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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
  • Professional Golf 2015: The Complete Media, Fan and Fantasy Guide
    Professional Golf 2015: The Complete Media, Fan and Fantasy Guide
    by Daniel Wexler
  • The Golf Book: Twenty Years of the Players, Shots, and Moments That Changed the Game
    The Golf Book: Twenty Years of the Players, Shots, and Moments That Changed the Game
    by Chris Millard
  • The Forbidden Game: Golf and the Chinese Dream
    The Forbidden Game: Golf and the Chinese Dream
    by Dan Washburn
  • The Early Days of Pinehurst
    The Early Days of Pinehurst
    by Chris Buie
  • Arnie, Seve, and a Fleck of Golf History: Heroes, Underdogs, Courses, and Championships
    Arnie, Seve, and a Fleck of Golf History: Heroes, Underdogs, Courses, and Championships
    by Bill Fields
  • The Magnificent Masters: Jack Nicklaus, Johnny Miller, Tom Weiskopf, and the 1975 Cliffhanger at Augusta
    The Magnificent Masters: Jack Nicklaus, Johnny Miller, Tom Weiskopf, and the 1975 Cliffhanger at Augusta
    by Gil Capps
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

The first two or three years I played in the Doral I actually thought it was named for a cigarette or a flower you put on a wreath. Of course I eventually found out the name came from humans. It came from Al Kaskel, who built the resort, and his wife, Doris. I guess Al Kaskel could have called it Aldor, but putting his wife's name first obviously made it sound better, and may have prevented an argument at home.  DAN JENKINS as Bobby Joe Grooves


    

Monday
Aug062007

“These Girls Rock You to Sleep"

Peter Dixon's Women's Open post-mortem:
The crowds were not huge – 42,000 in the first three days – and they were quiet and subdued. They had little to shout about. The championship turned into a battle of attrition and birdies and eagles were few and far between.

The biggest issue, however, was the pace of play. The LPGA in the United States promotes its tour with the slogan “These Girls Rock”. More appropriately, it could read: “These Girls Rock You to Sleep”.

On the first two days, rounds were taking more than six hours and there were players still on the course when play was suspended on the first day just after 9.30pm. On the Saturday, television coverage ended with the leaders yet to finish.

Too often players were not ready to play when it was their turn. In one instance, Natalie Gulbis waited for her playing partners to hit approach shots to the green before taking a club. Then, after checking her yardages with her caddie (60 yards), she had a couple of swishes with the club before deciding to change it.

The putting, too, is painful. The average men’s professional three-ball takes about 3min 30sec to clear the green. The women, many of whom seem over-reliant on their caddies to help them, are taking five minutes on average. And that is boring.

Monday
Aug062007

"Tiger will be intimately involved with the design."

Alan Bastable breaks the news at golf.com that Tiger is so tired of answering Rory and Sam questions that he is going to announce his first U.S. design project during his Tuesday PGA Championship press conference.
According to a source close to the situation who requested anonymity, the world's No. 1 player has signed a deal to design a course located just east of Asheville, N.C., for Cliffs Communities, a prominent golf real estate developer.

"It's pretty major," the source said. "Tiger will be intimately involved with the design."

The source says that like some player architects are not intimately involved. I can't imagine where he'd get an idea like that!
Cliffs Communities has five high-end, master-planned residential properties in North and South Carolina. Jamie Prince, a spokesperson for the company, declined comment, saying that no official announcement would be made before a press conference with Woods scheduled for Aug. 14. An invitation to that event that was sent out on Monday highlighted a new development called The Cliffs at High Carolina.
Uh, if you have a press conference with him August 14th, isn't that an official confirmation?
Monday
Aug062007

Is This Any Way To Treat The Road Hole?

230136-956147-thumbnail.jpg
(click image to enlarge)
I know that ABC used their 2005 Open aerials for Sunday's Women's Open (because there was still that ribbon of rough down the right side of the hole). But the rest of the fairway contour was the same, including two former fairway bunkers surrounded by a sea of rough.

Now, let's forget the pros and just think of the everyday golfers who play this most of the time. The hole isn't tough enough without choking off the fairway? Is taking driver out of the best player's hands really so vital that everyday golfers have to suffer year round? I guess so.

230136-957188-thumbnail.jpg
(click image to enlarge)
Note in the second image how the golfer wanting to layup just right of the green (our left) to secure a pitch into the length of the surface (and those feisty back hole locations), is now told no way.

Taking away options on the Old Course. It's not right! 


 

Monday
Aug062007

The MIDI!

golf650.jpgThanks to reader Tuco for the heads up on Damon Hack's New York Times story about an interesting new tempo device. There's also a video segment on the story narrated by Hack, who clearly missed his calling as an NPR reporter.
Grober has created an instrument that gives a player an immediate response to the golf swing. A smooth, rhythmic swing with Grober’s sensor emits a pleasing tone. A herky-jerky motion lets out a wail.

To create the sound of a golf swing, Grober used Musical Instrument Digital Interface technology that combined instruments like the piccolo, the oboe and the French horn. The music — an audio interpretation of the swing itself — is transmitted wirelessly to the golfer through a headset.

“This dimension that they can access while they’re hitting the golf club opens up a whole world of information that they hadn’t otherwise had,” he said. “Getting it in this format, in a real-time basis, helps people to change on time scales which are much shorter than traditionally. It used to be if you wanted to make a mechanical change in your golf swing, it could take months to do that. But if you can hear what’s going on, you can change the sound space almost instantly.”

Grober said by having players focus on tempo instead of swing mechanics, the mechanics often followed anyway. “Really quickly they understand it’s about tempo and they forget all these complicated thoughts about position,” he said. “When the motion becomes dynamic and smooth, there are some good physics behind that.”

Grober, whose product is scheduled for release in January, said he has worked with 200 golfers and teachers on his invention. While the technology is new, the idea of using physics to teach a golf swing has been around for decades.

Ben Doyle, who wrote the foreword to Homer Kelley’s popular instruction book, “The Golfing Machine,” said he could see benefits in a golfer being able to listen to the sound of the golf swing.

“You hear the thrust of centrifugal force,” said Doyle, the golf instructor at the Golf Club at Quail Lodge in Carmel, Calif. “If a student can hear that sound, it’s very important feedback.”
Sunday
Aug052007

Getting In the Mood For Southern Hills

2007pgalogo.gifIf you are not attending, this ought to brighten your mood. Hope that air conditioning works in the media center!

My Golf World story looking at the vastly improved golf course has been posted. I'll elaborate more tomorrow with photos and thoughts. I know you can't wait.

SI's pithy anonymous pro has all sorts of interesting things to say about Tiger, drug testing, Tulsa and his pick, Jim Furyk.

230136-953409-thumbnail.jpgJohn Huggan talked to former Tulsa resident and current Tiger coach Hank Haney about Southern Hills: 

"Southern Hills is in just about the best shape a golf course can be in," agrees Haney, who graduated from the University of Tulsa and knows the course well. "The greens and fairways are perfect and the rough isn't too deep. Players will be able to at least advance the ball when they miss a fairway.

"The course has been lengthened too, but it is still a place where good play will produce a good score. I liken it to the British Open in that the winning score hasn't been predetermined. It won't suit any particular type of player either. There are only two par-5s and one of them is 655-yards long, so the long-hitters won't have a big advantage. A lot of guys will have a chance to win.

"Which is as it should be. The course will play much better than it did in 2001, with the PGA setting it up rather than the USGA. The PGA knows how to set up a golf course."

John Strege profiles Anthony Kim, who went to Oklahoma and apparently grew up with The Great Santini:
Say this for Kim, at least: He isn’t afraid of imposing figures. History is his witness. He won a battle of wills with any boy’s most daunting opponent—a ruthlessly demanding father, who in Kim’s case often reduced him to tears, once by pretending to discard a trophy he had won with an over-par score. Dethroning Tiger might seem the easier challenge.

Kim quit speaking to his father for the better part of two years. Given his reputation for running his mouth, this showed extraordinary discipline, the kind Paul Kim used to demand of his son. The irony would not have amused Paul; the pain cut too deep. It still does. “I was so sad,” he says now. “I was wrong.”

Their estrangement ended in December, the day Anthony earned his PGA Tour card. Moments after the Tour Qualifying Tournament ended (he tied for 13th), he made the short drive from PGA West to his parents’ home in La Quinta, Calif. The family’s group hug lasted 10 minutes.

Jeff Billington and Michael Overall of the Tulsa World says the PGA will bring $60 million to the local coffers. 

Finally, the Golf World guys make their picks and I like Bomb's pick of Tim Clark and Rosaforte's selection of Stewart Cink.

Sunday
Aug052007

Women's Open Championship Final Round Clippings

aug5_ochoatrophy_600x399.jpgFrom Mike Aitken's Scotsman game story:

Coping as diligently with the rain which cascaded on the turf in the final round as she did with Saturday's gale, Ochoa was wrapped up in a black rainsuit against the elements. Although she'd wobbled under pressure at the majors in the past - two years ago in the US Women's Open at Cherry Hills she found water twice and took 8 on the last - Ochoa never looked like folding in St Andrews, even if there was a minor alarm on the Road Hole when she played sideways out of a bunker.

Disarmingly courteous - she began each press conference by saying 'Hello, everybody' - there was plenty of support for Ochoa among her peers and the media as well the galleries who lined the ancient fairways. Chatting away to her English caddie, smiling when she hit good shots and often, excitedly, breaking into darting runs from greens to tees (compared to the ditherers on the LPGA, the Mexican fairly bolts round the links), Ochoa won many friends with her generous personality.

At Golf Digest, Ron Sirak wraps up an entertaining few weeks (don't you agree Wally?) of diary-like blog entries with this from St. Andrews:
Remarkably, there was no logo-dated merchandise on sale to commemorate the first women's professional tournament at the Old Course. You'd think there would be something that said: "2007 Ricoh Women's British Open, Old Course St. Andrews." Local merchants are also disappointed at the turnout. It certainly is nowhere near the 45,000 a day that show up to watch the men in the Open Championship. In fact, the crowds are down slightly from the 17,000 a day last year at Royal Lytham & St. Annes.

Golf.com features some final day photos, as does GolfChannel.com

Because The Guardian has been slow to post stuff, I just caught this from Lawrence Donegan, assessing Michelle Wie's game:

After a level-par first round the 17-year-old American spoke of rediscovering the form that once made her the second-most famous golfer in the world. What a difference a day, and a North Sea breeze, makes. A five at the par-four 1st, supposedly a gentle introduction to the Old Course, was bad enough for Wie but worse followed as she racked up four more bogeys and a triple-bogey over the next 14 holes to end with an 80 and missing the cut.

It was the fourth time in 13 competitive rounds this season that Wie has failed to break 80. In all she is more than 90-over par in six tournaments. No doubt her entourage will point out that she is recovering from a wrist injury but, equally, critics of those guiding the teenager's career will argue there is little to be gained in allowing her to play at the highest level when it is quite obvious she cannot compete.

And Golf For Women's lively blog included this note from Dave Allen who managed to scarf down the media tent food while jotting down Judy Rankin's thoughts on Ochoa.

 

Sunday
Aug052007

Monty Weeps As Hecklers Move On To Rory Sabbatini

From Doug Ferguson's story, after Tiger slaughtered Sabbatini for the second time this year:

Sabbatini took five to reach the green and made double bogey, and as he walked toward the 10th tee, a spectator said: "Hey, Rory, still think Tiger is beatable?"

Sabbatini turned and glared. He barked at a police officer and demanded — with an obscenity thrown in — that the fan be taken "out of here."
Ahhh, he can dish it and he may continue to!
Asked if he would temper his comments in the future, Sabbatini looked indignant.

"Why?" he said. "I hope I inspire him and play well enough that I can give him a good challenge."

Meanwhile, check out this exchange after the round:
 Q. The guy on the 9th hole, I guess you pointed him out and they led him off, was that just -- he didn't seem to be that -- he didn't curse or anything.
RORY SABBATINI: Well, you know, the situation is we're out here to do our job. Let us do our job. You know, even on 18 there, the guys being very insulting towards Kenny Perry's first putt. Have a little bit of decorum and a little bit of class out there. That's the way it's supposed to be. But I guess a few too many beers were talking.

Q. What do you think of Tiger's game now?
RORY SABBATINI: Today he played significantly better than he did in the final round at Wachovia. He struck the ball better. He made all the shots he needed to. You know, he was definitely playing a lot better golf today than five, six weeks ago, whatever that was.

Q. Did you wear the belt with the skull for inspiration for yourself?
RORY SABBATINI: No, just like the belt.

Q. It's pretty cool.
RORY SABBATINI: Thanks.

Could we ask our questions in the form of a question instead of gushing praise for skull cap belt buckles? 

Sunday
Aug052007

Tiger Goes Entire Press Conference Without Celebrating Firestone's It's-All-Right-In-Front-Of-You Architectural Brilliance

Though I do understand he dropped his favorite design compliment in a rare post-victory gabfest with his most beloved on-course annoyance, Peter Kostis. Actually, his post round Q&A with the assembled inkslingers featured several entertaining exchanges.

Meanwhile, what is missing from AP's Doug Ferguson's game story here:

Woods earned $1.35 million for his 58th career victory. Since the start of the 2005 season, Woods has not gone more than five starts on the PGA Tour without winning.
And, and, and? The points Doug? Sheesh. The playoffs? Hello?

 

Sunday
Aug052007

Sergio and Shark Win Award Before Course Opens!

How I love Dubai, they're doling out development awards and the thing isn't even built yet!

Jumeirah Golf Estates, the exclusive villa project in the heart of New Dubai has netted the prestigious CNBC Arabian Property Awards 2007, in the Best Golf Development category. The award will be given away at a gala dinner at the Madinat Jumeirah in Dubai on Tuesday, October 23, 2007.  

Entries for the award were judged by a highly-distinguished panel of professionals, chaired by Eric Pickles, British Shadow Secretary of State. Jumeirah Golf Estates is owned and maintained by Istithmar PJSC, the real estate investment unit of Dubai World. David Spencer, chief executive of Jumeirah Golf Estates, said of the forthcoming award: “It’s always fantastic to be recognised by the best in the industry.  At Jumeirah Golf Estates we’re aiming to create the best golf development in the region and one of the best in the world.  Today’s announcement shows that we’re on the right track.

Jumeirah Golf Estates brings together the world’s leading golfing and course design superstars to create Dubai’s premier residential golfing community.  Greg Norman, Vijay Singh, Sergio Garcia and the father of modern golf course design, Pete Dye, are working on creating one of the world’s most distinctive golf developments. The 4 courses; Fire, Earth, Water, & Wind; pay tribute to the power of nature, each employing the distinctive characteristics of its own surroundings to deliver a unique challenge.  They will be surrounded by the most desirable residential communities in Dubai, with luxury homes with beautiful space both inside and out.

 

Take that Tiger! 

Saturday
Aug042007

Women's Open Championship Round 3 Clippings

198060.jpgJohn Huggan files the Scotsman game story on Lorena Ochoa's six stroke lead:
Round in level par 73 - more than five shots better than the average score on a day when only three competitors broke par and 26 shot in the 80s - the Mexican played the world's most famous links in just the sort of canny way that would surely have pleased the great names of the past.
And this is fun about amateur Sally Watson...
"I had, like, 41 putts out there today," she whined, in the sort of mid-Atlantic accent teenagers unfortunately tend to pick up after only a few months stateside. "The greens were, like, so slow after the rain and I had, like, so many tricky putts. In the end I like found it hard to, like, trust myself. It was just so, like, windy out there."

There are no prizes for guessing which word this very self-assured young lady most needs to eliminate from her vocabulary. Unless she wants to be 'like Lorena,' of course.

Ron Sirak on the GolfDigest.com blog says that it's pretty amazing Women's British Open play could not find enough daylight in the first week of August to finish the opening rounds. He also notes that Michelle Wie has lost another caddy. She has now officially run twice as many loopers as Spinal Tap went through drummers.
Saturday
Aug042007

Huggan Scoop: Crenshaw Regrets Brookline 17th Green Antics!

...and next week, John Huggan learns from Roberto De Vicenzo that regrets signing an incorrect card at the 1968 Masters!

Sheesh, now I know why Ben has avoided the Senior Open Championship!

Seriously, once we cleared up the earth shattering revelations from three Ryder Cup's ago, Huggan got Crenshaw to say some interesting things about the state of the game, technology, the PGA Tour and Augusta.

"What mystifies Bill and myself is seeing courses being built that hardly anyone can play properly," he observes. "We want our courses to be enjoyable for as many people as possible. We would not know how to set up a course for a high-end tournament. That would just mystify me. If you do that, how can you reach anyone else?

"In America the set-ups are becoming unbelievable. They are trying to stay ahead of technology, and sometimes that doesn't produce enjoyable golf. The danger is that the PGA Tour can become stylised a little bit. They are just so difficult week to week.

"The road we are on is a dangerous one. It's one thing to build five different tee boxes, but somewhere along the line you lose the feel of the hole, and what makes it interesting. You compromise the hole. If you don't go straight back and start changing angles, things get a bit off.

"We are trying - and failing - to come up with interesting ways to combat how far the ball goes. You put obstacles out there at certain distances, and players just fly them. I don't know what you do. We try to make doable holes. I like players to shoot really good scores. That's fine with me."

How Crenshaw would definitely not go about tackling the technology issue is by the mindless growing of long grass, which is how the green jackets at Augusta National have chosen to 'protect' their course.

"I heard this a long time ago, although I'm not sure who said it first: 'Interest supersedes length.' If a course is not interesting and you don't bring people back, what is the point? I look at the way Augusta was set up this year, and everyone was forced to play more defensive golf, no question about it. There's now a limit to what the top players will try there.

"To an extent, I can understand what is being done. I'm not saying all of it should be thrown away. There is no question the course needed to be lengthened. But I've never really agreed with the growing of the rough. That is so entirely different from the way it used to play.

"To get players to try shots they maybe shouldn't try was what used to set Augusta apart. Now it's different. A lot of the places I used to aim for off the tee are now in the rough. Those spots used to open up angles to the pins. But now the course is more prescribed. All the shots are decided for us.

"That's not what [Bobby] Jones and [Alister] Mackenzie intended. They wanted it to be reminiscent of St Andrews. To open up those angles, you had choices to make. And to have choices, you need width. There's no choice when the fairway is narrow. I can't believe some of the set-ups on the PGA Tour. Everything is so narrow."

Still, one thing too much rough and longer holes cannot affect is the famed Crenshaw putting stroke. Into his 50s, he has retained the silky touch that carried him to those two Masters titles - most of it anyway. Only last month he was runner-up at the US Senior Open.

"I don't putt quite as well as I used to. I have days where I feel just a little tentative. At my age I sometimes lack the authority you need to putt well. I hit a lot of nice putts that have about a foot less speed on them. That often makes the difference between making and missing."
 
Saturday
Aug042007

Has He Always Used A Ping Grip?

You know how much attention I pay to what's in everyone's bag, so am I the last person on the planet to know that Tiger uses a Ping putter grip? Or is this something new?

From golf.com's third round photos taken at Firestone:

aug4_woods_600x397.jpg 

Friday
Aug032007

Women's Open Championship Round 2 Clippings

197711.jpgMike Aitken reports on Scotland's Catriona Matthew moving into contention and offers this:

Twice a winner in St Andrews of the St Rule Trophy in 1993 and 1994, Matthew found the memories of those experiences flooding back. "Although it's been a while, it surprised me how quickly I remembered things about where to go and where to miss it," she said.
And on the pace of play...
Pace of play was brisker yesterday and not before time. Six players had to come back to the links at 6.30am to finish their opening rounds. Although no golfer was fined for slow play on Thursday when some took six and a half hours, the Ladies Golf Union, the organisation which runs the event, expressed concern the slowcoaches were damaging the image of the game with their dilatory approach.

With a preponderance of double greens, blind shots and breezy conditions, the Old Course is regarded as the slowest venue on the men's championship rota. Even so, Susan Simpson, the tournament director, conceded: "Six and a half hours for a game of golf is not OK, whether it's women or men, amateur or professional.

That's just not something we would wish to have. For us, anything over five hours is unacceptable."

John Huggan shares a few incredible slow play anecdotes on the Golf For Women blog. On the same site, Dave Allen reports on Michelle Wie's second round 80.197722.jpg

 

Huggan also wonders why the entry fee is less than a round of golf over the Old Course.


Friday
Aug032007

Tiger Spared Of Future Fake Impromptu AmEx-USGA Outings

tiger.jpgYes, I know dark days ahead here. How to cope with the news that there will be no more Tiger Woods led American Express ads like the Caddyshack spot, just those embarrassing spots where he calls OnStar to unlock one of those ugly Buicks.

But mercifully for Tiger, no more of those outings where he has to interrupt his major championship preparation to plug AmEx and the USGA.

But much better was the spin by Amex suit Rich Lehrfeld buried in this AP piece (presumably by Doug Ferguson), who was explaining the decision to sign with the PGA of America while dumping Woods.

"He brought a lot of value to Amex. He's an incredible athlete with an incredible work ethic, and that runs well with what our brand is all about," Lehrfeld said.

And here I thought the brand was about justifying how us suckers pay an annual fee all to get a discount at Kinko's?  

"Sometimes strategies change. We wanted to move our dollars to build a broader base of consumer experiences."

Ah, right. That clears it up.

"It was a good 10-year run," Mark Steinberg, his agent at IMG, said Friday while following Woods at Firestone. He said Woods and American Express mutually agreed not to negotiate another contract.

"I know that sounds like a cop-out," Steinberg said. "But this was one of those deals that had run its course. If they wanted to be more consumer-driver, that might require more of Tiger's time. And it still might not hit the right demographics for them. We talked about doing something smaller, but why downsize?"

That's right baby, Tiger doesn't take pay cuts. And he can't get cardholders Ryder Cup tickets either. Sounds like a win-win! 

Friday
Aug032007

"Why is it that tournament organizers insist on reducing every player to the same hack-out when they miss a fairway? I don't get it. I bet the spectators are bored watching everyone do the same thing."

I know it was like, soooo last week, but remember this is my personal clipping archive and I had to grab these comments from Golf World writer John Huggan's Senior Open Championship game story:

Actually, Watson isn't quite right there. On a Muirfield all but covered in long grass -- "It is worse than Carnoustie in 1999," he had said earlier in the week -- there were plenty of other nasty spots he could have found on that 18th hole. The level and extent of the rough, in fact, had come in for almost unanimous criticism over the four days of an event that will shift to Royal Troon next year under new sponsorship, MasterCard replacing Aberdeen Asset Management.

"It's serious -- six inches of rough under two foot of hay fescue," shuddered senior debutant Nick Faldo before shooting an eight-over-par 292 that left him eight shots adrift of Watson in a tie for 14th place. "Very severe and very narrow."

Others were less circumspect in their opinion of a course set up that some felt was more difficult than that at Carnoustie one week previously. Former Open champion Sandy Lyle, a spectator at Muirfield, was just one calling the length of the rough "ridiculous."

"It misses the point of links golf, which is to create a variety of shots and allow players to hit recovery shots if they are good enough," said the 1985 Open champion, who turns 50 next February. "Why is it that tournament organizers insist on reducing every player to the same hack-out when they miss a fairway? I don't get it. I bet the spectators are bored watching everyone do the same thing."
If there was any doubt the people running the game have no golfing souls, this should do it:
Lyle wasn't alone, either. Many players shared his bemusement at the level of point-missing achieved by tournament organizers who had ignored a request from the Muirfield greenstaff to cut the rough as much as two months before the event. "There was no decision to make," insisted championship committee chairman, and Muirfield member, Alistair Low. "The wet summer produced the rough we have this week, and the course would be this way whether we had a tournament on or not."

But, of course, they did have an event to run, one that sadly lost some of its luster for most of the field.

"I think if you go [in]to the rough, you are dead," said a prescient Eduardo Romero of Argentina, who finished T-4 despite hacking his way to a double bogey at the 71st hole. "Just play sand wedge and lob wedge and put the ball in the fairway and try to make bogey, that's all. It is more severe than Carnoustie because it is so wet and very thick."

 

Thursday
Aug022007

Women's Open Round 1 Clippings

197460.jpgMike Aitken looks at Lorena Ochoa's course record 67 and notes this about the par-5 Road hole, which really speaks to how much it changes the feel of the Old Course (because I couldn't get a good shot of it off of TNT, I will spare you my rant about the conversion to a three-shotter despite the sliver of fairway offered for the lay up...pitiful):
Her drive from the 17th tee soared into the puffy clouds scattered across the St Andrews skyline on a piercing trajectory. Erring left on the conservative side in light rough, she narrowly avoided the Road Hole bunker with a 5-iron which swung away from the trap and onto the green.

Playing as a par 5 for the women, one of the strongest par 4s in golf struggled to hold its own yesterday. Like a heavyweight boxer unable to defend body punches, the Road Hole surrendered a barrage of birdies and eagles. With an average score of 4.5 against the par of 5, the 17th found itself filling the unusual role of soft touch at St Andrews.

Ron Sirak says don't expect another round like it and offers other various observations from round 1, including the British press falling hard for the Tiger-gives-Annika-his-yardage-book story and Michelle Wie's improved play.

Alena Bubniak at Golf For Women shares a nice day one list of links, while John Huggan puts the notion of women in the R&A clubhouse into perspective.
But let's get real people. The headline on this story should read, "R&A behave like normal people shock." While their gesture is to be welcomed in this, the early part of the 21st century, it is hardly earth shattering. No, they didn't have to do it; but yes, they should have done it decades ago.

Part of the reason why the R&A has been enjoying such acclaim this week is that so many people — particularly those from the United States — are unaware of the fact that the Old Course is a public facility, open to all golfers of whatever gender, colour or creed. The R&A does not therefore own golf's most famous course; it belongs to the people of St. Andrews. And the R&A is only one of many golf clubs who have the right to play over the hallowed links; another, the St. Rule club that makes its home on the right side of the 18th fairway, is, in fact, open only to women. Which makes it no better — or worse — than the R&A in my book.

Anyway, let's keep this whole clubhouse thing in perspective. While it has a certain symbolic significance, in the broad scheme of things nothing has changed. Next week women will again be barred from entering. Next week women will gain be barred from viewing the captain's balls in the trophy room. And next week, Laura Davies would be forced to change her shoes in the car park rather than choosing to do so as she is this week.

As Laura put it, "Why would I go somewhere I'm not welcome?"

Why indeed?
Thursday
Aug022007

Digest College Golf Guide

raar01_collegeguide.jpgGolf Digest has posted their annual college golf guide and man are they getting serious about this.  My alma mater did wonderfully, so I love the new tabulation system.

Remarkably, they didn't hold Ken Starr or Mel Gibson's Malibu shenanigans against us!

And I really love the west coast bias. Nice to see for a change.

You can go to the men's and women's lists compiled by Brett Avery here.

Thursday
Aug022007

"I question the clarity of the format for the public."

fedexcuplogo.jpgThey fine players for questioning things don't they?

Well Dan Hinxman quotes a few players who aren't too keen on the FedEx Cup.

"I don't think anybody's talked about it," defending Reno-Tahoe Open champion Will MacKenzie said Wednesday, on the eve of the ninth annual RTO at Montreux Golf & Country Club. "I don't think anybody really cares too much about it."

And from Lucas Glover:

From a player's standpoint -- and I use this phrase a lot -- it's still the same game. There are just some added statistics to keep your eye on and play for. But really, from a player's standpoint, I don't think we've noticed it.

"I can't speak for the public, but I know a lot of people have asked me a lot of questions about it, so I question the clarity of the format for the public."

And this conjures up some funny images:

"I get a text message (from the tour) Sunday night after I played telling me how many points I got, and that's as much as I look at it," Glover said. "I always know where I stand because this time of year you have to because you want to play in those events leading up to Atlanta. But up until two or three weeks ago, I never looked at it."

Meanwhile Hank Gola of the New York Daily News quotes a skeptical Vijay Singh:

"I don't think it's a great idea to start everyone off that close," Singh said at the Barclays Media Day via conference call from Akron, Ohio. "A guy can play 18, 20 events all year and then play their heart out, and at the end of the day lead the FedEx Cup and be in the lead 100 points or 1,000 points ahead of the next guy. That's pretty unfair, but that's the way they've done it. Most of the guys were talking about that part."

The top 144 players on the season-long points list will make the Barclays field. The first 120 on the points list advance the following week to the Deutsche Bank Championship in Boston.

Players needn't enter each of the events but the odds of winning the $1.26 million as the overall points winner are diminished if they don't. Therefore, there's an excellent chance that Woods will return to Westchester for the first time since 2003, when he tied for 13th.

"Getting used to it is a problem right now, is an issue right now with most of the players," Singh said.

Thursday
Aug022007

The Dangers of Drug Testing?

Two trusted readers responded in emails to my post a few weeks back asking about the "risks" of drug testing. They said that false-positives or positive results for substances prescribed by a doctor were the danger of drug testing in golf.  I respect their opinions and agree that it is risk #1, what I never quite understand is why the policies in place seem to fail to take into account the athlete's current medical care situation.

Possible case in point, from reader Hawkeye:

Italian golfer Alessandro Pissilli has been suspended after failing a drug test, the Italian Olympic Committee said Wednesday.

Pissilli, who plays on the Italian pro tour, tested positive for the banned diuretic Finasteride at the Omnium National Championship on June 29.

Pissilli has been suspended by the Italian Golf Federation and could face a two-year ban if found guilty of a doping violation.

His local golf club in Florence released a statement later Wednesday, defending him and saying that he had informed authorities at the time of the test that he had taken the drug for almost two years to treat a prostate problem.

And here's where the false-positive debate has merit:

Finasteride is also used to treat hair loss but can mask steroid use, and has been at the center of several recent doping cases.

Yikes, talk about a potential nightmare for the Champions Tour! Sorry...

American skeleton slider Zach Lund missed the 2006 Turin Olympics because of a one-year doping suspension triggered by his use of the drug. He was later cleared of wrongdoing by the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

I know there is much more here than meets the eye, but it just seems odd that so many of these cases come up where an athlete was taking something for a legitimate reason and yet somehow that was not clarified or dealt with privately before a publicly embarrassing test result and suspension.

Thursday
Aug022007

The Annuity: FedEx Cup Killer?

fedexcuplogo.jpgIt's long been rumored that Tiger Woods was strongly opposed to the $10 million annuity that will be given to the FedEx Cup winner. And as the exchange in yesterday's press conference revealed, he still is not a fan.

Naturally, some used this as a chance to suggest Tiger just wanted the cash, but more likely he's coming at this as a  fan and realizes that on Sunday of FedEx Cup weekend, the winner will not be asked how it feels to win $10 million or what he's going to do with the $10 million. Because he's not getting $10 million!

The winner won't see this money until he's 65, so there really isn't much to talk about.

And isn't that the point of the playoffs? To give everyone something to talk about? Even a $5 million or $4 million payday would have generated buzz. Shoot, $2 million would. But an annuity is not the stuff of water cooler conversation.

So two questions: Is this a deal killer for you as a fan? And to the financial gurus out there, approximately how much does the PGA Tour have to deposit annually to get that annuity up to $10 million by the time the player reaches 65?