The USGA's 2011 Herbert Warren Wind Book Award winner
Victory is everything. You can spend the money, but you can never spend the memories.
...John Daly broke his hand?
Thanks to reader Stu for the heads up on these lovely images of John Daly over at Deadspin.com.
Seeing these makes me think is was a good idea that big John skipped the Open Championship past champions dinner. Not his cup of tea.
Deadspin also posts on the Wendy's Three Tour Challenge and uses it as an excuse to post an epic photo of Christie Kerr kissing a trophy.
Just when you think it's safe to go out, up comes another rabblerousing, technophobic, anti-technology, oh, my favorite, ranting distance killjoy (and that didn't even come from a manufacturer!).
Mike Clayton writes about his recent retro round at Royal Melbourne with Geoff Ogilvy, and then writes about the distance issue. Thanks to readers Mark and Graeme for the heads up on this one.
There can only be one answer if pro golf is not going to descend into an increasingly unwatchable television spectacle played largely with drivers, wedges and putters.
But Mike, the ratings are down in all sports...well, wait, not the NFL and Nascar.
Jack Nicklaus has advocated a ball for amateurs and another for elite players. Administrators argue they don't want to create two games but that is what we have now.
A "newer and better" model comes out every year and there isn't a touring pro with a three wood or a driver more than a couple of seasons old.
Profit is the manufacturers' primary motive and certainly that comes before what traditionalists would argue is "the good of the game".
Ball makers care not a dot that the best courses are obsolete in the sense of playing the way the designers intended. Their aim is to produce a ball that flies further and straighter than their competitors.
There is nothing wrong with that but when the administrators dare suggest winding back the ball, there are howls of protest. They somehow seem to think it will reduce their profits, but unless golfers protest by giving up the game because the ball goes 15 metres shorter, how can it possibly do that?
Anyway, there should be a different ball for professionals. The greatest thing the manufacturers could do is produce a ball for average players that goes further. Golfers will hit the same number of shots they have always hit and they need a ball to do it with.
What is unconscionable is manufacturers threatening to sue administrators charged with custodianship of the game if they suggest putting a cap on equipment advances. There must be compromise and innovation but the game and great courses need strong advocates who will not be bullied by those bent on profit.
Mike, come on, didn't you get the message. It's the agronomy!
Don't miss the Golf World/Golf Digest staff's 10 best photos of the year. If the Steven Szurlej shot of Tiger's chip-in was a poster, I know I'd buy it. And the Wie-Pressel stare-down shot would make for a nice summer time image, you know, to chill an overheated room.
Thanks to reader Scott for the heads up on this Ventura County Star story on Lost Canyons potentially going private and developing the "Shadow Course" into high-end housing. This has been rumored for quite some time.
"I think there is a demand in the town for that kind of land use," said John McClure, a senior vice president with Hillwood Capital, the group that owns the club. "I think it would attract a different kind of client given the number of courses built in the area. We are trying to do something different for ourselves and the city."
As of now, the plan calls for 314 custom-built homes on what is now the Shadow Course, which sits toward the back of the 1,750-acre club.
Councilman Steve Sojka sees the good and bad of the proposal and wants the input of residents.
Having the type of exclusive housing that attracts chief executive officers is a boon to the city, Sojka said, but "taking away a public amenity now and making it private for the rich" bothers him.
"My concern is with the community and not the developer's bottom line," he said.
One of the elements I love about this blogging nonsense is the whole interactive concept. The comments on various posts have been great, but they never really catch fire as "discussions" because posts roll off the first page and into the archives.
In poking around Squarespace today (and yes, I just figured this out), I can offer discussion groups rather easily.
They have the added benefit of being on the first page all of the time, and appear quite easy to use. At the moment I'm not going to ask that people register, as the only trouble I've had with the comments came from bloggers subsidized by equipment manufacturers shilling for their team.
For now, I have one DG posted, Discussion Architecture. Other topics I may add include technology, rules, books and history. When the tournament season starts up again in a few weeks, I'll add a Tournament page.
Please feel free to comment here or on the Discussion Architecture page about this rivetting development. And thanks for checking in.
This went out to Golf Coaches Association of America members.
Dear GCAA Member:
SkyGolf, a proud new Corporate Partner of the Golf Coaches Association of America (GCAA), is extremely pleased that the SkyCaddie has been selected as the preferred GPS rangefinder of the GCAA. A full package of information on the SkyCaddie will be sent to you the first week in January, but we wanted to quickly provide you with some of its highlights and our special GCAA pricing program.
SkyGolf is the clear leader in 21st century rangefinders. At a mere 4.8 ounces, our handheld SkyCaddie provides more essential data than any other system and does so quickly and from anywhere on the golf course. The SkyCaddie requires no aiming or line-of-sight, can be used close to the green, works under all conditions and uses a WAAS enhanced GPS system that is accurate within one meter. The SkyCaddie will provide your players with the necessary distances to bunkers, water hazards, doglegs, lay up points on par fives and the front, back and center of the greens. Proven in competition on the Adams Tight Lies Tour in 2005, the SkyCaddie provides all the distance information one would expect from a top PGA Tour caddie and will help your players with their course management and practice routine.
We have established a special GCAA price of $299.95 per SkyCaddie unit, plus shipping, for your staff and team that includes five (5) years of unlimited access to the more than 8,000 courses worldwide that have already been professionally GPS-enabled by SkyGolf. This package has a total retail value of $649.95 per unit, plus shipping. There is no monthly charge.
The rapidly growing list of U.S. courses set up for full SkyCaddie use now numbers over 8,000 including 65 of Golf Digest’s 100 Greatest Public Courses, more than half the top resorts and many of the Greatest 100. A listing of these SkyCourses can be found at www.skygolfgps.com. If your home course has not been enabled for play with the SkyCaddie, we will help you obtain permission for that process, which costs the host course absolutely nothing and uses no ugly markers, reflectors or special flags.
If a particular course has not been professionally GPS-enabled by SkyGolf, a player can easily record the front, back and center of the greens on the SkyCaddie unit during their practice rounds. This simple process, which takes less than a minute per hole, will provide more information than any optical or laser rangefinder and do so instantly from anywhere on the course, even if the green is not visible.
SkyGolf is strongly committed to the future of college golf and we are confident that our product and service will have an important impact on both player performance and the pace of play. We will be happy to start the process of equipping your team with SkyCaddie units.
Please watch for your package and should you have any questions or wish to place an immediate order for mid January or February delivery, please contact me. I have provided my contact information below. I look forward to meeting you at the GCAA annual meeting in Daytona Beach. If you are planning to attend the 2006 PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando that week, please be sure to stop by our booth - #8101.
Director of Customer Support
and Special Programs
The prospect of forking out say, $2000 (for six devices, plus tax), may not sound like a lot. But to coaches at a majority of Division I schools, it's one more expense to add to the fundraising tab (and don't forget, in five years if SkyGolf is still uh, part of the marketplace, another bill will be coming).
It remains unclear to the coaches where exactly the NCAA stands on this for competition, but they believe the organization will allow them in NCAA events.
I'm trying to think back to the many times in college golf I waited for someone to compute a yardage. Not too often. Now, time spent waiting for someone to find a lost ball or wait for a green to clear or while someone lined up a putt? Pretty much all of the time.
So I'm still having trouble seeing how this would speed up play when all competitors are walking and doing their own yardage work.
Then again, I had a coach recently tell me that one of his players asked him what his yardage was from...oh about 40 yards out.
Bob Verdi asks and answers questions.
Did technology affect golf in 2005?
A tired theme, in our opinion. You can't legislate against progress. The big story in bowling, besides Asbaty, is the new scented ball. You can now collect the 7-10 split with an amaretto ball. In tennis, it was the introduction of a magnetic racket, which instantly returns to its original shape after you hit the ball and which doesn't smell like amaretto. Yet.
So, you're really not worried about emerging technology?
I worry about technology when I call my bank two blocks away to find out whether a check has cleared and the person who picks up the phone is in New Delhi.
Here was Verdi last year writing about the issue.
Meanwhile, the piece inspired me to to offer a similar question and answer session to myself.
Did technology really impact golf in 2005, or is everyone from Jack Nicklaus to Arnold Palmer to Greg Norman to Tiger Woods suggesting this just to get attention?
A tired theme, in our opinion. You can't ask golf writers to do anything but cover stars on the PGA Tour. I mean, who wants to write about something that requires thought, historical perspective, curiousity, a grasp of science and a concern for ramifications beyond the PGA Tour?
So you're not worried about emerging technology?
Why, I'm a blogger? I'm not the one whose publication arrives in the mail three weeks after the publication date...during the non-holiday season. Or the one who calls customer service to get some Canadian telling me that postal works must be reading my issues.
Isn't it great the club is hosting so many golf writers? After all, what else would I have to rant about? (Though I don't know if it even hit 66 degrees today...there is that).
Ron Green Jr. pens a slightly less press-release like column that Hootie will love.
For the third time in six years, Augusta National has undergone a dramatic renovation, continuing the perpetual pursuit of maintaining the rhythm and demands created by designers Bobby Jones and Alister Mackenzie.
What's with the rhythm references? When did Augusta National become Soul Train?
In 1932, Jones said this about Augusta National: "The perfect design should place a premium upon sound judgment as well as accurate striking, by rewarding the correct placing of each shot. Mere length is its own reward, but length without control ought to be punished."
Jones understood the game, its players and their equipment would evolve through the years, even if he didn't envision club heads the size of grapefruits and tee shots that routinely fly more than 300 yards.
Right. After all, how could he have envisioned that so many grown men would be so scared of upsetting someone's shopping rights, that they would jack around with his dream course just so that they wouldn't have to change a few rules to ensure that skill would reign supreme over hi-tech club fitting.
The changes have assured that the tough holes will remain difficult and erased any lingering perception that driving accuracy isn't critical at Augusta National. Long hitters still have a great advantage at Augusta National, but only if they can control their length.
Because Lord knows, that lingering perception served the tournament so poorly through the years, serving up all those lousy finishes and undeserving winners.
In all seriousness, let's go back to the Jones quote cited by Green. It's got to be part of the club talking points.
"The perfect design should place a premium upon sound judgment as well as accurate striking, by rewarding the correct placing of each shot. Mere length is its own reward, but length without control ought to be punished."
Look, I went to Pepperdine where thought is frowned upon and yet I can figure this out, so America's golf writers should be able to understand it too.
Rewarding the correct placing of each shot. This starts with fairway width in the Jones/MacKenzie strategic approach to course design. In trying to emulate the principles of the Old Course, they hoped players who adapted to the day's conditions and hole location would be significantly rewarded for thinking about and correctly placing their tee shot. The optimum angle would be the reward awaiting this wonderful combination and brains and accurately.
Bad placement, meant you couldn't attack a hole location or you had a more difficult approach shot.
But for this democratic principle to work, it had to start with width that set up options. Length with control would be rewarded. Length without control would be punished, assuming the ground was at all firm.
As outlined in this and other articles, the pinching of landing areas at 300-340 yards or the plugging of forest gaps appears designed to control the length of today's players. In other words, to force them to lay back. Big difference between that rather authoritarian mindset, versus the Jones-MacKenzie democratic/free market approach of allowing for length off the tee. (MacKenzie even advocated that holes widen out for longer tee shots.)
Narrowness designed to discourage the long drive eliminates the need for "sound judgment" and "correct placement" based on the day's hole location or conditions. It means there is only one way to play round after round.
Meaning that Augusta National is in grave danger of becoming precisely what Jones despised about golf in America:
Employing a comparison with our own best courses in America I have found that most of our courses, especially those inland, may be played correctly the same way round after round. The holes really are laid out scientifically; visibility is stressed; you can see what you have to do virtually all the time; and when once you learn how to do it, you can go right ahead, the next day, and the next day, and the day after that.
The Orlando Sentinel's Steve Elling pens another entertaining "knockdown shots" column.
News item: Tiger Woods says he will skip the PGA Tour's season-opening Mercedes Championships next month and won't begin the 2006 season until the Buick Invitational on Jan. 26. "I haven't had an offseason," Woods explained.
Knockdown shot: Let's recap, shall we? He signed contracts or received appearance fees estimated at $3 million to play in far-flung events in China and Japan, and elected to play in the 36-hole Skins Game and PGA Grand Slam, veritable exhibitions. The Target World Challenge, conducted last week, is Woods' own tournament. If the season is too long, as Woods has complained, whose fault is that?
What kind of hometown homerism is that?
News item: Those attending the LPGA's ADT Championship at Trump International in West Palm Beach are served bottled water featuring the personalized label of overexposed course owner Donald Trump.
Knockdown shot: At least the product, Trump Ice, is a fitting tribute. Like its millionaire namesake, it's completely transparent and lacks any real substance.
News item: Augusta National officials, in another attempt to stay ahead of the technology curve, again lengthen the course by stretching several key holes. "Augusta has changed," said club member Arnold Palmer, choosing his words carefully. "It isn't the same as I have known it all the years. Do I like it much? Again, like everything, when you make some changes to something you have known all your life, you have to get a little acclimated to it."
Knockdown shot: Palmer quickly added that he now plays solely from the regular member tees, by the way.
Shouldn't Arnold Palmer be able to say whatever he wants about Augusta National? Well, that tap dance still said a lot.
Don't count Ken Fidlin as part of the Tiger Woods-skipping-Mercedes apologensia...
Meanwhile, Phil has chimed in on why neither he nor Tiger can make it to dreary old Kapalua.
"I know it's difficult for Tiger, too, considering that he lives in Florida," said Mickelson.
He's right. The G5 might have to stop for refueling. The stress!
"When I've played there, it has kind of messed up my schedule and made it hard to get into the rhythm I want to start the year."
Oh, and here I was thinking he just wanted to spend more time with his family. At Kapalua.
Wait, that was last month.
Building a schedule around these two? Risky business.
My latest Golfobserver.com column reviewing books by Strege, Bamberger, Feherty and Santella is now posted. I know you've been counting the days.
Lots of year end review stories to pass on because Golf World's comprehensive look is the best. Some of their top 100 "newsmakers" can now be viewed online.
I'm not sure about the Presidents Cup making the top 5 (landing ahead of breakout stars Jason Gore and Paula Creamer), or the "streaks" listing at No. 9 (citing Dana Quigley's Champions Tour streak of events played!?). But the rest seem like solid choices and the write ups are good.
Tim Finchem will want to frame his recognition, as penned by John Hawkins:
Fifty years from now, the PGA Tour's 2007 schedule realignment might be considered a structural benchmark in the history of pro golf.
Or, maybe in fifty years few will remember Tim Finchem and his impactful schedule realignments.
This was the year Finchem addressed several of the tour's most relevant issues: mediocre television ratings, a 10-month season and the glaring shortage of significant tournaments at the end of every long campaign.
Well, let's get those deals inked first before we nominate him for the Nobel Peace Prize, or proclaim that the numbers are going up. Maybe if the actual, uh, product (Lord, please forgive me) becomes more interesting to watch by playing faster and hitting something besides a wedge into a long par-4.
For the avid golf fan, there is no downside to the schedule revision.
Tell that to the people in Chicago, Westchester, Milwaukee, upstate New York and other locations where events are moving off of longtime dates, or becoming second-tier events at best.
Mike Vitti at PGATour.com delivers the back nine of the Tour's toughest 18. Not exactly a course you'd want to play. And not because it's so hard. The holes played so tough because other than No. 18 at TPC Sawgrass, it's a rather boring group.
From Doug Ferguson's notes column:
STAT OF THE WEEK: Tiger Woods would have finished at No. 8 on the PGA Tour money list based on his earnings from the four major championships.
And at this pace, next year the majors will be the only...ah you know where I'm going with that.
Hey, but a power game with stars only playing select events worked so well for tennis.
Yes it's a slow week. Here's part 1, the back nine is posted tomorrow.
I'm sure George Thomas would be thrilled that his "restored" 8th at Riviera made the list. Imagine how tough No. 8 would be if it presented actual options that caused the players to think!
Thanks to reader Kevin for the heads up on this WSJ story (subscription req.) about Golf Magazine's attempts to diversify.
Basically, they've generated $163.9 million in ad revenue for the first 11 months of the year according to Publishers Information Bureau, but ad pages are off 11.7% while the rest of the industry is down 0.4%. So they are coming up with a $250,000 contest culminating in in two one-hour shows where advertisers will get to push their stuff on TV too. You know, a reverse cross-pollination of synchronized multi-pushbacked brand repurposing initiative.
But here's the interesting part, courtesy of TNS Media Intelligence:
Golf Magazine's top five advertisers of 2005, in millions
Callaway Golf: $8.62
Fortune Brands: $6.11
Honda Motor: $4.0
Nissan Motor: $3.93