if I was going to get out of bed Friday morning," she said. "I think the last two days, my warmup has been about 30 minutes, which is normally about an hour-and-a-half. I've cut down trying to conserve energy."

Seriously, how many fewer people will watch tomorrow because Annika and Lorena are not there?


"Golf is their passion, it's what they do, it's central to their lives"

A couple of points from John Paul Newport's Saturday WSJ column on the possible parallels between the 1929 market crash and today.

For golf, the 1920s were a Golden Age, headlined by a boom in new courses and the hero-worship of Bobby Jones. The 1990s into the early 2000s has often been called golf's second Golden Age, epitomized by another explosion of new courses and the glamour of Tiger Woods. Most golf histories depict the 1930s as a bleak and uneventful period: Mr. Jones retired from competition in 1930 after winning the Grand Slam, and golf clubs by the hundreds were boarded up. But the era actually was transformative, says Rand Jerris, director of the U.S. Golf Association Museum in New Jersey.

"This was the period during which golf became acceptable to a much wider range of people," he says. Many of those defunct private clubs reopened as public ones. The Works Progress Administration built more than 100 new golf courses nationwide, opening up the game to thousands. Women, forced by circumstances to work outside the home, took up the game in unprecedented numbers. And the professional tour, though it struggled financially, began to establish itself in the public imagination as charismatic pros like Walter Hagen and Byron Nelson stole the limelight from the blue-blood amateurs, like Mr. Jones, who had dominated golf until then. When golf blossomed again after World War II, it was a different game.

But if you were thinking there's no room to grow, I suppose there is merit in these numbers. Still, it'd be nice for golf to use this slump to address a few weaknesses (as Newport notes later on in the column):

Golf through the last few downturns has fared relatively well. "It isn't recession proof, but neither does it have those 20% or 30% peaks and valleys that some other industries have," says Tom Stine, a co-founder of Golf Datatech, a leading industry statistic-keeper. Golf rounds played this year were down 1.4% through September, the latest month for which data are available, and retail spending on equipment was down 3.4%, according to Golf Datatech. "That's down, but it's not that bad," Mr. Stine said.

The game's resistance to economic swings is rooted in the avidity of its core players, who number (depending on the definition applied) from eight million to 12 million, out of 29.5 million U.S. golfers total, according to the National Golf Foundation. "Golf is their passion, it's what they do, it's central to their lives," Mr. Stine says. They don't stop playing.


Annika: Don't Let The Drug Testing Trailer Door Hit You On The Way To Retirement

Beth Ann Baldry sums up Annika Sorenstam's surreal LPGA farewell:

It will be impossible for those in attendance Friday to forget how one of the LPGA’s greatest players ended her career. It was disappointing that several seats behind the 18th green were empty when she doffed her cap. It was emotional when she talked about how the urge to cry sat in her throat all week long. It was both comical and crazy to hear her spend several minutes of her final interview talking about an upcoming drug test.

Steve Elling explains what happened and offers this on the need to test the retiree two weeks after another test.

"I have no idea, but they're not going to let me go," she said, forcing a laugh. "Yeah, I guess you get tested every other week now."

Another 20 minutes later, she hadn't cooled off. As she packed up her SUV for the drive home, she pointed at the portable testing center and said with a dismissing wave, "I sat in that beautiful trailer."

Jill Pilgrim, the LPGA administrator who handles the testing, said the organization has no choice but to screen any player whose number comes up -- otherwise the whole process becomes tainted if exceptions are granted.

"At the end of the day, if the LPGA does not follow the protocol, and we are brought into litigation or arbitration, we will be liable for not following the protocol," she said. "We follow the protocol because we want to keep everything fair for every player.

"That's the way you keep it fair. The procedures don't vary because of any particular set of circumstances."

Even for an organization known for making head-shaking decisions over the years, this ranks at the bottom of the latrine in terms of asinine, idiotic developments. After 15 memorable seasons in which she often carried the tour on her capable back, Sorenstam isn't playing next year, making the whole testing issue decidedly moot.

Ron Sirak writes:

Still, it's hard to imagine any LPGA player would have complained if Sorenstam had been allowed to slide in her last event. What were they going to do is she failed? Suspend her retirement?

And if you choose to remember her career in a more positive light, Larry Dorman files a lovely career send off for the New York Times. And offers this shrine to the great one's epic career.


Life Images: The Jones Clan

From the Life Magazine collection now on Google, The Jones clan...Rees, Bobby and Trent Sr.


Working Around The NFL: A Good Idea?

A couple of items posted today remind us just how determined the PGA and LPGA Tour's are to work around the NFL season. And looking at the FedEx Cup after two years and the latest LPGA plans, it seems that the desire to work around the NFL has led the tours in a negative direction.

Consider this from Steve Elling, writing about the LPGA's disastrous dismantling of the ADT Championship and desire to move the $1 million first prize event to the season opening slot, all because it's running up against the NFL.

If there is a silver lining, a sliver of hope, it's that there are no plans to overhaul the whacky format, Bivens said. She even has a dream time frame in mind, if it can be negotiated with TV and the new title sponsor.

"Ideally, I like that weekend between the (NFL) league championship games and the Super Bowl," Bivens said.

That certain sports gorilla with the oblong ball is one reason she wants the ADT relocated to a less-congested part of the year. Even given its increasing momentum, Bivens felt the tournament was underappreciated and overshadowed. The PGA Tour season is over, and there's no competition for viewing eyeballs on that front, but still.

"The NFL is the property and you cannot compete," Bivens said.

Golf doesn't compete with many major sports in the ratings department anyway, so why dismantle an event that had a quality sponsor, unique season ending format and solid host course with a supportive host in Donald Trump?

Okay, I understand that the LPGA is tired of underwriting television production costs and all that good stuff about equity for the players, but is this really the time to be taking such risks with one of your proven events?

The more nuanced dilemma involves the PGA Tour and the decision to create the FedEx Cup so that the season ended earlier and gets out of the way of football. Nearly every observer now concedes that Tim Finchem's vision was well-intentioned but severely blurred, because golf's "playoffs" run up against season-opening college and NFL games when optimism and interest is highest. Instead of say, now when the mid-season blues are kicking in.

Check out Cameron Morfit's Q&A with Steve Flesch on the FedEx Cup. Morfit clearly isn't buying the direction the tour is headed and neither is Flesch, though as a PAC member he half-heartedly tries to defend the idea of a points system and that all-important, buzz-killing obsession of the tour to "protect" the season points leaders at the expense of a true playoff. But even more interesting was Flesch's stance on the FedEx Cup schedule and the playoff dates failure to deliver audiences.

People are starved for football that time of year, whether it's college or pro. The Tour moved it up to accommodate Tiger and Phil, who wanted the year to end earlier, but now we see that they're taking the chance to go abroad and collect appearance fees in Europe and Asia and wherever. So we're like, did we really achieve what we wanted here? Because now they're just going abroad and playing, so they're really not shutting down their year like they said they were going to. Last year Tiger played six of seven weeks in a row including his tournament right before Christmas, whereas during the year, during the regular Tour, he never plays more than two [straight weeks]. Then we threw the off-week in this year, which I don't think was very popular except with people playing in the Ryder Cup.

And Flesch offers this wise solution, which would seem to counter one of Tim Finchem's main rationale's behind the cup structure (and therefore, makes it dead on arrival).

SF: I think if you don't see Tiger or Phil for a couple weeks after the PGA, you let football start and run its course for a couple weeks. God help me I'm a Bengals fan, living in Cincinnati, and I'm jacked up to watch 'em play the first couple weeks. But when they're 0-3 and 0-4 I'm back to watching golf in October or early November. So August, September, you let the hype of pro and college football die down. That's our big problem and I don't know why we battle that.

Neither do I.


Life Images: The King

Check out these John Dominis images of Arnold Palmer from the Life archives now on Google (and available for purchase):


Colorado GC Gets "Oldest Senior Major"

And it would seem well positioned for a PGA Championship not too long after. Of course, when they play the Senior PGA in May, thunderstorms aren't the problem they are in August.


Google Adds Life Magazine Images

Google has added images from the Life Magazine archives, 97% of which has never been seen according to this article. If you are looking to kill a little time, here's the direct link to all images related to golf where I spotted some classic images, including many of the Hogan-Snead playoff at Riviera in 1950.

Another...only Hogan could make club selection compelling. I do believe that is a very bizarre lay-up on No. 10.

Here's another Hogan at Augusta. Look at that bunker edge...

Speaking of Augusta, here is a shot of the old 12th green much closer to MacKenzie's original boomerang, contoured surface that I've only seen one other good shot of. Look how much it's sloped toward the tee! Surface drainage was a beautiful thing Trent! Nice job taking the character right out of that green.

Here's Pine Valley's 6th hole back when it was really sandy and rugged.

And finally, check out this of Ike practicing golf at the White House:


Bivens On Crutches; Writers Revel In The Metaphoric Possibilities

Beth Ann Baldry reports on the standing-room only setup at LPGA Commish Bivens' state of the tour address. Considering how few golf writers are left, that must be one tiny interview room.

Baldry also featured this quote addressing the absurdity of starting the season with a million dollar first place prize event.

“Whoever ends up winning the first event is 99.9 percent guaranteed to be in the top 10 on the money list,” said Christina Kim. “They could play that one event and be like, peace for the entire year, go to Aruba or something.”

Jay Coffin gives Bivens a rave review and pounces on the crutches metaphor.

Larry Dorman shares a few Bivens quotes not in the transcript.

Steve Elling wonders how you can have a pro golf tour not playing in Florida.

Next year, South Florida will be without an event for the first time this decade. At this stage, after the contract for the Ginn Open in Orlando expires in April, the entire state will be without an event in 2010. Eleven events next year are overseas, scattered in nine different countries, many of them in Asia, which remains a strong market.

"In this economy," she said, "it's like having a balanced portfolio."

Yeah, that's what we savvy investors thought our 401(k) mutual-fund accounts assured us, right? Even the Asian markets, which produce one of the tour's top revenue streams, are wobbling. Bivens bemoaned the fact that even abroad, the trickle-down effect of the U.S. economy is already being felt with full force.

Randell Mell reports that The Donald hints at talks resuming with ADT about salvaging the event. But it still would be in the opening season slot...

Some good news for Bivens: no photographer seems to have captured her limping into the session. The brand remains strong!


Brand Lady Goes Entire Gabfest Without Saying Brand; But She Does Drop A Value Proposition

The Value Proposition Lady? How am I supposed to work with that?

Well, there was the rest of the press conference today at the ADT (RIP) Championship...

Equity is the next pillar. We're a member organization, and we will continue to expand the menu and the value of the benefits provided to our members. Moving closer to the equity they deserve and they need.

I wish this economic downturn had waited one more year. I wish we'd had one more year, but I'm grateful that we had the past three.

Oh, why's that?

Our 2009 budget plans for a solidly profitable year. A continued high level of contributions to our member benefits, including a 25% increase in the pension fund contributions.

If we had not undertaken the substantive changes to the business model of the LPGA during the previous three years, our picture would be decidedly less hopeful.

Scribblers in attendance: did she actually just pat herself on the back at this point? The transcriber did not note any form of petting, heavy or otherwise.

On the wacky notion of starting the year with a $1 million first place prize event, instead of ending the season that way:

CAROLYN BIVENS: For several reasons. But it effects the money list as much as having it at the end of the year. Somebody wins a million dollars. And frankly, I hope five to ten years from now, somebody's standing up to you and talking about $9 or $10 million events, and that this event would have a purse of $2 million.

I know that people say you shouldn't compare the LPGA to the PGA. I actually believe these girls really do rock. I believe these girls are great, and I believe this is a great value proposition, and that's where we're growing.

Sigh. I can't stand it when she makes Finchem look good.

Q. Can you just update us on what are your pursuing TV rights fees? And how this economic climate effects that plan?

CAROLYN BIVENS: You can't negotiate television in the media, but I will tell you this, it's a very important part of -- it's an important aspect of women's sports. It's incredibly important to the LPGA.

We can have the very best players in the world, the most dynamic, charismatic players and the people don't see them. You don't increase the value. It's also very difficult for an organization to operate and for -- there's a phrase that's been thrown around a lot this week, a price-value equation. It's very hard to have price-value equation when you're underwriting all of the costs of the television time as well as of the production.

Wait, price-value equation wasn't on my bingo board...that's not fair CB.

Q. If I recall correctly, think there were going to be some serious tweaks to the English proficiency policy. Is there anything can you update on that or when we can expect to hear some something?

CAROLYN BIVENS: Let me go back and reprise a few of my remarks and say performance at the LPGA, and frankly, the survival and ability to succeed here is more than performing on the golf course. The international nature of our tour offers us great opportunities and it also offers us challenges.

As we went to benchmark best practices in this area, there is no other program that exists like this in a sports or an entertainment world. What's come out of all of that is offers in some cases for some pro bone owe work from some pretty impressive groups and organizations, and we're taking them up on it.

So we're actually going to make this more extensive than we'd ever intended to in the very first place. And our goal is to come out of this a year to 18 months from now and have a model program.

See, wankers. The horrible PR disaster turned into a positive. Pro-bono (Pro bone owe) English training!