The audience in the theatre, looking over the footlights, view the play as do most of the gallery following the experts of golf. However, back-stage, there are a few eyes critically regarding the play from an entirely different angle. For many years I have preferred to observe golf shots from backstage, as it were. Seeing a man whack a golf ball is of little interest to me, and frequently it is a performance that had better be missed. That which concerns me most is where the ball lands and what it does after. A.W. TILLINGHAST
From today's LA Times obituaries
(no link) (link here, thanks reader Kevin), sad news about one of the game's great gentlemen who I feel privileged to have known and taken lessons from:
Rhoads, Ronald Harrison
Ronald Harrison Rhoads (Ron) passed away peacefully on April 12, 2007. He leaves his wife, Martha, his daughter, Carolee, her husband John, and grandaughter Nancy. He is also survived by his brother Roger Rhoads (Linda), brother, Rick Rhoads (Joan), sister, Lorraine Greenburg (Ray) and many nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his daughter, Virginia, in 1996.
A native Southern Californian, Ron graduated from Beverly Hills High School and The University of Southern California. He married his high school sweetheart, Martha. Ron was able to spend his career playing the game he loved; he was the head golf professional at Sahalee, Riviera, Sherwood and North Ranch Country Clubs, as well as the golf coach for his alma mater, U.S.C. Ron was devoted to the game of golf and touched many people with his expertise, work ethic and caring attitude. Ron also enjoyed fishing and hunting and divided his time between homes in Whitefish, Montana and Malibou Lake, California. He was a wonderful husband, father, father-in-law, grandfather, brother and uncle and will forever be missed by family and friends alike.
A private memorial will be held on May 12th. In lieu of flowers, donations to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation would be appreciated.
I didn't want to distract from Selena Roberts's piece on Tiger and the Tour by pointing out this NYTimes.com snafu which was not repeated in the print edition, mercifully for Tim Finchem's dermatologist and his hair stylist Marcel, who in between coloring some of Jacksonville's richest trophy wives...oh anyway, the caption and photo:
When Tiger Woods talks, PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem is likely to listen closely. The Tour often adjusts its schedule to accommodate Woods
"A lot of players are not happy," world No 19 Allenby said after the first round.
"I like Phil, but when the tour set a precedent, they've got to stick with it," said Allenby. "He [Mickelson] checked into the hotel here when I checked in on Monday. He came here, was on site, and he elected to go somewhere else, knowing the weather was going to be crappy. He took the risk. Take the risk and you pay the penalty."
"Just about the only list they haven't done is a list of the 100 best courses that have not yet appeared on a list."
Golf Digest's "100 Best Courses Outside the United States," is but the latest in a long list of lists that contains the likes of America's 100 Greatest ... Best New Public ... Best New Private ... America's 50 Toughest Courses ... America's Best Resorts ... America's Best Golf Cities. Just about the only list they haven't done is a list of the 100 best courses that have not yet appeared on a list. Maybe next year.
Top of this year's rankings is the links of Royal County Down in Northern Ireland, which has bumped the Old Course at St Andrews down to second. Third is Royal Dornoch, with Royal Portrush fourth. Muirfield is a surprisingly lowly fifth, with the top ten rounded out by Royal Melbourne's composite course, Ballybunion, Turnberry, Carnoustie and New Zealand's Cape Kidnappers.
Having played nine of the magazine's top ten (not Ballybunion), I am somewhat qualified to comment on the real order, which should read: 1) Muirfield; 2) St Andrews; 3) Royal Melbourne; 4) Royal Dornoch; 5) Carnoustie; 6) Royal Portrush; 7) Royal County Down; 8) Morfontaine; 9) Sunningdale; 10) Portmarnock.
Elsewhere, there are even more outstanding examples of the inexplicable. Loch Lomond is as high as 11th. It's a good course and the scenery is lovely, but how anyone not addled by either old age or an excess of alcoholic beverages could rank it above the likes of Sunningdale (12th), Morfontaine (13th), Kingston Heath (15th), Portmarnock (24th), Hoylake (33rd) or Barnbougle Dunes (57th) is a mystery on a par with the current location of Lord Lucan. Perhaps the voters meant to say that Loch Lomond is the best course in the world hardly anyone from Scotland ever gets to play; that makes more sense.
Then there is dear old North Berwick. Many of the self-proclaimed experts on a favourite architecture website (golfclubatlas.com) of mine are quick to extol the virtues of this eccentric East Lothian course - they love what they love to call "quirk" - but to rank it 50th in the world outside of America is more than a bit of a stretch. Only if the thought of hitting over improbably placed walls or to impossibly contoured greens is even remotely appealing could one rank North Berwick above Walton Heath or Melbourne's Metropolitan, to name but two.
Other oddities leapt to my attention. Most Australians will be wondering at the admittedly stunning New South Wales finding a spot above the cunning Kingston Heath. Had it not been for the tragic and wholly inappropriate redesign of a couple of greens on the back nine (what were you thinking, Donald Steel?) I have no doubt that the always fun Royal Aberdeen would be a lot higher than 56th. And that Royal St. Georges - where someone called Ben Curtis was singled-out as the best player in the 2003 Open - is apparently the second-best course in England will lift more than just a few eyebrows skyward.
Some rhetorical questions came to mind, too. Porthcawl is better than Troon? Cruden Bay is better than Hoylake? And Kingsbarns is better than Birkdale, Troon, Lytham and Portmarnock? Come on!
My last shakes of the head came upon discovering some courses that have no business being in the top 500 never mind 100. I'm talking about the beautiful but architecturally flawed Kauri Cliffs in New Zealand; Spain's overrated Valderrama (ask almost any of the competitors in the Volvo Masters); Old Head in Ireland - a caricature of a links; and the nice but hardly memorable Mid Ocean Club in Bermuda.
Thanks to the readers who forwarded this email making the rounds following the 2007 Masters.
I think I saw the photo below in print somewhere, but can't remember where.
Anyhow, according to the email, the gentleman in the photo...
...thought that his practice round badge allowed him to “play a practice round” at the Augusta National. The Grounds Maintenance guys in the background actually stopped and took the picture. As you can see I am struggling to restrain from laughing totally out loud. My partner, Sgt. Ken Rogers, is not in the picture because he is actually just out of the left side of the frame rolling in the pine straw, from laughter.
Sheesh, Hogan got his by a bus and I don't think he was this much of a mess.
Bill Fields writing about Johnny Miller's cameo at the Legend's of Golf:
Sixty might be the new 40, but Miller, who turns 60 April 29, feels his age. Before he started getting cortisone shots, his right elbow had been so painful he was reduced to swinging one-handed in corporate outings. "I was pretty good at that, but that isn't very impressive," he said. "It's nice to be healed enough that I can at least play with [my] kids. I didn't realize how much I missed at least having the option of playing versus not being able to play whether I [wanted to or not]. I'm grateful for that."
But his knees still ache, and he can feel a slipped disc from his back to his shins. "My back is totally killing me right now," Miller said after the first round, "just burning a hole through my L-5 with the pain running down into my lower legs." Said his wife, Linda, "I think if his body would let him, he would like to play more. It's shot."
Miller's back was so tight when he woke up Friday morning he thought he was going to have to withdraw, but 10 hot towels and 1 1/2 Lortabs for the pain and a driver loaded with 12 strips of lead tape--"It was already F-0, and I probably made it about a G," he said, "so it would do all the work and I wouldn't have to use my body that much"--got him through the day.
Uh, I'm trying not to envision Johnny wrapped in 10 hot towels.
According to Golf World's John Strege, we might as well leave now if we want to see the weekend rounds at Torrey Pines for next year's U.S. Open. The culprit? The San Diego County Fair and oh, the fact that we have about 10 million too many residents.
The USGA is trying to work out a compromise with the fairgrounds, which has as a negotiating chip--12,000 parking places the USGA covets. At this stage the two sides are at a stalemate; neither can reschedule its event, though the fair is willing to delay its start--for a price.
"We would give them seven days of parking and start the fair a little late, but we would be making a huge concession," Fennell said. "We would have to be kept whole financially."
Fennell noted if the fair forfeited its opening weekend, lost revenues would exceed $800,000, a sum the USGA steadfastly refuses to pay, according to Bevacqua. Fennell argues the USGA could recoup its investment by charging for parking. He also pointed that giving up the USGA presidential jet would also help cover the cost while also allowing the organization to restore the recently reduced staff benefits.
Just checking to see if you were reading! I of course, am responsible for that last sentence.
The USGA offers free parking and already has an arrangement to use Qualcomm Stadium (home of the San Diego Chargers) for parking.
"We're not overly concerned about it," Bevacqua said. "But we have every intention of working with the fair, and if we could work a compromise, that's our hope."
Uh, forget the fair. Have these people ever seen the 5 on a Saturday? Not pretty.
A San Diego reader wrote in to suggest the shuttle ride from Qualcomm Stadium will take about 2 hours on county fair weekend and also wondered why they couldn't find parking less than 20 minutes from the course. That $800,000 is sounding like a bargain!
Caught this poll on golf.com. Naturally, you can guess what I voted for (sorry Mr. Nelson).
We want to know...
Byron Nelson won 11 tournaments in a row in 1945, a record that may never be matched. Which of the following records do you think is the most impressive?
* 30.5% Nelson's 11-straight victories
* 4.8% Hank Aaron's 755 career home runs
* 9.2% Jim Brown's record of eight NFL season rushing titles
* 37.7% UCLA's run of 10 NCAA basketball titles in 12 years
* 15.3% Wayne Gretzky's 2,856 career points
I think the only thing more amazing than the inclusion of Wayne Gretzky's 2,856 career points was that 15.3% actually voted for him!
At least one more player besides Stuart Appleby was willing to go on the record about Phil's missed pro-am.
"He could have still made it here," [Rod] Pampling told reporters after carding an opening-round 68 on Thursday.
"The (PGA Tour) rules say you have to play in the pro-am to play in the (main) tournament so in my opinion he shouldn't have been allowed to play."
Golf Channel's Brian Hewitt scores a major exclusive by finding out when they'll be dedicating the
TPC SawgrassThe Players Stadium course clubhouse:
Sources at The TOUR confirmed today they have scheduled the dedication for the new 70,000 square foot, $32 million clubhouse at the TPC Sawgrass for the Tuesday before next month’s PLAYERS Championship.
Uh, $32 million? Oh I think we have our first question for the commissioner!
In this 2005 Ryan Herrington item from Golf World, the tab was penciled in at $16-18 million
Hey, it's not our money!
The L.A. Times's Mike Penner has covered his share of golf and has been inexcusably passed over as a columnist. And his latest and last column is something you don't read everyday in a major newspaper...
From an unbylined wire service story:
Phil Mickelson will compete in the EDS Byron Nelson Championship today despite missing yesterday's pre-tournament pro-am.
PGA Tour rules state that a player missing a pro-am is automatically disqualified from the tournament, except for "extenuating circumstances".
Mickelson had planned to fly into town in his private jet late Tuesday night from nearby Little Rock, Arkansas, roughly a one-hour flight, in time for his 7am pro-am tee time, but the Dallas Love Field airport was closed due to severe thunderstorms.
Instead, he spent the night in Little Rock, arriving here at TPC Four Seasons resort shortly after 11am yesterday. Mickelson, it seems, was happy to play an afternoon pro-am, but the tour decided not to rearrange the tee times. Instead, he had lunch with the amateurs he was supposed to have played with.
"Phil was prepared to play in the afternoon. It wasn't his decision not to play," said Mickelson spokesman TR Reinman.
The PGA Tour's decision to allow Mickelson to play in the tournament was greeted with cynicism by some fellow players, who accused the tour of having a double standard, recalling that Retief Goosen was disqualified from the 2005 Nissan Open for missing his pro-am tee time, after oversleeping.
But the tour issued a statement defending its decision.
"Phil did everything physically possible to get here Tuesday night, but was grounded in Little Rock due to circumstances completely beyond his control," said tour executive vice president Henry Hughes.
Eight-time PGA Tour winner Stuart Appleby said the appropriate question was whether Mickelson had made every effort to get into town in time for the pro-am.
"I'm sure a lot of players think it's a very dodgy decision," said Appleby, who was curious to know whether Mickelson could have arrived at the crack of dawn in time to play.
"Each situation has to be looked at independently. If a player makes a reasonable effort, he gets a pass. If he doesn't, he should be disqualified. I don't care who you are.
And Stuart, do you think he made a reasonable attempt?
"If the (Dallas) airport was open in the early hours this morning, what I would say to my pilot is 'I've got to be in Dallas at 5.30am. If it's open, call me and wake me up."
That's a no.
I did go back and try to dig up the stories on Goosen's 2005 DQ at Riviera and after oversleeping, he did make it to the property just after his tee time.
I say it's all Rick Smith's fault.
Not to wear out this Tiger-plays-Oakmont thing, but a reader who would rather not be associated with this wretched site made this point:
One thing left unsaid in the Woods item is that he obviously studies videotape of past events at a course before seeing it for the first time. That's the only way he would have thought about Oakmont as a tree-lined course and then have been surprised when he arrived.
To the inkslingers out there considering a Tiger question at Wachovia, how about asking about this instead of about the due date or the new dog.
What's he looking for on old tapes of majors? Has he learned stuff from video that has helped him in any of this 12 wins?
From Doug Ferguson's lengthier follow up on Tiger's practice rounds at Oakmont:
He also had heard the debate whether Oakmont or Winged Foot was the toughest championship course on any given Sunday morning for the members. "Of all the tournaments I've ever played, no golf course was harder than Winged Foot,'' Woods said late last year.
He was reminded of that comment when he walked off the 18th green Sunday morning after his first trip around at Oakmont.
"It's not even close,'' Woods said. "It's this one.''
And that was with the green bumping along at about 10 1/2 on the Stimpmeter (the course was under snow a week ago). It usually runs in the neighborhood of 13 for some of the members' tournaments.
"Every green is pitched one way or another,'' Woods said. "If you do miss on the high side, it's impossible.''
“Any implication that participants are drinking in excess or performing an activity that requires a level of alertness while drinking does not meet network standards,” said Leslie Anne Wade, a CBS Sports spokeswoman.It's a good thing network standards don't allow for shows about people getting killed!
The Daly ad has already run about 10 times on the Golf Channel, which last year ran his reality series, “The Daly Planet.” Dan Higgins, a spokesman, said that while the ad met network standards, “we’re sensitive to the issues at hand and are looking at other viable options to running the commercial,” like restricting its airing to later hours or running an edited version.
Hey, I know. Just air it during the Greg Goose 19th Hole since the set is stocked with booze. Then it won't look so bad!
Meanwhile, in Larry Stewart's LA Times piece, he quotes the Maxfli dude:
"We went into this with the idea that John Daly is fun, exciting and approachable," said Bob Maggiore, senior director of marketing for TaylorMade-Adidas of Carlsbad, Calif. "In hindsight, maybe we should have seen the risk. But we looked at John Daly as someone who lights up a room, not someone with a troubled past."
Well, at least he's honest.
Brian Hewitt talking to Butch Harmon about his new marriage:
Where, Harmon was asked Tuesday, will Mickelson’s place be on that totem pole?
“I have already called Fred Couples, Adam Scott and Stewart Cink and assured them this won’t change my relationship with them,” Harmon said. “I’m not Rick Smith. I’m not going to spend 24/7 time with Phil. When he needs help I’ll be there with him. ...But if you’re asking me who’s at the top of the totem pole, Adam Scott is my main client. And I’ve explained that to Phil.”
Here we'd gone a full two days without an insult flying! Let the instructor spat begin!
"The field was so weak that more world ranking points were awarded to the winner of the BMW Asian Open."
Even so, fall tournaments must have been wondering about Nick Watney's victory in New Orleans last week. That was a full FedEx Cup event, but the field was so weak that more world ranking points were awarded to the winner of the BMW Asian Open. Watney earned 28 points, only four more points than the winner of Mississippi tournament last year.