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

St. Andrews is difficult, not because bunkers are placed to catch inaccurate shots, but because the result of a misadventure is to make the next shot infinitely more difficult than it would otherwise have been.   H.N. WETHERED and TOM SIMPSON



"So I'm proud to be mentioned with Old Tom. If we played each other? Well, I'd have the edge, because of my fashion sense."

MORRISSETT_10_439x600.jpgI managed to put three minutes aside for my monthly power flip through Golf Magazine and actually stumbled upon  something worth reading in the form of Connell Barrett's look at innovators.

Granted, a couple of them I trust as far as I can throw them, but at least Ran Morrissett got some nice recognition.

"I think of as a museum. Architecture is an art, and a course is like a 200-acre canvas. My Web site gives like-minded people a place to discuss and debate these works, to keep the discussion happening. People on the site are regular guys who want to protect great courses and preserve classic architecture. The dialogue can get pretty intense. Things got personal a few years back when Tom Fazio redid the bunkers at Merion. A lot of name-calling. Some thought that changing the bunkers was akin to drawing glasses on the Mona Lisa. It's funny — the nicest, kindest gentleman can become a pit bull online! But that's part of the passion. It's my passion, too. This is a nonprofit site. Since I started it in 1999, I've gotten a lot of offers to sell, but I never will. It's like those commercials. Annual cost of running a web site: a few thousand dollars. Helping to keep architecture debate alive: priceless."
Actually, priceless was Greg Norman fawning over himself in arguably the most nauseating paragraph of self promotion ever published in a major golf publication.

NORMAN2_9_600x532.jpgHere's Greg, on himself:
"This January, I'll be honored with the Old Tom Morris Award, for giving back to the game. For one, I feel that golf should be more compatible with the environment. Courses elevate property value and create jobs as well as provide green spaces, filter air, and create a wildlife habitat. Doonbeg, in Ireland, was built with shovels, not bulldozers. We moved just 26,000 cubic yards of soil and protected a microscopic snail species. In addition to that, my tournament, the Merrill Lynch Shootout, has raised more than $10 million for CureSearch National Childhood Cancer Foundation. So I'm proud to be mentioned with Old Tom. If we played each other? Well, I'd have the edge, because of my fashion sense. I'd wear something from my Greg Norman Collection, which is comfortable and stylish. How can you make a full turn wearing a double-breasted three-piece wool suit?"



Yet Another Castle Stuart Video...


Finchem Memo On Policy Board Actions

No surprises here based on the calculated previous leaks. Just thought you might be out of Lunesta and in need of a sleep aid... 

TO:        PGA TOUR Membership
FROM:    Tim Finchem    
RE:        Policy Board Actions
DATE:    November, 13, 2007

The PGA TOUR Policy Board met on Monday, Nov. 12, and took action on several key items.

But before I share the results of the meeting, I want to take a moment to thank you for your support in helping to make the inaugural FedExCup such a great success. The FedExCup absolutely accomplished what we envisioned it would by “connecting” the season and providing a strong, compelling conclusion with our first-ever PGA TOUR Playoffs for the FedExCup. It delivered significant value to our players, sponsors, television partners, and added something new and attractive to our fans.

Moreover, the four Playoff events delivered record television viewership at a time when sports fans historically have watched the start of the NCAA football season and NFL pre-season and opening games. We certainly saw a change in the tone of coverage as media and fan interest grew through the season and Playoffs, keeping the focus on our sport through mid-September, and ultimately delivering a fitting conclusion.

So again, thank you for helping to make this happen.

The Policy Board’s objective is always to provide the best possible experience for fans, tournaments, sponsors, and, of course, our membership, and to present our sport in the best possible manner. With that as our focus, the Policy Board has approved the following actions:

Policy Board Actions

1) Policy Board Structure
I am very pleased to inform you that Vic Ganzi, President and Chief Executive Officer of Hearst Corporation and a member of the TOUR Policy Board since 1994, has succeeded Dick Ferris as Chairman. As you know, Dick announced in August that he would be retiring at the end of 2007. He has been a tremendous leader in his 14 years as Chairman and has helped guide the PGA TOUR to unparalleled heights as a business. We all owe Dick our appreciation for his outstanding work on our behalf.

As we announced earlier, Edward E. Whitacre, Jr., Chairman Emeritus of AT&T Inc., will be joining the Policy Board as the fourth Independent Director effective January 1. Additionally, we welcome back Brad Faxon and David Toms to the Policy Board, replacing Davis Love III and Joe Durant. This will be Brad’s third term on the Policy Board and David’s second. We also want to thank Davis and Joe for their excellent service as Player Directors.

2) 2008 Schedule
The Policy Board has approved a schedule of 48 official events that will offer $278 million in official prize money. The 2008 schedule will offer 5,672 playing opportunities for members, up from 5,585 in 2007. The 2008 schedule is attached.

As you can see, no changes were made to the first three weeks of the Playoffs. In deference to the 2008 Ryder Cup, the Policy Board has approved THE TOUR Championship presented by Coca-Cola – the fourth and final PGA TOUR Playoff event – being moved back two weeks so that it will be played immediately following the Ryder Cup in 2008. This move provides a one-week gap between the third Playoff event, the BMW Championship, and the Ryder Cup, so as not to adversely affect either the Ryder Cup or THE TOUR Championship. We felt it was important to give those members of both the U.S. and European teams who will be competing in the Playoffs the ability to prepare for the Ryder Cup while also focusing on THE TOUR Championship the following week.

As a consequence of the move, all Fall Series events will be moved back one week. This situation is unique to next year and we do not anticipate the need to alter the Playoffs schedule beyond 2008. The tentative schedules for 2009-2012 have built-in gaps between THE TOUR Championship and the corresponding team event, either The Presidents Cup or Ryder Cup.

3) Potential Changes to the FedExCup
In evaluating the first year of the FedExCup, the Policy Board did not feel the need to make fundamental changes to the overall structure of the competition. Accordingly, no changes have been made in the points distribution in the PGA TOUR Regular Season.

The Policy Board will continue to assess the point structure as it relates to the reseeding and points distribution throughout the Playoffs, in order to consider ways we might create more volatility and keep more players in contention for the FedExCup at THE TOUR Championship presented by Coca-Cola.  We will be seeking more feedback from the PAC and the membership between now and making a final determination on these matters at the February meeting.

4) Tournament Cuts
The Policy Board also approved a change in the regulation pertaining to the 36-hole cut at tournaments.  Currently, the cut following the second round is to the low 70 professionals and ties.  Under the new regulation, the cut will continue to be to the low 70 professionals and ties, unless that results in a weekend field size of more than 78 players.  Under that circumstance, the cut would be made to the number closest to 70.

5) Retirement Plan/Deferred Compensation
The Board has approved a change to the distribution of the $35 million FedExCup bonus pool, whereby it no longer will be 100 percent deferred. Beginning in 2008, $16.5 million in cash will be paid to the top 10 finishers and the remaining $18.5 million will be paid on a tax-deferred basis into the Retirement Plans of the top 150 players. The maximum tax-deferred-payment amount will be $1 million to the winner of the FedExCup, who will also receive $9 million in cash, for a total first place payout of $10 million.

This decision was part of a comprehensive evaluation that was conducted in regard to the payout structure of the FedExCup. This new formula is consistent with the earning projections previously provided to our members under the Retirement Plan.  

6) PGA TOUR Anti-Doping Program
The Policy Board has approved the PGA TOUR’s Anti-Doping Program.  The TOUR’s primary objective is to have a credible program that will aggressively deter the use of any prohibited substance.  The key elements of the program include extensive player outreach and education; a comprehensive list of prohibited substances and methods; therapeutic use exemptions; a testing protocol and procedure; and guidelines governing sanctions and program administration.  A summary of each of these significant elements follows.

Player Outreach and Education
The TOUR’s Anti-Doping Program will be implemented on all three Tours, on a phased-in basis.   On the PGA TOUR, player education and outreach will begin in December 2007 and extend through June 2008, with testing beginning no sooner than July 2008.  The education phase will commence on the Nationwide Tour in mid-2008, with testing to begin in late 2008.  On the Champions Tour, education will begin in January 2009 and testing will be implemented in mid-2009.

PGA TOUR players will receive an Anti-Doping Program Manual in early December 2007.  The manual will contain significant detail about all aspects of the Program.  Additionally, players will have 24-hour-a-day confidential access to medical and program advisors who can respond to any questions relating to specific substances, medications or testing procedures.

The player education process will include weekly player education sessions at tournament sites, beginning in January at the Sony Open in Hawaii.  Medical experts will also be available on a weekly basis for one-on-one meetings with players.  You may also include family members and support staff (managers, trainers, nutritionists, physicians, etc.) in any of the educational sessions offered.  A mandatory player meeting will also be scheduled at the 2008 Buick Invitational, at which time the Program will be covered in comprehensive detail.

Prohibited Substances
As previously announced in September, the PGA TOUR and the other member organizations of the World Golf Foundation have collaborated to create a Model Prohibited Substances and Methods List.

The list includes:
•    Anabolic Agents (e.g., steroids)
•    Hormones and Related Substances (e.g., human growth hormone, testosterone, EPO)
•    Agents with Anti-Estrogenic Activity (to artificially increase testosterone level)
•    Diuretics and Other Masking Agents
•    Stimulants (e.g., Ritalin)
•    Narcotics
•    Cannabinoids
•    Beta Blockers
•    Enhancement of Oxygen Transfer (blood doping)
•    Chemical and Physical Manipulation (tampering with a sample)

The Anti-Doping Program Manuel that will be delivered to players on December 1 will contain a comprehensive list of prohibited substances that fall under the categories listed above, as well as a list of those substances that will not be prohibited under the Program.

Therapeutic Use Exemptions
The TOUR’s Anti-Doping Program includes a process for players to apply to receive a Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE) to use a banned substance if there is a legitimate medical need as determined by the PGA TOUR’s medical committee.

This TUE medical committee will be created and chaired by the TOUR’s anti-doping medical advisor, Tom Hospel, M.D.  Dr. Hospel is Board Certified in Sports Medicine, has served as the team physician for The Ohio State University, and shares a practice with the Medical Advisor for the NFL Anti-Doping Program.   The TUE medical committee will also include a number of other highly-regarded physicians from various medical disciplines.

Testing Protocol
As with the overall Anti-Doping Program, the PGA TOUR’s primary objective with its testing protocol is to have a credible process that will aggressively and effectively deter the use of any prohibited substance. Under the terms of the program, the TOUR has the authority to test players at any time or place.  All testing will be without prior notice. Testing done at tournament sites may be conducted both on practice/pro-am days and before or after competitive rounds. There are not a stated minimum or maximum number of times a year that an individual player may be tested.  

The TOUR is taking significant steps to ensure that the confidentiality, security and integrity of the entire process is preserved for the membership.  To implement the testing process, the TOUR has engaged the National Center for Drug Free Sport (Drug Free Sport).  Individuals employed by Drug Free Sport are specifically trained to ensure a confidential and secure testing experience for the player and the TOUR.  

Drug Free Sport will assist in the player education program in addition to conducting the actual testing.   Beyond its new relationship with the TOUR, Drug Free Sport also provides drug testing or education services for the NFL, MLB, NBA, NCAA and hundreds of colleges and universities.

Players who have been tested will be notified of the results by the PGA TOUR Program Administrator (see next section).  If it is determined that a player committed a violation of the Anti-Doping Program, the player will be notified of the violation and the sanction.  Players will have an opportunity to appeal a sanction at a hearing to be held by the Commissioner or his designee.

Under the program, the TOUR has the authority to impose a variety of sanctions, which may include: disqualification; ineligibility for up to one year for a first violation, up to five years for a second violation, and up to a lifetime ban for multiple violations; and fines up to $500,000.

In addition, for drugs of abuse (marijuana, certain narcotics, cocaine), the Commissioner will have the discretion to require treatment and rehabilitation in lieu of or in addition to other sanctions.

For any player who fails a test and is issued sanctions, the PGA TOUR will disclose that the player violated the TOUR’s Anti-Doping Program and will report the penalty.

Program Administration
The Program will be handled through the PGA TOUR’s Office of the General Counsel led by Rick Anderson, EVP and Chief Legal Officer.  Allison Keller, Assistant General Counsel—Anti-Doping, will be the Program Administrator.

The PGA TOUR has engaged outside policy and medical experts to assist in the development and implementation of the program, including player education programs and the testing process.  In developing the program, the TOUR has worked closely with Richard Young, one of the world’s foremost anti-doping experts, and the principal draftsman of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) Code.  Mr. Young has served on the WADA Board since 2004.

I realize this is a significant amount of information on several very important areas that impact you and your fellow members. We firmly believe that these actions will enhance the overall position of the PGA TOUR for years to come and we will continue to communicate frequently with you on these key topics.

Again, I want to thank you for all that you do as a member of the PGA TOUR and for helping to make the 2007 season such a great success. I also want to extend the Board’s appreciation for the diligent work and feedback by the PAC on the members’ behalf. Player input is a highly valued component to the overall process of making these significant decisions.

And finally, if you have any questions about this information, please do not hesitate to contact me or our management team.  


Tim Finchem


Verdi: FedEx Cup Changes Finalized

I get the week off, but I don't get the possible change of heart on the deferred compensation...

If ratified, the playoffs will be held as follows: The Barclays in New York Aug. 18-24, Deutsche Bank in Boston Aug. 25-Sept. 1, and the BMW Championship in St. Louis Sept. 2-7. As first reported in the Sept. 21 issue of Golf World, the Tour Championship, originally scheduled for the following week, would then be contested later in Atlanta.

The board also will address the Fed Ex Cup payoff, which was $10 million deferred to the champion, Tiger Woods, in its initial year. One possibility is that a substantial amount--perhaps as much as $9 million--will be issued up front. In addition, the board will study a proposal to decrease the size of playoff fields to 120 at Barlcays, 90 at Deutsche Bank, and 60 at the BMW. The field for the Tour Championship is expected to remain at 30.


Lietzke May Get Return Trip To Site Of First U.S. Senior Open Win

I know, you forgot he actually won one didn't you? Shoot, he probably did too.

Either way, great to see Inverness back in the major mix, even if it's one of 7 they play on the Valiant Competitor's Tour.


Timberlake Becomes First Non Has-Been To Lend Name To PGA Tour Event

timberlake.jpgSinger, songwriter, producer, director, raconteur and singer again (because he's just that good) Justin Timberlake has already conquered every demographic of importance, so why not go after golf's aging "decision maker" demo.
The PGA TOUR today announced that four-time Grammy Award winning singer, songwriter, record producer and actor Justin Timberlake will become the host of the TOUR's Las Vegas event, which will be renamed the Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospitals for Children Open. Timberlake becomes the 14th celebrity in PGA TOUR history to host an event, joining the likes of Bob Hope, Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis Jr. The agreement, among Timberlake, title sponsor Shriners Hospitals for Children and the PGA TOUR, is for five years, beginning in 2008.

The Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospitals for Children Open, part of the TOUR's Fall Series, will be played October 13-19, 2008, at TPC Summerlin over 72 holes with an official Pro-Am on Wednesday. The event will be televised on GOLF CHANNEL. As part of his involvement, Timberlake will play in the Wednesday celebrity pro-am and host a concert during tournament week.

"I couldn't be more excited to host the upcoming 2008 Las Vegas tournament and to be involved with the Shriners Hospitals for Children," Timberlake said. "We will make sure to make this event unique and memorable, and we will raise money for charity while participating in the greatest game ever played. I thank the PGA TOUR and the Shriners Hospitals for Children this amazing opportunity. Raising money to better children's lives while playing golf? I can't think of a better way to pass the time."


"It is nice to win a tournament that Tiger has tried to win the last couple of years unsuccessfully"

217338.jpgThis wire story reports on the wacky finish to the HSBC event, where Phil Mickelson

Lefty overcame six penalty strokes in the final round, blew a three-shot lead with seven to play, and still won Sunday's HSBC Champions tournament on the second hole of a three-way playoff with Englishmen Ross Fisher and Lee Westwood.
And James Corrigan explains Ross Fisher's Van de Veldeian finish.

But best of all, Nick Mulvenney reports on the latest stupid thing Phil has said:
"It is nice to win a tournament that Tiger has tried to win the last couple of years unsuccessfully," he added.
But at least has his priorities straight...


"Now that my family is older, my kids are older, eight, six and four, I will try to play more tournaments overseas and use those trips as educational weeks for my family," he said.

"But while equipment advances are nominal at the pro level, there are still gains to be had by the rest of us choppers."

E. Michael Johnson belts out another howler of a Golf World equipment column with his jubilation at the news of driving distance going down. It's fascinating how his normally even-keeled weekly roundout of what guys have in the bag becomes so emotional on the subject of distance.

After listing the driving distance number, he reports this vital news:

Scoring also is stable.

Whew! That's a relief. Especially since the number is jigged around with more than...oh I better not say.

Though the scoring average of 70.83 marks the first time it has dipped below 71, over the last five years the average on the PGA Tour has been 71.03, and over the past 10 years 71.10. From 1988 to 1997 it was 71.17. So the last 10 years have seen an improvement of a quarter-stroke per four rounds over the previous 10. Hardly cause for concern.

Because after all it's such an unadjusted number!

I know, I know. Courses are longer, pins are in insane positions, etc., etc. So? Pro golf is not a game. It is a sport. As such, it should be difficult, and the achievements of those playing it for a living are far superior to those of us who don't. The only courses that need to be lengthened are the 55 used for PGA Tour events. Any other venue doing so is just wasting open space.

Oh that'll really happen. Can those PGA Tour courses bill the manufacturers for the expense incurred?

I didn't think so.

Hey, and now a word from our sponsors...

But while equipment advances are nominal at the pro level, there are still gains to be had by the rest of us choppers. How much? Find a launch monitor that not only spits out launch conditions, but also reveals the optimum given your current swing speed. Odds are there's more than 20 yards you're not getting. Isn't that the only statistic you should be interested in?

Shop 'til ya drop!


"People don't turn on the TV to watch Stephen Ames."

turkey_cartoon.jpgGolf World's John Hawkins kicks off what figures to be an onslaught of Skins Game R.I.P. columns by covering a few key points while leaving out another.

That said, get a load of this year's menu: Couples, the Sultan of Silly Season, will serve as the headliner despite not playing a competitive round since the Masters. He'll be joined by Zach Johnson, who won that green jacket but remains instantly unrecognizable in almost every airport he enters; Ames, who is back because he claimed nine skins last year; and Brett Wetterich, who got in because none of the nine guys ahead of him on the 2006 money list had any interest in participating. After all, it is the first official weekend of the holiday shopping season.
In 2004 the winner of the Players Championship began receiving an automatic berth in the Skins Game, a compromise of the product that defeats the event's purpose. "The spirit of this thing has been lost in these qualifications," says a knowledgeable observer. "Originally, the idea was to have four guys yuk it up, have some fun and, by the way, there's a million dollars on the table."

So without Woods, Mickelson and perhaps a half-dozen others, the off-season's grandest stage has become an ATM for the undeserving. People don't turn on the TV to watch Stephen Ames. In fact, the only decent ratings in the last 10 years were achieved in 2001, when Greg Norman and Colin Montgomerie teamed up with Tiger and Jesper Parnveik.

Jesper Parnevik played the Skins Game? quickly I completely forget. 

Perhaps Woods saw this thing moving in the wrong direction when he agreed to play in those Battle of Bighorn matches back in 1999. His commitment to a one-on-one, 18-hole duel on the last Monday night in August gave him a reason to skip the Skins but still flex his prime-time muscle. David Duval and Sergio Garcia were Tiger's first two foes, but when the format was expanded to four players and the concept failed to produce any final-hole heroics, made-for-TV golf had taken another step backward.

Not said in the piece is event organizer's ability to pick the most drab (but high paying) golf courses possible, and their absolute refusal to increase the purse to dollar figures that would actually mean something in today's game.  


"Bear that in mind the next time a so-called expert pops up to claim that Tiger's Butch Harmon swing, circa 2002, is better than the Hank Haney-produced method that he uses these days."

In his Sunday column, John Huggan points out Tiger's dominance on the European Tour.

As a professional he has played in 77 European Tour events, 32 ending in victory to give him an amazing strike rate of 41.56%. In four of every five appearances he has finished in the top ten, and in six of every ten he has made the top three. Along the way he has won €35,166,588, an average of €456,709 every time that he has teed up - never mind any appearance money that he has trousered courtesy of grateful sponsors.

All of which renders ridiculous the almost compulsory and oh-so predictable pro-Rose drumbeating that has resounded as the England media's darling takes an admittedly significant step towards real stardom. Having won only six events in his nine-year professional career - none on the PGA Tour - and only now made it into the world's top-ten players, Rose is still a million miles from the exalted level that Woods has scaled.

While the former child star did extraordinarily well to record top-12 finishes in each of this year's four major championships, a quick look at more numbers reveals that his four-event aggregate was 16 shots worse than that returned by Woods. In other words, Rose has to find one shot per round if he is to challenge the great man in the events that are the genuine measure of any career.

That's an enormous gap in professional terms.

The further bad news for those deranged individuals still harbouring ambitions to challenge Woods in the near future is that the American continues to improve at the age of 31, even with a driver in his hands - the area of the game in which he is perceived by many ignorant judges to be uncharacteristically weak.

A couple of weeks ago, this column ran figures revealing how almost every top player has grown longer and less accurate off the tee over the past five years. While this is true of Woods, his numbers show that, relative to almost every one of his nearest 'challengers' on the world-ranking list, he is better than he was in 2002. Bear that in mind the next time a so-called expert pops up to claim that Tiger's Butch Harmon swing, circa 2002, is better than the Hank Haney-produced method that he uses these days.



"Nowhere To Hide--For Now"

As always thanks to reader John for passing along John Paul Newport's column weighing in on the CEO's-caught-by-posting-scores issue and notes this near the end of his piece.

And a little bit of help is on the way. After much debate, the USGA's executive committee voted in June to make some changes. Effective next year, the name of the course and the day of the month on which posted rounds were played will not be part of the records available to the general public. Only fellow members of a golfer's club and the competition committee at any venue where a golfer intends to compete will be able to see the complete record.
While that seems like a great solution, isn't the USGA contradicting what its representative said earlier in the article, or will this in fact be the privacy protection that most would hope for?
But the USGA insists that "peer review" is essential to an honest handicapping system that enables golfers of differing skills to compete on an even basis and protects against "sandbaggers" who deliberate inflate their indexes to gain an unfair advantage. "If you want to have a handicap, you give up your privacy regarding your scoring record," says Kevin O'Connor, senior director of the organization's handicap department.



"Predictable Courses That Dull The Drama"

Lorne Rubenstein considers why the PGA Tour plays so many drab courses. He quotes former Tour player and architect John Fought, who gets to the heart of the matter (at least in some cases):

"The golf courses they play on tour aren't as good [as they should be]," former PGA Tour player John Fought, now an architect, said in Toronto the other day. "They don't play wonderful old courses, generally. They play the latest development deal that a guy is trying to sell."


Phil: Golf In The Olympics If It's Amateur Only

Finally someone with some sense on this issue. Isn't it odd that a prominent professional is the one advocating amateurs to represent countries in the Olympics while the governing bodies of amateur golf want to see professionals playing?


Fujikawa Looks To Extend Missed Cuts Streak With Sony Exemption

I know, I know, he warmed our hearts last year. But he was an amateur then. In January he'll return as a pro.


The World Tour...Is Here?

Several interesting stars aligned Thursday to form what seems to be the makings of a "World Tour" in...Europe. Well, and maybe Asia. And Dubai.

Jim Gorant recaps the wacky week in Singapore and how it overshadowed the PGA Tour, while Lawrence Donegan reveals that the good folks in Dubai are ponying up even more money.

Details are to be announced in Dubai later this month but the Guardian has learned that the event, to round off the 2009 season, will have a prize fund of $10m (£4.95m) for the tournament itself with the other half to be divided as "bonus" money among the highest-ranked players at the end of the 2009 season.

Donegan also blogs about the European Tour's efforts to expand and offers this:

Beyond that there is the strong possibility the tour will change its name - a move that meets with the approval of another of the big names in European golf, Guy Kinnings, Montgomerie's manager and head of IMG's European golf division. "The name 'European Tour' has definitely got some value but in the long term it remains to been seen whether it is really necessary to keep it, especially if the tour is travelling more and more around the globe."

I guess the only question I'd ask is, what's taken so long?


"How much is Rory getting paid and how much is he worth?"

I think it's safe to say that Stuart Appleby and Rory Sabbatini will not be talking cars anytime soon after Appleby's backlash over Rory's Australian PGA appearance fee. Yes, that's right, someone paid Rory Sabbatini to be at their golf tournament.

Many of Australia's best golfers are said to be unhappy about the reported $200,000 appearance fee being paid to the cocky South African and Stuart Appleby underlined this fact on Thursday when he questioned Sabbatini's worth.

"To me the question is: How much is Rory getting paid and how much is he worth? "That's what I want to ask the Australian PGA," Appleby, who has slipped back to No 38 in the World this year, told the Telegraph

"If a player is being paid ten times as much as someone with comparable standing, we want to know whether it's a good investment.

"I don't know if $200,000 is the correct figure. That's something I want to find out."
And if that wasn't enough...

"He is maybe not as well known for his golf as he is for his words ever since he said Tiger was vulnerable (in June)," Appleby continued.

"The thing about Rory is that he has not based his career purely on golf equipment. He's a really streaky player and maybe he needs his golf to speak louder than his words.

"I'm not sure that should be the type of player we are looking for. They've had John Daly there before. What do we want: a talented golfer or a loose cannon?"


TPC Las Colinas Update

An unbylined Dallas Morning News story looks at the TPC Las Colinas redo by D.A. Weibring, with plenty of insights into the project. Most interesting of all is this note, which would seem to indicate that the PGA Tour is taking its architecture seriously these days.

 PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem stamped his approval on the project's status last week after touring the facility with Henry Hughes, the Tour's chief of operations. Officials from EDS, Four Seasons and the Salesmanship Club also gave a thumbs-up.



Gulbis Not Ready To Start Dressing Like Juli Inkster Yet

Craig Dolch asked Natalie Gulbis whether the shocking news of her rebranding was really true. Gulbis thankfully assures us that she will continue to show as much as humanly possible without revealing her most private parts and that news of her "rebranding" was premature.

“That’s not true at all,” she said of a story that originally appeared last week in the Richmond Times-Dispatch. “I haven’t tried to tweak my image at all. I’ve been proud of everything I’ve come up with.”

Gulbis said what happened is a PR person for a Richmond-based branding agency that produces her calendar, Circle C Studios, overstepped her boundaries when she said Gulbis was trying to downplay her sexy image.


“My calendar is a lot of different shots,” she said. “It’s a golf calender (with) no glamour shots. We’re just trying to do something different. You can’t do the same pictures every time.”

Oh I don't know about that. Looking tan in a skimpy bikini?


2007 PGA Tour Final Driving Distance Numbers

pgatour.jpgTyped too soon. Two weeks ago I pointed out that the driving distance average was finally going to top the 290 mark, but as that lovely state is prone to do, Florida messed things up.

The final 2007 PGA Tour driving distance average landed at 289.1, compared to 2006's 289.3.

In 2007, 18 players averaged over 300 yards, while 20 players averaged over 300 in 2006.

This season saw 26 drives over 400 yards and, courtesy of the stat gurus in Ponte Vedra, we know there were 1748 of 350 yards or longer.

In 2006, there were 30 over-400 tee shots and 2,183 drives of 350 or more.

Now before our friends at the USGA start patting themselves on the back, let's remember a few things.

The premise of a U-groove ban says that players will throttle back to hit more fairways because V-grooves won't save them from the rough. But if their driving distance average is flat lining, it's hard to make the case that this is really necessary. But there's still that pesky Statement of Principles authored when the guys were 10 yards shorter on average, though one probley, they also had U-grooves back in 2002. Why weren't guys flogging it back then?


"When completed, it will be one of the finest of its kind anywhere in the world."

medium_trump.jpgJudy DeHaven reports that The Donald is going to build another self-proclaimed masterpiece in New Jersey, but someone needs to tell him to stop using Gary Player's line to describe courses he hates. Thanks to reader Tom for this:

Real estate developer and casino boss Donald Trump said today he has inked a deal to rescue the troubled Encap development project in the Meadowlands.

Trump will now hire a master developer, but he said he already envisions a world-class golf course designed by golf course architect Tom Fazio - akin to the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster - as well as residential housing, open space and perhaps a hotel.

"I look forward to working on the development," Trump said this afternoon, hours after signing the agreement. "When completed, it will be one of the finest of its kind anywhere in the world."

Finest of its kind? The Donald is getting sloppy!