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  • Lines of Charm: Brilliant And Irreverent Quotes, Notes, And Anecdotes from Golf's Golden Age Architects
    Lines of Charm: Brilliant And Irreverent Quotes, Notes, And Anecdotes from Golf's Golden Age Architects
  • The Future of Golf: How Golf Lost Its Way and How to Get It Back
    The Future of Golf: How Golf Lost Its Way and How to Get It Back
    by Geoff Shackelford
  • Grounds for Golf: The History and Fundamentals of Golf Course Design
    Grounds for Golf: The History and Fundamentals of Golf Course Design
    by Geoff Shackelford
  • The Art of Golf Design
    The Art of Golf Design
    by Michael Miller, Geoff Shackelford
  • Alister MacKenzie's Cypress Point Club
    Alister MacKenzie's Cypress Point Club
    by Geoff Shackelford
  • The Golden Age of Golf Design
    The Golden Age of Golf Design
    by Geoff Shackelford
  • The Good Doctor Returns: A Novel
    The Good Doctor Returns: A Novel
    by Geoff Shackelford
  • Masters of the Links: Essays on the Art of Golf and Course Design
    Masters of the Links: Essays on the Art of Golf and Course Design
  • The Captain: George C. Thomas Jr. and His Golf Architecture
    The Captain: George C. Thomas Jr. and His Golf Architecture
    by Geoff Shackelford
Current Reading
  • Professional Golf 2015: The Complete Media, Fan and Fantasy Guide
    Professional Golf 2015: The Complete Media, Fan and Fantasy Guide
    by Daniel Wexler
  • 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
  • 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

It must be remembered that the great majority of golfers are aiming to reduce their previous best performance by five strokes if possible, first, last and all the time, and if any one of them arrives at the home teeing ground with this possibility in reach, he is not caring two hoots whether he is driving off from nearby an ancient oak of majestic size and form or a dead sassafras. If his round ends happily it is one beautiful course. Such is human nature.




Lawrie Snubbed Sponsor's Invite; Playing Better Simply Not An Option

For all the grief we Americans get for being overly sentimental, it's fun to read this Derek Lawrenson penned sob story of poor Paul Lawrie, the last European to win a major, crying in Monty-like fashion about not being granted a sponsor's invite to the Scottish Open pro am* on the eve of his triumphant return to Carnoustie.

Mike Aitken weighed in with a decidedly less hysterical version of the same story. 


Castle Stuart Bunkers

They've posted another "making of" video on YouTube...we finally get to see more of what's going on over there!


Who Is The Next USGA President?

One of the first ominous signs--well, after the 2004 Shinnecock debacle--that things were going to be different under USGA president Walter Driver came when it was announced June 29, 2005 that he had been nominated as the next president. That was a whopping 7 months before he would take office.

The move effectively rendered then-president Fred Ridley a lame duck and was widely considered to be unprecedented by USGA insiders.

In light of recent events indicating that the embittered Driver is going out with a flourish by taking down as many staff members as possible while leaving no positive mark on the game or the USGA, the nominating committee needs to make it known who will be replacing Driver.

Either of the two candidates in line to replace Driver--believed to be vice presidents Jim Vernon and Jim Hyler--will mark a huge improvement for the organization. (Actually, Dick Cheney would be a step up at this point!)

Vernon's nomination would mark a welcome change and provide some hope to both staff and the golf community that the USGA is attempting to move in a more positive direction. Vernon's interest and knowledge on equipment issues will be especially important with the grooves debate heating up and the ball study soon entering, gulp, year six.

So nominating committee, who will it be? 


Skill and Southern Hills

From Doug Ferguson's AP notes column:

“I don’t mind Mother Nature slapping us around as long as they understand skill is the thing that wins tournaments, not luck.” -Stuart Appleby, on the setups at major championships

Having just toured Southern Hills on a delightful day in Tulsa (really!), I can say that it would be nice if Mother Nature cooperated by not dropping so much water on the course. Due to a number of circumstances (which I'll be writing about for a publication in advance of the PGA), Southern Hills really has a chance to shine this year...if it would stop raining! 


Caddying Column Genre Hits New Low

No golf writer's career is complete without a Plimpton School of Participatory Journalism degree-earning column on caddying. But Rob Oller may have hit rock bottom with the proverbial caddying-for-someone-famous piece on his day looping for the man who holds a Masters in caddying columns, Rick Reilly.

It turns out Reilly, who served as celebrity keynote speaker at a tournament dinner Sunday night, needed a caddie. I needed a column. Two plus two equals Fore!



Woods Considering Military Course Redo?

This sounds much more appealing than an annual visit to Congressional. From Leonard Shapiro in the Washington Post...

One source connected to the tournament said that representatives of Woods's foundation have looked at potential sites inside the Beltway that would allow Woods, a budding golf course architect, to build his own course or renovate an existing facility.

The source said that Woods might even be interested in taking an existing military course, either at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland or Fort Belvoir in Virginia, and do the sort of makeover that transformed Bethpage Black on Long Island, a public course in general disrepair, before the 2002 U.S. Open. Architect Rees Jones, who also did a makeover at Congressional before the 1997 Open, handled the Bethpage project.

"Look, if there's land available inside the Beltway, please call me," McLaughlin said. "At this time, we're not contemplating building our own golf course designed by Tiger, but we certainly would not ever rule it out long-term if the right partnership could be put in place. We're open to any and all situations and we're keeping an open mind for all future sites."


Letter From Saugerties--July 10, 2007

Former USGA Executive Director Frank Hannigan sends another of his thoughtful letters, this time he's reacting to the recent USGA staff firings spearheaded by Walter Driver and rubber-stamped by the Executive Committee. Hannigan tells us what they mean for the organization and the game.

Dear Geoff:

I can’t convince you, because of your youth, there was a time when the USGA was generally regarded as the most effective, efficient and logical body of sports in this country. When I was chief operating officer of the USGA and feeling sour about something we’d done I would turn my mind to the US Tennis Association and immediately perk up.

Alas, I agree with your low estimation of today’s USGA which is no better than the USTA, the NCAA, the AAU, the US Olympic Committee or, I suppose, Vince McMahon’s World Wrestling Federation.

The barrage of media criticism of president Walter Driver is both unprecedented and deserved. It’s also simplistic. The USGA began to behave strangely more than 10 years ago. The greatest failure was to pull back from what would have been a stupendous conflict had the organization attempted to do the right thing about distance.

Knowing full well that they should have risked the farm with anti-distance legislation, they instead have announced a ban on U grooves starting in 2009, saying that the game has been totally changed by grooves so that there is no longer any correlation between accuracy on the Tour and success. This they say in a year when Fred Funk, Scotty Verplank, Paul Goydos and Zach Johnson are gobbling up tour titles, not to mention the Masters.  All bunters.

Internally, the USGA is grim.  President Driver has ousted two senior staff members.  The first was Tim Moraghan, a specialized agronomist who worked with the superintendents at championship courses. The second, not yet formally announced, is Marty Parkes, the USGA’s long time director of communications.  Parkes was #4 on what has become a perhaps too large staff of more than 300.

The firings, of course, are termed “resignations.” Both of those leaving accepted bonus packages including a provision they would not speak ill of the USGA or talk about their separations.  I find that a very sleazy way for a public entity to act. The USGA insists on its privacy, which it legally holds, but it has no problem avoiding federal taxes. It even accepts 501c3 status as a “charity” which means that volunteers like Driver can deduct their USGA expenses.

Moraghan, I would say, has been fired retroactively for whatever part he played in the course debacle of the 2004 US Open at Shinnecock Hills.  Driver was then chairman of the championship committee and had to endure humiliation.

Marty Parkes is gone, as I and others see it, because he could not prohibit negative print media and blog stories (like this) about Driver. There was the notorious Golf World magazine cover story headed “Can the USGA Survive Walter Driver?” But then Washington Post golf writer Len Shapiro labeled Driver “the most disliked USGA president ever.” Driver’s partners at Goldman Sachs do not know what Golf World is, but they are certainly cognizant of the Washington Post.

You would think Driver, having a major post in what is likely the world’s most successful financial concern, would know a bit about money. Instead, he has a strange idea  about the USGA being endangered financially.  He points out that the USGA “lost” $6 million in operations in 2006 and has budgeted a $5 million loss for 2007.  The 2006 “loss” was the first in the history of the USGA, which commenced in 1895.  It was also the first year of Driver’s two as president.

Meanwhile, the USGA investments have a street value close to $300 million. Even a financial ignoramus like myself could churn $15 million or more out of that without going near the principle. The “loss” he’s talking about does not take into account the growth in value of the investments.

He says the USGA, were it a business, would be in big time trouble.  Excuse me, but the USGA is NOT a business.  It is a non-profit service organization. The American Cancer Society would be in trouble as a “business.”

He points to the fragility of the USGA’s television income, which is hidden but likely pushing $25 million a year. The contract with NBC runs through 2014.  President Driver says who can possibly tell what will happen with TV money after 2014.   Nobody, can. But you know what?   If it’s so scary the USGA could easily get an extension of its NBC contract right now, especially after the success of the Open at Oakmont.

Marty Parkes is after my USGA time, which ended in 1989. I have had no professional dealings with him, but we were cordial when I ran into him. As is my want, I would tease him by saying one expected more of a graduate of the London School of Economics than being a USGA publicist.  I read him as being an exceptional manager of projects and people but uncomfortable cozying up to golf media giants.

The USGA set-up is truly strange. It gives complete power and authority to its volunteer executive committee of 15. The president is labeled in the by-laws as chief executive officer but his powers are limited to presiding over meetings and appointing the members of the many sub committees. He can’t even hire, that power being given to the executive committee as a whole. (The by-laws say the committee can hire “clerks.”).

Parkes may also have been fired because when Driver and his colleagues slashed staff benefits in January, Parkes sent an email to Driver asking for or demanding an explanation.  This caused Driver to fly to New Jersey from Atlanta and address a surly staff.

This must be said for Driver.  He did not use the USGA’s leased jet when he flew to Newark for this meeting.  (He correctly notes that he inherited the jet program from his predecessor Fred Ridley-- which is not the same as saying he could cancel it in these financially perilous days.) You will search in vain in the USGA financial statement for a line item about the jet or for that matter the cost of entertaining members of the executive committee and their wives at championships, where they are not needed.  For the staff, which can truly run golf tournaments, these people are heavy maintenance.

Since Driver does not have the kind of power a corporate CEO has it follows he must have the approval and backing of the executive committee. What are they thinking?  I think they are thinking about getting re-appointed.

How about executive director David Fay, who followed me in that role? I have no idea where he is at. It’s easy for me to say 16 years after the fact, but if the executive committee ordered me to fire someone from what I regarded as MY staff, I would have reacted by saying you can fire anybody you want but that means I go too.

For all I know, David may have fought heroically to save Marty Parkes, and was central in a negotiating process (Marty wisely had got himself a lawyer) whereby Marty got out with an excellent deal.

The USGA is now a grim place.   Nobody thinks that Driver & Co. are finished firing.

I wonder how much it matters save for the exercise of egos.  The USGA is a service entity with a mix of components. It does not follow that terrible leadership causes these to fall apart.  Example:  two years ago my up-state club, 9 holes, was visited by a USGA agronomist. He too was after my time.  I purposely stayed away on the day of his visit but the club people sent me a copy of his written report. It wasn’t just good.  It was superb. The recommendations were followed and resulted in much better turfgrass.

I’m sure the same can be said of other USGA departments, e.g., handicapping and perhaps management of the Rules of Golf.  (The USGA, if known at all to casual golfers, is understood to be the US Open and Rules of Golf.  Many people think I worked 28 years for the “PGA”.)

There is no provision for impeachment. By tradition, Driver will be gone in six months.  I have been saying for years that the USGA is badly in need of an infusion of democratic procedure.  There needs to be a contested election. It doesn’t happen because the average golfer cares only his futile attempt to make a good swing. 

The decline of the USGA did not begin with Walter Driver.  I would label it as beginning in 1995 when one of Driver’s predecessors hired Kenny Rogers for $30,000 to sing at a USGA birthday party.

Kenny Rogers is as appropriate for the USGA as Jenna Jameson would be at a conclave of the College of Cardinals.

Frank Hannigan
Saugerties, New York 

 For some past letters from Hannigan, check here.


Woods Wants 20-Year Deal At Congressional

Isn't this the same place where, in 1997, he stormed off without talking to the scribblers?  I miss that Tiger.

Jerry Potter reports that mercifully, the members aren't so sure about that.

Congressional President Stuart Long said Monday the members were delighted with the tournament but added, "We're busy" when asked about the future. Congressional will hold the U.S. Amateur in 2009 and the U.S. Open in 2011. "Oh, no," he said when asked if it could take the AT&T in 2010. "We need a year to get ready for the Open."

As for the long term, he said, the board would have to decide, adding, "The board turns over every six years. The board members who will make that decision haven't even been elected."



Mickelson Calls Carnoustie "Nice"

Otherwise, according to Mark Garrod he's holding back his remaining thoughts for his Loch Lomond press conference. How am I going to sleep not knowing more?


Trump National Fresno...No More?

Scott Hamilton reports that The Donald may not be coming to Central California after all...



Woody Austin Deprives Carnoustie Galleries Of Seeing His Ugly Shirts

_40838392_austin203.jpgHis reason for not entering the Open Championship despite earning a spot in the field:
 "I don't know how to play that type of golf. I would probably go and shoot two high numbers and make a fool of myself."
Makes you proud to be an American!

Everyone Wants To Have Their Own Tournament!

Doug Ferguson reports that Lorena Ochoa is the latest, but the Brand Lady is worried. Thanks to the Golf Chick for this:

Ochoa's brother said the $1 million tournament would be limited to the top 30 players from the money list, and he was hopeful of a date the week before the season-ending ADT Championship, a spot on the calendar now occupied by the Tournament of Champions. He said he had a title sponsor lined up, but declined to identify it until contracts are signed.

LPGA Tour commissioner Carolyn Bivens, however, said nothing has been determined.

“I don't know how I'd handicap that,” Bivens said when asked the chances of the No. 1 player having her own tournament. “Next year's schedule is still being refined. She'd love to have a tournament down there next year, but it depends on finding a title sponsor and the right mix of sponsors.”

That's a non-committal committal.



No, this is not what you think. This really did come from the USGA


Far Hills, N.J. (July 9, 2007) – The United States Golf Association (USGA) has named Peter Bevacqua its Chief Business Officer overseeing the revenue-producing activities conducted by the USGA. 

Bevacqua, 35, joined the organization as in-house corporate counsel in September of 2000. He has served as the managing director of U.S. Open Championships for the USGA since August of 2003. Bevacqua will become the first chief business officer in the Association’s history, reporting to USGA Executive Director David Fay. 

"I truly look forward to working with our staff and Executive Committee in connection with many of the ongoing activities and potential new revenue-producing activities of the USGA, including our broadcasting relationships, our USGA Members program and our new corporate partnerships,” said Bevacqua. “It is an exciting next step for me and for the USGA." 

Ah, the Members program as a revenue producing activity. Maybe they can sell ads in that sexy newsletter?

Prior to joining the USGA, Bevacqua was with the New York law firm of Davis, Polk & Wardwell. Bevacqua graduated magna cum laude from the University of Notre Dame in 1993, and earned his Juris Doctor, cum laude, from the Georgetown University Law Center in 1997. Bevacqua resides in Bronxville, N.Y., with his wife, Tiffany, and will continue to operate out of the USGA's headquarters in Far Hills, N.J. 

What, no presence in The City?

"I am delighted that Pete's accepted this position," said Fay. "Pete has done a superb job as managing director of the Open and I am confident that he will provide strong leadership, creative thinking and solid judgment in this new and very important position. Pete has earned the respect of the USGA staff and I know his selection is fully and enthusiastically supported by our Executive Committee."

AT&T National Photo Caption Fun, Vol. 2

What could they be laughing at while looking at the Capitol? Courtesy of



Reason 7,812 PGA Tour Pros Should Not Be Architects

Congressionalhole18.jpgGiven the choice between TiVoing the old geezers playing one of the twelve majors over a colorful, textured, rich, eccentric and slightly nutty design or an elite field playing a "classic" "U.S. Open style" "test," you can imagine what I picked.

Honestly, told I have six months to live, it's a toss up what I want to watch to make time stand still. Medinah or Congressional?

Now that Congressional's old 18th has been bulldozed by Rees Jones and replaced by a hole only he could design (click here for Tim Taylor's photos on GCA...but view with caution, it's not pretty), the final stroke of quirk has been stripped from the place. Therefore, as much as it pains me to not single out Medinah's relentless mediocrity, I think Congressional gets the nod for not taking better advantage of interesting terrain.

Ah, but the players love it! Why, I have no idea other than to merely confirm that they have no architectural sense whatsoever.

Billy Mayfair said:

"You put Tiger Woods as host and a great course like Congressional and you've got something people want to be involved with. What happened here this weekend was amazing. You put it down the street [at Avenel], and you're probably not going to have the same kind of field. Guys will come here, to Congressional. Guys want to play old-fashioned, U.S. Open-style courses, and that's what this is."

And Robert Allenby...

"This is a great golf course," Allenby said. "It's easy to run a good golf tournament here. You've got a great venue. It's pretty awesome."

It may be what you want to play fellas, but in terms of viewing it's deadly.

whistling_straits_straits_course_7.jpgSure, Whistling Straits goes over the top and the fairway widths looked absurd (exposed for their lack of room as soon as the wind came up Saturday). I also don't know what the USGA was trying to prove playing the 17th so far back Saturday, making it a 250 yardish shot when the hole is plenty brutal at 160 yards in benign conditions.  

But wasn't it fun to see all sort of different shots, including a few played on the ground?  And recovery shots. And most of all, a colorful, lively example of architecture's most inspired possibilities.


Enthusiastic Crowds Vindicate PGA Tour's Decision To End D.C. Event

Let the gushing begin...

"I didn't think we'd get this type of turnout and this type of energy," Tiger said, still in mild disbelief after his final round.

Well that's why you're not a PGA Tour executive Tiger. They knew it all along! 



Watson Unable To Win One For Driver

Considering the rough week Walter Driver's had, what with having to constantly sign autographs of that Golf World story where he comes off as tired, bitter and pretentious (and that's just the cover shot), you'd think Tom Watson would have the decency to have won one for his beleaguered fellow Stanford alum to cap off Driver's fairy-tale USGA Presidency.

They tell fairy tales in hell right?


Women Beat The Men!

Sal Johnson, noting the unfortunate airing of the U.S. Women's Open and Buick Open at the same time last weekend passed this note along.

This year the U.S. Women's Open won the slot with a 1.7 (1.47 million) rating compared to the Buick Open's 1.7 (1.3 million) rating. Now both shows were drastically down over last year, the Women's Open was 39% down but that had to be expected. The reason, Annika Sorenstam and Michelle Wie were in contention last year and the Sunday show went to 7:30 because they played 36 holes on Sunday.


As for the Buick Open they had a bigger drop, 60%. That was because last year the event was played in August and there was no competing golf show against it but the main reason for the drop was Tiger Woods won last year.

Monty's Ego Swells On Eve Of Open Championship

Mark Garrod reports on our man's big win in the European Open, making him a favorite to be asked for pre-tournament press center visits at Loch Lomond and Carnoustie.

Montgomerie fired a closing 65 to win by one from Swede Niclas Fasth, having started the day in joint seventh place four behind. The Scot's odds for winning the forthcoming Open Championship at Carnoustie have now been cut from 100/1 to 50/1 by William Hill who also offer him at 20/1 to win the Scottish Open at Loch Lomond next week.
"This is not an important win - it's a very, very important win," he said. "You wonder if it's ever going to happen, of course you do. You have self-doubts and I'm so glad. I'm thrilled with the success.

"I've never made a winner's speech and said I was unlucky and I was fortunate at the last two today."



O'Hara, Gamble, Fisher Tabbed For Golf In The Kingdom; Straight To Video Release Pegged For Summer '08

bk-1114.gifGolfweek's Scott Hamilton reports that the infamous Michael Murphy book is finally set for production and (spoiler alert) I've learned some key plot details. First, Hamilton writes:

Production of “Golf in the Kingdom” is scheduled to begin shortly after summer, with the entire shoot taking place in Oregon.

The movie version of Michael Murphy’s book of the same title has been tabbed with a modest $3 million budget. Production company Golf in the Kingdom LLC has enrolled sports marketing and management company Octagon to enlist corporate sponsors and handle all licensing and product placement for the film. John Ashworth is overseeing costume design, while Industrial Light and Magic, George Lucas’ special-effects firm, has signed on as the film’s visual designers.

What, no Marty Hackel?

Shooting is scheduled to wrap Dec. 1 with a release date planned to coincide with the 2008 U.S. Open or British Open. Golf scenes will be shot on location at Bandon Dunes with other scenes to be filmed in a Eugene, Ore, studio.

The cast includes David O’Hara, Mason Gamble, Frances Fisher and Malcolm McDowell. Mindy Affirme, the film’s producer, also said several actors have been approached for cameos, including Sean Connery and Hugh Grant.

Industry sources the delays were influenced by the book's lack of a second or third act.

However after veteran scribe Paul Haggis (Crash, Letters From Iwo Jima, thirtysomething (three story arc in 1987)) brushed up the script, a rivetting finale will now include Michael Murphy scaling the Golden Gate Bridge to talk Jim Flick (the Connery cameo) down from jumping after learning another of his students has adopted Stack and Tilt.

That will be followed by a dramatic chase through the streets of Palm Desert in which Shivas (now caddying at San Francisco Golf Club and reunited with Murphy in a quest for the meaning of life/golf) helps the author's character track down Mac O'Grady at Mesquite Country Club for a final instructional sequence that will leave audiences questioning everything they've ever read in Golf Magazine, while also marking the long-awaited digital media release of O'Grady's instruction thoughts.

It's Baggar Vance meets Memoirs of a Geisha in the vein of Traffic