Latest From GolfDigest.com
Latest From The Loop
Twitter
Feedblitz
To Get GeoffShackelford.com Posts Delivered To Your Inbox Enter Email Address Below:


Powered by FeedBlitz
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

Imagine, for instance, a repetition of eighteen holes, all of the supreme excellence of the most exceptional hole we can think of at the moment - the Seventeenth at St. Andrews. The strain of it all! Eighteen tee shots of the same intensity or eighteen approaches which courted disaster in the same dire form. It would to a certainty break our hearts and leave us nervous wrecks or golf lunatics in real earnest.  TOM SIMPSON

 

    

Tuesday
Jun052007

Where's The Brand Consistency?

Or is it brand synergy?

I don't know about you, but I see major cross-pollination and brand contamination issues here...

For immediate release: Tuesday, June 5, 2007

THE PLAYERS Community Senior Center grand opening set for June 8

(Ponte Vedra Beach, FL) -- THE PLAYERS Championship and St. Johns County are proud to announce the grand opening of THE PLAYERS Community Senior Center in Ponte Vedra Beach on Friday, June 8. THE PLAYERS committed $300,000 to help construct a new 10,000 square foot facility located off County Road 210 and Landrum Lane in Palm Valley.

Shouldn't that be THE PLAYERS Community CHAMPION Center? Or Champions? That way they make the uh, successfully aged, feel compelled to watch? (Oh, sorry, the successful aging concept isn't mine. Read on...)

Less than 10 minutes from TPC Sawgrass, the new center will serve seniors and the entire community of St. Johns County. “Thanks to the SJCCOA, THE PLAYERS, the Board of County Commissioners and the County Recreation and Parks Department this is truly just the beginning of a dynamic, responsive and successful partnership,” said Cathy Brown, Executive Director for the St. Johns County Council on Aging.

THE PLAYERS Community Senior Center is equipped with an art room, library, computer lab, exercise room, restaurant-sized kitchen, wrap around veranda and a meeting area with space for 100 people for community gatherings and events.

“Seniors are a vital component of Florida’s rich heritage,” said Governor Charlie Crist.
“THE PLAYERS Community Senior Center is a great example of a public-private partnership that reinforces our state’s commitment to creating and expanding opportunities for Florida’s seniors to live active and enriched lives.”

“Many of the volunteers who donate their time to THE PLAYERS Championship are seniors,” said Brian Goin, executive director of THE PLAYERS. “Their efforts and support of the tournament allow us to improve the quality of life for them and the entire St. Johns County community.”

Ah now the picture becomes complete. This is where tomorrow's THE PLAYERS marshalls will be reared!

The Center will offer educational classes, physical fitness, intellectual stimulation, socialization and entertainment.

“THE PLAYERS Community Senior Center is the end result of our combined dreams and visions and would not have been possible without a true understanding of what "successful aging" can and should mean in a society so accustomed to focusing on youth,” said Brown. “To have this level of participation and commitment from both THE PLAYERS organization and from the Board of County Commissioners is truly extraordinary.”

Monday
Jun042007

U.S. Open Sectional Scores

The USGA has scores posted for Monday's sectionals while Mark Lamport-Stokes has the rundown on big names who made and missed the chance to slap it around Oakmont.

And so nice to see that everyone decided to show up for this year's European qualifier!

Monday
Jun042007

"There are now 85 bunkers on the Ailsa and this plodder seemed to splash out of most of them."

The Scotsman's Mike Aitken hunkers down in full resort-newsletter mode and swoons breathlessly over the R&A's distance deregulation driven changes to Turnberry, artfully running through the cringe-worthy checklist of what a major championship "test" is to provide.

In terms of heightening the difficulty of the Ailsa - both Tom Watson and Nick Price won at Turnberry with 72 hole totals of 268, the lowest winning scores for an Open in Scotland - the most significant changes have taken place at the 16th, 17th and 18th holes. The 16th, once pretty but toothless, has been transformed. By moving the fairway left, the re-modelled par 4 has become a 458-yard dogleg which approaches the same green from a far trickier angle.
Key word, trickier. That usually means rigged to combat the distance jumps that we failed to understand and regulate.
This alteration enabled Martin Ebert from MacKenzie Ebert course designers, with input from the Royal and Ancient,

 His name's Peter Dawson...sorry, continue... 

to create a new back tee for the 17th which stretches a previously soft par 5 to 558 yards. Throw in a new 18th tee built to the left of the 17th fairway and it's little wonder George Brown, Turnberry's golf course manager, believes the alterations to the last three holes have added a stroke-and-a-half of difficulty to the finish.
And now you know why they haven't turned out a decent architect since MacKenzie, and he wasn't really even Scottish. 
Where previously the aspiring champion standing on the 16th tee thought about making a couple of birdies, matching par is now no disgrace.
Well, and you know Turnberry has produced such dogs for winners. Watson, Norman, Price and that horrible duel in '77! It had to go!
According to Michael Tait, director of the R&A, the changes to the Ailsa are sure to enhance the reputation of a links which hasn't staged an Open since Nick Price clutched the Claret Jug in 1994. "It's important at any Open venue to have closing holes which will test the best players in the world and we believe the changes at 16, 17 and 18 will give Turnberry a very strong finish," said Tait. "The burn in front of the 16th green didn't really come into play for the top players before. By re-routing the hole, and changing the angle, we feel the second shot there is much more challenging.
Yawn... 
"The Ailsa has always been renowned as the most scenically beautiful links on the championship rota and we were fortunate to be able to build new tees on the seventh and the tenth holes which add to the visual appeal as well as toughening the golf course. The new tee on the seventh has been built on reclaimed land from the sea, while the new tenth tee, with a shot over a rocky promontory, is quite spectacular."

As well as adding 227 yards of length - the par-70 Ailsa measures 7,224 yards compared to 6,967 in 1994 - 21 new bunkers have also been built. Having played the course last week with Stewart Selbie, Turnberry's manager, it is clear how shrewdly these hazards have been deployed. There are now 85 bunkers on the Ailsa and this plodder seemed to splash out of most of them.

Okay everyone on three, one, two, three, "oy vey!"

Monday
Jun042007

Honoring Stu

geoffstu.jpgGeoff Russell's Golf World tribute to Stu has been posted.

It was a really wet Sunday at the Mercedes. I heard they wouldn't let Charlie Rymer walk the fairways unless he observed the 90-degree rule. (Jan. 14, 2005)

A few years ago I hired Stu Schneider to be Golf World's television critic. Stu's golf journalism career started in 1995 when he became editor of GolfWeb, one of the Internet's first golf-only websites--and soon, under Stu's leadership, golf's best website. In an e-mail last week, GolfWeb founder Ed Pattermann wrote, "Stu grasped the potential of the Internet and its ability to cover every facet of golf on a global scale instantly. Stu pioneered common website components such as online polls, contributing writers, player diaries and interactive forums."

As many as a dozen golf writers working today owe their start to Stu. Unfortunately, his own career didn't progress as smoothly. When the Internet world went bust in the late 1990s, GolfWeb was sold a couple of times, and in 1999 Stu was replaced as editor. He dabbled in websites and real estate, but until I called him in 2004, he hadn't been able to get back into golf journalism.

I don't want to say Nick Faldo is spreading himself too thin, but last weekend he showed up to adjust my satellite dish. (Oct. 13, 2006)

Stu's column, "TV Rewind," quickly became one of Golf World's best-read departments, especially at the TV networks. It was a complicated assignment. TV officials--like pro golfers and, for that matter, magazine editors--don't take kindly to criticism, especially from an outsider. Also, my wife, Molly, happens to be a producer for NBC Sports. This put Stu in the unenviable position of both fending off charges of favoritism towards NBC and having his slightest mistakes (like confusing the roles of a director and producer) pointed out by the boss's wife. But Stu navigated the currents, skillfully and fairly.

Stu acquired another assignment. "Front 9," the snarky little column that usually appears on this page, had become stale under its previous writer--who happened to be me. His first week at Golf World, I sent him a draft of "Front 9" for a little "polishing." I did it again the second week. The third week, I fired myself and promoted him to the job.

He could even write funny from a hospital bed. Last month during the Players, Stu suffered a recurrence of the colitis that first felled him last November. Though in excruciating pain, he insisted on fulfilling his assignments for two more weeks (he said it gave him "something to do"). But during the final round of the Colonial, Stu asked for a week off. His recovery had stalled, and he was contemplating surgery to have his colon removed.

Two days later, he was stricken with an infection. He was rushed to intensive care, but went into cardiac arrest and died. He was 52. He leaves a wife, Linda, and two sons, Matthew, 8, and Ben, 4. His passing was as cruel as it was swift. Five days later as I type this, I still can't believe it.

This week, in honor of the Players, the Denny's in Ponte Vedra Beach will be serving a Grand Slam Breakfast with five items. (May 11, 2007).

When I arrived in Connecticut from California in 1986 to begin work at the Golf Digest Publications (Golf World's parent), I couldn't afford my own place. The human resources director put me in touch with a guy named Stu Schneider, Golf Digest's public relations director. After promising him I didn't smoke, he invited me to move in. We lived together for almost four years.

Stu, a native of Long Island, introduced me to Madison Square Garden, Bethpage Black, Albert Brooks movies--and a quirky sense of humor (when his teenaged niece had nose surgery, instead of a get-well card, Stu mailed her a pair of plastic Groucho Marx glasses). I'd like to say we lived a swinging existence, but mostly we played golf and basketball and fought over who hadn't cleaned the lint filter in the dryer. Our most outrageous stunt was probably the year we wore red Converse high-tops with our tuxedoes to the company holiday party.

We both wanted to be golf magazine writers, and despite the fact that I was succeeding at that dream and he wasn't, we became close friends. When Stu and Linda were married in 1995, I was his best man (that's a picture of us from that day; Stu is the fashionably bald guy on the right). Two months later when I married Molly, Stu was one of my groomsmen. Afterward, Stu moved to California to become the editor of GolfWeb.

I can think of no greater void on earth right now than the one in the lives of Linda, Matthew and Ben. Farther down the list of those impacted by Stu's death are his teammates at Golf World. Finding a new TV critic will be hard--who else wants to watch 20 hours of golf coverage every week? Meanwhile, I guess I'll go back to writing "Front 9."

I have big shoes to fill.

For more tributes to Stu, check out the original post where several more great remembrances have been added in recent days. Also, information about a June 14 memorial at Bethpage State Park has been posted by Stu's brother, Brian

Sunday
Jun032007

Wie WD Follow Up

It's almost unfathomable to think that just 364 days ago PGATour.com's Brett Avery was texting us updates on Michelle Wie's U.S. Open qualifying quest. Here we are a year later and Wie's game is a mess, and it's clear that the management of her career is in shambles. Meanwhile, the events of last Thursday raise serious questions about the integrity of her advisors and LPGA Tour officials.

I'll be curious to see how the weekly publications cover the madness that took place last Thursday and whether they will focus on the purported and unprovable rules violation by father B.J. Wie, or if they zero in on the big picture story of her forced withdrawing at the apparent insistence of her advisors, with assistance from the LPGA's COO (and with the LPGA Commissioner on property).

While some stories focused on the possible rules violation, Eric Adelson's ESPN.com account raises plenty of questions about the behavior of folks calling themselves adults. These fine folks essentially told a young woman to stop playing, embellish the truth about an injury, and all so that she would be eligible for the remainder of the year. (Let's forget the silliness of the 88 rule for a moment, because it is a rule nonetheless.)

So let's review.

First, if there were any doubts cast from the LPGA offices about come of Adelson's observations, Golfweek's reliable Beth Ann Baldry reaffirms Adelson's original account after looking at the possible rules violation.

Golfweek's Rex Hoggard opted not to delve into the specifics of the WD and instead focused on why Wie's even playing in the PGA Tour's John Deere Classic, with these tough quotes from Retief Goosen:

“The players in general feel it is not right,” said Goosen, competing this week at the Wales Open. “If she qualifies to play in an event then fine, but there are youngsters and good players coming up who could have taken that spot and broken through. We all know with her playing in the men’s events that she is not going to get anywhere, so I’m not really sure what she is trying to achieve.”

While that's a fair question, it's the annectodal evidence about the events last Thursday that cry out for tough questions regarding the conduct of COO Chris Higgs in giving the appearance of having suggested to her agent the ramifications of a high score, but then claimed he had made a trip out to Wie's group for "no particular reason."

As Ron Green noted, Wie seemed intent on finishing and only stopped at the insistence of her advisors, who appeared to be in close contact with LPGA officials.

And if Green's observations weren't enough, Sal Johnson at GolfObserver noted:

In a interview with Golf Channel's Kay Cockrill [Sp.], Wie said that she was going to ice down both of her wrist and practice in the morning, then try to play next week in the McDonald's LPGA Championship.

As someone who has hurt their wrist playing golf, the last thing you want to do is think about hitting golf balls the next day if you are in any pain at all.

Wie's post round press conference appearance stinks too, not necessarily because of Wie's answers, but again, because of the LPGA's conduct.

Adelson writes of initial questions about her WD:

An LPGA official answered that question for her, saying, "Michelle, thank you for coming in after your withdrawal from the tournament because of your wrist. Are you optimistic from here on out once your wrist does heal?"

Yet, the opening comment from the LPGA official is not in the transcript because the recording had not "started."

DANA GROSS-RHODE: (Recording started) Are you optimistic from here on out once your wrist does heal?

MICHELLE WIE: Yeah, you know it felt good when was practicing but, you know, I kind of like tweaked it in the middle of round a little bit.  So just taking caution measures, and I know what to work on. The only way to go up from here is up, so I'm feeling pretty good about it.

DANA GROSS-RHODE: And it was the wrist injury, the wrist injury and is what forced the WD?

MICHELLE WIE: Yes. 

Love the follow up after you've told her why she withdrew!

Now why is all of this important?

Adults lied because they have a lot riding on Michelle Wie's shoulders and they need her eligible for play the rest of 2007. People lie about much worse things every day that impact lives.

For me, the LPGA Tour is on the cusp of emerging as a strong and exciting tour, but questions are all too often emerging about the Commissioner's office and a disregard for rules, integrity, tradition and basic decency.

It's one thing for the Wie family to have taken the measures they did and disappointing that they would put their daughter up to lying. They will have to live with themselves and the consequences of mismanaging their daughter's career, and Michelle will have her millions to comfort her should this golf thing not work out.

No, I find the LPGA Tour's complicity in the whole affair much more disturbing and potentially damaging to the Tour's future well being to be the real story here.

Your thoughts? 

 

Sunday
Jun032007

Emailing With Levet

headshot-135x95.jpgJames Corrigan follows up his revealing Retief Goosen e-interview with another online interesting conversation, this time with Thomas Levet, who is recovering from a bout with vertigo and teeing it up at Walton Heath today in hopes of qualifying for the U.S. Open.

Just in case you think your golf swing is giving you problems, just consider this:
Are golfers particularly susceptible to vertigo?

I'm not sure about that, although there have been a few others who have suffered, such as David Duval, Peter Hanson. It's a condition that can hit anybody at any time. The golf swing did trigger my vertigo, though, and they had to find out why. When they did, that was when I could work towards a cure.
Sunday
Jun032007

I Hate To Be The Bearer Of Bad News...

...but if the FedEx Cup Playoffs started today (and oh how I know you can't wait), Chris Stroud would miss the final 144 by one spot.

The tension is building. 

Sunday
Jun032007

The Heart Of The (88) Matter

right-01.gifIn the wake of the unseemly Michelle Wie WD at the Ginn Open, the entire idea of quitting to avoid the wrath of the LPGA's Rule of 88 was put into perspective by MacKinzie Kline, who posted a second round 89, making her (as a non-LPGA member) ineligible for the rest of the year.

And it didn't even cross her mind. Or anyone else's. Tod Leonard writes:

Mac Kline, who was born with a congenital heart defect, was the first player to use a golf cart and oxygen during an LPGA Tour event. With favorable temperatures in the low 80s yesterday, she said she didn't start using oxygen until the fifth hole.

“It was better than I thought it would be,” she said.

A significant part of Kline's appearance in the Ginn was to raise awareness for the Children's Heart Foundation. Kline makes national appearances for CHF and has made it her goal to raise $1 million for research that may one day save her own life. She has already raised more than $750,000.

“My gosh, I talked to (Ginn representative) Ryan Julison today, and he said we've reached millions of people because of what Mac did this week,” John Kline said. “There's going to be so much more awareness of the Children's Heart Foundation. I think the money is going to pour in from all over the world.

“There were a few LPGA players who came by to talk to Mac today. And they said, 'You're awesome. Go out and play. Have fun.' ”

Mac Kline insisted she took that advice.

“It was really, really fun,” she said. “It was all very exciting.”

Quite the contrast. For more on Kline, check out her website.

Saturday
Jun022007

"She seemed intent on finishing her round"

june2_wiestar_600x600.jpgNice notice (and photo) by golf.com of Ron Green Jr.'s blog post that adds another dimension to the Michelle Wie WD saga.

When she withdrew Thursday, she was 14-over par with two watery holes to play. Two pars would get her in at 86. In other words, there was little margin for error.

Wie seemed surprised when her manager, Greg Nared, stopped her as she walked to the eighth tee (her 17th) Thursday. She seemed intent on finishing her round, but Nared and Wie’s parents had been talking for a couple of holes and Nared had been on the phone with LPGA officials.

Saturday
Jun022007

Golf.com's Ten Most Overrated Courses

may30_overrated06_600x600.jpgNo byline on this one, and it's hard to argue with a list of overrated courses including Sahallee (left...I know, looking a tad tired) and topped by Medinah No. 3. But this seemed way harsh Joe, err, I mean, whoever wrote this:

Admittedly, nice guys Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw had a tough act to follow in doing the third course at Bandon Dunes Resort, and on an inland plot at that. But those early raves have turned to furrowed brows for those who properly contemplate its back nine flaws, chiefly the ridiculous 14th hole and the inexplicably left-tilting landing area on 16.

Saturday
Jun022007

"Just what is it about golf that ignites a passion that I have no desire to extinguish?"

Thanks to reader Cob for this Jim McCabe column on the meaning of golf in the context of bidding farewell to Boston Golf Club's John Minneck.


Saturday
Jun022007

Perfection Is Boring

Thanks to reader Rob for noting Lorne Rubenstein's column pondering the perfection of Muirfield Village's conditioning and role that such pristine conditions play in the game.

The problem is that golfers, and not only tour professionals, expect perfect conditions in modern golf. They want to know that a ball hit into a spot in the fairway will stay there and not careen madly off a firm slope into a bunker. When they do find sand, they expect a perfect lie. They also expect the sand to be the same in every bunker on the course.

Nicklaus took some action in this regard. He furrowed the bunkers last year so that not every ball that settles into the sand will sit up. Some players whined. The furrows aren't as deep this year, but they're still furrowed. "Bunkers are meant to be a hazard," Nicklaus said. "Why have them otherwise?"

That's a good point. Nevertheless, Muirfield Village and most every PGA Tour course still offers ideal conditions. But golf was never meant to be played on courses so produced and contrived that they might as well be domed. Barring wild weather or stupidly narrow fairways and rough so high that there's no shot to play but a hard thwack out, today's courses are mostly the same and mostly boring.

 

Friday
Jun012007

US Open Sectional Storylines

usga%20logo.gifMonday marks one of the best golf days of the year: U.S. Open Sectional Qualifying.

Stars, former stars and hungry mini-tour pros tee it up on a level playing field and just like last year, here are just a few of the "storylines" to watch out for, courtesy of the USGA Media Department.

Storylines for the 2007 U.S. Open From Sectional Qualifying

Bear Creek Country Club ( Murrieta , Calif. ; 74 players for 4 spots)

  • Danny Lee , a 16-year-old amateur from New Zealand , was a semifinalist at the 2006 U.S. Junior.
  • Eric Meeks of Las Vegas , Nev. , captured the 1988 U.S. Amateur.
  • Mike Sica of La Quinta, Calif., managed to shoot a 3-under-par 69 at his local qualifier at Bermuda Dunes (Calif.) C.C. with borrowed clubs because his did not arrive at the airport following a Canadian Tour event. He played with an old set of clubs, his father’s driver and a putter he never had used.

Columbine Country Club ( Littleton , Colo. ; 20 players for 1 spot)

  • Dustin White of Pueblo , Colo. , made it through both stages of U.S. Open qualifying in 2006 to qualify for the field at Winged Foot. He missed the cut.

Walton Heath Golf Club ( Surrey , England ; 72 players for 9 spots)

  • Darren Clarke of Northern Ireland has represented Europe on five Ryder Cup teams and defeated Tiger Woods in the final of the 2000 World Golf Championship-Accenture Match Play Championship.
  • Miguel Angel Jimenez of Spain has also competed in seven U.S. Opens and shared runner-up honors in 2000 at Pebble Beach .
  • Oliver Wilson represented Great Britain and Ireland at the 2003 Walker Cup Match.
  • Francesco Molinari of Italy is the brother of 2005 U.S. Amateur champion Edoardo Molinari . 
  • Paul Lawrie of Scotland came from 10 strokes back in the final round to win the 1999 British Open at Carnoustie in a playoff over Justin Leonard and Jean Van de Velde .
  • Jean Van de Velde of France is known for his 72nd-hole collapse at the 1999 British Open at Carnoustie when he made a triple-bogey 7. He lost in the subsequent playoff to Paul Lawrie .
  • Paul McGinley of Ireland holed the Ryder Cup-clinching putt for Europe at the 2002 Matches at The Belfry.

Jupiter Hills Club ( Tequesta , Fla. ; 47 players for 2 spots)

  • Fredrik Jacobson of Sweden is a PGA Tour regular who tied for fifth at the 2003 U.S. Open at Olympia Fields.

Hawks Ridge Golf Club (Ball Ground, Ga. ; 36 golfers for 3 spots)

  • Peter Marshall , 15, of Lake Forest , Ill. , is the youngest player to advance to sectional qualifying. He turned 15 on Jan. 10. He is one of two 15-year-olds to make it to the sectional qualifying portion of the championship.
  • Dave Womack of McDonough , Ga. , won the 2006 U.S. Mid-Amateur title.
  • PGA Tour player Jason Dufner of Auburn , Ala. , made the cut at the 2006 U.S. Open and was the runner-up to Trevor Immelman at the 1998 U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship.
  • Hall of Famer Larry Nelson, 59, of Marietta , Ga. , won the U.S. Open in 1983 at Oakmont ( Pa. ) Country Club. Nelson held off defending champion Tom Watson by a stroke. He holed a 62’ birdie putt at the 70th hole.
  • Ryan Hybl of Winterville , Ga. , was the runner-up to Dave Womack at the 2006 U.S. Mid-Amateur and currently serves as an assistant men’s golf coach at his alma mater, the University of Georgia .
  • PGA Tour player Heath Slocum owns two tour victories, the last coming at the 2005 Southern Farm Bureau Classic. He has only played in one previous U.S. Open, missing the cut in 2002 at Bethpage State Park .
  • Matt Kuchar of Atlanta , Ga. , was the 1997 U.S. Amateur champion and represented the USA at the 1999 Walker Cup Match. In 1998, he made the 36-hole cut at both the Masters and U.S. Open.

Riverside Golf Club ( North Riverside , Ill. ; 45 players for 5 spots)

  • Len Mattiace of Jacksonville , Fla. , was the runner-up to Mike Weir at the 2003 Masters.
  • Nationwide Tour player James Driscoll of Brookline , Mass. , was the runner-up to Jeff Quinney at the 2000 U.S. Amateur and was a member of the 2001 USA Walker Cup team. Driscoll also was the runner-up at the 1995 U.S. Junior.
  • Mike Small of Champaign , Ill. , is the head men’s golf coach at the University of Illinois who has also qualified for several PGA Championships.
  • Mario Tiziani of Shorewood , Minn. , is the brother-in-law of PGA Tour player Steve Stricker .
  • Jeff Overton of Evansville, Ind., was a 2005 USA Walker Cupper who advanced to the semifinals of the 2004 U.S. Amateur.
  • Former PGA Tour player Chip Beck, 50, of Lake Forest , Ill. Beck shared second place at the 1986 and ’89 U.S. Opens.

Indian Hills Country Club ( Mission Hills , Kan. ; 22 players for 1 spot)

  • Matt Gogel of Mission Hills , Kan. , is a former PGA Tour winner (AT&T National Pro-Am)

Woodmont Country Club ( Rockville , Md. ; 65 players for 5 spots)

  • Jonathan Moore of Vancouver , Wash. , won the 2006 NCAA Division I title for Oklahoma State and was a member of the 2006 USA World Amateur Team. He also qualified for the 2006 U.S. Open.
  • Brad Faxon of Barrington , R.I. , will be looking to play in his 21 st U.S. Open. The 1983 USA Walker Cupper owns eight PGA Tour wins, the last coming at the 2005 Buick Championship. He has played in 19 U.S. Opens.
  • Jordan Byrd of Clemson , S.C. , is the brother of PGA Tour player and former USA Walker Cupper Jonathan Byrd.
  • Peter Uihlein , 17, of Bradenton , Fla. , is one of the top junior golfers in the country and the son of Acushnet CEO Wally Uihlein .
  • Conrad Ray of Austin , Minn. , is the head men’s golf coach at Stanford University and a former Stanford teammate of Tiger Woods. He got into the 2005 U.S. Open at Pinehurst as an alternate.
  • Fred Funk , 51, of Ponte Vedra , Fla. , has won titles on both the PGA and Champions tours this year. He captured the 2005 Players Championship at the age of 48.

Old Oaks C.C./Century C.C. (Purchase, N.Y.; 58 golfers for 3 spots)

  • Nationwide Tour player Ricky Barnes of Scottsdale , Ariz. , won the 2002 U.S. Amateur at Oakland Hills. He has qualified for three U.S. Opens, but none since he turned professional.
  • Jon McLean of Weston , Fla. , is the son of noted PGA teaching professional Jim McLean . McLean lost to eventual runner-up John Kelly in the third round of the 2006 U.S. Amateur.

OSU Scarlet G.C./Scioto C.C. ( Columbus , Ohio ; 144 players for 24 spots)

  • Rocco Mediate of Naples , Fla. , was born in Greensburg , Pa. , near Oakmont. He was paired with Arnold Palmer for the first two rounds in 1994. He later withdrew due to back problems and subsequently had surgery in July of that year.
  • Ryan Moore of Puyallup , Wash. , is the only player to win the U.S. Amateur Public Links and U.S. Amateur in the same year (2004). He also won the 2002 APL and was the 2000 U.S. Junior runner-up. He earned low-amateur honors at the 2005 Masters.
  • Jonathan Byrd of Sea Island , Ga. , is a former USA Walker Cupper (1999) who now plays on the PGA Tour (two wins). His brother Jordan also is hoping to qualify for the 2007 U.S. Open.
  • Edward Loar of Dallas , Texas , was a member of the 1999 USA Walker Cup team.
  • Mark O’Meara of Windermere , Fla. , won the 1998 Masters and British Open titles. He also captured the 1979 U.S. Amateur.
  • Michael Putnam of Tacoma , Wash. , was a member of the victorious 2005 USA Walker Cup team and a 2005 U.S. Open qualifier.
  • Mike Van Sickle of Wexford , Pa. , is the son of Sports Illustrated senior golf writer Gary Van Sickle . He survived a playoff at his local qualifier in Mequon , Wis. , to get the last available spot.
  • Tim Mickelson of San Diego , Calif. , is the brother of three-time major champion Phil Mickelson and the head men’s golf coach at the University of San Diego .
  • Boo Weekley of Milton, Fla., won his first PGA Tour event at the Verizon Heritage in April .
  • Jeff Quinney of Scottsdale , Ariz. , won the 2000 U.S. Amateur and competed on the 2000 USA World Amateur Team and 2001 USA Walker Cup squad. He is a PGA Tour rookie in 2007.
  • Kevin Marsh of Las Vegas , Nev. , won the 2005 U.S. Mid-Amateur and also served as the interim head coach for the NCAA Division I champion Pepperdine men’s golf team in 1997 when Coach John Geiberger contracted chicken pox. Marsh is a Pepperdine graduate.
  • Bob Ford , 53, of Oakmont , Pa. , is the head professional at Oakmont C.C., the site of the 2007 U.S. Open. Ford made the cut at the 1983 U.S. Open at Oakmont.
  • Steve Jones of Tempe , Ariz. , is the 1996 U.S. Open champion. His 10-year exemption for being champion ended last year.
  • Jason Gore of Valencia , Calif. , was the darling of the 2005 U.S. Open when he earned a spot alongside Retief Goosen in the final pairing on Sunday, only to shoot an 84. Gore was also a member of the 1997 USA Walker Cup team.

Colonial Country Club ( Memphis , Tenn. ; 117 players for 15 spots)

  • John Daly of Memphis , Tenn. , won the 1991 PGA Championship as the ninth alternate and then added a second major title with the 1995 British Open.
  • Mark Brooks of Fort Worth, Texas, won the 1996 PGA Championship in a playoff and lost an 18-hole playoff to Retief Goosen at the 2001 U.S. Open.
  • Jeff Maggert of The Woodlands, Texas , owns three top-five finishes in 15 U.S. Open appearances, including a pair of thirds (2002 and ’04).
  • Bob May of Las Vegas, Nev., was the runner-up to Tiger Woods in a memorable playoff at the 2000 PGA Championship. He was a member of the 1991 USA Walker Cup team.
  • Steve Elkington of Australia won the 1995 PGA Championship in a playoff over Colin Montgomerie .
  • Hank Kuehne of McKinney, Texas won the 1998 U.S. Amateur. He is the younger brother of 1994 U.S. Amateur runner-up Trip Kuehne and three-time USGA champion Kelli Kuehne .
  • Philip Francis , 17, of Scottsdale , Ariz. , won the 2006 U.S. Junior, a year after being a quarterfinalist in the same event. He is headed to UCLA in the fall.

Northwood Club ( Dallas , Texas ; 30 players for 3 spots)

  • Justin Leonard of Dallas, Texas, won the 1992 U.S. Amateur and was a member of the 1992 USA World Amateur Team and ’93 Walker Cup squad. He later won the 1997 British Open and was the runner-up at the 1999 British Open and ’04 PGA Championship. He is looking to play in his 12th U.S. Open.
  • Cory Whitsett , 15, of Houston , Texas , is the second-youngest player to advance to sectional qualifying. The left-hander qualified for match play at the 2006 U.S. Junior, where he made a hole-in-one in stroke-play qualifying.
  • Corey Pavin of Oxnard , Calif. , is the 1995 U.S. Open champion and a member of the 1981 USA Walker Cup team. He’s played on three U.S. Ryder Cup and two U.S. President’s Cup squads. Pavin owns 15 PGA Tour victories.

Olympic Course at Gold Mountain G.C. ( Bremerton , Wash. ; 20 players for 1 spot)

  • Erik Hanson of Kirkland , Wash. , is a former major-league pitcher with the Seattle Mariners, Toronto Blue Jays and Cincinnati Reds who has previously qualified for the U.S. Mid-Amateur.
Friday
Jun012007

Avenel Redo Update

Leonard Shapiro reports in the Washington Post that the TPC Avenel redo is still going to be pricey:

At the moment, the course is getting permits approved. The next step is a meeting before the planning board on July 12.

The PGA Tour, Sullivan said, has set the money aside. They'll pour $8 million into the clubhouse, including expansions to dining areas, upgrading locker rooms and new fixtures and furniture. Another $12 million will go into the course, with what Sullivan described as "significant changes in design of tee boxes, bunkers and green complexes, as well as all new bentgrass on the fairways and greens."

$12 million for an existing course! Amazing. 

Thursday
May312007

Questions For The Commissioner

If you haven't read Eric Adelson's account of the disturbing antics that took place with Michelle Wie's Ginn/Annika withdrawal, you must. While Adelson clearly observed some disturbing behavior on the part of B.J. Wie and agent Greg Nared while making some sad observations about Michelle's state of mind, left unanswered are bigger questions about the LPGA Tour's behavior.

According to Adelson, both LPGA Chief Operations Officer Chris Higgs and Commissioner Carolyn Bivens were present at various points in the round, particularly Higgs just before the crucial moment when Wie's wrist magically became unbearable, coincidentally after Nared happened to have spoken to her! 

Reader Four-putt brings up an innocent but vital question, namely, why was agent Greg Nared on a cell phone when they are not allowed? That leads to other more vital questions. Was Nared on the phone with someone clarifying the LPGA's rule Rule of 88 rendering 88 shooter's and higher ineligible for the rest of the year? Adelson writes:

Chris Higgs, the LPGA Chief Operations Officer, soon drove up in a cart and spoke with Nared. Higgs had been talking about the Rule of 88 in the media tent, but he said he came out to Wie's ropeline for "no particular reason."

Was Higgs informing Nared that he could not use a cell phone, or was he explaining the Rule of 88?

"No particular reason" doesn't cut it.

Furthermore, let's say Higgs was explaining the Rule of 88 ramifications, did he suggest that Wie should withdraw if she would like to play in LPGA events later in the year? And if so, was Commissioner Carolyn Bivens, who was on the course at points in her round, involved in this discussion?

There have been questions for some time about Carolyn Bivens' regard for the rules of tournament player, dating back to the events that led to Barb Trammell's ouster and to that bizarre Annika-Paula Creamer incident. But this episode may have more significant ramifications because Bivens and here COO were directly involved in the decision and were directly or indirectly communicating with a player on the course through her agent.

And were LPGA officials involved in the decision to explain the reason for the withdrawal so that Wie would not have to in the post round press conference? 

This is of course why Tim Finchem gets the big bucks. He wouldn't have been caught dead within three states of such a debacle.

Anyway, I'm sure you all have more questions for the Commissioner, so please post them. Not that she'll likely step into the press tent to answer any.

Thursday
May312007

More Stu

I kept looking for Stu to sign online this afternoon to discuss the unbelievable antics at the Ginn, and boy is NBC's crew (producing for Golf Channel) getting off the hook without Golf World's intrepid man-of-all-media to scrutinize the inevitable free pass granted the LPGA Tour and Michelle Wie's posse despite their pathetic behavior.

Anyway, on the original post there are some really wonderful remembrances of Stu Schneider from some of golf's media heavyweights and also a nice blog post from Bob Carney over at GolfDigest.com who tantalizingly tells us that Stu was going to be involved in their future website plans. It's just not getting any easier thinking of all the great things we will lose with Stu's passing, from his friendship to his singular sense of humor and to his love of the sport. Though all of that pales compared to what his boys and Linda have lost.

For his friends in the media, hopefully we'll have some details soon on services and where flowers/contributions be sent.

Thursday
May312007

Winged Foot Longs To Again Experience Misery, Cost & Destruction Of Hosting U.S. Open Again

230136-278531-thumbnail.jpg
The 11th at Winged Foot West, Photo by G. Shackelford (click to enlarge)
Sam Weinman
reports that the storied club has 2015 in mind for another U.S. Open.


Thursday
May312007

"I told him, 'If I see you using the claw, I know we're in real trouble'"

First Ernie Els changes manufacturers, now, according to Steve Elling, it's his putting grip.

It's a cruel sport.

Thursday
May312007

"Soon after her score ballooned to 12-over on the par-72 course, her parents began consulting with each other and William Morris manager Greg Nared, who had a cell phone to his ear."

Eric Adelson at ESPN.com paints a richly detailed, compelling and ultimately stunning portrayal of the events surrounding Michelle Wie's first round WD from the Ginn/Annika event. Thanks to reader Steve for spotting this fine reporting, which you should read in its entirety.

The highlights. Or lowlights.

Wie landed in the bunker on 14, and then came one of the oddest holes of her brief pro career. She pushed her drive into the trees on the par-3 15th, then searched for her ball. Her mother, father, caddie and a family friend helped look for it before she called an unplayable lie.

Then Wie's father, B.J., said something to her caddie. More than one reporter present heard him say, "What about the tee?" Within seconds, Michelle decided to go back to the tee to hit again. She told her playing partners to putt out as she walked back to the beginning of the hole.

Playing partner Janice Moodie cautioned B.J. about Rule 8-1, which forbids a player from soliciting advice. "During a stipulated round," the rule states, "a player must not ... ask for advice from anyone other than his partner or either of their caddies." The penalty is two strokes. After Wie blocked her second shot and ended up with a triple-bogey, B.J. approached rules official Angus McKenzie and spoke with him for several minutes while his daughter moved to the next hole. McKenzie said later that B.J. had an explanation for the interaction, saying that he was only asking the caddie, "What are the options?"

Technically, there is no rules violation, since Michelle did not actively ask for help. But McKenzie told B.J., "When in doubt, don't."

Sharp had the same concerns. "Anybody can say something from outside the ropes," she said. "But he was too close. He's always so close to her. You're going to get your daughter in trouble. Everyone at the range was talking about it."

Oh but it gets worse. Much worse.

Meanwhile, Wie's body language began to match her game. She slumped her shoulders and sighed repeatedly. She showed little energy, even in the form of frustration, trudging along to her ball and taking less than the usual time lining up putts. She said almost nothing to her playing partners or to her caddie. And no wonder. Her round felt like a geological excursion, going from water to pavement to sand to tall grass.

Then came the bottom: the par-5 third hole. Wie's tee shot veered out of bounds, into a street, and down a storm drain. LPGA commissioner Carolyn Bivens, who suddenly appeared on the fringe of the fairway, stood by as a little boy got on his hands and knees to peer into the drain in search of the ball. Wie played a provisional and hooked that into a pond. She walked toward the street in hopes of finding her ball, then turned and retraced her steps to the tee for the second time during the round. She eventually carded a quintuple-bogey 10, and stood at 12-over after 12 holes.

Now missing the cut became the least of Wie's troubles. The somewhat obscure Rule of 88 states that a non-member who shoots 88 is forced to withdraw and subsequently banned from LPGA co-sponsored events for the remainder of the calendar season. Wie said later that she never considered the possibility, but soon after her score ballooned to 12-over on the par-72 course, her parents began consulting with each other and William Morris manager Greg Nared, who had a cell phone to his ear. Chris Higgs, the LPGA Chief Operations Officer, soon drove up in a cart and spoke with Nared. Higgs had been talking about the Rule of 88 in the media tent, but he said he came out to Wie's ropeline for "no particular reason."

Wie's score climbed to 14-over, and then, after finishing up on the seventh hole, Nared spoke to Wie briefly before she announced, "We're not going to play anymore."

Wie had a 43 on the front and was at 7-over 35 on the back -- two bogeys shy of 88. She shook hands with her competitors, glumly climbed into a cart, and rode to the clubhouse, where she met behind closed doors with her parents and Nared. The four spoke for 15 minutes, then an ice pack was brought in for Wie's left wrist. Wie then walked to the media tent without the ice pack.

Oh but yes, there's even more.

So why did she withdraw?

An LPGA official answered that question for her, saying, "Michelle, thank you for coming in after your withdrawal from the tournament because of your wrist. Are you optimistic from here on out once your wrist does heal?"

Wie's reply: "Yeah, it felt good when I was practicing but I kind of tweaked it in the middle of the round a little bit. So just taking cautionary measures, and I know what to work on. The only way to go up from here is up, so I'm feeling pretty good about it."

Later, she elaborated: "Well, I think that when an injury is in the back of your mind, you're thinking, 'Oh, this is going to hurt.' The last thing you're thinking about is trying to hit the ball straight.'

That, combined with her stilted follow through, shows that her injury has not healed. And yet Wie did not shake her wrist or show any sign of discomfort during the round. Last season, she grabbed her wrist on several occasions, even during press conferences.

"She wasn't holding her wrist," Sharp said. "I think she just had a bad day. If it was her wrist, why wait until the last two holes [to withdraw]?"

That question will probably never be answered. Nor will the question of what happened with her father and her caddie on the fifth hole. "I don't know," Wie told reporters. "It's a long way back."

And it's a long way back for Wie herself. The withdrawal will not affect her world ranking, but she has not broken par in an LPGA event since last July. That doesn't include all the trouble she's faced in recent men's events. The season's second major awaits next week at the LPGA Championship in Maryland, and -- assuming she plays -- she will face more questions about her withdrawal, her wrist, her swing, and the involvement of her parents. But the most worrisome question may be about her state of mind.

"I kind of felt bad for her," Sharp said. "She didn't seem happy."

Wow. 

Thursday
May312007

"If they want to learn the business, they've got to pay their dues and go and work under some other people."

Thanks to reader Tom for this Lewine Mair piece on Jack Nicklaus criticizing player architects for mailing in designs. Oy vey...Jack. You can't have your son-in-law designing courses under your name and go on rants like this!

The ball, fine. But come on, this?

Mair writes:

Jack Nicklaus has let the cat out of the bag. In an interview for CNN, to appear on Saturday, Nicklaus confirms that there are top golfers who have lent their names to courses which they have never clapped eyes on.

Nicklaus does not include Tiger Woods, whose first design project is under way in Dubai. Though he begins by saying: "Tiger doesn't know anything about designing golf courses at the moment", he makes it clear that when Woods lends his name to a project, "you know it's going to be good".

It is more the general trend of tour players assuming the role of designers with which Nicklaus is so uncomfortable. "There's a lot of fellas out here who know how to play the game, but they don't really understand a golf course," he says. "If they want to learn the business, they've got to pay their dues and go and work under some other people. That way, they'll not only be able to use their name to produce a facility, but they'll produce a facility they're proud of.

"What you don't want," he continues, "is to have people saying, 'This is a Joe Jones' course' when Joe Jones was probably never there."

Nicklaus is interviewed on CNN International's Living Golf on Saturday at 6:30pm.