It burns me up that with the billions of dollars spent on course construction in the past 50 years, all the architects together haven't been able to build another Royal Melbourne.
The East Hampton Star reports on Maidstone's plan to irrigate fairways, but even more depressing is Golfweek's Forecaddie reporting that USGA officials and Tom Fazio are going to soften three greens at Merion, including the 12th. (If the magnificent 5th is included in that group, it's a sad, sad day for golf but certainly not the first or last time the USGA will have had a hand in selfish and short-sighted architectural changes.)
Nice to see the Forecaddie (oh come on, this has Dr. Klein written all over it!) blasting away:
The forecaddie remembers that the course performed famously well during the 2005 US Amateur and figures that USGA officials just can't help tinkering with old courses, even when it means permanently compromising their character for the sake of one four-day event.
Someone at the GolfDigest editors blog answers a reader question about the possibility of a doctored photo.
Well, the question is never actually answered except that yes, it seems they ran a doctored image of Pine Valley that came from the club. It's not exactly going to rank up there with questions about say, the Lee Harvey Oswald rifle photo (oh boy, probably a bad example), but it's nonetheless an interesting issue in media circles and admirable that Golf Digest confronted it head on.
Ron Kroichick does no hide his disgust for the Board of Supervisors in reporting that a lousy $140,000 hang up could cost the city several PGA Tour events, including the President's
Say what you want about Harding Park and San Francisco's latest deal with the PGA Tour. Maybe you consider the Board of Supervisors short-sighted for fretting about $140,000. Or maybe you lament the legacy of Harding's budget-busting renovation, which will keep greens fees high whether or not Tiger Woods returns to the shores of Lake Merced.
Either way, know this: If the supervisors reject the revised agreement, the PGA Tour will stage a tournament on Mars before it comes back to Harding.
This saga vividly illustrates why few big-time golf events are held on municipal courses. In order to do so, tour officials are forced to wade through the thicket of local politics, seldom a pleasant exercise and an especially daunting journey in such a fractious city as San Francisco.
And that is perhaps the saddest bit in all of this, assuming the city blows this.
Kevin Brass files one of those strange New York Times pieces that tries so hard to be "balanced" that you come away wondering what the point of the whole affair was.
Apparently in this case, it's an elaborate attempt to say that most new courses are being built outside the U.S. and that some people think a name architect helps, others do not.
Glad the paper of record is so ahead of the curve.
"Odessa could be the new Bulgaria,” Mr. Hemstock said, referring to southwest Ukraine’s potential as a sunny second-home market.This would actually be funny if it were true...
Today, three-quarters of all golf courses planned or under construction are outside the United States, Britain and other traditional golf centers, according to industry estimates. With 17,000 courses already functioning in the United States, for example, the number of new 18-hole courses opening in the States fell to 119 in 2006 from a peak of 398 in 2000, according to the National Golf Foundation. Britain and Ireland are “among the most mature golf markets in Europe,” with more than 3,100 courses, according to a recent report by the Budapest office of KPMG Advisory, a consulting company.
This continuing growth of luxury residential and resort development around the world is feeding a high-stakes competition in the traditionally staid community of golf course designers, people in the industry say. Architects are increasingly trying to top one another with elaborate layouts and spectacular water elements, to woo homebuyers to international projects.
Somehow I don't think that's all the architect's doing.
And industry executives say that a well-known course architect can add more than 20 percent to the value of a development’s houses and jump-start a project.
“The name gives credibility to a development,” said Alan Mishkin, president of Abigail Properties, which is based in Phoenix and is building Las Palomas, a residential and golf project in Puerto Peñasco, Mex.. “Golf courses are not moneymakers,” he said. “They’re the sizzle on the steak” of residential developments.
Hey, if Vijay can get in, the voters figured these two charmers were overdue. Ryan Herrington reports...
First, I can't fathom why Smith, who's worked with Mickelson for a decade, has never shortened Mickelson's swing, which is sometimes as long and loose as John Daly's and routinely causes Mickelson to hit wildly off-line drives and long-iron shots. Second, Smith and Mickelson just seem too close. They are not only good friends but also partners in business ventures, and their families are close as well. Such a deep friendship is almost always the kiss of death to a teacher-player relationship because it prevents the instructor from being sufficiently blunt and critical.
The third-and biggest-problem is Smith's personality. He's simply too nice, which I think has caused him to be more or less a yes-man to Mickelson. Phil seems to be surrounded by people who too often have told him whatever he wants to hear rather than what he should hear. For that reason alone Mickelson dearly needs Harmon, who is an authority figure in the mold of Bob Knight.
"How do you charge $155 for a weekend round...without saying this is where Tiger has played and where Tiger is going to play?"
Buried in Ron Kroichick's story about the San Francisco City Council's supposed concern over having lost $140,000 during the WGC-Amex is this:
This issue arises at a time when city officials are grappling with how to reverse steady losses at their six municipal courses. They had hoped Harding's increased visibility would help pay for the course's extensive renovation in 2002 and 2003, which was projected to cost $16 million but ran more than $7 million over budget.
"A lot of people feel burned from 2002 and the way (the) whole Harding rebuild went down," Elsbernd said. "All sorts of promises were made, many of which didn't come true. I think there's a feeling of 'We don't want to touch anything to do with golf.'
"But no matter where we go with golf as a whole, we don't survive without the PGA Tour's presence. Honestly, how do you charge $155 for a weekend round (for out-of-towners) without saying this is where Tiger has played and where Tiger is going to play?"
Several writers have written about or noted Zach Johnson's faith in trying to find something interesting to say about the Masters Champion. Craig Dolch did it here and of course Dan Jenkins of all people celebrated it in his Golf Digest letter from Augusta.
Well Tom Witosky in the Des Moines Register files a thoughtful piece that starts out sounding like an extended version of the Zach-loves-Jesus theme, but then takes an intriguing turn by pointing out that there is only so much preaching some can take before it could backfire.
Johnson's mention of his Christian faith after winning the Masters on Easter Sunday has stirred discomfort among some believing the separation between church and sport should be as strong as between church and state.
"Religion and sport today has become a mutual exploitation society," said Ray Higgs, professor emeritus of English at East Tennessee State University.
At the same time, Johnson's profession sparked the imagination of those who believe sport and religion can be a positive, powerful combination.
And those who know Johnson, 31, say his faith is as much a part of him as is the ability to hit a five-iron within 10 feet of the cup.
"There is no pretense, no hidden agenda, no proselytizing" with Johnson, said Kay Bloom, his former theology teacher at Cedar Rapids Regis High School. "Ultimately, he is owning his faith and he simply shared it with everyone."
"It is really a fine line and you have to be careful from a marketing point of view," said Rick Horrow, a nationally known expert on sports marketing and professional athletics.
"Zach Johnson genuinely has to be himself, and that includes his strong faith," Horrow said. "But he has to watch out that people don't think he is preaching to them."
Chapman Clark, a professor at the Fuller Theological Seminary in California, said Johnson and those surrounding him will have to adjust to that reality quickly.
"My suggestion is that he get himself some sharp people to help him develop his message so that it doesn't come across as exploitative," Clark said.
Paging the LPGA's brand coach!
Higgs, the East Tennessee State professor emeritus, has written several books and articles on religion and sport, including "God in the Stadium: Sports and Religion in America."
He believes the potential tension involved in tying religion to sport has grown as American culture fixated on sports success - as opposed to sports excellence. The emphasis on winning, he said, has turned people away from the value of athletics to focus on victory and money.
"The truth of the matter is there is no correlation between victory and virtue," Higgs said.
Thanks to reader Chuck for noticing this note from Marty Parkes on the USGA blog plugging their new book of photographs from the archive:
And make sure you take the time to give a careful read to the book's final essay called "It's Not About the Ball" by our friend, Tom Friedman.
Yes, that Tom Friedman of “The New York Times,” who writes such great columns and books about humanity's most pressing problem. Fortunately for us, Tom is a golf nut who willingly shared some personal thoughts about what makes the game so special and how it has had an enduring impact upon his life. Let this book become a part of your life as well.
"It's Not About the Ball"?
Let's hope it's not what it sounds like it could be.
A wire story from reader Nick and LPGA Fan:
SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL’s Daniel Kaplan cites an LPGA tax return as showing that Commissioner Carolyn Bivens earned $238,872 in the last six months of ’05, her first months on the job, which means her pay “would come to almost $478,000 annually.” Bivens’ predecessor, Ty Votaw, earned $459,677 in ’04 and $300,000 in ’03 (SBJ, 4/9 issue)....
Larry Bohannan thinks the desert's much despised Classic Club was validated by the unplayability of Harbour Town. Thanks to reader Scott for this.
The criticisms ranged from just complaining that the host course of the Hope tournament, Classic Club was built in a wind tunnel to more-whispered talk that Classic Club might have to be dropped from the tournament altogether, even though the Hope tournament owns the golf course on the north side of Interstate 10 near Cook Street.
Of course it would be silly to think that Harbour Town would be dropped as a tour course because a bad year of wind canceled play for a day and had flagsticks whipping at a 45-degree angle.
No one is going to say a bad word about Augusta National. It was just a bad year of wind, the pundits will say.
Yet at the Hope this year, with Classic Club in its second year in the tournament, people were questioning everything. They ignored the solid design of the Classic Course, ignored the fact that it was windy and rainy at the other three Hope courses and ignored the fact that the week before and the week after the Hope this year, conditions at Classic Club were calm and near-ideal.
Wind can impact play anywhere anytime, whether it's the desert of California, the pines of Georgia or the seacoast of South Carolina. But the Hope has taken more than its share of grief over the same weather conditions that hit the Masters and the Heritage.
Uh, but the course still stinks!
The ultimate sign of a newspaper's pomposity comes in the form of these pious ombudsman columns where some very special and unbiased staff member opines on questionable moral or potential ethical issues related to a newspaper's favorite topic: itself!
Thanks to reader Noonan, we get to read the Washington Post's Deborah Howell analyzing whether Augusta housemates Len Shapiro, Thomas Boswell and John Feinstein should be in a Masters pool while writing about the event.
Yes, definitely a slow week for ethical lapses at the Post. Don't worry Deborah, Bob Woodward's writing another book!
Reader Bill Sullivan of the District raised the question after a blogger, Sean Jensen of AOL Sports, said he participated in a "high price" pool while covering the Masters golf tournament in Augusta, Ga., with renowned Post columnist Tom Boswell; Leonard Shapiro, a former Post staffer who covers golf on contract; and John Feinstein, a best-selling author and Post freelancer.
Sullivan called the pool "disturbing" and said it "would appear to be a deeply serious breach of journalism ethics," especially because "Boswell and Shapiro had criticized athletes for gambling because it has a corrupting influence on the sport.
"Do Post editors condone this sort of conduct -- particularly since the bets were placed on an event the reporters were covering for the paper? How much was wagered and how long has it been going on? How do the reporters justify their moral criticisms of others when they themselves engage in the same illegal behavior?"
The pool is a tradition going back about 25 years in a house rented by Boswell, Shapiro and other sportswriters who cover the Masters, Boswell said. Feinstein joined about 15 years ago. Jensen was the new guy in the house.
How'd he get roped into that house rental? Poor bastard...
The stakes were $50 apiece for five people. Boswell said there are "a bunch of silly categories and no one wins much." Shapiro was the big winner, with a total of $103 in three categories. Boswell won $16.67. Feinstein won nothing. "Except for a few horse races or a [personal] golf game, I've never bet on anything else in my life," Boswell said. Shapiro said the same.
Hey don't forget last year's over/under on how long it would take Christine Brennan to ask Hootie a Martha question?
Shapiro's and Boswell's articles have criticized high-stakes gambling as it affected players and managers who presumably could affect the outcome of games.
Boswell said the house is not a high-stakes party pad but the "milk and Oreos" house, where a six-pack of beer bought at the tournament's start still had three left at the end. "We come back after the day and watch highlights and tease each other about" their pool picks.
And then they argue about the drapes, who gets the shower first, all before a big pillow fight breaks out.
Feinstein, in an e-mail, wrote, "NO, I've never bet on anything during my years at The Post.
Key phrase: during my years at The Post.
In fact, this year I didn't even participate in the pool because I was too tired to stay up. I put up the 50 bucks as a courtesy to the other guys and they picked my team for me. I was the only one in the house to not win a dollar for the week. . . . This is done in houses all around Augusta for fun and laughs -- and is a way of giving everyone something to talk about during the week. As in, 'who had the low round today?' That's about as serious as it gets."
Emilio Garcia-Ruiz, assistant managing editor for sports, said, "I'm confident that the small-scale pool in no way affected the coverage of the event and was a 25-year tradition that was started only to bolster camaraderie for those living together while covering the event.
Bolster camaraderie? Translation: it's the only way they can tolerate living with each other.
That said, we've stressed to our folks that prizes for these sorts of pools, including the NCAA tournament, should not involve cash, no matter how small the amount." The Post has no written rule on betting.
George Solomon, a former Post sports editor and ESPN ombudsman who is now a University of Maryland journalism professor, sees no problem with "a recreational pool"; he was in the Masters pool when entering cost $10, and he went for Ben Hogan and Sam Snead. Betting "a lot of money on a team or individual is always wrong," he said.
Glad we cleared this weighty matter up. Oh wait, there's more...
Malcolm Moran, who holds the Knight Chair in Sports Journalism and Society at Pennsylvania State University, said, "I wouldn't call [the Masters pool] serious. For myself, I don't get involved in pools."
Well maybe you should talk to someone about this Malcolm. Chlorine is very effective. Oh sorry...
Moran, a former sports journalist at the New York Times, Newsday and USA Today, believes there ought to be rules as there are at the Times, which states in its ethics policy: "To avoid an appearance of bias, no member of the sports department may gamble on any sports event, except for occasional recreational wagering on horse racing (or dog racing or jai alai).
Would you include cockfighting in that too?
This exception does not apply to staff members who cover such racing or regularly edit that coverage." The Times' prohibition does not apply to pools, said Craig Whitney, standards editor.
Longtime Post horseracing writer Andrew Beyer, now a freelancer, does gamble and writes about it, as do many racing writers. Moran said, "Just because it's in the culture doesn't mean it's the right thing to do." Beyer once won $200,000 and wrote about it. Now that gives me serious pause. Beyer did not respond to a phone message.
Can't imagine why.
Many newsrooms -- like many offices -- have sports pools; I never stopped them when I was an editor. The Post's internal NCAA pool was changed this year to make the top prize an iPod instead of cash. Just as well; a company lawyer won it.
The Masters pool is not a grave ethical matter, but The Post should have written rules to guide sports journalists on betting. This answer didn't please Sullivan, who wrote, "Reporters go after others with zeal while believing that the rules don't apply to them and that they are above reproach. Accountability for thee but not for me."
Maybe the Masters bets next year should be in Oreos, not cash.
Oh the standards of these journalists! Heart-warming I tell you that we live in a country where such important matters are deliberated.
Last week I asked if "relatable golf" would be the future direction the pro game takes to quench our society's unquenchable for all things narcissistic.
Well, Garry Smits found some fans who would agree that it's all about them while exploring the question of whether the year's other three majors (oh and
The Players THE PLAYERS The PLAYERS) will be plodding bogeyfests.
When it comes to majors and The Players, fans seem to want to watch the best grind.
"We really enjoyed watching the Masters this year," said Kevin Leonard, a Cincinnati resident visiting the First Coast with his family to play golf at the TPC Sawgrass. "I don't like watching 27 under win a tournament."
His son, James, a college student, showed that feeling crosses generations.
"I know the Masters has been won on birdies and eagles on the back nine in the past," he said. "But I didn't miss that. It was fun knowing that they had to make pars to win."
Dennis James, a Green Cove Springs resident, said watching PGA Tour players fight enables the average golfer to relate.
"When I see those guys working hard to make pars and bogeys, well, that's us," he said. "Besides, majors are supposed to be hard."
It's all about ME!
Consider also that television ratings for the Masters were slightly higher than last year, when Mickelson won at 7 under.
Garry, let's not encourage the Ridley's and Driver's of the world. They're dangerous enough as it is!
Former PGA of America president M.G. Orender, a Jacksonville Beach resident, said competition committees can only go so far. Weather was the main reason for the high scores at Augusta, he said, not back-room suits bent on punishing players.
"I thought Augusta did the same thing the PGA does for our championship. It's a major. It should be tough, but you want the course to be fair, given the things you can control," Orender said. "Par is just a number. At the end of the day, if the course is fair, it doesn't matter what score wins."
Hmmm...and here I thought it was about identifying the best player!
David Feherty, interviewing Boo Weekley after chipping in on the last two holes to win the Heritage, noted that Weekley is not the typical Tour drone because of his "bag abuse" and that it was "great to see some character out here."
Is that really a sign of great character?