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Books
  • 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
  • The Forbidden Game: Golf and the Chinese Dream
    The Forbidden Game: Golf and the Chinese Dream
    by Dan Washburn
  • The Early Days of Pinehurst
    The Early Days of Pinehurst
    by Chris Buie
  • 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
  • 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
  • His Ownself: A Semi-Memoir
    His Ownself: A Semi-Memoir
    by Dan Jenkins
Classics
  • 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

The golfer who does not take himself a caddie at St. Andrews denies himself the wine of the country. HERBERT WARREN WIND

 

    

Tuesday
Apr032007

Wednesday's Masters Clippings

masterslogo.gifArnold's kicking off the festivities Thursday, restoring one of the great traditions.

The pairings and tee times are announced.

Scott Michaux wonders about golf history that might have been.

Troy Matteson is doing a Masters diary and says it took three hours to play the front nine Tuesday.

John Hawkins only injects himself into the equation at select times in a nice breakdown of the likely runner-ups to Tiger Masters contenders.

Damon Hack profiles Augusta's hometown favorite, Charles Howell.

Tuesday
Apr032007

"ARNOLD PALMER: Who gives a shit? (Laughter). If you can't win, it doesn't matter. That's s-h-i-t."

Palmer's session was by far the most fun...

Q. Gary Player is going to tie your record this week for most Masters played. He's talking about breaking it next year. What are your thoughts just about that?

ARNOLD PALMER: Well, if he isn't embarrassed, I won't be embarrassed for him. (Laughter).

Q. Just your thoughts about the rivalry.

ARNOLD PALMER: No, we're good friends. He just wants to do one better, and that's fine. I'm for him. But he can't touch my record. He hasn't even come close to it. And you don't know why, though, do you? He missed a year. So that's the end of that. (Laughter).

Q. He's in pretty good shape.

ARNOLD PALMER: What does that mean? Are you saying I'm not in pretty good shape?

Q. Maybe he has like 30 more years left or so.

ARNOLD PALMER: Who gives a shit? (Laughter). If you can't win, it doesn't matter. That's s-h-i-t. (Laughter). Hey, he's my friend and I love him. I can also have fun with him, too.

And for your rally killer of the year consideration:

 Q. Mr. Palmer, the course has changed quite a bit in the last ten years, and everyone is crediting it to Tiger, and the game has changed. Do you believe that one person could change the game so much?

 

Tuesday
Apr032007

Mickelson's Pre-Masters Press Conference

masterslogo.gifA little more fun from the defending champion's sit down. First, the two driver deal:

Q. Will you take the two-driver approach this year?

PHIL MICKELSON: I will. I have been working on the second driver, which is a longer driver, and I plan on using it a reasonable amount. It's also the square-headed driver that I've been working with. So I'll have two different drivers, yes.

Q. Before I ask the main one, the square-headed driver you're going to use for what kind of ball flight?

PHIL MICKELSON: It will be a lot higher. I talked about draws and fades, and so forth. It's more -- a better way to relate to be a driver and a 2-wood because one of them, the longer driver, the square one goes 20 yards longer than my regular one.

So when I need distance, I use the square one. And when I try to hit little low shots or work it around the trees on 10 or 13, I'll use the regular-shaped driver.
And...

 

Q. Just as a refresher, what will you be eliminating in your bag and will that change from day-to-day?
PHIL MICKELSON: I'm taking out a sand wedge. I've played here three or four years without a sand wedge and I have not needed it once. Since the course has been lengthened, I don't ever need a sand wedge. Par 4s are long enough where I have to hit 8 through wedge maybe or par 5s I'm able to reach or I have an L-wedge.

The other club, I'm going to add a 64-degree wedge, which means I'll have to take out another club and I'll take out a 3-wood. There really are not any 3-wood holes for me, and the only time I would need it would be the second shot into 8, and I prefer to cut a driver, one of the two drivers, the FT-5 off the deck and hit a cut shot into that green.

And the fun part...

Q. Talking about the greens, no matter where you go, it seems all greens are compared to Augusta's. What are some of the nuances that make this place so special and so unique on the greens?

PHIL MICKELSON: They never get spiked up. You don't ever see spike marks at Augusta National. (Laughter). I would say that, you know, four or five feet from the hole whether or not it's going in. The ball tracks perfectly. I would say that the statistics of 5-footers at Augusta National made are the same as, statistically, as 3-footers on the PGA TOUR because the greens are so perfect that you should be able to make a number of short putts. That being said, they are so fast that oftentimes you have 10- to 60-foot come-back putts, and that's not that uncommon.

And...

Q. Sticking with the green jacket theme, what did it feel like two years ago to help him put on the jacket?

PHIL MICKELSON: I don't know, but I remember what it felt like last year when he put it on me. (Laughter).


Tuesday
Apr032007

Tiger's Pre-Masters Press Conference

1.jpgWay too many dog, fatherhood and 1997 questions, but a few things of interest related to the matter at hand, starting with the fiery greens:

Q. You talk a little about the greens here. It seems universally all greens are compared to Augusta greens. Do you think they are the toughest, or is it the nuances --

TIGER WOODS: Are they the toughest I've ever played? I haven't played Oakmont; everyone says Oakmont rivals this, but I haven't played there yet. This course, the amount of break you have to play and the creativity you have to use when you read putts, it's different from anything you ever have played. You may try and practice at home and you may try to do other things. But you get here, you just don't find slopes this speed. You try as best you can to get greens at home or putt on your kitchen floor or whatever it may be. But nothing really prepares you for a ball, especially when it's dry like this right now, how much the ball rolls out. You hit a good putt, oh, that's a good putt. You think it's going to be a foot or two past the hole and all of a sudden it rolls out to three, four, five feet; wait a minute.
That happens quite a bit. And if you get a little wind out here that same putt can go six, seven, eight feet by; Augusta wind. That makes it so difficult and if you hit it in the wrong spots, it's an automatic 3-putt unless you make a 15- or 20-footer, because sometimes that's the best you can do.

The best of the 1997 questions:

Q. In the ten years since you've won here, there have been so many changes, not only here on the Tour, the technology, the money, the TV, a lot of it is brought on by you. Could you have ever envisioned that when you were starting? I know your dad talked about things like that happening, but could you have ever envisioned that? And as a guy who likes challenges, do you prefer that there are these changes, or would you just have been happy to leave things as they were?

TIGER WOODS: Well, would I have ever foreseen it happening? No. I would never have foreseen the changes that they made, not only in this event alone. I was joking about it the other week, when I played Davis in a playoff in '96 to win in Vegas, Davis was using a Persimmon driver. That's amazing how the game has changed in 11 years.

It just -- every driver was 43 and a half inches, steel was standard, wound balls. Now everything is 45 inches and plus. Heads have obviously grown gynormously. There is no wound ball out here anymore.

The game has certainly changed. If we played the same golf course now with the technology, the scores would be ridiculous, because you would have short irons into just about every par 5. Most of the holes, you could drive it with a wedge on most of the par 4 and the only defense it would have if the weather turned bad. If the weather was perfect for all four days, guys would have probably broken my record easily.

Q. Do you realize that you are responsible for most of these things as much as the technology -- most of that can be funneled back to your appearance on the Tour?

TIGER WOODS: I guess it's all my fault, huh. (Laughter). 

Tuesday
Apr032007

"Year Later, Augusta National changes no longer blasted"

masterslogo.gifWhat was it Colbert said recently about the USA Today? Oh right, it's a "Denny's placemat, with news."

Anyway menu writer Jerry Potter has won this site's inaugural Hootie Johnson Trophy for pre-Google-mail-it-in-journalism, which goes to the golf scribe most willing to write anything that keeps their primo Masters press room seat.

You may recall that I wondered early in the week if anyone would still defend the silly tree planting and even sillier rough despite criticism from some pretty big names.  Reader Michael spotted this peach.

Here's the headline and link to the award winner: Year later, Augusta National changes no longer blasted.

A year ago Gary Player was one of the most severe critics of the changes made to Augusta National.

Monday, three days before his 50th Masters, he's quoting Winston Churchill and praising the wisdom the club used in lengthening the course to 7,445 yards, 155 yards more than in 2005 and 560 yards longer than in 2001.

"Winston Churchill so aptly said, 'Change is the price of survival,' " Player says, noting that golfers of the future will be bigger and stronger. "(Augusta National has) done a brilliant job. The guys are hitting exactly the same clubs now that we used to hit to the greens."

Here's the best part:

A year after Phil Mickelson won The Masters at 7 under par, there are no more claims that golf's cathedral has been disgraced, that only the long hitters in the field can win, that it's not the same golf course Bobby Jones built and the place where the greats of the game earned victories.

7-under won. All is well with the world. Wow, deep!

This is beautiful. Geoff Ogilvy is used to verify that the changes are good. Yes, the same guy who eloquently criticized it just a few days ago.

"People get uncomfortable with change," U.S. Open champion Geoff Ogilvy says. "It's a perfectly fair golf course. If you're below the hole on your approach shots, it's perfectly fair. If you're above the hole, it's completely unfair. But it's your fault if you're above the hole."

The short game — pitching, chipping and putting — always has been key to winning The Master. Five of the last six tournaments have been won by Mickelson and Tiger Woods, masters of the short game.

"Length off the tee is a bonus," Ogilvy says, "but it's not the be-all and end-all. You have to have a great short game, too."

It rambles on from there, but of course to say that the criticism has ended is surprising considering the person who has won the most Masters ever just signed off on a commentary blasting the changes.

Tuesday
Apr032007

Masters Photo Caption Fun, Vol. 2

This ought to be fun...from golf.com: apr3_elsplayer_468x600.jpg

Tuesday
Apr032007

Questions For Billy Payne

masterslogo.gifBilly Payne faces the all-star cast of softball-hurling scribblers and inkslingers for Wednesday's annual chairman Q&A. While he won't flip his lid like Hootie was prone to do, Payne should at least have to earn his pay. Oh wait, he's not paid. Well, they should still ask him a few questions beyond the expected (will you restore exempt status for PGA Tour event winners, will Arnold Palmer be the honorary starter, when are you going to 18-hole TV coverage every year, yada, yada, yada...).

Here are mine. Please feel free to add yours below in the comments section.

  • The USGA claims to have proof that with today's grooves, players can spin the ball more out of the light rough than they can from fairway lies. Therefore, don't you have an obligation to remove the "second cut" if it's an advantage to approach from there?

  • Will the Masters telecasts ever be the same without Bobby Clampett at Amen Corner?
  • Do you feel that tree planting in spots intended as landing areas by Bobby Jones and Alister MacKenzie infringes upon the integrity of their design? If so, does that matter?
  • Has Richie Ramsay officially committed to the event?
  • Have you considered giving a percentage of tickets to overseas patrons? 
  • Can you explain the strategy that club envisions behind today's 11th hole and how that is consistent with the original design?
  • With apologies to Colbert. Hootie Johnson. Great chairman or the greatest chairman?
Tuesday
Apr032007

"We have Phil Simms at the Super Bowl"

masterslogo.gifScott Michaux profiles Nick Faldo's debut in the Masters booth:

"I mean, I actually love Augusta," he said. "Gosh, it's a Picasso. It's a bloomin' Rembrandt. It's a Mona, isn't it? I took friends who are not golfers last year who've never been and said, 'It's like a work of art, isn't it?' And they said, 'You're right. It's absolutely unbelievable. What a place.'

"Yes, you could get a bit harsh at the odd hole or this and that, but crumbs if you don't like the odd tree."

Ultimately, CBS and Faldo both understand what he brings to the booth: the perspective of a three-time Masters champion. They crave his insights on the course and his empathy for what the competitors are going through.

"We have Phil Simms at the Super Bowl," Barrow said of the former New York Giants quarterback turned CBS analyst. "Phil Simms knows what it's like to go down that tunnel. He knows what it's like to be a part of that game. He knows what it's like to win the Super Bowl. That's what Nick brings to the Masters."

Let's hope he brings a LOT more to the booth than Phil Simms!

Monday
Apr022007

Masters Tuesday Clippings**

masterslogo.gifWell you know it's a slow day when the scribblers are grilling Geoff Ogilvy over the gold shoes he's going to be wearing, Golfweek's on-site blog covers just how little was happening and AP sends out a story on Gary Player's quest to get American's in shape.

But hey, a CBS free lance tech guy tried to rob a bank, so it wasn't entirely dull.

Worth your time is Steve Elling's take on why the Masters is the easiest major to win. Even if you don't entirely agree with you, the story might give you some good thoughts on who to pick this week, not that any of you engage in that illicit gambling.

Monday
Apr022007

TiVo Alert: Robin On Jeopardy

This is for the scribblers and everyone else not attending the Champions Dinner: Brenner-Zwikel PR's Brian Robin, a familiar face at several major tournaments, makes his Jeopardy debut tonight, April 3rd. Check your local listings!

Monday
Apr022007

Trees Have A Habit Of Growing...

I remember walking Augusta in October of 2003 and noticing that not only would the new trees between 15 and 17 look silly and trample all over Jones and MacKenzie's vision, but based on the planting locations, it appeared that no one considered what would happen when the trees actually...grew!

Well, here we are four years and Lord knows how many man-hours spent handwatering them, and the pines have grown.

Imagine what they'll be like in another four years.

augusta15_17above.jpg augusta15_16.jpg

Monday
Apr022007

2011 President's Cup To Melboune...But What Course?

presidents cup.jpgTo the readers in Australia, tell us where it should be played if Royal Melbourne is not the course...

The Presidents Cup to Return to Australia in 2011

(PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla.) — PGA TOUR Commissioner Tim Finchem today announced that the ninth staging of The Presidents Cup will be contested November 14-20, 2011, in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. Melbourne becomes the first city outside of the United States to host the prestigious match-play competition more than once, as the 1998 event was held at Royal Melbourne Golf Club. The host course for the 2011 Presidents Cup is expected to be named by the end of 2007.

“We are thrilled to be bringing The Presidents Cup back to Melbourne in 2011,” said Finchem. “Every player, fan and TOUR staff member who either attended or watched the 1998 Presidents Cup still vividly remembers the incredibly warm welcome extended to the participants and the first-class atmosphere Melbourne created. Melbourne’s government and citizens staged a superb competition then, and we are confident they will only exceed expectations when we return in four years. I know the world’s best golfers will look forward to another trip down under for this thrilling competition.”

The Presidents Cup, a team match-play competition featuring 24 of the world’s top golfers – 12 from the United States and 12 from around the world, excluding Europe – is held every two years, and since 1996 has alternated between United States and international venues. The Presidents Cup was developed to give the world's best non-European players an opportunity to compete in international team match-play competition. The U.S. Team has won four of the six previous Presidents Cups, and the only outright win by the International Team came at the 1998 event in Melbourne. The 2003 Presidents Cup ended in a tie.

“We are delighted to have secured the return of The Presidents Cup to Melbourne in 2011,” said Ben Sellenger, Chief Executive Officer, PGA TOUR of Australasia. “The impact of Australian players has been felt on golf tours around the world, and the staging of this prestigious event on the world renowned sand belt in Melbourne is a further reflection of the strength of our country in world golf. After a hugely successful Presidents Cup here in 1998, there is little doubt the excitement and anticipation for this event will build exponentially over the next four years, and the PGA TOUR of Australasia looks forward to fully supporting the return of The Presidents Cup in 2011 and continuing to bring world class golf to the Australian sporting public.”

 

Monday
Apr022007

Masters Photo Caption Help, Vol. 1

Monday
Apr022007

Comparing The Competition

Daniel Wexler takes on the tricky task of comparing the quality of Tiger's primary competition vs. Jack's in an ESPN.com piece.

I thought this was interesting from Al Barkow:
 "The players giving Tiger his competition are just as good as those who Jack faced in terms of pure talent, but they don't have the heart, the guts, the tenacity, maybe even the sense of pride that the [Tom] Watsons and [Lee] Trevinos had."

Why, one wonders, would such things be lacking?

"It has to do with money," Barkow continues, "although no one likes to say that. But today's players are so rich they don't have the real need for money the previous generation had, and are also so incredibly pampered and spoiled from the day they took up the game that they don't know how to respond to the dominant player. Watson, Trevino et al, gave Jack a good go and took him a few times head-to-head. I can't see anyone out there today giving Tiger that sort of competition. They don't need to."
Monday
Apr022007

Brand With A Capital B

Get your MBA bingo boards out. From the PGA Tour: 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 2, 2007

Bridgestone Firestone North American Tire Enters
Marketing Partnership With PGA TOUR

Becomes “Official Tire of the PGA TOUR and Champions Tour”

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla., and NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The PGA TOUR and Bridgestone Firestone North American Tire, LLC (BFNT), have entered into a three-year official marketing partnership, whereby the Bridgestone brand receives exclusive designation as the “Official Tire of the PGA TOUR and Champions Tour.”

BFNT plans to leverage its new affiliation with the TOUR through an integrated, multi-media marketing campaign based on the theme “Improve Your Drive.” This includes short instructional videos featuring Bridgestone PGA TOUR players Matt Kuchar, Will MacKenzie, Brandt Snedeker and Kevin Stadler that will appear on PGATOUR.com and provide golf tips on how to Improve Your Drive on the golf course.

“We are extremely pleased that BFNT, whose parent company is the current sponsor of the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational, is broadening its relationship with the PGA TOUR by becoming an official marketing partner through Bridgestone Tires,” said Tom Wade, Chief Marketing Officer for the PGA TOUR. “Bridgestone is a great brand that plans to aggressively activate this new platform, which only helps extend the PGA TOUR brand.”

BFNT will also have an on-site component at select PGA TOUR events to help fans improve their drive on the road and on the fairway. The Improve Your Drive expo will feature the Bridgestone Golf Ball Fitting Challenge as well as display Bridgestone SUV/truck, sedan and performance tires. While fans are waiting their turn to find out which ball is best for their golf game, they can learn which Bridgestone tire is best for their vehicle. Along with informational displays featuring the tires, a video monitor will alternate showing golf tips from Bridgestone PGA TOUR players and the new “It’s Bridgestone or Nothing” commercials and test-track footage. Brand ambassadors will be on-site to distribute literature and answer fans’ questions.

Finally, BFNT will feature its brand advertising in golf-themed media outlets, including commercial advertising on CBS and GOLF CHANNEL and print advertising within golf publications such as Golf Digest and Golf World.

“We are thrilled to partner with the PGA TOUR,” said Phil Pacsi, Vice President of Consumer Tire Marketing. “The PGA TOUR and its fan base are a perfect fit for the Bridgestone Brand, and we look forward to sharing our exciting ‘It’s Bridgestone or Nothing’ campaign with them.”
Monday
Apr022007

More Payne

masterslogo.gifWho didn't Billy Payne talk to leading up to this year's Masters?

First, Tim Carroll in the Wall Street Journal poses some great questions to the new chairman (thanks to reader John for the link).

THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: Is it fair that your predecessor, Hootie Johnson, is going to be known forever as the man who wouldn't let women into Augusta National?

MR. PAYNE: No, I don't think so. I'm thinking he's going to be remembered principally as a man who took on the very significant challenges to our wonderful golf course caused by the advances in distance that were a consequence of some advances in technology. He took some very bold steps in order to ensure that our course kept its competitive nature, notwithstanding the fact that the average driving distance since the founding of our tournament is up some 70 yards.

Notice Mr. Payne never says anything about the guys being better athletes. Get this man the talking points!

WSJ: One of the changes outside Augusta National is technology. For a long time, it was the ball. Augusta National threatened to impose a tournament ball, something that Ohio did for some of its statewide events. Lately, the USGA and the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews seem to be focusing on club-face grooves. Do you feel as if you're in some sort of nuclear arms race against the ball and club makers? Is an Augusta ball still a possibility? How about Augusta clubs?
MR. PAYNE: We will take whatever steps are necessary to ensure the competitiveness of our golf course against the challenges of these great and very talented players and against equipment changes which allow them to hit the ball farther and to spin the ball more. As a consequence, I think we remain diligent as we measure and look at those kinds of increases and those kinds of challenges to our course. But last year, as you recall, one of the tour's longest hitters was the winner [Phil Mickelson], and a close second was one of the tour's shortest hitters in Tim Clark. So we felt that that was demonstrative that the course was a fair challenge to players of all lengths. So, we think we got it about right now....

We are encouraged by the fact that the regulatory governing bodies, both the Tour and the USGA and R&A, are themselves looking at ways to either diminish the increases in length and/or to affect the spin of the ball. All of which has an indirect consequence of making folks not want to just hit it as far as they can whether or not it goes into the rough.

So again I ask. If the guys are spinning it more out of the rough than the fairway, as the USGA is claiming, then why not eliminate the rough?

Loved this question from Carroll:

WSJ: Another change this year is that Fred Ridley, a longtime USGA official, is setting up the golf course for the first time. In the past, Sunday hole locations have seemed to be in spots where amazing things could happen. Take the 16th hole: There were two holes-in-one in 2004 and Tiger Woods's jaw-dropping chip-in for birdie two years ago when he used the green's ridge as a backboard. The USGA seems to have different thoughts on how to set up a golf course. As viewers, can we expect to see the Sunday fireworks continue?

MR. PAYNE: It would be fair to say that the imprimatur you will see imprinted on the golf course, the final Sunday and especially on the second nine, will be as you have seen it traditionally at Augusta. We hope [the setup] will allow those fireworks that you refer to continue. Because that's what people want to see. I think that's the way the players prefer it as well.

In the LA Times, Thomas Bonk profiles Payne and offers this:

Payne said Johnson could not have done a better job.

"He is a dear friend of mine and I would rate his performance a 10. I thought he faced the issue of technology threatening our course and dealt with it decisively, properly and in the best interests of our tournament.

"Equally as important, he was much aware of the importance of Augusta National and the preservations of our traditions and its place in the game of golf."

A 10? I know, I know, he has to say this stuff.

The work on the course for this year is complete, with only minor changes, including adding to the front of the 11th and 15th tees and changing the cut line on the right side of the 11th fairway.

"Hopefully, for the duration of my turn, we would not need to resort to any substantive changes," Payne said.

"Given the way the relative field competed … absent continued technological advances, it seems to me we should have it right for quite a while. I will caveat that by saying we don't take any option off the table when it comes to preserving the integrity of this course."

I like that caveat, assuming Payne recognizes that the rough and tree planting are impacting the integrity of the Jones/MacKenzie vision. 

Monday
Apr022007

Golfdom Podcast

My chat with Golfdom editor Larry Aylward about this year's Masters...here's the link (the embedded player was causing technical problems.) Gabcast! Shackelford on Augusta #1

Monday
Apr022007

Palmer On Thursday?

Scott Michaux writing in the Chronicle about Augusta the museum piece, dropped this bit today:
There are golf museums in other prominent corners of the world, but none comes to life like Augusta National. And it's open to the public only one week a year.

This is why Arnold Palmer will probably step to the first tee Thursday morning for a ceremonial tee shot that will provide as much of a thrill as whoever drains the winning putt come Sunday evening.
Sunday
Apr012007

Above Augusta, No. 11 Then and Now

Reader Andrew suggested on another post that we check out Google Earth's Augusta National images for an eye-opening look at the recent changes. The Google photos appear to have been taken in 2005 before last year's horrific new grove on No. 11 debuted, but after the decision had been made to force tee shots down the left side. (I still say this is the easier side to approach the green since you are hitting over and away from the worst trouble...)

Anyway, here are the now and then views courtesy of Google Earth and Golf Digest's recently posted photos:

augusta10_11.jpgaugusta11above.jpg 

Sunday
Apr012007

Media Watch: Praising Change

masterslogo.gifIn recent years we've been subjected to plenty of stories praising the tree planting, rough and other shenanigans at Augusta National. Now that Hootie's gone, it will be interesting to see if any scribblers try to tell us that the new "premium on accuracy" is all that it's been cracked up to be. Remember, for the last few years we've heard that we need to see the course fast and firm to judge whether the lengthening, tacky tree planting or ridiculous rough could be considered an improvement.

The lengthening perhaps, but that the soft conditions exposed that the course lacked elasticity, leading to additions to the 11th and 15th tees this year (again, that should have been anticipated by the architect). 

But more important is the notion that there has been so much criticism of the changes. As Geoff Ogilvy noted in John Huggan's Sunday piece:

...for 60 years not a bad word was said about the place and for the last five a lot of very important people have been very critical.

Does this onslaught (and the likelihood that we'll read few pieces praising the rough and trees) speak to just how awful the changes have been?

Or is it more of a statement about how much Hootie Johnson was feared and disliked?

Or a bit of both?