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Golf is the Great Mystery. Like some capricious goddess, it bestows its favours with what would appear an almost fat-headed lack of method and discrimination. On every side we see two-fisted he-men floundering round in three figures, stopping every few minutes to let through little shrimps with knock-knees and hollow cheeks, who are tearing off snappy seventy-fours. Giants of finance have to accept a stroke per from their junior clerks. Men capable of governing empires fail to control a small, white ball, which presents no difficulties whatever to others with one ounce more brain than a cuckoo-clock. Mysterious, but there it is.  P.G. WODEHOUSE


    

Wednesday
Sep132006

Kostis: Golf Will Survive!

Titleist Golf Products Design Consultant Peter Kostis weighs in with one of those mysterious columns he pens on occasion to reminds us just how difficult it is to balance the whole pro-golf ball technology position while acknowledging the ugly stuff that comes with the whole deregulation mindset.

From the days of English aristocracy and class warfare, through racial and gender inequalities and to today's technological world,

 Oh Lordy...jumping ahead:

Some people consider today's golf to be boring. They say it relies too much on power and technology while reducing the skill requirements of the player. But that's a simple, easy conclusion to a much more complicated issue.

And shame on Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Greg Norman and all of the other greats who have said so! They don't understand margins.

Today's golf isn't better or worse than the golf played 20, 50 or even 100 years ago. It's just different, just as our lives and our world are different.

Ahhh...here comes the point of this column, which, oddly, does not include a disclosure of Kostis's corporate affiliation... 

To try and roll back golf to some better time is like saying that life in the 1950s was, across the board, better than it is today. In some cases maybe it was, but in many other cases today's world is far preferable. This concept of yearning for a return to better times has been around forever and coincides with a reluctance to accept change. Dismissing all change as bad is stupid.

While we're doing cliche's, how about not confusing change with progress? Naw, that doesn't fit.

Funny too, but I guess he's referring to the USGA thinking about taking away our grooves, because most people would just like to see a little ball rollback, and let all of the other "change" stand.

Anyway, time for Kostis to break out into full Gloria Gaynor mode:

When steel shafts were in the process of replacing wooden shafts in the 20s and 30s, traditionalists of the day cried out that equipment was going to reduce the skills required to play the game.

Golf survived.

When the Haskell ball replaced the gutta-percha, traditionalists cried out that this was going to make golf courses obsolete and the game too easy.

Golf survived.
I swear I've read this speech before. Hmmm, but where?
With metal shafts replacing wood shafts, was there any doubt that eventually metal club-heads would replace wooden club-heads? No! Neither was there any doubt that traditionalists would bemoan this innovation as bad for the game.

But golf survived.

Finally, graphite is replacing some steel and the solid-core, muti-layered golf ball has replaced the wound, balata ball, and, you guessed it! Traditionalists are saying golf has become too easy and courses obsolete.

Golf will survive. It will just be different.

I wonder how Peter would feel if he paid an assessment at a club because they had to renovate their course, all because the ball can't be rolled back a bit...eh, why am I wondering?

Ah, but then the conflicted view of supporting equipment on steroids clashes with that stuff about people on steroids. 

Golf has, seemingly, been proactive only when it comes to preserving traditions. Golf should be proactive against performance enhancing drugs too, but it won't happen. The, bury your head in the sand, "we have no evidence to indicate a drug problem," philosophy will prevail and golf will lose another opportunity to be a leader. That's a reality that I find revolting and at the same time, laughable.

We need to be diligent in protecting the game of golf. We also have to realize that just as the world around us changes; the game of golf will reflect and not lead those changes. Golf is not a social game. It is society's game. Look to the way we lead our lives and the way the world is evolving, if you want to see what the future of golf will be. There are many who claim golf to be the beacon of civility and reason and, as such, steadfastly reject change. Those people feel strongly that tradition is a commodity to be protected. That thinking kept women from clubhouses in Great Britain, blacks from the PGA Tour in America, and will allow for drugs to invade the game in the future. Golf, because it changes so stubbornly, will always be a follower and never a leader. That is the price to be paid for traditions.

Wow, that was a lot of work. Hope the pay is good!

Wednesday
Sep132006

GOLF Mag Going SI

From the memo on Time Inc selling some of its magazine titles...

Golf and Golf.com will join the Sports Illustrated group. The publishing side of Golf will report to SI president Mark Ford. Golf�s top editor will report to SI managing editor Terry McDonell. The move to Sports Illustrated is significant as it combines the number one general sports title with one of the leading golf titles and brings together two category leading web sites with a total of 9,000,000 unique visitors a month.

 

Wednesday
Sep132006

The Golf New Media Landscape

Strap yourselves in, we're building league brands, using metrics and platforming the new golf media landscape. And most of all, we're trying to out MBAspeak one another in the quote department. Declare your winner in the comments section.

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, FL and ATLANTA - The PGA TOUR and Turner Sports New Media, a division of Time Warner, announced today the signing of a multi-year Internet and Mobile agreement. Turner Sports New Media will partner with the PGA TOUR to produce and sell PGATOUR.com, the official site of the PGA TOUR.

PGATOUR.com is the number one site in golf, leading other sites in key user metrics, including number of fans, times spent per fan and consumption per fan. PGATOUR.com leads coverage of the tournament competition of PGA TOUR players and of other facets of golf with a strong combination of exclusive assets, including exclusive live scoring, exclusive use of ShotLink distance data, including Emmy Award winning TOURCast coverage; exclusive audio and video coverage, highlights, unparalleled "access" and much more.

"We are excited about the future of the New Media business, and especially with our new partnership with Turner Sports New Media," said Ed Moorhouse, Co-Chief Operating Officer of the PGA TOUR. "With the coming of the FedExCup in 2007, truly a new era in golf, the timing is perfect to partner with Turner, a leader in the digital media space and to increase investment in our New Media offerings, beginning with PGATOUR.com. We look forward to even more innovation, compelling coverage and entertainment value on these platforms."

Not bad. Ed got New Media in there capitalized (nice touch) twice. And a platform always earns bonus points. Next contestant please... 
"Golf lends itself perfectly to the New Media platforms as there is a great deal, over 30 hours worth, of competition each week that fans want to know about," said David Levy, president of Turner Sports. "The Internet and mobile platforms are the best way to deliver this additional information to fans in their offices, homes or on the go. In addition, our new alliance with the PGA TOUR speaks volumes about the reputation that Turner Sports New Media has established in the marketplace. From production to sales to technology, Turner Sports has a reputation of maximizing opportunities and building league brands."

Hmmm...lot of commas, but mobile platforms, New Media platforms and whoa, "building league brands." That's a new one. Levy's going to be tough to beat...

"We couldn't be more pleased to partner with Turner Sports New Media in this venture," said Paul Johnson, Vice President of PGATOUR New Media. "Turner brings world-class digital media capabilities, and has shown it can partner successfully with leagues to create compelling fan experiences and businesses. The partnership positions the TOUR and Turner to take the fan experience to the next level in the golf new media landscape."

First of all, there'a a .10 point deduction from the Ponte Vedra judge for not capitalizing New Media. And compelling fan experiences and businesses? That's like, so 1999. So's this:

Turner Sports New Media also handles PGA.com. This venture is structured to unlock the synergies between the properties and create an even stronger, more dominant position for each in the golf new media landscape.

Unlock synergies between properties? In other words they'll actually provide the occasional link between the two. How big of them!

Wednesday
Sep132006

DMD's In Ireland

Thanks to Smolmania for noticing this from SI.com rangefinder aficionado Gary Van Sickle's column:

If you don't think laser range-finders are going to be commonplace and widely accepted within a few years, think again. They're apparently going to be used during the Ryder Cup matches -- just not by competitors during the competition. Many Tour pros and caddies already use laser range-finders during practice rounds to check yardages.

At the Ryder Cup, range-finders may be used by SkySports and NBC so their television spotters can relay accurate yardages to the broadcast teams. The K Club, the host site, was an early customer of Laser Link, the range-finder firm based in Madison, Wis. Reflectors are installed in the flagsticks so the lasers can more easily pick up the target, and the K Club plans to leave the reflectors in during the matches.

Laser Link founder Rob O'Loughlin was surprised when John McHenry, the K Club's golf director, told him the plan. "I don't see how the PGA of America would sit still for that. It'll never happen," O'Loughlin said. "John said, the Ryder Cup host makes the decision and I'm the host. I've already talked to the European PGA Tour. The decision is made. It's wild."

Then a PGA of America rules official heard about the idea and thought the Laser Link guns would help the officials who officiate the Ryder Cup matches. Their purpose? To determine who's away from out in the fairway, a common match-play question.

There's a moment to look forward to. Some bloated rules official sauntering between balls, pulling out his distance measuring device, and declaring who is away. What progress.

Tuesday
Sep122006

"I didn't see her but two times while she was incarcerated"

John Daly really needs to come to the press tent more often. At the 84 Lumber Classic Tuesday:

Q. What's been the response on Tour since your book has come out with the other players? Do they kind of view it as "that's John"? Did they kind of pretty much know all of that before it was put in print?

JOHN DALY: Well, it's amazing because I've had about 20 of the guys on Tour say, "I bought your book." I said, "What the hell are you buying it for? I'll give it to you." Most of them said they learned a lot about me, but they said they felt like they were having a conversation with me, like they were just talking to me. Most of them enjoyed it. A lot of them all said they really enjoyed it. They just didn't know some of the tough times I had in my past growing up and stuff, they didn't realize that. And some of the crazy things that I've done in my life, they didn't know that, either, but they said they learned a awful lot about me. But when they said they felt like they were talking to me, then I must have touched something to the reader.

Q. Your wife Sherrie, is she back now?

JOHN DALY: Yeah.

Q. Just one more question regarding the book. In the book you wrote that the more sex you have, the better golf you play.

JOHN DALY: That tells you another reason why I played bad this year (laughter).

Q. I was going to phrase the question this way: With your wife Sherrie now back, how well are you going to play this week (laughter)?

JOHN DALY: She hasn't been able to travel at all this year and I didn't see her but two times while she was incarcerated, so that explains it. She hates to see I played bad golf, but she knew definitely I wasn't cheating on her (laughter).

 

Tuesday
Sep122006

"I mean, college life, I'm really looking forward to it"

Okay, I promised I'd never have fun with a Michelle Wie session with the media. Not until she's 18. But this is, uh, noteworthy...

Q. Are you planning on going to college, and if so, in what field?

MICHELLE WIE: Yeah, I definitely want to go to college. I think that's very important for me to continue my education. I mean, college life, I'm really looking forward to it. I'm not really actually certain on what I want to study, but definitely something like business or economics or marketing, somewhere around there I think would be really interesting.

And...

Q. Maybe this is the course, but I was just wondering what's your favorite course that the public can actually get out and play, your favorite public access course?

MICHELLE WIE: Well, this course is amazing. There's a lot of amazing holes out here, especially the one with the waterfall and the statue of John Daly. I think that's pretty cool. It's a fun golf course. I mean, it's wide and challenging.

A waterfall and a John Daly statue on the same hole? Oh yeah, it's over. The game has gone to hell.

Tuesday
Sep122006

Mickelson Calling It A Year (After The Ryder Cup)

Now, I don't doubt that he puts an amazing amount of energy into the majors. But tell me again why this FedEx Cup playoffs thing is going to work when players like Mickelson are spent after the PGA Championship? Is he really going to play 6 of the next 7 weeks?

Tuesday
Sep122006

Another Brand Moment

_41078155_kiran270.jpgJeff Shelley reports the latest Carolyn Bivens magical mystery move:

Her most recent questionable action came when she recently denied a request by 17-year-old Kiran Matharu to attend the LPGA’s Q School, which starts on the 19th.   

In her letter of denial, sent to Matharu via email on September 9th, Bivens wrote: “I do not believe your record in professional golf competitions demonstrates you can compete at the highest level of women’s professional golf at this time . . . I recommend you apply to qualify for the Duramed Futures Tour, ‘The Official Developmental Tour of the LPGA.’ “    

What the heck is Duramed anyway? Ah wait, that's branding because I asked what Duramed is! God she's good.

Well, this doesn't make her sound so good: 

Of all the Q School applicants this year, Matharu might actually be among the most qualified. She’s the reigning Ladies English Amateur champion, was a member of Great Britain and Ireland’s Curtis Cup team that competed last month at Bandon Dunes, and placed 15th in her first professional event. In addition, the young Englishwoman is a two-time Faldo Series Girls champion.    

Yorkshire-born Matharu started golf at the age of 11 and has been an outstanding player ever since. She’s the only British Asian female golfer, has an engaging personality and was named twice as Leeds Sports Performer of the Year – in 2003 and 2004. Earlier this year she was named “Female Junior Sports Personality of the Year” at the Sony Entertainment Television Sports Personality of the Year awards for British Asians.    

Of Matharu’s future, Nick Faldo said, “I’ve worked with Kiran for nearly three years now and in that time she has certainly proved that she has the potential to succeed on the big stage. Kiran combines a great game with a steady nerve and I’m confident that, with a little more experience, she will be in a position to challenge for the very highest honors that the ladies game has to offer.”    

After the Curtis Cup, Matharu turned professional with a plus-4 handicap, the lowest of any female golfer in the UK. She made the cut and finished 15th in The Wales Ladies Championship, her first professional tournament.    

Tuesday
Sep122006

"Typically golfers are skeptical that a supplement can effectively improve their golf score..."

Well, it looks like the golf writers of America can't claim they haven't heard of golf performance enhancing drugs vitamins:

TO:    Golf Writer
FROM: GolfBizNews.com
RE: Tests Show Panovil Supplement Improved Scores For Golfers

Tests Show Panovil Supplement Improved Scores For Golfers

LAS VEGAS, NV -(September 12, 2006)- Recently released tests show a large group of golfers experienced dramatically improved scores after regularly taking Panovil Supplement.  "These were double-blind clinical trials conducted with 18 to 77 year-old golfers over a period of many years.  The results are astounding," says Panovil distributor Gus Skarlis.

More than 86% of those in the study shot lower (better) golf scores. Even more impressive, 78% lowered their scores on the more difficult and important Back Nine.

"Clearly Panovil gives just about any golfer a big advantage, wether they're just playing for fun or involved in competition," Skarlis said.

Panovil is a proprietary blend of natural herbs and plant extracts that encourages Herbal Invitro Cell Cultivation and Extraction Concentration.  These processes in the body are specifically designed to give golfers improved performance.

"Back in the 80s when this science first came out, Panovil tablets would have cost $18,000 and were only used by the ultra-wealthy.  But thanks to recent advancements, this remarkable advantage is available to golfers at everyday affordable prices," Skarlis said.

Panovil currently comes in a 5 round supply, 10 round supply, and 20 round supply and costs as little as $13.99 per round.  Order Panovil from the web site at http://www.Panovil.com.

Typically golfers are skeptical that a supplement can effectivel improve their golf score, but are soon won over after trying the product.  "Most golfers understand how lessons with a pro or a set of better clubs can lower their score.  So the idea of simply taking a tablet to win your next round is a new and exciting concept," Skarlis said.

Panovil is completely natural and safe.  The herbal blend causes none of the side-effects that harsh prescription drugs often create.

Panovil comes with a complete money-back guarantee.  "If you try Panovil and don't see an improvement in your golf score, we'll refund your money no questions asked," Skarlis said.

Tuesday
Sep122006

Tiger On The K Club

You can really sense about the course. Thanks to JT for this.

 The golf course is pretty easy to learn; it’s not real tricky. It’s hard to see the bottom of the cups on a couple holes and there are a couple blind tee shots. We all hit the ball about the same. Whoever putts the best will win the cup.

 

Tuesday
Sep122006

"Probably on paper the worst Ryder Cup team we've ever fielded"

Nobody can claim that Johnny Miller hasn't done his part to motivate the U.S. Ryder Cup team. Chadd Cripe writes in the Idaho Statesman:

NBC golf analyst Johnny Miller was in Boise on Monday and he ripped the U.S. team that will try to win back the Ryder Cup from Europe next week in Ireland.

"This is probably on paper the worst Ryder Cup team we've ever fielded," Miller said during the press conference for the Kraft/Nabisco Shoot-Out at Hillcrest Country Club.

Miller also expressed reservations about captain Tom Lehman, who will decide how to use his 12 players. He will create four two-man teams for each of the first four rounds.

Miller says it's imperative that Lehman pair Tiger Woods with Jim Furyk, and Phil Mickelson with Chris DiMarco, because those pairings have worked in the past.

That could leave the team's inexperienced players, including four Ryder Cup rookies, paired together.

"I believe if he divides those up we're going to get creamed," Miller said of the Woods-Furyk and Mickelson-DiMarco teams. "I'm really concerned that Lehman uses the theory that we've got to use a good player with a not-so-experienced player."

 

Monday
Sep112006

"Golf has never been exclusively about length, but that seems like the emphasis now"

Robert Thompson blogs about a story he's written quoting Nick Price about the state of the game and his likely final appearance in the Canadian Open.

Unfortunately, in a professional golf world increasingly dominated by players who hit their tee shots remarkable distances, shot makers like O'Meara and Price have quickly become relics of a bygone era.

"It has been very tough for me to be competitive out here in the last few years," Price said. "I've been very vocal about this. The way the game is going -- especially the USGA and Augusta -- and the way it is focusing on length, they are keeping a lot of players from being able to win major championships."

And Thompson writes that Price is actually looking forward to the Champions Tour:
"I'm tired of playing 7,600 yard golf courses," he said. "I'm sick of that. Golf has never been exclusively about length, but that seems like the emphasis now."

But both golfers have different takes on why the game has changed so much in recent years. O'Meara credits it partially to equipment, but also points out that most players are far more physically fit than they were two decades ago. But Price isn't buying that explanation.

"If you looked at Greg Norman when he was 32-years-old, he was as strong as an Olympic athlete," Price says. "So was Faldo. I think it is a slight on them to say the current guys simply work out and that's why they hit the ball further."

Given his nearly three decades of professional experience, Price says he knows the solution to the distance problem.

"Simply change the equipment," he says. "I don't care what the average Joe plays. In fact, let him play equipment that helps his game. Can you imagine what would happen in baseball if they gave Barry Bonds a titanium baseball bat? The pitchers would go berserk. But that's what we did in golf."

 

Monday
Sep112006

World Match Play Set...

...Tiger opens against Shaun Micheel.

Monday
Sep112006

It's The Grooves, Vol. 329

The Bomb and Gouge boys are back and as always, they write about the equipment issue like Nuke LaLoosh pitches.

Bomb (E. Michael Johnson) writes about reading the USGA's 104 page paper laying the groundwork for making everyone's U-grooves illegal so they don't have to regulate the ball. (A strategy that I welcome because it will absolutely enrage golfers to the absurdity of the current USGA way of thinking).

Aggressive grooves have played right into the strategy employed by several tour players of bashing the ball as far off the tee as possible and rough be damned. Take them away, and perhaps they start sacrificing a tad of distance for a few more fairways. Or maybe not. Old habits, after all, die very hard. But there’s little doubt distance is at the heart of the USGA’s research. As Rugge has said repeatedly, “The correlation between accuracy off the tee and success on the PGA Tour is almost non-existent.”

Bomb nails it. The USGA was humiliated by the flogging approach and is determined to stop it, even if it means deeming most grooves on the market today illegal (after having approved them!).

I don’t dispute that contention, but I’m still a big believer that distance is not ruining the game of golf as it currently stands. And I certainly don’t want to be writing for the next few years about motions filed on behalf of the manufacturers by noted legal eagle Leonard Decof, as was the case back in the 1980s and ’90s. But when ShotLink stats reveal that more than 40 percent of all approach shots on the PGA Tour are hit with some kind of wedge, I can at least see why the collective brains at golf’s governing bodies are whirling faster than a ball coming off one of these clubs.

That number is still just staggering to me. 40%! Yep, it's the grooves.

GOUGE: I do not want to agree with you. But there is a reason for the fairway. If the rough is not a hazard, then something must be done to make it one. Grooves might be one way, it might also be the most impractical solution to a problem in recorded history. If we all want to play by the same rules as the USGA wishes (humor me), then a groove change rule would force us all to buy new irons and wedges. That in a nutshell is a definition of a class-action lawsuit.

Actually, rough is a product of the modern game to offset poorly regulated equipment. Old Tom Morris was not out mowing and layering rough. Anyway, the otherwise sane reasoning from Gouge (Mike Stachura) ends there...

The USGA’s Executive Committee clearly is ticked off at how elite players are changing the game. Read the report Jim Vernon, chairman of the Equipment Standards committee, gave to the Executive Committee and it's obvious there is a real fear on their part that the game is out of control. But the truth is all they have to do is look at their own championship to realize they’ve solved the difficulty/skill algorithm quite simply. Layered rough makes crying babies out of all the great pretenders out there. And it’s the only thing that’s beaten Tiger Woods in the last three months.

Sigh. Oh yes, it was the rough at Winged Foot that did Tiger in. Couldn't have been that his father had just died weeks before and he was not ready to return. No, it was the rough.

Monday
Sep112006

Our Rookies...

John Hawkins sounds like he's trying to talk himself into being excited about the back end of the American team.

Monday
Sep112006

"The Tiger Effect" ** ***

Thanks to SteveG for this IMG err HSBC press release on the "THE TIGER EFFECT" that will be boosting the UK and Ireland economies. Note that several publications, including the Scotsman, picked up this press release and reported it as news.

Woods, who flies into London tomorrow (Tuesday) to play in the HSBC World Match Play at Wentworth before competing in the Ryder Cup and World Golf Championship, all taking place in September, will increase the golf economy in the UK & Ireland by as much as 5%.

Research carried out for HSBC by Professor Tom Cannon, Dean of Business at the University of Buckingham suggests Tiger's mere presence results in tens of thousands extra spectators, boosts radio and television coverage by at least 25 per cent, generates millions through tourism, hospitality and sponsorship, and drives people to try golf for themselves and join clubs.

Professor Tom Cannon, Dean of Business at the University of Buckingham and leading expert in sports business and finance commented: “The size and reach of the Tiger economy is remarkable.  We estimate the total value on the core golf economy to be as high as £170 million. Drawing these figures together gives an astonishing picture not only of the impact of a single, outstanding sportsman but of the growing power and influence of sport and sporting celebrity.”

With the tournament scheduled for a week before the Ryder Cup and the appearance of World Number One Tiger Woods for the first time since 1998, there has already been a 60% increase in advance ticket sales this year.

Giles Morgan, HSBC’s Head of Sports Sponsorship and Marketing commented:

“The HSBC World Match Play Championship at Wentworth is set to break its 42-year attendance record after selling an unprecedented number of advance tickets.

“Tiger Wood’s participation in the HSBC World Match Play is obviously great news for our event, but our approach to golf is as much about developing the grassroots of the sport as it is about supporting the elite game. This report indicates that Tiger's appeal goes far beyond what happens on the course and has positive economic and social impacts in the countries where he plays."

The three tournaments in three weeks could take the "Tiger Effect" to new heights as he reaches out to millions beyond the sport. HSBC’s ‘Tiger Economy’ study suggests: 

Ø      Tiger’s participation is expected to encourage an additional 60,000 spectators to attend the three major Golf tournaments generating an extra £4.2 million in ticket sales and related visitor costs such as car parking

Ø      Sponsorship and hospitality could generate an additional £3.6 million, including £500,000 in advertising spend as companies take advantage of Wood’s participation, and £500,000 in travel and accommodation generated through additional spectators

Ø      Conservative estimates suggest Tiger could inspire 700,000 golfers (club members and occasional players) to play an extra round of golf bolstering green fees by £14 million

Ø      The ‘Tiger Effect’ could see sales of Golf equipment and clothing increase by an additional £27.5 million

Ø      Media coverage of the tournaments (TV and radio) is likely to be worth £52.3 million as Tiger’s appearance continue to generate record audiences

Ø      The anticipated value of press coverage is be valued at £36 million

 

Monday
Sep112006

Where Does The Game Go From Here?

Having had a few days to digest Walter Driver's ESPN.com remarks and to read your comments, it seems a bit of a assessment is necessary.

First, the key lines from the Statement of Principles are important to remember:

Golf balls used by the vast majority of highly skilled players today have largely reached the performance limits for initial velocity and overall distance which have been part of the Rules since 1976. The governing bodies believe that golf balls, when hit by highly skilled golfers, should not of themselves fly significantly further than they do today.
Today being May, 2002 when the PGA Tour Driving Distance average was 279.4 (the end of 2001 number)
...any further significant increases in hitting distances at the highest level are undesirable. Whether these increases in distance emanate from advancing equipment technology, greater athleticism of players, improved player coaching, golf course conditioning or a combination of these or other factors, they will have the impact of seriously reducing the challenge of the game. The consequential lengthening or toughening of courses would be costly or impossible and would have a negative effect on increasingly important environmental and ecological issues. Pace of play would be slowed and playing costs would increase.

Should such a situation of meaningful increases in distances arise, the R&A and the USGA would feel it immediately necessary to seek ways of protecting the game.

So instead of the anticipated debate over the meaning of "significant" or "meaningful" increases, Driver's remarks make it clear that such a discussion will not take place when the USGA is unwilling to acknowledge the driving distance average around May 2002 (and remember, the PGA Tour average is the key number for them). Driver on ESPN.com:

The facts are that the tour distances are nearly flat the last 3 years. It went down somewhat a few years ago and then leveled off. So the facts show that there hasn't been much increase to show us that we need to act from when we made those statements.

He's right, the numbers are "nearly" flat the last three years, but not the last four. And we'd be giving the USGA the benefit of the doubt by using the 2002 PGA Tour Driving Distance average (279.8), when the 2001 number (279.4) would seem closer to the Statement of Principles issuing. But since the numbers are so close, either works, right? Well, not for Driver.

His statement about the number going down at any point in recent years is pure fiction and he should be embarrassed to peddle such nonsense, especially when preaching like this:

We have a great deal of facts at the USGA upon which we make our rule making. Many of the people that talk about the game are passionate about the game, but they don't have the facts that we have.

There will be no discussion about the meaning of significant from 2002 to 2006, just a shift to discussion about grooves so the USGA doesn't have to take a tough stance and can keep harvesting rough to mask the problem.

So where does the game go from here? How can the USGA be taken seriously when they post such strong statements and then turn their back on those words?

Your thoughts? 

Sunday
Sep102006

Win Canadian, Must Come Back

This doesn't say much about the Canadian Open's 2007 spot on the schedule when this year's winner says he's only coming back because, well, it would be rude not to.

Canadian Open champion Jim Furyk guaranteed the national championship will have at least one top non-Canadian player next year despite being crammed between the last two majors and another top event.

"I'll be honest, I probably wouldn't play if I hadn't won. I feel it's a point of honor," Furyk said Sunday after his comeback victory on the Hamilton Golf and Country Club course. "I feel I should be here and I'll come back to play."

"I've never won a tournament and not shown up to defend," Furyk said. "I'll be here. I'm going to play the Canadian Open next year. I'll figure it out."

 

Sunday
Sep102006

PGA Tour Driving Distance Watch, Week 36

pgatour.jpgThe PGA Tour driving distance average remained steady at 289.6 yards after the Canadian Open, which aired on ESPN on ESPN.

On another note, reader JT pointed out this story on 16-year-old Gipper Finau qualifying for and making the cut at the Nationwide event in Utah. Finau led the field in driving distance, averaging 339.6 for the week. Just imagine what'll happen when he starts working out.

Sunday
Sep102006

Huggan On Woosie/Bjorn Spat

John Huggan digs a little deeper and exposes the European Tour's hypocrisy in fining Thomas Bjorn:
Things are never that straightforward, however. Not when European Tour officials are guilty of blatant hypocrisy in their dealings with a man who deserved better treatment than he got from a captain who already looks to be out of his diminutive depth.