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Links they may be worthily called, for the golf at Royal Porthcawl is the genuine thing—the sea in sight all of the time, and the most noble bunkers. True to its national character, the course also boasts of stone walls.   BERNARD DARWIN



Helen Penick, RIP

I didn't see this anywhere else, but Kevin Robbins has news of Helen Penick's passing. She was one classy lady who played a major part in her husband's success.


Ogilvy on Kapalua

I was wondering if they had remedied the odd situation at Kapalua from last year where the greens were bricks and everything else was soft. In his Wednesday sit down with the assembled Hawaiian shirt clad scribblers, Geoff Ogilvy answered that question and talked about the course.

Q. This is your second tour of the golf course. Do you notice any difference from last year to this year, any subtle changes?

GEOFF OGILVY: The greens are softer this year. Last year, they were -- I'm the biggest advocate in the world for firm greens but the trouble with last year, the greens were firm and the fairways were soft. So you land them short and stop, and you land it long, it went over the back, wicked. This year, it's all the same, it just all soft, which is fine. I like it firm, but it's been raining a lot and it's the rainy side of the island and it's never going to be rock hard.
It's much more playable this year in that respect. The greens are fantastic compared to the ones that were here two years ago.

Q. Do you like this place? Do you like the way this is set up?

GEOFF OGILVY: I think this is a fantastic golf course on a very extreme piece of land. It's on the edge of a piece -- it's really close to being a piece of land that you maybe shouldn't have a golf course on. They did such a good job. Everyone hits fairways all day and you hit a lot of shots because the greens are big. I think it's a good golf course; I enjoy it. How could you not enjoy looking at the views? They are awesome. They were smart in the way they did it. It could have been a complete nightmare if it was narrow with long carries, but how they made it, they were smart about it.


Golf Made Easy

Thanks to reader Noonan for emailing this classic golf tip.

Rackham Will Not Be Developed

What is left of a Donald Ross design and one nifty clubhouse at Rackham appears to be safe as the developer has shelved its plans for the historic layout.


As The Woods Camp Requested...

File this Tim Rosaforte paragraph in the buried-lead file. He's writing about Tiger not appearing at Kapalua:

In truth, this could have been averted. Had the Target World Challenge been scheduled the week after Thanksgiving, as the Woods Camp requested, instead of two weeks from Christmas, it would have given Tiger almost a month of downtime before getting back to business at Kapalua. Instead, The Target was given Dec. 14-17, and Mercedes/Kapalua takes the hit. we have a Commissioner-Tiger spat in the making here?


Elling On TGC's New Look

Wait, I meant GOLF CHANNEL, not TGC or even GC. My apologies to the brand.

Anyway, Steve Elling shares a few eye opening numbers in looking at The Golf...dammit, there I go looking at GOLF CHANNEL's...wait, is the apostrophe s in caps too? Ah whatever. Here's what he wrote.

The undisputed heavyweight king of cable sports, ESPN is carried in 92 million homes while the Golf Channel logs in at 75 million. However, those numbers don't represent much other than unfulfilled potential if nobody is watching.

According to Nielsen Media Research, the average number of people who watched the Golf Channel at any moment in a 24-hour broadcast day during the 2006 fall season was a minuscule 44,000 people -- the approximate population of Titusville -- or 1.1 million fewer people below ESPN's average in the same time frame.

Actually, more stunning was this chart buried at the end of his piece...

Network     Sport     Avg. viewers
ESPN    Multiple    1,153,000
ESPN2    Multiple    324,000
NFL Network    Pro football    119,000
Speed Channel    Auto racing    117,000
Versus    Pro hockey    75,000
ESPN Classic    Sports history    66,000
ESPN News    Sports news    62,000
Golf Channel    Golf coverage    44,000

That's right, more people are watching ESPN News and ESPN Classic and bloody hockey on the network formerly known as Outdoor Life.

This also was a surprise....

Industry observers anticipated sweeping personnel changes when the contract was announced, but the staffing has mostly been handled in-house. McGuire estimated that the company only added a half-dozen employees to its overall payroll, bringing the total to around 385, but some of the names were crucial additions. Leading the way was the addition of six-time major champion Nick Faldo, who after two well received years at ESPN/ABC, will serve as lead analyst.

Only six new staffers? 



Every Tour Event With Or Without Tiger Begins Here

I guess the art department didn't get the news about Tiger's extended vacation...




"Piling up FedExCup points early might pay off..."

In his notes column, Doug Ferguson reveals that for a change, the PGA Tour has tweaked a WGC event qualification that potentially rewards someone without a ticket to ride on the World Ranking Top 50 bus.

Piling up FedExCup points early might pay off for some players trying to get into the World Golf Championship at Doral. The PGA Tour added another criteria for the CA Championship, taking the top 10 in FedEx Cup standings the Monday before (March 12) and the Monday of (March 19) the tournament.

Previously, this WGC event took the top 50 in the world ranking and top money leaders from each tour. That criteria hasn't changed.


Lorne On Ben and Bill

CooreBCrnshawWeKoPa.jpgLorne Rubenstein does a nice job detailing how Kapalua architects Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw have evolved into the best architects in golf.


From the homepage of

The PGA TOUR enters an exciting new era this week at the Mercedes-Benz Championship as the season-long FedExCup points competition gets underway with Thursday's opening round. Adam Scott will hit the first tee shot at 3:30 p.m. ET, which can be seen live on GOLF CHANNEL.


What a difference. Those branding people are good.


Sir Ian Woosnam?

The best evidence yet of the British empire's demise...


"This makes every game, every event, every weekend more important.''

This caught my eye in Rex Hoggard's preview of 2007:

Flash forward eight months to the much-talked-about FedEx Cup finale at the Tour Championship. Best-case scenario is a Tiger Woods vs. Phil Mickelson vs. "Little-known Cinderella story" showdown for the inaugural FedEx Cup title in Atlanta at the Tour Championship. Problem is, the new condensed-season shop will make it virtually impossible for a potential "Cinderella" story to elbow his way into the FedEx mix.

Consider Michael Allen finished 153rd on last year's money list and played for an average purse of $4.6 million, compared to Ben Curtis (No. 30 in '06 earnings) who played to an average of $5.6 million or Scott Verplank (No. 40) $5.7 million.

As one player recently lamented of the bottom half of the Tour community, "They've got a ticket to get on the bus, but there's no seat for them." start. "This makes every game, every event, every weekend more important.''

Okay, not to beat dead donkey here, but how will a playoff with 144 players really change someone's approach to the season?  


"This will be a generational change"

Randell Mell, with this from Ric Clarson of the PGA Tour...
``This will be a generational change,'' Clarson said. ``This is not going to be: Turn on the switch and everybody gets it from the start. This makes every game, every event, every weekend more important.''

"It's not the playoffs, it's a showcase."

Olin Browne, talking to Craig Dolch in the Palm Beach Post:

"One thing that bugs me is they call it the playoffs," Browne said. "It's not the playoffs, it's a showcase. In the playoffs, everybody starts from scratch, the winners advance and the losers go home. Under our system, the San Diego Chargers would be given something like a 14-0 lead in their first playoff game, and that's obviously not right."

 I guess this pretty much sums up why the idea of not starting from scratch come "playoff" time is so silly.



"There was a lot of post 5-o'clock conversation"

In John Hawkins's excellent Golf World story on the FedEx Cup's evolution, there was this head scratcher:

If the old season had become outdated, this was an idea whose time had come, although you probably could have said that a decade ago. "We've talked about it since the second year I was here," says vice president Ken Lovell, who joined the PGA Tour in January 2000. "There was a lot of post-5-o'clock conversation regarding that actual theme. If you could do anything to produce the most exciting golf product, what would it be?"

I can't keep up with this business lingo, so I'm going to take a stab here and guess that "post 5-o'clock conversation" translates to "us hardworking, overpaid PGA Tour Vice Presidents rolling up their sleeves, working late, trying to stay later than the boss and brainstorming so we don't have to go home to the wife."

Or does it mean something else?

Of course one wonders why this conversation has to take place after 5, as opposed to during business hours.


Tiger and The Commish

Well the new year is off to a roaring start, as my NSA sources picked up this Monday night IM exchange between what appears to be Commissioner Tim Finchem and Tiger Woods, chatting on the eve of golf's new era commencing this Thursday at Kapalua.  

twfPGATOUR©: Tiger, is that you?

TWPrivacy:  who is this?

twfPGATOUR©: Commissioner Timothy B. Finchem

twfPGATOUR©: Tiger, you there?

TWPrivacy: how did you get this IM address?

twfPGATOUR©: Oh, uh, uh through Mark Steinberg.

TWPrivacy: sure you did. sup?

twfPGATOUR©: Just wanted to say hi from Kapalua where it's lovely. Thought I saw your preferred Citation X next to our Falcons but I guess it was just wishful thinking.

TWPrivacy: yep, spending time with my family in the mountains.

twfPGATOUR©: Well, wish you were here at Kap to see how the Ritz Carlton people have leveraged their brand. Inspiring how they have vertically and horizontally integrated their platforms to elevate the resort experience.

TWPrivacy: that's great tim

twfPGATOUR©: Anyway, I also wanted to congratulate you on the new project in Dubai.

TWPrivacy: thanks

twfPGATOUR©: Maybe you could talk the Sheiks into adding a First Tee facility with the project?

TWPrivacy: uh, i don't think there are many kids over there in need.

twfPGATOUR©: Yes, point taken.

twfPGATOUR©: You still there?

twfPGATOUR©: Hello?

TWPrivacy: yeah, just in the middle of something

twfPGATOUR©: Oh, Ric Clarson is here in our secure meeting operations center with me overlooking the bay. 

TWPrivacy: who?

twfPGATOUR©: I also wanted to congratulate you on Elin's pregnancy. It's wonderful that you'll be further platforming the Woods brand while finally conjoining with the PGA Tour's core values of family and charity.

twfPGATOUR©:  Tiger, you there?

TWPrivacy: yes tim. thanks on the pregnancy. elin says thanks too.

twfPGATOUR©: Is she there?

TWPrivacy: no, she's out skiing.

twfPGATOUR©: So our marketing people were wondering if you've decided how you are going about branding this?

TWPrivacy: what? having a kid?

twfPGATOUR©: Yes, how are you going to brand it. You know, how are you going name the child.

TWPrivacy: we haven't gotten that far tim.

twfPGATOUR©: Well we have a Vice Presidents here who specializes in name gentrification as well as all forms of cross platforming who I'm sure would be happy do a lot of post 5 o'clock brainstorming with your branding people, maybe even work up some metrics on how the various brands play out.

TWPrivacy: thanks tim, but we'll be okay.  is there something else?

twfPGATOUR©: Yes one last thing. What's the due date?

TWPrivacy: can't say

twfPGATOUR©: We're hearing July here, which of course is great because that will allow you to play in The PLAYERS.

TWPrivacy: yeah, i can't wait

twfPGATOUR©: I'm just wondering if you've thought about how much time you'll want to spend with the new baby in say, August and September when the PGA TOUR Playoffs begin?

TWPrivacy: probably a lot of time
TWPrivacy: tim, you there?
TWPrivacy: tim?

twfPGATOUR© signed off at 08:19:34 PM EST


Betting On The FedEx Cup

My latest exclusive on the FedEx Cup is now posted...


Where Are The DMD's?

John Paul Newport pens one of those strange WSJ columns where he first makes a point to let us know that distance measuring devices have not only not ruined the game (did anyone ever write that they would?), but have actually been a positive addition to his game. And then he pretty much dispels any notion that they speed up play or add any real great pleasure for his game, except on courses he hasn't seen.

What do you think? 

Thanks to reader John for this.


2006 In Review

2006yearinreview.gifThis blog-thing continues to be one grand experiment, but any success it thanks in large part you all for spreading the word and sharing your thoughts via the comments section.

This marked the first full year on Squarespace and included few technical glitches thanks to their excellent service, but surely plenty of typos on my end. Thanks so much to all of you who emailed in a heads up on stories, mistakes or questionable posts (thankfully there were few of those). 

The most hit and emailed post of the year?  Why that would be this site's January exclusive on the USGA's private jet travel.

2006 also included some exclusive site content.

Former USGA Executive Director Frank Hannigan weighed in with a commentary on the recent USGA-AmEx deal and revealed that the USGA lost $7 million this year. He also shared his thoughts on the USGA's private jet package, his views on a Golf World story claiming that Gary McCord had turned down the chance to announce at the Masters and his take on USGA President Walter Driver's revealing take on the distance issue.

AIMDarwin.jpgThe year also included a series of instant message interviews with some of the game's top writers, including the inaugural chat with Stu Schneider of Golf World, the second with John Huggan, an architecture discussion with Golfweek's Brad Klein, a post-Open Championship talk with SI's Michael Bamberger and a post Ohio Golf Association Champions tournament chat with SI's Gary Van Sickle.

Speaking of instant messages, my NSA sources also shared a series of IM's between PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem and LPGA Tour Commissioner Carolyn Bivens. My sources say we'll continue to receive these periodically as long as the two keep their jobs, I'm not going there.

You can relive those rivetting exchanges here, here and here.

We also were treated to a series of text messages sent from Walter Driver's Blackberry to USGA course setup man Mike Davis during U.S. Open media day at Winged Foot. Hopefully we'll get a few more of those in Driver's final year as exhalted ruler.

And finally, what would this site be without your input, and just some of the highlights from user comments can be read in the various Week in Review posts that can be found archived here.

So on that note I would love to hear what you would like to see (or not see) from the site in 2007. The look, content, features, etc.  Naturally, my hope is to continue highlightling the best and worst from the golf world, and maybe even do a little more golf architecture project blogging should we be so fortunate in 2007 to break ground on some exciting projects.

So please, comment away...and Happy New Year,


New Era In Golf Kicks Off Like Old Era

...with Tiger claiming he needs a week of practice time for the Mercedes that he just didn't have!