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  • 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 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
  • Professional Golf 2014: The Complete Media, Fan and Fantasy Guide
    Professional Golf 2014: The Complete Media, Fan and Fantasy Guide
    by Daniel Wexler
  • 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 best way to whet the appetite and improve the game of any golfer is to offer an incentive and provide a reward for high class play, and by high class play is meant simply the best of which each individual is capable. Placing a premium on accuracy with due consideration for length should be the aim of all men who design courses, for accuracy in the play signifies skill, and skill is generally the master of brute force. WILLIAM FLYNN




"Will you be designing environmentally-friendly golf courses in the future?"

1.jpgSeems like a dumb question, right? Unfortunately that one was teed up for Tiger Woods and he uncharacteristicaly heel pulled it into the left rough.

But first, other highlights from his sitdown with the laptoppers in Tucson:

Q. I know you're concentrating on this week, but in the buildup to coming over here, I've read a lot in the media about the dialogue or lack of dialogue between you and the commissioner, about the schedule for this year. Can you tell us anything about that?

TIGER WOODS: I've talked to him quite a bit (smiling), so I don't know where that comes from.

Q. Well, there's been talk about given the new sort of format this year that -- is there a situation where you could maybe fall short of the minimum requirements of playing this year and maybe miss out on some of the climax to the FedExCup?

TIGER WOODS: I've just got to play 15 events, right? That's what I did last year.

Gee, what a ringing endorsement for the FedEx Cup and the PGA Tour!

Q. I don't know if you're reading the same stuff as me, but basically they were saying that there is a kind of atmosphere between you and the commissioner.

TIGER WOODS: We talk about once a week, so I don't know where that comes from. He's got my cell phone and we talk. It's funny, we just missed each other skiing. I have no idea where that's coming from.

How sweet, just missed each other on the slopes. Let's hope they don't run into each other.

Which reminds me, this slug for the Lakers Radmanovic slipped in Park City, separated his shoulder and already they're calls for a contract reading to see if he violated a clause by skiing (oh wait, he was in Park City for the great sidewalk shopping, forgive me).

As much as they are paying him, does Nike really let Tiger ski? Guess so. Anyway...

 Q. As a budding golf course architect, when you come to a new venue, come to a new community that has such a historic golfing tradition, do you approach it a little bit differently than when you were just playing, or have you always taken the mindset that, could I come here and design a golf course in place like that?

TIGER WOODS: It's interesting, since I started to get into that part of my life, every golf course I play, I look at the golf course differently now. Why would they construct that? Why would they build this? What were they thinking here? Trying to understand it instead of just plotting my way around the golf course. I do look at golf courses now, and it is kind of fun.


 Q. In your design career and with a new baby on the way, where do you stand in terms of the environmental aspects of golf, and where will you be designing environmentally-friendly golf courses in the future?

TIGER WOODS: That's the whole idea. That's the challenge of it. As an architect, that's what your responsibility is to do, to also provide a wonderful playing environment. That's a task that I think is going to be -- that's been at the forefront for all architects for decades.

Uh, Tiger, they mean are you going to build a wetlands at Al Jambajuicia to mitigate the puddle that you are bulldozing over. Your architecture buddy,


"Nose to nose with an Ursus arctos horribilis?" offers this caption for their Jack Nicklaus photo below: "The Golden Bear prepares to go nose to nose with an Ursus arctos horribilis in the foyer of his offices in North Palm Beach, Fla."

I bet you can do better...


Lawrie Slimming Down To Prepare For Slew of "Whatever Happened To Paul Lawrie" Stories and Photo Shoots

Douglas Lowe shares far more than you ever wanted to know about the diet of the last European to win a major.

"I like my chocolate but haven't had any for six or seven weeks and nor have I had ice cream," he said proudly in Edinburgh having signed an extended agreement with sponsors Aberdeen Asset Management.

"My snacks are now fruit mid-morning and afternoon. It's been difficult but I think you have to make sacrifices if you are to get to the top of your game."
So that's why he fell of the face of the planet after winning at Carnoustie! 
A good diet has played its part, but the weight loss is also down to regular gym sessions under the instruction of Murray Carnie, a family friend who is PE teacher at Mintlaw Academy.

Ah going right to the top! What, the PE teacher at Hogwarts was too busy?

"I'm feeling fantastic and raring to go," said Lawrie, who returns to action next week in Thailand at the Johnnie Walker Classic in a bid to improve his standing in the world rankings at No.195, a far cry from his halcyon says of seven years ago when he was flying high as Colin Montgomerie's Ryder Cup partner.

He's 195th? Wow.


No Longer Tempting, Still Interesting

First, let's get the Faldo-Nantz question out of the way. During Sunday's telecast, they apparently asked why architects can't build holes like the 10th at Riviera anymore.

I wish Jim had asked me earlier in the week. The answer is so simple!

Most of today's architects haven't got a clue what makes No. 10 work, which makes it kind of hard to design a hole like it. Sorry boys. Your ordinary short par-4 portfolios back me up on this one.

Okay, now that we settled that, let's consider about what happened this year.  

The tiny little green was firmer and faster than ever. A positive change was made by Tom Marzolf (to offset the really lousy ones) when the bunker face in the back left was lowered, bringing the green and fringe right up to the bunker, making the right side that much more daunting.

Yet, for the first time in the governing bodies-failing-the-game-on-distance era, nearly everyone in the field believes the only play is to drive the 10th. Even Jose Maria Olazabal was doing it.  

Mickelson approaches No. 10 in the 2007 Nissan Open playoff from an odd angle (click to enlarge)
I asked Phil Mickelson in his post-Sunday round session why he doesn't consider the lay-up optoin, which seemed to startle him based on the unusual pause before answering.

Q.    Can you talk about your playing strategy on 10 and why you don't lay up, what's your approach to that [hole]?

PHIL MICKELSON:  The only way to play that hole is to get past the hole. The real question why didn't I hit driver and get it for sure past the hole.  I thought with a little bit of help, 3 wood would be enough.  You can't hold that section of the green, short of the pin.  There is no way.  It's was too firm and it's angled six or seven degrees away from you, it's just not possible.

Final round ShotLink data for No. 10. Note how few layed up. (click to enlarge)
The concept of laying up left and having a wedge in? Not even in the cards anymore.

And that's not just for a long hitter like Mickelson.

Consider eventual winner Charles Howell's comments:

Q.    Charles, during the ride past on the playoff on the tenth hole, Jim Nantz and Nick Faldo were talking about world ten what's the history with that whole number?

CHARLES HOWELL III:  We've had a love/hate relationship, I think it's one of the greatest par4's that we play and it was different this year, and I think you saw more guys go at that green off the tee because the green was so hard.  In the years passed here, that green has been so soft with all of the rain you can lay the ball up to the left and hit a wedge in there and hold it.  I saw a lot of great wedge shots this week land on the green and end up in the bunker.  With the greens being as firm as it was, around the green, as to why we don't have more, I don't know.  Because that one there is every bit as nerve-racking and exciting as we need.

Q.    Where are you trying to play it on 10 when you are playing?

CHARLES HOWELL III:  Anything.  Anything at this front edge of the green or just left of it and pinhigh.  So the reason that hole is so good is that the golf ball is going so far now that a driver actually gets past that and you end up chipping back this way.   So Phil hit a 3wood, I hit 3wood, we've got to hit those 3woods pretty darn good to carry that last bunker to left.  So it's really hard to get that ball pinhigh left.  Like I said with that green firm, that front right bunker is no bargain. 

So I'm not sure if this is a statement about the (lack of) confidence Tour players have from 110-75 yards, or simply a statement about the sheer ignorance of the world's greats.

I'm still not convinced that driving the green is the percentage play, when, as Steve Elkington told a few of us earlier in the week: laying up all four days, he'll never take more than 16 for the week on No. 10, and he'll probably play it 2 under.

Either way, one thing became clear.

The tempting quality of the hole that Jim Murray so beautiful described years ago has become a casualty of unharnessed distance.

This does not make it a lesser hole, just a little less interesting and a whole lot different than just a few years ago. 


“The longer we hit the ball, the better we are, and we have to get away from that."

Monty, I now apologize for ever making fun of your car washing fetish. Loved your comments from Dubai:

Speaking at GolfEx Dubai, Montgomerie himself raised a few eyebrows by insisting that suppliers make slower balls and modified clubs to boost competitiveness at professional level.

Monty believes that balls should be made with ten to fifteen per cent less velocity and wedges cut back from 60 to 56 degrees to restore the skill factor, while the perennial debate over big-hitting clubs and lengthening courses still needs to be addressed, believes the eight European Tour Order of Merit winner.

“The longer we hit the ball, the better we are, and we have to get away from that,” he said. “The Masters has lost some of its charm. I used to shoot 66 on a round but I can’t see that happening now. St Andrews has six new tees and when changes are being made there, you know we have a problem.”

"The first Tiger Woods course cannot be a course Tiger likes to play on."

Blasphemy! We're talking about a man who loves Firestone, so I'm sure he can find Al Jumbalya to his liking. Ron Fream does not agree.

Fream told The New Paper: 'Tiger Woods' first golf course will be the product of the ability and talent, knowledge and experience of those who surround him.

'Tiger learned nothing of golf course architecture at Stanford University.

'His ability to focus is so intense that when he walks a golf course, he does not see the course or the surroundings.

'He only sees his ball, his target and then the next target.

'The first Tiger Woods course cannot be a course Tiger likes to play on.

'His design will most likely accommodate many expected tourist visitors and average players and, maybe one day, play host to a championship.

'Tiger knows nothing of land use master planning and, therefore, cannot contribute significantly to the interface of golf and adjacent housing development, which will be a source of revenue to pay off his huge design fee.

'Tiger knows nothing of golf course construction methods. He knows nothing of technical turf-grass maintenance.

'Building a golf course in Dubai, where temperatures often exceed 45 degrees Celsius, gets special expectations for construction and maintenance.'

So how will his course look like?

He said: 'The Tiger Woods course will have dramatic terrain changes as the site is flat now.

'It will use a lot of water for lakes and maybe streams.

'A large number of date palm trees will surround the golf holes.

'Greens cannot be overly contoured. Sand bunkering will be a major attraction.'



Greetings From L.A., Final Edition

greetingsfromLAAfter meeting Golf Digest fashion guru Marty Hackel, I now realize I have way too much khaki in my life. I need serious help. A khaki intervention perhaps?

Of course I'm not going to go all green pants and pink shirt like the sometimes Golf Channel fashion critic sported Saturday, nor will I dare to try the fire engine red slacks he sported Sunday, yet I am re-evaluating my love of beige trousers. (But it's so easy to coordinate in the dark!).

Oh, the Nissan Open at Riviera. Right. Well, the PGA Tour's setup of the course was a tad uninspired this year. Recent years have seen a nice variety of hole locations and alternate tee locations. But three straight days of a front right hole on 15 and another three straight back left on 6 did not exactly take advantage of possibilities with incredibly fast and firm greens. Then again, there were no major glitches and the players were allowed to display their talent, so all in all, a good week for the PGA Tour's Mark Russell and his hard working crew.

As in other recent years, I come away even more impressed by Captain Thomas's design despite all of the poor changes and grateful that the players love it, even if they have no idea why beyond the usual "it's right in front of you" line.

I'm not surprised by how little the major changes (length, shifted bunkers) increase scoring. Perhaps because each time the Fazio gang tends to chip away at the little subtle features and deceptive touches that make the course difficult, all in the name of visibility or framing. 

Take for instance the two par-5s on the back nine, where they brought in fairway bunkering to close off the approaches for those attempting to get home on these once-long holes. Both holes saw bunker shifting that much better defines where the green begins, which actually making it easier to pick out the target for a good player, especially for those who lay up on these holes. Both used to pose difficult third shots because of they were so undefined, but not anymore.

New look No. 11 (Click to enlarge)
In the case of the 11th, the shaping eliminated an old bank which kicked balls down into the right bunker or rough. The  top edge of the bunker extension is now slightly angled to kick a ball toward the green instead of away from it. The difference is slight, but in no way is the hole more difficult for a good player. (The scoring average went down to 4.596 from 4.647 last year, even though the greens were much firmer this year and the hole had been given new "strength." The 17th also played easier this year statistically.)

As for the great tenth, I'll get to that tomorrow with some photos and ShotLink stuff. I know you can't wait.


"Golf Happens"

The L.A. Times sent out their former hockey columnist for some rivetting insights into Sunday's Nissan Open finale. Check out this killer lede:

Phil Mickelson's opportunities to win the Nissan Open were strewn around Riviera Country Club with the leaves that reclaimed the greens and cart paths after he lost to Charles Howell III on the third hole of a playoff.

The leaves that reclaimed the greens and cart paths? Wow. I need a moment to soak that poetry up.

And how about this Jim Murray-eat-your-heart-out moment:

Sunday was Howell's day to shine, to be known not as "Charlie three sticks" for the suffix attached to his last name, but as a winner.

Golf happens. Mickelson has a great short game, but he couldn't explain why he missed an apparently good putt on 13 and another on 16. Even Tiger Woods loses once in a while — though not in his last seven PGA Tour events and not here this year, since he chose to take a week off before this week's Accenture Match Play Championship at Marana, Ariz.

Mickelson, a two-time Masters champion, has lost tournaments before. And he will lose tournaments again.

Chills down the spine here in Santa Monica. 


Greetings From L.A., Volume 6

greetingsfromLAI don't have a whole lot to say yet about the final round because I want to ponder the events of Sunday and in particular, the 10th hole play. Oh, and, I want to go to bed.

In the meantime, I can report that this remark earned an audible groan from the assembled inkslingers who gathered for Charles Howell's post-Nissan Open victory interview room: 

JOAN vT ALEXANDER:   More important, you are on top of the FedExCup once again after another great week.  Congratulations.

CHARLES HOWELL III:  Thank you.  Obviously, the one time I really want to be on top of the FedExCup is a few months from now.  But I will definitely take this, and any time I can be leading a FedExCup list with the players in the world today, the players here at this field, is extremely special.  230136-683566-thumbnail.jpg
Charles Howell (click to enlarge)

Phil on 18 Sunday (click to enlarge)
Another point on Phil, before the game stories start appearing: it was a remarkable effort to shoot a final round 68 while his partners Padraig Harrington and Rich Beem stunk up the joint.

He spent an excessive amount of time waiting on them throughout the day, which may explain why they both so kindly offered to play out before Mickelson attempted his par putt in regulation.



Feherty v. Kostis

So why does Feherty get his own guy holding the monitor while Kostis has to have that harnessed thing? A perk in Feherty's new contract?

fehertywithmike.jpg kostismonitor.jpg



"You don't want the members to have to play U.S. Open fairway widths for six years"

From Joe Logan, writing about Merion's 2013 U.S. Open preparation:

Two tees will be moved. At No. 2, a 535-yard uphill par 5, the tee will be moved up 20 to 25 yards. The move is mainly to create space between the current tee at No. 2 and the nearby 10th green, but it is also to make an unreachable par 5 reachable in 2.

The tee at the 14th hole, a 408-yard par 4, will be moved back 20 to 30 yards, making the hole tougher but, more importantly, creating badly needed space around the adjacent 18th green, where grandstands must go. (The practice putting green behind the current 14th tee will also be moved back.)

Several fairways will also be narrowed slightly, or recontoured, mostly to undo what Davis called a "serpentine" effect.

"The USGA is not keen on pinched fairways at, say, 240 yards or 280 yards, to penalize short hitters or long hitters," Davis said.

For Merion members, who have called in respected architect Tom Fazio to handle the work, the question is one of timing. Davis recently told the club that it would be nice if the changes were made by 2009, providing a sort of test run when Merion hosts the Walker Cup. But the USGA is not adamant about that timetable.

"You don't want the members to have to play U.S. Open fairway widths for six years," Davis said. "Why should they be subjected to that?"

Nissan Open Photo Caption Help, Vol. 5



Greetings From L.A., Volume 5

greetingsfromLAA hot and sunny Saturday at Riviera where the course seemed vulnerable, producing a bunch of 68s and 69s but no killer low round (well except Rich Beem's hole-in-one aided 65).

Phil Mickelson summed it up in his post round gathering with the scribblers (where I'm typing this literature): "it's hard to make a lot of birdies and hard to make a lot of bogies."

His sitdown included a beautiful rally killler:

Q.    I'm running a story about your old college roommate PerUlrik Johansson, he has lost all of his playing rights here in the States, and in Europe, can you give me a comment about that?

It's rather startling to see Padraig Harrington at 12 under considering how often he's short-siding himself, and also how many times he tried to play a pitch and run through the kikuyu. The most starting show, however, came at the 6th where he missed left of the green but had a nice bank behind the hole to throw his chip and have it go up a slope, then roll back down within five feet. He instead tried a spinning shot close to the hole that had no chance, and naturally he faced an 15-footer for par.

Here's what he said after.

6, I hit a 4- or 5iron left of the green.  And then chipped it by  it was short.  I chipped it well by the hole and missed the putt.  Seemingly I could have chipped it up the side of the green and it would have come back down.   I didn't happen to notice that.  My playing partner told me that as I was going up the next hole. 

Q.    Are you saying that was Phil that showed that to you and not Charles?


Nice of Phil to give him some help!

Media center affairs were rather dull other than the brief power outage and Marty Hackel's green-pant-pink-shirt-yellow belt ensemble. He declined to be photographed. I will try again tomorrow though, so look out Marty!


Nissan Open Photo Caption Help, Vol. 4



Calling In The Shinto Priest

redwood.jpgIllustration and insight from John Strege's Local Knowledge in the latest Golf World:

Those participating in this week's Nissan Open might notice that two stately redwood trees on the bank left of the 18th fairway at the Riviera CC are no longer there. They weren't removed without considerable consternation, either. In Japanese culture trees are thought to have souls, and to ensure the redwoods were dealt with properly, Riviera owner Noboru Watanabe summoned a Shinto priest to perform the ritual ceremony. A small temporary shrine was erected in front of the green. The ceremony included traditional chants on behalf of the souls embedded in the trees. The proceedings also reportedly included an O Harahi purification ceremony to cleanse the souls of those wielding the chainsaws that brought down the two trees, which were part of Riviera's landscape for about 50 years. The trees were removed in conjunction with the installation of a new irrigation system. The trees rarely came into play, and their removal is not thought to have altered the character of the course in any fashion.



Saturday Scene

One of the great scenes in golf, Phil Mickelson plays to the 18th Saturday at Riviera.



Nissan Open Photo Caption Help, Vol. 3

Anthony Kim, making a fashion statement?



Letter To The Editor

An interesting letter to the editor in Saturday's L.A. Times:

After suffering through last weekend's Pebble Beach Pro-Am, I think it's about time they put this little clambake to rest.

Years ago, when actual celebrities showed up, it was novel, and fun. Now with the B-list celebrities and six-hour rounds of hacking, it's like going to the dentist, with the pompous Nick Faldo along as commentator.

The reason I stopped playing golf was because of slow play and too many people on the course with absolutely no idea of how to play the game. Why would anybody want to watch it on TV?




Why Phil Is Popular

After the post 2nd round media scrum in the ladies locker, that didn't sound right.

Anyway, after meeting with TV and print folks who burned off their chicken and potato media room lunch by coming up the hill to Riviera's clubhouse, Phil Mickelson easily could have taken a right turn down a hallway and headed toward the locker room.

Instead, he announced his intention to sign autographs for 15-20 minutes, where around 50 people (mostly very young boys) were waiting in near darkness to get various items signed. Pretty classy.



Anthony Kim First Player In History of Game To Not Have Phone Call Returned By Tournament Director

I found out this week that Anthony Kim is about as popular in the press tent as a Monday finish, so it's nice to see him getting to display his inner self for all to read. Courtesy of Peter Yoon, L.A. Times:

"I thought I was going to have an opportunity to get my card through sponsor exemptions, but obviously I feel like I got snubbed there," said Kim, who earned his card through qualifying school.

"I was 165th on the money list in two tournaments that other people are playing 30 events in. Not to get an opportunity when people said they were going to give me an opportunity is a slap in the face."
Here's the best part:
Kim, who is playing this week on a sponsor's exemption because his Q-school status wasn't enough to get into the popular event, said he applied for several sponsor exemptions, but his calls went unreturned.

"Having the chance to get my card or at least bypassing two stages of Q-school would have been nice," he said. "But to not have that opportunity was pretty tough to swallow."

Kim had to play all three stages of qualifying school, a grueling five-week stretch that he blames for his slow start this season. He missed three cuts in four tournaments this year before shooting 72-69 at Riviera to make the cut in the Nissan Open.

Now that he has his card, Kim said he won't hold a grudge against those tournaments that ignored him last year — maybe.

"Obviously, I'm here now and they're going to be asking me to play in their tournament," he said. "We'll just play it by ear right now and we'll see what happens. I'm definitely going to remember what happened. "


I'm sure tournament directors around the world will now have many sleepless nights.