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Links they may be worthily called, for the golf at Royal Porthcawl is the genuine thing—the sea in sight all of the time, and the most noble bunkers. True to its national character, the course also boasts of stone walls.   BERNARD DARWIN



Points Bickering

Reader Jay noticed this David Poole (Charlotte Observer) rant about the messy Nextel Cup points situation, and it's hard not to imagine reading similar diatribes about the FedEx Cup by...October?

Actually, will anyone care? 


Uh Phil, What Do You Think About An Instruction Spread On...

...recovery shots?

You have to give someone at Golf Digest credit for having the juevos to ask Phil Mickelson to do a significant spread on recovery shots before we even get to relive the 2006 U.S. Open theatrics.

Thanks to reader Steve for noticing this.  


Reinventing The Country Club

Thanks to reader Jonathan for this excellent unbylined piece on the future of the modern country club in the Mid-Atlantic region and in America.


The Standing O...

Now, I love Tadd Fujikawa and it was great to see the fans so energized by his Sony Open performance.

However, did you catch the moment when he arrives at 18 and The Golf Channel's GOLF CHANNEL's Kelly Tilghman and Nick Faldo join the standing ovation and GC (just a bit too quickly) cuts to the shot of them standing and clapping for Fujikawa?

Did anyone else get a Broadcast News flashback?  

It's hard to imagine Faldo doing that without some instruction.

And needless to say, no major network would allow its announcers to be such homers.

So, was the GC "standing o" staged?  


No. 7 Named

Thanks to reader Tom for spotting this story on the naming contest winner of the newest course at St. Andrews, which received 4000 entries. I'll let you hit the link to find out the news.


Stats Page Change

Anyone notice what has been shifted from the main portion of the stats page to the lefthand column on the stats page? Reader Josh did!


Spin From Dawson

On the post of John Huggan's annual chat with R&A secretary Peter Dawson, reader John G posted something that I think needs further consideration since I glossed over it in the inital posting:

"We now see balls spinning more from 2in or 3in rough than they do when hit from the fairway."

I'm sorry, this quote just doesn't pass the smell test. I can't believe Huggan didn't pounce on this. Has anyone seen any research to confirm this kind of statement?

I would believe that spin rates from 2-3" rough could be similar, but not quite as good as from a normal fairway lie.

But BETTER spin rates from rough than from a nice tightly mown fairway?? C'mon. I'm not THAT gullible.

These guys are desperate to say anything to distract from the real issues.

So do you think the USGA/R&A will actually be able to prove that this has been the case (better spin rates from rough than fairway), and if so, does anyone buy it? 


"Marketing solutions to elevate their brand presence on our air beyond commercial units."

Shocking I know, but The Golf Channel GOLF CHANNEL has entered into a partnership that could call into question whether they might give favorable coverage to players with a certain affiliation. I know, I're stunned.

Anyway, get out your MBAspeak bingo boards...

GOLF CHANNEL PGA TOUR Platform Secures Major Partnerships with TaylorMade-adidas Golf and UBS

ORLANDO, Fla., (Jan. 13, 2007) -The GOLF CHANNEL recently has secured multi-year partnerships with TaylorMade-adidas Golf and UBS, which provides the opportunity for both companies to maximize early the GOLF CHANNEL'S 15-year programming platform with the PGA TOUR, as well as the growth of the network.  

Maximize early the 15-year programming platform? Anyone care to translate?

TaylorMade-adidas Golf will hold a significant position within PGA TOUR-related programming on the GOLF CHANNEL throughout the golf season, while also becoming the network's official golf apparel and footwear company.  The company's golf apparel will be worn on all GOLF CHANNEL live tournament telecasts and in-studio programming.

TaylorMade-adidas Golf also will become the exclusive equipment and apparel sponsor of Live From the U.S. Open, a part of the network's signature wrap-around news and analysis franchise.  And the company will hold a major media position throughout the golf season in PGA TOUR tournament programming - as well as in franchise programming such as Golf Central and Sprint Post Game - to provide complete access to their core customer base.

Franchise programming, as opposed to just programming. Does this mean we'll have the set littered with R7's?

"We're extremely gratified that we've been able to work with TaylorMade-adidas Golf to establish and entirely new partnership" said Gene Pizzolato, GOLF CHANNEL executive vice president of advertising sales and new media.  "The demand for PGA TOUR product on our air has been strong, and we are thrilled that we were able to provide our partner at TaylorMade-adidas marketing solutions to elevate their brand presence on our air beyond commercial units."

Wow, reading Pizzolato is like watching Picasso paint or Michelangelo sculpt. A true master of his medium.

Though I have to say, maybe I watched Scarface too much as a child, but something about the use of product just makes me think of that white powdery stuff Tony Montana was peddling.        


Dawson Speaks

John Huggan sits down for his annual gabfest with the R&A's Peter Dawson, who makes this stunning revelation:

"We always have a wonderful championship when the players like the golf course! And that is important. The reputation of the championship is everything, and something we must never let slip. Having good championships and fast running links is what we are about really."
Breathtaking I tell you. Uh, translation: Carnoustie was a disaster and we won't let it happen again.

Huggan asked if lawsuits were on the R&A's mind when it comes to running scared from the distance issue.
"We don't know how much a threat there is. None of the manufacturers have ever actually threatened to sue us if we change the rules on distance. So if it came to a crunch, I don't know whether they would sue or not. All I can say is that we have done all we can to create a non-litigious environment. And I can also say that even the possibility that they might sue has no effect on anything the R&A or the USGA do.

"I've never been in a meeting where that has been put on the table as a serious consideration."

See, they aren't afraid of manufacturers. They're afraid of acting, period. Big difference. One assumes an understandable fear of going to court, the other assumes a general indifference to the best interests of the sport.

Huggan asked how the pro game could be made more interesting via equipment regulation and Dawson broke into the groove nonsense.
"The biggest issue in front of us at the moment is the way the ball spins when hit from the rough. We now see balls spinning more from 2in or 3in rough than they do when hit from the fairway. That cannot go on.
God no, because rough is an integral part of setting up courses to keep scores "respectable" so that we are not embarrassed. 
"We are concerned at the lack of correlation between driving accuracy and success. One of the reasons players hit the ball so hard is that they can spin their approach shots from the rough. It doesn't matter to them where the drive finishes, within reason. So we need to restore the premium on driving accuracy and the differential in spin between fairway and rough.

Hey, how about regulating driver head size if you don't like them hitting it so hard? Oh no, that would make too much sense.

"We're not talking about people struggling to get the ball out of the rough; only that they should be struggling to control it from the longer grass. And to do that we have to come up with grooves that will create just that scenario. None of which will make any difference to the average player. Only for players of a certain standard does the combination of U-grooves and the modern, thin-covered ball allow the spin we want to remove.

"So, while any new rule would primarily affect the top end of the game, we could apply it universally, and not have it make any difference to the club golfer."

Except when their current clubs are ruled non-conforming Peter.

Huggan offers this:

Well, while this grooves thing does seem a little like giving a paper hankie to a pneumonia sufferer, it's at least a start. But I bet I'll be back in St Andrews for more of the same sort of chat next year.


Tadd Amazing

Doug Ferguson on 16-year-old Tadd Fujikawa and his Saturday 66.


What Purple and Orange Can Do For You

Reader Marty noticed this interesting new color scheme on the leaderboard. All part of life in the FedEx Cup!



Hannigan On Willie Mays

Don't miss Frank Hannigan's latest column on Willie Mays and his amateur reinstatement.


"We work for the greater glory of IMG."

IMG head Teddy Forstmann sits down for a New York Times story by Richard Sandomir, and displays great humility...

“I know God gave me an unusual brain,” he said. “I can’t deny that. I know that he did. I don’t think you could work harder than I’ve worked.”

Later, he said: “I have a God-given talent for seeing potential.”
This one's good too...
“I have a pretty good record of not being wrong too often,” he said.
This caught my eye...


To date, his three acquisitions have been modest: two television production houses, and Tennis Week magazine and its Web site, which puts IMG in the position of covering players it represents. It does the same with fashion magazines that chronicle some of its modeling clients.

Just what golf needs, an IMG house organ! Playing tunes like this...

"This is not a golf or tennis or media business. We work for the greater glory of IMG.”

Mercedes Ratings Put Medicus, LaLanne Infomercials To Shame

Unfortunately, according to a reader who gets Street and Smith's Sports Business Daily report, Golf Channel's four-round live coverage of the Mercedes Benz Championship averaged 370,728 households, down 44% from the event's four round average on ESPN last year.

The final round averaged a 505,129 households, down 49% from ESPN's 997,310 households in 2006.

Ty Votaw, The PGA Tour's Executive Vice President of Whatever Bob Combs Used To Be In Charge Of, issued this statement...

"Conclusions after only one event--and the first event--in this relationship are not terribly productive. We're pleased with what we achieved in that first event because they were consistent with our projections. 

So even if the numbers were lousy, our VP of Number Crunching got it right, so it's all good! 

We're on track with respect to where the Golf Channel is in distribution.

And that means? 

Production quality, energy levels of the commentators and the way they could personalize the players to a much greater degree were huge positives...

 Yeah those energy levels will pay the bills...

...if you compare what we've been able to achieve in this first week with the numbers in comparison to previous Golf Channel programming numbers, we're doing precisely what the Golf Channel has paid us to do: cause people to find the PGA Tour on the Golf Channel."

They are paying us to up their numbers.

Of course, the Tour's sponsors are also paying handsomely for certain numbers.


Golf Publication Circulation Numbers

I recently posted note on ad sales declines at the golf magazines but had failed to post on this fall's circulation numbers, as published in the various issues. Thankfully, Lorin Anderson has done so and noted the stunning number of free copies being mailed out by Golf Magazine. He also takes a look at Golf 20/20, 7 years into that grow the game initiative.

While Lorin attributes some of Golf's decline to the state of the game, I do think it's worth noting that it has undergone a major editorial shift since Jim Frank's departure. And I'm wondering why I pay for it when nearly 500,000 aren't!


Tampa Situation

Tim Finchem was asked last week about the sponsorship situation for Tampa's March event...

 Q. Speaking of sponsorship, why can't you find one for Tampa, and what's the status there?
COMMISSIONER TIM FINCHEM: I suspect we will, and we are in conversations with a sponsor right now, and we fully anticipate Tampa will be sponsored.

Q. By the time you get to the tournament?
COMMISSIONER TIM FINCHEM: We will have more to say about that in a couple of weeks.

Q. You can't tell us who it is?
COMMISSIONER TIM FINCHEM: That would be announcing it, and we're not prepared to announce it, no. (Laughter).

Bob Harig reports on that discussion today...
PGA Tour marketing executives lobbied Pinellas County tourism officials Wednesday for $4-million, funding they say is necessary to help secure the future of the local professional golf tournament beyond this year.

A presentation to the Tourist Development Council sought $2-million for this year's PGA event - formerly known as the Chrysler Championship - and another $2-million for 2008.

And the money quote...

Bill Foster, a St. Petersburg city councilman, brought up a point that is a factor at every PGA Tour event: Will all the best known players, the ones that draw the biggest crowds and TV audiences, show up.

"If you could assure us that Tiger (Woods), Phil (Mickelson), Vijay (Singh) and Ernie (Els) will be here..." he said.




Fred Couples, quoted in Thomas Bonk's L.A. Times piece today, talking about the FedEx Cup playoffs:

"Right now, I figure if I'm 40th on the money list or 80th on the money list or 144th on the money list, I get to play in the first FedEx Cup," he said. "Whoop-di-doo."

Now, will Couples receive a monetary fine, or a FedEx Cup point deduction for that criticism? 


Unintentional Temporary Site Redesign

No, that was not an intentional site redesign some of you witnessed overnight, but instead the product of yours truly wanting to see how one of the site host's new templates looked. Why it went live I have no idea. Example 4,592 why writers should stick to writing and stay out of web design.

In light of this debacle, I'm going to be posting a job offering later today. Just thinking out loud here, but VP of Web Intervals and Platform Coloration. MBA is a plus.


The History and Art of The Signature Hole

Jeff Silverman takes an entertaining look at the signature hole concept, with plenty of fun architect feedback.


"Synthesize new technologies and trends into impacts, opportunities, threats and ultimately, strategy."

Sounds like a job description at the Department of Homeland Security, right? Close! The PGA Tour, actually.

Reader Tom found some interesting positions opening up in Ponte Vedra, and I tell you, I'm polishing my resume as you read this. With my FedEx Cup messaging skills I just may have to say goodbye to the writing and course design world. Don't believe me?  Wouldn't you say I'd be a strong candidate for this one that lets you spend time with Ty Votaw or Bob Combs or some other VP:

POSITION OVERVIEW: Reporting to the Director of PR and Media Relations, this position is primarily responsible for development and implementation of the FedExCup messaging at each tournament site.


· Advise/counsel players regarding media opportunities.

I do that!

· Assist in development and implementation of weekly TOUR/FedExCup messaging.


· Pursue and develop story lines about our athletes and the FedExCup.

· Assist New York PR agency in telling story of our athletes and the FedExCup.

· Create “player personality” database.

Check, check, check.

· Compile advance story ideas for assigned tournaments.

Is that like propaganda for lazy writers and TV producers? That I'm not so good at.

· Focus on publicity efforts for upcoming events.

· Serve as PGA TOUR/FedExCup spokesmen in press conferences or radio/television interviews.

My calling!

· Serve as liaison between players and media and between PGA TOUR HQ staff and players.

· Provide media with background information and story ideas on players, FedExCup, officials, tournament, etc.

· Maximize publicity efforts for TOUR Marketing Partners.

· Handle special circumstances and requests from players, media, sponsors, or TOUR staff.

· Attend host broadcaster production meeting every week.

Would I get to bond with Bobby Clampett?


Education/Certification: Bachelors degree required, preferably in Communications, Journalism, Business Management or Marketing.

I knew that Communications degree from Pepperdine was good for something.

Experience: Must have a minimum of 3-5 years experience in Media Relations, Event Management, or Public Relations preferably in a professional golf environment.

Skill set requirements:

    * Strong Oral and Written Communication    

    * Relationship Building

My specialty!

    * Collaboration and Teamwork    

    * Creativity and Innovation

    * Judgement    

    * Negotiating

    * Networking

    * Political Savvy

Done deal!

Wait, there is also this one...

POSITION OVERVIEW: Serves as main point of contact at TOUR for a sub-set of TOUR’s Official Marketing Partner relationships – many of which with Fortune 500 corporations. Plays a leadership role in the management of a portfolio of relationships.

I've always wanted my own portfolio of sub-set relationships.

§ Has responsibility for management of a portfolio of relationships valued at $30 – $50M

§ Has responsibility for monitoring contractual elements to ensure they are fully executed by TOUR and Partner

§ Has responsibility for maximizing revenue to TOUR via media, tournament, network, player spending from assigned Marketing Partners and grow even beyond the contractual requirements

Because after all, this is a non-profit organization.

§ Responsible for renewing the Partner (or finding a suitable replacement)

§ Develops strong and positive relationships with portfolio of Marketing Partners with objective of attaining high sponsor satisfaction

§ Responsible for having a deep understanding of Partners’ businesses and industries

Key word: deep.

§ Works closely with client on development of PR, promotion, advertising and relationship-building plans to ensure Partner fully leverages its relationship with PGA TOUR

I think it's well established that I'm all about leveraging brands.

§ Works with assigned Partners to implement TOUR-themed advertising and promotion which is prominent and delivers strong brand-building value to TOUR

§ Responsible for strategically identifying TOUR initiatives that fit the Partners’ objectives and selling concepts in to Partners

§ Monitors portfolio of Partner relationships and ensures that TOUR touches all levels of management at Partner (from day-to-day to CEO) and guides interaction between TOUR and Partner senior management

§ Responds to various Partner requests quickly and thoroughly and provides excellent service

Would you get the CMO another gin and tonic please?

You know, maybe not. But wait, I think this next one screams me!

POSITION OVERVIEW: The Manager will work very closely with the New Media Director to spot marketplace trends, evaluate new business opportunities, manage existing syndication partnerships and help close new deals and renewals.


    * Renew and manage existing New Media partnerships.
    * Negotiate and close New Media deals in the U.S. and international markets.
    * Support analysis and create deliverables for larger partnership opportunities (e.g. RFP’s, presentations, models, draft of terms etc)

Hmmm...deliverables? Is creating a deliverable, like, you know, like, FedExing the Commissioner's broken wedge to Cleveland for overnight repair?

    * Research and evaluate new partnership opportunities -- investigate new ideas and prospects for validity, merits and potential.
    * Gather market research across the new media landscape, both U.S. and international – synthesize new technologies and trends into impacts, opportunities, threats and ultimately, strategy.

Ohhhhh!!! That's a winner. Synthesize new technologies and trends into impacts, opportunities, threats and ultimately, strategy. I think you get the job if you know what that means. Especially the threats part.

    * Develop and update monthly New Media newsletter summarizing trends and events that affect The Tour.

Ooops. That's TOUR, not The Tour. Sloppy branding I tell you!

    * Provide and assist with day-to-day communication with our strategic partner, Turner Sports Interactive. Help build network of contacts at TSI.


Education/Certification: BA/BS or equivalent required/MBA is a plus

Oh is it ever a plus.