Golf is the Great Mystery. Like some capricious goddess, it bestows its favours with what would appear an almost fat-headed lack of method and discrimination. On every side we see two-fisted he-men floundering round in three figures, stopping every few minutes to let through little shrimps with knock-knees and hollow cheeks, who are tearing off snappy seventy-fours. Giants of finance have to accept a stroke per from their junior clerks. Men capable of governing empires fail to control a small, white ball, which presents no difficulties whatever to others with one ounce more brain than a cuckoo-clock. Mysterious, but there it is. P.G. WODEHOUSE
Hal Sutton talks to Cameron Morfit about the state of American golf, and in particular, issues confronting U.S. Ryder Cup teams and the PGA Tour.
The “high and long” way to play is an epidemic in the United States, Sutton says, but that style isn’t translating to birdies amid the ever-varied setups and unpredictable weather that define the Ryder Cup.
Courses continue to be built by developers trying to one-up each other in the race to build the next toughest track (even if it means driving mere mortals to quit the game) while the PGA Tour chooses broad-shouldered venues that cater mostly to bombers.
“That’s why I’ve kept hammering on it, and will until the day I day: Variety. We’ve got to have more of it,” Sutton said. “Play fast greens, play slow greens, play ’em all. Throw everything at every player. We’ll find out who the best players are. I told [PGA Tour commissioner] Tim Finchem, ‘You can cut 18 holes in the parking lot and Tiger will find a way to win.’”
To show that he’s walking the walk, Sutton pointed to Boot Ranch. He went out of his way, he said, to make sure the course included doglegs left and right, short holes, long holes and a variety of lies and looks.
“There’s a driver, there’s fairway woods, there’s long irons, middle irons, short irons, wedges and a putter,” Sutton said. “There’s 14 clubs in there. There’s a fade and there’s a slice. There’s a draw and there’s a hook. There’s a high ball and there’s a low ball. There’s backspin and there’s overspin. And by the way, they’re all part of the game, and by the way, you should know how to hit every shot and every club. If you’re on the PGA Tour you don’t have to."
Ed Sherman and George White offer two very different takes on Phil Mickelson vanishing from the face of the planet until the Bob Hope Classic. While White seemingly dusts off something from a Gaylord Sports release (complete with a breakdown of charitable donations), Sherman points out that Mickelson's lack of interest after the PGA does not bode well for the FedEx Cup, a system developed with Phil's input in mind.
Under the terms of an agreement with International Management Group, the city would pay $1.4 million, $1.47 million, and $1.54 million to host the game during the next three years.
Helene Elliott in today's LA Times writes about the NHL's disastrous move away from ESPN to OLN (now Versus). It's hard not to think of the PGA Tour and The Golf Channel when reading this:
A year ago, with its season about to start and ESPN refusing to pay big bucks to renew its rights deal, a desperate NHL aligned itself with OLN, now known as Versus when it's mentioned at all. Either side can end that agreement after this season.
If the NHL is serious about becoming a major player, it must flee Versus, crawl over broken glass if need be, and beg ESPN to take it back.
Like it or not, ESPN is ingrained in our sports culture. NHL executives were furious that under the previous deal, ESPN cut its NHL coverage after it added the NBA. However, a profit-sharing deal with the NHL would give ESPN incentive to restore hockey to prominence.
"ESPN provides the sort of Good Housekeeping stamp of approval," said Paul Swangard, managing director of the Warsaw Sports Marketing Center at the University of Oregon and a hockey fan. The NHL, he said, "would be better off finding a working partnership between themselves and ESPN. If it were my decision, and not knowing the reason, this league needs as many symbolic attachments to maintain their position as a major professional sport."
Versus' appeal had three prongs: It was willing to give the NHL lots of airtime, it was willing to pay a rights fee, and it was there. It hasn't grown fast enough to give the NHL the exposure it needs, having only recently extended its reach to 70 million homes, 20 million fewer than ESPN and ESPN2. Nor has Versus created a distinct identity that separates it from its competitors in the cable universe.
"If we were going to grow, we needed to do something different," NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said in defending the deal. "While we gave up some distribution, the coverage was phenomenal. They will continue to grow over time and we think as a result, people will see better coverage of hockey."
Bettman said Versus has committed extensive resources and money to its growth...
Hey, but look on the bright side NHL. You aren't locked up for 15 years.
Ron Kroichick wonders when Harding Park will see the next of its four more contractually obligated PGA Tour events and says the dire state of the other city courses is a big part of the problem:
All the while, there is an ongoing effort to get the National Golf Foundation to offer its analysis -- how much it would cost to renovate Lincoln Park and Sharp Park, so those courses could generate revenue rather than lose money, and whether such a project is even feasible.
These local issues play into the lingering question of when Harding Park will return to the national spotlight. It will not happen in 2007 and it looks like a longshot for '08. Combs essentially dismissed the possibility of the Tour adding another WGC event, one way to satisfy its commitment to San Francisco.
So pay attention when the Tour announces the venue for the 2009 Presidents Cup, a decision likely to come before the end of this year. That remains the most logical match for Harding, though it would require the Tour trusting the city to resolve its economic issues.
Is the problem with the other courses one of design or maintenance? Anyone want to fill us in? And is there any talk of possibly bringing back Dr. MacKenzie's touch at Sharp Park?
Bob Verdi was the only correspondent to write about the shower situation at a Ryder Cup hotel, following up on his stellar reports from Hoylake. So I guess he's pretty much a lock to win the the GWAA writing contest's first ever Bad Shower Division.
I promised on my last trip over here that I would never again complain about showers, but I must relate one more incident. The other night, the shower pipe wiggled loose from its mooring and attacked me. It was my most frightening shower event since Anthony Perkins and his knife went after Janet Leigh in "Psycho." The pipe, with a mind of its own, wrapped around my neck and I had a decision. Do I continue blowing 400 pounds per night here at the O'Bates Motel, or do I just die right here? I've said mean things about showers in Europe, and it's obvious they talk among themselves when I'm not around. I chose to put the pipe in its place and live. You know what they say. Another day, another Euro.
With a few breaks, next month's ADT Playoffs might end with three players laying claim to ``champion'' status.
Tradition, of course, gives the title to the player atop the money list. But with the ADT winner cashing $1 million and second place $100,000, the list could get skewed.
There's also a Player of the Year points race, which places the ADT on the same level as its four majors.
And now to add to the confusion, the LPGA has resolved the ADT winner will be declared the ``season champion'' - much like the Heat was the NBA's last team standing.
Got it all straight?
``I think we are all questioning that,'' said Annika Sorenstam, taking a wait-and-see stance during a teleconference with reporters. ``Let us see how it turns out.''
The Player of the Year race is its tightest in years, a four-player chase among front-running Lorena Ochoa, Karrie Webb, Sorenstam and Cristie Kerr.
Meanwhile, any of seven players could top the money list with a $1 million payday - a number that could go up or down in upcoming weeks.
But suppose someone outside those seven - Morgan Pressel? - won the ADT with Webb second and Ochoa eliminated after 54 holes.
Webb would move past Ochoa on the points list but not the money list, while Pressel would reign as ``season champion.''
Voila! Three champions. The only element lacking would be Don King.
...just not one on the Champions Tour. Instead, Norman is to play in the Senior Spanish Open...and we're still waiting for that first non-major Champions Tour start Greg!
Why do I have the feeling that Tim Finchem will not be writing a book jacket blurb for Norman's forthcoming biography?
Golfweek's Rex Hoggard has new details on The Golf Channel announcer line-up (I know you were losing sleep in anticipation...but hey, with 15 years to go, this stuff matters to some of us).
Tilghman and Faldo will be joined in Hawaii by Dottie Pepper and Jerry Foltz, both TGC staples with extensive experience working LPGA and Nationwide Tour events as on-course reporters. Rocco Mediate, a five-time Tour winner and current player, also is slated to work the year's first three events as an on-course reporter.
Peter Oosterhuis and Mark Rolfing will share the 17th tower duties and Rich Lerner will produce essays and features.
Definitely sounding a bit more professional than what initially leaked out, especially with the addition of Pepper and Oosterhuis.
Do you think the Big Break with Donald Trump marks a low point for The Golf Channel? Think again...
The Golf Channel is in the process of developing a series that will uncover the next new innovation in golf.
If you have a golf related invention, let us know! The Golf Channel is looking for people of all ages and backgrounds, and with all types of golf inventions for this potential new series.
If The Golf Channel proceeds with the series, you will have the opportunity to showcase your product to an entire world of golf enthusiasts with the support of The Golf Channel and potentially turn your idea into the next big thing in golf!
If you think you have the next big idea, please fill the attached preliminary application and email it to firstname.lastname@example.org, or send via US Mail to:
The Golf Channel
7580 Commerce Center Drive
Orlando, Fla., 32819
Please do not submit photos, sketches, descriptions or other information about the nature of your product or idea at this time.
Information and an on-line application are also available at www.thegolfchannel.com. For questions and for additional information, please email email@example.com.
If you have golf's next big idea, don't miss out on the chance to participate in this potential new series!
Is there any doubt what the winner gets for creating the next Medicus?
Their very own Golf Channel infomercial, placed in the coveted noon time slot to capture the lunchtime demographic and more importantly, so that it doesn't compete with The View.
David Westin follows up on Ping's rapid response to its military discount debacle, with the entire episode proving that it pays to have well-compensated executives who can quickly address the P.R. disasters created by those very same well-compensated executives.
In a ground-breaking move, active-duty and reserve members of the U.S. military now can receive rebates on Ping golf equipment.That's 10% coming out Ping's pocket now, instead of the retailers! A small price to pay for protecting the brand!
It is the first time Karsten Manufacturing Corp., which makes Ping clubs, has offered a discount of this nature. The Phoenix, Ariz., company was established in 1962.
The company announced its "Thank You Troops" rebate program Tuesday. It is retroactive to Monday, said Bill Gates, Ping's director of distribution and associate general counsel.
According to Bonaventure Discount Golf owner L.D. Waters, who has been in the business since 1955, this is the first time a golf-equipment company has offered a mail-in rebate.
Mr. Gates said the mail-in rebate is a dollar amount based on the purchase price. For instance, he said there would be a rebate of $80 on a set of eight Ping irons.
The cost of that set at Bonaventure Discount Golf is $748, so the rebate is 10.6 percent off the retail price.
Okay, see if you can read this without laughing:
According to a statement from Ping Chairman and CEO John Solheim, the rebate is a continuation of Ping's support of the military.
"For the last year, we've been looking for additional ways to support the troops," Mr. Solheim said in the statement. "On three occasions we've sent hundreds of free clubs for the troops to enjoy during their limited leisure time, but we wanted to provide them additional benefits.
"The reaction of some individuals to the issue reminded us it was time to do more," Mr. Solheim added.
Mr. Solheim disputed some media reports that the military was targeted because of the discounts, but added that "a lot of good is coming from the issue. We have the highest admiration and respect for those fighting for our country."
But this is peculiar...
According to Mr. Gates, Ping wanted to go the mail-rebate route because "we don't know what the retailer may be charging for the product. We want instead to provide the rebate from Ping directly. So it doesn't matter what they're charging out there."
Well, it does matter. That's what prompted this little debacle.
Hector Becerra in the LA Times looks at the possible precedent-setting situation with Glendora Country Club, where a developer made a land swap deal with club members and then took approval of a prospective club move to a special election.
But some land-use experts say the situation in Glendora is unusual because the developer, NJD Ltd., is proposing radical planning changes to the upscale suburb — moving a landmark country club, building a new golf course and creating a new community — through a ballot measure carefully crafted by a developer rather than city planners.And...
"That's extremely clever and creative," said Paul Shigley, editor of the Ventura-based California Planning and Development Report. "I have never heard of a land swap like that. That's very novel."
The developer has raised eyebrows by offering $10 Ralphs gift cards to residents who vote in the special election. City officials questioned the propriety of it.
But a consultant for NJD — whose owners live in Colorado and California — said they have had to mount an aggressive campaign because the city has placed numerous roadblocks.
Opponents have waved signs along streets and charged that the measure would ruin the neighborhood around the 100-acre country club and scar the picturesque hillside.And...
The developer owns about 400 acres in the hills above Glendora and nearby San Dimas. But it has struggled to build houses on the land because of tough zoning restrictions.
"They have always known what our rules were, but they didn't like the rules," said City Manager Eric Ziegler. "So their proposition is for the 50,000 residents of Glendora to change their rules so they could meet their profit margin."
Mayor Doug Tessitor said passage of the initiative would result in a loss of local control.
"They've concocted an initiative which completely negates our hillside ordinance, all our zoning codes and our building standards," he said. "It basically gives them a blank check."
But Davis said the measure would actually protect the hillside because it would mean building a golf course on about half of the 400 acres rather than more invasive homes. He said the country club and golf course would be integrated as much as possible in the foothills' natural terrain, adding that one way or another, homes will be built somewhere.
"They try to make it sound like we're going to go up there and flatten hills and drop a golf course on top," Davis said. "We're going to build into the terrain. It's not going to be green fairways the whole way."
The idea of the land swap first surfaced early last year, said Terry Beal, president of the Glendora Country Club. Beal said the idea of having a new country club and golf course to replace a facility dating to 1955 was attractive.
Earlier this year, most of the club's 455 equity members voted on the proposal, Beal said. Sixty-one percent voted to support the plan.
"It was a big mandate to move forward," Beal said. "We'd get a new facility for nothing. It's a good deal."
Beal complained that city officials have sent letters implying that the city would try to seize the land.
Ziegler said eminent domain was not considered but that the City Council did call for an appraisal of the country club in order to study whether the property could be purchased. But the city does not have the money, he said.
Dennis Winn, a longtime Glendora resident and club member, said the issue has split friendships in the community and at the country club.
"Thirty-, 40-year-old friendships have dissolved over this," he said. "Families stopped talking over this. It's really a shame that it has divided not only the club but the city."
Glendora voters rejected the measure by a 10 to 1 ratio Tuesday, causing developer Kim Scott to speculate that he might try to sell his property to the city or another developer.
"The vote was clear," said Scott, whose firm, NJD, owns the parcel. "The citizens of Glendora did not like our plan."
The table of contents for Golf Digest's November issue has been posted and this caught my eye:
Here V go again: The USGA eyes a ban on U-grooves. By Mike Stachura
This reminded me of an interesting bit from Frank Thomas's "Frank Talk" column in the October Digest (not posted).
Now, the USGA is looking at banning U-grooves because they are afraid of addressing the distance issue, afraid to acknowledge that there has been a significant distance increase since they issued their "Joint Statement of Principles," and still too angry about players hitting driver-wedge even when they present silly-narrow fairway widths in the 21-25 yard range.
So to stop the players from bombing drivers and hitting wedge approaches, they apparently believe that changing the grooves will force players to lay back off of tees, and voila, distance issue solved!
Ignoring the ridiculousness of advocating high rough and narrow fairways as a partial solution to the distance problem (that cat's out of the bag), just consider the logic and science of claiming that grooves are actually allowing players to spin the ball out of tournament rough.
Here's what Thomas said about balls, grooves and spin (underline added for emphasis):
From light rough (up to two inches), a ball will spin 40 percent less than it would from dry conditions. This is because the water in grass serves as a lubricant between the ball and the clubface. Because the cover never penetrates more than .005 inches into the groove, which is limited to a depth of .02 inches, this is the only condition in which groove configuration matters. Out of light rough the groove depth can carry away more water and decrease the effects of lubrication on spin. However, from rough of four to five inches, it doesn't matter what type of ball or grooves you are using.
So the USGA is going to have to make a strong case that U-grooves are spinning balls out of the rough.
But even then, they still won't address distance and spin of the ball, so it's all really just a big bluff.
Regarding the exciting news that CBS has hired Nick Faldo, Richard Sandomir in the NY Times shares this quote from a CBS exec:
Tony Pettitti, the executive vice president of CBS Sports, said Faldo's short period of work at ABC demonstrated an "easy ability to analyze, to vary his approach and explain and analyze things in different ways."And now you know why Bobby Clampett still has a network job.
Peter McCleery at Golfoberver analyzes the surprise hiring, saying that it likely means Ian Baker-Finch may not be in CBS's plans now, and he raises this interesting point about Faldo covering the Masters (no, not the riveting question of whether he'll wear his green jacket on the air...):
His honesty may have the Masters folks on edge; he may have a hard time not telling us what he thinks of the course changes on a few holes. That delicate topic was nicely sidestepped on CBS in recent years as the crew fell into a unanimous chorus of approval.
Jeese, where isn't he?
Thanks to reader Philip for this story on Nick Faldo replacing Lanny Wadkins at CBS, which was in dire need of new announcing life. Lanny declined a reduced role in order "to devote more of his time to playing on the Champions Tour."
The WGCs have been great for the 60 or so players who qualify for the no-cut tournaments that offer a guaranteed payday.
They have been great for fans who attend and watch on television, because the WGCs are all but guaranteed to bring together the best players in the world, something that rarely happens outside of major championships.
And they certainly have been great for the PGA Tour, which has a management arm under its corporate umbrella called Championship Management which runs - and profits from - these tournaments.
But are these big-money tournaments good for the rest of golf?
The answer, after seven years, is probably not.
Why? Because too many rank-and-file tournaments - the backbone of the tour - suffer from their existence.
"We have a fiduciary responsibility to look at all of our options -- whether they relate to Forest Oaks or somewhere else," Long said. "Nobody's questioning that Forest Oaks is a great golf course. But any good steward of the tournament would want to know their options. What we need to determine is if (Forest Oaks) is the best fit for where we want to take this tournament."What these guys will do for their charities!
No, actually this may be about the most vital attribute of a PGA Tour site, the clubhouse amenities.
Publicly, tournament officials say Forest Oaks, which has played host to the championship since 1977, has the best golf course in the Triad for a PGA Tour event -- for now.Or, maybe we never see the clubhouse because we are watching a golf tournament?
Privately, they wonder if they can do better. Forest Oaks' clubhouse and locker rooms are beginning to show their age, officials said. Neither has had significant renovations since the clubhouse opened in 1967.
"There's a reason why you never see a TV shot of the clubhouse on Sundays," said one tournament board member, who asked not to be named. "The physical amenities are outdated or are close to being so."
Even the course is being called into question. After opening to rave reviews three years ago, Davis Love's redesign has lost some of its luster with golfers.
"They made a great course good," PGA Tour regular Robert Gamez said after playing the course last year.
Sergio Garcia, who recently helped lead Europe to another Ryder Cup victory, said the new course was "a bit too gimmicky," a common lament among the pros.