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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

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

 

    

Saturday
Feb172007

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. 

Friday
Feb162007

Greetings From LA, Vol. 4

greetingsfromLAAh how I love the smell of cigar smoke in the morning.

How is it that the one smell I attribute to the Nissan Open at Riviera is not the scent of freshly cut grass or the distinctive eucalyptus, but the horrid scent of those little burning coyote turds.

That's not to say Friday's was a bore. Far from it. The old Friday afternoon buzz was back, with a nice sized crowd that ought to come within 15,000 of the actual tally posted in the press room. The epic weather (75, clear, crisp, no wind) and the afternoon pairing of Els-Mickelson-Taylor gave the proceedings made it a wonderful-to-be-alive day.

Several things are remarkable about Phil Mickelson at the moment. Namely, his autograph signing for kids after the round (even as his jet waits at Santa Monica Airport) and his incredible on-course focus. Not only is he in "the zone," but he's playing so quickly and efficiently (1 bogey through the first 36 on firm, fast greens!?).

His bomb drive and 287 yard second to the 17th led to the loudest Riviera ovation since members heard a rumor that the club had been sold.

Other than that, a fairly uneventful day. Oh, me and 15 other scribblers had breakfast with Arnold Palmer and Jim Nantz to introduce the 1960 Masters rebroadcast. And it could be one of the coolest golf telecasts you will ever see, but more on that later.  

Friday
Feb162007

Dwyre On Murray

Bill Dwyre remembers Jim Murray in his Friday column:

When it was time to get to know a new young sports editor in 1981, Murray set up a golf game at Riviera. The new kid didn't play much then and was fairly overwhelmed just standing on the first tee at Riviera. Soon, on the par-five first hole, the group found itself on the green with everybody else putting for five or six and Murray somehow lying three.

His birdie putt was about 50 feet, with one of those Riviera double breaks to start and then a break to the left before flattening out at the hole. Murray, in his late 50s then, but always a bit feeble after battles with eye problems and a malfunctioning heart valve, hunched over his putt, stroked it and watched as it went left, then right, then left again before straightening into the cup. Slowly, he walked to the hole and picked the ball out, then stood silently as the others focused on staying out of double figures.

When all had putted out, he quietly walked to the cart, sat down and waited for his guest to join him. The drive to the second tree was short, but by then, Murray could stand it no longer.

"Sometimes, I miss those left," he said. His huge grin foreshadowed what was to come. He shot 112.


Friday
Feb162007

More Changes to Riviera's 10th?

230136-680363-thumbnail.jpg
Riviera's 10th, circa 1930 (Click to enlarge image)
Recently profiled in Links and pretty much declared the best short par-4 in golf by, among others, architect Tom Doak, what better license for the Tom Fazio gang to start changing the hole!

From Thomas Bonk in today's L.A. Times

Phil Mickelson has played the Nissan Open only seven times, but he knows the strategy at the 315-yard 10th. He hit his drive at the par four 307 yards, into the back bunker, but he got up and down for a birdie. Mickelson said he's always going to try to drive the green, and over the green isn't bad.

Told that an alteration is in store for the back of the 10th green, where a dirt road may be restored to the barranca that used to be in that location, Mickelson had a quick reply.

"Well, it looks like this one won't be back on the rotation," said Mickelson, who shot a 66.

He said he was joking.

If anyone can spot this barranca that needs to be "restored" in the old photo above, please point it out!

 

Friday
Feb162007

2012 Curtis Cup To Nairn

With all of the great old courses getting passed by the ball better athleticism in the men's game, women's golf keeps picking up classic venues. With the R&A announcement of the 2012 Curtis Cup site, check out the next three fun, quirky, cool courses they get to play:

2008 The Old Course, St Andrews , 30 May-1 June

2010 Essex County Club, Manchester-by-the-Sea , Massachusetts , 11-13 June

2012 The Nairn Golf Club, 8 – 10 June
Thursday
Feb152007

Greetings From LA, Vol. 3

greetingsfromLAAnother lovely day at Riviera with flawless weather and light crowds making an already perfect spectator course that much more convenient. Number 10 was its usual delight to watch, though players are finding it almost too easy to drive now. So some of the most interesting decision making is beginning to disappear. But with U-grooves going to V-grooves, that should change everything!

It's also startling to see so many world class players with no one watching.  Friday afternoon's tend to draw decent crowds though. But the weather has been so poor for so many years, that I wonder if the traditional Friday types remember what a festive day it once was.

Or perhaps the crowds were light because of the abysmally slow pace of play and the funeral atmosphere resulting from this death march. Two groups did not finish due to darkness and another three or four groups played in near darkness. It's just not enjoyable to watch with everyone standing around and taking five hours to play in perfect weather with no rough.

Slow play, more than the ball or course setup or drone-like personalities, is killing the pro game as a spectator sport. And the lack of buzz on site translates to television. (Hint to ad people: the 18-34 year olds aren't into watching funerals.)

So here's what I propose. We take away the player bathrooms on the course, allow them to wear those Lisa Nowak astronaut diapers and start dishing out 2-shot penalities to each player in a group that doesn't finish in 4 hours and 30 minutes. And don't give me the nonsense about how it's just a few bad apples. They're all slow because you have to be slow, otherwise a fast player would lose his mind out here.

Thursday
Feb152007

“For a 4-iron, you’d put it five, six or seven paces from the edge.”

Damon Hack goes inside the ropes (and gets out to Riviera early) to file a New York Times piece on PGA Tour course setup.

This caught my attention:
With so many technological advances in golf in the last 20 years, placing a pin near a bunker or by a tier on a green is one way to combat golfers’ hitting tee shots that travel 300 yards. But Mutch said the officials try to balance their pin locations. On Riviera’s back nine, he chose four on the left side of the green, four on the right, and one near the center. Not every pin can be in a treacherous, devilish position.

“For wedges, you’d put it three or four paces from the edge of the green,” said Mickey Bradley, a PGA Tour rules official. “For a 4-iron, you’d put it five, six or seven paces from the edge.”
A bit formulaic, no?
Thursday
Feb152007

"Gameday Light"

That's how a Golf Channel staffer said the ad folks described the Golf Channel's inside-the-cables, interactive fan area behind the Golf Central/Post Game set.

Looks like a party to me! Where's Lee Corso when you need him?

gamedaylight.jpg 

 

Thursday
Feb152007

In Case You're Wondering...

From Thomas Bonk in today's L.A. Times:

In case you're wondering, Tiger Woods is in Florida this week shooting commercials instead of shooting under par at Riviera.

Wow, Tiger's people are good. You know, throwing together a film crew at the last minute like that!  

Wednesday
Feb142007

Watch Callaway's Stock...

tank at Golfobserver.com's new stock tracker. It's pretty cool. Kind of makes you wonder why none of the other golf sites have done something like this.

Wednesday
Feb142007

Revising Riviera

230136-678395-thumbnail.jpgGolfobserver.com has posted my 2005 series on the changes to Riviera. Sad to say, the destruction has continued. With the white bunker sand, sterilization and Orlando whale tails added everywhere, it feels more Florida than Pacific Palisades.

Golfonline's Joe Passov takes a look at George Thomas's design work in the area and reviews the remaining public courses that he designed.

Wednesday
Feb142007

"With golf, less meant more."

In the post International stories, it's interesting to note this first (and inevitable?) look at how the Tiger effect now comes with as many negatives as positives. Bob Harig on ESPN.com:

But the problem with such deals is there is no negotiating when it comes to the $5.3 million purse. The players still get paid the same. And the advertising units assured to be bought on Golf Channel and NBC as part of the network contract with the PGA Tour must still be paid. TV takes no discount. The local tournament organizing committee, a nonprofit organization, still has to pay its bills, but with less money coming in from the title sponsor. So it gets squeezed, making it more difficult to give money to charity.

Sponsoring a regular PGA Tour event costs in the neighborhood of $7 million per year. That money covers a portion of the purse, a television advertising commitment, a fee to the PGA Tour and to the tournament. Spread that out over the six-year length of the network contracts, and you're talking about $42 million or more.

It is a hefty price, especially given the modest television ratings. Those small numbers -- usually in the 2 million-to-3 million range for a weekend network telecast -- were always justified because they were reaching the "right" kind of people … i.e. those with disposable income. With golf, less meant more.

But as the price has kept going up, those company executives began looking at the numbers more closely. And some of them have started to say that enough is enough -- especially if Woods doesn't play.

Wednesday
Feb142007

Nissan Open Photo Caption Vol. 2

This was taken during today's pro-am, second green. Be nice, Amy Alcott is a friend and all around cool person!

philandamy.jpg 

Wednesday
Feb142007

The Hogan Memorial Rock

The great places in golf subtly point out their history, if they do it at all.

Naturally, that means at Riviera they purchase a headstone rock, slap a bronze plaque on it and for that classiest of touches, embellish it with some lillies. Just as Ben Hogan would have wanted!

RivieraHoganRock.jpg RivieraHoganRock2.jpg

Wednesday
Feb142007

Greetings From L.A., Volume 2

greetingsfromLAAnother stellar weather day here at Riviera. Adhering to doctor's orders, I only took in a couple of hours of the pro-am play. I witnessed the usual displays of tepid pace of play, excessive self obsession, garrishly dressed wives and voila, the traditional pro-am headache set in.

The greens appear firm, with dry warm weather the next few days they figure to actually allow Riviera to provide an interesting test.  There is almost no rough, but that's just fine with 27-yard wide landing areas and firm, fast greens.

That said, I had a lively chat with Steve Elkington today. Alongside were Mike Clayton and Jaime Diaz. A variety of topics were discussed, but Elkington was most interesting when talking about the changes to the course.

Naturally, he has taste and has been a longtime Riviera fan (especially as the 1995 PGA) so he finds much of it revolting, and in particular I was pleased to hear someone note the careless green enlargements, which have eliminated so much of the precision necessary for iron play. Brad Faxon made a similar observation, but just as many players love the new sand in the bunkers, and therefore, it's all good.

Wednesday
Feb142007

Inside The...Cables?

I might actually go down to the Golf Channel set to take in this interactive/it's-all-about-you experiment gone awry: 

Golf Fans to Go “Inside the Ropes” with the GOLF CHANNEL at the Nissan Open
 
 The GOLF CHANNEL will offer golf fans inside the ropes opportunities during the Nissan Open this week at Riviera Country Club. Beginning Thursday, the cable network will give behind-the-scenes access to its news production at the tournament, with live audiences during the broadcasts of its signature news shows – Sprint Pre/Post Game and Golf Central – for the first time.
 
 Situated near the 10th tee at Riviera Country Club, select golf fans will be on the stage to watch the live production of Sprint Pre/Post Game and Golf Central.  In addition, select golf fans will be able to view tournament coverage shot-by-shot in front of the stage throughout the duration of the tournament.

Tuesday
Feb132007

Targets on The Driving Range

230136-676751-thumbnail.jpg
Riviera's Renovated Range (Click to enlarge)
I had an enjoyable chat and stroll around Riviera Tuesday with Mike Clayton and Steve Wenzloff, the PGA Tour's VP of Design Services. Among other topics, I pointed out Riviera's redesign of the driving range landing area. It mostly consisted of taking some nice (albeit in need of freshening) targets, and leveling the landing area into a boring patch of flags and green grass.

Wenzloff said that in his polling of PGA Tour players, the overwhelming majority would rather hit to a flat, boring field than one with really interesting target greens guarded by bunkering.

Am I alone in preferring targets that reflect what you would hit to on the course?
Tuesday
Feb132007

Spotted In the Nissan Open Press Center...

Yes, just in case the slingers in attendance need one more reminder just how desperate the Tour is to push the FedEx Cup...

fedexsign.jpg 

 

Tuesday
Feb132007

Bamberger Channeling Phil

The SI writer gets in touch with his inner-satirist self for a fun Pebble Beach game story.

Tuesday
Feb132007

Two More International Post Mortems

Golf World's John Hawkins first:

The International's demise is a dangerous sign as to the widening chasm between Tiger events and the non-Tigers. Never have the haves and have-nots been so easily defined or so mindlessly categorized by the presence of a single player--it's the frightening downside of Woods' competitive dictatorship. When he doubles the size of a viewing audience in a strong golf economy, the rich get richer. When he does it in lean times, the poor get really poor.

And John Garrity with this in SI:

Did the International have to die? Vickers thought not. But as he turned away from the window, he considered a bleaker landscape than the one outside. "There's a sense of greediness in the air," he said. He was ready to begin the postmortem.

And...

At the press conference Vickers had sprinkled pixie dust on Denver reporters, saying, "Hopefully this is not the end of the International tournament. When time and conditions are right, I think that we'll be back here." Now, however, he conceded that it was probably wishful thinking. "We're here," he said. "The assets are here. But it's not our move." If anything, he saw his tournament as the canary in the coal mine -- the first to fall off the perch, but no different from a dozen other Tour events suffering from Tiger Deficiency Syndrome and low ratings. "I'm trying to be helpful to Tim, who's a good friend," Vickers said, "but if something isn't done, you're not going to have a Tour. Right now it's a one-man show."