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Books
  • Lines of Charm: Brilliant And Irreverent Quotes, Notes, And Anecdotes from Golf's Golden Age Architects
    Lines of Charm: Brilliant And Irreverent Quotes, Notes, And Anecdotes from Golf's Golden Age Architects
  • The Future of Golf: How Golf Lost Its Way and How to Get It Back
    The Future of Golf: How Golf Lost Its Way and How to Get It Back
    by Geoff Shackelford
  • Grounds for Golf: The History and Fundamentals of Golf Course Design
    Grounds for Golf: The History and Fundamentals of Golf Course Design
    by Geoff Shackelford
  • The Art of Golf Design
    The Art of Golf Design
    by Michael Miller, Geoff Shackelford
  • Alister MacKenzie's Cypress Point Club
    Alister MacKenzie's Cypress Point Club
    by Geoff Shackelford
  • The Golden Age of Golf Design
    The Golden Age of Golf Design
    by Geoff Shackelford
  • The Good Doctor Returns: A Novel
    The Good Doctor Returns: A Novel
    by Geoff Shackelford
  • Masters of the Links: Essays on the Art of Golf and Course Design
    Masters of the Links: Essays on the Art of Golf and Course Design
  • The Captain: George C. Thomas Jr. and His Golf Architecture
    The Captain: George C. Thomas Jr. and His Golf Architecture
    by Geoff Shackelford
Current Reading
  • The Golf Book: Twenty Years of the Players, Shots, and Moments That Changed the Game
    The Golf Book: Twenty Years of the Players, Shots, and Moments That Changed the Game
    by Chris Millard
  • The Forbidden Game: Golf and the Chinese Dream
    The Forbidden Game: Golf and the Chinese Dream
    by Dan Washburn
  • The Early Days of Pinehurst
    The Early Days of Pinehurst
    by Chris Buie
  • Arnie, Seve, and a Fleck of Golf History: Heroes, Underdogs, Courses, and Championships
    Arnie, Seve, and a Fleck of Golf History: Heroes, Underdogs, Courses, and Championships
    by Bill Fields
  • The Magnificent Masters: Jack Nicklaus, Johnny Miller, Tom Weiskopf, and the 1975 Cliffhanger at Augusta
    The Magnificent Masters: Jack Nicklaus, Johnny Miller, Tom Weiskopf, and the 1975 Cliffhanger at Augusta
    by Gil Capps
  • His Ownself: A Semi-Memoir
    His Ownself: A Semi-Memoir
    by Dan Jenkins
Classics
  • Golf Architecture in America: Its Strategy and Construction
    Golf Architecture in America: Its Strategy and Construction
    by Geo. C. Thomas
  • The Course Beautiful : A Collection of Original Articles and Photographs on Golf Course Design
    The Course Beautiful : A Collection of Original Articles and Photographs on Golf Course Design
    Treewolf Prod
  • Reminiscences Of The Links
    Reminiscences Of The Links
    by Albert Warren Tillinghast, Richard C. Wolffe, Robert S. Trebus, Stuart F. Wolffe
  • Gleanings from the Wayside
    Gleanings from the Wayside
    by Albert Warren Tillinghast
  • Planet Golf USA: The Definitive Reference to Great Golf Courses in America
    Planet Golf USA: The Definitive Reference to Great Golf Courses in America
    by Darius Oliver
  • Planet Golf: The Definitive Reference to Great Golf Courses Outside the United States of America
    Planet Golf: The Definitive Reference to Great Golf Courses Outside the United States of America
    by Darius Oliver
Writing And Videos

Royal Melbourne retains a beautiful, hearty, natural look which, in the way of competition, plays very glassy. It takes eternal vigilance in greenkeeping to maintain such a gem as Royal Melbourne…I was familiar with the great Claude Crockford , the superintendent of the course in my era, who neatly summed it up for me one day when he said, "You in America try to grow grass. We try to keep it from growing here." He was light years ahead of most people in his field. BEN CRENSHAW

 

    

Thursday
May102007

17th Hole Pipeline

players_header_logo.gifThe 17th hole "Pipeline" on PGATour.com is working very well and seems to be a much slicker telecast than Amen Corner Live. Non-annoying announcers, multiple camera angles and few commercials. Oh and great sound on the tee too so that you can hear some of the pre-shot discussions.

Thursday
May102007

“We are at or beyond any other Open in terms of general inventory sales"

Tod Leonard reports on the cash cow that the Torrey Pines U.S. Open is becoming and boy just in the knick of time to help pay those pesky USGA employees who expect things like...health benefits! Damn people!

“It has gone extremely well,” Griffin said. “We are at or beyond any other Open in terms of general inventory sales and gross dollar sales. People were really starved for something like this, and they have really embraced the opportunity.”

We're moving inventory! That's what happens when you have good product. Just ask Tony Montana.

“It has been terrific, as good as it gets,” said Pete Bevacqua, the USGA's managing director for all U.S. Opens.

The Open by which all other Opens will be judged – at least before Torrey Pines – is the 2002 event at Bethpage Black on Long Island that generated enormous interest because it was the first Open to be staged on a state-operated facility where everyday golfers regularly played.

Bethpage smashed attendance records, drawing 297,500 fans for the week, and Golfweek magazine reported the gross earnings likely exceeded $100 million for the nonprofit USGA, which uses the money to stage all of its other championships and support its golf programs.

There was an enormous city of 78 hospitality tents at Bethpage that cost as much as $175,000 apiece.

At Torrey Pines, the first municipal course to host an Open, there will be about 60 tents in three villages on the North Course (many of them going for $210,000 each for the week), but there are 11 other hospitality areas, mostly situated in the Lodge, that well exceed $175,000.

Thursday
May102007

Players Championship Photo Caption Help

From golf.com...

may9_philtout_372x400.jpg 

Wednesday
May092007

Over-40 Softball League Game Featuring Commissioner Finchem Breaks Out!

finchem_200.jpgYou know since I've been doing this blogging thing I've seen some soft questions thrown at Tim Finchem, but never have the assembled scribblers and inkslingers lobbed 'em up so generously before.

Let's start with the illiterate. Apparently this scribbler does not subscribe to any golf publication... 

 Q. Was Pete Dye involved in the revisions, and to what extent if you would?
Who let Jeff Gannon in the room? 

 
Here's another one:

 Q. There's been a lot of unofficial talk about the purse this week. Can you confirm what the purse is and whether the final amount is a world record for a golf tournament?
Wow, they clocked that one at 19 mph! 

 
And Finchem's answer, also available in oh, every major or minor publication:

COMMISSIONER TIM FINCHEM: Is it a world record? The purse is $9 million. The record part I'm not -- I'd have to defer to our brain trust over here.
JAMES CRAMER: We'll have to look. We'll research that.
COMMISSIONER TIM FINCHEM: I've learned over the years never to jump in and say, "Yeah, absolutely."

Well, except when Manougian said "how about 15 years?"

Back to the fast balls...

Q. What was your reaction to Tiger calling 17 gimmicky, being that it plays such a central role in this tournament?

COMMISSIONER TIM FINCHEM: I read the transcript. It doesn't trouble me. There are an awful lot of players over the years who have not had a good time at 17 for whatever reason. It plays -- you know, his suggestion that maybe it should be No. 8 is an interesting one. It plays as No. 8 -- everybody who's ever played the tournament has played it as No. 8 because we have a two-tee start on Thursday and Friday, so they have that experience. He's the first player I've heard suggest that we move it to No. 8 on the weekend. We don't intend to do that. I saw in his comments he used the word "wonderful" related to the hole, so I like that part.

Q. It was somewhat confusing. We weren't sure if it was wonderful or gimmicky.

You can just feel the tension in the room! I bet Tony Snow reads this and thinks, I have it easy!

 Q. You're now 33 years into this thing. Every year we come here and there's always the question fifth major, is it a major, isn't it a major. Where do you see that argument going or that discussion going, and how does it get -- Jack yesterday said maybe it could replace one of the existing four. What do you see happening down the road here?

Yes, what would a Players press conference be without a fifth major question?

Wait, finally something tough...

 Q. Does Tiger and to a lesser extent Phil have more influence on TOUR decisions and how the TOUR is run than other players?

COMMISSIONER TIM FINCHEM: No.

Wow, we know how to stop the Commissioner from rambling!

Nice follow up too:

 Q. And if not, do you think there's a perception that they do and how do you confront that?

Here's where the rambling answer unravels a bit:

I continue to be amused -- I'll give you one example. I just read an article here this week that said that the reason for the FedExCup was because Phil and Tiger wanted a shorter season. That's just wrong. It actually had nothing to do with the FedExCup. I mean, it's true that Tiger and Phil at one point or another have said, you know, I'd like to see a shorter season. I think lots of top players over the years -- a lot of players generally have said I'd like to see a shorter season. Why is that? It's a long season. It starts in January and goes until November. And you don't have to be a rocket scientist to see that if you're going to end the season with the TOUR Championship and it's well into the football season, that's a challenge.

So we wanted to convert that to a system where we could have a good solid season to a section of our season and maintain solid playing opportunities for the membership, so we managed the situation where we have $32 million in prize money in the fall and we have the FedExCup, and these guys can decide how they want to use that platform. I think there is way too much written about that subject from a perception standpoint than relates to the real world.

Oops, we launched into nonsensical MBASpeak mode. You know what that means? Translation: Phil and Tiger wanted a shorter season.

More hard-hitting stuff:

Q. As a fan of all sports, I enjoy Major League's Homerun Contest or NBA's Slam Dunk Contest. I don't know if it's in the works or not, but would it be asking too much to have a TOUR long drive contest this week in the future since there is no Pro-Am?

And here's where Finchem's saying to himself, "I picked the wrong week to stop wearing deodorant."

Q. What is your assessment of the way the FedExCup race is going, and do you see it picking up even more popularity as it continues?
Our assessment right now is it is an absolute plus for the TOUR and for tournaments and for sponsors and for the players, no question. How big of a plus, we'll have a better sense of after the Playoffs this year, and then we'll see what happens next year. But if we get a good base late this year then I think we'll be in good shape for next year.

I think we have to be careful to remind fans that this is in addition to everything else we've had. It's not in place of anything. It doesn't take the place of some things that the Money List stands for. It doesn't -- it is not in competition with THE PLAYERS or the PGA Championship or any of that. It stands for what it is; it's a season-long competition, and I'm delighted that the players see it that way, are supporting it, and I'm pleased that from my perspective, maybe not 100 percent, but virtually all the players that are in those top seeds going into the competition will play all four weeks, which that would be the first time that ever happened in this sport, and I think it would be pretty exciting.

Wow, that was productive.

Wednesday
May092007

Bamberger On Pernice

pernicechip_299x299.jpgThe second major profile analyzing Tom Pernice's opinionated nature actually yields examples of his thoughts. However I'm not sure that's always a good thing. This time it's Michael Bamberger doing the interviewing for SI:

 

Pernice, a former member of the Tour's policy board, regularly criticizes Tim Finchem, the PGA Tour commissioner, for being "afraid of conflict" and for "surrounding himself with people who aren't willing to challenge him, which I consider a sign of weakness."

He believes that some of the architects the Tour has hired for its TPC courses (he names Tom Fazio and Ed Seay) have built "bad courses because not one of them can play worth a lick, can't even break 85."
So much for the positive, uplifting stuff.

 

Writing about one of his wins and he and his daughter's love for Rush Limbaugh:

Not because of what he did on the course, but because of what happened afterward. His two daughters came running out: Kristen, who was seven at the time, and Brooke, the blind daughter, who was six. Brooke ran her fingers over her father's face, felt his smile and finally had confirmation that he had won. She immediately made the sign of the cross on his face. She is as devout as her father and mother, who was born a Methodist but converted to Catholicism.

(Says Brooke, "It doesn't matter what kind of Christian you are, as long as you're Christian.")

 

Uh Brooke, FYI, some people, like even the person writing this profile of daddy, are actually not Christian. Just an FYI!

And here's dad whipping out a circa 2004 talking point:

The mainstream media, with their supposed liberal bias: Don't even get him started on that. Ordinary Americans have no idea what's really going on in Iraq "because every day the media (are) reporting the number of people who die" instead of the progress being made.

Hey, I have an idea. Maybe Tom and Brook take an Iraq vacation and report back on the progress?

Ah back to the comfort food:

The Tour fined Pernice earlier this year for his pointed criticism regarding the changes to Torrey Pines, a penalty "which I think is a crock," he says. And then he goes off again, explaining how the renovations done by Rees Jones have stripped the course of its "traditional look."

Pernice used to consider Torrey Pines South a 7.5 on a scale of 1 to 10; now, stretched out to 7,568 yards, Torrey rates a 4.

"But Tiger likes it," he says.
Wednesday
May092007

"That 77,000-square foot testament to conspicuously conspicuous consumption."

They won't be framing this John Steinbreder column on the TPC Sawgrass monstrocity. As he did in the wonderful Club Life, Steinbreder puts the new structure's excess into perspective.

For one thing, a clubhouse should never draw more scrutiny than the course, or courses, it is designed to serve. It should be, at most, a compliment to the track on which the rounds are played, and only a secondary point of interest.
And more importantly...
My fear is that its vast size and scope might inspire others to go to similar extremes when building or modernizing the places where they don their Eccos before a round, much in the way Green Chairmen have for years responded to the impeccable look and lushness of Augusta National by attempting similar feats on their own tracks, often with disastrous results. The temptation to follow in those footsteps can indeed be great, and only the most sensible and steadfast club leaders will be able to ward off fellow members who decide they must have at least some of what the folks at Sawgrass have, no matter how inane or incongruous those desires may be.

 

Wednesday
May092007

The Golf Gods Speak!

And I think they find the new TPC clubhouse a tad excessive! Or at least, they'd like to see that new player's lounge get some use (check out Adam Schupak's tour at Golfweek.com).

145632W_sm.gif 

Wednesday
May092007

Mi Hyun's Generosity

Kim,MH74087914_275px.jpgThe LPGA's Mi Hyun Kim makes a generous donation to aid victims of the Greensburg, Kansas tornado.

Thanks to reader Noonan for noticing this classy gesture.

Wednesday
May092007

"You hear someone say it's a great course, everything is out in front of you...already a game that does that. Bowling."

Bob Carney features some fun comments Brian Silva made to a recent gathering of Golf Digest panelists.

 

Tuesday
May082007

Questions For The Commish

I believe Wednesday at The Players means Tim Finchem will come down from his new clubhouse patio and answer questions from the assembled inkslingers. Just a few contributions, naturally, please post yours in the comments section.

  • With the PGA Tour looking at reducing field size at Tiger's mid-summer event and cut sizes possibly being reduced, have you considered stepping up efforts to deal with the pace of play problem?
  • Do you see any connection between the pace of play issues and the distance explosion of recent years in the form of longer waits on par-5's and driveable par-4s, narrow fairways, more rough, tucked holes, etc... and if so, do you think an easier solution to this problem might be a slight rollback in the ball?
  • In the current Sports Illustrated, 73% of players polled said the PGA Tour should get tough on performance enhancing drugs. Can you update us on where your efforts to develop a tougher policy?
  • Do you or any of your senior vice presidents own significant shares of Comcast?

Whoa Nellie how did that get in there? Hey, just want to squelch that rumor before it spreads...eh, too late.

  • Harding Park is going to be a future playoff venue in 2013 or 2014, can you see the Western Open returning to a summer date that year so that you can retain a tournament in the nation's third largest market and restore a full field to this one-time "major."

  • Tom Pernice, Great American or The Greatest American?

Tuesday
May082007

“I think that would be a fantastic eighth hole, but not as the 71st hole of a tournament, or 17th hole of your round.’’

Thanks for all of the memory-jogging nominations for great greens in the game. The chapter got a whole lot easier to write.

Though I noticed no one really got too excited about my 17th at TPC Sawgrass nomination, and now I read in Doug Ferguson's piece that Tiger the architect thinks the 17th is poorly placed in the sequence of the course. Kinda spooky I know, but when you are going with the whole Fazio thing in your design business, the overriding theme is bound to be dull design.

“I’ve always thought that hole is too gimmicky for the 17th hole of a championship,’’ Woods said. “I think that would be a fantastic eighth hole, but not as the 71st hole of a tournament, or 17th hole of your round.’’

Thankfully Geoff Ogilvy was around to lend some more rational and thoughful perspective:

“If that was just a bunker around it and not water, you’d probably find more people would hit it on the grass,’’ Geoff Ogilvy said. “There’s something about water that does it to people. It’s a fun hole. I’m glad it’s here. You wouldn’t design an island hole on every course in the world, but it seems to work here. It’s cool.’’  

And because this is my clipping archive, here's the lowdown on Tiger's Dubai design partner associate, again from Doug Ferguson's notes:

Among those watching Tiger Woods at the Wachovia Championship last week was Beau Welling, who used to be the top designer for Tom Fazio and played a big role in the redesign of Quail Hollow.

But his presence had more to do with the future.

Woods has hired Welling to do the work on Al Ruwaya in Dubai, the first golf course for Tiger Woods Design. The golf course is supposed to be done by September 2009.

Woods said Bryon Bell, whom he hired as president of Tiger Woods Design, found Welling after looking at the philosophies of various design companies.

"Beau fit what we wanted to have happen," Woods said.

Dubai is the only course in which Woods is involved, and he did not say whether he would continue to use Welling for other projects.

Welling now has his own company, and golf course design is not his only interest. He recently was appointed president of the U.S. Curling Association.

Tuesday
May082007

Slow Play Claiming More Victims?

Admittedly, I take some perverse pleasure in seeing how slow play is about to claim more victims, even though the problem is not entirely the fault of the players.

Still, as Doug Ferguson reports, the tepid pace of play on the PGA Tour may force a cut in the number of players teeing it up on the weekend check.

Now, the PGA Tour again is looking at changing the longtime policy that the top 70 and ties make the cut. Several alternatives were discussed last week by the Player Advisory Council, and it likely will come up at the tour policy board meeting at the end of the month.

Among the options:

-Top 60 players and ties.

-Top 65 players and ties.

-The nearest number to 70 players.

-Top 70 and ties, but if the number goes over 78, revert to nearest to 70.

-Top 70 and ties make the cut on Friday, and another cut on Saturday for top 70 and ties.

And your buried lede of the week...

One reason the cut policy is under review is to cope with pace of play. When a large number of players make the cut and bad weather is in the forecast, officials have little choice but to play in threesomes off both tees. That can really become a problem on the West Coast, where tournaments typically end at 3 p.m. for network television.

I wish Tiger had taken a slightly different stand...

Tiger Woods said he would favour top 60 and ties, no exceptions.

"Play better," he said. "Either you play better or you don't."

Or play faster? Or setup courses with a little less rough, fewer 2-paces-from-the-edge-holes and maybe the players stand a chance of picking up the pace?

Oh and do something with the ball so that the entire field can't reach every par-5 in two.

Tuesday
May082007

"In Tiger's last 15 stroke-play tournaments, he has finished first or second 14 times."

players_header_logo.gifTim Rosaforte has the TPC clubhouse at $60 million, which sounds possible. 

And he offers this stunning stat, courtesy of Hank Haney:

I called Haney a day earlier to get educated on Tiger's latest conquest, and he made several enlightening points. No. 1, in Tiger's last 15 stroke-play tournaments, he has finished first or second 14 times. That didn't sound right, but we went back to last year's British Open, included a couple of second-place finishes in Asia, special events like The Target World Challenge and PGA Grand Slam, a runner-up at The Masters, and other than a T-22 at Bay Hill, Woods has indeed finished no worse than second only once in his last 15 medal-play events. His lead over Jim Furyk in the World Rankings is more than Furyk's gap on the No. 1,000-ranked player in the world.

The rest of the piece includes quotes from Haney with this "I don't know what more he can do" tone, implying that the quality of Tiger's play has been questioned?

Anyone know what he's referring to, or is this just typical neurotic star golf instructor paranoia?

Tuesday
May082007

"Most of the time, all you could do was hack it back onto the fairway. But in 2-to-3 inch rough, you maybe have a shot at the green."

It'll be interesting to see how this concept for the TPC rough plays out. Personally, I think we'll see shorter rough allow for some dynamic recoveries and some really, really stupid decision making. Both good things for us fans.

Garry Smits reporting:

Bermuda rough: Since the 1995 Players, 4-to-6-inch overseeded bentgrass rough was the norm. The course had to be overseeded with the hardier strain of grass to get through the winter because freezes could occur within days of the tournament when it was in March. The Bermuda grass will be cut to about 2 to 3 inches.

The result, from a competitive standpoint, is that players have a better chance of reaching the greens. However, balls sitting down in Bermuda rough are called "flier" lies because they have a tendency to come out hot. Upon contact, grass is caught between the club and the ball, reducing spin and increasing distance. Players must adjust their club selection accordingly, and it's a guessing game that two-time Players winner and Tour Policy Board member Davis Love III of St. Simons Island, Ga., said will create more drama.

"It was boring," he said of past Players Championships with higher bentgrass rough. "Most of the time, all you could do was hack it back onto the fairway. But in 2-to-3 inch rough, you maybe have a shot at the green. The issue is whether you picked the right club."

 

Tuesday
May082007

Nice Going Wally

Scott Paske in the Wichita Eagle, reporting on the response to help local athletes in hard hit Greensburg, Kansas:

Tim Hacker, who runs a golf academy based in Alpharetta, Ga., has led an effort to assist GHS golfers. Hacker graduated from Greensburg in 1983 and has followed media reports about the tornado and its aftermath.

Working with his friend and fellow teaching pro Stan Utley, he secured the donation of golf equipment to the school from Titleist chairman and chief executive Wally Uihlein.

Hacker, who is affiliated with Callaway Golf, was also working with that company on a possible donation.

 

Tuesday
May082007

State Dinner Guest List

Golf was well represented at last night's State Dinner for Queen Elizabeth II:

Herbert V. Kohler, Jr., chairman and president, Kohler Co., and Natalie B. Kohler.

James W. Nantz III, CBS sportscaster, and Ann-Lorraine Nantz.

Arnold Palmer, professional golfer, and Kathleen Palmer.

 

Monday
May072007

Great Greens In Golf

TPC Sawgrass No. 17.jpgI'm in the midst of writing something and need your help. (Hey just remember, no pop-up ads, no animation junk...I'm allowed to take advantage of the brilliant minds who check in here).

So, I'm trying to write this chapter on my ideal greens and in thinking about it today, the 17th at TPC Sawgrass is one of my favorites. The green contours here are as much a part of the drama as the water.

Most of all I love the "compartments" that make what appears to be a one-dimensional hole so different from day to day.  And I love how the key features of the green are memorable, a trait that encourages creativity and shotmaking. Because memorability of features on a green makes it more likely that players will be suckered into playing at tempting hole locations, moreso than they might otherwise try if a green before them were simply a sea of meaningless bumps.

Therefore, I'd love to know what you think are some of the best greens in golf?

Or to put it another, name a green (or a few) where the design supremacy of the hole is mostly dependent on the contours, size, shape and angle of the putting surface.

Don't be shy. There are no right or wrong answers. Just help for a lowly writer. 

Monday
May072007

Fifh of Four Majors Watch, Vol. 2

players_header_logo.gifIt's Monday of fifth major week, which means no one has much to write about. So Jason Sobel and Bob Harig try their best to be like Brittle and Gorse over at GolfDigest.com by doing their alternate shot shtick. Let the fifth major debate begin!

Sobel: Well, I've always disliked the notion of The Players Championship as the "fifth major" and I hated those snarky comments we heard throughout the week about the Wachovia Championship becoming the "sixth major," according to some of the pundits.

Oh I don't think Andrew Magee was being snarky! You did mean Andrew, right?  Lord knows, the word snarky has never been uttered in the same sentence as moi!

That said, it was an enjoyable, memorable weekend of golf from Quail Hollow, culminating in Tiger Woods' 57th career victory.

It's one they'll talk about for weeks. I know I enjoyed thinking about not watching it at while I lounged at the beach.

Of course, it's the same old story: Did Tiger outplay the field in Sunday's final round or did his fellow contenders simply wave the white towel and get out of his way?
Harig: First things first. The idea of a fifth major is ridiculous, no matter how good The Players Championship was, is, or might be. So a sixth is even sillier. A Grand Slam in baseball does not consist of five runs scoring on a home run, and one in golf does not include five (or six) tournaments. And it never will. Too much history would have to be rewritten. And then there is this: When was the last time you saw 19 of the top 20 in the world play the week prior to a major? Probably never.

So cynical Bob!

Meanwhile Doug Ferguson spent Monday trying not to get lost in the new clubhouse, unlike Geoff Ogilvy.

“I’m a little lost,’’ U.S. Open champion Geoff Ogilvy said. “It’s such a big building.’’

And Doug did the fifth major thing, and he comes out firmly that The Players remains the fifth of golf's four majors.

“I think enough fun has been made of their place in the golf kingdom,’’ Sluman said over the weekend. “There are still only four majors, but it is an unbelievable golf course with bar-none the best field in golf.’’

Shouldn’t that be enough?

PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem has said that he only wants The Players Championship to be the best it can be, and he has stopped at nothing to accomplish that. The Tour wants the tournament to be known as “The Players,’’ similar to “The Masters.’’ Television coverage will include only four minutes of commercials every hour, just like the Masters.

The winner of The Players gets as many FedEx Cup points as the winner of a major. In the World Golf Hall of Fame ballots, The Players is listed in bold print alongside the four majors.

“Nobody likes being force-fed,’’ Sluman said. “I think everybody associated with the tournament needs to let it take its course. It will find its spot wherever that ends up in five, 10, 15 or 50 years. But just let it happen.’’

Ogilvy called it the fifth-best tournament in the world, which probably is what The Players Championship is. But what inevitably followed were more examples of what it’s not.

“It’s not a career-defining win,’’ he said.

Can't you get fined for saying things like that? 

Monday
May072007

"It's like being inside a great big pinball machine"

players_header_logo.gifThanks to reader WF for this fun Laury Livsey story on PGATour.com on the first tee shot ever hit in the Tournament Players Championship THE PLAYERS and what's happened to the fellow who hit it (you would never guess who it is or what he does now, unless you live in Cleveland!).

The story also weaves in some of the early history of the course and includes some great old lines, including the Weiskopf line featured above. 

Monday
May072007

Irwin To Put Colorado Grads Through One Last Boring Lecture

It seems the folks in Boulder ran out of speaking options, because they signed up one of the mast famous alums to put the grads through one more boring lecture. Kirk Bohls in the Austin American-Statesman reports:

"Does anybody listen at commencement speeches?" said Tom Purtzer, who left Arizona State eight hours shy of a degree. "They're kids. It's not like they're paying attention. You're so excited to just get out."

Irwin gets it. As he puts it, "they get a piece of paper and good friends. You don't know what you take away until you look back years later when you have to ask, 'Did I apply myself?' "

He did, and he still is.

Following the advice he received from former Supreme Court associate justice Sandra Day O'Connor, Irwin plans to follow his heart and say what he really feels. So he'll get something off his chest to the cap-and-gown crowd.

His message?

Respect your elders.

"I'm going to talk about respect," he said. "That's something young people don't do very often."

Oh how I have missed Scott Hoch:

Hoch applauded Irwin for the high honor of joining the elite company of those who give commencement addresses, a list as diverse as Steve Jobs and Billie Jean King. Hoch graduated as well — "I'm one of the few" — completing his communications degree at Wake Forest in 4 1/2 years when the dean convinced him to give up the notion of an economics major because of the demands of travel with college golf.

He takes mild exception to the fact that Arnold Palmer gave the headliner speech at Wake Forest in 2005. Arnie had an army but no diploma.

"My feeling is you shouldn't give it unless you graduate," the candid Hoch said. "But Arnold's Arnold. People probably would get more out of his speech."