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The professional golf watcher never catches the action. I could write a volume on Great Moments in Golf I Have Missed.  PETER DOBEREINER


    

Thursday
Sep282006

Nicklaus Prepares For '07 President's Cup By Watching As Little Of Ryder Cup As Possible

From a story by Garry Smits:

Nicklaus said the U.S. Ryder Cup team had the same intangibles going for it as the European team.

"They [the U.S.] played for pride and their country, the same things as they other guys," he said. "They played as a team. They just got whipped. The Europeans just played better."

Nicklaus said he didn't watch all the matches, but he guessed that the U.S. team played with as much desire as it did last year in the Presidents Cup.

"They probably played just as hard for [captain] Tom [Lehman]," he said.

Nicklaus said reversing the U.S. Ryder Cup fortunes had to start with developing younger players who had an instinct for winning.

"The big problems is we don't have any young players," he said. "Tiger was the youngest player on our team, and he's 30. We've only got one player in the U.S. under 30 who's won more than one more tournament.

"I think the colleges are developing players who are good at winning college tournaments, but that promotes playing conservatively. I don't think they come out of college knowing how to win yet."


Thursday
Sep282006

Oh To Be A Subscriber, Vol. 86

Sharonda at SI customer service was kind enough to credit it me for the last two weeks of Golf Plus that I missed because the computers decided I was a Fantasy Plus man.

Anyone else get switched over?

I guess this beats getting the X-Games Plus or whatever its called, but it would not be fun to go an entire year without missing Golf Plus. Then again, my subscription has been extended two months thanks to the computers!

Meanwhile, Golf World has been arriving on Wednesdays or Thursdays. Scary I tell you. This can't keep up.  

Thursday
Sep282006

"the fact that he gave that ball to me..."

Get your tissues out, Peter Kostis offers this emotional heart tugger of an anecdote to remind us that he's teaching one of the best players in the world.

I've been Paul Casey's coach five years, so when he made that ace on 14 yesterday—well, let's just say it was something special. A walk-off hole-in-one at the Ryder Cup—just the fifth in event history—to win your match! I was following Paul's foursomes match. When we reached the 14th, Paul's girlfriend Jocelyn turned to me and said, "This shot is right up his alley." It's like she knew. He didn't even see the ball go in, due to the topography.

 Or the lousy shaping work. Eh, just a thought...

When he watched his swing on the Jumbotron, he could read the lips of about 5,000 people saying, "Get in the hole!" Then he gave me the ball—an amazing gesture. He said something very personal which I'd rather not share, but the fact that he gave that ball to me, of all the people he could have handed it to, shows the kind of kid he is.

My NSA sources picked up Casey's comments to Kostis and passed them along: "Peter, since I couldn't get you a room here at the K Club, maybe you can sell this on Ebay to recoup some cash to pay for that lousy $500-a-night hotel room in Kildare." 

Thursday
Sep282006

Mickelson Out of Grand Slam, Practicing Rest For FedEx Cup?

Phil Mickelson has pulled out of the PGA of America's Grand Slam of Golf to stay home and prepare for next fall's FedEx Cup playoffs, when he will...stay at home.

Based on his 3rd place finish at the AT&T and World Ranking outside the top 30, Mike Weir gets the call to replace Mickelson.

 

Wednesday
Sep272006

Ryder Cup Clippings, Final Edition Vol. 4

ryder_cup_logo.jpgDespite the rout, there's still plenty to say about the Ryder Cup, starting with Golf World's Ron Sirak on the tape delay issue:

TV networks have to face the fact that times have changed. The Internet makes it impractical to take live events and repackage the time element out of them. Remember, a large part of what is compelling about sports is that it is an unscripted improvisational drama happening now. Why turn it into an old made-for-TV movie?

Brett Avery issues his report card in the new Golf World, and it's not pretty for the U.S. team.  They also have posted the stats and scoring package in a PDF file.

Jim Furyk commented on the Ryder Cup in his Amex press conference. Anyone care to guess who the writer was?

Q. I meant the Europeans, they're not winning majors, but they do very well in the Ryder Cup.

JIM FURYK: I think they would find that question very offensive because now you're taking a shot at them in the major championships. You're offending someone, I'm not sure exactly who it is (laughter).

I don't mean it that way, but as an American player in the Ryder Cup, I had a writer, actually very well respected writer from the U.S., a guy that everyone in this room would know, ask me point blank to my face whether it was all over on Sunday whether in the whole big scheme of things whether it actually mattered to me. Now, without wanting to reach out and just strangle him or send a few F bombs his way, I just bit my tongue, said yes, told him he offended me and walked away. There's not much else I can do. It's an offensive question.

Nothing towards you, but when you all write stuff about us about how bad we played, if someone writes last week that I played awful, I had no game, I didn't show up, you know what, I can accept anything physical. But when someone questions what's inside me or my teammates, that's kind of like the offensive part. That's where I think guys get upset.

I'm not upset with you or anything like that. I understand the questions. But for everyone that knows me inside, they know how important the Ryder Cup is. And if you can't get up for the Ryder Cup, you don't have a pulse. It is the premium event. I get more jacked up for that than I could imagine ever getting jacked up for an event individually, maybe to a fault at times, but it's exciting. You could not step on the first tee last week and listen to everyone pound their feet in the stands and listen to the place going nuts and singing and thinking, how cool is this.

Lorne Rubenstein swoons over dreaded 2010 site Celtic Manor even though the course is under the knife not long after its original design was deemed a complete disaster.

In a Globe and Mirror Mail column, he wonders if the U.S. team has been harmed by the President's Cup.

Consider the six Ryder Cups played before the first Presidents Cup, back to 1983, that is. The United States won three and tied one. However, as mentioned, the U.S. team has won only one of the six Ryder Cups since the Presidents Cup started.

Why might the Presidents Cup make such a difference? Remember, this is just a theory.

It could be because the U.S. players who qualify for both the Presidents Cup and the Ryder Cup -- read Woods, Mickelson and Jim Furyk, to name three heavyweights -- are called upon to represent their country every year.

The Europeans, however, are called upon every two years. They have 24 months to build up to the Ryder Cup, without interruption. They're fresh when they play.

The U.S. players who qualify for the Presidents Cup and the Ryder Cup don't have that amount of time to get excited about the Ryder Cup. This isn't to say the Presidents Cup isn't worthwhile in its own right. It came into its own in 2005 when the United States beat the International team by three points in a dramatic confrontation at the Robert Trent Jones Golf Club in Prince William Country, Va.

Wednesday
Sep272006

Reviewing The Grove

Joe Passov reviews WGC AmExpress host The Grove and loves it. Peter Dixon sounds a little less excited in The Times:
In almost every respect, the event at The Grove, just outside Watford, has the look of a fully-fledged PGA tournament. More specifically, the course, designed by Kyle Phillips, an American, has been set up in just the same way — a touch of Americana plonked right in the middle of the Home Counties.
Jim Furyk had some interesting things to say in his news conference:
You know, not the golf course I think you would expect coming to England or coming to London. It had a very new style of architecture to it with the green complexes, falloffs, collection areas off the edge of the greens, not something I was anticipating before I got here.

But it's definitely a golf course that looks like it's been built in the last 10 to 15 years. I'm not sure when it was built, but it has a very new feel to it.

I came over here a couple weeks ago, playing Wentworth. Even though it had undergone a facelift with Ernie it has a very traditional feel to it, old style, and I didn't know what to expect coming to The Grove. But when we all think of coming to London, we don't think of anything really all that new, because they're kind of old and classic, at least I do.

So it has a little different feel to it than I expected. But the golf course is in very good shape. The turf is fantastic on the greens. The fairway and rough in areas is extremely thick and penal. It's got some very difficult holes on it, 8 and 9 come to mind right off the bat, long par 4s with pretty tight fairways, difficult green complexes on both of those. So it'll be I think it'll be a decent test.

Yesterday the greens were quite soft and rolling very well, which always yields pretty good scores.

The course I think could play pretty tough right now. It seems like the setup is going to field some decent scores.

Q. Do you actually prefer when you come to London, do you feel almost cheated if you don't get the classic?

JIM FURYK: No, I don't feel cheated. I think I prefer a classic golf courses in the States or whatever. It's not a secret I'm not a real big fan of modern architecture for the most part, but the golf course is fine. A lot of the golf courses that we play on in the States are of a modern architecture, and I tend to pick the ones we play on our Tour. Most of the courses that I really like were probably built pre 1960 and are a little bit more traditional, and I grew up on courses built in the early 1900s at home when I grew up playing the game. It might not be old for here, but it's old for home. Stuff that I enjoy playing.

I think had I grown up in Florida or had I grown up in an area where modern architecture was a little bit more popular, that probably would be the way I would be swayed because it looks good to your eye what you grew up on.
Wednesday
Sep272006

Australia Out As A WGC Site

Bernie McGuire reports that Australia is likely not going to be hosting a WGC event anytime soon.
Former Australasian PGA Tour boss and now tour consultant, Andrew Georgiou, said there was simply not enough corporate backing in Australia.

"While it would be nice to see a World Golf Championship return to Australia, the simple fact of the matter is that there is not the sponsorship money in Australia to host one of the events,'' Georgiou said.

One of the three WGC tournaments - the $US7.5m American Express Championship - is taking place this week at The Grove course just north of London and WGC officials indicated yesterday a fourth will join the schedule from 2009 and be staged in China for a 10-year period.

This week's AMEX championship is the seventh staging of the event that was first played and won by Tiger Woods in 1999 in Spain.
Wednesday
Sep272006

U.S. Ryder Cup Ratings

Considering how lopside the matches where and how early the coverage came on in the Western U.S. (it does exist!), these ratings don't seem that bad. From Larry Stewart in the L.A. Times:

NBC might be doing well with football on Sunday nights, but it did not do well with the Ryder Cup. With European golfers dominating Americans over the weekend, those ratings were down. NBC averaged an overnight national rating of 3.0 for its two days of coverage. In 2004, NBC averaged a 3.4 overnight rating. Final national ratings were not available.

In L.A., the Ryder Cup got a 3.0 rating for Saturday's coverage and a 2.1 for Sunday's.

Tuesday
Sep262006

"We've had a coalescence of three different things come together"

In another of golf's worst kept secrets, the tours are taking the WGC World Cup to China. Announcing the move were George O'Grady, Jon Linen, Tim Finchem and various dignitaries from new host site Mission Hills.

Wow, it looks like the World Cup has been sav...eh, maybe not...

Q. So it will not be the World Cup after two years, or it could be?

GEORGE O'GRADY: It could be; it's unlikely.

Q. So Jon, your reaction to that, are you already investigating other possibilities beyond the two year period?

JON LINEN: We would work with the Federation and cross that bridge when we get there. Right now we know we're going to be where we're going to be for the next two years.

We know we're going to be where we're going to be for the next two years. Whoa, I think that calls for a little mop-up from the $7 million man.

TIM FINCHEM: If I could just comment on this, I think what's happened is we've had a coalescence of three different things come together. One is the opportunity to have a World Golf Championship event supported in China for more than a decade; the second is that we feel strongly that at this particular point in time the priority is to bring top flight PGA TOUR level golf to China and to Asia; the third thing is we want to perpetuate the World Cup.

So we've addressed all of these things in a way that we've unfolded here today, which is we're going to take advantage of the commitment that China and Mission Hills has provided, we're going to perpetuate the World Cup for the next two years at Mission Hills. We intend to have World Championship golf for the ten years beyond that, but how that unfolds after the next two years is yet to be determined for a lot of reasons, not the least of which is as George mentioned, the world calendar is reasonably set through 2008. There are issues with the tournament structures and dates after that, in addition to these format issues.

So we will address those as we get to them over the next year, year and a half, but in the meantime we're going to focus our energies on making the World Cup as good as we can make it at Mission Hills for the next two years.

Ah, much better. Those multiple "perpetuate" references are so much tighter than "We know we're going to be where we're going to be for the next two years." That's why he gets the big bucks!

Q. Is there a fear that the World Golf Championship events will be devalued by the fact that most or all will be in America for the next ten years, foreseeable future, and then the next one will be in China for 12 years; will it become stale after so many years?

GEORGE O'GRADY: From a European Tour point of view? I think everybody can have a view on it. I think it's been well chronicled that when all the World Golf Championships or the stroke play events, the Accenture, have been played in America. Not all of us were totally best pleased. But if we have to look at the force of the world economy where it goes, I mean, if we are sitting here, if I'm allowed to say so, a tremendous European victory in the Ryder Cup Matches just finished, and various people have said, why. Now, reading the papers for the last two days, better people than myself can work that out in a playing sense.

Say what?

Q. With that said, George, when is the next window of opportunity for one of these things to be in Europe?

TIM FINCHEM: After 2010 probably.

Nice rescue by the Commissioner. 

Tuesday
Sep262006

Johnny, The Cough Button Is Your Friend

Alan Bastable at Golfonline reports what Johnny Miller said off-air and which was picked up in the media center and the U.S. team locker room.
While chatting off-air with his colleagues, Miller said Tiger Woods was  "playing like crap" and that he hit one shot like a "cripple."

Only Miller wasn't entirely off the air.

Unbeknownst to the NBC crew, its off-air banter had actually been piped into the U.S. team's locker room (as well as the media center).

While expressing continued exasperation with the U.S. team's performance, Miller also referred to Scott Verplank as a lead weight and said that U.S. Captain Tom Lehman should have benched Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson in the afternoon's foursome matches, but that he didn't because Lehman was afraid to "take the heat" he would face for shelving the world's No. 1 and 3 ranked players.

The NBC team learned about the locker room feed when David Toms alerted on-course reporter Mark Rolfing. Rolfing immediately told his colleagues, and an awkward silence ensued. Miller, seemingly unfazed, then sent greetings to the U.S. team.

Within minutes, the NBC feed to the media center went silent.
Tuesday
Sep262006

"He was active until the last second"

138.jpgThe Dallas Morning News' Brad Townsend and Bill Nichols pen the best of the obits on Byron Nelson.
Nelson's wife Peggy came home from a Bible class around 12:30 p.m. and found her husband on the porch, longtime friend and business manager Jon Bradley said.

"He had been gone for a while," Bradley said.

He said Peggy told him Nelson was feeling good Tuesday morning, and may have been headed for his golf cart when he collapsed.

"He was active until the last second," he said.

Richard Goldstein writes the New York Times obituary and Thomas Bonk pens the LA Times version.

SI digs up Walter Bingham's 1995 piece detailing the win streak.

Of course, Dan Jenkins contends that it was actually 13.

Tuesday
Sep262006

Ryder Cup Clippings, Final Edition Vol. 3

SI posted a poll of PGA teaching pros from Golf Magazine's 100 best, asking them to pick the next Ryder Cup Captain. The results:

Corey Pavin      35%
Paul Azinger     26%
Fred Couples     26%
Davis Love III     10%
Jeff Sluman        3%

Well that's settled. After all, we know how the PGA of America always listens to its constituents.

Lawrence Donegan offers his final thoughts on the Ryder Cup:

Even those who are not in the gang, such as Sergio García, are granted temporary membership for Ryder Cup week. Colin Montgomerie, too. At the start of the post-victory press conference, a US journalist asked the team to sum up the Scotsman's contribution to the European cause.

"Careful lads, careful. Make it good, " interjected Montgomerie, perhaps mindful that several of his team-mates are less than complimentary about him the other 51 weeks of the year. But he need not have worried.

"Monty is simply a leader on the course and off it," volunteered Westwood. "He's proven today that he is an inspiration when he goes out first in the singles. He's a pretty quick player, too, so he likes going out first." As eulogies go it was hardly WH Auden but this contribution spoke of the mentality of the European team, every one of whom was happy to lay aside ancient enmities in the greater cause of victory.

From Alan Shipnuck's SI game story:

Why can't Johnny win? Maybe because the players on the PGA Tour get so rich with a few top 10s that they never learn how to close the deal. Maybe it's because Europeans grow up competing in more match play, or that the far-flung logistics of their insular tour breeds more camaraderie. Maybe Americans' obsession with making technically perfect swings has de-emphasized the art of scoring. Or maybe Europe simply has better players: Coming into the Ryder Cup, eight members of its team were in the top 20 in the World Ranking, compared with just four for the Yanks.

These arguments, and others, have been kicked around for the better part of the last decade, but one point is indisputable -- an event in which only pride is at stake brings out the best in their stars and the worst in ours. 

And John Huggan weighs in at Golfobserver with this point about Mickelson, which I suspect will be made many more times in the coming months:

The question is simple: Is he willing to take golf even remotely seriously after the PGA Championship in August? If not, Mickelson should forfeit his place in all future US sides. That he should pitch up in Ireland not having played competitively for a month was a disgrace, an insult to his teammates and indicative of his less than enthusiastic approach to representing his country in golf's most compelling event. Instead of being on the course these past few days, the 36-year old Californian should have taken the advice offered by a wonderfully 'Irish' sign at the K Club: "Lost people should go to the information centre in the tented village."

And Huggan addresses the idea of the U.S. becoming "The Americas" team:

Then again, one has to wonder what Jack Nicklaus was thinking as he surveyed from afar the carnage that was America's Team. Was he musing the possibility of the hapless US side being bolstered by the likes of Canada's Mike Weir, Angel Cabrera of Argentina and Columbian Camilio Villegas in a newly constituted 'Americas' team? To even suggest such a thing can no longer be dismissed as frivolous or mere mischief making. After two successive nine-point shellackings that hardly bode well for the new world's prospects at Valhalla two years hence, it is a question that brings with it a growing legitimacy.

And, how can you not love this:

Finally, on a personal note, your correspondent is sure he is hardly alone in taking an enormous amount of pleasure from the delicious last day moment that saw Woods' caddie, the despicable Steve Williams, slip on a rock left of the 7th green and drop his boss's 9-iron into the drink. The only pity was that the endlessly boorish New Zealander did not do likewise.

That would have been the perfect end to a memorable week. Well done Darren. Well done Ireland. Get a grip America.

Tuesday
Sep262006

Tilghman, Faldo, Lerner and Foltz

Ron Sirak and Stu Schneider report that The Golf Channel will pair Kelly Tilghman with Nick Faldo in the main booth, with Rich Lerner and Jerry Foltz (!?!?!?) on the 17th hole.

If nothing else, this news will bring legions of new readers to this site thanks to this very post.

Yes, one of the oddities of blogging is the ability to see how people reach your site. And believe it or not, based on one measely mention of Tilghman in a post a while back, 10-20 visitors a week find this site running searches for "Kelly Tilghman" and "pictures," or sometimes, her name and "nude photos."

What a wonderful world! 

Tuesday
Sep262006

Byron Nelson, R.I.P.

nelson_byron.jpgOne of the greats passes away.

Monday
Sep252006

One Last Ryder Cup Question...

...well, for today anyway.

If the rumored move to a Thursday-Sunday setup happens in 2008, this would significantly alter the Captain's strategy on day 1.

As a trusted observer pointed out to me today, the pressure on the Captain's to make their afternoon foursome's selections creates one of the few moments where the Captain's have to make big decisions under the gun.

A move splitting the opening four-ball and foursomes play would eliminate one more bit of strategy and pressure.

Big deal or not? 

Monday
Sep252006

Ryder Cup Clippings, Final Edition Vol. 2

ryder_cup_logo.jpgLet the Monday morning quarter...actually, the matches would have to be close for there to be any second guessing.

No, the stories continue to marvel at the slaughter and the potential fallout for American golf.

Sandy Lyle gloats to The Scotsman's Mike Aitken:

"At the moment the future is looking very strong for us," said Lyle, one of Ian Woosnam's backroom men at the K Club. "I think we'll need to have a handicap system if it continues like this. We are producing very strong teams and they are on the ropes. Long may it continue."

Asked why the pendulum had swung so far in Europe's favour, Lyle added: "The European Tour has been getting stronger and stronger for many years.

Also, we have to thank Tiger Woods. We look at him and we see how hard we have to work on our games to try to get to his level."

James Corrigan asks questions in the Independent and highlights some of the more critical U.S. writers.
 

Maybe the best critique came from Peter Dixon in The Times:

In reality, the Americans are a bunch of rich individuals thrown together for a week. Brett Wetterich, among the four faceless rookies in the team, had never met Woods until a few weeks before the Ryder Cup and probably will never meet him again.

The US team may well have “fun” in the team room, but they do not come across as great friends. Who among the Americans is as close as Darren Clarke and Lee Westwood, Padraig Harrington and Paul McGinley, Sergio García and Luke Donald? When the chips are down, it is such friendships that can pull you through. Ask Clarke.

Perhaps the most telling statement of the week was Mickelson’s, when he said that it was “awkward” not having the likes of Davis Love III and Fred Couples in the side, great players “you expect to see on US teams”. What he should have said was: “I’m a celebrity, get me out of here.”

Oh but he's not done... 
Much more of this and you could see Tim Finchem, the commissioner of the PGA Tour, being put under pressure to put a cap on the number of overseas players allowed to join the tour.

There is plenty of squealing in the women’s game in the US because of the number of South Koreans walking off with the lion’s share of the prize-money. How long before the men start complaining?

Finish in the top 80 of the PGA Tour and you will earn about $1 million in prize-money alone. That is a huge sum for mediocrity. This is a society for whom winning is everything, but its golfers, metaphorically speaking, have flabby underbellies — and boy were they exposed at the K Club.

Monty weighs in with a guest commentary for the Telegraph, and you would think his lead is a joke, but it's not.

If our team had a secret over the week, it was the way we boosted each other's self-esteem at every possible opportunity. It was Ian Woosnam's idea. Every time one of us was about to tee off at the first, Woosie, or one of his assistants, would be there to say, "You're a great champion," or something along those lines.

Wow, I thought our guys were simple!

Monday
Sep252006

"Changing Times Putting The Squeeze On Private Clubs"

Thanks to reader Kevin for this Len Boselovic story in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette on the struggles for Pennsylvania country clubs.

Monday
Sep252006

Silverman WSJ Interview with Updike

Jeff Silverman interviews John Updike for the Wall Street Journal's weekend edition. A few highlights:

WSJ: But you do have that big-headed driver.

MR. UPDIKE: Occasionally, a sweet hit will go farther than my drives usually do. I just don't have enough of them. We all like technology when we can use it, but the best club in the world and the farthest flying ball in the world aren't going to straighten out your drives for you.

WSJ: Do you think that far-flying ball goes too far?

MR. UPDIKE: Not when I hit it. It can never go too far for me. I would think if you're going to make an adjustment in the game the ball is much easier to tinker with than the clubs. I don't think it should go any farther than it does now. And already, the fact that the pros miss so many fairways indicates to me that the ball may just be flying too far.

WSJ: Technology and its costs -- both in dollars and cents and how it's made some of the classic courses obsolete -- are aspects of the game that many complain about. What irks you?

MR. UPDIKE: There's a certain agony in waiting. It takes the best part of the day to play a round.

And...

WSJ: You've written quite movingly about golf in its simplest form vs. the flower beds, cart paths, breaches of etiquette and excessive costs. Is it getting worse?

MR. UPDIKE: I don't see it shrinking. When you do go to Scotland or Ireland and play on the unnamed, unknown courses, you realize what a simple and charming dip this is into the countryside. It's too bad that American courses trend the other way, becoming more manicured, ergo more expensive, more fuss about getting into the clubs, more and more a rich man's sport, where in Scotland and Ireland it began as a poor man's sport.

WSJ: Where have you liked playing over there?

MR. UPDIKE: I went up to Dornoch, and that's really worth it because there you really see a majestic, natural course up there in the twilight zone. I played St. Andrews once in the twilight serendipitously. My wife was with me. I rented clubs and she walked around with me and we joined up with a twosome, father and son, and had a lovely round that ended in the gloaming. That was a great lyrical experience. They're all kind of fun and shaggy and no fuss, and I like that kind of golf.

WSJ: You witnessed the 1999 Ryder Cup at the Country Club in Brookline as a marshal. Another cup is coming up. You've observed that the event gets our blood boiling. Is that good for the game?

MR. UPDIKE: You hate to see the partisanship become so extreme that the crowds heckle the golfers. The game is meant to be a gentleman's game in which you call rule infractions on yourself, and you shake hands before and after, never show hostility, and I think in the Ryder Cup there's the danger of all those manners being suspended. The Ryder Cup I was at was the one where Justin Leonard sank an amazingly long putt and suddenly we went from being losers to being winners and they mobbed him and trampled all over the green [before the match was completed]. That left a bad after-feeling.

WSJ: Do you read much about golf?

MR. UPDIKE: I follow the newspaper accounts. I don't read everything written about the game because it detracts from my writing, but my first acquaintance with golf was through writing -- in murder mysteries. English murder mysteries often have a golf course with a corpse on it.

WSJ: Why is golf such a writer's game?

MR. UPDIKE: It's contemplative. You kind of think your way out of corners. Often you find yourself both in plotting and in golf in an awkward situation of your own making and you try to get out of it. And I think both writing and golfing involve a patient temperament that can be content with slow progress. And you can play golf very happily and hardly talk to anybody for four hours. All those things are appealing to a writer.

WSJ: What do you see as the cornerstones of the golf library?

MR. UPDIKE: I would put certainly one or two of P.G. Wodehouse's golf tales. They're so funny and yet so vivid and you really come to understand golf. And Bernard Darwin's accounts of the British courses and British tournaments. A book that I learned from was Tommy Armour's "How to Play Your Best Golf All the Time," which I find more helpful than Hogan's.

WSJ: If you could fix one thing about the game what would it be?

MR. UPDIKE: You can't really do much about attitude except maybe try to emphasize the basic principles of golf etiquette. Beyond that, it would be nice if you could disconnect golf and money. You lose something when it becomes a privileged sport. It was nice when everybody was out there swinging away with their lessonless, self-taught swings.
Monday
Sep252006

PGA Tour Driving Distance Watch, Week 38

pgatour.jpgThe PGA Tour driving distance average jumped to 289.6 yards from 289.3 following the Texas Open.

There were 6 drives over 400 yards bringing the season total to 30, two shy of the PGA Tour high mark in 2004.

There were 18 400-yarders in 2005.

FYI, the long bombers in Texas were Scott Gutschewski (425), Bubba Dickerson (420),  Harrison Frazier (416), Charley Hoffman (411), Brandt Jobe (404 and 401).

Monday
Sep252006

Tape Delayed No More?

Golfobserver's Peter McCleery analyzes NBC's Ryder Cup telecast, focusing his criticism on the outdated nature of tape-delay coverage in the Internet era. He says sucked the life out of the Friday/Saturday telecasts here in the States, and I would agree. But even on tape, NBC could have done better...

If you're going to tape everything, use the time more wisely. As it was, there was 20 minute of nonaction to fill on Saturday, and the 20 minutes before that featured only one match still in progress.

Might NBC suggest that they didn't have enough time to edit the dreadfully slow morning four-balls, even though we know they did based on those tacky Rolex clocks decorating each tee?

Anyway, McCleery concludes: 

Here's hoping this is the last tape-delayed Ryder Cup ever and the last walkover in a while. The PGA and NBC have another four years to figure it all out. That's twice the time that the American players have. It should be enough to finally get this thing right.

They just had two years since the last Cup to devise an Internet strategy for this year's event, announcing the exclusive online coverage the day before the matches started.

However, there may be hope for U.S. viewers when the matches are played at Celtic Manor in 2010. It has been rumored that Friday Ryder Cup play may be spread out over two days (like the Presidents Cup). This would allow for 1 p.m. tee times on new host network ESPN, meaning a respectable start time in the east coast. And of course, we know that's all that matters.

This would also allow for a 10 or 11 a.m. start at Valhalla, allowing European viewers to go to bed at decent hour.

However, a Thursday start still doesn't solve the Saturday-on-NBC issue. And of course, we know that's all that matters.