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

Pits which day after day in practice rounds are passed unnoticed, suddenly assume terrible aspects on tournament days, but generally it is the fear of the hazards which in reality is more terrifying than the hazards themselves. A.W. TILLINGHAST



"It's a great warm up for Doral, frankly. It's like Westchester was prior to the U.S. Open."

Jim Moriarty on the Golf Digest's Local Knowledge blog quotes the Honda Classic tournament director on their new date in '09:

"Looking at the big picture it's going to help us," says Ken Kennerly, the Honda event's executive director. "Wedged between the two World Golf Championships with Match Play being the event before us I think will help. Half the field is eliminated by Wednesday and then another 16 by Thursday. If it was a full field event prior to us and a full field event after us, that's a lot of big golf right in a row and I think that would be a little bit more concerning. But, I think with Match Play before us a lot of the international players are going to stay in America because they're going to want to play at Doral.

"We've really upgraded [the Honda Classic] substantially. It's a very similar golf course to Doral, in terms of condition. Bermuda greens, Bermuda grasses. It's a great warm up for Doral, frankly. It's like Westchester was prior to the U.S. Open."

Honda is to Doral as Westchester is the U.S. Open. I smell an SAT question.


Attention Lawyers: What Do You Think?

I've received a fun email from staffers of a certain organization in golf that would make for amusing blog fodder, but the email in question contains this disclaimer: 

The information in this email and any attachments may contain legally privileged, proprietary and confidential information that is intended for the addressee(s) only. If you are not the intended recipient, you are hereby notified that any disclosure, copying, distribution, retention or use of the contents of this information is prohibited. When addressed to our clients or vendors, any information contained in this e-mail or any attachments is subject to the terms and conditions in any governing contract. If you have received this e-mail in error, please immediately contact the sender and delete the e-mail.

Now lawyers, since I'm a journalist who has obtained something revealing and worthy of public consumption, just how seriously should I take this?


"Does the TV lifestyle make you soft? Apparently!"

From Alan Shipnuck and his Hot List: 

5. Rick Reilly. My esteemed former colleague and soon-to-be ESPN star was visiting NorCal and asked me to arrange a round for us at Pebble Beach, which I happily did. (And it was comped, too.) On the appointed day, a refreshing light mist was falling, so Reilly begged off, saying he doesn't like to play in bad weather. Does the TV lifestyle make you soft? Apparently!

Now, NOBODY gets comped at Pebble Beach. So to turn that down you really have to be your own mind.


Walters Cleared; AT&T Invite Will Not Be Lost In Mail Until 2010

Brian Hewitt reports that America's most famous sandbagger has been cleared to defend his title next year and quotes a USGA official who suggests that the pro handicaps are "the real handicap crooks."


"He started the round by playing a lunch ball off of the 1st tee"

John Hussar of PRNewsWorks submitted this item to the Desert Sun:

Playing at Eldorado Country Club in January, Baker-Finch shot the 61 (32-29) from the tips - two shots better than the new Fazio-course record of 63. Without hitting any practice balls at Eldorado, he started the round by playing a lunch ball off of the 1st tee which officially kept him from claiming the course record.

Okay, I give up. What's a lunch ball? 


"The typical worker has five years experience and makes about $250 a month -- a better wage than at a legitimate foundry."

gwar01_080229counterfeit.jpgI first read E. Michael Johnson's excellent Golf World story on club counterfeiting with great interest and even sympathy for the buyers who were duped. But upon further reflection and a closer reading of a few key graphs, I decided to sit down with this tragic tale, dimming the lights, burning candles and setting up an continuous Itunes loop featuring Roberta Flack's Killing Me Softly With His Song.

Why? Well, apparently now that the big four have outsourced all manufacturing to China and sold out the club pro first to non-green grass accounts and now the Internet, guess what? There are big consequences. And naturally, it's all someone else's fault.

Check out this:

At a typical counterfeit operation in China, it is not unusual to see young women sifting through castings while other individuals constantly work on grinding wheels, moving through the heads at a rapid rate. Another floor might contain those doing the cosmetic work, including paint filling, shaft painting and packaging. According to Golf Digest, the typical worker has five years experience and makes about $250 a month -- a better wage than at a legitimate foundry.

Yes, that's right. The counterfeiters pay better than the legit operations. And the counterfeiters are charging a lot less than the brand names.

Oh there's more:

The owners of such shops, some a front for organized crime, others no more than a mom-and-pop operation, can make upwards of $750 a week selling the counterfeits -- a much better life than grinding the toe and heel of the latest batch of 100-to-a-tray sand wedges for 10 hours a day. Although it would be easy to label China as an ever-expanding pit of deceit where no good brand is safe, the sad fact is counterfeiting offers a better way of life for those involved -- especially when the threat of being caught or prosecuted is minimal.

Again, isn't this the price of doing business in China?

This bit warmed my heart:

In an effort to stem the supply of phony golf products, the Golf Manufacturers Anti-Counterfeiting Working Group -- consisting of Acushnet, Callaway, Cleveland, Nike, Ping and TaylorMade -- was established in 2004. That golf's largest companies and fiercest competitors would come together speaks to the industry-wide dilemma. According to Rob Duncanson, moderator for the coalition, the group was formed to petition governmental authorities in the U.S., China and other countries jointly to enforce laws against counterfeiting of golf products.

 Because they surely have nothing better to do!

Some headway has been made, including several raids and criminal prosecutions, but it is a case of winning some battles while the war still is being lost.

I have an idea. Don't outsource and maybe this stuff won't happen?

Oh I forgot...those precious margins...


LPGA Drug Testing Matches Tour's On-Course Pacing

gulbis.jpgBeth Ann Baldry reports on that they LPGA testing is off and, about two holes behind for some players.
For Wright, the process of giving a sample with someone in the room was more worrisome than the results. But she got in and out in 35 minutes. For Maria Hjorth, it was only 20 minutes. Natalie Gulbis, however, waited for at least 2 hours before someone was available to administer her test.

“I think they have some kinks they definitely need to work out,” said Gulbis, who noted that more administrators were added as the day went along. “But everything was handled very professionally.”

Kelli Kuehne opened with a 5-under 67 but never made it to the media room to talk about her round. She went in for testing immediately after turning in her scorecard and sat in a holding room for 2 hours, 45 minutes. By the time she’d finished, Kuehne didn’t even feel like practicing.

“I was one of the guinea pigs,” she said. “I’m hoping it’s something they will fine-tune.”


The Boo Files: "I didn't know after Houston was Augusta."

oct2_weekley_299x405.jpgWhere to start? How about this: Boo Weekley should be required to come into the press room every week. Who else is this entertaining?

Here are a few of the highlights from his pre-Honda Classic press conference, though I can recommend reading the entire transcript. It beat most other online reading.

On fame and the dreaded hollering out of his name:

BOO WEEKLEY: It gets kind of aggravating but it's still fun. All them people that you talk to outside the ropes, and they wish they could be here. They wish they could be the one walking inside them ropes and talking to all them people and just being in my footsteps. It's kind of an honor to say that, hey, I'm inside the ropes and this is what I do for a living.
It does getting aggravating to where sometimes, you know, people are hollering your name. It's like, all right, look, guys, I've heard enough of my name; I know who I am. But it's fun. It's always fun. That's the way I like to keep it, and I'm still going to be the same person whether I'm on this tour, the Nationwide Tour or mini-tours

On his preparing for his first Masters...starting by knowing when it starts. 
BOO WEEKLEY: No. My first trip going to Augusta, I didn't even know when it was. I was going to play all the way through to Houston, you know, and then take the week off. I didn't know after Houston was Augusta.

Q. So what are you going to do?

BOO WEEKLEY: Oh, I'm going to take two weeks off now before to get ready. But I reckon I can get ready. I reckon I just go home and do some turkey hunting, that's how I prepare.

 Q. Did you watch many Masters going up? Do you have memories of a great Masters?

BOO WEEKLEY: The one that Tiger when he chipped it in the ball, on whatever hole that was.

Q. Do you watch golf on TVs?

BOO WEEKLEY: I'm not a big golf watcher. I know I'm supposed to be representing the TOUR, but I'd much rather be watching NASCAR.

On PGA National and the "Bear Trap" stretch of 15-17:

Q. What do you think of the Bear Trap holes, 15, the par 3, 16, the par 4, and then 17, the par 3?

BOO WEEKLEY: You know, I just found out that was called a Bear Trap earlier today. I didn't even know it was called a Bear Trap. It's pretty good.

Q. Do you see why they have a name for it?

BOO WEEKLEY: No. I don't know, I just go and play golf, dude.

 And this was actually a fascinating insight...

If it looks like a tough hole and I hit it in the fairway, I'll turn around from the fairway and look back at the tee box and try to pick a line, you know, and say, okay, if I can start it on this line, and whichever way the wind is blowing, it should be good, it should be in the middle of the fairway if I can start it on that line. I look at the golf course backwards in a lot of ways and a lot of players do.

Great Minds Think Alike: Diaz and Bamberger Pen Dueling Tiger-Paves-Way-For-Obama Columns

feb26_tigoba_299x268.jpgKinda wild really that Michael Bamberger in SI Golf Plus and Jaime Diaz in Golf World this week pen columns asserting that Tiger has paved the way for America to be more tolerant and perhaps even consider someone like Barack Obama for President.

What do you make of their point? 


Golfweek Swears It Had Nothing To Do With Latest Controversial Cover

15339828_240X180.jpgBut maybe we know where Dave Seanor has landed after his noose cover...?

Courtesy of reader LPGA Fan, here's the story from Denver's Channel 7 News:

An illustration that accompanied an article celebrating the success of Mexican golf star Lorena Ochoa is stirring some heated feelings.

The image in the current edition of Colorado AvidGolfer Magazine features the Our Lady of Guadalupe image with Ochoa's face in place of the Virgin Mary's.

"It’s very offensive," said Ricardo Bracho, who subscribes to the magazine.

In a statement, the editor for the magazine said the intent was to promote an accomplished golfer, not to offend anyone.

The Patron Saint of Mexico is deeply important and respected by many Mexicans and Catholics. The Our Lady of Guadalupe image is held as a sacred, religious symbol.

Obviously Mr. Bracho does understand how popular Lorena is these days. S

Bracho believes the artist and editor for the article entitled "Our Lady of Guadalajara" stepped over a sensitive line.

"I don't want anyone fired," Bracho said, adding he is a big fan of golf and Ochoa's. "People need to be aware and some things are just off limits."

Father Jorge De los Santos of the Archdiocese of Denver agreed.

"I was so hurt when I saw that image," De los Santos told 7NEWS Monday.


"I think the freedom (of the press) has a limit. You should respect others and respect beliefs," said De los Santos, who is Vicar for Hispanic Ministry.

Editor Jon Rizzi e-mailed this statement to 7NEWS:

"Colorado AvidGolfer deeply regrets offending anyone with the illustration that accompanied our feature on Lorena Ochoa. Because the piece was so overwhelmingly positive, praising Ms. Ochoa's accomplishments and painting a glowing portrait of her as both a golfer and an inspiring humanitarian, we created a clearly iconic image for our illustration. We respect the opinions of those who objected to the image and apologize if it offended them, but we certainly did not intend to show disrespect to anyone."

A public relations representative told 7NEWS Monday Ochoa had not seen the image or article and could not comment.

I don't think she wants to see it either, unless she wants to see what she'll look like 40 years and 40 pounds later. 


FedEx Cup Points Tweaks Receive...Reviews

I've searched but could only find two stories detailing the FedEx Cup point system changes announced Tuesday. Stan Awtrey talks to Tour Championship director Todd Rhinehart and writes in the AJC:

The two changes should make it easier for players to move up in the playoff standings and increase the number of players with a chance to win the FedEx Cup. Had the alterations been in place in 2007, The Tour Championship would have started with 12 players having a chance to win it all, twice the actual number. And six players would have had a realistic chance to win.

"This is what we wanted," Rhinehart said. "If you can win it when everything is on the line, you deserve it. It makes it more exciting."

So in other words, that wasn't possible last year! We were duped!

Somehow I don't think it's going to get any more playoff-like under the new points system.

Steve Elling offers this
Had the tweaks been on the books last year, the number of players who had a mathematic chance of winning the $10 million bonus at the series-ending Tour Championship in Atlanta would have increased from six to 12.

"It's the Rich Beem story," Finchem said, citing a player who was so far back in the regular-season points, he had little chance of advancing despite some solid postseason play. "Players felt you ought to be able to move more aggressively. And when we get to Atlanta, we should have more players in the hunt, which is what players and fans were interested in.

"It does shift the balance a touch, but it was really done to get that guy who was hot to get further through the playoffs."

But he still has no chance of winning the whole thing at East Lake, and therein will always lie the problem.  


Atonement 2: Greg and Tim

img10669693.jpgWhen they say these international golf team competitions bring the world together, they aren't kidding. Just look what happened Tuesday in Palm Beach. Steve Elling analyzes the Finchem-Norman fence mending...

For the first time in years, their situation was mutually beneficial. Norman, who rarely plays in tournaments anymore, has transitioned nicely into the corporate game. He's the head of equipment maker MacGregor, has established a reputation as a course architect and forged his own line of clothing and table wine. By merely writing the aforementioned sentence, we have helped ensure that Norman will profit by virtue of the exposure the cup captaincy will serve to increase.

As a captain of industry already, he said he has come to appreciate the dissenting viewpoint.

"I think it's healthy in a lot of ways," the Shark said. "I don't want everybody to be a yes man or a bobblehead. You've got to be able to sit there and express your differences."
Ah, Jack Welch would be proud of that answer. 
Well, they got the "sitting there" part accomplished Tuesday, though neither looked particularly comfy. You can bet the world tour was not broached.
Finchem insisted that the tour has dealt with Norman for years on a variety of issues, always on a professional basis. If there's a rift, it's nothing that has permanently stained the relationship.

"Here's the reality," Finchem said. "They don't see that Greg designed three different golf courses we're playing tournaments on, he chairs the environmental institute that we're very supportive of, that he's one of our host (staging) organizations on the tour -- people don't see all that.

No, not when you two get in yelling matches and Greg seems to keep missing Champions Tour events. 
"The fact that, as he said, he's been critical a few times in the past, and I don't have a problem with that. Some of the criticism is justified. I think it's all overblown."

Perhaps so, but partly because whenever the world tour issue is broached, Norman radiates heat like Skylab, right before it crashed into Australia.

"I have also complimented Tim over the years for what he has done for the game of golf, the stimulus he has done with prize money," Norman said. "It's not like I am anti-everything he has done. It's just that there have been things I have been very vocal about."

Not anti-everything! Just some of his most important initiatives.


Freddie Serves Up Jordan As Possible Assistant; Norman Returns With Chrissy?

Gosh this is going to be so much more fun that Jack and Gary. From the 2009 Presidents Cup introductory news conference:

Q. For both captains, have you given any thought to who your assistants will be, and what would you be looking for from those guys?



CAPTAIN GREG NORMAN: Go ahead, Freddie.

CAPTAIN FRED COUPLES: No, Greg, you first. (Laughter)

CAPTAIN GREG NORMAN: I have put a lot of thought to it and I haven't come up with a decision yet. It's a lot more of an interesting task for me because of the base that I've got to go through, whether it's Australia or whether it's South Africa or whether it's from Japan and other countries that have participated to some degree in The Presidents Cup. So my task is going to be a tough one. I've got a lot of friends out there on an international basis who have played the game of golf, and spend a lot of time with me personally. So it's an interesting choice for me. I haven't made mine yet.

CAPTAIN FRED COUPLES: Well, for me, I'm sure I've talked to a few writers and given them some names before, and I do have a player in mind, a great, great friend, and I just haven't talked to him about it much.

But you know, I've mentioned Michael Jordan as an assistant, assistant, assistant. Lately I've mentioned Robin Williams and the reason I say that is as Greg mentioned earlier, we're not on any teams when you're in the locker room. And you have people come in when you're in the team room, I think, first of all, I love Michael Jordan, I've been around him. He does some things in Santa Barbara. A lot of our players know him. He's at these events. So that's why I bring his name up because as a team player, there's no one any better. And I think that's what's the fun part.

Now the challenging part is when you're sitting around and you've got nothing but time, I would like a guy like Robin Williams there to keep us loose, and that's why I say that. Whether they are there or not, I don't know, but I do have a great friend in mine mind to play as my teammate and hopefully pick some good guys and get some good pairings. (Laughter).

CAPTAIN GREG NORMAN: Boy, Freddie, you just threw it wide open for me right there. I've got the whole world to go to. You've just got the United States.
I listened to the exchange and it was at that point that Norman mentioned his bride, Chrissy. Or am I hearing things?



Presidents Cup Photo Caption Help

What are those lovebirds Tim and Greg thinking? Courtesy of AFP:



The Demise Of The Florida Swing?

It's about to come out of the words of some writer any day now, because Lord knows they won't want to give the West Coast any credit.

Bob Harig got close in this story revealing a switch of dates again in 2009, with Bay Hill set to get the last spot for reasons unknown.

Florida has seen some dramatic change in recent years. From 1987 through 2006, the order of the four tournaments was exactly the same: The Doral event in Miami, followed by the Honda Classic in the Fort Lauderdale area, Bay Hill and then the Players Championship at PGA Tour headquarters in Ponte Vedra Beach.

For years, the Florida Swing was viewed by many as the unofficial start to the season. Many of the international players skipped the West Coast events and began their seasons at Doral, which gave them a month of warm-weather events to get ready for the Masters.

But the advent of the World Golf Championship events -- specifically the Match Play Championship -- a decade ago began a change in player habits. And when the tour revamped its entire schedule in 2007, moving the Players Championship from March to May, it created an opening in Florida and shuffling of tournaments.

Then again Alan Shipnuck, in reviewing the West Coast swing, says Tiger only making two appearances is devaluing its place.

True, but what would you rather watch or play (block out The Classic Club for a moment): Kapalua, TPC Scottsdale, Torrey Pines, Pebble Beach and Riviera, or PGA National, Innisbrook, Bay Hill and Doral?

In case you forgot how dreadful PGA National is, Daniel Wexler posts his weekly preview and aerial photo link. 


Policy Board Sides With "Under" Bettors On Cuts Policy, "Over" Takers On Playoff Points Fare Well Too

Strap in, here comes the spin...

PGA TOUR Commissioner Tim Finchem said, “As we have previously discussed, we feel that the FedExCup in its inaugural year was very successful, and we did not feel the need to make significant changes to its essential structure. But because of significant feedback from players and fans asking for more volatility and an increase in the number of players in the hunt at THE TOUR Championship presented by Coca-Cola, we are making two adjustments that we feel will result in an even higher level of fan excitement and interest as we move into and through the Playoffs.”

You'll be shocked to know they did not take my advice, but instead, are just adding to the points permutation tedium for another year:

A narrowing of the gap between players’ point totals at the reset going into the Playoffs.  For example, the gap between the 1st and 2nd ranked players was 1,000 points at the reset last year.  That gap has been reduced to 500 points this year, with similar reductions being made all the way down to 144th place. (See Attachment for specifics).

The number of FedExCup points available at Playoff events has been increased by 2,000 additional points per finish position.  For example, a 3rd place finish was worth 3,400 points in 2007; it is now worth 5,400 points.  In essence, players who play well will move up more dramatically than in 2007.  (See Atttachment for specifics. Note: For rounding purposes, the points increases at THE TOUR Championship will differ slightly from the first three Playoff events).

And this means?

The effect of these two changes will be some improvement in a player’s ability to make substantial gains in overall position based on excellent play in the Playoffs, while also increasing the number of players who will have a shot at winning the FedExCup.

If these two changes had been in place for the 2007 Playoffs, for example, the effect would have been to increase from six to 12 the number of players with a mathematical chance of winning the FedExCup, and instead of only four players with a realistic chance of winning, there would have been six.

Well, at least they confirmed that only four had a chance of winning last year.

And now for the new cut policy:

Under the amended regulation, the starting field will still be reduced to the lowest 70 professionals and ties after 36 holes.  However, should the 36-hole cut total more than 78 professionals, there will be a second cut to the lowest 70 professionals plus ties at the conclusion of 54 holes of tournament play.  Players not advancing to the final round of play will receive their appropriate share of the official prize money in accordance with their respective positions.  The change is effective immediately, beginning with this week’s Honda Classic.

In other news...

An increase in the field size at the Memorial Tournament from 105 players to 120, in keeping with the Board’s intent to stage all invitational events with a field size of no less than 120 players. The change is effective with the 2008 event.


Following two additional years (2008 and 2009) at Grayhawk Golf Club’s Raptor Course, The Fry’s Electronics Open will move in 2010 to the Fry’s Electronics-owned course called The Institute, located near San Jose, California. Upon its move to The Institute, the event will be renamed The Institute Championship and will become an invitational event with a 120 player field.

And invitational in the fall? Hmmm...interesting.

And should someone decide to take out Stephen Ames if he dares to win again...

The LG Skins Game eligibility has been slightly modified to address a situation where the defending champion or leading money winner is unable to participate. Under the new regulation, a floor of 5th place on the prior year money list has been implemented, and if a player among the top 5 places on the money list is not available to complete the field, the field will then be completed with an additional player of the host organization’s choosing.

GWAA Contest Judges Recovering At Undisclosed Hospital After Wading Through This Year's Best Entries On Death, Disease and Addiction

And I just want to say that it is sooooo great to see the judges expanding the writing contest horizons by recognizing golf's least appreciated scribes, the poor souls who craft press releases so that others can win writing awards.


Cuba National In The Works?

OB-BB571_Castro_20080222181322.jpgFidel Castro steps down and according to the Wall Street Journal's Jose De Cordoba, developers are salivating at the idea of building golf courses on the island.

"The message from Cuba is: bring on golf projects," says Mark Entwistle, a former Canadian ambassador to the island.

Mr. Entwistle hopes to develop Cuba's first golf community on the island's eastern end, with hundreds of villas and apartments centered on a 36-hole course. Mr. Entwistle says he knows of at least 11 other projects, in various stages of development, involving Canadian, British and Spanish developers.

The man driving Cuba's golf effort is Raúl Castro, the long-serving defense minister who became acting president when his older brother Fidel took ill in July 2006. Raúl, who is more a fan of cockfighting than golf,

...hey, to each his own...

is the odds-on favorite to be named president tomorrow. Alarmed at the decline in the number of tourists to Cuba, Raúl has urged senior officials to make golf happen. The government is setting up an interagency golf task force. Cuban officials involved in the program say they are not authorized to comment on it.

Not so fast...

If history is any guide, bringing back golf won't be easy. "Cuba is the sand trap from hell," says John Kavulich, senior policy adviser at the U.S.-Cuba Trade and Economic Council, who has followed the travails of entrepreneurs trying to develop golf projects in Cuba.

Just ask Walter Berukoff, the mining tycoon behind Vancouver-based Leisure Canada. For more than a decade, Mr. Berukoff has been nurturing a project, approved by the Cuban government, to build some 600 condos and villas for foreigners around three golf courses and a marina on Cuba's north shore, close to Havana. But for a variety of reasons, including Cuba's search for oil right next to his property, the project has gone nowhere.

"We had to stop the project because no one will build a multimillion-dollar project if there are oil wells in front," says Guy Chartier, Leisure Canada's man in Havana. Mr. Chartier says the Cuban government told him it has given up its search for oil. "We plan to move the ball forward in 2008," he says.

To make golf tourism work, Cuba, which does not recognize the right to buy and sell property, will have to permit leases of as long as 75 years for foreigners, to entice them to invest in the villas and condos on which modern golf development depends. Some believe those leases are the tip of the spear that will, over time, reinstate full property rights.

Norman, Finchem To Record "Kumbaya" Duet Now That Shark Is Taking '09 Prez Cup Reigns

Then again, let's see who represents the PGA Tour at the Honda Classic news conference tomorrow, which is taking place according to Golfweek's Jeff Rude, who writes that Norman will join Couples to head up their respective teams at Harding Park:

Norman’s acceptance of the honorary position signals an apparent shift in his longstanding chilly relationship with Tour commissioner Tim Finchem. The two have clashed over the years, starting in late 1994 when Norman proposed a World Tour that Finchem viewed as a challenge to the PGA Tour and top players didn’t support. Finchem adapted the idea into the Tour’s World Golf Championships.

Their relationship deteriorated at the 1996 Presidents Cup when they engaged in a shouting match in a hotel lobby. Norman was said to be upset that Finchem had announced the creation of three WGC events in 1999 without consulting Norman. They also have had disagreements over Norman’s status as a full-time Tour member, overseas play, equipment and Tour finances. Two years ago, Norman requested to see the Tour’s books and hired high-powered attorney Leonard Decof, long a Tour nemesis.



“Reining back the distance of the ball? I still think that’s an open question."

VernonVP.jpgGolfweek's Jim Achenbach profiles new USGA President Jim Vernon and does a nice job capturing his personality along with grabbing a few decent quotes out of him. I can tell you from firsthand experience that's not easy!

First, this from the SCGA's Kevin Heaney.

“He listens to ordinary guys,” Heaney says. “He listens to upper-echelon guys. He listens to everybody. He is never rash, always very clear-headed. He doesn’t jump to any decision.

“More than that, he works hard. He likes working. When he gets involved in anything, he doesn’t do it halfheartedly. He’s engaged. And he has a great sense of humor, so he’s fun to be with.”

This was interesting...

Still, Vernon takes over the presidency at a time of wrangling and arm wrestling among many USGA power brokers.

USGA presidents generally serve two one-year terms, so Vernon has 24 months to endorse, amend, abolish or improve some of the policies of his predecessor, Walter Driver Jr.

While controversy followed Driver, Vernon is expected to operate more quietly and smoothly.

“I get the impression,” says one longtime USGA staffer, “that he would be happy if no attention at all fell on him. He doesn’t need it; he’s very comfortable with himself.”

Nice to hear a dissenter in the golf world going public about the USGA's corporate partners:

The addition of corporate sponsorships has drawn fire from many, including California Golf Association president Ed Holmes, who says the USGA has strayed too far from the game itself.

“We have the greatest game on earth, and we’re trying to turn it into a big business,” Holmes says. He spoke without anger but with a tone of incredulity. “Does that make sense?” he asks.

Okay, so he's not perfect...

Here’s what is known: Vernon praises Driver at every opportunity. He doesn’t believe in contrasting public stances for golf’s ruling body.

Vernon says he will continue Driver’s emphasis on digital media and communication. He credits Driver for implementing the USGA’s policy on corporate partners. He plans to concentrate on the USGA’s public face, particularly through the expanded museum at USGA headquarters in Far Hills, N.J. He says he will seek greater recognition for state and regional golf associations around the country.

Nice to know the ball study hasn't gone the way of optimization...yet:

On the distance of the golf ball, for example, he says: “Reining back the distance of the ball? I still think that’s an open question. I’m not sure it would translate into an increased population in the game or a decreased population.”