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

Golf is a game in which attitude of mind counts for incomparably more than mightiness of muscle.  ARNOLD HAULTAIN




Wie WD's

From "a fan in South Carolina" who was taking in the Ginn Tribute Hosted By Annika, Michelle Wie started par-bogey-double-bogey-triple, birdied 18 to make the turn at 7-over then made 10 after three tee shots on the par-5 third, her 12th hole. 
She wass 13-over through 14 holes and 14-over through 16 before WD'ing with wrist pain. Of course is shot 88, as a non-LPGA member, she would have been ineligible for the duration of the season.

I don't know about you, but I'm having a hard time feeling good about B.J. Wie these days.

"We have not been informed or approached by the European Tour on its proposed idea."

GeorgeO%27Grady.jpgThanks to reader George for catching this Mark Garrod piece that would seem to contradict George O'Grady's statement that "rest of the world" tour is close to being finalized. Or even discussed?!
Asian Tour's executive chairman Kyi Hla Han said: "We have not been informed or approached by the European Tour on its proposed idea.

"The Asian Tour has an existing co-sanction programme with the European Tour. If new proposals are put forward to the Asian Tour, it will be evaluated based on its benefit to the Asian Tour.

"As a member of the Federation of International PGA Tours, the Asian Tour will continue to work closely with other tours to promote the growth of golf throughout the world.

"As the official sanctioning body for professional golf in Asia, the Asian Tour appreciate the integrity of the other international tours in discussing with us new playing opportunities that may arise in Asia.

"We are fully focused on initiatives to strengthen the Asian Tour where the goal is to create greater playing opportunities for our members.

"We have enjoyed steady growth over the last few years and our forecast is that the Asian Tour will continue to grow in line with the strengthening of the economy in Asia."


"Well, I mean I’m not really sure."

Golfweek's Beth Ann Baldry offers this from Wednesday's LPGA media session with Michelle Wie.

Getting information from the Wie camp these days is nearly impossible. Actually, talking to Michelle about her injuries up until this week was not an option. Her agent, Greg Nared, and her father, B.J. Wie, forward all requests to Jesse Derris, the family spokesman who works for Ken Sunshine Consultants. And even then answers about the state of her injuries or upcoming schedule are vague at best.

Tuesday, finally, reporters had a chance to pepper Wie with questions and still, no answers. It’s almost as if the teenager bumped her head in the fall and now suffers from amnesia.

Question: When did you start practicing?

Wie: Well, I mean I’m not really sure. I forget. A lot’s been going on.

Which is funny because Wie frequently talked about how bored she got sitting on the couch when she couldn’t practice earlier this year.

“Truthfully, it kind of sucked,” said Wie of the time off. “Before I was like, ‘Oh God, I don’t want to practice. I don’t want to work out.’ But when I’m sitting on my butt all day watching TV it was like ‘I want to go out and work out and practice.’ ”

Wie is missing her high school graduation to play in this week’s event.

Question: When is that graduation, and what will the time be here when you’re supposed to graduate?

Wie: I don’t really know, actually.

Strange. Most seniors have that epic date etched on their brains. Wie said she gave the school her picture and joked that a full-size cardboard cutout would stand in her place.

Question: Well, now that we can talk to someone other than Derris, can you tell us little bit about the extent of your injuries?

Wie: Well, I don’t really want to go back into the past and talk about the injuries. ... It’s all better now and I don’t think that talking about the injury will help me or anyone.

Glad we got that cleared up.



"It's a Rubik's Cube, it all has to fit together."

Thanks to LPGA Fan for spotting the Brand Lady's interview in what seems like ages. From Charleston's Post and Courier (she saves her time for the big platforms!), interviewed by Tommy Braswell:

When you first took over as LPGA commissioner, there seemed to be a lot of controversy. But things have settled down. Are you happy with the LPGA's direction now?

"I'll speak for myself and my staff.

That's right, only you be so presumptuous!

We're very happy with the direction things are going. We made some changes and went through all the bumps in the road last year. We're in a much stronger position this year. We've added three new tournaments. And redoing a little bit of our schedule has made a difference for the players and, I think, the attendance at some of the events. We're very strongly focused on next year, and several of us are working on years 2009 and out. I think not only what you see this year, but what you'll see in 2008, 2009 and 2010, you'll really see the direction the LPGA is headed."

When you first came to the LPGA did you expect it to be a smooth transition?

"I knew that making change wasn't going to be easy. What I did underestimate was how public it was going to be."

And whose fault is that again?

Your thoughts on drug testing?

"We are being proactive for a couple of reasons. Number one is that our sport in Europe already has been testing for several years. We were almost tested at Evian last year. So we need to get into the world in which we compete. Number two, I do believe with a group of women it's a little different in terms of drug testing. From the time women are 17, 18 years old, there are certain hormones one takes until the time they're 50 to 55 years old. So we have a much bigger job of education before implementing drug testing. We wanted the opportunity to do this in the right way and to educate women and be ready as opposed to having to react to something."

Why can't she be that coherent on other issues?

What's your take on the LPGA's TV ratings?

"They're up overall. They're up again, 2005 over 2004, 2006 over 2005, and so far (in 2007) they're up again."

What kind of goals do you have regarding TV ratings?

"We did start from a smaller base, but so did the Champions Tour and so do a lot of other sports. Nonetheless, we're the only ones bucking the trend. Our trend line is in the right direction. The specific numbers for the Ginn Open (an April event in Florida) was 1.3, which is one great rating.

Let's not jump for joy just yet!

And the last three hours going to The Golf Channel, it was 410,000, which again is a very big number. There's no way you can attribute it to anything else but the women and the caliber of play."
Jeese, you'd think she just outdrew the final night of American Idol! 
Have the young faces helped?

"No question, newness does have an interest. But make no mistake, Juli Inkster and some of the others have very big followings.

I mean, who isn't checking her scores hourly?

I think it's the combination of having the Morgan Pressels and the Juli Inksters still out there and still being competitive. Juli is not out there as a hobby. She's still winning tournaments and finishing in the top 10. It's the combination that makes the product so exciting. There's nothing else like it in sports."

Ah the product. And here we are 400 words into this and not one brand reference!

South Carolina has a mixed history with LPGA tournaments. What's the secret of keeping tournaments?

"The LPGA has done a pretty good job of keeping tournaments. One of the things is matching up the corporate sponsor, a good golf course and a community where you can get volunteers and available TV times. It's a Rubik's Cube, it all has to fit together.

 I thought we were going to try to cut down on the metaphors, Carolyn?


"I think he'll win another major and, if he does, he'll go on and win three, or more."

Reader Patrick noted this David Davies story on Ernie Els after reading the Morfit piece on Tiger perhaps being overstretched. It's fascinating to hear a player agent go into such detail and so clearly see that his man is taking on too much.

Els, amiable though he is, is hardly the man to ask such a question of, but his manager, Andrew 'Chubby' Chandler, is fair-minded almost to a fault about such matters. And so the question was put and one of the more significant points about his answer was the length of time he took - a good 30 seconds - before starting his reply. If there was no rush to judgment, equally he was not going to deny the validity of the question itself.

'I don't know,' he said eventually. 'His injury [to a knee late in 2005] got him out of the habit of winning tournaments and there's no doubt it's hard to get back. One thing he has got to do is decide how he sees his future and I'll be sitting down with him, probably tonight, to talk about that.

'Part of the problem is that he changes his mind, he's not got a definite policy or plan. He feels that in order to win majors you've got to play at least some of the time in America, but Ernie is a global player and he tries to play in Europe and Asia and America and that's tough. Particularly when he is more and more attached to Wentworth - he's a great family man and he loves it there.'

Els has two children, Samantha, eight, and Ben, four, and it does get harder and harder to leave them. At the start of this week the South African said that he was looking forward to it for several reasons, including a birthday party for Samantha on Friday.

'My wife is hosting the wives and all kinds of stuff, so it's a nice week for us.' Wholly commendable, but is the focus on winning quite as sharp as once it was?

'Ernie is probably the most popular golfer on the planet,' continued Chandler. 'He's in massive demand, so much so that not even I realised when he signed on with us quite how big he was globally. Seven-figure offers come in from all over the place and in some ways he's a victim of his own success.

'Something has got to go and only he can decide what it is. But I don't think he has to play on the US Tour in order to win majors. I think he has already proved that and so have others in the past.

'He's seen as second only to Tiger as the man sponsors want to play in their event. It's flattering and hard to turn down, but he's got to decide where he goes from here.

'Anyway, to come back to your question, I don't think we've seen the last of Ernie. I think he'll win another major and, if he does, he'll go on and win three, or more.'



R.I.P. Stu Schneider

It is with profound and deep sadness that word comes of Stu Schneider's passing. In recent years Stu was a major contributor to Golf World, bringing new life to the magazine with his humorous and always thorough TV-Rewind column as well as through his epic one-liners in the magazine's "Front Nine." I know many people kept their subscriptions just for the laughs Stu brought them each week.

On a personal note, Stu was one of the first people to give me a chance in the writing world when he hired me while he was the editor at Golfweb. He was also tremendously influential in my recent writing work, particularly this blog. You may also recall that Stu was the first subject of an instant message interview here. And for me, though I hadn't actually talked to Stu on the phone in a couple of years or seen him in even longer, we "talked" almost daily via instant message. I leaned on Stu for his thoughts on whether I'd gone over the top with a post, and I'd like to think on occasion that a few of our always enjoyable exchanges inspired a few of his lines.

In recent weeks he'd suffered a relapse of the colitis bout he'd had over the holidays. During The Players Championship he was not online and I later learned from him that he pretty much watched the entire thing in the hospital and filed his column from bed. He did it for his family. I can't tell you how many times he had to cut short an IM conversation for "the best part of the day." Putting the kids to bed.

Having not seen him online the last few days I grew concerned and learned of the sad news from his editor and dear friend Geoff Russell, who he thought the world of and to whom he was incredibly loyal and grateful for giving Stu an opportunity to bring an edge to the otherwise staid world of golf coverage.

He will truly be missed. And as Stu would always say at the end of an IM, cya.  


"Certainly it won't be a World Tour--that's far too grand for me to come up with--but there might be a name change."

It looks like a couple of startling developments on this idea of the European Tour becoming a World Tour.

First this, thanks to reader Four-putt, which I missed over the weekend and was certainly a lot more interesting from George O'Grady's mouth than his Tiger-comes-to-Dunhill nonsense:

"The idea of amalgamating with other tours to put on a really attractive schedule, by whatever name we call it, is one that we are in the final stages of refining," European Tour executive director George O'Grady said Sunday.

"Certainly it won't be a World Tour -- that's far too grand for me to come up with -- but there might be a name change."

Fast forward...
"We're the European Tour and we're working with all our partners to make, I would say, a hugely strong alternative to the PGA Tour," O'Grady said.
AP's Doug Ferguson then looks at the escalating rhetoric between the Tours and drops this:
Ed Moorhouse, co-chief operating officer at the PGA Tour, recalls preliminary talks about a WGC event the week before or after the British Open, but it never got beyond that.

"It's fair to say we didn't go into a lot of details because it was fairly obvious they didn't want to entertain a WGC in Europe," Waters said in a telephone interview. "It was most disappointing."

The tournament that got most of the attention was Loch Lomond, home of the Barclays Scottish Open held a week before the British Open. Loch Lomond was interested, and Waters said he was certain Barclays would have been willing to up the ante.

One reason the PGA Tour balked was it had obligations to the John Deere Classic, held the same week in Illinois.

That's why the federation has run its course. It's hard to take it seriously when Finchem, who heads up the federation, has too many competing interests.
Whoa Nellie! Yes, Mr. Ferguson just declared the federation of Tours co-sponsorting the WGC's dead in the water.

Is it conceivable thatl the Euro/World Tour will pull out of the WGC sanctioning?

Frankly, I can't see how the WGC's are good for the game in any way at this point other than for making the top players a lot more money. 

And frankly part 2, wouldn't this all have been avoided if the WGC events were actually played outside of the United States on occasion?  


"It is a lot harder than I thought it would be"

After Tiger's pre-AT&T National press conference today where he talked about the setup of Congressional,'s Cameron Morfit wonders if Tiger is taking on a bit too much at the expense of his game.

And he's hip-deep in the first project of Tiger Woods Design, a lavish golf course in Dubai called Al Ruwaya. The project has been such a challenge that he hesitated when asked Monday if he'd consider building a track to host his tournament, like Nicklaus did.

"I don't know," Woods said. "I'm still working on my very first golf course, and it is a lot harder than I thought it would be. I don't know how Jack has designed over 250 golf courses around the world. It's mind-boggling because this first one is very difficult."

All of which could explain why Woods has looked so "beatable," to use Rory Sabbatini's word, at the sport that made possible the extracurriculars. Even after he won Wachovia in his second-to-last start, his third victory of 2007, all anyone could talk about was how un-Tiger-like he looked. The effect was unmistakable when he donned mirrored sunglasses while finishing in the middle of the pack at the Players two weeks ago; Woods was suddenly just another golfer.
Is his peripatetic schedule taking its toll? Only Woods knows for sure. "It's hard," he said Monday when asked how he's been able to focus on his golf. "Still got to have my workouts, my daily workouts, as well as practice. It's certainly been tested. Thankfully, I don't sleep much."



NCAA Men's Golf Coverage

07golfchamp.jpgGolf World's Ryan Herrington is blogging from the NCAA's while Golfweek does their blog thing too. And the live scores can be followed best (I think) through Golfstat.

My alma mater missed by two, so like any good intensely self involved American, my interest is already fading. Because it's all about me.


NCAA Golf Photo Caption Fun

Now, these are not extras from Master and Commander nor the Danish chapter of Gay Men Who Love Pirates of the Caribbean (Would that be GMWPC?). Actually, these are Golfweek's writers doing the whole Williamsburg, Virginia thing to kick off their NCAA Men's Golf Championship coverage.

Please, your captions at their expense...



Ballyneal and Grateful Dunes

story.ballyneal.jpgAn unbylined AP story on the creation of Ballyneal and news of plans for a public course next door to be called "Grateful Dunes."**

That's a working title, right?

**I've since learned this a tribute to a certain traveling rock band. Love it!


Newsflash: Tiger Might Play Dunhill Cup; Also Might Make Moon Trip

Apparently Euro Tour chief George O'Grady believes that since the FedEx Cup will be over by the time the Dunhill Cup is played at St. Andrews, Tiger might cherish the opportunity to bond with a friend during 5 hours of misery over the Old Course, Carnoustie and Kingsbarns...without an appearance fee!

The only thing better than O'Grady throwing out this "maybe" scenario? It was reported as news! Twice (here and here).

From David McCarthy's piece:

European Tour chief executive George O'Grady believes it is only a matter of time before world No.1 Woods plays the Dunhill Links Championship over St Andrews, Carnoustie and Kingsbarns.

With the American season finishing earlier that usual with the Û10million FedEx Cup, there is no Stateside clash with the Dunhill in October and O'Grady reckons it is inevitable Woods will play the event to satisfy sponsors in the near future.

He said: "The Dunhill is in an ideal situation. With the FedEx tournament being over by the time it takes place, everyone wants the best professional field it can have. You can see a day when Tiger Woods will play in it, because of who he could play with.

"I don't know if they are talking with Tiger or not but it wouldn't be beyond the bounds as long as he was playing with someone he enjoys playing with.
Exactly, why just hop on the Citation and bring a friend to play in Scotland when you can make that friend pay to play in a pro-am! 
"The tournament host, Johan Rupert, has stated he does not do appearance money but he gives a great welcome.

"It's the best pro-am in the world. For the amateur to get the chance to play these courses under championship conditions is fantastic."

And we know that's what Tiger's all about. Playing in pro-ams! 


"Why they would leave out '83?"

Thanks to reader John for noticing this Gary Van Sickle story pointing out a tacky Larry Nelson-related omission by The Golf Channel GOLF CHANNEL:

Now add the Golf Channel, which touts itself as the home of golf, to the list of those snubbing Nelson. Have you seen Golf Channel's promo for its upcoming U.S. Open coverage at Oakmont? The spot is lathered thick with Oakmont history — images of Ben Hogan in '53, Jack Nicklaus in '62, Johnny Miller in '73 and Ernie Els in '94. They are all shown, and all of Oakmont's Open champions from the past half-century are mentioned. Except for Nelson.

Say it again for effect: Except for Nelson.

"I told my wife, just tell my why they would leave out '83?" Nelson said. "Is there somebody out there saying, 'Let's not mention Larry.' I mean, I beat two of the best players in the world that week — Seve Ballesteros and Tom Watson. I'm actually going to call the Golf Channel and say, just for my benefit, I'd like to know. I could care less. I'm done and all that stuff, but this is what's happened throughout my career. Somebody inside the Golf Channel, just tell me why you would leave my name out. I don't care, but why? Why?"


I'm A Stupid Incompetent Liar Who Deserves To Be Arrested!

It seems Gouge of the tag comedy team didn't take too well to having his truth-stretching pointed out. So he fires back with a rationalization/spin/name calling beauty that truly is the work of a master who enjoys digging a deeper ditch. Keep the entertainment coming Gorge, though I still stay this one will never be topped!

GOUGE: Because Geoff Shackelford deserves to be arrested for incompetence, a clarification: When I mentioned the other day that the Overall Distance Standard had not changed, I was technically incorrect.

You do have to love the irony of being technically incorrect on a issue related to technology. Oh but wait, he really wasn't! In his own mind!

In truth, it has gotten shorter. In 2003, the USGA changed the equipment used for its golf ball test and the ODS. It also changed the swing speed. Those changes (from 109 mph swingspeed to 120 mph and from a wooden driver to a titanium driver with a coefficient of restitution at the USGA limit) did lead to an increase in the yardage allowed by the ODS, from 296.8 to 320. But that yardage is in fact shorter if you realize that the 11 mph increase in swing speed, plus the increase in COR from .77 of a wood driver to .822 in a titanium driver conservatively account for 30 yards of distance, but the ODS has only increased 23.2 yards. No less an authority than  Frank Thomas acknowledges the rule is a form of control.Maybe not the best. But again, look at numbers: Driving distance is down 4.4 yards from where it was a year ago. If that's not a big deal to you, again, I ask you if driving distance were up 4.4 yards, wouldn't there be outrage. Average courses aren't being ripped up because all us double digit handicappers are making them obsolete with our 225-yard tee shots. But go ahead and believe Shackelford. Why research the truth when you can continue to promote a lie. And for those keeping records, my handicap index has improved. But it still allowed me to shoot 103 yesterday.

Hey, where's Bomb to come in with a few of those Catskills-worthy one-liners?


Some Golf Related Charity Work...

Check out what former Tom Lehman design associate Josh Taylor and is doing for HopeKids this summer and Ron Mon's post on another cancer and golf related fundraiser.


Furrow Specs

Craig Dolch in the Palm Beach Post offers this on Jack Nicklaus's bunker furrowing plans for this week's Memorial:

This year, though, the tines on the rakes won't be spread as far apart as last year — they'll be 13/4 inches this year as opposed to 21/2 inches in 2006 — but the effect will be the same.

"All I want them to say is, 'That's a place I don't want to be,' " Nicklaus said Friday at his North Palm Beach offices. "I don't care about penalizing the guy. I'm trying to force him to play the strategy of the golf course by not wanting to be in a bunker. Guys aim for bunkers because it's an easy shot."


R.I.P Dowd and Mineck

Over at the much improved Golfweek tour blog, Jeff Babineau express sadness at the sad loss of two people in golf, one I had the privilege of knowing. I'm copying and pasting here since the Golfweek blog posts can't be individually linked...

What a sad couple of days for golf.

Kelly Jo Dowd, who inspired us all with her strength and spirit, passed away Thursday after a long battle with cancer. She was 42.

The Dowd family’s plight became a national story 13 months ago, when Dakoda Dowd, then 13, played the LPGA’s Ginn Open at Reunion Resort, just outside Orlando. I’ll never forget seeing Kelly Jo raise her hands high in the air when Dakoda ripped her opening drive right down the middle. “Proud” doesn’t begin to capture what was filling up her heart that morning.

When Dakoda birdied the hole, she beamed, “My daughter’s a stud.”

Months earlier, Kelly Jo sat on a wooden bench near the practice tee at Reunion as Dakoda hit golf balls. The deep love for her child was so evident in her eyes. The parent-child bond the two shared, and the sense of family enjoyed by Dakoda, Kelly Jo and Mike Dowd – Kelly Jo’s husband and Dakoda's dad – is something every family should strive to achieve. We’d all be richer. Life dealt the Dowd family a tough hand, and they’ve always handled it with incredible class.

The news of Kelly Jo’s passing comes on the heels of  news earlier in the day of the shocking, sudden death of John Mineck in the Boston area on Thursday. It would be inaccurate to say John didn’t have any kids. His “baby” was his beloved Boston Golf Club, and it was there  on Thursday his life came to a tragic end, as he was killed in an accident incurred while he operated heavy machinery on property at the club.

Boston Golf Club, if you haven’t had the pleasure of visiting, is such an incredible place, so cool. It has John’s indelible fingerprints all over it. It always will.

Condolences to both families. Kelly Jo and John were special, kindred spirits who lived life with a vibrant energy we all should carry each morning the sun comes up.

As I write this, it’s nearly 1 a.m., and my – and John’s – beloved Red Sox are on TV, winning a rain-delayed game out in Texas. My 6-year-old son, Luke, is asleep next to me on the couch, no doubt dreaming of something grand that only 6-year-olds can dream. When I carry him up the stairs to bed tonight, you can bet he’ll get an extra hug and kiss.

Too often we’re starkly reminded how short life really is.



"Why do they want to stop Tiger or Phil [Mickelson] or Ernie [Els] from playing great golf?"

That's Neil Coles talking, subject of John Huggan's Tea On A Sunday In Scotland Scotland On Sunday column this week. Coles not only talks abou this fear of flying, but golf in America, the state of the game and--close your eyes Fairhaven readers--the dreaded ball. Take it away Mr. Coles...

"I have no regrets about not playing more over there. I did three tours in America. The money was no good anywhere else. I didn't really enjoy it much, to be honest. The life wasn't for me. The sameness of the motels and the courses was boring. And there was no prospect of taking a week off to go home for a break. My best finish over there was third place in Palm Springs. I won $1,500 for that. My game was reasonably well suited to the courses, and I enjoyed the big ball."

Ah, the ball. Like so many of his contemporaries, Coles has watched the evolution of golf at the highest level over the past decade or so with something akin to horror. The modern game, all crash-bang-wallop, is a long way from the subtle, nuanced sport that he played at his peak.

"There is no doubt that shaping shots is a lot more difficult these days," he sighs. "The ball doesn't curve like it used to. The small ball had to be shaped in order to get any sort of control. You had to hold it up in crosswinds. It was so lively. If these guys played with a small ball today, they wouldn't know what had hit them.

"The arrival of the big ball in Europe had an effect on the type of player who could be successful. I remember little guys like Dai Rees, Sid Scott, Charlie Ward and Ken Bousfield being successful. They would have no chance today. So the big ball changed the face of golfers. They got bigger and stronger. The little guy is very much the exception nowadays.

"Now, is that for the better? I don't know, but it is certainly different. It's my contention that we can't go on improving the ball. The golf courses are going to have to be 8,000 yards to challenge the top players, and they will be unplayable for everyone else."

Putting on his course architect's hat for a moment, Coles is as close to animated as he can get, and his fear for the future of the sport in which he has spent his life is obvious.

"I think if we got the R&A and the USGA around this table, they would agree about the ball going too far. But they are scared of lawsuits. And the problem is that, in order to keep the scores up, major championship courses are being set up in ever more extreme ways.

"I shudder when thinking of Carnoustie in 1999 or the US Open at Shinnecock in 2004. And the Masters this year was borderline. I do wonder if the punter wants to pay good money to watch top players scuffing around like they did at those three events. The very best players were embarrassed. I don't want to see that. I want to see people going round in the 60s, and making birdies and eagles. That's entertainment to me.

"I subscribe to the view that a great golf course should yield low scores to a great player playing well. If it doesn't, there is something wrong with that course. If someone as good as Tiger [Woods] shoots 20 under par to win, it is a compliment to the golf course. That's my philosophy, but it isn't everyone's.

"Clearly, the USGA want par to win the US Open every year. They don't seem to care that they are putting on a show for millions of people. I don't understand where they are coming from. Why do they want to stop Tiger or Phil [Mickelson] or Ernie [Els] from playing great golf?"



"The PGA Tour flatly refused to consider them."

Thanks to reader Mary for this Douglas Lowe story on the growing divide between the European Tour and the PGA Tour, which will probably be growing just a bit more after this quote:

In response to Singh's suggestion of making the PGA a WGC, Keith Waters, the European Tour's director of international policy, said: "We offered one or two events we considered suitable to be WGC tournaments, but the PGA Tour flatly refused to consider them."

It is that kind of non-co-operation born of stifling self-interest that could hasten a polarisation between America and the rest of the world. Padraig Harrington was talking last week of how all the world tours outside the US should unite in order to compete and survive.
Which I think is a questionable point in light of the continued strength of fields in the "have" events. But I Lowe's other point is a good one:
The European Tour, in any case, have been moving in recent years towards world status with co-sanctioned events in Asia, South Africa, Australasia and the Middle-East. It would need only to crank that up a notch or two by including Japan and upgrade tournaments such as the South Africa Open and Australian Open.



"Celebrity circus is trial of endurance"

Thanks to reader Patrick for another classic from the Telegraph's Martin Johnson, this time reporting on his BMW Pro-Am round at Wentworth.