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Books
  • Lines of Charm: Brilliant And Irreverent Quotes, Notes, And Anecdotes from Golf's Golden Age Architects
    Lines of Charm: Brilliant And Irreverent Quotes, Notes, And Anecdotes from Golf's Golden Age Architects
  • The Future of Golf: How Golf Lost Its Way and How to Get It Back
    The Future of Golf: How Golf Lost Its Way and How to Get It Back
    by Geoff Shackelford
  • Grounds for Golf: The History and Fundamentals of Golf Course Design
    Grounds for Golf: The History and Fundamentals of Golf Course Design
    by Geoff Shackelford
  • The Art of Golf Design
    The Art of Golf Design
    by Michael Miller, Geoff Shackelford
  • Alister MacKenzie's Cypress Point Club
    Alister MacKenzie's Cypress Point Club
    by Geoff Shackelford
  • The Golden Age of Golf Design
    The Golden Age of Golf Design
    by Geoff Shackelford
  • The Good Doctor Returns: A Novel
    The Good Doctor Returns: A Novel
    by Geoff Shackelford
  • Masters of the Links: Essays on the Art of Golf and Course Design
    Masters of the Links: Essays on the Art of Golf and Course Design
  • The Captain: George C. Thomas Jr. and His Golf Architecture
    The Captain: George C. Thomas Jr. and His Golf Architecture
    by Geoff Shackelford
Current Reading
  • The 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
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

If Dr. MacKenzie or Donald Ross or any of the other great architects came back now, I wonder what would they think of carts, equipment, and what they’ve done to their courses. I never knew them, but I’ve studied their lives, their courses, and their thoughts on the game. I think they’d take a dim view of it. For centuries golf had had a strong enough backbone to hold onto its beliefs. BEN CRENSHAW

 

    

Monday
Mar052007

The Gallery As A Match Play Venue

Catching up on my reading, I noticed John Hawkins' assessment of The Gallery in the latest Golf World:

The move to Tucson resulted in more than $1 million in ticket sales—attendance was limited to 17,000 per day—but The Gallery-South is an awful walking course, set on a rise of earth known as Dove Mountain and woefully short of decent sightlines. If you didn't have a camel and a pair of binoculars, you were basically out there for the exercise.

 

Sunday
Mar042007

What Happened At The Honda?

I was out of town and mercifully didn't see any of the Honda, but judging by the winning scores, the tightly bunched leaderboard and a one-hole playoff not finishing before dark, it sounds like things got a little goofy? No?

For some unknown reason I ventured to PGATour.com to find out how the best players in the world couldn't finish on time, but no luck in their game story. A check of other game stories said nothing.

Was the pace of play that bad? How about the setup?

Sunday
Mar042007

Spin Control

The stories are finally trickling out on the USGA's proposed groove rule change, and I suppose it's a matter of taste, but there are three unique takes.

John Paul Newport files another of those all-over-the-place columns where he seems to have an opinion, but writes in fear of his pro-business Wall Street Journal editors. I have to admit that it's entertaining to actually read someone waivering dramatically from sentence to sentence. If you want to save yourself the trouble, it comes down to this: Newport doesn't want to give up 10 yards.

Furthermore, speaking for myself, even if someone persuaded me that switching to shorter balls was necessary for the good of the game, I can't imagine being happy about it. I'd hate to have to start laying up short of that bunker on No. 2 that I now carry. Getting older is enough of a burden without having to play a shorter ball, too.

For those of you keeping score at home, that's five self references in two sentences. Oh, and he called ball companies for perspective on the issue. Next week, Newport will be calling tobacco companies for their views on the possibility of cigarette smoking causing cancer.

Though the calls make this worth the price of admission:

Titleist has been especially aggressive in countering any whisper of support for ball rollback. Joseph Nauman, an executive vice president at Titleist's parent company, Acushnet, acknowledges that its executives have had "very pointed conversations" with media and other organizations about the issue. In 2004, at the height of the alarums about distance, Titleist started pulling all of its ads from the industry's most outspoken magazine, Golf Digest. Mr. Nauman says that wasn't a response to articles on the distance controversy, but the action had a chilling effect nonetheless on ad-dependent media throughout the industry.

Wally, you would do that? I'm shocked! Not the Wally I know!

Steve Elling
does a nice job of providing a "balanced" take on the issue, considering both sides of the equation. Elling seems to buy into the USGA's logic (V-grooves will lead players to throttle back), he too concludes that the distance and ball debate isn't going away.

Finally John Huggan weighed in with is Scotland on Sunday column.

Don’t look now folks, but that nifty new wedge in your golf bag is, sometime down the road, going to be deemed illegal. It’s nothing you did – or can do – with the club you understand. But the boogie men at the Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews and their sidekicks at the United States Golf Association have, in their finite wisdom, decided that something has to be done about those nasty square grooves on the face of a club you mostly use to hack back into play after another of
those sliced tee-shots.   Ironically, it is the seeming indifference of the world’s top players to the seemingly ever-increasing disconnection between success and accuracy off the tee that has golf’s officials in a bit of a tizz.

And he quotes a former player...

“When I first started on tour back in the mid-1980s, I would watch players like Seve Ballesteros, Ian Woosnam, Bernhard Langer and Jose Maria Olazabal crap themselves when faced with a ‘jumpy’ lie from the rough,” says a former European Tour professional of my acquaintance.  “They knew that if the shot went wrong they would be 30-40 yards over the green, rather than on the back edge of the putting surface, which has invariably been the case recently. For that reason alone, V-grooves have to be brought back; we need to put fear back into the game.”

Now, while all of the above is just fine by me, it must be added that even this welcome move by the game’s ruling bodies is, at best, only a start in the on-going battle to restore elite golf to its former glories. The ability to spin shots from long grass is, after all, merely an effect; the real problem is the nonsensical distances the world’s best players can propel their tee-shots using balls that a) go too far and b) fly too straight. Which is why you don’t see any of today’s big names shaping shots like Ballesteros and Lee Trevino used to do. Sadly, golf at the highest level has become a science rather than an art.

Still, it would be wishful thinking on our parts to see this latest development in the technology war doubling as a prelude to the R&A and USGA hauling the ball back 40-50 yards for Tiger and the gang. That ain’t going to happen as long as the tacit threat of legal action from club and ball manufacturers hangs over their graying heads.
Sadly, cowardice – albeit understandable - rules when it comes to taking on high-powered lawyers employed by the likes of Titleist, Callaway and TaylorMade. Even this latest development has come to pass only because the manufacturers know full well that square grooves or V-grooves make no difference to the average golfer (when was the last time you ‘sucked’ a wedge shot back to the pin?). Which is why the ban is only going to apply to so-called ‘elite players’ and why the club makers were thrown a bone in the shape of a rules change that will allow adjustable lofts and lies on clubs.

This is an interesting question he raises...

There are, however, wider implications in that a line has to be drawn somewhere. When and where will a golfer magically become ‘elite’ having previously been, eh, ‘non-elite?’ Until now, the R&A and USGA has been vehemently opposed to what they call ‘bifurcation,’ a situation where amateurs and professionals would play the game under different rules (despite the fact that, largely due to the exponential benefits available to those who can swing modern clubs over a certain speed, the gap between the two codes has never been wider).

 

Saturday
Mar032007

Remembering Dick Donovan

Thanks to reader John for this nice Kevin Stevens story on the passing of Dick Donovan, one of the great collectors and friend of golf authors around the globe.

Saturday
Mar032007

The Nicklaus Golf Digest Article, Vol. 5

Finally, there were Jack's comments on Augusta National which I found interesting because last year he appeared to back off of his original assertions made during the Golf Digest Panelist Summit (and subsequently published in the April 2006 Digest).

No grey area here:

I miss the old Augusta National. Is the radically redesigned golf course a good one? Yes. Is it the golf course with the design principles that Bobby Jones and Alister Mackenzie intended? Absolutely not.

Augusta was generous off the tee, which made it great for everyday member play. But to score—to really play golf—you had to position the drive to get a good angle at the green. It was a second-shot golf course.

Now the tee shot is more restricted. Trees and new bunkering have narrowed the landing areas, making Augusta a tight course with few angles or options. I know the changes were made to provide an increased challenge for modern pros and keep them from overpowering the course, but it has taken the charm out of the Jones/Mackenzie design.

So much for any possible misinterpretation that Nicklaus thinks they are upholding the integrity of the original design.

I was disappointed that in doing the redesign, Augusta didn’t consult the five oldest multiple Masters champions who also are course designers [Palmer, Player, Nicklaus, Watson, Crenshaw]. We would have had a lot of good ideas, and we wouldn’t have clashed. We would have come to an agreement because we all have so much respect for what’s there.

Well, I don't know about the part about not clashing...but those five would be a lot better than what they've been doing! 

Friday
Mar022007

TPC Sale To Fund Avenel Facelift?

Golfweek's Scott Hamilton reports that the PGA Tour's new strategic alignment with sale of courses to Heritage is actually a capital-generating move to pay for the $20 million redo of TPC Avenel.

Thursday
Mar012007

Els Prepares For Masters By Changing Clubs?

I hadn't given Ernie's move to Callaway from Titleist much thought until I saw those highlights of him spraying it around the Johnnie Walker Classic with his new driver.

It got me wondering. Isn't the timing a bit questionable this close to the Masters? I know it's not Phil-before-the-Ryder-Cup-lame, but still...

Thursday
Mar012007

Buried Lede Department: PGA Tour Press Release Division

From PGATour.com:

TOUR forms alliance with Heritage Golf Group

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- The PGA TOUR's Policy Board announced Thursday that the TOUR has formed a strategic alliance with San Diego-based Heritage Golf Group, Inc.

The extent of the alliance remains to be fully defined, but is intended to leverage the assets and strengths of both companies to provide expanded golf experiences for members and guests throughout the TOUR's TPC Network of 22 premier clubs and Heritage Golf Group's portfolio of 16 distinguished private and resort courses located in California, Texas, Georgia, Florida and South Carolina. These facilities include Valencia Country Club in Valencia, Calif., host site of the Champions Tour's AT&T Champions Classic; Oyster Reef Golf Club in Hilton Head Island, S.C.; Atlanta National Golf Club and White Columns Country Club in Atlanta, Ga.; and Weston Hills Country Club in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., former site of the PGA TOUR's Honda Classic. In the coming months, both management teams will work together to develop member and guest programs that are mutually beneficial.

So you ask, why announce this? And now a word from our MBA's.

"Our strategic alliance with Heritage Golf Group is a logical extension of our efforts to provide PGA TOUR Experiences for our members and guests," said David Pillsbury, president of PGA TOUR Golf Course Properties. "By harnessing the natural synergies between our companies, we can deliver a better, more valuable golf experience for our collective members and guests. Ultimately, we envision a network of more than 40 affiliated clubs, all of which share similar quality and service standards. This represents a significant step towards making this unprecedented alliance a reality."

Heritage Golf Group President and Chief Executive Officer Bob Husband, a 25-year golf industry veteran who is a current member of the PGA of America and a former PGA TOUR member, added, "On behalf of Heritage Golf Group and our more than 1,000 dedicated ambassadors, we are thrilled to work in collaboration with the PGA TOUR to continue our pursuit of providing members and guests with the best possible club experiences, while at the same time preserving the integrity and rich heritage of the game of golf."

Translation of harnessing those synergies? The PGA Tour is selling Heritage some of it's dogs less wonderful TPC's...

Under the terms of the strategic alliance, in addition to the development of joint programming, the PGA TOUR Policy Board approved the sale of four TPC Network assets to Heritage Golf Group, Inc. Included in the transaction are the sale of TPC Eagle Trace in Coral Springs, Fla.; TPC Michigan in Dearborn, Mich.; TPC Piper Glen in Charlotte, N.C.; and TPC Prestancia in Sarasota, Fla.. Under the terms of the sales transactions, which are expected to close sometime in the second quarter of 2007, the clubs will be managed by Heritage Golf Group, Inc. but will continue to operate under the TPC brand. In addition to their current membership benefits, members of TPCs and Heritage clubs will enjoy additional access privileges that will add value to their memberships.
Thursday
Mar012007

The Nicklaus Golf Digest Article, Vol. 4

Some more comments of interest from his co-authored piece with Jaime Diaz:

I hope we’re not running people out of the game. As it has become an easier game to play for the pros, the trend toward more severe courses has made it harder for the amateur.

In most cases, the farther the amateur is able to hit the ball, the farther the ball goes off line. The old average drive was in the 190-yard range, but now it’s more like 210 to 220. And on many of the newer courses, off line means searching for golf balls. It’s making the game slower, and a lot less fun.
Oh and don't forget Jack, more dangerous for the townhomes on the rim. Sorry, continue...
The game is more popular than ever among avid golfers with the income and leisure to play a lot, but most people have less free time than ever. The current generation of younger parents spends a lot more time supervising their kids than previous generations, and it means they find it harder to justify a weekend round of golf. Leaving for the course at 7 in the morning and coming back at 3 in the afternoon is a hard sell for a family man. But getting back in time for lunch wouldn’t be.

That’s why we should consider the possibility of making 12 holes a standard round. It might mean breaking up 18-hole facilities into three segments of six holes. Of course it would meet resistance, but eventually it would be accepted because it would make sense in people’s lives.
And this is the best part, addressing the ridiculous attacks made against him over the years by folks who, if confronted by the greatest of them all, would never dare to question his motives and would blabber all over him about being their hero. But behind his back...he's just bitter...right!
Those who say that my comments are intended to help my course-design business are wrong. As a designer, I benefit financially from more land used, more renovations, more penal features. As for people thinking I favor a rollback in equipment because I don’t want Tiger to break my record, going back to older-style equipment would help, not hurt, Tiger because his skill level would make a bigger difference. If we took equipment back today, he might win 30 majors instead of 20.
I’m more interested in the game of golf than in my records. I did what I could do in my time, and it was the best I could do. Now I just want what’s best for the game.
Thursday
Mar012007

Rack Up A Perfect Club Rerun...

...because another hour of the Honda isn't worth it?

This is an odd one, reported by Craig Dolch in the Palm Beach Post:

TV air times returned to three hours: A week after saying it would cuts its Thursday and Friday telecasts of Honda by an hour, Golf Channel officials announced Wednesday it has returned its air times to 3-6 p.m.

Last week, the network announced the air times had been changed to 4-6 p.m. in the first two rounds, without giving a reason. The Palm Beach Post reported the reason for the change was Golf Channel was trying to persuade American Honda to buy more advertising, but the car company balked.

A source Wednesday said the Golf Channel made its change after receiving a phone call from PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem, who didn't want to lose two hours of golf coverage.

 

Thursday
Mar012007

USGA Groove Change Question, Vol. 3

Do any of you know someone who has heard this announcement on grooves and who has seen it as anything other than a backdoor way to deal with distance?

I ask because the initial reaction to this announcement does not seem to be, "oh they are finally going to do something about guys not caring about hitting fairways." The reaction I hear is, "when are they going to do something about distance?"

Check out Jim Furyk's comments at the Honda Classic yesterday.

JIM FURYK: I could give you a good stat. Back in I think it was in '02 and '03, the Top-5 guys on the Money List each year, only one of them were in the Top-100 in driving accuracy. So why it's become an issue in 2007 is probably my biggest wonderment. You know, we haven't started hitting longer overnight. Didn't happen yesterday in '06. But probably trying to figure out a good way to combat the distance has probably been more the issue.

Being a player, I would just follow the rules and figure out a way to play the best I can within them and won't worry about it. The good players are still going to play the best no matter what they do with the rules. I guess they are just trying to separate, make more separation. I don't know, our game has become a power-oriented game. If my kids want to learn to play or if they want to play competitively, I'm going to teach them to hit it hard, if I can, because I still don't really know how to.
But I'm going to teach them to hit it hard, and we'll figure out how to hit it straight later. Basically that's how my career went. When I was young I hit the ball far. When I was in college I used to hit in the long drive contest for my college team. Obviously it doesn't look like that now and I don't have the ability to move it like I used to. But, you know, my game was kind of long and crooked as a junior, and now it's shorter, more controlled. But if I have a son or a daughter that wants to play, I'm going to teach them to bomb it because that's the way the game is going and we'll teach them to hit it straight later.

 

Wednesday
Feb282007

"It's the chair off the Titanic"

Jack's really, really excited about the the groove rule change impacting distance gains from the ball really good stretching programs. Plugging the President's Cup with Gary Player, he was asked about adjustable equipment.

JACK NICKLAUS: I need one every day anyway, so that's all right. I need an adjustable driver. You never know what swing I'm going to bring along. I don't think either one of them mean very much, but it's -- I guess it's a start, I suppose. But it's the chair off the Titanic, I guess (laughter).

Q. Jack, this is another regulatory question. I enjoyed your comments in Golf Digest with Jaime Diaz on many subjects, but the suggestion about rolling back the ball 10 percent, which I know both of you had advocated. Jack, where would most of the opposition to doing this actually come from? And the other question is for the average player, would they -- what would be the benefit, potential benefit, of doing that?

JACK NICKLAUS: Well, there's several things. We don't have time for all of it. But one, if you take the ball and roll it back, whatever the percentage might be, you really are bringing about 17,000 or 18,000 or 19,000 golf courses in the United States that are basically obsolete to the professional, you're bringing those back into play for a possible event or something where the professionals can go play.

If you have the average golfer, now has a golf ball that is so high tech and clubs that are so high tech that they may hit the ball on the face of the golf course maybe one out of ten shots, and when they hit one out of ten shots on the face, they say, wow, look how far that goes, and they love it. But the other nine shots, because it is so high tech when they miss it, it goes much shorter than it would have if they didn't have such a high tech piece of equipment or ball. So learning how to play golf -- part of this whole thing is to bring people in the game and keep them in the game. And if you have a golf ball that you don't know whether you're going to hit it on the face or not hit it on the face and there's 50 yards of difference between a good shot and a bad shot, it's hard to learn how to play golf.

This is fun...

Back when we were playing, granted, the ball didn't go as far, the clubs didn't hit it as far, but the difference between me and the club champion in most places was 15 or 20 yards at max. I could go to any course and play an exhibition, and I'll bet Gary can say the same, we'd go to play an exhibition and the club champ was playing, in the old conditions the club champ had a chance of beating us. Today, 7,400, 7,500 yards, 7,600, that the pros have to play it from to be competitive, the club champ has got no chance. I'd love to see the game be brought together for the average golfer and the pros together.

Ah...that makes a lot of sense Jack. We can't have that! Oh you weren't done...

Now, you say what's the advantage to the average golfer? Well, the average golfer, they have the ability to always move back on the golf course, the pros don't. Likewise, they have the ability to move up on a golf course, and so do the pros. If you're playing the average golfer at 6,500 yards and it's too long for them, they can move to 6,400 or 6,300 pretty easy. I just think making a game, playing it -- I sort of liken it to the small ball and the large ball 35 years ago, whatever it was, in Britain. They took the large ball and made a condition for competition and made it the same as a U.S. ball. And after about a year or so, they left the small ball and all the conditions that the small ball had for the average golfer.

Well, after about a year or so, they found that the college players, the junior golfers, the amateur golfers, anyone who wanted to play competition were playing the large ball, and the rest of the golfers were left out by playing a golf ball that was not the same. So they actually legislated -- I think the legislature came more from the average golfer than from the pros to bring the large ball for everybody. I would rather see the same thing here. If you decided -- if we only did it for the pros and made the conditions for competition, then all of a sudden I think that would be a step in one direction, and then all of a sudden the average golfer is always going to play to want what the pro plays.

It's going to be fun when one of the companies actually sells one of these balls at a Pine Valley or Merion and it just snowballs from there. I'd hate to be a shareholder in one of the companies that doesn't adjust!

Right now all they advertise on television is, "play what the pros play." Well, they can't play it. They just don't have the clubhead speed to play it. But if we brought everything back -- we could get everything back relatively the same. If you left the golf ball for the average golfer in conditions for competition, I think the average golfer in a year would ask for the other ball and the other condition. The whole point of that whole thing is to try to bring the average golfer or the good single-digit player and the pro closer so when they're watching it on television or they're watching the game that they feel like they're watching the same game that they might have a chance to play.

Q. Where does most of the opposition to doing that come from?

JACK NICKLAUS: Well, I wish I knew, really. I suppose there are probably -- I don't know. Could be ball manufacturers probably, but not -- I never really spoken to any ball manufacturer who has actually told me that they're against it. I've spoken to quite a few who are for it.

Hmmm...

Well, that's just a rally that needs to be killed...

Q. This question is for both you. With Tiger and Phil getting into the golf course design business, I wonder if you can tell me to what degree does being a great golfer help you become a great golf course designer?
Wednesday
Feb282007

Now That's A Waterfall!

Thanks to reader Rob for this epic course entrance...

arbor_f2703.jpg 

Wednesday
Feb282007

Golf's Best Interview

Jaime Diaz in this week's Golf World says Geoff Ogilvy is the best interview in golf:
Ogilvy's figuratively old head, perhaps made wiser by growing up next to Royal Melbourne, startled me the first time I asked him a question. "Golf was better before," he said in October 2005. "There was more art. It doesn't create a really rounded golfer." At a time when the shortcomings of the emerging twentysomethings were still well below the radar, Ogilvy captured the issue in three quick sentences.

"The complicated thing is making it simple, if that makes any sense," he said, offering as good a definition of a first-class mind as any. Indeed, in quotes over the last year including an upcoming interview with John Huggan in Golf Digest, Ogilvy produces one pearl after another.

Of Woods: "I mean, Tiger is the angriest player on tour. He's also the best at controlling it."

Of Sergio Garcia: "When he starts making putts again -- which he is going to do -- he's going to win 10 times in a year. He is the best ball-striker in the world, probably. … But he is so analytical about his putting and not about anything else. … He's like Seve, only in reverse."

On golf architecture: "I like there to be a relationship between the quality of your drive and ease of your second shot."

Wednesday
Feb282007

"If the course is good, it’ll attract players"

Steve Elling, writing about the new look Florida swing, offers this from Luke Donald:

 “If the course is good, it’ll attract players, and that’s the bottom line,” said 10th-ranked Luke Donald, who won the Honda last year at nearby Country Club at Mirasol.
Tuesday
Feb272007

USGA Groove Change Question, Vol. 2

Having failed to try and make a point the first time, I'm going to take another crack at this.

In the press release announcing their proposed rule change, the USGA goes out of its way to note that it is not impacting the average player. In the same announcement, they are bending the rules on adjustable equipment for the average player. And then there's the language about conditions only for "highly skilled players."

Reader Michael in the original post on this gets to the essence of my point much more succinctly than I:

According to the language of the proposal, clubs that conform to the new standards would be required in “…competitive events conducted after Jan. 1, 2009…” with the USGA recommending that this “…Condition apply only to competitions involving highly skilled players.” If implemented as written, would this proposal not amount to a defacto bifurcation of the rules of golf as they apply to golfers of differing skills?

The proposal also raises the question of just how the USGA and other sanctioned Competition Committees will determine what constitutes a “skilled player.” Looking at the handicap requirements for golfers attempting to qualify in various USGA competitions, one can’t help but notice that it will be quite a chore. Persons wishing to compete in the US Open, US Amateur, US Amateur Public Links, or the US Junior Amateur, for example, are required to have handicaps of not less than 1.4, 2.4, 8.4, and 6.4, respectively. Will all of those competitors be considered skilled players?

What about events for Seniors and Women, whose minimum handicap requirements are much higher? Are they all skilled players or will there be some bifurcation of the rules to account for differing skill levels? Will the NCAA rule that all college golf competitors are skilled players? Under this proposal, a situation in which Division I players would be required to carry 100% conforming clubs, while Division II and III players would carry differing numbers of conforming clubs –a trifurcation of the rules - is not as far-fetched as it seems at first glance.

So is the USGA, which has long scoffed at bifurcation of the rules, in effect bifurcating the game with the groove announcement?

Wouldn't a bifurcation via a rolled back "highly skilled" player ball spec be simpler than this? 

Tuesday
Feb272007

"When Tiger's foundation is involved, he has a pretty good track record of playing in the event"

Len Shapiro on the new Washington D.C. stop benefitting Tiger's foundation:
PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem announced yesterday that the tour had reached a long-term agreement with the Tiger Woods Foundation, the educational charity established by Woods and his father in 1996, to be the host organization and beneficiary of a tournament in the Washington area July 5-8. The site of the event is undetermined, but the tour is in negotiations with Congressional Country Club, site of the 2011 U.S. Open, to host the event in 2007 and 2008.

Woods is expected to be a regular presence at the tournament, though his participation this year might be affected by the birth of his first child. Woods and his wife, Elin Nordegren, have not announced a due date, but he has said he might not play in the British Open July 19-22 because the baby is due around that time.

"When Tiger's foundation is involved, he has a pretty good track record of playing in the event," his longtime agent, Mark Steinberg, said yesterday. "This year, it may be something of a wild card because his wife is expecting at around that time, so everything is pretty much up in the air. But I can tell you he's very excited about the Washington event."

Tuesday
Feb272007

"Stirring the embers of the fire"

John Hopkins writing about the USGA/R&A groove annoucement in the Times:
The proposal to re-emphasise skill over power is to be welcomed, but it will not silence critics of the modern game. They say that the game’s rule-makers are stirring the embers of the fire caused by the present problem — the distance the ball travels — when they should be putting out the fire itself.

Tuesday
Feb272007

USGA Groove Change Question, Vol. 1

So let's just ignore the whole ban-grooves-to-distract-from-distance-issue for a moment and consider that the USGA has come out with this proposed ban on U-grooves to restore skill, and at the same time, in a pathetic pandering to manufacturer marketing departments, announced changes in the rules for adjustable equipment.

(Pathetic pandering: The USGA believes these changes regarding adjustability can help many golfers obtain clubs that are well suited to their needs without causing any harm to the game.)

So the USGA is touting its defense of skill in changing the groove rules, where equipment was overcompensating for a lack of skill, yet bending the rules to help those with less skill by easing the rules on adjustable clubs.

Contradiction? 

Tuesday
Feb272007

Newsflash! Harding To Get President's Cup

The PGA Tour confirms what Ron Kroichick dared to report a few weeks ago:

Under the terms of the agreement, Harding Park will serve as the host venue for The Presidents Cup in 2009; the Charles Schwab Cup Championship, the Champion’s Tour season-ending event, in 2010 and 2011; an event from the four-tournament PGA TOUR Playoffs for the FedExCup series in either 2013 or 2014; and one additional event in the period 2014-2019 to be selected from among The Presidents Cup, a Playoff for the FedExCup event or a World Golf Championships event.

“We are absolutely delighted to reach this agreement with the City, ensuring that Harding Park will continue to periodically serve as the site for some of the TOUR’s premier events,” said PGA TOUR Commissioner Tim Finchem. “As our experience with the World Golf Championships - American Express Championship proved in October, 2005, the golf course is a wonderful venue for the world’s best players, and San Francisco is a terrific host city. Our players and sponsors had a tremendous experience at Harding Park, and we are eagerly looking forward to our return.”

Not to be picky, but shouldn't the Commissioner have referred to the American Express Championship as the CA Championship? After all, that's what it's called on the 2005 schedule, even though it was played as something else. You know, for brand consistency.