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Books
  • Lines of Charm: Brilliant And Irreverent Quotes, Notes, And Anecdotes from Golf's Golden Age Architects
    Lines of Charm: Brilliant And Irreverent Quotes, Notes, And Anecdotes from Golf's Golden Age Architects
  • The Future of Golf: How Golf Lost Its Way and How to Get It Back
    The Future of Golf: How Golf Lost Its Way and How to Get It Back
    by Geoff Shackelford
  • Grounds for Golf: The History and Fundamentals of Golf Course Design
    Grounds for Golf: The History and Fundamentals of Golf Course Design
    by Geoff Shackelford
  • The Art of Golf Design
    The Art of Golf Design
    by Michael Miller, Geoff Shackelford
  • Alister MacKenzie's Cypress Point Club
    Alister MacKenzie's Cypress Point Club
    by Geoff Shackelford
  • The Golden Age of Golf Design
    The Golden Age of Golf Design
    by Geoff Shackelford
  • The Good Doctor Returns: A Novel
    The Good Doctor Returns: A Novel
    by Geoff Shackelford
  • Masters of the Links: Essays on the Art of Golf and Course Design
    Masters of the Links: Essays on the Art of Golf and Course Design
  • The Captain: George C. Thomas Jr. and His Golf Architecture
    The Captain: George C. Thomas Jr. and His Golf Architecture
    by Geoff Shackelford
Current Reading
  • Men in Green
    Men in Green
    by Michael Bamberger
  • Unplayable Lies: (The Only Golf Book You'll Ever Need)
    Unplayable Lies: (The Only Golf Book You'll Ever Need)
    by Dan Jenkins
  • Professional Golf 2015: The Complete Media, Fan and Fantasy Guide
    Professional Golf 2015: The Complete Media, Fan and Fantasy Guide
    by Daniel Wexler
  • The Forbidden Game: Golf and the Chinese Dream
    The Forbidden Game: Golf and the Chinese Dream
    by Dan Washburn
  • 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
  • Unplayable Lies: (The Only Golf Book You'll Ever Need)
    Unplayable Lies: (The Only Golf Book You'll Ever Need)
    by Dan Jenkins

    Kindle Edition

  • 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
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

I used to think that if I could suppress a feeling of nervousness when starting out to play a match, I could then play a better and more thoughtful game. I have since come to think that the man who goes placidly on his way is often the easiest fellow to beat, for it is only the high-strung temperament that rises above its own ability to meet a great occasion.
BOBBY JONES


    

Wednesday
Sep192007

Outside The Cup Thinking

A couple of interesting FedEx Cup "tweak" pieces were recently posted offering some outside the box thoughts. First, Steve Elling at CBSSports.com says the Tour should maintain it's "Top-10 and you're in" rule during the playoffs, offers other suggestions and notes this on the marketing push:

Week one, day one, we asked Finchem if he believed the initial outrage expressed by fans and media when Woods skipped the FedEx opener was partly attributable to the saccharine series of FedEx ads that have bombarded fans all year long. He insisted the advertising blitz wasn't too "cheesy or hype-y" and that he received great feedback on the incessant TV campaign while attending the British Open. Well, those people like Benny Hill reruns, too. The cheese factor was so high in these ads, fans became lactose intolerant. The 2008 campaign must be seriously reigned in for credibility's sake alone.
Probably because I get impatient with the registration wall or sheer laziness, I missed this from the Augusta Chronicle's Scott Michaux, posted almost a month ago. 
FLAW: RELATIVE WORTH. Let's say Woods doesn't win the FedEx thingy. Does the PGA Tour really think he's not the season "champion" already having won five times, including a major and two WGC events, and blitzed the rest of the tour in the points and money lists. Who's the player of the year?

SOLUTION: Market the FedEx Cup for what it really is - a gimmick to add a little intrigue to what typically is a meaningless end of the season. Don't try to sell it as the definitive answer for a year's worth of effort. What works in team sports is simply contrived here.

And...

FLAW: SHORT FIELDS. The PGA Tour borrowed from NASCAR's "Chase" for its format, but it missed the main point. In NASCAR's chase, every driver still races though only the chosen few are part of the Nextel Cup subplot. The PGA plan (which, to be fair, was foisted upon Finchem by the players) will winnow its field each week, which actually decreases the drama.

SOLUTION: Keep the fields full, bringing more variables into the tournament equation. There are already too many short field events on tour, and it limits competition. Limit the FedEx field within the field to the top 50 in the season-long points chase, reshuffle their points and let them try to play their way into the Tour Championship. To be eligible for the title, you have to play in all three events.


Wednesday
Sep192007

"She stopped playing golf soon after I introduced her to the game and decided she would rather eat cookies and tacos as a sport."

Thanks to reader Steve for this ebay post break-up rant/sale listing. Warning, some R-rated imagery here.

Wednesday
Sep192007

You Can Call Me Al

Reader Peter J. was perusing GolfLink.com and caught this course listing. Now, I understand typos as someone who has mastered the art, but this one looks like a silly GolfClubAtlas DG log in name.

The 18-hole "Ardsley" course at the Ardsley Country Club facility in Ardsley On Hudson, New York features 6,522 yards of golf from the longest tees for a par of 72. The course rating is 72.3 and it has a slope rating of 131 on Bent grass.  Designed by Willie Dunn, Jr./(R) Al Stermakenzie, the Ardsley golf course opened in 1895. John Brisson manages the course as the General Manager.

Al Stermakenzie is actually Ali G speak for Alister MacKenzie, no? 

Tuesday
Sep182007

IM'ing With The Commissioners, Vol. VII

My friends at the NSA have been waiting for LPGA Tour Commissioner Carolyn Bivens to return from the Solheim Cup, knowing that an inevitable instant message chat with the PGA Tour's Tim Finchem would take place after all of the FedEx Cup excitement died down. Previous chats are here, here, here, here, here and here).

twfPGATour©: Carolyn, are you there?

DaBrandLady: hi tim! wow, you never say hi first. what's wrong?

twfPGATour©: Well, the usual stuff.  More importantly, how about that product Sunday?

DaBrandLady: i know, who would have though morgan would beat annika!!!!!!

twfPGATour©:  Oh.

twfPGATour©: No, I meant the conclusion to the PLAYOFFS©

DaBrandLady: oh right. you know i tito'd it and was going to watch it this week after i got caught up.

twfPGATour©: Well it was pretty spectacular, even though Tiger chose not to embrace certain platform dynamics that we had outlined in the witty and truly spectacular FedEx Cup creative that ran in the first quarter of this year.

DaBrandLady: what, he didn't whistle eye of the tiger?

twfPGATour©: No, that was the third quarter creative. I was referring to the ingenious "Who will be the first to kiss the Cup" line from our friends at GDS&M.

DaBrandLady: you mean GSD&M?

twfPGATour©: Right! Always get that mixed up.

DaBrandLady: here's what i think. it's tiger's loss that he didn't embrace the brand momentum! especially since your prediction came true that the events would be "the most impactful series of events in the history of the sport."

twfPGATour©: Thanks Carolyn. Yes, I must say they were pretty special. And thanks for putting that in quotes.

DaBrandLady: anytime. speaking of impactful tim. are you a milk of magnesia man?

twfPGATour©: No, I eat a spinach salad every day when I'm here at headquarters and I really nurse the flax seed oil when I'm on the road. Family history with IBS.

DaBrandLady: you mean ubs? they did some nice stat work for us at the evian masters and we're really hoping to sign them up for an account in the fourth quarter of this year, preferably for something on the domestic schedule.

twfPGATour©: No, no, IBS, irritable bowel syndrome.

DaBrandLady: oh, sorry.

twfPGATour©: Well I've been lucky so far. And thankfully, I'm not one of players, it looks like one of the IBS drugs may be on our banned list.

DaBrandLady: oh how's that coming along tim? i'm anxious to see what you guys do with tetrahydrogestrinone and modafinil.

twfPGATour©: Big announcement Thursday. Email Ty. He'll get you in on the conference call if you'd like.

DaBrandLady: well, good luck with the testosterone issues.

twfPGATour©: I'm not having any problems. Did someone say I was?

DaBrandLady: oh tim, it's always about you!
DaBrandLady: i was talking about the testing for steroids and measuring rises in testosterone levels.

twfPGATour©: We are testing to detect the T/E ratio on testosterone to epitestosterone, drawing the line at 8:1

DaBrandLady: oh no, you have to go 6:1. you also have to subject the urine samples to gas chromatography and mass spectrometry

twfPGATour©: is that where they heat the product to turn it into gases so they can separate and analyze the molecular levels?

DaBrandLady: that's the one. characteristic “signatures” will betray the presence of banned substances every time.

twfPGATour©: Jeese. Most of our guys didn't understand deferred compensation, I can't imagine the player meetings on performance enhancing drugs.

DaBrandLady: but just think tim, this testing does so much for our brand positioning and upward integrity streaming.

twfPGATour©: That's right, just what I told the sponsors in a conference call today.

twfPGATour©: I need to run Carolyn.

DaBrandLady: the UBS acting up?

twfPGATour©: No, but close. Phil Mickelson on line two. Give my best to, uh...

DaBrandLady: he says hi back!

Tuesday
Sep182007

It's The Dimples!

Thanks to reader Graeme for this:

AUSTRALIAN golf great Peter Thomson has suggested golf balls should be redesigned to harness the distance they are being hit by pros and amateurs. In an article in the Australian Financial Review last week Thomson suggested the solution lies in the ball’s dimples. Ten years ago, testers found that the greater the area of the ball covered by dimples, the more aerodynamically effective it became and the better it performed in cross winds. They changed the dimple pattern to cover 100 percent of the ball. “If we restricted the dimple pattern to cover 40 percent or 50 percent of the ball, it would return the distance of the drive to 250 yards [228.6 metres],” says Thomson. “This would also reduce the incidence of balls flying over fences into neighbouring houses and onto roads.” The rules of golf state that every golf ball must comply with three things: its weight must not be greater than 1.62 ounces, its diameter must not be less than 1.68 inches and its initial velocity, when fired from a testing cannon, must not be greater than 250 feet (76.2 metres) per second. Manufacturers have been able to tinker with the ball’s cover, internal composition and dimple pattern to comply with these rules, and yet still get greater distance.

It can't be good for the USGA that one of the R&A's biggest supporters isn't talking up the grooves.  

Tuesday
Sep182007

"Maybe now he'll start leaving decent tips."

Gary Van Sickle hands out FedEx Cup awards, including this one for Tiger:

Jed Clampett Award: The richest man in golf is Woods. He won seven times in 16 appearances and cleared $10 million for the year. At the Tour Championship, he snagged $1.26 million for the tournament victory and the famously deferred $10 million for capturing the FedEx Cup title. Maybe now he'll start leaving decent tips.

Meanwhile Doug Ferguson lauds the FedEx Cup's success and examines the problems with various "tweaks" to the Cup, including one that I initially thought was an essential fix. Now I'm not so sure the field sizes should change if the points volatility is improved, as expected.

Furyk offered the most comical assessment by noting that 125 players keep their cards, but 144 players start the playoffs. But the season began with 225 exempt players, so actually only 64 percent made the playoffs.

The biggest problem with this solution is that short fields make for dull tournaments and a lousy experience for the fans. Consider the 70-man field at Cog Hill, where an entire day of golf was over in six hours. There has to be consideration given to the tournament and its fan base. Plus, it's harder to win against a larger field.

The limited field events really are getting old, not because Tiger always wins them, but because you sense they might introduce more leaderboard competition as we saw at the first two playoff events. 

Tuesday
Sep182007

Drug Testing To Be Announced Thursday?

From Doug Ferguson's notes column:

The PGA TOUR will make it official this week that it will have a drug policy in 2008.
 
Golf has been under increasing pressure to come up with a policy against performance-enhancing drugs, and PGA TOUR commissioner Tim Finchem said earlier this year that while there is no evidence of steroids, drug testing in sports has become a reality and it was prudent for all golf organizations to deal with them collectively.
 
"I think we're at a point where to maintain confidence in the public and the fans, we have to take this step, even though there's great speculation about the extent to which substances can help you in this game," Finchem said two weeks ago in Boston.
 
A conference call to discuss the policy was planned as early as Thursday, although it was not clear what Finchem would announce. He has said any policy would start with an education plan and a list of banned substances, although testing might not begin until at least the second half of next year.

 

Tuesday
Sep182007

Any Bad Restorations?

230136-346187-thumbnail.jpg
MacKenzie or Nicklaus? (click to enlarge this fine piece of work by the La Habra and Minneapolis art departments)
I finally had a chance to sit down with Ron Whitten's Golf World column on restoration, and while his early statements are pretty negative regarding the restoration movement, the remainder of the piece and Whitten's positive portrayal of Kris Spense's work in the same issue softens the blow considerably.

I'm curious if anyone has heard of a classic course that chose to undertake a restoration using as much historical information as possible with minimal modification to original design concepts, and come away from that process unhappy that they did so?

Yes, there are always going to be unhappy members, but I'm wondering about an entire restoration-driven project that was considered a mistake.

To put it another way, has anyone undertaken a serious attempt at restoration that came back a few years later and went with a modern design redesign that was considered an improvement?
 

Tuesday
Sep182007

"They're mediocre, lack subtlety and require a one-dimensional aerial game.”

In his weekly golf column, Tod Leonard highlights portions of Bradley Klein's recent Golfweek review of Torrey Pines.
With Torrey Pines South on the clock for the 2008 U.S. Open, the reviews of the course are going to be more discerning, and in some cases, more critical. Golfweek architecture writer Bradley S. Klein fired the first harsh salvo last week with a critique subtitled, “I thought U.S. Open courses were supposed to be special.”

Among Klein's thoughts:

“Torrey Pines has come a long way and is in far better management hands than it ever has been. But all of the changes there for the 2008 U.S. Open cannot mask an underlying truth about the monotonous structure of the golf holes. They're mediocre, lack subtlety and require a one-dimensional aerial game.”

“The USGA formula for Open setups – added length, narrow fairways, deep rough – is anathema to everyday golf. It also makes for boring championship play by reducing the game to one dimension. That's more prevalent at a simple layout like Torrey Pines South that has little fairway contour and no diversity of angles off the tee.”

“For everyday players, it's a slog. And for premier golfers, it's a game with little strategy, because favoring the safe side to those tucked pins still leaves a favorable uphill putt.”

“So why Torrey Pines South for a U.S. Open? No surprise here: It has to do with logistics, since a 36-hole facility is ideal for staging all the infrastructure. And because taking the national championship to a true municipal layout is the right thing to do politically. “But let's not get carried away by mistaking site election here for a branding of quality.”
Monday
Sep172007

Another Castle Stuart Video

The previous making of videos for Scotland's Castle Stuart resort are posted here, here, here and here. Volume 5 looks at the heather "chunking" work taking place. That does not sound very interesting, I know, but it's the best one yet, especially in showing how little about this natural looking links style course is shaping up to be quite...natural.Oh, and I have no idea who the fellow is who is talking throughout the video.

 

 

Monday
Sep172007

FedEx Cup Post Mortems

fedexcuplogo.jpgConsensus seems to be building that it was all worth it, and now it's on to the major tweaking.

Steve Campbell offers solutions. Mark Lamport Stokes takes it all in and seems to come away impressed.

Dave Fairbank offers his tweaks. And Bob Verdi raises this point:
What's more intriguing is what he is saying in private to FedEx, Barclays, Deutsche Bank, BMW and the TV networks. Very important executives with those companies made very expensive decisions to fund the playoff, ostensibly on the assumption that all the best golfers were to play all the time. How could these CEOs be surprised when it didn't materialize? When Finchem was asked whether he guaranteed corporate angels that Tiger and Phil were on board, he replied, "you never can." Bingo. One wonders whether he told sponsors that during his sales pitch.

Monday
Sep172007

“He hasn’t hit a practice ball since the British Open"

Doug Ferguson wonders if this is the best Tiger Woods has ever played and reports, thanks to the ever-pleasant Stevie, that Tiger is hitting the ball so well he has not hit a post-round practice ball since Carnoustie.


Monday
Sep172007

Tilly Journal 2

tilly-illustration.jpgThe second Tillinghast Journal has been posted at Tillinghast.net.

Monday
Sep172007

The Wie's Of Palo Alto

Mark Soltau reports that Michelle Wie has arrived at Stanford, playing nine holes on the remnants of George Thomas and Billy Bell's 1930 Stanford GC design. She was accompanied by her parents, who have rented a house nearby.

Oh yeah, that sounds fun.

Monday
Sep172007

Tour Championship Ratings Skyrocket Thanks To Tiger and Phil...

...not up showing last year!

From Sports Business Daily:

NBC earned a 3.3/7 overnight Nielsen rating for the final round the the Tour Championship, the final leg of the inaugural Playoffs for the FedEx Cup,  from 1:30-6:00pm yesterday, up 200.0% from a 1.1/2 overnight rating for the Tour Championship in '06, which aired in early November on ABC from 1:00-5:00pm.  Tiger Woods won yesterday's event to clinch the FedEx Cup title.  Woods did not play in last year's Tour Championship.  Saturday's third-round coverage earned a 2.8/7 overnight from 2:00-6:00pm, up 86.7% from a 1.5/3 overnight on ABC last year from 3:30-7:00pm.  During the same weekend last year, ESPN aired coverage of the 84 Lumber Classic, and overnights were not available.

And who said there were no benefits to them skipping the 2006 finale?

Monday
Sep172007

"In the end it was just too easy at Easy Lake."

Based on the link, I believe this is Jim Moriarty's East Lake/Tour Championship game story for Golf World.

Besides evaluating the FedEx Cup as somewhat of a success, he writes:

In the end it was just too easy at Easy Lake. Poor Bobby Jones must have been weeping somewhere for the honor of his home course. Rain Thursday turned the greens from semi-dirt to soft dirt, and Tim Clark, one of the 24 non-competing markers in the field, tied the then course record on a rain-interrupted day with an eight-under-par 62, highlighted by a pitch-in for eagle on the 15th. The real rain, the remnants of Hurricane Humberto, was scheduled to hit Friday, but the worst of it took the I-285 bypass around Atlanta, and it was Woods who reigned instead.

In a six-hole stretch from the fourth through the ninth holes, Woods went seven under par for a front-nine 28 and felt pretty darn bad about it, too. He holed a bunker shot from a semiburied lie on the fifth and made a 70-footer for eagle at the ninth. "The ball was bouncing every which way. It was left of the hole, it was right of hole, left of the hole, right of the hole, and then it went in," he said. No fist pumps or finger-pointing this time, just a bowed head and a sheepish "gee-I'm-sooooo-sorry-about-that-guys" grin.

And skipping a bit...

Easy Lake, formidable only when someone drove it in the wet Bermuda rough, was so defenseless that through 36 and 54 holes only two of the 30 players were over par. It really bared its gums in the third round, however, when Johnson's 60 and Geoff Ogilvy's 62 were proof that even though the slow, soft greens were bad, they weren't unputtable.

Now I understand the situation with the greens.

But did this tournament also serve as a reminder that extreme, even outlandish measures would be necessary to keep a land-locked venue like East Lake relevant in today's game where a 6-iron is some players' 210-yard club and 3-woods carry 300? 

Now I know our friends Bacon and Grease over at Golf Digest think that it's okay for classics to become irrelevant, because you simply move to another venue that's 7,600 yards. But considering all that has been invested in East Lake and will be invested soon with the greens resodding, should there be some discussion at PGA Tour headquarters about the long term viability of this venue? And dare I say, some discussion about possibly asking the USGA when it's ball study will be wrapping up?

I sure don't see a U-groove ban making East Lake more relevant no matter how firm the new greens get, do you?  

Monday
Sep172007

Tour Championship Photo Caption Fun

That kiss-the-trophy moment, courtesy of Rob Matre's site. What's being said between Tiger and Finchem?

eastlaketim-tiger.jpg 

Monday
Sep172007

"They're not making it public yet, but they're done. And you can tell by the way he's swinging the golf club."  **

Based on the improved look of Tiger's swing and an inside source, Steve Eubanks blogs that Tiger Woods and Hank Haney have split up.

Before the start of the second round of the Tour Championship, Butch Harmon nudged Adam Scott in the ribs and said, "It's pretty sweet that Tiger's trying to swing like you now."

In fact, there have been some noticeable changes in Tiger's swing of late. Gone are the exaggerated follow-throughs, the long, flat backswings, and the flat left wrist. The Tiger of today looks remarkably similar to the Tiger of 2001, a time when everyone said Scott's swing looked just like Tiger's. According to those in a position to know such things, there might be a good reason for Tiger's new look. According to sources close to the situation, Tiger and Hank Haney are, in a word, done. As one source put it, "They're not making it public yet, but they're done. And you can tell by the way he's swinging the golf club."

If true, this has been coming for some time. As early as April, when Tiger finished second at Augusta after hitting tee shots in every direction, he was observed making some curt comments to his instructor. At one point, the number-one player in the world turned to Haney on the driving range and said, "Get the f--- away from me."

Then in August, Haney signed on as the new director of the International Junior Golf Academy on Hilton Head, Island, a move that had many people wondering how Tiger's coach planned to balance his instructor duties with the demands of running a full-time school.

The final clue came this week when Haney was nowhere to be seen during The Tour Championship. With $10 million on the line, most coaches would have at least made a cursory appearance.

While no one in either camp would confirm the rumors at this time, evidence is mounting of a split. Stay tuned.

 

Monday
Sep172007

''If this is going to be our playoffs, I'd get three better venues that are a little bit tougher that might wean out some [players].''

Jeff Shain looks at the low scoring at the playoff venues, and based on Woody Austin's remarks, this must be stopped because there was just way too much cheering, excitement and a fun viewing to be had! It MUST be stopped!

The notion that playoff tests are supposed to be stiffer is taking a beating during the PGA Tour's version. The average score at all four FedEx Cup events has come in below par.

Despite tougher conditions Sunday, East Lake GC ranks as the tour's second-easiest venue in 2007 at 1.68 strokes below par. Part of that stems from greens recently babied out of intensive care.

That wasn't a factor at the first three events, all of which ranked among the upper third of the PGA Tour's easiest layouts. Last week's BMW Championship was third, The Barclays 11th and the Deutsche Bank Championship 14th.
''If this is going to be our playoffs,'' Woody Austin said, ``I'd get three better venues that are a little bit tougher that might wean out some [players].''
If you are going to be Mr. Quotable Woody, let's crack open a dictionary before we use those big words like wean. And despite all of those birdies, somehow the playoffs managed to produce the best player ever as a winner.

Speaking of Woody, I thought it was peculiar no one (at least that I can find) wrote about his hiccup during Saturday's third round. They're bickering about it over on the NBCSports.com message board, and the clip is even up on YouTube.

 

Sunday
Sep162007

Colt Knost Unswayed By Masters Pairing With Just A Midwestern Guy From Cedar Rapids; Decides To Turn Pro In Time For Fall Finish

Love this comment to Art Stricklin:

"I will make my announcement this week, but I've been told to stay quiet until then," Knost said. "It's been very hard. Do I take a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to play in the Masters as an amateur? Or do I end my career as the No. 1 amateur in the world having won the U.S. Amateur and the Walker Cup with my team? I've been going back and forth."