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You know, golf is a funny game. There never was a round of golf played in a big championship or just among friends, by experts or duffers, that didn't develop its humorous situations, and often really dramatic interludes.



Reporting A Tournament Win...

Callaway, Nike, Taylor Made and Titleist report their PGA Tour wins, ball maker Volvik reports their Ladies Member-Member wins.

You'd swear this is fiction, but it's on the Golf Business Wire:

Volvik Golf Balls report's a tournament win with their industry leading Crystal golf ball. The U.S.A. exclusive distributor, FLGolf, Inc. told golf writers of the event today.

The ladies 18 hole Member-Member Golf Tournament was held at the Maryland Golf and Country Club in Bel Air, MD on August 17th and 24th. Play consisted of four nine hole rounds.

The first two rounds played on the 17th had Linda Burns of Bel Air, a golf sales rep for Golfstream Shoes, and playing partner Jan Haddy, of near by Baldwin took 16 ½ points out of an available 20 points. In the second round Linda and Jan took ten more points to win their flight.

A sudden death playoff between four flights as played from the 17th hole a 488 yard par 5 hole. Linda and Jan shut out the other teams with a net birdie to win the overall win.

Ryder Cup Clippings, Wednesday Edition

2006rydercup.jpgIf you don't mind Flash-based stuff (it slows things down here), has a couple of nice features posted. The first is the Golf World course map, with some noteworthy hole-by-hole comments from Brett Avery.

Even better is an interactive team analysis, with bios by Avery, U.S. comments by Brian Wacker and European player comments by John Huggan. There's also more than you ever wanted to know about player records in previous matches.

Story wise, thanks to reader Van for this Independent story noting Melissa Lehman's involvement in establishing the team curfew, including the wives shopping hold-out.

In the slow news day category, James Corrigan and several others built their stories around Tiger Woods and Darren Clarke embracing.

This wire story says Tiger was reluctant to join Tom Lehman's sing-your-college-fight-song hazing session. Can't say I blame Tiger for that one. This team bonding stuff is getting a little ridiculous.

Jim McCabe takes a close look at Tiger's Ryder Cup record and says it's not as bad as it looks.

SI has posted the "grid" I compiled on Arnold Palmer's life and design career, along with the text of his Dream 18. Gil Hanse's map of the Palmer course appeared in Golf Plus.

Add Golfonline's Connell Barrett to the list who will not be receiving honorary memberships to the K Club. Or for that matter, fan mail from the European Tour folks. He includes this quote from Peter Alliss:

"A course like Portmarnock would have been a magnificent choice," Alliss says. "I care passionately about this event, so I find this rather sad, losing the Irishness of links golf. An event that was once tough, bloody and wonderful has lost much of its charm. It's all because of money, money, money."

Lawrence Donegan comments on bonding exercises and offers other Tuesday practice round observations.

Sidetracking for a moment, Donegan is mentioned in a story about his former career as a bass guitarist in this Scotsman story about singer-songwriter Lloyd Cole, whose next album "Antidepressant" is due out September 25th in the UK, and October 10 in the U.S.

Regarding Cole and his love of golf:

There are periods, he says, when he's toyed with the idea of giving up music altogether and concentrating on his other passion: golf.

"I love playing it and I have this ridiculous dream that I could design golf courses for a living," he says wistfully. "Apparently, you have to be good at numbers and I was a real maths whiz at school. But my overwhelming feeling is that, if I can keep on plugging away with music and adding to this body of work that I've been developing since the early 1980s, then in the future people might find it something worth treasuring. That's really all I want."

Back to the Ryder Cup. BBC's Iain Carter blogs about the caricature-drawing exercise the Euros undertook, which is only a bit more ridiculous than the U.S. fight song nonsense. Apparently everyone was asked to draw Monty so that their thoughts could be determined by a "mind magician."

Wouldn't you just love to see Jakartagate-skeptic Darren Clarke's rendition?

BBC's Matt Slater blogs about the U.S. team's tweed outfits:

the librarian meets poacher creation was inspired by some old-fashioned view of what the Irish themselves wear when enjoying the great outdoors. The "begorrah, top o' the mornin' ta yer" Ireland of The Quiet Man or Ryan's Daughter or Boston's St Patrick's Day celebrations.

Karl MacGinty considers the dreadful weather forecast and the possibility that remnants of hurricane Gordon could reach The K Club by the weekend.

And finally, SI's E.M. Swift says the U.S. team is historically soft and pretty much says this team is doomed too.


MNF at Sawgrass Follow Up

Check out the video of Finchem-Tirico-Theismann-Kornheiser inaugurating the 17th at TPC Sawgrass. (If the link doesn't work, go to the Tour's video page and scroll down a bit). This Monday Night Football synergy plug fest debuted, well, a 3 inch rough tee and dirt stadium mounding. It also revealed that one of the participants had a nice big Titleist tour bag. Commissioner? 


O'Grady: Euro Tour Developing Courses To Ensure Mundane Ryder Cup Venues Through End Of Century

Bloomberg news reports that:

"European Tour will buy or build golf courses to stage the Ryder Cup from 2018 to increase income from its most profitable event, chief executive George O'Grady has said."
The Tour has guaranteed that the matches, played alternately in the US and Europe every two years, will take place on mainland Europe from 2018 through 2030.

Here's your money quote...literally:

"In future, we'll either build courses ourselves or own them," the 57-year-old Englishman said. "We get cash from the Ryder Cup but we don't get a capital asset gain. In 2018 we'll own at least part of the venue."

Take that Tim Finchem!

Owning and operating the courses would allow the Tour to build and profit from onsite hotels, spas and other leisure facilities.

It could also develop and sell or rent private housing, while retaining income from club membership fees, conferences, exhibitions, retail and catering.

The owner of the K Club, which hosts this year's event, Michael Smurfit, said there's "no question or doubt" that the Ryder Cup has boosted the value of those assets.

The Tour doesn't own any of the K Club, the 2010 host the Celtic Manor Resort in Wales, or Scotland's Gleneagles, which will stage the 2014 contest.

Profit at this year's event may not reach the €14.8m it made four years ago because of extra security and other costs, Mr O'Grady said.

Tissue, anyone?

Revenue may rise to as much as €74m from €52m at the 2002 edition at the Belfry, Mr O'Grady said, declining to give his organisation's annual revenue.

The Tour retains 60pc of the profit, with the remainder split between the UK and European Professional Golfers' Associations.

The 2018 venue may be chosen by the last day of the 2010 edition, O'Grady said, giving the Tour enough time to build a new course if necessary.

"By then we reckon courses will need to be built in a certain way to take the number of spectators that will want to come," he said.

As opposed to now?


"About 86 percent of the passengers on business jets today..."

In Joe Sharkey's NY Times story on the increase in private jet travel, he writes:

For many years after the mid-1980’s, the business-jet industry had to break through cultural barriers largely stemming from the stereotype of a business-aircraft flier as a Master of the Universe commandeering a heavy-metal company jet to take the spouse, children and family poodle on a boondoggle to Aspen, Colo.

But the business is now mostly being driven by demand from customers who maintain a calculated balance between flying commercially and using a business jet.

“About 86 percent of the passengers on business jets today are middle management or sales or technical people, sometimes working in a team and needing to get somewhere and back quickly, often between points with very bad commercial air service,” said Roger Woolsey, chief executive of Million Air, a company that operates 32 terminals at business-aviation airports in the United States.

I wonder if this means that the likes of Mike Davis, Tim Moraghan and Tim Flaherty will get to use the USGA jet?


The Ryder Cup Divide

Bruce Selcraig writes about the religious and political divide between European Tour players and U.S. players. You won't don't want to skip this compelling read, which appeared in the Irish Times.

But there’s still one significant cultural divide that is so sensitive an issue most players simply avoid addressing it when they’re on the other’s turf. Simply put, many Euros and other international players are put off by the overwhelming number of American PGA Tour players who identify themselves as George Bush-loving Republicans who support the US occupation of Iraq.

“Every movie you see, every book you read is like, `America, we’re the best country in the world,’” German Alex Cejka told me in May at the Byron Nelson tournament in Fort Worth, Texas. “When I hear this [from players] I could throw up. Sure it’s a great country...but you cannot say we have the most powerful president in the world, the biggest country in the world...It’s sad that they are influenced by so much bullshit.”

The affable and well-read Australian, Geoff Ogilvy, who won the US Open and has lived in Arizona with his Texas wife for four years, says: “A lot of their conservative views [on tour] are way off the map...I think George Bush is a bit dangerous. I think the world is scared while he’s in office, [but] there’s less tolerance of diversity [in opinions] over here [and] people have more blind faith in their government.”

Various Euros have hinted that they have similar views, but say privately they’ll be crucified in American lockerrooms and newspapers if they publicly oppose Bush, his fundamentalist Christian agenda or the Iraq war.

“That’s the new way of American censorship,” said Parnevik, as he baked on the driving range in Fort Worth. “People get hurt very badly if they speak out.”


Not coincidentally, the American pro golf world, which has been heavily influenced by corporate America and Republican politics for at least 30 years, now has such a strong element of Christian fundamentalists that the entire Ryder Cup leadership – Tom Lehman, Corey Pavin and Loren Roberts – are all self-professed born-again Christians. Roberts was even converted and baptized at a tournament.

In the book, “The Way of an Eagle,” Lehman says: “God has definitely used golf in a great way over the last several years. I think of myself as a Christian who plays golf, not as a golfer who is a Christian. So whatever kind of job I do, there is a way for God to use that as a tool. In society at large, especially the way golf is growing, there is a huge platform for golfers.”

There are now official chaplains and weekly Bible study groups, or “fellowships,” on each of the four American pro tours, and various players either display the Christian fish symbol on their golf bag or wear a popular cloth bracelet that says “W.W.J.D” – What Would Jesus Do. “It’s not seen as so strange anymore for a player to be open about his faith,” former tour pro Bobby Clampett told Golf World. “They’re no longer called `The God Squad’ or `Jesus Freaks’ like we were 20 years ago. Now it’s cool.”

Well, until Bobby shows up.       

David Feherty, the former Euro Ryder Cup member from Northern Ireland who is now a popular TV golf commentator in America, believes the very public display of fire-and-brimstone Christianity is still unsettling to most Europeans. “I think a lot of Europeans find that conservative Christian thing as frightening as conservative Muslims,” he says. “If you find any European pros who are in that Bible thumping category, it’s usually because they’ve been to the United States.”



Two More Links...

I've added lefthand links to Tom Mackin's blog for T&L Golf and the Irish Times page devoted to the Ryder Cup.


Ryder Cup Clippings, Tuesday Edition

2006rydercup.jpgEasily the best read in the various Ryder Cup previews was the anonymous PGA Tour player talking about the teams in SI Golf Plus. You can read his assessments of the European team here and the U.S. team here.

Mark Garrod reports that the Lehman's have brought their own tortillas for chips and salsa. Not exactly the greatest endorsement of The K Club's cuisine.

This report attributes the team's late arrival to too much luggage. Hey, the wives have to pack for all occasions.

Mike Aitken transcribes all of the cliches that Monty rolled out in Monday's press gathering.

Mark Lamport-Stokes says that Tom Lehman already knows his Friday pairings, but after that pretty much anything can happen.

Golfonline's Cameron Morfit offers a graphic assessment of the U.S. team. And I mean graphic.

Would you know Wetterich if you saw him? Perhaps you'd know him if you smelled him, for according to one team insider the broad-shouldered Floridian demonstrated exceptional flatulence on the flight back from Ireland, where the Yanks made a recent reconnaissance trip to the K Club. And so for U.S. Ryder Cup fans still reeling from an 18 1/2-9 1/2 loss two years ago, and fearing the worst from these 36th Cup matches, it becomes official: we stink.

James Finegan's Where Golf is Great includes a K Club chapter, which has posted it. I just received the book and it's a beauty...all 10 pounds of it!

Ken Brown chimes in with his thoughts on the matches.

Lawrence Donegan writes about Monty's standing (or lack of) with his teammates.

Karl MacGinty in the Irish Independent talks to Seve, who has high marks for 1999 captain Mark James.

"Ian has a lot of Ryder Cup experience and I have no doubt he will be a good man for the team. He saw Tony Jacklin as a captain, Bernard Gallacher, me, Mark James," said Seve.

Then he paused momentarily, a devilish grin spreading across his face as he went on: "Though I wouldn't pay too much attention to Mark James's captaincy. "To me he did everything wrong."

"He was a disaster," added Seve, who described James' decision to leave three players, Jean Van de Velde, Jarmo Sandelin and even his captain's pick, Andrew Coltart - bizarrely selected ahead of Bernhard Langer - on the sidelines until Sunday in Boston as "just unthinkable, unbelievable."

Ballesteros conceded that Europe had taken a four point lead into the final day's singles but he argued: "Three players did not play one single hole until the singles so they basically were three points down before they started on Sunday.

"And he risked burnout with seven others because they had played both in the morning and the afternoon on Friday and Saturday. He destroyed the team, it's unbelievable what he did."

Monday Light Editorial Coordinator Lauren Deason reports on the mother of all-time lame photo-ops, where a hard-collar sporting Tim Finchem joined Joe Theismann, Tony Kornheiser and Mike Tirico in awkwardly posing for a photo before awkwardly dumping balls into TPC Sawgrass's 17th hole.

All to plug, well, I don't even know what. 


Whitten On Dismal and Ballyneal's Ron Whitten takes us around Dismal River and Ballyneal, offering this final assessment:
There is much to admire about both Ballyneal and Dismal River. I cannot and will not favor one over the other. I want them both to succeed, but I do have concerns. I am concerned that Ballyneal may suffer by its refusal to allow golf carts. (It gets hot there in the summer, and golfers need shade and breeze, both of which could be provided by carts.)

I am concerned that both clubs could suffer because of their remote locations. Ballyneal, within driving distance of Denver, is far better situated in that regard, but therein has a lot stiffer competition for members. The folks at Dismal River don't feel they're in competition with Sand Hills, because the latter's membership is reportedly full.

I'm not keen on the idea of Dismal members someday parking their Gulfstreams right at the front door. Part of the experience of a golfing retreat is the gradual decompression from airport to first tee, in the case of Sand Hills, that one hour drive through desolate sand dunes from North Platte. If Dismal River members can jet in, play a quick 18 and jet out again, a crucial element of the experience will have evaporated. Jack "got it" with his design. I hope Dismal River's owners "get it" in their operation. Keep the carts, but lose the runway.


Ryder Cup Links

2006rydercup.jpgAs with previous majors, I've posted some links to Ryder Cup related sites with stories, interviews, weblogs, odds and weather. (Top of the lefthand column.)

Notice there are some different names this time around, including the excellent, the BBC's blog, the Irish Independent's coverage (free password necessary) and the excellent Virtual Caddy tour of The K Club.

When the major U.S. publications get their blogs up in time for us to be too busy watching the golf to read them, I'll post those links too!

And of course, feel free to nominate any other Ryder Cup sites you like.

PS - Check out that lovely 10-day Kildare weather forecast


"I'd love to know what all went on, to tell you the truth"

Mike Dudurich sheds a little light on why the PGA Tour is taking some of the blame for the 84 Lumber Classic's demise.

A convergence of circumstances caused Maggie Hardy Magerko, president and owner of 84 Lumber Company, to cancel the tournament less than a month after the PGA Tour announced that the event had been moved to June in 2007, the week after the U.S. Open at Oakmont Country Club.

Hardy Magerko's announcement came soon after she instituted a three-year business plan to make the lumber company more profitable. A $100 million investment over six years -- with an option for a seventh year at the PGA Tour's discretion -- didn't jive with that plan. And when tournament organizers approached the PGA Tour with its concerns, they received no response.

In fact, the PGA Tour didn't sign a letter of intent or a new contract that was submitted. A few days after Hardy Magerko informed Tour officials in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., of her concerns, the PGA announced that the St. Paul Travelers Championship in Hartford, Conn., would take the 84 Lumber Classic's spot the third week in June.

PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem and Tour senior vice president and chief of operations Henry Hughes chose not to be interviewed for this story.

It's unknown why the PGA Tour decided to give St. Paul Travelers a fourth-year deal and turn down 84 Lumber's request.

And how's this...

"I'd love to know what all went on, to tell you the truth," said Joe Durant, a member of the PGA Tour's policy board. "We all have to say thanks to the Hardys for treating us like kings and putting on such great events. We don't get treated like that normally."

A member of the PGA Tour policy board doesn't know what transpired? 


Where Was Dr. Watson?

_42100326_usteam_getty.jpgThe team's arrived today for the first photo op and it seems Arthur Conan Doyle dressed the U.S. team.

Or so says the mysterious blogger known as Principal's Nose.

Looking like a team of Sherlock Holmes, the brown tweedy ensemble adorned by the team was cringe worthy predictable of a country not known for its appreciation of other cultures. "Where was Dr. Watson?" the Principal asked Captain Baptist.
Meanwhile, I can't quite make the Euro outfits. Bond, circa Thunderball?_42101182_europe_getty.jpg

Where's Marty Hackel when you need him for a "FAN-TASTIC"? 

You can check out all of the arrival photos here, including a shot of some hot Euro girlfriends and Monty in the airport, looking chipper and grey and having already shed the brown jacket. But not pictures of the U.S. wives, and more importantly, whether they wore team uniforms as well.


The Ideal Ryder Cup Course

My latest offering is now posted...


Ryder Cup Clippings, Monday Edition

2006rydercup.jpgNick Faldo tells The Scotsman it's going to be a tight match and a long slog: "There will be a lot of pressure around and there has been a lot of build-up again. If the weather is tough it will be a long slog for the guys. It's a long course and if it's windy and damp it will be a long battle of wills."

Golfweek's Rex Hoggard offers Tom Lehman some pairings suggestions.

John Hawkins only refers to himself 9 times in blogging that little should be read into the World Match Play first round exits of Woods and Furyk.

James Corrigan obviously appreciated Furyk's loss, because he was able to conduct an email conversation with Furyk. The e-chat also gave him the chance to ask questions he'd hopefully wouldn't ask in person:

Is Tiger difficult to play with?

Is there any chance of such animosity surfacing this week or will the presence of Europe's Darren Clarke, so soon after his wife's death, put everything into proper perspective for the two teams?

Your father is a greatly respected coach. Why on earth then, does your swing look so weird?

Actually, I take that back, those questions look worse in print.

Scott Michaux offers an in-depth profile of Augusta native and Ryder Cup rookie Vaughn Taylor.

Sitting in his living room watching the Ryder Cup hype build on television, Vaughn Taylor was naturally curious when The Golf Channel unveiled its team pairing predictions.

Friday's fictitious four-balls and foursomes flashed on his widescreen television. Then came the same for Saturday's matchups. Each day had one thing in common - Taylor's name never showed up.

"That was a bit upsetting," said Taylor, a 30-year-old Ryder Cup rookie from Augusta. "But there's no telling. I don't know what to expect. I don't know if I'll play at all until Sunday. If I don't play until (Sunday's singles matches) that's fine and I'll understand why. It's about the team "

Douglas Lowe writes about Arnold Palmer's pride in the K Club, but really quotes the King mostly about his winning captaincy in 1975.

Hugh Macdonald tries to figure out why it's been 41 years since Scotland has hosted the Ryder Cup and writes, "No one is suggesting that there is any hint of corruption in the choice of venues. But no-one can deny there is the opportunity for malfeasance to flourish."

Actually David Davies explained how the corruption works yesterday (sorry, forgot to post the link), while Golfweek's Brad Klein pretty much did hint at corruption of some kind in the venue selection:

Apparently, all of the classic Irish courses were booked up the week of the Ryder Cup. Or perhaps they just didn't ante up enough money and promote themselves as brazenly as The K Club-Palmer Course, nor have as much parking and spectator areas.


At par-72, 7,337 yards long, the course seemingly has it all: tree-lined fairways; beach bunkers; water hazards, most of them man-made ponds, in play on a dozen holes; an artificial waterfall; an island green. It even has real estate 70 feet (as I recall) from a tee. Perhaps they ought to rename it the TPC of County Kildare. The only thing the K Club doesn't have is any sense of identity or place. At 350 Euros ($512) per round for walk-on play, it is, if not the most expensive public access golf in GB & I, probably the most over-priced (though I must admit, I was comped -- and probably for the last time).

While we're piling on, Bruce Selcraig penned this critique of The K Club in The Scotsman a few months back that I recommend reading if you want to get your Monday off to a cranky start (with visions of these matches at Portmarnock playing in your head).


Skins Game

I usually flip right on by William Safire's NY Times Magazine "On Language" column not because I found the author to be a blowhard. No, instead I usually flip on by because I'm so eager to read about those vital ethical quandaries tidied up by Randy Cohen a few pages later.

But Sunday's column caught my eye for two reasons. The first is to establish the next great MBAism that we can expect to hear from Tim Finchem or Carolyn Bivens any day now.

Microsoft’s Certified Professional Magazine Online — an insistently nonamateurish house organ — quotes a vice president, Rick Devenuti, saying, “Customers want confidence, especially with this new product wave, that Microsoft has skin in the game.” A reader can presume that this means the company will hire new employees in its new-wave consulting business because the executive hints provocatively that “there is some relationship to head count.”

At the same time, on the other side of the world, Lachlan McKeough, chief of an Australian insurance brokerage on an acquisitions spree, told The Sydney Morning Herald that the key to the company’s success is the way that “front-line staff” retains a substantial equity in the business. Asked to describe his business model, he replied, “They have got skin in the game, so to speak.”

This eventually led Safire, or his researcher, to call the USGA in search of a link to skins in golf.

I can hear gambling golfers in the readership firing up their computers. Golf’s skins game, about a half-century old, has a foursome betting against one another: “Three categories each account for one-third of the pot,” writes Steve Pajak of The Sacramento Bee, which are “team play (best four of six balls on each hole on this day), individual skins (any single low score on a hole) and individual greenies (closest to the pin on par 3’s).” The U.S. Golf Association librarian says that “skins is also known as cats, scats, skats or syndicates.”

Is there any doubt now that we'll be hearing this soon? The question is, who first? Bivens, Finchem, or maybe a not-so-darkhorse like Senior Champions Tour headman Rick George? Yep, this has George written all over it!


PGA Tour Driving Distance Watch, Week 37

pgatour.jpgThe PGA Tour driving distance average dropped to 289.3 yards from 289.6 after the soggy and final 84 Lumber Classic, won by Ben Crane Curtis.*

With this win Crane becomes the first ever two-time winner of lame duck events in the same year. And just think, the notoriously shy former British Open Champion won't have to do two media days next year. Take that Tiger!

*too many hours in the hot So Cal sun today made me type this incorrectly. Really.


Not What The Kids Can Want

Former NY Times writer Robert Lipsyte pens an LA Times opinion piece on steroids in sports and wonders what all of the angst is about, yet says that no one "under 21 should take steroids because of the unknown effect on developing bodies and brains." 

The way I see it, we're all complicit in the superstars' need for the needle — we fans, coaches, parents, owners and media (I'm a recovering sportswriter myself). We demand that they attempt superhuman feats to thrill us, authenticate us, make us rich and proud — and they need superhuman help to satisfy us. (We also want our Whole Foods food before it rots, so long-haul truck drivers pop speed.) And we don't want to know about the process. When it's jammed in our faces, when athletes come up "dirty" in testing (or truck drivers jackknife on the interstate), we demand that they be punished and expurgated from our fantasies.

This pattern of denial and demonization is our problem, not theirs. Steroid use in sports is a symptom of our disease more than theirs, and a fascinating, if tinted, window on jock culture and its connection to the complicated, dangerous, exhilarating way manhood is measured in America, from the field house to the White House.

And yet...
As the ideal of sportsmanship gave way to the tactics of gamesmanship, it seemed as though the win-at-all-costs virus infected professional athletics just as it infects all aspects of American life, including, most visibly, politics and big business. Or, as some sports apologists claimed, sports had fallen victim to the ills of the larger society.

So why should we care what those players use as long as they entertain us?

As a tunnel-visioned sports fan, I don't. (Although as a father, grandfather and a shooter of steroids, I simply don't understand how we can make no national effort to screen the thousands of young, under-21 high school and college abusers.)

Wow, that's quite a rationalization. Okay for adults, but no one under 21 will be allowed to use steroids. Oh yeah, that'll really keep the kids from wanting to sample steroids! Great idea! 



Ryder Cup Clippings, Sunday Preview Edition

2006rydercup.jpgJohn Huggan talks to Sam Torrance and Bernard Gallacher about their memories and the horror of having to make captain's picks.

Huggan also speaks to Peter Oosterhuis about some of his memories:
"I was disappointed at the so-called 'War on the Shore' in 1991," he says with a shake of the head. "Things got out of hand there. I didn't like the khaki hats and all that went with them. I was proud of the way Tom Watson and Bernard Gallacher turned that around in 1993. They put the matches in perspective.

"And, like everyone else, I didn't like what happened at Brookline in '99. Of course, there are two sides to every story. The Americans were annoyed by Sergio's leaping all over the place during the first two days. But on the last day I think the PGA of America lost control of the crowd. Boston's golf community was embarrassed by what went on at the Country Club. It wasn't them who were causing problems; it was the non-golfers in the gallery. There are so many more of them now than in my day."

Tom English shares a fun story about the US team's recent bonding session.

David Davies explain$ why we have to watch the European hosted Ryder Cup$ on such lou$y venue$:
It is estimated that in the period including the run-up to the 1997 Ryder Cup at Valderrama, to the hosting of the matches at Gleneagles, in Scotland in 2014, around £350 million will have poured into the coffers of the European Tour. Schofield has now retired from running the tour but his personal view is that the selling of the Ryder Cup brought huge benefits to all concerned. As an indication of how things operated in his time, he says: "The Ryder Cup was the ultimate prize and the choice of venues — and now, increasingly, host countries — is determined by a consistency of support over a period of time. Take Valderrama and the '97 Ryder Cup. Spain, in the shape of Turespana and the autonomous regions of the Canaries, Balearics, Andalucia, Valencia, Catalunya and Madrid itself, supported almost 40 regular tour events as part of the 'bidding' for that Ryder Cup.

"As for the Belfry, that course was custom-built for the guarantee of several matches. What would the total benefit to the PGA, in terms of offices and a new national training academy, and also the tour, with 16 regular tour events plus a Hennessy Cup, be counted at? Well, other than many, many millions, I don't know.

"What I do know is that that almost certainly inspired a number of major multi-nationals who own facilities, like Johnnie Walker and Gleneagles, to believe if they demonstrated consistent and substantial commitment to the game, they would have a chance of that ultimate prize, the Ryder Cup.

"That also applied to the big owner-occupiers like Jimmy Patino at Valderrama, Michael Smurfit at The K Club and Terry Matthews at Celtic Manor — support the overall concept and be in with a chance of the ultimate prize."


Week(s) In Review September 2-16: Walter and the Ryder Cup

WeekInReview2.jpgThe Ryder Cup has arrived and Ian Woosnam's captain's selections generated plenty of questions, especially after Thomas Bjorn's tirade blasting Woosie.

Lefty writes: Clarke is a sentimental choice. However, Petterson is a better golfer currently than Clarke. Sorry, Darren...Of course it IS only an exhibition. So maybe the sentimental choice is the right one...

Jeremy Rudock: Bjorn should be crying. It's almost criminal that Westwood was selected over him for the team. Bjorn's results are much better than Westwood's on the course this year.

Matt: Poulter should have the biggest beef of all-he played well last Ryder Cup and had some good finishes in majors this year. That would have been like the US picking Love and Duval, only much worse because Davis and David are playing better than Darren and Lee and aren't going through the emotional baggage.

Hawkeye writes: It is fairly obvious that the main criteria Woosnam went for are "speaks rural English" and "likes a pint". And I have a strange feeling that might be the right thing.

On the USA Today article about course closures, Smolmania brought this up: For those of you familiar with golf in Chicagoland, Pine Meadow -- named Golf Digest's Best New Public Course some time in the mid '80s -- may be in trouble. The Archdiocese owns the property the course is on, and the Jemsek's lease is coming up quickly. Rumor has it that negotiations are not going well. . . there are developers lining up to build houses on this property, and Lord knows the Church has lots of litigation settlements to pay. What a shame if we lose one of the best conditioned public courses in our District.

There were some interesting developments on the distance front, starting with Martina Navratilova's comments about tennis and golf equipment regulation.

GeorgeM writes: "Stronger" golfer uses harder ball and driver to attain more distance. Weaker driver uses softer ball and trust skill to carry the day. I have no problem with different balls favoring different players. However, if the same design were applied to lighter or larger balls, distances could be reduced and lenghtening of courses stopped. It would not hurt for the USGA to abandon COR specs and adopt a spec minimizing relative movement or deformation of the club face. That would relate more closely to "springlike effect."

On Tim Finchem's shifting stance on drug testing after Tiger Woods endorsed a PGA Tour drug testing program, R.J.W. says: Tim's finally come down off whatever that was he was on a couple weeks ago. No longer is he in complete denial, just quasi aloof now. Hey media, Tim just needs a few more weeks to make sure everything is out of his system, then he'll be ready to field your questions.

Walter Driver was the star of an chat and he revealed that the USGA won't be doing much to address the distance issue.

Barry writes: paraphrase: “Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Tiger Woods, Tom Watson, Greg Norman, Seve Ballasteros, Ernie Els, Lee Trevino, Ben Crenshaw, etc., etc. – you are ALL WRONG. Your years of playing and observing the game at the highest levels are worthless. We at the USGA have the ‘facts’ on ours side. And the ‘facts’ that we choose to pay attention to allow us to do nothing, and thereby avoid getting sued.”  Thanks Walter for clearing things up. Really, I mean that. After a few years of organizational doublespeak – we’re studying the problem, there is no problem - we now know exactly where the USGA stands. I can now give up any last shred of hope that you will do a damn thing to protect the game.

Garland: The USGA is conducting tests. They have determined that the modern ball goes 25-30 yards farther with the same swing speed than the ball used on tour in the early 90s. What that means is that the initial velocity and overall distance standards failed to keep the balls the tour players choose from going far beyond the intended distances.

Chuck: ...the longest players on the PGA Tour may not be dominating the money list. What I say to that is, I don't care. What is inarguable is that all of the courses that host PGA Tour events are being forced into unrecognizable alterations.

Kevin notes: one cannot argue that technology has not seriously changed this game. In my mind the perfect example is the 17th hole of the Old Course at St. Andrews. Always a feared hole, approached with care using long irons. Why did the R&A grow rough so high and so penal as to make using a driver a fool's play? Because the new tehnology would have turned that hole into a pitch and putt. And if you are OK with that, then you are on the other side of the fence from me. Driving averages are a bunch of numbers; when greats such as the Road Hole are rendered irrelevent then I see a clear sign that technology is out of control.

N Gn: I have been a Tour player for several years and I don`t need any statistical evidence to prove that there has been an excessive increase in distance over the last couple of years. The problem, in my opinion, is that the USGA and the R&A don´t have the guts to regulate accordingly, and my impression is that it is a legal fear. I believe that it will be the Augusta National members that will make the the right move, and when that day comes, we will see how quickly the USGA and R&A will take action.

Meanwhile the grooves issue continues to be the one area that the USGA sees a problem.

Scott S writes: Keep in mind that there is a difference between V, box, and U grooves. The super-ripping Cally, Titleist, and TM wedges use U grooves (TM calls them Y grooves, but their cross-section looks similar to the other U grooves). This is probably what they have their sights on. That said, what good will this create beyond adding a few million to wedge and possibly iron sales to the manufacturers? Oh, that's right, no one cares what they do to grooves, so long as no one loses any yardage!

RGT: ...grooves are not the problem when a 16 year old kid can average 339 yards off the tee in a Nationwide event. ince the USGA is not going to do anything about distance which is totally their fault, the PGA Tour should cut and run from the USGA. Go to a tournament ball, save millions in golf course renovations and still be able to afford the drug testing. Bottom line, these ballistic distances are driving up costs while TV ratings are in a major slump. Unless of course Finchem can convince TIGER of playing every week, fat chance.