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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
  • Men in Green
    Men in Green
    by Michael Bamberger
  • Unplayable Lies: (The Only Golf Book You'll Ever Need)
    Unplayable Lies: (The Only Golf Book You'll Ever Need)
    by Dan Jenkins
  • Professional Golf 2015: The Complete Media, Fan and Fantasy Guide
    Professional Golf 2015: The Complete Media, Fan and Fantasy Guide
    by Daniel Wexler
  • The Forbidden Game: Golf and the Chinese Dream
    The Forbidden Game: Golf and the Chinese Dream
    by Dan Washburn
  • 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
  • Unplayable Lies: (The Only Golf Book You'll Ever Need)
    Unplayable Lies: (The Only Golf Book You'll Ever Need)
    by Dan Jenkins

    Kindle Edition

  • 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
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

In June of 1956 Wentworth hosted the Canada Cup (now the World Cup). Professional pairs from twenty-eight countries competed. Sam Snead and Ben Hogan were heavily favored to win. On the flight to London, Hogan, who had never played in England whose painstaking preparation for important competitions is legendary, took advantage of the long hours aloft to ask his partner to brief him on Wentworth's West Course. For a considerable time Snead silently weighed Hogan's request, giving him the clear impression that he was about to present a thorough analysis of the course. Finally he turned to Ben and said, "It's a sonofabitch."  JAMES FINEGAN


    

Monday
Sep242007

Apathy Builds On Eve Of Presidents Cup

sept23_prezcup_299x322.jpgYou can just sense the underwhelmed enthusiam in the various Presidents Cup preview pieces.

Lorne Rubenstein offers the Canadian perspective while Doug Ferguson previews the Cup by considering its recent history.

golf.com's Michael Walker says the world isn't watching and offers this interesting comment from Rubenstein about the future of the matches:

"The one problem I could see is if Tiger or Mickelson decided not to play," Rubenstein said. "They'll play as long as Nicklaus is captain because they're not going to snub Nicklaus. But if there's a new captain and Tiger decides not to play, then I think the Presidents Cup would have a real problem."
Gary Van Sickle says "few serious international golf competitions have received less buildup than this week's Presidents Cup, to be played in Montreal," then rants about the FedEx Cup ad saturation.
 

But as he notes in his entertaining look at the teams and possible scenarios, it may all be worth it if we can get this on Sunday...

1. Tiger Woods vs. Rory Sabbatini: The mouth of the south against the king of the hill.

If the Captain's have any heart at all, they will give us the pleasure of watching these lovebirds in singles play. 

Sunday
Sep232007

Order Now, Operator Standing By

And you say this blog isn't handy. Imagine if you missed out on this pre-ordering opportunity...

The 2007 Presidents Cup Official Film presented by Rolex now available for pre-order DVD will feature behind-the-scenes footage, highlights, interviews from 2007 event

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, FL –The 2007 Presidents Cup Official Film presented by Rolex, which is produced in high definition television by PGA TOUR Productions, gives golf fans an exclusive behind-the-scenes ticket to this world-class competition and is now available for pre-order.  The documentary will allow fans to relive the intensity, passion and excitement of what promises to be the most competitive Presidents Cup yet through behind-the-scenes footage, exclusive interviews and event highlights.

The 2007 Presidents Cup, to be held Sept. 27-30 at The Royal Montreal Golf Club in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, will mark the seventh playing of the event and the third time it has been contested outside the United States. World Golf Hall of Fame members Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player will reprise their roles as captains of the U.S. and International teams, respectively.

Are they actors signed up for a sequel?! Well, actually...

Two years ago in Price William Country, VA, the U.S. and International Teams came to The Presidents Cup with “unfinished business,” as the 2003 event in South Africa ended in a tie after Tiger Woods and Ernie Els battled in a twilight playoff.  But Chris DiMarco ensured the two teams would not share the Cup in 2005, as he sank a 15-foot putt on the 18th hole of his singles match to defeat Stuart Appleby and clinch The Presidents Cup for the United States.  The U.S. Team holds a 4-1-1 overall record in the event.

From the opening ceremony to the trophy presentation, The Presidents Cup Official Film presented by Rolex will take fans inside the ropes for an exclusive look at of all the pageantry and competition that makes The Presidents Cup one of the premier team events in any sport. 

Yep, right up there with the MLB playoffs, World Cup, Olympic hockey, NFL...

From the International Team’s arrival to the captains’ press conferences to the captain's consultations with their assistants to remind them the name of that guy in the team uniform who he can't remember picking to the final celebration, fans will experience first hand why The Presidents Cup has set the standard for sportsmanship and competition.

Just wanted to see if you were still reading. I know it's tough to concentrate when you just want to get to the 800 number...

The Presidents Cup Official Film presented by Rolex will be available for shipment on Nov. 30.  DVDs can be pre-ordered now for $19.95 by calling 1-866-216-7965 or visiting  www.pgatour.com/presidentscupdvd.  Also available for purchase is the 2005 Presidents Cup Official Film presented by Rolex, which captures the incredible excitement of the 2005 event – one of the most dramatic in golf history.

The highlights I saw on Sportscenter were great!

Sunday
Sep232007

Wiebe Defeats Quigley!

I tell you, this Mark Wiebe win in his first Old Geezers Tour appearance could be just the shot the fledgling circuit needs. You know, kind of like this lethal injections they give death row prisoners from time to time.

Saturday
Sep222007

"Of the 24 players in this week's top 30 in the world golf rankings who were members of the U.S. tour last year, eight have played in more events in 2007."

Steve Elling challenges the Commissioner's assertion that the FedEx Cup led to an increase in top-30 player appearances. Of course Finchem's definition of top-30 probably differs significantly from Elling's, not that we'll ever know how he defines top-30...
"We're pleased by the support the players have given the playoffs, in particular, and the FedEx Cup throughout the year," Finchem said. "During the year, total starts of our top players -- whether you look at top 30 in the world rankings, the top 30 from last year's money list, the top 50 -- the total starts players have made this year compared to last year is up and moving in the right direction. So we're pleased to see that."

He won't be pleased to see this. Because we did look, and unless the "right direction" is downward, these assertions are pure myth.

In fact, of those who finished in the top 30 on the 2006 money list he cited, only six had played in more events through the completion of the FedEx Series last week. The series, mind you, signaled the end of the season for many top players, including the guys who sell the majority of the tickets and drive TV ratings.

Let's do some verifiable math, so that there's no gray area here. Using Finchem's own yardstick, a review shows that the top 30 in earnings from '06 have combined to play in 60 fewer events this year, an average of two starts per player. Since those in the current top 30 in earnings have averaged 20.2 starts this year, that's a dropoff of nearly 10 percent across the board.

But what do I know? I attended public schools.

The only scintilla of credibility to his 90-degree verbal shank is that Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson have combined to play three more times than in 2006, which can be partly attributed to Woods skipping two months last year while mourning the death of his father. The big hitters? As a group, Woods, Mickelson, Sergio Garcia, Jim Furyk, Vijay Singh, Adam Scott, Ernie Els and Retief Goosen have combined to play in two fewer events this year than in 2006. Still, it's a slight drop.

Let's apply a more current measure. Of the 24 players in this week's top 30 in the world golf rankings who were members of the U.S. tour last year, eight have played in more events in 2007. A total of 13 have played fewer times and three had no change in total starts. All told, those 24 players have competed in 27 fewer events vs. their combined 2006 total.

While we're spouting trends here, let's back up another year and get a bigger dose of reality.

The star-filled group of Woods, Mickelson, Furyk, Goosen, Garcia, Scott and Singh have made 16 fewer starts this year compared to 2005, or more than two per player. (We did not include Els, because he suffered a major knee injury and made only 11 starts).

Note to the corporate spin artistes in Ponte Vedra: Sometimes when you bother to actually crunch the numbers, the numbers can crunch you.

Saturday
Sep222007

"When we talked to Tom Fazio, he said that he would like to make this the Augusta of the North"

Chris Wagner of the Syracuse Post-Standard proves that there are still people who aspire to build the Augusta of their neighborhood, even if it's at a casino in the middle of nowhere.

Atunyote, on the other hand, came wired for the future. Made-for-TV fiber-optic cable was installed to every hole designed by Tom Fazio, considered by many to be the top golf course architect of this era. He also is the person responsible for this decade's facelift at Augusta National, home of the Masters.

The clean, classic, country-club look of Atunyote was a polar opposite of Shenendoah's and Kaluhyat's wild-nature, wild-fescue appeal. Even Atunyote's state-of-the-art practice range was better than Shenendoah's, which was lost when Kaluhyat's 18th hole was built over it.

None of it was by mistake.

"When we talked to Tom Fazio, he said that he would like to make this the Augusta of the North," Halbritter said. "And we liked that. We liked the sound of it. We liked the quality of it. We liked the history and the legacy of it. ... So, that was part of the whole process of thinking, for people to think of our Atunyote as the Augusta of the North."

You know what P.T. Barnum said...  

Saturday
Sep222007

Going To Stack and Tilt

Robert Grant looks at the origin of Aaron Baddelay's decision to shift to a Stack and Tilt swing.


Saturday
Sep222007

Bubble Boys

Brett Avery looks at the players on the money list bubble and the unique way that today's players are informed of their current money total.

 

Saturday
Sep222007

Broken Heart Clubs

From the wire story on round two of the British Masters, courtesy of reader Steve...

Robert Karlsson (75) broke two clubs, an 8-iron and a 6-iron, trying to hit a ball next to a tree on the third hole. He took an eight.

Karlsson sent for his clubs to be repaired and had them back by the sixth hole.

Also, Alastair Forsyth shot an 11 at the revamped sixth hole and missed the cut. The Scot drove into the water, put a 3-iron into the water, then hit two 2-irons into the water.

Then he threw the 2-iron into the water.

Friday
Sep212007

"Four hours should be the limit to play a round in a three-ball - fine everybody that takes over that."

Monty's complaining about an under-5 hour round! I guess he forgot the PGA Tour would kill for a round that speedy on a Thursday or Friday.  Mark Garrod reports:

After an opening 70 in the Quinn Direct British Masters at The Belfry that took only ten minutes under five hours, Montgomerie called for a clampdown on slow play.

"It's a problem every week," he said. "Four hours should be the limit to play a round in a three-ball - fine everybody that takes over that. We're given too long to play the course.

"I was brought up on a three-hour game of golf and the pace of play out here is too slow."

The eight-time European No.1 was delighted to hear that two players - England's Gary Lockerbie and Brazilian Alexandre Rocha - had been fined £4000 for taking too long yesterday. But he will be happier still if others get the message and get a move on. And that includes Ryder Cup team-mate Robert Karlsson and English pair Ross Fisher and Edward Rush, who were the three players immediately in front of him again today.

Montgomerie was paired with South African Richard Sterne and Spain's Santiago Luna and commented: "Richard only took 65 and is very quick, Santiago is another quick player and I'm one of the fastest out here.

"So it felt slow. We had a very fast group behind a very slow one!"

 

Friday
Sep212007

Walk On

Thanks to reader Eric for noticing that the absurd mandatory cart rule considered for Long Island's Eisenhower has been dropped.

Friday
Sep212007

PGA Tour Declares Playoffs A Success On Many Levels

fedexcuplogo.jpgFrom the For Immediate Release files...

PGA TOUR Playoffs for the FedExCup a Success on Many Levels

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, FL. (Sept. 21, 2007) – The PGA TOUR Playoffs for the FedExCup, which culminated on Sunday with Tiger Woods being crowned the first-ever FedExCup Champion, brought an unprecedented level of late-season focus to and interest in the TOUR, as indicated by impressive increases in television and online audiences, tournament attendance and sponsor activation.

Oh yeah, sponsor activation baby. We have a new buzzword du jour. Stay tuned, if you can stomach it...

Interest in the Playoffs was driven by a run of some of the strongest fields in the history of the PGA TOUR, particularly for consecutive tournaments.  At least nine of the top 10 players on the FedExCup Points List and eight of the top 10 players in the Official World Golf Ranking played in each event.  The fourth and final event, THE TOUR Championship presented by Coca-Cola in Atlanta, boasted all 10 from both lists.  Since the PGA TOUR began keeping field strength records in 1980, never before have four consecutive events had fields as strong.

“In every aspect, the PGA TOUR Playoffs for the FedExCup and the FedExCup season as a whole represent a successful run for us and the sport, and we’re very pleased with the impact,” said PGA TOUR Commissioner Tim Finchem.  “Now that we’ve developed a strong foundation, we can focus on building on the enthusiasm that the players and fans have for this new competition.”

The judges just deducted a point for not taking advantage of an opportunity to drop an impactful or impactfullness.

Television
The four Playoff events delivered record television viewership at a time when sports fans historically have watched the start of the NCAA football season and NFL pre-season and opening games.

CBS, NBC and GOLF CHANNEL telecasts of The Barclays, Deutsche Bank Championship, BMW Championship and THE TOUR Championship presented by Coca-Cola cumulatively reached more than 65 million people, a record for the PGA TOUR in this time period.

The average television rating for the eight network telecasts during the Playoffs was 18 percent higher than telecasts for the same events last year.

Hmmm...I wonder how much that 233 percent increase at the Tour Championship helped? Oh wait...

The final round telecasts of the BMW Championship and THE TOUR Championship presented by Coca-Cola were two of the highest on record for the PGA TOUR against NFL football.  THE TOUR Championship presented by Coca-Cola’s final-round telecast received a 233-percent ratings increase over the rating of the event’s 2006 final round.  Moreover, GOLF CHANNEL’s early-round coverage of THE TOUR Championship presented by Coca-Cola delivered more than 2.5 times the households than the previous year; the second round was its highest-rated broadcast ever (1.7 rating).

See, it was a good idea to show us that on tape.

Let's get to the important numbers. Satellite radio.

PGATOUR.com and XM Satellite Radio
In addition to television, millions of fans followed the Playoffs through PGATOUR.com and PGA TOUR Radio on XM (Channel 146).  Unique users on PGATOUR.com were up 48 percent over the same four-week period last year, with a weekly average of 3.8 million uniques and 45 million page views.

The popular PGATOUR.com Live@ feature, which provides tee-to-green action for every player on a signature hole at each golf course, was streamed nearly 2 million times over the four weeks of the Playoffs, twice the number of streams of these events in 2006.

Interest in the Playoffs and on-line coverage at PGATOUR.com built significantly over the four weeks of competition, peaking at THE TOUR Championship presented by Coca-Cola. Traffic for the culminating event in the PGA TOUR Playoffs for the FedExCup was up significantly versus 2006, with unique users increasing 167 percent to 4.4 million and page views increasing 189 percent to 52 million.

PGA TOUR Radio on XM saw similar increases.  Audience figures for in-car listeners are not yet available, but streams of the XM Radio tournament broadcast on PGATOUR.com showed triple-digit increases for each event.

Tournament attendance
In addition to tuning in via their TVs, radios and computers, golf fans in New York, Boston, Chicago and Atlanta contributed to the success of the Playoffs by attending the four events in record numbers.  Highlights of Playoff market sales include:

THE TOUR Championship hospitality sales up 37 percent and ticket sales up 30 percent versus 2006;

Boy that's a relief.

BMW Championship corporate sales up 27 percent and ticket sales up 6.3 percent versus 2006;

Oh that number ought to get Ed Sherman and Len Ziehm on the phone this weekend.

Deutsche Bank Championship corporate sales up 10 percent and ticket sales up 20 percent versus 2006; and The Barclays corporate sponsorship up 30 percent, reaching a sell-out for the first time ever, and ticket sales up significantly versus 2006.

Ditto that weekend research project for Sam Weinman.

Oh now it's time to activate.

Sponsor Activation
The PGA TOUR Playoffs for the FedExCup received unprecedented activation by title sponsors and Official Marketing Partners of the PGA TOUR.  Fourteen PGA TOUR Official Marketing Partners activated around the Playoffs, with sweepstakes, giveaways, Playoff-specific advertising and other Playoffs-related promotions.  Additionally, the Official Marketing Partners supplemented their activation by hosting substantial Hospitality activities at each of the Playoff events for key clients, senior management staff and employees.

FedEx activated in a myriad of ways, including: Playoff-specific tags to television advertising, print advertising, retail promotions at 1,200 FedEx Kinko’s stores, a targeted on-line contest, special truck wraps, covering a building in New York City with turf and a flag stick, hiring “golfers” to walk around New York and Atlanta with a caddy and a gallery of fans, sidewalk stickers in New York and Atlanta depicting a golf hole, special uniform enhancements for FedEx employees, and promotional signage at public transportation areas in Atlanta.

After all that, I still don't know what it means to activate. But it sure looks like a good business to be in.

Friday
Sep212007

3500-plus?

Chris Wagner notes in covering day one play of the Turning Stone event...

A spectacular first day of weather for the inaugural Turning Stone Resort Championship produced several superb scores, a run at the leaderboard by three Upstate players and the withdrawal of the biggest name in the field, John Daly.

Jeff Gove roared to the top of the pack early Thursday, capping his round of 7-under-par 65 with one of the first eagles of the tournament. His 101-yard sand wedge shot landed a foot above the hole on the 18th green and sucked back into the cup to the delight of some of the 3,500-plus spectators at Atunyote Golf Club.

Just curious, was the old B.C. Open at Endicott better attended than that?  

Friday
Sep212007

Executive Committee Members Begin Hydrating Themselves On News of Southern Hills Landing Amateur A Year Early

As first reported by Leonard Shapiro Thursday... 

SOUTHERN HILLS TO HOST 2009 U.S. AMATEUR
 
Far Hills, N.J. – Based on a joint agreement, Southern Hills Country Club in Tulsa, Okla., will host the 2009 U.S. Amateur Championship, replacing Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Md., the United States Golf Association has announced. The dates of the 2009 championship are Aug. 23-30.
 
Southern Hills was originally scheduled to host the 2010 Amateur and Congressional, the 2009 championship.  The site of two previous U.S. Opens, Congressional is also scheduled to host the 2011 Open.
 
Recent weather trends in the mid-Atlantic region were extreme this past August and were exacerbated by prolonged drought, causing course condition problems at Congressional and many other clubs. In order to begin specified U.S. Open course revisions and complete them on time for the 2011 Open, the USGA and Congressional agreed to move the 2009 Amateur from Congressional and Southern Hills accepted the switch.
 
The site of the 2010 U.S. Amateur is to be determined.
 
“We are grateful to Southern Hills for its flexibility as Congressional prepares for the U.S. Open in 2011,” Jim Hyler, chairman of the USGA championship committee said. “In this way, the players at both the 2009 U.S. Amateur and the 2011 U.S. Open will have the kind of playing conditions that are the hallmark of USGA championships.  We and Congressional agreed that the movement of the 2009 Amateur made a great deal of sense and will provide enough time for Congressional to embark on plans that will result in a terrific venue for the 2011 U.S. Open.  We see this move as the right decision for both the 2009 Amateur and the 2011 U.S. Open.”
 
“Congressional Country Club is in total agreement with the USGA that relocating the 2009 Amateur would be in all parties’ best interests while allowing for a successful 2011 U.S. Open,” said Stuart Long, president of Congressional Country Club.  “The drought and unwavering high heat have proved to be tough on our courses and highlighted several areas that needed attention. By relocating the Amateur, we can give our courses time to recover from the stresses of the notorious D.C. summer, and make some course renovations for the Open Championship and implement several other course rehabilitation projects that will provide long-term benefits for our members, as well as forour involvement in future events at Congressional.”
 
The 2009 Amateur is the ninth USGA championship and second U.S. Amateur (Bob Murphy won in 1965), to be conducted at Southern Hills, a classic Perry Maxwell design, built in 1936. Previously, the club has hosted three U.S. Opens (1957, 1977, 2001), the 1946 Women’s Amateur, the 1953 Junior Amateur, and the 1987 Women’s Mid-Amateur.
 
Prior to 2009, the U.S. Amateur will be played at Pinehurst (N.C.) Resort from Aug. 18-24, 2008.
 
The USGA is the national governing body of golf in this country and Mexico, a combined territory that includes more than half the game’s golfers and golf courses.
 
The Association's most visible role is played out each season in conducting 13 national championships, including the U.S. Open, U.S. Women's Open and U.S. Senior Open.  Ten additional USGA national championships are exclusively for amateurs, and include the U.S. Amateur and the U.S. Women's Amateur. 

The USGA also writes the Rules of Golf, conducts equipment testing, maintains an official Handicap System, shuttles its president around the country in a private jet, unceremoniously fires longtime staffers in the middle of championship season, and administers an ongoing "For the Good of the Game" grants program, which has allocated more than $56 million over 10 years to programs that seek to grow the game.  For more information about the USGA, visit www.usga.org.

Just kidding there in the final paragraph! Only wanted to make sure you were still reading. 

Friday
Sep212007

British Mid-Am RIP

I guess they don't have enough college players to motivate the over-25 set to enter...

THE R&A TO DISCONTINUE BRITISH MID-AMATEUR
 
The R&A has elected to discontinue the British Mid-Amateur Championship and remove it from its championship calendar. The British Mid-Amateur, first played in 1995, restricts entry to male amateur golfers aged 25 and over.   Despite various reviews of the championship over recent years, small fields for the event and a subsequent lack of quality in depth, mean that the event is no longer viable.
 
Commenting on the decision The R&A’s Director of Championships, David Hill, said: "The British Mid-Amateur has produced some notable champions beginning with Gary Wolstenholme in 1995 but it has struggled to establish itself as a sufficiently distinctive event in the British men's amateur golfing calendar.”
 
Matthew Cryer will be the final player to have his name engraved on the Mid Amateur trophy, having won earlier this year at Alwoodley Golf Club. A place in history awaits the Englishman as the trophy is destined for the British Golf Museum in one year’s time.
 

Thursday
Sep202007

Tiger Not Playing An Official Event Until The Buick?

Thomas Bonk is usually right about Tiger's playing intentions, and he noted this in today's LA Times golf column:
And one final note on Woods: Don't expect him to play his first PGA Tour event of 2008 until the Buick Invitational, Jan. 24-27, meaning that he'll probably skip the Mercedes Championships at Kapalua for the third consecutive year.
Thursday
Sep202007

The Beauty of Short Grass

SouthernHills6th.JPGI celebrate the short grass at Southern Hills and warn Golfdom readers/superintendents that they should expect more courses to install short grass after yet another example of the tight stuff adding interest, challenge and fun to a classic course.
Thursday
Sep202007

Shoal Creek's First Black Member Passes Away

From the AP story:

Louis J. Willie Jr., a black businessman who helped defuse a racial dispute surrounding the 1990 P.G.A. Championship, died here Sunday. He was 84.
And...
The 1990 P.G.A. Championship was held at Shoal Creek Country Club, in suburban Birmingham. Protests mounted after the club president said Shoal Creek would not be pressured into accepting black members. Mr. Willie helped quiet the situation by accepting an honorary membership.

Thursday
Sep202007

Newsflash From The City: Dick Pound Is Still Not Happy!

From the wires...

World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) chief Dick Pound praised golf for aiming to rid the sport of doping, but balked Thursday at the World Golf Foundation's use of its own performance-enhancing substances list.

"Two or three months ago, the PGA was denying that there was ever a problem in golf," Pound said in a conference call. So, "there is quite a lot of progress that's been made."

Actually, they still suggest it's not a problem, and without testing, who is to argue with them?
"It's very disappointing to us, however, that they would not use (the WADA) list" of banned substances, he added.

US PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem earlier announced that golf's top professional players would face random drug tests beginning in 2008.

The list of banned substances is similar to one released by the women's LPGA Tour in March, including most muscle-building steroids and adrenaline-diminishing beta-blockers.

But it does not include substances that, Finchem said, do not enhance performance in golf.

"I don't understand that, unless it's simply organizational testosterone - they can't be seen to accept anyone else's list," Pound lamented.

"My question to golf would be: Is there anything on the list under the world anti-doping code that you think your players should be able to take?

"And if there is, then golf should indicate what they think their athletes should be able to take that the rest of the athletes around the world can't."
It's hard to get as worked up as Dick when you see that they have added some pretty significant stuff to the golf list, as Doug Ferguson reported:
The list of banned substances includes anabolic agents, hormones, stimulants, narcotics, beta blockers and masking agents. Golf did not adopt the World Anti-Doping Association list because Finchem said it would cause an additional administrative burden and “we do not consider the substances in any way impactful as a performance enhancement.”

Thomas Bonk talks to Dr. Gary Wadler, a member of a World Anti-Doping Agency committee, who is much more upbeat about the testing list than Pound:

"I applaud the PGA Tour and all of the other bodies in professional golf," he said. "I've said on many occasions, there's no sport that's inherently immune to doping. It's a sad commentary, but it's true."

And...

The number of prohibited substances and methods represents only a small percentage of what is banned by WADA. Its lengthy doping list is a 19-page document. While WADA chair Dick Pound said the entire list should have been adopted by professional golf, PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem said some substances were not included because of high testing costs and their irrelevance to golf.

Wadler said the inclusion of hormones on the banned list could be interpreted as testing for human growth hormone, which he said needed to be on every professional sports anti-doping list.

"It sounds to me as if they should not try to reinvent the wheel when that wheel has already been invented, so it sounds as if they used the World Anti-Doping Agency's prohibited list as a guide, and that's good," he said.

Thursday
Sep202007

"Will they really be minding their pees and queues?"

Steve Elling raises an essential question to the drug testing policy: will there be full or even partial disclosure?

Given how the testing issue relates to the PGA Tour, the most economically influential circuit in the history of the game, not to mention the most public-relations paranoid, here's something else to keep in mind.

Will they really be minding their pees and queues?

Make no mistake, the implementation of drug testing is mostly about maintaining appearances, not that there's anything wrong with that, per se. Thankfully, there has been zero evidence that any notable player has taken performance-enhancing substances over the years. Still, the tours decided to be "proactive," as they put it.
And... 
For years, Finchem has been prodded about revising the PGA Tour's absurd policy relating to the disclosure of fines, suspensions and player discipline. For example, Woods has been known to brag -- that probably isn't the right term, exactly -- that he has been fined more often than any other player in history for using four-letter words during TV broadcasts.

As the world tours study over the coming weeks how best to sanction players for potential performance-enhancing violations -- the sanctions darned well better be meaningful, starting with a first offense -- the folks in Paranoia Vedra might want to weigh this related issue as well.

Fast forward...

If Finchem's emissaries are pointedly asked whether a player has been suspended because of a blood-doping violation, how will they answer? Forget player privacy issues. Finchem can't afford to be so fiercely protective of the integrity of the tour and its individual contestants.

Competitors, if not fans and sponsors, have the right to know who's playing by the rules. Without working myself into a 'roid rage here, the bottom line on this drug-testing beaker is as clear as the glass container itself.

In an individual sport like golf, protecting a cheater is the same as the act of cheating itself.

Use the juice, get cut loose. Then make sure everybody knows about it.
Thursday
Sep202007

"But for the problems in other sports, I doubt we would be at this point."

The press conference on the "anti-doping" policies demonstrated that our governing bodies and assorted tours are on the same page. But I continue to be fascinated by Commissioner Finchem's stance on how this all came about. 

Q. If you don't mind me paraphrasing, you've always said that there was no evidence of any performance-enhancing drug use, and the honor system of golf, etc. All that said and wherever you are today, do you consider this a landmark day for golf or a sad day for golf?

TIM FINCHEM: Well, I think that as everybody else has spoken, it's a day where we are going to be proactive in light of the realities of what's happening in sport. But for the problems in other sports, I doubt we would be at this point.

But certainly the problems in other sports have created a growing perception among fans that athletes generally in many cases, in the minds of many fans who utilize substances that in other sports are banned. Now we don't ban substances in our sport, but when you combine that in the reality that for example, in the case of The European Tour, they have to undergo testing protocols because governments are requiring that they do; as does the LPGA in some instances, all of these things argue for moving forward.

I think it doesn't mean we like it and it does mean we are concerned about shifting the culture of the sport from one where you know the rules and you play by the rules, and if you violate the rules, you call a penalty on yourself; to if you engage in testing, perhaps creating the specter that an organization doesn't trust what the player says, which is certainly not the case.

So we are going to have to work hard on that point, but we are where we are given the way of the world and I think it's a positive day for golf because we are, A, together; B, we are spending a lot of energy to do it right. We are learning from watching what the other sports have done that in some cases have not been perhaps the right thing to do. It's taken them awhile to get it right, and we've been quite deliberate about where we're headed. And all of these things I think are positive. I think that's a positive message for the game.

"We are where we are given the way of the world." 

Okay, I can see that. Just like Jake could see the logic of Elwood trading the Blues mobile for a microphone.

However, let's ponder this for a moment. And to longtime readers, I apologize for sounding like a broken record.

We've heard for the last 10 years or so, and quite specifically from various leaders, that distance gains have been the product of improved athleticism with little acknowledgement that equipment might be the driving force. The most notorious was USGA President Walter Driver's claim that 75% of distance increases could be blamed on "improved athleticism." (And in Finchem's defense, he's also been quite clear that this evolving athleticism might lead to some form of distance regulation.)

So aren't we here today at least in part because golf's leadership wheeled out a suspect rationale for distance increases? A rationale that might drive young athletes to try performance enhancing drugs in order to improve their athleticism, and therefore, perhaps keep up distance-wise?