Twitter: GeoffShac
  • The 1997 Masters: My Story
    The 1997 Masters: My Story
    by Tiger Woods
  • The First Major: The Inside Story of the 2016 Ryder Cup
    The First Major: The Inside Story of the 2016 Ryder Cup
    by John Feinstein
  • Tommy's Honor: The Story of Old Tom Morris and Young Tom Morris, Golf's Founding Father and Son
    Tommy's Honor: The Story of Old Tom Morris and Young Tom Morris, Golf's Founding Father and Son
    by Kevin Cook
  • Playing Through: Modern Golf's Most Iconic Players and Moments
    Playing Through: Modern Golf's Most Iconic Players and Moments
    by Jim Moriarty
  • His Ownself: A Semi-Memoir (Anchor Sports)
    His Ownself: A Semi-Memoir (Anchor Sports)
    by Dan Jenkins
  • The Captain Myth: The Ryder Cup and Sport's Great Leadership Delusion
    The Captain Myth: The Ryder Cup and Sport's Great Leadership Delusion
    by Richard Gillis
  • The Ryder Cup: Golf's Grandest Event – A Complete History
    The Ryder Cup: Golf's Grandest Event – A Complete History
    by Martin Davis
  • Harvey Penick: The Life and Wisdom of the Man Who Wrote the Book on Golf
    Harvey Penick: The Life and Wisdom of the Man Who Wrote the Book on Golf
    by Kevin Robbins
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
    Sports Media Group
  • 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
  • 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
    Sleeping Bear Press
  • The Good Doctor Returns: A Novel
    The Good Doctor Returns: A Novel
    by Geoff Shackelford
  • The Captain: George C. Thomas Jr. and His Golf Architecture
    The Captain: George C. Thomas Jr. and His Golf Architecture
    by Geoff Shackelford

The object of golf architecture is to give an intelligent purpose to the striking of a golf ball. To be worthwhile, this purpose must excite and hold interest. If it fails in this, the character of the architecture is at fault.
MAX BEHR

 

  

Wednesday
Oct212009

"In an odd sort of way, golfers, the fans who follow them and the writers who try to understand them have found a common place to hang out -- Twitter."

Ron Sirak looks at Twitter's impact in the world of golf and concludes:

Its functions are diverse -- promotional, informational and humorous -- but its impact is unified: To make the world a smaller place, reducing it all the way down to 140 characters. And that's clearly a comfort zone millions are finding to be quite cozy. Clearly, it is a world of characters that is having a population explosion.

Also, Alex Myers posts this list of golfers and media Twitter accounts, with links.

Just curious here since it's a slow news day, but might we use this story and comment section for those using Twitter to voice your thoughts? How do you read Tweets? What do you think of getting blog or website feeds as Tweets?

I know a lot of you have Twitter fatigue, we get it. But I'd like this to be a more constructive thread about where you see Twitter going as a news and information source. There will also be a chance to discuss this in November when I post a Golfdom feature on how Twitter is impacting the golf course maintenance world.

Wednesday
Oct212009

"This golf-cart fiasco perfectly illustrates tax policy in the age of Obama, when politicians dole out credits and loopholes for everything from plug-in cars to fuel efficient appliances, home insulation and vitamins."

The Wall Street Journal offered a tough and unbylined critique of a federal tax credit on high-mileage cars "that was part of President Obama's stimulus plan," and which is now being used "to buy that great necessity of modern life, the golf cart."

The federal credit provides from $4,200 to $5,500 for the purchase of an electric vehicle, and when it is combined with similar incentive plans in many states the tax credits can pay for nearly the entire cost of a golf cart. Even in states that don't have their own tax rebate plans, the federal credit is generous enough to pay for half or even two-thirds of the average sticker price of a cart, which is typically in the range of $8,000 to $10,000.

Yet in a story forwarded by reader Mac, Alice Gomstyn of ABC News suggests that the credit started with the "bailout bill that last year helped keep the U.S. banking system afloat also contained lesser-known provisions to benefit other industries, including the electric car business."

Under the Bush administration's Emergency Economic Stabilization Act, buying a plug-in electric motor vehicle can make a consumer eligible for a tax credit of at least $2,500 plus additional cash depending on a car's battery capacity.

In April, the Internal Revenue Service confirmed that "neighborhood electric vehicles" or NEVs -- a common term for electric-powered golf cars and other low-speed vehicles allowed on public roadways -- bought in 2009 qualified for the tax credit.

The Journal piece also has little use for the actual carts in question, which are not for golf but for tootling around The Villages and other small communities where people go to die.

Alright, so which one got their facts wrong?

Tuesday
Oct202009

Charles Barkley Offering Anthony Kim Alcohol Consumption Advice

Nice catch by Bob Carney to spot this Charles Barkley interview with ESPN Radio Dallas where the Golf Channel reality show icon talks about Tiger's no-alcohol-or-caffeine diet during tournaments and how he suggested to Anthony Kim that he could learn from such an example to avoid incidents like this one.

It is funny you talk about Tiger. I have become friends with Anthony Kim and I was talking to him the other day trying to tell him: Let this B.S. with Robert Allenby go. Nothing good is going to happen if you all are going back-and-forth. The one thing that I will say about Tiger is that when we go out, he can drink. He drinks but he never drinks when he has got a tournament. So I think you distinguish those two. If we are just going to Vegas to screw around or we are just going around, he might have a couple of beers or something. If he has got a tournament, he does not drink. I am just relaying the Anthony Kim story. Maybe Tony can learn that ok that there is certain things that I got to do when I play and everything else has got to be 2nd. You can have fun when you are off: Ok, I got a tournament this week. Tiger won’t even do caffeine the week of a tournament. He thought that it screwed up his putting stroke. You know how sometimes caffeine has got you jittery? I mean just simple stuff like that.

Tuesday
Oct202009

LPGA Search For Next Commish: Down To Two

Jon Show reports that Arlen Kantarian, a former USTA CEO, has turned down the LPGA because they couldn't meet his pay demands and that Jeffrey Pollack,  commissioner of the World Series of Poker, has also pulled out.

Adam Schupak says that Kantarian pulled out because the LPGA couldn't meet his asking price.

Kantarian, who is a senior adviser to the NFL’s Miami Dolphins, pulled out because the LPGA couldn’t meet his salary demands, Golfweek has learned from a source with intimate knowledge of the selection process. The same source said that Pollack was considered a darkhorse among the finalists.

It must be nice to turn down somewhere in the neighborhood of $500k a year to live in Florida and take a property that has no where to go but up.

For those of you keeping score at home, that leaves...

Among those left standing is Pete Bevacqua, the USGA’s chief business officer, who along with Orender, was identified as a top finalist. His main rival now appears to be Jonathan Ward, whose candidacy surfaced late in the process, but has gained momentum, according to GolfChannel.com.

Tuesday
Oct202009

"Grass-Roots Advice"

The November Golf Digest features a photo and quote from several leading superintendents about the state of golf maintenance and golf's place in the environment. It's a nice example of the print version featuring a digestable teaser, with more online since Golf Digest posted the entire audio of each super's answer to a couple of questions from Ron Whitten.

A few that I've listened to so far and enjoyed: Garrett Bodington, Russ Myers, Peter Wendt and Paul Latshaw Jr.

Tuesday
Oct202009

Nationwide Tour Coming To TPC Sawgrass...Valley Course

Garry Smits reports that Nationwide Tour players will get to hang out at Taj Tim and enjoy Bobby Weed...err...Pete Dye's Valley Course next year.

The PGA Tour will announce at a Wednesday news conference that a Nationwide Tour event will be played at the TPC Sawgrass in the fall of 2010, the Times-Union has learned.

The full-field event will likely be played at the Dye’s Valley Course. It is believed that the Tour does not want to use the Stadium Course for the event because it already is the venue for The Players Championship in May, which costs the facility and the Marriott Sawgrass more than a month of resort income.

The Nationwide Tour is the PGA Tour’s development circuit, launched in 1990 as the Ben Hogan Tour. Most of the players are professionals in the early stages of their careers, and many have used the Nationwide Tour as a launching pad to their PGA Tour careers.

Tuesday
Oct202009

“They’re all wanting to grow golf, but the government is saying, ‘Whoa, whoa, whoa, wait a minute!’”

Thanks to all who sent Seth Mydans' New York Times story on the failed dreams of the "Ho Chi Minh Golf Trail" as the government starts to question building a string of golf courses in a country with so few players. I guess they didn't hear about the Olympic announcement? Or Monty's contribution to the region?

I do see from the photos accompanying the story--and this appeared in the print edition, ensuring even more people laugh at the sport--that the Vietnamese have embraced America obsessive bunker raking.

Tuesday
Oct202009

Nothing A Good Ole Depression Wouldn't Fix Files: Ian Poulter Edition

With apologies to Dan Jenkins or whoever coined that one, I give you, master Tweeter Ian Poulter taking us on a tour of his closet.

And we wonder why people hate golf...

 

Tuesday
Oct202009

"The decision to defile arguably the most renowned hole in golf reveals how little confidence the R&A has in the efficacy of next year's change from box to v-grooves"

The most blistering commentary yet on the R&A lengthening the Road hole comes from the Irish Independent's Karl MacGinty:

Golf ball and club technology has made St Andrews vulnerable and if the wind doesn't blow, the winner's score at next year's British Open could plumb much lower than Tiger's record 19-under in 2000, a thought which would make the right-minded promoter of any Major cringe.

The Royal and Ancient and their American counterparts, the USGA, must accept the blame for falling asleep on their watch as technology ran riot in the 1990s, rendering many classic golf courses obsolete.
The decision to defile arguably the most renowned hole in golf reveals how little confidence the R&A has in the efficacy of next year's change from box to v-grooves as a curb on the longer-hitters. Supposedly this will increase the premium in staying on the straight, short and narrow.

Monday
Oct192009

"Golfing with family"

This little infomercial-article on PGATour.com is a nice reminder how golf coverage will look when PGATour.com is the only source for editorial content. In this case, as supplied by an official partner.

Note the seamless transition from the last instruction tip about taking the kids to see a pro event, followed by the partner message. You just don't get segues like this anymore.

Take them to an event -- Nothing is more inspiring to a golfer than seeing the very best players play at an elite level. The next time a pro tour comes to your town, take them to see a round so that you can experience it together. This will give you an opportunity to help explain the rules to them as well as how to develop strategies to play a hole. Even watching a round on television will allow you the opportunity to coach them in addition to developing a wonderful hobby together.

Golfing with your family can greatly enhance your love for the game. Do not let knee pain sour you on a great sport. If knee pain is preventing you from performing at your best, you might be suffering from osteoarthritis (OA) of the knee. Various treatments for OA do exist, such as ORTHOVISC®, which provides up to six months of knee pain relief. Made from ultra-pure natural hyaluronan, which is found in healthy joints, ORTHOVISC® is injected into the knee joint where it acts to replace your natural joint fluid, to help cushion, protect, and lubricate your knee.

While finding "Golfing with family" to be an informative piece of instruction literature, I managed to obtain an early draft that was a little more to the point:

You use golf as a way to spend time with friends, whittle away your income on new equipment and in general avoid spending time with your children. You might even have used it as a way to spend time with important clients if you hadn't gotten fired for downloading pirated music files that introduced a virus to the company server. It stands to reason that you can also play golf as a way to spend quality time with the most important people in your life, your drinking buddies. Or maybe your family. Here are a few suggestions to ensure that the familial golfing experience allows everyone to come out a whiner.

Start on the range -- While the temptation is to take the family right out on the course, the driving range offers a low-pressure environment for the kids to be left behind while you get in a quick nine. Your wife won't be nagging to press-the-press and the kids won't be playing with loose pocket change during your five-point pre-shot routine. For a change, try not to focus on your own swing at the range like the narcissist you are. Devote your attention to family the same way you would if it were a Little League game or if the kids were standing around near your helium-filled weather balloon. You would not grab a phone to call a 911 operator and insist your child had flown off setting off national media coverage, so don't do that here on the range.

Enlist an instructor -- It might be easier for your family (and for you) if they initially take instruction from a professional, and not a fool like you. If you are constantly telling your family what to do, how to do it, and when to do it, they can grow weary of the sport, of you, and of life in general. Hiring an instructor also provides you the opportunity to work with an expert when you may not have hired one because your ego wouldn't allow it.

Pick the right course -- Once everyone feels they are ready to take the game to a real course, it is crucial to pick a place that will you the best chance to beat the little kids. The ideal place for novices to start is a pitch and putt course, if they haven't all gone out of business by the time you read this. These courses usually consist of nine holes, many of which, unfortunately for the equipment industry, only require a 9-iron, a wedge, a putter to play and a surly guy behind the counter. By shortening the time and distance of this first round, it will lessen the frustration for your children of having to spend time with you as they are beginning to learn the game.

Take them to an event -- Nothing is more inspiring to a golfer than seeing the very best players play at an elite level. The next time a pro tour comes to your town, talk to your bank officer about a low fixed rate mortgage and take them to see a round so that you can experience it together. A loan will give you an opportunity to visit a large, alcohol-fueled tent called the Trophy or Champions Club, where television screens will show the family situations that let you explain the rules to them as well as how to develop strategies to play a hole, all while you are able to enjoy $10 mango martinis.

Golfing with your family can greatly enhance your love for the game and cause assorted injuries to flair up, both imagined-to-get-you-out-of-an-encore, and painfully real. Do not let knee injuries sour you on a great sport. If knee pain is preventing you from performing at your best, you might be suffering from osteoarthritis (OA) of the knee. Various treatments for OA do exist, such as ORTHOVISC®, which provides up to six months of knee pain relief. Made from ultra-pure natural hyaluronan, which is found in healthy joints and particularly large and endangered hammerhead sharks. ORTHOVISC® is injected into the knee joint where it acts to replace your natural joint fluid and helps cushion, protect, and lubricate your knee after you tweak it looking for little Joey's ball in the environmentally sensitive hazard.

Monday
Oct192009

"It wouldn't be widely known but I've carried two sets of irons to every tournament for five years. I choose depending on the rough that week what grooves I'm going to use."

Mark Reason talks to Padraig Harrington about the impact of the groove rule change:

Harrington says: "I've talked to pros and they don't think it will make a big difference. I see it as a massive issue.

"It wouldn't be widely known but I've carried two sets of irons to every tournament for five years. I choose depending on the rough that week what grooves I'm going to use."

In the heavy rough of the majors Harrington uses the v-grooves that will still be legal next season. They hit the ball 30 yards further out of the thick stuff than the box grooves. But at the regular events Harrington has tended to use his box grooves, because they don't produce those 'fliers' that send a ball 10 yards over the green.

Monday
Oct192009

"Did you ask him why Condé Nast was shuttering Gourmet while keeping afloat some 18 other magazines, including Bon Appétit and such giants of intellectual life as Golf World and Golf Digest?"

That's a New York Times Magazine interview question from documented windbag and documented finagler Deborah Solomon, who was asking Ruth Reichl about the closing of her cooking magazine. 

Did you ask him why Condé Nast was shuttering Gourmet while keeping afloat some 18 other magazines, including Bon Appétit and such giants of intellectual life as Golf World and Golf Digest?

I was so stunned, I basically just listened.

Barack Obama walks into the doctor's office and Gourmet, Golf Digest and The New York Times Magazine are sitting on the table. I think I know which one he's picking up.

Monday
Oct192009

A Club For People Who Really Like Arthur Hills Courses

From a Naples News real estate brief:

The Arthur Hills Ambassador Partner Club Program is established by eight clubs who are linked through their golf course architect, Arthur Hills. “The idea was to bring together a select group of private clubs that represented the same values and quality in design and service,” said Ed Lockard, director of golf at Sanctuary Golf Club on Sanibel Island. The Arthur Hills Ambassador Partner Club Program is the first of its kind where separately managed private clubs around the country agreed to join together based on a common interest to form an intra-club connection. All eight clubs have agreed to a shared usage model which will be managed by the respective club management teams where members from the selected eight clubs when traveling around the country will have the ability to play golf and use the facilities as if they were a member at all eight clubs. The clubs have agreed to a nominal usage fee that will be billed back to the member’s primary club.

A nominal usage fee. I think we have new jargon for green fee.

The eight clubs are: Belle Haven Country Club, Alexandria, Va.; The Hawthorns Golf and Country Club, Indianapolis; The Ivanhoe Club, Mundelein, Ill.; Kinsale Golf Club, Nashport, Ohio; Oakhurst Golf and Country Club, Clarkston, Mich.; Oitavos Dunes, Cascais, Portugal; Palencia Golf Club, St. Augustine and The Sanctuary Golf Club, Sanibel Island. The program will be connected through a password controlled Web site allowing members of all eight clubs to correspond and post comments on their experiences.

Monday
Oct192009

Cristie Kerr: "The guys are just used to shooting nothing at a golf course and that’s not how the Firemans and Liberty wanted it to play."

Stephanie Wei caught up with Kerr, who is a Liberty National member and not a fan of the criticism issued by players. I can't wait until she plays an LPGA event at Industry Hills here in So Cal (rumored to be hosting the new tournament in 2010).  It makes Liberty National look like the Old Course.

Q: You are a member at Liberty National. What did you think of the bashing it took from the PGA Tour players during The Barclays? It sounded like a lot of them hated it.

A: Liberty is a first-rate facility. You can’t beat the views. The layout of the course is fantastic…The Firemans are very good friends of mine.

I think [the course] was [criticized] because it was set apart and [the PGA players] are used to being able to shoot 8-under every day. I happen to love the layout of the course. I think there are some changes that Dan and Paul Fireman know they have to make, like the 7th green not running away so much and some bunkers here and there. I think the spirit of the course and the way it plays are tough. And I think the guys weren’t used to having to pitch out of the rough; they weren’t used to a 7-iron releasing 8 to 10 yards. In that sense, it’s easy for a lot of players to bash the course.

The guys are just used to shooting nothing at a golf course and that’s not how the Firemans and Liberty wanted it to play. They wanted it to play like a major championship course, so that’s how they set it up — the rough was up, the greens were fast.

Sunday
Oct182009

Someone Really, Really Wants The LPGA Commissionership

Don't you have to wonder about someone begging to get an interview for the job? Naturally, he has almost no experience in the golf world so he'll probably get the gig (because that worked so well last time).

Randell Mell reports on surprise candidate Jonathan Ward and his pleas for an interview that apparently went well.

Sunday
Oct182009

Get JT In The FedEx Cup Now!

It was disappointing that the usually uber-hip SI/Golf.com Confidential failed to note that Justin Timberlake put on another stellar event, albeit one that will go largely unnoticed on the moribund fall schedule. This is not exactly a newsflash, but considering how the PGA Tour schedule is taking hits and the game's demographics are skewing gray, it's becoming obvious the tour needs to get the Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospitals for Children Open onto the West Coast Swing ASAP.

Timberlake hasn't been shy about his hopes for the event, and it seems the tour is noticing.

According to the PGA Tour's Rick George, as quoted in a story by Steve Carp, there is hope for moving out of the fall:

"I think the Shriners have done a great job of building and growing the tournament, and I know their desire to be part of the FedEx Cup," George said. "It can't happen in 2010, but there will be opportunities in 2011, and should a date become available and the time works, we would consider a change for Las Vegas."

The tour does seem to be bracing everyone for major changes in 2011 when several expired deals impact the schedule, but believe it or not, I continue to hear that there are folks in the world of golf who are uncomfortable with Timberlake, all because they can't get that earthshattering flash of nipple that they never actually saw during the 2004 Super Bowl.

Example 237,891 of golf taking itself way too seriously.

Timberlake is in the second year of a five-year deal he inked to host the golf tournament in Vegas, but the tour needs to figure out a way to keep him as enthusiastic as he once again was in presenting the event. What better way to do that than to make a 2011 spring date a top priority?

This year's event again included his charity concert with some of the hippest acts in music and coverage at places like MTV.com and People.com (which also featured a story on JT's mom doing hospitality duties for tour wives this week, obviously a campaign for sainthood). 

No, I know that it's not Huey Lewis and Clay Walker breaking out in a duet to serenade Kevin James, but when a concert tied to a PGA Tour event is drawing Taylor Swift, Timbaland and Alicia Keyes, it can only do wonders for golf's cool factor. So would fully embracing Timberlake's energetic attempts to make the Las Vegas event a marquee event on the PGA Tour.

Saturday
Oct172009

"Nothing is going to change overnight."

Nice to see Ty Votaw defusing some of the Olympics-will-grow-game-overnight hysteria in talking to John Huggan:

"Golf started as a game for the wealthy in the United States at the end of the 19th century and has evolved into a game for every level of society," claims the former LPGA commissioner, albeit more than slightly unconvincingly. "Today, 72 per cent of courses in the US are public access. We would see something similar being replicated worldwide. But this is a very long-term undertaking. Nothing is going to change overnight. We are probably talking about 60 years or so before significant change can be effected in most countries."

Friday
Oct162009

"Nobody is quite sure, however, how any of the holes were really intended to be played."

Most of the reports detailing the R&A's Road hole announcement worked right off of the press release, except two skeptical accounts from Lawrence Donegan and Bob Harig.

Donegan noted the Friday afternoon timing of the release:

Not that we are cynical here, but Josh and Toby and CJ Cregg, stalwarts of Aaron Sorkin's fictional White House, would immediately identify this as a "Friday dump" - whereby the Bartlet administration "dumped" any news it found awkward or embarrassing at the time when the media was either on its way out the door for the weekend or thinking of heading out the door for the weekend. The hope is that no-one will notice and those who do won't linger too long on the subject.

He also explored the Henry Cotton remarks that I noted were made in reference to a par-5.

It may have needed "lengthening" 45 years ago, but only if it remained as a par five. As it turned out, Cotton's suggestion was ignored. Instead, the hole was played as a par four at the 1964 Open, as it has been the case ever since. To dredge up Cotton's words now and use them in such a disingenuous way is not half as clever as it might have seemed when the press release was being worded.

And Harig questioned Peter Dawson's suggestion that the lengthening the Road hole returned to the course to the architect's original intentions:

Nobody is quite sure, however, how any of the holes were really intended to be played. The Old Course dates to the 1500s and for a time it had 12 holes, 10 of which were played both out and in, making for a total of 22 holes.

Friday
Oct162009

R&A Confirms Road Hole Extension, Planning Has Been On The Table For 45 Years

For immediate release...

OLD COURSE ROAD HOLE TO BE LENGTHENED AHEAD OF 2010 OPEN CHAMPIONSHIP AT ST ANDREWS
 
16 October 2009, St Andrews, Scotland: The 17th hole of the Old Course will be lengthened ahead of the 150th Anniversary of The Open Championship at St Andrews.  The ‘Road Hole’, which has remained the same length for more than 100 years, will increase in length by some 35 yards to 490 yards. A new Championship tee will be constructed on the practice range of St Andrews Links Trust.
 
It has long been suggested that the 17th hole would benefit from additional length to restore the original challenge of the hole. In advance of the 1964 St Andrews Open, three-time Open Champion, Henry Cotton, recommended the alteration stating: “I would make a tee just beyond the railway line on the other course [he was referring to the Eden Course which is now the practice range]. It would restore this drive to its former value.”

Good to see they act swiftly on important matters. Of course, the Road was still a par-5 when Cotton made that suggestion. So his quote is not even remotely relevant to today's discussion, but, as they say, carry on...

 An increased premium will be placed on an accurate drive of sufficient length over the sheds, encouraging players to take driver from the tee.  The fairway will be widened slightly on the left hand side to ensure that the tee shot remains fair. 

So that does mean we narrowed it, no? And why did we do that?

Crucially, the difficulty of the second shot will be re-established, making it more difficult to hold the approach on the putting surface and increasing the threat posed by both the road behind the green and the Road Bunker.

Wouldn't it have been easier to just roll back the ball? Guess this means the R&A isn't buying the USGA's backdoor ball rollback theory with next year's groove rule change?

“The 17th was played at the same yardage in 1900 as it was in 2005 and this fuelled our belief that the formidable challenge of this iconic hole should be returned for The Open Championship,” said Peter Dawson, Chief Executive of The R&A.
 
“Over the years, we have seen the threat from the road behind the green, and to a lesser extent the Road Bunker, diminished as players have been hitting shorter irons for their approach shots allowing them to avoid these hazards more easily. This change will ensure that the hole plays as it was originally intended.”

Originally intended? The course with no known architect, just many improvers, now had an original design vision?

So was this original intention of a par-5 never really meant to be? And when the course played the other direction before the modern version, was that not the original intent?

I know! It was God's intention to have players use a long iron?  Sheesh...anyone can get into this design business.

“We have spent some time discussing this with The R&A and I know they have carefully considered making this change for The Open Championship,” said Alan McGregor, Chief Executive of St Andrews Links Trust. 
 
“The Road Hole is the most famous hole in world golf and we believe the changes will increase the challenge of the hole whilst remaining true to its spirit.”
 
Work on the new Championship tee will commence in the coming weeks.  The lengthening of the ‘Road Hole’ is the only significant change planned for the Old Course ahead of the 2010 Open Championship. 

Are there insignificant changes you'd like to tell us about?

Thursday
Oct152009

Thoughts On An Olympic Golf Course...

Since the International Golf Federation navigated the murky waters of IOC politicking, they must now aid the Rio planning committee in finding a venue suitable for golf. That likely means retrofitting an existing course, or, most likely, build one from scratch.

They have a wonderful opportunity to make a statement for golf course development and re-development of existing courses throughout the world. With that kind of precedent setting power in mind, I'd first suggest they read Tom Friedman's Golf Digest interview to get in the right frame of mind before considering a few dream parameters. There is the obvious caveat that many of these factors are site driven if you hope to fully embrace the local environment and contain costs.

Here goes:

- Build 18 holes with a nice range. 36-holes is not needed, especially since land is at such a premium anywhere near Rio. Because the format is a stale 72-hole stroke play event for both men and women, there is no need for the two courses that a round robin match play or larger field event would have required.

- Include a par-3 course. Keep the holes 60-140 yards and use the par-3 course to host a pre-Olympic first round exhibition to help legitimize the pitch and putt course around the globe as an ideal starting place for new golfers. It would also leave behind a nice spot for locals to have some fun after the games have left town (assuming this is a public facility, maybe a First Tee or some other kind of learning center?).

- A less than 7,000 yard course. Even if it's 6,995 yards. Yes, a proper challenge can still be created. We've been told the groove rule change will act as a backdoor ball rollback, so let's work under the assumption this is true. Put the focus on strategic golf via an abundance of short par-4s, a couple of wild under-160-yard par-3s and in general, a course filled with plenty of risk-reward holes. Pace of play issues caused by an abundance of par 3 1/2 style holes should not be an issue with only a 60 player field (finally, a perk with the mundane format). A shorter course will also make it a easier to accommodate both men and women as long as rough harvesters aren't doing the setup. Even better, under 7000 helps reduce acreage and improve the chances of leaving a smaller footprint behind…

Natural material paths and golf in a native setting at its finest: Cypress Point (click to enlarge)-Under 200 acres! Depending on site elevation changes and environmental issues, any attempt to keep the course on no more than 175 acres would set a nice example, but ideally if we could get back to the days of 150 acres proving ample for golf it would be a huge win for the supposed worldwide development explosion some are predicting. Remember, many of the world's best designs are under 150 acres, but that was before liability lawyers started winning cases against golf architects.

-No cart paths. If you have carts, they should be solar-powered and riding along a natural surface that can handle Rio's more formidable weather.

"Crunchy" areas like this off of fairways mean less maintenance and a better penalty than manicured rough (click image to enlarge)- As little maintained turf as possible. It would be wonderful to see a well publicized, self-imposed Arizona-style cap on watered acreage, something like 90 acres of fairway maintained rough, and 50 or so acres for non-irrigated native areas. Even less maintained turf would be wonderful if the site allowed, but just re-establishing another late 20th century maximum would do wonders for future and existing developments that aim to limit resource waste.

- Organic maintenance practices if possible. It'll be a Bermuda grass setting which makes a full-fledged organic golf course impossible, but this will be a great opportunity to introduce Paspalum on a big stage and to tell its story. While it's not great for fast and firm golf, this more recent strain of Bermuda can tolerate reclaimed water and still requires the use of modern insecticides and herbicides. It's a less intensive grass to maintain and another great way to send a signal that Olympic golf is sympathetic to the environment.

- A small, solar powered clubhouse incorporating Olympic themes. Perhaps there's a permanent medal stand and international flag display in view of the entrance drive or 18th hole to reflect this once-in-a-lifetime event, but keep the building simple and send a message that clubhouses do not have to be titanic in scale.

- Absolutely no bunkers in the shape of the Olympic rings. And no bunkers shaped like the inevitable cutesy Rio mascot. Also, please, no Gold, Silver and Bronze pot bunker patches.

We'll tolerate Gold, Silver and Bronze tees. But that's it!

Otherwise, keep it quaint, keep it classy, keep it fun, keep it site-specific and avoid the pricey kitsch that all too often defines modern golf development.