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    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
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  • 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
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  • 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
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Golf is the Great Mystery. Like some capricious goddess, it bestows its favours with what would appear an almost fat-headed lack of method and discrimination. On every side we see two-fisted he-men floundering round in three figures, stopping every few minutes to let through little shrimps with knock-knees and hollow cheeks, who are tearing off snappy seventy-fours. Giants of finance have to accept a stroke per from their junior clerks. Men capable of governing empires fail to control a small, white ball, which presents no difficulties whatever to others with one ounce more brain than a cuckoo-clock. Mysterious, but there it is.  P.G. WODEHOUSE


    

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."

Friday
Oct062006

Week In Review: October 1-7, The Ping Branding

WeekInReview2.jpgThe folks down at Ping PING taught us a lesson in branding with their hissy fit over 10% military discounts. Several readers came to their defense.

JT: remember that PING won't let a retailer dump out of date inventory (last years models) on e-bay or at a discount to turn over stock that is out of date. Great company to work with as a shop owner. NOT.

Anon: Cartier, Bose, and other high end products do the same. Discounting causes a loss of credibility. Greed isn't really the issue is it?

Bob Smithson: What PING is doing is completely legal and is their business policy and which they can document is being followed. The only way this policy gets changed by PING is for the consumer to stop buying PING products and shopowners to quit stocking it ...

Brad: The retailers in question knew they were in violation of Ping's policy. Plus they were not exactly making sure all those they discounted really were in the millitary.

On the subject of Tiger's "streak" of 6 straight wins, Martin Del Vecchio wrote: I will say that Tiger's current swing isn't as beautiful to look at as his 2000 swing was. But it's hard to argue with the results.

Regarding the news that Greensboro event host Forest Oaks may be in danger of losing the tournament because the clubhouse facilities are outdated, Pete the Luddite wrote:  Seriously, we have gotten to the point where clubs feel compelled to re-vamp their courses repeatedly in an effort to stay current or keep the Tour's attention. Are we now going to add clubhouse and amenity renovations to the mix as well? Where will the spending end? This does not bode well for the future of golf. Club memberships will not be sustained if assessment after assessment get tacked on for these reasons.

Commenting on my column about the lack of imaginative play, MacDuff tells us: Just returned from UK and had a great time playing courses where the ball actually ran after landing, and where tight turf allowed 40- and 60 yard pitches and bump-and-run shots. All rounds took 3 & a half hours maximum. The people I played with and against made no agonizingly long decisions about the line of putt or exact yardage to green. Golf was a recreation. It was fun. Oh, and nobody shouted their way around...as seems to be the custom here.

On the likely-to-emerge groove debate, Glyn proves that he has way too much common sense to ever serve on the USGA Executive Committee: What I find interesting is that the USGA is moving towards some action - groove change - thus admitting that there in fact is a problem. So we at least agree there is a problem. The USGA has refused to admit that the problem is distance however. Now it's grooves in wedges. Hmmm..one way would be to change the goove shape of wedges...still another way would be to reduce the amount of wedges being hit. Let's see...wouldn't that relate back to distance being a factor?

RGT says: PGAT once required all tournament green watering to be stoped after Tuesday evenings, allowing greens to get baked out and hard as concrete. Hand watering the greens every evening is the standard on Tour today. If PGAT was still in the baking process Toms would be out of a job. Being at a multi club disadvantage is a problem for Toms on most weeks, watering the greens every night plays right into the errent bombers strategy. Tiger, Phil and Vijay are exploiting these golf ball qualities and playing short shots to a dart board.

And finally, on the trevails of the San Francisco city courses, including the fate of future events at Harding Park, Gus writes:  The last article I read on Harding focused on the buyers remorse of some city officials, the funding mechanism that verged on being criminal, and the unlikely prospects that there would ever be a positive return on the investment. I think the people would be better served with reasonably priced, pragmatic improvements (drainage?) that would allow affordable golf to continue. If these improvements included a nod to the heritage of a course then so much the better. We have enough high end daily fee courses. Some muni's need to remain muni's for the health of the game.

Friday
Oct062006

"If you knew what you were going to get every week, then there's no point in having me"

The Augusta Chronicle's Scott Michaux considers the impact of Nick Faldo's sudden retirement from Masters play:

Faldo might have been pushed into the booth at Augusta somewhat prematurely by the latest batch of changes that have lengthened and tightened the course beyond the reach of aging, moderate hitters such as himself. When he got his first glimpse of the course last April, he offered a clue about his future at the Masters.

"I can't play it now," he said. "I'm just here for fun. I can't compete on a course like this, but fortunately I know that I have three jackets in the locker room, so that's fine by me."

As for some of the changes, Faldo wasn't afraid to be critical. Having those three green jackets earns him the license to be critical without fear of retribution, just as other multiple winners and club members Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer enjoy. Faldo called the changes to the tee shot on No. 11 "a little heavy-handed," with the dramatic alterations making the hole "not the same by miles, and it's a shame."

"I'll be smiling and laughing in another 10 years' time, when all these pine trees have grown up," he said last April. "It will be a scream sitting up here drinking pina coladas and watching them thread it through the Augusta needle."

Faldo certainly won't be drinking cocktails from the tower above the 18th green, but whether or not he will be free to be that candid on the air with his say-no-evil colleagues at CBS remains to be seen. Faldo is a man not easily muzzled.

"I duck and dive and go with the flow each week," Faldo said. "If you knew what you were going to get every week, then there's no point in having me, I guess. ... I'm respectful. I'm not going to beat on the guys but I think I call it pretty fair and square."

 

Thursday
Oct052006

"Marriage of inconvenience for hackers and hacks"

Andrew Baker has fun with the pro-am concept that has overtaken the once great event known as the Dunhill Cup.

Thursday
Oct052006

"You should know how to hit every shot and every club. If you’re on the PGA Tour you don’t have to"

Sutton_180x250.jpgHal Sutton talks to Cameron Morfit about the state of American golf, and in particular, issues confronting U.S. Ryder Cup teams and the PGA Tour.

The “high and long” way to play is an epidemic in the United States, Sutton says, but that style isn’t translating to birdies amid the ever-varied setups and unpredictable weather that define the Ryder Cup.

Courses continue to be built by developers trying to one-up each other in the race to build the next toughest track (even if it means driving mere mortals to quit the game) while the PGA Tour chooses broad-shouldered venues that cater mostly to bombers.

“That’s why I’ve kept hammering on it, and will until the day I day: Variety. We’ve got to have more of it,” Sutton said. “Play fast greens, play slow greens, play ’em all. Throw everything at every player. We’ll find out who the best players are. I told [PGA Tour commissioner] Tim Finchem, ‘You can cut 18 holes in the parking lot and Tiger will find a way to win.’”

To show that he’s walking the walk, Sutton pointed to Boot Ranch. He went out of his way, he said, to make sure the course included doglegs left and right, short holes, long holes and a variety of lies and looks.

“There’s a driver, there’s fairway woods, there’s long irons, middle irons, short irons, wedges and a putter,” Sutton said. “There’s 14 clubs in there. There’s a fade and there’s a slice. There’s a draw and there’s a hook. There’s a high ball and there’s a low ball. There’s backspin and there’s overspin. And by the way, they’re all part of the game, and by the way, you should know how to hit every shot and every club. If you’re on the PGA Tour you don’t have to."

Thursday
Oct052006

Phil's Family Vacation

Ed Sherman and George White offer two very different takes on Phil Mickelson vanishing from the face of the planet until the Bob Hope Classic. While White seemingly dusts off something from a Gaylord Sports release (complete with a breakdown of charitable donations), Sherman points out that Mickelson's lack of interest after the PGA does not bode well for the FedEx Cup, a system developed with Phil's input in mind.

Thursday
Oct052006

Skinned?

Marcel Honoré writes about the city of Indian Wells pursuing the Skins Game for its newly refurbished Golf Resort at Indian Wells. Look at what they will have to pay to host the likes of Stephen Ames and Fred Funk:
Under the terms of an agreement with International Management Group, the city would pay $1.4 million, $1.47 million, and $1.54 million to host the game during the next three years.