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In the beginning there was golf, but later there were the rules of golf, and then the trouble started. For it is a regrettable fact that although rules are necessary in organized sport, their introduction tends to mar the careless rapture of pastimes unhampered by rigid conditions.



Castle Stuart Images, Vol. 3

This is the 9th hole, with the clubhouse going up on the right. Again, anyone involved is more than welcome to tell us what we're looking at here. Click on the image to enlarge:



"But has there ever been such a dud in pro sports as the FedEx Cup?"

That's what Lorne Rubenstein asks as he runs down all of the problems. It makes you wonder about that whole any-press-is-good-press mentality.


OWGR Absurdity File, Vol. 4901

Doug Ferguson shares another reason why the Official World Golf Ranking is a farce (my view, not his).

The Chevron World Challenge that Tiger Woods hosts in December no longer will be just an anchor of the silly season. Starting in 2009, it will be part of the Official World Golf Ranking.
According to an official involved in the discussions, the world ranking board has approved Woods’ request that world ranking points be awarded at the Chevron World Challenge after this year. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because it has not been announced.
The ranking board approved the request with one stipulation. To receive ranking points, it must take 16 players off the world ranking with no exemptions. For a larger field, the exemptions must go to players among the top 50 in the world.
The official said Chevron plans to have an 18-man field in 2009 with two exemptions.

It's amazing how folks bellow on about the criminal nature of the Top 30 FedEx Cup finishers getting in the Masters, yet silly rich-get-rich pyramid scheme moves like this undermine the World Ranking and make exemptions based on the OWGR just as flimsy.

Due to a coincidence in timing, Ferguson paired this item with news that the R&A will be exempting the Top 30 FedEx Cup finishers, up from the Top 20.


"We learned the market is not deep enough for fractional residences at that price point."

In the new Golf World, Mike Cullity considers the plight of Hamilton Hall in St. Andrews.

Hamilton Hall's current state is a far cry from the vision promised by its owner, Wasserman Real Estate Capital LLC, a Providence, R.I., development firm that bought the building from St. Andrews University for £20 million (about $40 million) in 2006. A 40-year-old developer of retail, mixed-use and residential properties, the firm planned to transform the old dormitory into a luxury residence club called St. Andrews Grand that would open in mid-2008 and count Phil Mickelson among the members paying a seven-figure sum for a share in one of 23 lavishly appointed apartments.

But those plans have been abandoned, and as St. Andrews looks toward the Open's slated return to the Old Course in 2010, locals are speculating about Hamilton Hall's future and expressing concerns over its appearance. The public outcry is a prominent example of the conflict that has emerged in Scotland between local interests seeking to preserve the historic character of golf's birthplace and real-estate developers—including Donald Trump, who for two years has battled local officials over a plan to build a $2.1 billion golf resort along Scotland's northeast coast—looking for a piece of the country's lucrative golf tourism pie.

Aiming to attract wealthy travelers, St. Andrews Grand did not generate the interest Wasserman Real Estate Capital had hoped for, said David Wasserman, the firm's principal. "We had demand but not necessarily enough demand to carry the whole project through," he said. "We learned the market is not deep enough for fractional residences at that price point." 

Nice quote, but way too transparent.


"It takes a lot of stress off me, and it gives me a realistic chance."

Randall Mell reports the good news that the PGA Tour has granted heart-transplant recipient Erik Compton a cart for Q-School.

Compton was informed by telephone this afternoon, PGA Tour Executive Vice President Ty Votaw confirmed. Compton said he expects written verification by FedEx on Wednesday.
Now, if they sent him a letter saying "no," would they send it DHL?


"Play is conducted at a funereal pace."

Alistair Tait gets us in the mood to not watch the Dunhill Cup, once a great event.

The Pro-Am format of the Alfred Dunhill is something that has never actually caught the imagination of Scottish golf fans. While the PGA Tour’s AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am is well supported, Scottish golf fans haven’t exactly welcomed the St. Andrews equivalent with open arms.

I put it down to three reasons. The first is painfully obvious. Play is conducted at a funereal pace. Six-hour rounds are the norm. Play at St. Andrews is usually slow given that everyone who plays there wants to experience every last second on the Old Course. However, pace of play in the Alfred Dunhill would make snails seem quick.

Then there is the time of year. October is hardly balmy weather in Scotland, so the chance to actually recognize a celebrity let alone watch one is almost impossible. Movie actress Ines Sastre was in the field the year I covered the tournament. As far as ogling went, it wasn’t easy to appreciate her full beauty when she was wrapped in waterproofs and a bobble hat.

Besides, many of the celebrities fall into the B-list category anyway.

However, the bottom line is that Scottish golf fans have no interest in watching celebrities, A-list or otherwise, hack their way around the sacred turf of St. Andrews. The year I went I counted just 29 people in the grandstand behind the Old Course’s 18th green as former soccer great Sir Bobby Charlton played his approach.


Flash: Fat Cats May Party Less!

Not surprisingly we're seeing stories detailing how corporate America will be responding to the credit crisis. Even less surprising, they all say hospitality revenue will take a hit.

Peter Corbett in the Arizona Republic:

But the economic meltdown could put a damper on entertaining by those other sponsors as well, said Ray Artigue, executive director of the sports-business master's program at Arizona State University.

"Companies are less likely to throw a big party in the face of employee layoffs and want to be careful how they conduct themselves," Artigue said. "And that goes double for public entities."

But in Jon Show and John Ourand's piece for the Sports Business Journal, this caught me by surprise:

Others, like Radiate CEO Jay Lenstrom, believe financial companies will begin to shy away from title sponsorships. “I think entitlement will soon be a thing of the past,” he said.
I find that hard to believe simply because being the "Northen Trust Open" and all of the publicity that comes with that justifies the costs far more than a hospitality tent experience. No?

Castle Stuart Images, Vol. 2

From John Kemp, this is the 8th hole. Again, anyone involved with the course is free to post a description of what kind of hole we're looking at. But considering this was all man made, including the native area/heather, it's pretty impressive.

Click on the image to see a full screen version.


Sixth Major Safe For Now

Ron Green Jr. reports that the Wachovia Championship remains safe for now, though I'm still guessing those excessive player bribes locker gifts and player perks may become a thing of the past. Or at least, toned down considerably.

Thanks to reader J. for this:

Officials said the golf tournament is expected to continue in the future with a contract that carries it through 2014.
“We have a six-year extension and we look forward to continuing the golf tournament,” Mac Everett, the tournament's executive chairman and a former Wachovia executive, said Monday.
PGA Tour officials have been monitoring the Wachovia situation and expect the Charlotte stop to remain on future tour schedules.
“We fully expect the tournament in Charlotte to continue,” said Jon Podany, senior vice president for business development with the PGA Tour said..
“The acquiring company would assume the contract. That's typically the way the contracts work.”
It is still to be determined whether the Wachovia brand would remain on the event while officials at Citigroup and Wachovia work out the details of the transition. With a portion of the Wachovia brand remaining, it's possible the tournament name could remain.
As title sponsor of the golf tournament, which had a $6.4-million purse in 2008, Wachovia spent $3,009,000 on its entitlement fee last year. The PGA Tour pays 62 percent of the tournament purse.
Wachovia also paid more than $3 million for television advertising plus a significant amount on hospitality for clients and guests during the event.
I don't care how massive Citigroup is, I'd stamp this one with a big STAY TUNED.

Hawkins: PGA Tour May Be Open To Good Idea!

It's one thing for a cerebral tour player like Joe Ogilvie to be coming around on the brilliant FedEx Cup fix proposed by yours truly last year in Golf World.

But to see a media colleague, one who is a star and a man who doesn't have to write back-of-the-magazine notes, now taking the same view? it's heartwarming in ways I never imagined.

John Hawkins in this week's Golf World on

One logical and recently discussed scenario involves an 18-hole shootout among the top four to eight players in the standings. The Tour Championship would begin on Wednesday and conclude on Saturday, leaving Sunday open for the last men standing to play one round of stroke-play golf for a whole lot of money. "In theory, it's a pretty good concept," says Joe Ogilvie, a member of the tour's policy board.

Votaw acknowledges the shootout as an option and adds, "It may seem alluring in some respects. We may come up with a better idea or receive feedback that leads us in another direction."
Cruel of Hawkins to have put the question to the PGA Tour's Ty Votaw, who oversaw the creation of the LPGA's similar ADT Championship. That said, isn't it wonderful to see that after hitting rock bottom, they might consider something that people actually want to watch. My heart is warming so much, I have to go now.

Before I do, about those ratings...
Saturday's third round on NBC had an overnight Nielsen rating of 1.3, down 46.4% from last year's 2.8 (that turned out to be a 2.6 in the final rating).

Sunday's fourth round had an overnight rating of 1.8, down 54.5% from last year's 3.3 (a 3.0 final rating).

Cumulative Scoring!?

We're about to start getting some whacky suggestions for the broken FedEx Cup, and while I've heard lots of fun stuff about the not very original idea I proposed last year and argued about with Steve Dennis this year, SI's Gary Van Sickle raises the loopiest idea yet. This is in an interview with Dennis, who doesn't sound like he's buying it either.

After all, how do you try to win a tournament each week when you are also worrying about your cumulative score?


Castle Stuart Images Vol. 1

With all of this gloom and doom I thought I'd share a few photos sent to me by John Kemp, an aspiring architect who worked on The Prairie Club's Horse Course project with us this summer. John was part of the crew that built Castle Stuart with Gil Hanse, Mark Parsinen and Jim Wagner. He recently played the course on what looked to be a stunning day and captured these shots. I don't know much about the holes, so hopefully John or someone else will chime in.

I believe this is the fourth hole. You know the drill, click on the images to see full screen versions.


"OJ in Church? What was he askin' fo'?"

In a roundup of miscellaneous LPGA items, Beth Ann Baldry notes a surreal scene for Hwanhee Lee, first reported by the Golf Couture blog.


“This has ruined the greatest week of my life coming here"

One week after a major brand, uh, refurbishment and platform expansion, Kenny Perry worked ably to reestablish his image as a spoiled tour professional by pointing out the sheer awfulness of having to appear in a 30-man, $7 million+ giveaway as millions of Americans worried about paying their electric bill.

Jeff Rude reminds us why Kenny will always be Kenny:

Perry shot 76-75 the first two days and wasn’t happy he had to submit to a random drug test for the second time since the program’s inception in July.
“This has ruined the greatest week of my life coming here,” said Perry, adding he’d rather be home celebrating his Ryder success. “It really has.”
It’s refreshing that a professional athlete in effect is saying big money isn’t everything.
Well that's certainly one unusual way to look at it.

Commissioner: when you fine him, fine him good.

Which reminds me, I guess the horror of peeing in a cup at the Tour Championship probably means that Ryder Cup drug testing we heard about never happened?


Wachovia Next?


Vijay Becomes First To Win FedEx Cup Without Winning Tour Championship

Granted, it was year two, but the worst traditions have to start some place.

Bob Harig at

Meanwhile, Singh was being congratulated on his $10 million haul despite never breaking 70 during four rounds, never contending for the tournament title and finishing tied for 22nd. With an hour to go in the tournament, Singh was collecting the hardware from PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem in a strange, made-for-TV ceremony.

That scenario was always a danger in this new-fangled system that has the PGA Tour crowning a season-long champion on the same day it gives a trophy to the winner of one of its supposedly prestigious tournaments.

What happens when the winner of the FedEx Cup is not the winner of the Tour Championship?
Steve Elling at on the oddity of Camillo Villegas winning just as many playoff events as Vijay, including the final event, and coming away the runner up:
Had the rest of the four-week playoff series played out the same way, Villegas could have won the first-place $10 million had he not missed the cut at The Barclays, the FedEx opener, by one thin shot. In fact, had he just played on the weekend, he could have finished dead last among those who made the cut and still earned enough points to ultimately slide past Singh into first place at the end of the rainbow, assuming all things remained equal elsewhere.

Breaking it down, Singh won the first two FedEx events and Villegas won the last two. At the second, won by Singh in Boston, Villegas played in the final group and finished tied for third. In other words, throw out the missed cut and he arguably outplayed Singh over four weeks. Singh, who was T44 and T22 in his last two starts, just didn't miss a cut and scored points at all four venues.

Villegas didn't much want to talk about the details.

"That was an expensive cut," he said. "That's the way this game goes. If I knew that was the case, I don't know what I would have done different. But you've just got to be in the present.

"Again, the FedEx Cup, it's great for the game. We need to get the points system better, and I'm not saying this because I finished second. I've been saying this since Day 1. I had a chance to sit down with the commissioner this Wednesday and share some ideas.

"We just need to make it fun for the fans and fun for us. So FedEx has done a great job in putting all this together, and I'm sure the tour is grinding and trying to get it as good as they can."

For a defective product, it was as good as could be expected.

"With Lee Westwood two up after nine holes of Friday afternoon’s fourballs, who on earth thought it would be a good idea to tell him that he was going to be left out of the following morning foursomes. Unbelievable."

Yes, Chubby Chandler is Darren Clarke's agent and probably not too thrilled his client was left off the Ryder Cup team. But this shredding of Captain Nick Faldo appears on  Lets the inevitable drama begin!

I have been asked innumerable times for my thoughts on Nick Faldo’s captaincy and they have not changed after the event from what they were before.  To me, he was mediocre and failed to understand the duties of a captain.  He didn’t put the work in before, didn’t do anything to bring the team together and didn’t consult his senior players.   He also showed a complete lack of man-management skills.
With Lee Westwood two up after nine holes of Friday afternoon’s fourballs, who on earth thought it would be a good idea to tell him that he was going to be left out of the following morning foursomes.   Unbelievable.
I’m sure Lee was completely deflated particularly since he was told during his 27th consecutive match.  I’m sure it also affected his concentration while hitting his confidence levels for the next two days.  A captain really has to understand what makes players tick, but unfortunately Nick Faldo did not see this as a pre-requisite for the job.   He didn’t do anything in the build up to discover how his best players perform and under what circumstances they perform best. Unfortunately the Ryder Cup turned out to be all about Nick Faldo.

Garcia Poised To Become Only Third Ever To Win CAPS Slam

From Doug Ferguson's third round Tour Championship game story:

Garcia kept hitting good putts until enough of them went in that he turned a three-shot deficit into a three-shot lead with a 3-under 67, leaving him poised to become only the third player to capture THE PLAYERS Championship and THE TOUR Championship in the same year.

With Kim and Mickelson trailing, it looks like we might actually have to watch this one. On top of the major historical ramifications, of course.


Azinger's "Life Coach" Speaks!

John Paul Newport talks to Azinger life coach, author and Ryder Cup golf cart co-pilot Dr. Ron Braund about the pod system concept that he's taking credit for.

"Jim Furyk has struggled as a team player to some extent, because he is such an individual," Dr. Braund said. "But here he had a role to play. He was a steady rudder and tremendously supportive of the other guys, particularly of Kenny Perry when he got down after hitting his drive into the hazard on the final hole in the first foursomes match. That may be one reason Jim performed so well." Mr. Furyk won 2½ points and clinched the Cup on Sunday with his singles win. Mr. Perry also rebounded to win 2½ points.
During the competition, Dr. Braund rode in the cart with Mr. Azinger and helped him keep on point with his "messaging" to players.
"Sometimes, the message was no message," Dr. Braund said. "Paul would just drive by, show a smiling face and ask if everything was OK. But that was based on what we'd worked out beforehand."

"To outsiders this might seem like an esoteric point"

Lawrence Donegan follows up on a story quietly emerging as a major headache for the PGA Tour, which already has enough problems to worry about. Regarding Phil Mickelson (oh and Vijay too...not that anyone cares) considering playing more in Europe, Donegan explains how this could play out after talking to Dubai Director of Golf Tourism and European Tour head George O'Grady:

In this instance O'Grady's reticence is understandable because there is one more hurdle to be negotiated before any American superstar will commit to playing more events under the European Tour banner. Mickelson aside, there are believed to be other members of US Ryder Cup team contemplating such a move, as well as the likes of Australians Geoff Ogilvy, the 2006 US Open champion, and Robert Allenby. But all are waiting for the outcome of next week's meeting in St Andrews of the European Tour's players committee, headed by Thomas Bjorn, in which a decision will be reached over the minimum number of tournaments required to gain Tour membership.

To outsiders this might seem like an esoteric point, but within the European Tour it is of historic significance. Currently, a player must compete in 11 events to qualify for membership but there is a strong push from the committee's members to have the minimum number of events increased to 13 in order to protect the interests of the rank and file, who play all of their golf under the banner of the European Tour.

Such self-interest is understandable but it threatens the Tour's prospects of attracting the likes of Mickelson and Vijay Singh, another who has expressed an interested in adding European Tour membership to his membership of the PGA Tour in the States.

Something to ponder here: the FedEx Cup has been a mess as a playoff but with the right adjustments could still work.  However, beyond points permutation debates, we're going to see more stories about its timing and the shortened season. No one seems to see an improvement in ending the PGA Tour season when the NFL and college football are just starting out. But more than that, the well-intentioned big fall opening to get golf off the radar screen seems to have strengthened the European Tour's prospects of drawing some of the marquee players listed above.

So in other words, the FedEx Cup concept may be viewed in upcoming media coverage as a failure all around, and a colossal one if it leads to even fewer PGA Tour appearances by name players. Of course, this is what the big names wanted and the Commissioner gave it to them. But at the expense of the PGA Tour's standing as the premier tour in the world?