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Because it involves the reduction of activity to some dead mathematical formula, the giving of handicaps has always been a difficult problem to solve. In golf this difficulty has been further accentuated in the failure to perceive that a round of golf is not a continuous performance such as a race, but is divided into 18 separate parts. MAX BEHR



"Mr. Thomas is convinced current regulations will keep it capped."

John Paul Newport profiled Frank Thomas and his new book in the WSJ and it's interesting to read what he thinks has slowed down distance gains.
Mr. Thomas, who in 1984 revised and strengthened a regulation specifically banning spring-like effect, believes the USGA should have stopped the new clubs with spring-like effect as soon as they were discovered, because they only created potential expense and problems for the game (such as the need for longer courses) and violated tradition. "The first paragraph of the first equipment regulation published by the USGA in 1909 prohibited clubs that 'contain any mechanical contrivance, such as a spring,' " Mr. Thomas noted. But instead, over his objections, the organization in 1998 merely set a limit on spring-like effect a little above the then-current levels. That decision, he believes, was primarily motivated by fear of lawsuits from clubmakers who were already marketing the clubs.

Combined with simultaneous advances in ball technology, swing-motion analysis, player training and agronomy, spring-like effect boosted the average drive on the PGA Tour an alarming 24 yards from 1995 to 2003. But in the last five years the distance creep has slowed (the average is actually down a bit so far this year) and Mr. Thomas is convinced current regulations will keep it capped.

Coliseum Game

I'll get back to posting about golf tomorrow. However I thought the baseball fans out there might enjoy a couple images from Saturday's Dodgers-Red Sox game at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Dodgers' move to L.A. from Brooklyn.

(Click to enlarge)
(Click to enlarge)


"But I mostly sat around talking to the guys about stuff guys talk about in locker rooms."

John Huggan talks to Geoff Ogilvy about his win at Doral on the eve of the Masters.

Rain delays during both the third and fourth rounds forced the event into a fifth day, a state of affairs that inevitably weighs heaviest on the man with most to lose, the tournament leader.

"The last thing I wanted was more time to think about what was going on," admits Ogilvy. "Everyone who plays golf knows that the more you think about something the worse it generally gets. So sitting around wasn't great. I just had to sit around and wait because we never knew exactly what was going to happen. My wife and kids came over for a bit.

"But I mostly sat around talking to the guys about stuff guys talk about in locker rooms. Sex and sports basically!

"Having said that, I enjoyed playing in the last group on Saturday, even with the delays. For me, it was an ideal pairing. I play with Adam (Scott] all the time and who doesn't want to play with Tiger in the last group? So that was perfect."

"No, guys, it's normally bigger than this, I swear!"

march14_feherty_299x199.jpgConnell Barrett talks to David Feherty about his bike accident. While Feherty is in top form comically, this caught my eye:

I was writhing around, unable to breathe. I said to myself, 'If I pass out, am I coming back?' I remember feeling that if this is it for me, I'm not unhappy. I've done all right. I was ready to go, if it was going to happen. I wasn't afraid. I also remember a woman stopping. She came over and held my hand, asking, "Can you hear me?" She stayed with me until the paramedics came. I couldn't talk, but I could listen, and I remember her voice. I haven't been able to find out who she is yet. If you're out there, call me. I'd love to say thank you.


"I Tell You What, Veterans Can Kiss My Ass"

Here's a better version of the Bubba moment at New Orleans. I do believe that's an accurate quote, but I'm open to other interpretations. It's a classic.


"Do you play in a Ponce?"

coar01_ambush.jpgThe Advocate called, they want their travel story back!

Yes, as strange as it was to read a review of a flaming red Mercedes coupe in the April Golf Digest, that oddity was supplanted by Matt Ginella's wince-worthy piece on "Ponces" (groups of straight men going on buddy trips that would set off Dr. Freud's radar). But the whole thing gets even more entertaining with an online video of the not particularly compelling "ambush" of this fabulous, fabulous extravaganza.

Come on, hit the link, you know you like the torture.


Bubba and Elk Agree: The Sennheiser 816 Is The Golf Innovation Of The Year

I'll see if I can get a less Shell's Wonderful World of Golf circa-1962 quality version of this on the rebroadcast, but the audio comes in just fine. Sit back and enjoy the tension, courtesy of reader Chuck! (From round 2 of the Zurich Classic, probably picked up by the same sound instruments detailed earlier this week.)



"President of what?"

Jeff Rude files this frightening item for the Golfweek tour blog:

Dean Wilson, Zurich Classic first-round leader, grew up in Hawaii. Wilson now knows Barack Obama, presidential candidate, also grew up in Hawaii.  More to the point, Wilson now knows who Obama is.

That wasn't the case in December 2006 when the PGA Tour player was taping a television segment at a daily-fee course on Oahu. Obama also happened to be there that day, playing golf with childhood friends while on vacation.

Someone mentioned to Wilson that that guy over there might be the next president.

"President of what?" the golfer said. "President of the golf club?"

Admitted Wilson later, "I had never heard of him."

And who says professional golfers aren't focused?


Nobody will ever accuse Jeff of being rude ever again.



Danny Gans In Mourning: Real Celebs Tabbed For Pre-U.S. Open Reality Show

Larry Dorman scores the exclusive for the New York Times.

Looks like I may have to cut down on my Today Show viewing if past NBC synergistic plugfests are any indication.

Oh and Joe Dey is officially spinning in his grave. Just wish he was there on the first tee to greet JT. And no, I'm not talking about Sweet Baby James. That's right, Mr. Wardrobe Malfunction. Maybe he'll pull Mike Davis's earpiece out?


"There have been preliminary discussions about Erin Hills hosting the event in 2017"

gwar01_080328erinhills.jpgThere wasn't much new ground to cover, even for a pro like Gary D'Amato who filed a Golf World profile of Erin Hills. I believe it's the 400th piece recounting the history of the public gem outside Milwaukee designed by Hurdzan-Fry-Whitten. Except this:

The USGA has made no secret it is trying to identify a Midwest course for the U.S. Open, and Erin Hills meets all the criteria. There is plenty of land for infrastructure; it's a public course (green fees are $160); the sandy sub-soil encourages a firm, fast turf; and it can be stretched to a titanium-testing 8,266 yards. (Indeed, multiple sources tell Golf World there have been preliminary discussions about Erin Hills hosting the event in 2017.)

I find it a bit hard to believe they would go there so soon after Chambers Bay, especially since the course needs some pretty significant changes, according to my sources.


"You'll have to don a helmet"

segway.03.jpgThanks to reader Matthew for Sue Zesiger Callaway's review of the Segway X2 Golf. If the mere sight or thought of it doesn't horrify you, this should:
Worst of all, if you're playing by the book you'll have to don a helmet, which adds to the already high dork quotient of golf. But considering I have been nicked by an errant ball once before, I suppose it's a style glitch I can live with.

Tulsa CC To Be Reestored

I've never seen this Tillinghast course, wish I had now that Rees Jones will be converting it to one of his own. Anyone played it?


Phil's Driving Drop

37193854-26183354.jpgThomas Bonk considers the state of Phil Mickelson's game after his 20th place finish at Doral, and you have to think that this will be straining Phil's relationship with Butch Harmon at some point:
Mickelson has found only 55% of his fairways, down slightly from 2007 and far off his 62.9% in 2004 when he won the Masters for the first time.

He's also averaging 292.3 yards in driving distance, more than eight yards shorter than in 2006 when he won the Masters for the second time.

"If it were celebrity, then that would be fine, but it's not celebrity when all you do is get mocked about it. That's not celebrity."

Jeff Duncan profiles Woody Austin in the New Orleans Times-Picayune, offering this disturbing anecdote:

He became a gallery favorite, where fans kidded him -- "Don't hit it in the water, Woody!" -- and punctuated his shots with cries of "Aquaman," the nickname bestowed upon him by Presidents Cup teammate Phil Mickelson.

Even his playing partners at pro-am events got into the act, showing up at the tee box on three different occasions in swim goggles.

And they wonder why guys don't want to play pro-ams.


At least Woody's honest about it:

"What can you do?" he said Wednesday after his pro-am round at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans at TPC Louisiana. "If it were celebrity, then that would be fine, but it's not celebrity when all you do is get mocked about it. That's not celebrity. All I do is get mocked and ridiculed and chided. There's nothing great about it."



"Bring back walking. Play with nine clubs."

Jim Achenbach is advocating playing with fewer clubs, but not as a way to combat distance increases. Instead, he has folks who think it'll make your game better.


"Everyone seems to be pretty split on the idea whether hard is good.”

Geoff Ogilvy, quoted in the final item of Doug Ferguson's notes column:
“Some people walk away thinking, ‘Geez, that course must be great because the pros can’t make any birdies on it.’ Other people walk away saying, ‘Well, that course must be boring to play because the pros can’t make any birdies on it.’ Everyone seems to be pretty split on the idea whether hard is good.”

Look Out Arianna: Commissioner Makes Second Blog Post In Three Months

commissioner4.jpgI most enjoyed the section on Phyllis Wade's recent recognition as volunteer of the year. Finchem Someone writes:

Phyllis first volunteered at the L.A. Open in 1948, and was a walking scorer for Ben Hogan. In recent years, she has provided clipping services for the media at several tournaments on the West Coast. During a ceremony honoring Phyllis, she received a standing ovation from the media in attendance, something I can't remember ever happening for anyone.

Well Tim doesn't know it, but there is a silent media room standing-O whenever he finishes rambling on about the corporate partners and their devotion to charity.  

I did find the note about Phyllis the highlight. As far as I know, there was no ceremony, but there was an airing of a Golf Channel feature that led to the impromptu ovation (mostly standing). Easily the highlight of the week.

Now here's the fun part. I'm the only one who wrote about it. Does that mean the Commissioner is a reader? Or just his ghostwriter is? Or maybe I missed a ceremony? Either way, nice to see Phyllis getting recognition from the big guy in Ponte Vedra.


"That means this place has touched a lot of lives."

image_6860931.jpgKevin Robbins reports on the fight to save Lions Muny, owned by the University of Texas, one time grooming ground for Tom Kite and Ben Crenshaw.
A group of residents, including a veteran of the two previous campaigns, is trying to figure out the best way to prevent the short, busy and historic course from being lost to development by the University of Texas, which owns the land. The UT System Board of Regents meets today to consider the next step as it formulates a plan for the 345 acres known as the Brackenridge tract.

The citizens group — which formed Thursday at the Lions clubhouse and heard an impassioned plea from pro golfer and West Austin resident Ben Crenshaw — is planning a tournament in June to raise money to advertise its cause. Other events are expected.

"It's another opportunity for people who support and love Muny to get together," said Mary Arnold, a longtime environmental activist.

Arnold was involved in successful efforts in the early 1970s and late 1980s to persuade UT to leave the 84-year-old course right where it was on 141 acres between Exposition and Lake Austin boulevards.
Since the last campaign in 1989, Lions has seen more than a million rounds of golf, Fleming said.

"That means this place has touched a lot of lives."

Celebrity Chef Grazed By Bullet At Zurich Classic; Hillary Clinton Reportedly Jealous

march26_prudhomme_299x199.jpgFrom AP:

Paul Prudhomme was setting up his cooking tent on the practice range at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans golf event when he felt a sting in his right arm, just above his elbow.

Prudhomme shook his shirt sleeve and a .22 caliber bullet fell to the ground, a spokesman for the Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office said.

Deputies believe Prudhomme was hit by a falling bullet, probably shot about 9:30 a.m. Tuesday from somewhere within a 1 1/2-mile radius of the golf course, said Col. John Fortunato. The celebrated chef didn't require medical attention.

"He thought it was a bee sting," Fortunato said. "Within five minutes, he was back to doing his thing."

Witnesses said the bullet cut Prudhomme's skin on his arm and put a hole in his white chef's coat. But Prudhomme continued cooking until he left the course about 3:30 p.m.

Prudhomme was at the course to cook for players, their caddies and guests at the annual PGA Tour event, which begins Thursday and runs through Sunday.

Prudhomme, who grew up outside Opelousas, rose to prominence after being named the first American-born executive chef of New Orleans restaurant Commander's Palace in 1975. He landed on the national stage as the chef-owner of K-Paul's Louisiana Kitchen. He's also appeared several times as a guest on television network morning news shows and late-night talk shows.

If Hillary only had been so lucky


Leadbetter Dishes On Wie, Els

Robert Thompson found David Leadbetter in a chatty mood about his clients Michelle Wie and Ernie Els and offers some interesting thoughts on what it all means. Thanks to reader Andrew for this.