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Golf requires only a few simple Rules and Regulations to guide the players in the true nature of its sporting appeal. The spirit of the game is its own referee.



“These guys would bitch about ice cream.”

Jim McCabe offers a mix of thoughts on the season to date. My favorites:
After hearing all the talk about those bad greens at the Bay Hill Club, you wanted to remind the players that Arnold Palmer won all 62 of his PGA Tour tournaments — including those seven majors — on greens that were probably worse than what they were playing on that week.

Then again, that goes along with what Ed Dougherty once said about the fickle nature of professional golfers: “These guys would bitch about ice cream.”

Let me see if I have this right: Ten players who had to come back Monday morning to finish the $8 million CA Championship were then whisked off in limousines to the Miami airport where private jets took them to Orlando where helicopters then relayed them to Isleworth for a VIP corporate outing? Yeah, that sounds like the way Byron Nelson and Jug McSpaden made their way out of town after winning the Miami Four-ball March 11, 1945.

Tiger Exposes Jackson Pollack's Methodology And It Ain't Pretty

Thanks to reader Tuco for this reminder that (A) contemporary art is a farce (B) that the ad gurus are consistently nauseating to listen to when describing the deep, hidden context of their lame ad campaigns and (C) that at least this is an upgrade from the spots with Tiger raving about the Enclave's family-friendly safety.



"I don't know if we're impervious"

Garry Smits is the first to address the inevitable questions about the PGA Tour's financial well-being in the face of an economic downturn, with quotes from Tim Finchem and Joe Ogilvie.

He reported that TV ratings are up slightly over last year, mostly because of Tiger Woods being on another hot streak and stars such as Ernie Els and Phil Mickelson winning tournaments in which Woods did not appear. That keeps advertisers happy.

Tournament pro-ams, ticket sales, corporate hospitality and other tournament-site revenue, part of which flows to the Tour's charitable concerns, also remains level with 2007 or even slightly up, when taken as a whole.

Close to home, The Players Championship is seeing corporate tents, sky boxes and other forms of hospitality at nearly the same pace as last year, with ticket sales a bit ahead of last year, said executive director Ron Cross.

But even Finchem agreed that the PGA Tour, like any other business, probably could not avoid being affected if the economy continues a downward trend.

"I don't know if we're impervious," Finchem said recently. "We have a lot of long-term stuff with fundamental building blocks at the tournament level. Ads and TV ratings are on a shorter leash, but so far we haven't seen any falloff."

Finchem said the economic outlook for the Tour is not as dire as in 1999 and 2000, during the bust. For example, the Tour had to fill nearly 10 title sponsorships within a year, including an umbrella sponsor for its developmental tour to replace


"Anything to do with residential development might be a problem pretty soon," Ogilvie said.

"You look at retail, like cars, which would be a problem, but we have a great relationship with Buick, and they have Tiger on their team. They're one U.S. car brand that is doing well.

The Tour season also has six months remaining, and more bad news from the economy could start having ripple effects.

"When businesses suffer, they put on the brakes," Finchem said. "They don't entertain, and advertising is easy to cut. But some are cutting back now and some remain aggressive. We might come out OK."


"I don't need a coach. I need a woman in my life."

Okay, John Daly's drinking is a concern, but going through divorce number four and saying things like this takes it to another level. From an unbylined Irish Independent story:

"I don't need a coach," said Daly, reportedly going through his fourth divorce. "I need a woman in my life.

"Once I start playing great golf again, everything will be all right. Now I'm getting poured on, but when I'm playing great, everybody talks about how great I am. That's the way it's always worked.

"I'm hitting the ball great. I'm close now. New Orleans is going to be a great week."

Read it and weep!

One of the most sober assessments of Daly's current predicament was made by Pat Perez, probably one of his closest friends on Tour.

"It used to be cool to hang out with JD and go out and party ... but now you can't drink with him because you're really contributing to something really terrible."



Tiger Has An Index?

From a reader whose identity will be protected because really, who wants the world to know they were watching the Tavistock Cup?

Anyway, this brave viewer passed along this mind boggling anecdote from Golf Channel announcer Gary McCord:

Tiger's index at Isleworth (Course rating 77, Slope 142, length 7,500 yards) is +13.5. Which means that he'd have to give a 5 handicap a stroke a hole.

Of course I looked on GHIN and could not find an index listing for Tiger, so take that one for what it's worth. 


"The groove rule as proposed should be implemented on the PGA Tour for a five-year evaluation period."'s Bread and Grub look at some unfortunate shilling by Johnny Miller before launching into a discussion on U-grooves. You know, the thing the USGA and R&A can't agree on and which the PGA Tour won't get near.

A couple of things they wrote caught my eye. From Bread:

I find it difficult to believe the USGA will just walk away after three years of research without doing something. But I think that is exactly what they should do. Driving distance on tour this year is down three yards from the same time last year. Sure, it's a small sample, but I think everyone would agree that by year's end it's not likely we will see an increase of any substance, if any at all. And that would make it difficult to defend implementing a groove rollback, don't you think?
And from Grub: 
As for grooves, there's no question this issue, which appeared all but signed, sealed and delivered last fall, is about as near a resolution as me not wearing a seat belt anytime soon. Fact is, the best thing that could happen won't. Namely, the groove rule as proposed should be implemented on the PGA Tour for a five-year evaluation period. Only then will we see if it makes a difference.

So let's consider this for a moment. The PGA Tour is all about it's "product," right? And as was noted in my course setup story for Golf World, tournament director Mark Russell believes a groove change would allow for less rough on the tour and the return of the flier lie. Firm greens would also have more meaning. All of that would be more entertaining to watch and a better example for the game.

Yet the Commissioner keeps deferring (understandably) to the governing bodies because he knows what happened to Deane Beman when he raised a stink about grooves.

So how can the PGA Tour be convinced to adopt something along the lines of a tour-specific evaluation period? Thoughts? 


"The next time a photographer shoots a !@#$%&* picture I'm going to break his !@#$%&* neck."

Lawrence Donegan reports on Tiger's latest unfortunate incident with photographers.
The world No1 made birdie at his penultimate hole but was then reliant on others slipping up. They did not, and he finished on 15 under par, two behind Ogilvy's winning score. "I thought seven birdies in a row," he said afterwards when asked if he had any idea of what was required to extend his streak before play started. "But I made too many mistakes. I had four three-putts in the week, two bad lies in bunkers and a photographer got me on the 9th hole yesterday. All in all, to only finish two shots back was a pretty good effort."

The photographer in question fired off some shots on his backswing at the par-three hole on Sunday, and Woods ended up making bogey. It is debatable whether or not the incident cost him the tournament, but it will have cost him a few thousand dollars in PGA Tour fines after he hurled a few epithets at the snappers, the most of choice of which was: "The next time a photographer shoots a fucking picture I'm going to break his fucking neck."

The PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem takes a dim view of such tantrums and has fined the famously foul-mouthed Woods a fortune over the years. He will do so again.

"Maybe sometimes you bounce it through a fairway and get into the rough, but really it's not that bad a spot."

ogilvy-big1.jpgAfter his WGC win at Doral, Geoff Ogilvy was asked about hitting just 44.64% of his fairways.

GEOFF OGILVY: There's a lot of holes, I mean, the fairways hit stat can be a little bit -- like 16, you go for a green, that's a fairway you're going to miss but it's the right play. That's four fairways that I missed that I would have maybe hit.I don't know, I mean, the fairways bunkers are very playable. If you hit it in a fairway bunker, especially after they pat them down, they're actually a nice place to be. There's no massive penalty being in a fairway bunker. The Bermuda rough, when you're in the thick bit, it's horrible. But when you're in a not-so-thick bit you can advance to the green and at least give yourself a chance for up-and-downs or pars.

The greens weren't firm enough or they weren't fast enough this week, especially after round 2. They really get fiery if you start getting flyers over the greens out of the rough, but actually to hit it out of the rough and stop it on greens and stuff, it's just one of those things.

I don't think it's a bad thing that you can miss fairways and make birdies. You should obviously have to think about where you should hit your tee shot, miss them in the right spots, get penalized for missing fairways on the wrong sides. But out here if you miss the fairways on the correct sides you've got a chance. I don't know, I mean, maybe I just had one of those weeks where I just always had good lies and always had a chance.


Q. And even with that kind of run going, because of the way your driving wasn't quite on, did you ever feel comfortable with the fact that you were getting away with pars?

GEOFF OGILVY: I never really felt like I was getting away with them. There's a certain -- there's five or six holes out here that are really hard and really key holes. 3, 4, 13, 18, holes that you really have to hit proper golf shots on. You can't miss the fairways. You've got to hit real golf shots. Every single time I played one of the really, really tough holes, I hit proper golf shots. I hit the 18th green four times in a row. Well, I was on the fringe, I think, maybe Friday. Actually I missed the 18th fairway on the second round, but it was in play, it was not a bad spot. Today I got a lucky chip and I played 13 quite well.

I hit the key holes well, and then the other holes, like the 1st hole you can miss the fairway, get away with it. Sometimes you get a shot at the green. The second hole, it's a smash driver up, and sometimes the rough isn't that bad.

The holes there were important to hit good shots off the tee, I did most of the time, and maybe when I was slashing away at a few of the drivers -- some of these holes you just want to get as close to the green as you can, get as far up you can. Maybe sometimes you bounce it through a fairway and get into the rough, but really it's not that bad a spot.

And this was a nice anecdote unrelated to the above...

Q. Speaking of family, have you had any contact with your parents this week?

GEOFF OGILVY: Early in the week.

Q. I was just wondering, were they going to stay up until 2 a.m. to watch the finish today? Was it on live?

GEOFF OGILVY: My dad probably was in bed. My mom would have been in front of the computer. If it was on TV she would have been watching. If it wasn't she would have been watching the screen on the computer. She doesn't sleep much when I play.


“We feel we are democratising golf"

And how are we doing this? By "bringing online gamblers back in play" with online golf gaming!

Chris Nuttall of the Financial Times delivers the breathtakingly good news.

American executives frustrated by online poker bans have been taking to the virtual golf course, where they can work on lowering their handicaps and make money at the same time.

Utour Golf and World Golf Tour are two sites exploiting a developing demographic of casual gamers: males over 30 looking to compete with one another online.

Utour has staged more than 500,000 games on four different online courses during its beta testing phase and allows wagers of up to $100 on a single hole. There is stroke play or match play for pairs and tournaments where thousands of dollars can be at stake.

Groove Games, the company behind Utour, says the golf prizes are not classified as gambling as golf is a skill-based game rather than one of chance.


“We’re just like real golf leagues funded by player-entry fees and the PGA’s prize pools subsidised by advertising,” says Jon Walsh, chief executive. Groove takes a 15 per cent cut of every dollar staked and sells advertisements placed around its golf courses. It says the average player is a 34-year-old male.

World Golf Tour will go fully live this summer with its Kiawah Island’s Ocean course in South Carolina. The company took the unusual step of taking high-resolution pictures of every inch of the course with helicopters and radio-controlled drones to create the imagery, rather than use artists to render the landscape.

The photos were then matched up pixel-by-pixel with the 3D topology of the course and rendered in high quality within a browser window. Over half a million people have already played the beta, spending at least 20 minutes per session.

“They are very affluent, college-educated, mostly male, average age 35 and average income of $110,000 – not your typical gaming demographic, but middle-aged professionals are great for advertisers,” said YuChiang Cheng, chief executive.

Strong demo! Not long before the PGA Tour wants a piece of that.

World Golf Tour’s business model is based on in-game advertising, sponsorship and sales of virtual items such as new clothing and clubs. It encourages foursomes among friends and will introduce social networking elements.

“We feel we are democratising golf,” says Mr Cheng. “For those who think it’s too expensive and takes too much time, this is free and you can just play from your desk.”


God Must Really Hate The Tavistock Cup...

24golf.190.1.jpg...what with this silly rain delay forcing the boys to come back at 8:30 a.m. to finish up the WGC at Doral. Larry Dorman reports that Geoff Ogilvy was about the only player who would spend a few minutes with the scribblers, while Jeremy Fowler tells us far more than we ever wanted to know about how the Tavistock Cup and how the demonstration of conspicuous consumption will go on.


Mike Bianchi Makes It Official: He's Run Out Of Column Ideas

8743.jpgThe Orlando Sentinel columnist writes: "Why there has not been more of an outcry about the Tour's tacit approval of smoking is harder to figure out than the World Golf Rankings."

Eh, eh before you think this is an April 1 beauty, check your calendars, we're still a week away. Hit the link if you don't believe me. Or read this, where even Tim Finchem offers his own version of "have you absolutely no other ideas for a column?"

Congress has made a major issue about pro sports sending the wrong message when it comes to steroids, but what about pro golf sending the wrong message when it comes to lung cancer? Scientific fact: A relative handful of deaths have resulted from steroid abuse; hundreds of thousands die every year because of nicotine abuse.

"I don't think we have a problem with smokers," PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem said at last week's Arnold Palmer Invitational. "We have some. We don't have many. . . . I don't think it's worth spending any energy on."

A few years ago, Finchem was similarly nonchalant when it came to mandatory drug-testing of golfers, but finally capitulated amid public pressure. Why there has not been more of an outcry about the Tour's tacit approval of smoking is harder to figure out than the World Golf Rankings.

The Future of Majors

There's another Golf World/ESPN poll worth checking out in the righthand column of the golf page:

Should majors be given to new courses such as Chambers Bay and, potentially, Erin Hills before hosting high-level tournaments.

You can comment here to get your remarks in Golf World. 


"Stage a tournament for marquee instructors."

I'm a little behind in my reading, so I just got to Bill Fields' column from the March 14 Golf World where he suggests his platform if he were President of Golf.

While I loved all of his ideas, I particualrly loved the thought of this one.

• Stage a tournament for marquee instructors. How fun would it be to see Hank Haney, Butch Harmon, David Leadbetter and other teachers to the stars practice what they preach? The odds against that happening, though, might be greater than getting Tiger back to play in Milwaukee.



Newton: "You keep hearing comments about how they don't think there's any shame in coming second to Tiger. You would never have heard that from a Raymond Floyd."

Thanks to reader Mark for this Will Swanton piece from The Age quoting Jack Newton:

"Nicklaus, Palmer, Player, Raymond Floyd, Lee Trevino, who I still think is the best player I ever played with, were tough and uncompromising men who would have stood up and fought him," Newton said.

"They were great players in their own right, but hard as nails to go with it. They would have eaten their own grandmothers on the course if they had to. I'm not sure you could say that about any of the guys out there trying to beat Tiger now.

"I'm not exactly saying they're soft. Tiger could well be the greatest player of all time. But I don't see many of them aiming up or getting in his face. I get the feeling they're just playing for the money. They make their millions every year and that's enough for them.

"You keep hearing comments about how they don't think there's any shame in coming second to Tiger. You would never have heard that from a Raymond Floyd."


"A combination of European Tour (petty) politics, his age and the drum beating that has already been set in motion by the well-connected Colin Montgomerie's various media mates..."

John Huggan offers this on the 2010 Ryder Cup Captaincy and Sandy Lyle's chances:

Not for the first time, Sandy Lyle this past week expressed an interest in assuming the role of European Ryder Cup captain when the matches make their first visit to Wales in 2010. This is entirely appropriate. Not only does the former Open, Masters and Players champion command universal respect for the undoubted quality of his playing career – for a brief period in the late 1980s the Shropshire-born Scot was the best player on the planet – he is also one of the nicest people in the game, a man who would easily unite any dressing room.

Sadly, however, the odds are that the likeable Lyle will go down as the only member of European golf's "Big Five" not to fill the role of skipper in the biennial contest with the United States. A combination of European Tour (petty) politics, his age and the drum beating that has already been set in motion by the well-connected Colin Montgomerie's various media mates, will probably see Lyle, who recently turned 50 and embarked on a new career on America's Champions Tour, passed over. Which is a shame, even if – whisper it – the best and most qualified man for the job is actually two-time Masters winner Jose Maria Olazabal.

Monty over Olazabal or Lyle?

Wow, Monty really is well connected!  


"What sponsor would walk away from a tournament that has produced champions like Annika Sorenstam, Cristie Kerr and Ochoa in the past four years, all the while attracting record crowds?"

In noting the sponsor loss at the seemingly healthy Safeway LPGA event in Phoenix, Bill Huffman says it's time to get "a little bit scared" if you're, say, The Brand Lady.

Four tournaments into the 2008 season and already two of those four events are on the endangered list and need sponsors if they are to return in 2009.

For those keeping track, the Fields Open in Hawaii — the second tournament of the season won by Paula Creamer — reportedly is not only searching for a new title sponsor, it also needs a new course to host the tournament.

Closer to home, the Safeway International announced last week that its title sponsor — America’s third-largest grocery store chain — is bagging it after next week’s tournament at Superstition Mountain Golf and Country Club, which is willing to hang around if a new sponsor can be secured.

The Safeway International had made record-breaking crowds on the LPGA its calling card, much like its big brother, the FBR Open, does on the PGA Tour. Granted, the numbers were dramatically smaller, but 151,000 fans came out last year to watch Lorena Ochoa win the tournament, and that’s about double the average galleries on the LPGA.

What sponsor would walk away from a tournament that has produced champions like Annika Sorenstam, Cristie Kerr and Ochoa in the past four years, all the while attracting record crowds? And what about Superstition Mountain, voted as the “best-conditioned course on the LPGA’’ the past three years by the players?


Speaking of the Safeway, reader Phil noted that the reason for Michelle Wie's latest WD is going to prompt more questions. 

Wie's agent, Jill Smoller of the William Morris Agency, said the Stanford freshman reinjured her left wrist when she accidentally hit a ball that was embedded in thick rough on the driving range at Stanford on March 13. 

Thick rough on the range? 


Robert Hunter On Book TV

ShowImage.aspxCSPAN Book TV Programming note for fans of Robert Hunter, co-architect of Cypress Point and Valley Club and author of The Links:
Speaking Out for America's Poor: A Millionaire Socialist in the Progressive Era
Author: Edward Allan Brawley
Upcoming Schedule
Saturday, March 22, at 3:00 PM
Sunday, March 23, at 4:45 AM

"The best golfer of all time and the best gallery-puller of all time."

Geoff Ogilvy's post round press conference at Doral is worth a read.

Steve Elling condenses the best lines in this blog post.


"The imagined sounds of Berman on the telecasts - 'K.J. Choi To The World, for par' - have made people tense as a mousetrap."

Phil Mushnick appears to be the first media critic to note that ESPN is not letting Chris Berman get anywhere near Augusta National. I know, I know. What took so long to celebrate?

But wouldn't you love to see something like this in Butler Cabin?


"Are you by any chance a member of the media?"

Got to give Bob Carney credit for posting an entertaining but not particularly flattering letter from a Golf Digest reader.