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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
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    Masters of the Links: Essays on the Art of Golf and Course Design
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    The Captain: George C. Thomas Jr. and His Golf Architecture
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Current Reading
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Writing And Videos

There is nothing to do in St. Andrews but play golf and bathe.




"The mandated conformity of play on certain holes defies everything that Jones and MacKenzie strived to achieve"

The Augusta Chronicle's Scott Michaux says the trees and rough need to go and recommends that Billy Payne look to a group of former champions to undo Tom Fazio's changes.

It's the trees and the rough, however, that seem to fly in the face of the original design and strategic intent that the club, players and patrons so passionately embrace. The constriction of options and the mandated conformity of play on certain holes defies everything that Jones and MacKenzie strived to achieve with Augusta National.


The Big Three doesn't include perhaps the finest traditionalist architect today - and he happens to have a pair of green jackets as well in his locker. Ben Crenshaw understands the architectural genius that made Augusta National so great, but he's too gracious to publicly criticize the course.

These gentlemen and Payne might be able to restore whatever it is that makes Augusta National and the Masters so exceptional. The club has fixed flawed changes before - from the tributary of Rae's Creek in front of the 13th green to the mounding that abuts and defends the eighth green. Not every change proves to be in the best interests of the course.

We can only speculate as to how Bobby Jones might have reacted to combat the equipment issues that have forced some of the world's greatest courses to change with time.

But's it's unlikely he would have seen the need for a tree - or a whole grove of them - to interfere with the playability and drama of his tournament.

"Zach Saves The Game"

Bob Verdi in his post-Masters Golf World column:

Well, you probably won’t hear about Augusta National making additional land purchases anytime soon so as to elongate some of its 18 holes. They needn’t bring in more trees, either, and the membership likely will postpone discussion about instituting a uniform Masters ball. Last week’s tournament tended to allay concerns about rampant golf technology, not to mention global warming, just as thoroughly as Zach Johnson chloroformed parties throughout distant parts of the world.

And Booger and Google, blogging under the headline "Zack saves the game" write:

So, my friend, you are right once again. Distance, in the majors when it really matters, is not ruining the game. Distance, in the setting by which all other settings are judged, is over.

Uh, hate to be the bearer of bad news, but most the post-Masters discussion is not about what a wonderful thing it was to see the highest ever world ranked player win, but what a mess has been made of the course.

And why is the course a mess?

Oh that's right, because a bunch of old guys who are supposed to be really smart--many Augusta National members included--got outsmarted on the distance issue and have been cowering ever since.

No, I'm kind of thinking more people than ever see that these frustrated guys are using tacky setup ploys so they don't have to address the real issue.


Huggan On Seve

The Scottish Paper of Record Scotland On Sunday columnist writes about the sad state of Seve's game and how it can't tarnish his legacy.


Tweaking Torrey

Mark Figueroa on Torrey Pines getting a kikuyu resodding and on changes to the fourth hole:

Woodward added that alterations to the fourth fairway are also being made. The hole, which runs north and is considered one of the South's more difficult holes, has been reconfigured more to the left and will bring the cliffs more into play. The trees that run along the cliffs will be transplanted to the other side to create more space between the fourth and fifth fairways.

Trees also will be planted near the right side of the fourth tee box to discourage players from driving their tee shots intentionally into the wrong fairway.


" Where have you gone, Martha Burk?"

The Orlando Sentinel's Mike Bianchi manages to turn some mildly oblivious responses from Annika and Nancy Lopez into a hysterical (in more ways than one) rant about the lack of photo-opportunistic feminist leadership in sports. 

Brace yourselves... 

Her response -- correction: her non-response -- is both shocking and disappointing.

Here's the exchange between Annika Sorenstam and me Wednesday during her pre-tournament news conference for the LPGA Ginn Open:

"Annika, some derogatory comments were made about the Rutgers women's basketball team the other day; obviously, you've heard about them . . ."

Before I can finish, Annika stops me cold with her response.

"No, I haven't."

You haven't?

"No," she says, shaking her head.

Uncomfortable pause.

All I can think of to say at this point is, "Never mind."

All she can think of to say is, "Sorry."

Yeah, I'm sorry, too.

Sorry because herein lies the colossal problem facing female athletes in their ongoing battle against sexism in the sports arena: Nobody cares enough to speak up or stand up for them.

Where have you gone, Martha Burk?

A gender turns its lonely eyes to you.



Truly The Last Masters Question

I've been out and about at some golf facilities the last few days and heard near unanimous frustration at how boring the Masters has become.

We've considered the architectural and setup influences, but after reading Stu Schneider's TV Rewind column in this week's Golf World (column not posted), it seems that we should not discount just how much CBS's presentation has played into the change in perception.

The Frank Chirkinian presentation style that many of us enjoyed showed more shots and imany more of them live than we see with Lance Barrow's production approach. Schneider points out how long it took for CBS to show several shots, including Ogilvy's eagle on 13 and most amazingly, a Zach Johnson eagle birdie on 3 followed by a Vaughn Taylor missing an eagle putt on 2, even though they were paired together.

Is this playing a role in uh, "rebranding" the Masters as more of a U.S. Open style event? 


Watering Greens During A Tournament

syringing_inside.jpgI know I promised I'd asked my last Masters question, but the debate is just too good to let go of in light of all the great comments that this years Masters is generating.

In the Rosaforte and Davis pieces critiquing the setup and architecture, there were a couple of interesting comments about the Saturday night green watering.

Is it the sign of a good setup when you have to water greens during tournament play (with light winds)?

Is it a sound setup when you play three days firm and then soak them for one day?

Consider what Rosaforte wrote

 Some players felt the water should have been turned on earlier, but Ridley and the Competition Committee did eventually turn on the hoses. "Yesterday we saw the weather and relocated some of the pins to make it fairer," said David Graham sitting at lunch. The two-time major winner has served on the Cup and Tee Marking Committee for 17 years and stated the goal was to make it as difficult as possible without crossing the line, "but this week was more difficult than a British Open."

And here's what Davis submitted:

In the past, the competition committee has aimed to get the greens here to dry out as the week goes on. On Sunday morning, the greens were wet and receptive even though it didn't rain here on Saturday night. That's what you call a concession, but by then it was too late. Even though Sunday was a relatively wind-free, balmy day, the average score was 74.33, and the lowest score was a 69 (and only three players shot that).

It seems that the ideal setup is one where the greens do not have to be artificially controlled by such a dramatic shift in watering. One could argue that a SubAir draining of moisture is just as contrived, but I would argue that that is done in an attempt to firm up conditions in order to accentuate skill.

The watering this year was, as Davis wrote, a "concession." A move made after Daddy had whipped the boys around, and decided to let the flatbellies have their Sunday fun. I don't get the sense this concession was one made with great pleasure.

So is this what the Masters will be in the future: three days of torture and one day of watering to shut up the critics who dare to dream that we might see another '86-Masters type finish?

I can only recall such dramatic green watering happening to mitigate impending setup fiascos. And not coincidentally, Fred Ridley was the head man during the two most recent examples: 2004 at Shinnecock and the 2007 Masters.



Bamberger On Palmetto

SI's Michael Bamberger writes about Palmetto Golf Club, one of golf's best kept secrets and talks to Rees Jones, whose changes to the place had to be fixed by Tom Doak.

Rees Jones, who gets to Palmetto once a year, during Masters week, first played the course at the invitation of an old friend, Bobby Goodyear, one of the few Palmetto golfers who is also a member at Augusta National. Jones suggested some changes to the course, mostly in the area of bunker restoration, and oversaw the project. "I did the work for free because I love the place, and they have no money," Jones says. One of the things he likes best about Palmetto is that the members have no airs.

One year during Masters week old Tom Moore squeezed in the Jones foursome in front of a group of members.

"Who the hell are you guys?" one of the aggrieved golfers asked Jones.

"Well, that's Michael Bonallack, who runs the R&A," Jones said. "That's David Fay, who runs the USGA. That's David Eger, who runs the USGA competitions."

"Yeah — and who the hell are you?"

The piece does not mention that the greens will be reconstructed and restored to their original dimensions under Gil Hanse's supervision starting in a few weeks.



Huggan and Schofield Clash!

Okay, well not really. But they do engage in an interesting chat about this year's Masters over at


The Reviews Are In...

masterslogo.gif...and the criticism of Augusta National's setup far exceeds the number of defenders, which in itself is monumental since ust few years ago it was rare for a writer to dare question the direction of the course changes.

For starters, it's clear that all of the bickering I've done with Doug Ferguson over the changes will have to continue, because after hearing for years from our great AP writer that we must reserve judgement until a firm and fast week to evaluate the horrid tree planting, shabby looking rough and lack of tee flexibility, apparently we now need to provide a multi-year window before returning a verdict.

It would be easy to suggest that Augusta National ruined its major by adding nearly a quarter-mile of length since 2001, but that would be measuring the Masters based only on this year.

Ugh. I look forward to our next debate Doug!

Of course, at least there's hope with the always thoughtful and passionate Ferguson, but I'm not so sure about South Florida Chamber of Commerce groupee and Golf Digest scribe Tim Rosaforte, who always gets into trouble when he writes about course setup and architecture matters. His cheerleading sounds especially lame this week in light of the overwhelmingly negative responses elsewhere.

Surprisingly, there wasn't much whining. Some players felt the water should have been turned on earlier, but Ridley and the Competition Committee did eventually turn on the hoses. "Yesterday we saw the weather and relocated some of the pins to make it fairer," said David Graham sitting at lunch. The two-time major winner has served on the Cup and Tee Marking Committee for 17 years and stated the goal was to make it as difficult as possible without crossing the line, "but this week was more difficult than a British Open."

Ah, taking it right up to the line without crossing it.

Sort of like frat brothers hazing those new pledges. As long as no one dies, it's a successful pledge drive! They all had to go through it. It was tough but fair! Oy...

Sunday, it warmed slightly and so did the mood. The big hitters were reaching the par-5s again, the Cup and Tee Marking Committee gave the field more accessible locations and there were birdie and even eagle roars echoing through the pines.

Right. And oddly, both pointed out that no one complained, but I'm afraid they weren't talking to the right folks. 

masters_fields.jpgRemember that declaration of Sunday joviality when reading the next few pieces, starting with Rosaforte's colleague at Golf World, Bill Fields whose excellent online "letter" was excerpted in this week's Golf World.

Interestingly, the magazine picked his criticism of the course changes for publication.

I found myself in almost complete agreement with Tom Watson’s assessment last week: “They had to do what they did with the length of the course because the equipment mandated it,” Watson said. “The drivers and the balls go so much farther, and the kids are stronger. They had to do that. When Tiger hit two sand wedges and two pitching wedges into No. 5, they said that’s enough. They had to do something. And that was right. Add the length, and let these guys play it the way they did before. But they added the trees. They dressed it up a little too fancy. It used to have a simple elegance to it off the tee.”


But following the second round, Crenshaw was asked when the course, usually so alive with cheers during the tournament, had been so quiet.

“Yeah, [the last] four years,” he said, his answer covering the period of the most extensive changes. “A day like today, this course is real difficult. It’s a combination of the length and the width of the fairways. If you’re just a little bit off-line now, you can be behind a tree or a funny spot, in the little bit of rough, then you just can’t play. It’s the nature of the course now, you try not to get hurt.”

While Crenshaw was talking to reporters he was interrupted by Chris DiMarco, who was making his way from the ninth green to the 10th tee. “How is it out there?” DiMarco said.

“Pulling teeth,” Crenshaw said.

Meanwhile SI's Seth Davis also blasted the lack of excitement that seemed to be a direct result of the changes, and not the weather as some have suggested.

In the past, the competition committee has aimed to get the greens here to dry out as the week goes on. On Sunday morning, the greens were wet and receptive even though it didn't rain here on Saturday night. That's what you call a concession, but by then it was too late. Even though Sunday was a relatively wind-free, balmy day, the average score was 74.33, and the lowest score was a 69 (and only three players shot that).

Don't try to blame all this on the wind and the cold. They've been playing this tournament on this course every year since 1934. You think this is the first time they've had a little inclement weather? Johnson's score of one over par was tied for the highest ever by a winner, and it was the highest since 1956. That's not because of the weather. That's the course.

The saddest part of all this is that we had absolutely no excitement on the back nine on Sunday. The only spine-tingling moment was Woods's brilliant approach at 13, which led to an eagle that moved him to within two of the leader. That leader was Johnson, who had just 216 yards to the green on No. 13 but laid up. You have to give the plucky Johnson credit for making a 10-foot putt for birdie, but when you lay up from that close at 13 on Sunday at Augusta, you should be penalized half a stroke. (Johnson also laid up on every other par-5 this week.)

Goosen was still in the hunt when he got to the 13th tee. He hit an iron off the tee. Guess I picked the wrong week to quit drinking coffee.

Gary Player has been one of the biggest advocates of making the course tougher so today's players use the same clubs on their approach shots that they did in Player's prime. Yet even he said this was the toughest layout he had seen at Augusta in 50 years — and that was before the cold weather rolled in.

So no, things weren't any easier early in the week, when the sun was out and the wind was quiet. After shooting an 83 in the first round, Larry Mize said, "I was out there practicing yesterday afternoon and there were no roars out there. No roars at all. I think they need to get the roars back, because that's part of Augusta."

Not anymore, Larry. This is the new Masters. The tournament ends on the front nine on Thursday.

And finally, just to validate the point that fans did not enjoy the antics, check out the blog of user comments on the event. This was my favorite of the many comparisons to U.S. Open golf, from Mike Moyle:

When a course is so tough it exceeds the actual skills of the players involved, then you are not "identifying the best player" as the USGA likes to quip. You are identifying the luckiest player! Its disappointing to see the Masters set up this way.

"Don't worry about this week, this is not real golf."

An epic little pre-Harbour Town diatribe from Davis Love on the state of Augusta National, The Masters and the trends in course setup:

DAVIS LOVE III: Well, I think it's taken four or five years for everybody other than players to realize how difficult that golf course is now and what a challenge it is. They've taken the scoring and the fun out of the golf course and made it -- they hate the comparison, they've made it like a U.S. Open rather than a Masters. It's a grinding week. It's a real hilly golf course. It's a tough tournament, plus they've made the golf course extremely hard. So it's a long week. It's been that way for the last five or six really, at least.

Q. Could you talk a little bit about how a lot of people have talked about how Augusta was limited to the big hitters winning the last couple years, but this year it played so firm and fast, some of you guys' balls may have actually been running into trouble and actually could have hurt some of the big hitters a little bit, how it played this year?

DAVIS LOVE III: Well, I don't think it's really ever -- that's always been a big talk. You have to be able to hook it and you have to be able to hit it a long way. Ben Crenshaw has done well there, and the list of guys I just gave, plus Mike Weir. Not necessarily do you have to be a bomber any time. You have to chip and putt well and you have to hit really precise irons to be able to play. Yeah, they've made it long, but we're used to that. Everybody has got length now. It's just a big overreaction to they've perceived that the game has gotten too easy. They want scores to be high.

I think a short game has always been good at Augusta, and Zach proved that, and like I said, Olazábal, Langer, grind it out, chip and putt. It's gotten to be Retief Goosen kind of golf, make a lot of pars and you can win. I certainly wished that I could do that because that's what it takes to win more out here now.

The Greg Norman or Jack Nicklaus style of -- a lot of big, flashy shots and a lot of birdies will win, but that style of golf is tougher to do now. It's got to be more methodical and you've got to chip and putt way better. If I'm teaching my son to play golf, sure, I want him to be long, but you've got to have all the short game shots because they're not going to give you a golf course where you can hit 16 greens a round like they used to. You've got to chip and putt.

If I was a fan, I would be -- I think as a Tour, we can't control the majors, but as a Tour we have to be real careful with our Players Championship and our course setups, that we don't fall into that trap, because most people don't want to watch pros putt for pars on TV. I think we've got to be real careful about that and make sure there's some risk-reward. There's no risk-reward on laying up on 15 every day or laying up on 2 every day or 8. It's just wedging in. Long putts for birdies or short putts for par, I think we have to be real careful about that.

Q. Does that change coming here a little bit? Is it a little bit less demanding?

DAVIS LOVE III: This tournament is more about the weather, really. When it's windy and cold and dry, it plays tough, and when it's wet and calm, you see 13, 14, 15, every once in a while 18-under will win. But if it's really windy and it's really cool, then the scores go way down. We've seen 6-, 7-under win. But that's because it's a good, solid golf course, and it's dictated on the weather.

Here and Colonial seem to get the best reviews from the players because it's all golf course, it's not tricked up. It's a good, solid design, and you can still play. If the weather is bad, the scores go up. That's the thing, at a major now, if the weather is bad they go ridiculous, rather than just from 13-under to 7-under, it goes to average scores of 77s and 78s. And you know if the pros are averaging 77 or 78, the course is probably not fair. It's probably over the edge.

I said to Rich Lerner this morning, what would I shoot at your home course? We go out and shoot 66 every time. On Tour maybe the average should be 68 or 69 or 70, not 77. That just shows you how hard it is.

I mean, even we are astounded at how hard the U.S. Open and The Masters is, so the average person just can't comprehend how hard a golf course it is. I told John Kelly when we got down to 18 on Friday, I said, "Don't worry about this week, this is not real golf. Don't beat yourself up." Because it's not, it's some other game, and it's more a mental test than it is a physical test.

That's why, again, you see guys like Langer and Mize and Mike Weir, guys like that, do well, Retief Goosen, because they're really, really good. But you put them on The International, that format on that golf course, they're not going to do very good with that style of game.

It's nice to have a variety. It seems like the variety has gone out of -- especially out of our three majors over here.


LPGA Line of Succession Established

Copied and pasted with the LPGA's deranged font settings and spacing kept intact:

Galloway named LPGA deputy commissioner

REUNION, Fla., April 11, 2007 – Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) Commissioner Carolyn F. Bivens today named Elizabeth “Libba” Galloway to the newly created position of deputy commissioner.  The announcement was made following the LPGA’s spring Board of Directors meeting in Reunion, Fla.

           “I am pleased to name Libba to the position of deputy commissioner,” Bivens said.  “Libba’s leadership, insight and commitment to the growth of the LPGA in all facets of our business have been significant in the LPGA’s success.  She will continue to lead the organization for corporate governance and compliance. Libba and I will share the activities we have underway with various association business, including representation of the LPGA in the golf industry and in women’s sports.”

           Galloway most recently held the position of executive vice president, office of the commissioner, where she was responsible for corporate governance and compliance as well as the association’s legal affairs, tournament operations staff and the LPGA’s television distribution.

In addition, she has taken on leadership positions with numerous organizations outside the LPGA on various Boards of Directors: the College of William and Mary Alumni Association; the Sports Lawyers Association; the Daytona Beach and Halifax Area Chamber of Commerce; and the Florida Tennis Center Foundation.

“Carolyn and the entire professional staff of the LPGA have made tremendous strides in the last year and I look forward to continuing what has been one of the most professionally satisfying experiences of my tenure with the LPGA,” said Galloway. “The members of the LPGA are world-class golfers and world-class people and I'm thrilled to be part of our organization's continued growth and success.”

Galloway has a wide range of legal experience, including commercial transactions, mergers and acquisitions, sports law, financing and regulatory, corporate, real estate and banking law.  Prior to joining the LPGA in February 2000, Galloway was a partner in the Cincinnati-based firm of Taft, Stettinius & Hollister, where she was a member of the business and finance department.  For two years prior to her Taft position, Galloway was an associate for Louisville-based Greenebaum, Doll & McDonald in the real estate and finance department.


Covering The Snap

A classic SI cover this week, with Robert Beck's shot of Tiger wrapping his 4-iron around an Augusta National Christmas tree.



















Golf World's J.D. Cuban also captured a fantastic sequence of the same moment, but from the side (viewable here along with other Round 4 images).




LPGA "Cross Cultural Professional Development Program"

Exactly as it was sent out...and, yes, the simple answer is, the LPGA has a sponsor for their program to teach players how to speak English.

KOLON signs as title sponsor of

KOLON-LPGA Cross-Cultural Professional Development Program

, Fla., April 11, 2007 – KOLON has been named the title sponsor of the Ladies Professional Golf Association’s (LPGA) professional development program that offers educational and cross-cultural communication training for all members and will now be called the KOLON-LPGA Cross-Cultural Professional Development Program.
           “We are excited with our partnership with KOLON, which emphasizes the importance of communication among all individuals, regardless of where they call home,” said LPGA Commissioner Carolyn F. Bivens.  “We successfully test-piloted the cross-cultural program in 2006, and we are eager to expand the program in 2007.”
KOLON has led the way in the development of golf in Korea since 1985, when the honorary chairman of KOLON Group, Dong Chan Lee, was appointed as the chairman of Korea Golf Association

“We are delighted to embark on this new partnership program with the LPGA. Our participation in this program is a tangible reflection of our enhanced contribution to golf,” said Hwan S. Jae, CEO and president of FnC KOLON.  “We believe this program will assist not only Koreans, but all international players to learn the English language and acquire a better understanding and appreciation of the cultural diversity within the LPGA.”

The KOLON-LPGA Cross-Cultural Professional Development Program was designed to assist all LPGA members in developing core skills that will help them be successful as an LPGA professional.  The LPGA showcases an international membership and a global business footprint that establishes the LPGA as the premier women’s professional golf organization in the world.  It boasts a Tour membership exceeding 450, including 117 international players representing 26 countries, while the LPGA Teaching and Club Professionals includes nearly 1,200 golf professionals who are teachers, coaches, managers and entrepreneurs.
            In 2006, Phase I of the program focused on the importance of effective English language communication skills including conversational, survival and golf “speak.”  The program was successful in its inaugural season integrating onsite tutoring sessions into real-life situations, such as weekly pro-ams, media interviews, practice rounds, informal settings with other players and LPGA staff.
Moving forward, the KOLON-LPGA Cross-Cultural Professional Development Program will focus on building social and professional skills with an emphasis on bridging cultural differences; growing awareness of, and sensitivity to, cultural differences exemplified by differing values, assumptions, and communication styles.  The program also emphasizes the skills espoused by the LPGA’s Five Points of Celebrity – Appearance, Relevance, Approachability, Joy/Passion, and Performance; as well as establishing the ability to respond to demands of global golf sport entertainment business.

Wouldn't most other leagues keep something like this a secret?

And an entire press release went by without mentioning the brand. The times they are a...


Masters Photo Caption Fun, Vol. 4

In light of Jaime Diaz's piece below...

I'm going with "I know it was you Fredo. You broke my heart. You broke my heart!"

Wait, Smith is Fredo. That doesn't work.

Ah, you all can do better.



"Hey, thanks for looking after my buddy for me."

mickelson_harmon2.jpgOh how I love when overpaid swing instructors clash. Golf World's Jaime Diaz shares some great firsthand observations of the budding Rick Smith-Butch Harmon catfight over who gets to tell Phil Mickelson he needs to stop obsessing about distance. And great Dom Furore photo too (left).


Smith made it clear how he feels about Harmon’s forays with Mickelson when he saw Harmon on the practice putting green at the Masters and said, sarcastically, "Hey, thanks for looking after my buddy for me."
And Smith, more blunt: 
"[There has] probably been a lack of communication," said Smith Saturday, acknowledging that the partnership had stalled. “After awhile, the same message doesn’t get through as well. This morning before the round it got a little tense on the practice range because he was hitting the driver poorly and got confused. Finally, he sort of snapped at me, ‘Could you just give me one thing?’



One Last Masters Question

masterslogo.gifIt seems Tiger Woods never came into the press center after his Tuesday chat, right scribs?  And based on his Sunday post round scrum held with TV folks (the lame questions give them away), there are many questions left unanswered about his final round.

Since Tiger will inevitably be dogged by questions at his next Tour event, I'm curious what you would like to have clarified.

I know I have two simple questions that I'd like on the record:

Was the club broken on No. 11 the one you wanted to hit into No. 15 Sunday?

Did the trees on 15 block a straight shot a the flag?

Questions you'd ask if you had the chance? 


Rees-toration of Oakland Hills Update

Thanks to reader Noonan for this Jason Deegan story on the rees-storation of Oakland Hills, site of next year's PGA.

The $1.8 million renovation of the south course at Oakland Hills Country Club, famously dubbed “The Monster” by golf legend Ben Hogan after the 1951 U.S. Open, is nearing its completion.

Architect Rees Jones, hired by the Bloomfield Township club to protect par against the world's best players at the 2008 PGA Championship, has stretched the course more than 300 yards, repositioned fairway bunkers and narrowed fairways to fend off modern players who hit farther and more accurately than ever.

No, they just work out more than ever.

“This will be a significant story in the golf world for Oakland Hills to change,” said Ryan Cannon, the tournament director for the 2008 PGA Championship. “It is like being asked to improve upon the Mona Lisa.”

Well, let's just not say it's the first course to bastardize its architecture for a major championship event. Let's see, there was Oakland Hill in 19...oh.

The length of Oakland Hills ballooned to 7,446 yards from 7,099 yards with 15 new tees. At least 28 bunkers were repositioned or rebuilt and 14 more were added. Some fairway landing zones were shrunk to 22 yards wide. The par-5s at the No. 8 and No. 18 holes will play as par-4s for the tournament, giving the layout four par-4s of at least 490 yards. Only the par-3 third hole remains intact.

22 yards wide. Why not be the first uner 20?

Club officials worried about the course's integrity after seeing elite college players at the 2002 U.S. Amateur bomb tee shots over fairway bunkers and hit wedges to what used to be long, challenging par-4s.

“The members who have seen it so far are thrilled with it,” said Rick Bayliss Jr., Oakland Hills COO. “It is a major championship venue. Our resistance to scoring has always been the greens. With the lengthening, it is a knee-knocker now.”

The job was personal to Jones, who is based in Montclair, N.J. The storied career in golf architecture of his father, Robert Trent Jones Sr., was launched by his Oakland Hills remodeling work before the 1951 U.S. Open.

Ah here comes the quote to rub it in Bobby's face.

“This course meant the most to my father,” Jones said, and the chance to work on it was “the call I was waiting for my whole life,” he added.

“Oakland Hills is one of those wonderful rolling pieces of property where the holes fit like a glove,” said Jones, who has renovated seven U.S. Open courses and six PGA Championship sites. “When we made the changes, it was natural. If somebody blinked from 50 years ago to now, you wouldn't know we touched it.”

Jones said he tried to follow his father's blueprints. At the par-4 16th hole, the pond that has been the site of some of golf's historic moments was enlarged back toward the tee and tucked behind the green. The pond on the par-4 seventh also grew in size. A new tee can stretch the par-3 ninth to 257 yards if needed.

“I don't think it will ever be a monster again. These (pro golfers) are so good,” Jones said. “The game has changed. Oakland Hills is now right at the top of the list (of championship venues) with these advances.”

Well, for now anyway.


Images of Griffith Park

Colorized view of a historic Griffith Park clubhouse photo by Tom Naccarato (click to enlarge)
I'll be out all day but just as a follow up to my L.A. Times commentary proposing a restoration of George Thomas's Griffith Park designs, here are a few images to enjoy.

Besides Tom Naccarato's enhancement of a historic clubhouse image (left), I've also included one from opening day and an aerial view of the course in 1929.


Willie Hunger, George Thomsa, Ed Tufts, Paul Hunters and W.P. Johnson on opening day
Griffith Park's courses in February, 1929



Another Augusta Question

Just consider this with regard to the earlier post on Tiger Woods and the 15th hole as the turning point.

If Tiger has a clear shot at the 15th green Sunday instead of having to hit some silly cut around a Christmas tree, is there not great potential for the kind of explosive golf that so clearly defined the Masters in the previous century?

In other words, with a shot at the green and the potential roar of an eagle putt (and birdie at worst), does that reverberate through the property and influence Zach Johnson's play on 17 or 18?