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Books
  • Lines of Charm: Brilliant And Irreverent Quotes, Notes, And Anecdotes from Golf's Golden Age Architects
    Lines of Charm: Brilliant And Irreverent Quotes, Notes, And Anecdotes from Golf's Golden Age Architects
  • The Future of Golf: How Golf Lost Its Way and How to Get It Back
    The Future of Golf: How Golf Lost Its Way and How to Get It Back
    by Geoff Shackelford
  • Grounds for Golf: The History and Fundamentals of Golf Course Design
    Grounds for Golf: The History and Fundamentals of Golf Course Design
    by Geoff Shackelford
  • The Art of Golf Design
    The Art of Golf Design
    by Michael Miller, Geoff Shackelford
  • Alister MacKenzie's Cypress Point Club
    Alister MacKenzie's Cypress Point Club
    by Geoff Shackelford
  • The Golden Age of Golf Design
    The Golden Age of Golf Design
    by Geoff Shackelford
  • The Good Doctor Returns: A Novel
    The Good Doctor Returns: A Novel
    by Geoff Shackelford
  • Masters of the Links: Essays on the Art of Golf and Course Design
    Masters of the Links: Essays on the Art of Golf and Course Design
  • The Captain: George C. Thomas Jr. and His Golf Architecture
    The Captain: George C. Thomas Jr. and His Golf Architecture
    by Geoff Shackelford
Current Reading
  • Men in Green
    Men in Green
    by Michael Bamberger
  • Unplayable Lies: (The Only Golf Book You'll Ever Need)
    Unplayable Lies: (The Only Golf Book You'll Ever Need)
    by Dan Jenkins
  • Professional Golf 2015: The Complete Media, Fan and Fantasy Guide
    Professional Golf 2015: The Complete Media, Fan and Fantasy Guide
    by Daniel Wexler
  • The Forbidden Game: Golf and the Chinese Dream
    The Forbidden Game: Golf and the Chinese Dream
    by Dan Washburn
  • Arnie, Seve, and a Fleck of Golf History: Heroes, Underdogs, Courses, and Championships
    Arnie, Seve, and a Fleck of Golf History: Heroes, Underdogs, Courses, and Championships
    by Bill Fields
  • Unplayable Lies: (The Only Golf Book You'll Ever Need)
    Unplayable Lies: (The Only Golf Book You'll Ever Need)
    by Dan Jenkins

    Kindle Edition

  • The Magnificent Masters: Jack Nicklaus, Johnny Miller, Tom Weiskopf, and the 1975 Cliffhanger at Augusta
    The Magnificent Masters: Jack Nicklaus, Johnny Miller, Tom Weiskopf, and the 1975 Cliffhanger at Augusta
    by Gil Capps
Classics
  • Golf Architecture in America: Its Strategy and Construction
    Golf Architecture in America: Its Strategy and Construction
    by Geo. C. Thomas
  • The Course Beautiful : A Collection of Original Articles and Photographs on Golf Course Design
    The Course Beautiful : A Collection of Original Articles and Photographs on Golf Course Design
    Treewolf Prod
  • Reminiscences Of The Links
    Reminiscences Of The Links
    by Albert Warren Tillinghast, Richard C. Wolffe, Robert S. Trebus, Stuart F. Wolffe
  • Gleanings from the Wayside
    Gleanings from the Wayside
    by Albert Warren Tillinghast
  • Planet Golf USA: The Definitive Reference to Great Golf Courses in America
    Planet Golf USA: The Definitive Reference to Great Golf Courses in America
    by Darius Oliver
  • Planet Golf: The Definitive Reference to Great Golf Courses Outside the United States of America
    Planet Golf: The Definitive Reference to Great Golf Courses Outside the United States of America
    by Darius Oliver
Writing And Videos

You must use something beside shots and clubs, playing St. Andrews. I can learn more in a week on that course than in a year on many a sterling championship tests in America.
BOBBY JONES


    

Wednesday
Nov212007

Knockdown Shots: LPGA Edition

Steve Elling is back with another edition, this time punching knockdown shots at the LPGA's season ending madness.

Here's the link to the printer friendly version in case you don't want to wade through four pages of someone brilliant way to generate page views. Or if you work in Daytona Beach and need to print this out for next Monday's staff meeting when the Commissioner asks who this Elling guy is.

My favorite:

News item: As one of the new wrinkles in the ADT Championship, the LPGA's quirky shootout with $1 million awarded to the winner, those advancing to the final eight were allowed to pick their playing spots for Sunday's round. One by one, before a crowd of perhaps 1,000 fans, players placed their names into openings in the four scheduled twosomes.

Knockdown shot: As the field filled out, the last available slot was in the pairing opposite prickly princess Cristie Kerr, who laughed aloud to the crowd, "Nobody wants to play with me, apparently." Actually, it was no joke. Minutes earlier, a very prominent player noted how she didn't want to play with the reigning U.S. Open champion, who is, to put it kindly, on the snooty side of condescending.

Oh and it's not all LPGA. Here's the YouTube clip he referenced where there is a special moment 29 seconds in... 

 

Wednesday
Nov212007

Sweet Home Chicago**

Essentially, it appears the PGA Tour is admitting in its own special way that it made a mistake taking the Western BMW out of Chicago:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 21, 2007

       BMW CHAMPIONSHIP TO MAKE THREE-YEAR CHICAGO RUN (2009-2011)

     Crooked Stick Golf Club to host PGA TOUR Playoff event in 2012

(PONTE VEDRA BEACH, FL) — The PGA TOUR, Western Golf Association (WGA) and BMW of North America today announced that the BMW Championship, the third event in the PGA TOUR Playoffs for the FedExCup, will play three consecutive years in the Chicago area beginning in 2009.

Crooked Stick Golf Club, outside Indianapolis, originally scheduled to host the BMW Championship in 2010, will now host the event in 2012. The previously announced 2008 schedule remains unchanged as the event will be played Sept. 1-7 at Bellerive Country Club in St. Louis.

The  Dubsdread  Course  at Cog Hill Golf and Country Club, located 30 miles southwest  of  Chicago and the site of the 2007 BMW Championship, is set to undergo  a  re-design by Rees Jones in 2008. The tournament is scheduled to return to Cog Hill G&CC in 2009.

BMW entered a six-year partnership agreement in June 2006 with the PGA TOUR and  the  WGA  to sponsor the third of four PGA TOUR Playoff events for the FedExCup.  Tiger Woods won the BMW Championship at Cog Hill G&CC in 2007 en route to capturing the inaugural FedExCup. Woods is a four-time champion of the BMW Championship.

“The  PGA  TOUR is delighted with the support of Crooked Stick, the WGA and BMW  for  this  schedule  change.  We believe this new sequence for the BMW Championship  will only enhance the tremendous appeal of this great event,” said  PGA  TOUR  Commissioner  Tim  Finchem.  “The BMW Championship will be exceptional  next  year  at  Bellerive  Country Club in St. Louis, and then Chicago-area  golf  fans  will  enjoy  four  straight years of watching the world's  best  players  through  three  consecutive  playings  of  the  BMW Championship followed by the 2012 Ryder Cup.”

“The  new  schedule  for  the  BMW  Championship  is  a  plus for everyone, especially  the  golf  fans  of  Chicago and Indianapolis,” said Tournament Director  John  Kaczkowski  of the Western Golf Association. “We’re looking forward to playing three consecutive years in Chicago beginning in 2009. It also makes sense to move the BMW Championship to Crooked Stick in 2012 with Chicago  set  to  host the Ryder Cup that year at Medinah Country Club. Our partnership  with  BMW  and  the PGA TOUR allows us to generate significant funds for the tournament’s sole beneficiary, the Evans Scholars Foundation, and this schedule will enhance that commitment.”

“Chicago  is a tremendous sports town, and 2007 marked an outstanding debut for  the  BMW Championship at Cog Hill,” said Tom Purves, Chairman and CEO, BMW (US) Holding Corp. “We look forward to returning to Chicago for another three  years  and  are  already  working on ways to further enhance the BMW Championship experience for fans over the coming years.”

“We’ve  been  looking  forward  to  the  arrival of the BMW Championship in Indianapolis,  but with our club already hosting the 2009 U.S. Senior Open, the  2010  date  would have presented some challenges in preparation,” said Doug  Cook, Crooked Stick Golf Club president. “With the club now scheduled to  host  the  BMW Championship in 2012, we have some breathing room to get ready.  We’re  expecting  great  support from Indiana golf fans for the BMW Championship,  and with the extra time to prepare, that support should only grow.”

Tuesday
Nov202007

"The players are open to something that's new and exciting and fun."

071123newsmakers_gwindex.jpgIn Golf World's year-end "newsmakers" issue, I pitch an alternate scenario the PGA Tour should consider for the conclusion to the FedEx Cup. Granted, I'm simply advocating that they adopt an ADT Championship-like format for the finale.

Based on some of the post ADT comments here and here, I think some of you would agree. But, I'd still love to hear what you all think even though we've probably covered the FedEx Cup enough!

Oh and on the ADT front, Craig Dolch reports that no major changes are in order. And why should they be?


Tuesday
Nov202007

"For the same reason it works for the best players, it works for everyone."

gwar01_071123stacktilt.jpgGolf World includes the Stack and Tilt dudes in their year end newsmakers issue. Peter Morrice writes:
On the PGA and Champions tours, six players have won in a year and a half using Stack & Tilt: Aaron Baddeley (pictured), Mike Weir, Dean Wilson, Eric Axley, Will MacKenzie and John Cook. Converts also include: Jesper Parnevik, Steve Elkington, Charlie Wi and about a dozen others. Plummer estimates they'll add 10 more tour students before next season. But the Plummer-Bennett plan sees the tour as just a stopover. "Teaching tour players gets you great exposure, but we want to change the way the average person plays golf," says Bennett, 39, who grew up in upstate New York and still tries to Monday-qualify for tour events. "It's the simplest way to swing a club," adds Plummer. "For the same reason it works for the best players, it works for everyone. The geometry doesn't change."
Tuesday
Nov202007

"We want to come back, we want to support the tour, but you come back and all you do is cop abuse from the media"

Thanks to reader Hugh for this Robert Allenby rant on the morbid state of Australian professional golf events. It seems  we read about this argument every year...

In an unprompted tirade during a press conference ahead of this week's Australian Masters in Melbourne, Allenby accused the media of having driven former world No.1 Norman out of the country through constant negativity.

And he said a similar thing was being done to the latest generation of Australian players.

"It's quite amazing that everyone plays in America, they think (Australian players) are pretty awesome in how we play and they love us over there, but sometimes we're perceived that we're not that good in Australia," Allenby said.

"I think it comes down to that tall poppy syndrome that Greg Norman fought for a lot of years.

"If you look back and look at the abuse that the media did give Greg Norman, eventually he'd just had enough and said I'm not coming back.

"That's kind of what happens to a lot of players.

"I'm not saying that's the reason why Geoff (Ogilvy) and Adam (Scott) are not here (for the Masters), but sometimes it can wear on you, especially when we're over the other side of the world playing for most of the year.

"We want to come back, we want to support the tour, but you come back and all you do is cop abuse from the media ... I think that's really hurt Australian golf."

 

Tuesday
Nov202007

Trump Wins Approval For Scottish Site

The greatest course ever to be built (in The Donald's mind anyway) can now move forward, though I'm not sure where this leaves his neighbors.


Tuesday
Nov202007

"The flags flying in front of the nation's clubhouses are permanently at half-mast in memory of Old Sid, who expired halfway through the Seniors Section Autumn Fur and Feather"

Thanks to reader Patrick for the latest Martin Johnson gem, where this time he takes on the recent article bemoaning older golfers.

Not many of us were even aware of the existence of a magazine called The Golf Club Secretary Newsletter until it recently bemoaned the "leech" effect of increasingly elderly memberships at the nation's clubs. It paints a world of wheezing old Methuselahs, who do not so much require lessons from the club pro on the art of clearing the hips, as a consultation with their GP on the advisability of replacing them.

What we are now seeing on the country's golf courses, however, is merely a reflection of society as a whole, and more particularly, of the apparently limitless desire of a nanny government to make sure that we all live to be at least 150. They do not seem to have twigged that if they continue to issue dire warnings on everything from alcohol to bacon sandwiches, the social security system will eventually collapse under the sheer weight of wizened old fogies, and the reigning monarch will eventually be forced to sell off the royal tiaras in order to pay for all those 100th-birthday telegrams.

Fast forward...

 

In any event, as we all know, it is not the seniors who cause the most frustration on a golf course, it's the confounded juniors. They have largely taken up the game from watching how the professionals do it on television, which means that they spend several minutes tossing up bits of grass to test the wind, decline to play until they have not only checked their yardage for the 15th time, but also the alignment of Jupiter and Pluto, and when they finally duff one about 10 feet, stand with hands on hips pouting and muttering for another 30 seconds.

The likes of Monty may take a bit longer to get to his golf ball, but when he does, the group behind is in little danger of sprouting a beard before he has hit it. When you are 84, and you have probably only got another 25 years of golf left in you, life is far too short to be hanging around.

It's about time The Golf Club Secretary Newsletter got stuck into the single most irritating genre of players, and we are talking here about all those who utter, about 30 times a round, such irritating inanities as: "Drive for show, putt for dough, I always say."

For these people, there is only one appropriate punishment. Get them to dig a six-foot grave, line them up in front of a firing squad, pull the trigger, and yell out at the top of your voice: "Get in the hole!"

Monday
Nov192007

Driver Sought Unprecedented Third Term As USGA President

driver_annual.jpgYou may recall that I wondered what was taking so long to nominate a replacement for beleaguered outgoing USGA President Walter Driver. After all, Driver's nomination for 2006 was announced in July, 2005, effectively rendering his fellow Augusta National member and then-president Fred Ridley a lame duck with six months to go.

Now we may know what took so long to learn that Jim Vernon was the nominee.

Several sources within the USGA report that the 2008 nomination was held up due to Driver's attempts to secure the position for an unprecedented third term as USGA president.

Though I first heard the rumor at the U.S. Amateur this summer and shrugged it off as idle gossip involving a widely despised leader, I've since learned that Driver's intentions were well known throughout the organization. My sources also say that once Driver had failed to convince nominating committee chair Trey Holland that a third presidential year would keep the USGA on the right course, Driver reportedly turned his attention to nominating Jim Hyler over Vernon.

No source could explain why Driver pushed so hard for Hyler even though Vernon has served on the Executive Committee longer and seemed to be the most logical replacement. In a few years, Driver will chair the nominating committee and you have to wonder if he will nominate himself again when given the chance.

To put this into some historical context, not since the inaugural term of Theodore Havemeyer in 1894-96 has anyone served longer than three years, and Havemeyer died midway through year three. Furthermore, since 1936 every USGA president has served a pair of consecutive 1-year terms.

My sources also report that Executive Director David Fay has been neutralized by the current Executive Committee and Driver in particular. The longtime head staffer holds far less clout within the current USGA power structure and reportedly has been asked to leave several recent Executive Committee meetings while other staff members below him on the chain of command remained in the room.

This may explain one of the curious quotes in Vernon's nomination press release:

“I look forward to working closely with executive director David Fay and his talented staff to make sure that we continue to conduct the very best championships in golf and to fulfill our responsibilities to establish equipment rules that are based on informed science and facts.”

Good times in Far Hills! 

Monday
Nov192007

"With the Order of Merit giving way to the 'Race To Dubai'"

sgmair120.jpg I just want to take this moment to apologize to the gang in Ponte Vedra for ever implying that you ever sell naming rights in tacky fashion.

Because after reading the slew of stories covering the European Tour's Monday announcement of a new sponsor--scooped a week ago by Lawrence Donegan--it really is hard to imagine a more dramatic whoring sell-out by the Euro Tour. Oh, and by the way, what rich coverage from the various writers who made it to Dubai, reportedly on the European Tour's dime. Or Leisurecorp's? Or, well, they're one and the same now.

The Principal, who did not accept a free trip, naturally has a less than positive take on the news.

From Lewine Mair's Telegraph story:

The man who wins the inaugural Dubai World Championship, which is to take place at the Jumeirah Golf Estates from Nov 19-22, 2009, could make off with a cool £1.8 million. Aside from a winner's cheque of £800,000 from a £4.9 million prize-fund, which will make the championship the richest individual tournament in the game, he could also bag the top prize of £975,000 from a bonus pool worth another £4.9 million.

And how about his buried item:

Aside from the Dubai World Championship and the bonus pool, Leisurecorp will construct an international headquarters for the European Tour in the city which will take in a centre of excellence. Again, the Tour will combine with the company to create a global property operation to develop new tournament venues around the world.

Isn't that special?

James Corrigan notes the improvement with a traditional calendar year schedule:

With an overall prize pot of almost £10m, the Dubai World Championship will replace the Volvo Masters as the grand finale to the campaign – which will now run, blessedly, from January to November instead of October to October – with the Order of Merit giving way to the "Race To Dubai".

Douglas Lowe speculates that Tiger may be enticed to join the European Tour so he can spend even more time enjoying life in bucolic Dubai:

Woods, through his management company IMG, has already inquired what would be involved to join the club and he is not far away from meeting requirements which, critically, involves playing in 11 European Tour events, or 10 plus the new season-ender that will be limited to the top 60 in the order of merit that will be renamed Race to Dubai.

With major and world golf championships counting as co-sanctioned events, Woods starts off with seven. Add in tournaments like the HSBC Champions in which he played last year and the Dubai Desert Classic and he is just one short. The rules may even change as the European Tour's influential players committee are meeting in January in Abu Dhabi to discuss the rule of 11, although it is believed a reduction is not on the agenda.

John Hopkins pretty much (I think) finds the whole thing hard to fathom:

The $1.66 million that will go to the winner of the Dubai World Championship in 2009 and the $2m that a golfer will receive for winning what we now know as the Order of Merit but will be renamed The Race To Dubai at the same time undeniably add up to loads of dosh, much moolah and all that. But to win the bounty for TRTD the golfer will have had to compete very successfully on the European Tour for the previous year. And to win the DBC he will have to play very well for 72 holes in November 2009. It might be a lot of money that he is receiving but that is a lot of golf, too.

And...

Has the world gone mad? How many more nurses could be employed if a fraction of that sum was diverted into the National Health. How many more teachers? How many more doctors?

Market forces, as well as a good any other things, were present at the Burj Al Arab hotel in Dubai when the Dubai World Championship and TRTD were announced on Monday. A burly Australian with an accent you could cut with a knife spoke of his pleasure at being able to announce that his company was investing $200m dollars in these two events and a few others and said that though the investment was for five years initially it would probably be extended to ten years. And George O'Grady, executive director of the European Tour, spoke of his pleasure at being able to announce two such whopping events as the DWC and TRTD.

Norman Dabell features this gem of a quote from George O'Grady:

"With the combined prize funds of the Dubai World Championship and The Race to Dubai we have the prospect of a player standing over a putt for $3,666,660.

And you thought deferred compensation was tricky to explain.

Speaking of The Road To Dubai, Lawrence Donegan, who does not appear to have accepted the complimentary junket to file from Dubai, puts things in perspective by considering those who build the roads.

The fanfare will sound next Monday when the European tour officially announces it will be staging the most lucrative golf tournament in the history of the game. Twenty million dollars (£10m) at stake over four days on a course in Dubai. Nice work if you can get it, or at least nicer work than the work done by the immigrant labourers in the so-called "world's greatest tourist destination" who went on strike last week in support of a claim that would see their wages rise from £52 a month to £79.

The good news is the labourers got their rise. The bad news they returned to a life - to quote the 2006 Human Rights Watch report Building Towers, Cheating Workers - of "wage exploitation, indebtedness to unscrupulous recruiters and working conditions that are hazardous to the point of being deadly".

No doubt the European tour would object to any suggestion that its willingness to accept the backing of the United Arab Emirates government for a $20m tournament is an endorsement of the kind of practices, unchecked by the very same government, described in the Human Rights Watch report.

Enjoyed this too. Score another one for Greg's brand.

Even if direct culpability could be established, it would be unfair to single out the European tour alone for criticism. Only this week Greg Norman turned up in Dubai to launch the Greg Norman Limited Edition Range Rover Sport - given away free to those who purchase one of the 66 luxury homes at the "Fireside by Greg Norman" estate. "Dubai has put itself on the map as the ultimate destination for golf and residence," declared the Great White Property Shark. Poor Greg, he probably thinks Human Rights Watch is a limited-edition timepiece.
Monday
Nov192007

Elling's Year In Review

Steve Elling inexplicably kicks off the year-in-review onslaught before the Ames-Johnson-Wetterich-Couples Skins Game is even played. Imagine that? 

Here are both parts on a single page. My favorites:

It's the money, stupid

So, if the season is too long and top players need their offseason rest, which precipitated the creation of a FedEx Cup structure that ends in September, what's Mickelson doing playing in two events in Asia this month? If Els is leading the European Tour money list with one week left in the season, why is he playing in Asia instead of trying to fend off Justin Rose at the Euro Tour season finale in Spain? Chinese cha-ching, that's why. Draw your own conclusions about any apparent hypocrisy.

Oh the "H" word. You go!

Worst-course award, 2007 version

This is a crowded field with several deserving contestants, but the winner has to be the new host track for the Bob Hope event, the Classic Club. It was classic only if you happened to be born a camel, a roadrunner or a horned toad.

Built so far out in the desert along Interstate 10 that trees actually grow sideways from the prevailing and persistent winds, the final round was all but unwatchable as scoring skied and six players failed to crack 80. The experience was so awful, the lone top-10 player in the field, Mickelson, gave strong signals that he might not return in 2008. After he got through picking sand out of his eyes, anyway.

Once a popular event featuring the late comedian and his high-powered celebrity friends, the event has deteriorated into the weakest link on the early schedule. The sands of time on this fading event might have run out.

But they have George Lopez.

Speaking of Bob Hope ...

Or established entertainers like Glen Campbell, Sammy Davis Jr., Danny Thomas, Jackie Gleason, Andy Williams or Bing Crosby, for that matter. They all hosted tour events over the years and were huge stars of their era.

Saving one of its most head-scratching decisions for last, the tour this week elected to prop up former boy-band singer Justin Timberlake as the host of the largely overlooked Las Vegas event beginning in 2008. The sparsely attended Vegas event is in dire need of sizzle, but what key demographic in golf is he supposed to be attracting here, 13-year-old girls? To wit, here's a sample of the lyrics from his tune Rock Your Body:
I'll have whatever you have; come on, just give it up girl,
See, I've been watching you, I like the way you move,
So go ahead girl, just do that ass-shaking thing you do."
Ah, remember the painful throes of puberty? For another example of Timberlake's recent pop stylings, do an Internet search for the Saturday Night Live tune he recorded called D--- in a Box, which was so racy, NBC refused to air the uncensored version. Funny, yes. Classy, hardly.

With Timberlake as a front man, I'll never again poke fun at former M*A*S*H star Jamie Farr, even if it is ironic that the dude most famous for wearing a dress now hosts an LPGA event. Actually, it could have been worse. They might have picked their favorite purveyor of mindless Muzak, jazz musician Kenny G, who proved while serenading Players Championship winner Mickelson in May that it is indeed possible for a mediocre sax player to both suck and blow at the same time.

Monday
Nov192007

Skipping The Masters

The Australian version, that is. Trevor Grant criticizes Adam Scott and Geoff Ogilvy for skipping this week's Australian Masters, apparently unaware that Ogilvy's wife, Julie, is pregnant and due soon.

Monday
Nov192007

"How, for instance, did Taylor manage a four-round total of 295 in 1909 over a course measuring 6,500 yards? Sheer brilliance is the answer."

TTS197201CM385_238185a.jpgPeter Dixon plays Deal with hickories in uncomfortable clothes and comes away impressed by the golf of yesteryear as well as the club also known as Royal Cinque Ports.

Monday
Nov192007

Jimenez Platforms His Brand

The PGA Tour fines for behavior like this, don't they? From golf.com, Miguel Angel Jimenez after winning the Hong Kong Open. Thanks to reader Christopher for the heads up:
JimenezHKSun_600x450.jpg

Monday
Nov192007

"I'm hoping to make it for the opening."

Thanks to reader who spotted this post on The Golf Forum. Apparently a Herald-Sun piece on golf included this list (not available online):

'In one of the centre spreads, [Robert] Allenby lists his top five favourite golf courses'

1 - Royal Melbourne (Sandringham)
2 - Augusta National (Georgia)
3 - St Andrews Links (Fife)
4- The Forest Resort (Creswick)
5 - Riviera Country Club (Pacific Palisades)

I couldn't help but notice the explanatory paragraph for number 4 on the list

"It's in this list because I've just designed it. I based it on Royal Melbourne. I can't wait to play it. I'm hoping to make it for the opening. It's about an hour's drive from Melbourne, near Ballarat, just a lovely part of the world."

 

I'm constantly astounded by the devotion of these players architects!

Sunday
Nov182007

"Never, ever touch a Tour player's clubs."

Golfweek's November 10th Forecaddie writes that some USGA staffers were at the Ginn sur Mer Classic to check out the grooves of PGA Tour players.

The USGA has spent almost three years collecting data on grooves and some see the testing at Tesoro as the next step in possible rules changes to modify grooves.

The USGA tested roughly 30-40 sets of clubs by making a small plastic mold impression on the face of the irons and wedges. The tests were random and were not supposed to involve the players, although some bristled at the procedure.

"I'm on the putting green and this guy comes up and starts messing with my clubs," said Tour player David Branshaw. "I don't know what they were looking for, but they got that blue stuff [the substance the USGA used to take the mold] all over the grips. Took me an hour to rub all that stuff of."

The USGA must have forgotten the three "don'ts" in life. Don't tug on Superman's cape; don't play money games against someone with a "traveling handicap;" and never, ever touch a Tour player's clubs.

They're such consensus builders!

Way to get players on board with a controversial rule change.

Sunday
Nov182007

"Keep trying seemed to be the consensus."

Ken Klavon at the USGA blog reports on the PGA Tour's now-annual excuse to gather everyone in Ponte Vedra to try out the latest MBASpeak they've picked up in Forbes (and yes attendees, I'm still awaiting a transcript in my email box...chop, chop!).

Judging by the tone of Klavon's piece, not much progress was made in improving media access to players. Then again, PGA Tour players are pretty accessible one on one. Dealing with their agents is another story.

More interesting was the context in which Klavon put the decline of newspapers as compared to Internet numbers. Granted, I still wonder if these U.S. Open and PGATour.com page views include those automatic leaderboard refreshes, but even cutting the numbers, the are staggering.

In my humble opinion, online journalism still isn’t being fully embraced. For those of us who have made the transition from traditional media to the digital age, there is an element of credibility that has been brought along. But that wasn’t the crux of the question. It was based on the following: (and this is where I throw dazzling stats at you):

Consider that in 1990 the total U.S. newspaper circulation equated to roughly 60 million readers. Now chew on this: this year that figure is down to 40 million. Why is this significant? Because the advent of the Internet, with its slew of deliverable content platforms over the past 10 or so years, has overtaken this fossil. (And you’re talking to someone who worked in newspapers and continues to hold it dear to his heart).

Last year usopen.com gleaned 265 million page views. The year before the number came in around 112 million. The reach of the Internet seems limitless. Those figures are more than the entire newspaper circulation combined in the United States. Incredible. Yet some still are having a hard time embracing it. Hate to say it but the ship is sailing. Or has it sailed?

To get back on track, few of the panelists except for Bob Harig, a golf writer at ESPN.com, had much in the way of a solution to my question. Keep trying seemed to be the consensus.
Sunday
Nov182007

Ochoa Caps Off Another Classic ADT Championship

lorena.jpgDoug Ferguson captures the excitement that the NBC announce crew kept suggesting was almost inevitable: Lorena Ochoa and Trump International's perilous 17th hole:

Despite being the No. 1 player in women's golf, Ochoa has a short history of blowing tournaments, and this would have been a doozy. After blowing away the seven other players who qualified for this 18-hole shootout, she had a four-shot lead with two holes to play.

But she butchered the par-3 17th with an 8-iron over the back of the green, a putt that got hung up in the fluffy rough, and three more putts from 20 feet for a double bogey. Gulbis made a 7-foot birdie putt, narrowing the lead to one shot with one hole to play.

It was about the only drama of the balmy afternoon, certainly more than Ochoa needed.

"It was fun for the fans and for all of you," she said, "but it didn't feel very good."

Ochoa hammered a tee shot over the corner of the lake and the bunker, but it wasn't enough to hop out of the rough, and the ball sank to the bottom of the grass. Gulbis hit first, a hybrid 3-iron that covered the flag and put even more pressure on Ochoa.

"Lorena was spending a lot of time looking at her lie, so I was assuming that the lie was not very good," Gulbis said. "She's the best player in the world, so I thought that at least we'd get kind of an eye-for-an-eye putt at it."

Steve Elling considers Ochoa's 8-win season and offers these incredible numbers along with her place in the game:

Most impressively, she finished in the top 10 in 21 of 25 starts and won five of her past nine starts. It was her eighth victory of the year, or for those who like their news with a lyrical bent, ocho for Ochoa. It has been a long, productive year.

"It's time to go home," Ochoa said.

As further testament to her emergence, the tour is doing likewise with its events. Next year, Ochoa will become the second active player to host her own tournament, one of a trio of events scheduled in Mexico in 2008. In 2004, there were nada.

Not that pesos are the best yardstick of success, since the purses only continue to head north, but Ochoa obliterated the old earnings mark, set by Annika Sorenstam during her 11-win season in 2002, by $1.5 million. She finished the season with $4,364,994, roughly 2½ times what runner-up Suzann Pettersen took home.

"It's been amazing from the start to the end," Ochoa said.

Saturday
Nov172007

"I'm not Rain Man, so I wasn't able to calculate whether it was actually $1 million"

ADTFinal8Halleran_600x450.jpgDoug Ferguson seems to be warming to the ADT Championship, which again proved incredibly compelling. It doesn't hurt that Sunday's final 8 chasing $1 million includes Ochoa, Webb, Creamer, Kerr, Gulbis, Mi Hyun Kim, Sarah Lee and the charismatic Christina Kim.

Especially impressive is how well the LPGA seems organized when it comes time for the sudden death playoffs, starting them on the 17th hole as soon as the last group is in.

Another nice touch is the $1 million in cash sitting by the 18th green (pictured, left, courtesy of golf.com).

Kim was asked about it:

As if they needed additional pressure, the LPGA Tour placed $1 million cash -- or what looked like it, anyway -- in a glass case with a big lock and big bodyguard nearby, a reminder of what's at stake.

"I'm not Rain Man, so I wasn't able to calculate whether it was actually $1 million," Kim said. "You always see in the movies they've got the $1 million, and it's a very think briefcase. I don't know. Maybe there's just a lot of air packed in there. It's awesome."

Saturday
Nov172007

Second Stage Roundup

Rex Hoggard does a nice job summarizing who made it and who missed at PGA Tour Qualifying School.

Friday
Nov162007

ADT Day Two Roundup

Ron Sirak reports on the ADT Championship's exciting Friday cut that included a Gulbis-Sorenstam-Miyazato playoff and now a clean slate for tomorrow's round of 16. Sirak writes:
Unlike the FedEx Cup, which extends playoff drama over four weeks, the ADT Championship compresses it into four days. There are some players -- make that quite a few players -- who don't like the $900,000 difference between first and second place, feeling that is too severe of a punishment for what could be a one-stroke loss. But it is exactly that drama that gives this event its identity.

While it seems odd that the goal of the first two days is to finish 16th and Saturday's mission is to be no worse that eighth, that's part of the charm of this tournament. And with the quality of the players that advanced, it seems certain that Sunday will be a scintillating shootout for a million bucks.
Meanwhile Greg Stoda misses the point of the ADT and laments the entire thing, longing for rewards to those who play well along the way.