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I celebrated Thanksgiving in an old-fashioned way. I invited everyone in my neighborhood to my house, we had an enormous feast, and then I killed them and took their land.



"After I went par, birdie, birdie, I sacked him."

Little-known Tony Carolan leads the Euro Tour's Ballantine's Championship in South Korea after an interesting first day. Trent Baker reports, but here's Carolan's press conference:

Q. Glad to get in?

TONY CAROLAN: Very happy, yeah. Put a new driver and 3-wood in the bag this week, and I was quite happy with my 3-wood. There's a lot of holes out here where I can hit my 3-wood 250 and leave myself a solid 8- or 9-iron to the green.

Got to have to a good start and made a good 2-putt par on the first and hit it close off the two, made a nice birdie from three feet. And the next, I hole it from about ten feet. Didn't birdie the next but three in a row, the first four holes.

Then I got a new caddie. He was jiggling clubs while putting; moving; he had soft spikes on, so he wasn't allowed on the greens. I just told him to go.

After I went par, birdie, birdie, I sacked him. He was just terrible. I'm paying him a USD$160, and he couldn't walk on the greens. I said man, you've got to stay off the greens. The other caddies were doing too much work.

Q. First time you've ever sacked a caddie on the course?

TONY CAROLAN: No. I think it's the second time. The other guy raked a bunker while I was in there after I told him not to. Actually I didn't sack him then, I sacked him the next day.

Q. So you've never sacked someone during a round?

TONY CAROLAN: I don't think so but I think I've been sacked by a caddie, though!
Q. What's your background?
Translation: who the hell are you?
TONY CAROLAN: Played in the mid 90s early onwards on the Asian Tour, and then I went to Canada and played on and off there for six years, one year where I played Challenge Tour, had conditional status in 2000. Then had some injuries, and in 2004, I got a full exempt card on the Nationwide Tour and was exempt and played the whole year with a torn cartilage. The physios out there had no clue, they just kept saying, you've got to stretch more, you've got to stretch more. I'm driving 20 hours in a car week-to-week; do you think I'm just getting out of the car and going to bed, of course I'm in the stretching after long drives. So I had pretty much 2005 off. I didn't do much, played some Pro-Ams.
End of 2005 I went to Asian Q-School, so I had the whole year off and went to Q-School, got my card. That was when the caddie raked the bunker. I got a two-stroke penalty and went from 13th to 31st at the Q-School, cost me a category and stats in all the big events. So I had to really work to get exempt and finished 34th last year.

This year, I think I'm about 20th an the Asian Tour Money List. I've played every week, first week at Emaar, withdrew after 15 holes, sick as a dog, and then I think I was 19th at Jakarta and then 14th at the SAIL Open, so I was a little disappointed with that. I went into Johnnie Walker and finished 17th, and last week I shot 3-under and missed the cut by a shot. 12 birdies, 3-under to miss the cut, I just made too many mistakes. Today I made the 6-footers.

And fired a caddy. All in all, just another ho-hum day on the European Tour. 


Azinger Begins His Quest To Drive PGA of America Batty

img10688944.jpgServes me right for not paying attention to Steve Elling's piece on Paul Azinger and his sit down with the scribblers last week. Seems the Ryder Cup captain is open to the idea of picking the hottest players, no matter what tour they are playing on.

His approach gave Jim Achenbach and Rex Hoggard something to debate. Achenbach got a good chuckle out of Azinger's remarks while Hoggard likes the Captain's open mind.


The Latest Labbance Books

wayne_stiles_book_cover.jpgI just caught a glimpse of Bob Labbance's new books and both look excellent. The impressive biography and history of architect Wayne Stiles' career is now available through the Stiles Society, while his look at Harry Vardon's historic 1900 tour of America has been published by Ann Arbor Media Group and is available through


Now We Know Why The USGA Is Accumulating A War Chest...

Golf World's dynamic duo of Mike Stachura and E. Michael Johnson reveal that the USGA has notified manufacturers of a new random driver testing program.

This isn't going to be cheap:

The protocol has the USGA obtaining eight samples from golf retail shops of its choosing. Those drivers will be measured on the pendulum tester located at the USGA Test Center.

The USGA said all drivers appearing on the USGA's List of Conforming Driver Heads are subject to the check testing program with the frequency of sampling to be determined by the USGA, depending on the results obtained. This could potentially be an arduous, time-consuming and expensive task as that list is currently 380 pages long with an average of about nine driver heads per page -- that's well over 3,000 driver heads.

Yeah and at $3-600 a head...ouch!

And if they find the drivers are exceeding the limit...
it will set off a series of events that includes a notice to the manufacturer. At that point, the manufacturer will have a "reasonable amount of time" to review the findings and discuss them with the USGA. At that point the club will be removed from the conforming list unless the manufacturer "provides information to the USGA which warrants additional consideration by the USGA."

Once a club is placed on the non-conforming list, the manufacturer may submit a conforming version of the club, with some form of permanent identifying markings distinguishing this version from the non-conforming version.



Daly Reacts To DQ, Butch, Gruden has the exclusive and he actually comes off sounding pretty good with his answers.


"As for whether I'll play, it's going to depend on my schedule."

36695033-12193536.jpgIn Thomas Bonk's note on George Lopez getting bumped from the Hope Classic marquee in favor of Arnold Palmer, you have to love the humor-free and decidedly Tiger-like semantics from Lopez:
"My intentions have always been about what's best for the tournament. Arnold Palmer, he's an icon of golf; who doesn't respect him? I wish the tournament all the luck in the world.

"As for whether I'll play, it's going to depend on my schedule."

Ironic that the tournament is bringing in Palmer to liven things up, when it's all of the Palmer-designed courses that have killed the event.


"Should the USGA ever consider a limit on lofts..."

gwar01_080314sindelar.jpgIn the current Golf World, E. Michael Johnson writes that nearly 80 percent of the field at the Pods Championship carried a 60-degree wedge and that only Mathew Goggin and Rocco Mediate had a 56-degree as their highest-lofted wedge.

And he writes:

Still, though some players on the PGA Tour are using wedges as lofty as 64 degrees (including Peter Lonard and D.J. Trahan at the PODS), not everyone is drawn to higher lofts. On the LPGA Tour, for example, only 36 percent of players at the HSBC Champions had a 60-degree wedge, while 18 percent percent had a 56-degree as their highest-lofted wedge, including Lorena Ochoa and Se Ri Pak.

Should the USGA ever consider a limit on lofts, players such as Ochoa and Pak will have a head start -- and those with 60-degree wedges will have to learn a bunch of new shots.

During my work on a couple of recent stories, several players mentioned the outlawing of the 60 degree wedge. Now, it's one thing to at least argue about grooves and their impact, but how can loft ever be something that is banned?  If someone wants to use a 70 degree wedge or a 5 degree driver, why wouldn't they be allowed to do that?

I don't sense the USGA and R&A are considering it, but just the idea of it always amazes me. Thoughts? 


"East Lake was just slow. These are not just slow."

Considering Tiger's sensitivity to what he deems to be iffy greens (Pebble Beach, Riviera) and their effect on his putting stroke, you can sense his enthusiasm for Bay Hill's diseased putting surfaces:

Q. How was the course out there today?
TIGER WOODS: Well, the fairways and the tee boxes are in great shape.

Q. So talk about the greens.
TIGER WOODS: Well, they are not very good. It's going to be an interesting week on them. You're going to see a lot of guys hit good putts and they are going to go weird ways, unfortunately.

But, hey, we've all got to deal with it, we've all got to putt on them and you just have to accept hitting good putts and they may not go in but hopefully we hit enough good ones where they do go in.

Q. Does this venue present as big a challenge for you as any one you're playing in the next couple of months?
TIGER WOODS: Definitely. Definitely. Especially with what we have to putt on this week. It will be quite a test.

Q. Worse than East Lake?
TIGER WOODS: East Lake was just slow. These are not just slow.



PGA Tour Joins Facebook!

It's great to see the PGA Tour trying to tap a younger audience since they typically resist such pandering (see Ty, I listen!).

Yet the gang in Ponte Vedra couldn't resist opening themselves up to the privacy-violating social network du jour, Facebook. And you can just see the kids swooning with an opening page self-explanation like this:

The mission of the PGA TOUR is to expand domestically and internationally to substantially increase player financial benefits while maintaining its commitment to the integrity of the game. In addition to providing competitive opportunities for its membership, PGA TOUR events also generate revenue for charitable causes in their communities.

That ought to have the friend requests coming in drives.

But you have to love the discreet use of Tiger's image on their homepage:




"Not to bring politics into this in an election year, but we like to think the U.S. Open is the most democratic golf championship"

From Doug Ferguson's notes column:

The PGA Tour scored a small victory last month when the USGA recognized the FedEx Cup while handing out exemptions to the U.S. Open. Along with giving a free pass to the top 30 on the PGA Tour money list, those in the top 30 in the final FedEx Cup standings don't have to qualify, either.

It was thought the USGA would pick one or the other, but officials recognized it would only affect a couple of players. By also taking the field from the Tour Championship, Jonathan Byrd and Camilo Villegas are exempt for Torrey Pines.

"Doing the numbers, I am very confident that the majority of the U.S. Open field will still come via qualifying," USGA executive director David Fay said Tuesday. "Adding the Tour Championship field will not tilt that."

And that was important to the USGA, since 54 percent of the field last year came from qualifying.

"Not to bring politics into this in an election year, but we like to think the U.S. Open is the most democratic golf championship," Fay said.

First, isn't it great to see David quoted again? I thought Walter Driver and Pete Bevacqua had shipped him to some secure, undisclosed location.

Second, it's a sad day when the Executive Director can't weave one of his wily baseball metaphors into this, especially since he probably was closely monitoring the Yankees spring training game webcast as he was talking to Ferguson.

But finally, I hate to break the news to such a well-educated man, but unless the U.S. Open is a superdelegate that'll be in Denver this August to cast the deciding vote for Obama, there is nothing our election year has to do with calling the U.S. Open democratic.

Then again, considering the way the USGA has set up courses to make it all about their egos and the fact they have these special new corporate relationships, I'd have to lean more towards fascist. But that's just me.

David, this is what happens when you stray from your baseball metaphors. Stick to what brought you to the big dance!


Daly Misses Pro-Am Tee Time, So Do Alternates

Bob Harig reports. Apparently Sean O'Hair Nick O'Hern and another player pegged as pro-am field alternates were not there either, so they may face disqualification from the Arnold Palmer Invitational as well. Ian Poulter stepped in for Daly.


"If ever there was irrefutable proof that we long ago reached the saturation point on golf instruction, it is the knowledge that even Tripp Isenhour is involved."'s Jim McCabe offers this entertaining take on the Tripp Isenhour hawk killing fiasco:

top07.jpgWith this story still having shelf life, part of me just can’t get away from one angle that continues to amaze. That is, the endless stream of infomercials, books, videos, and gadgets which promise to make you a better golfer. I’m not sure any of them have made improvements upon “Ben Hogan’s Five Lessons: The Modern Fundamentals of Golf,” that came out more than 50 years ago, but needless to say, the flow of money being poured into whatever quick fix is thrust into public view hasn’t evaporated.
“Practice Like a Pro” is a DVD collection offered for “3 easy payments of $29.98” — plus the infamous shipping and handling, of course — and if you Google it, whose face pops up but that of Tripp Isenhour. He’s there with a big grin on his face, so we assume the photo was taken before the red-shouldered hawk fell into his world with a resounding thud. Standing next to Isenhour is Dr. Bob Rotella, who knows a thing or two or three or 20 about books and videos that promise better golf. Isenhour is billed as a “PGA Tour pro,” which begs the question: Does anyone know of any “PGA Tour amateur?”
Reportedly, the Dec. 12 session was to film a video in the “Practice Like a Pro” series and you’d be wise to wager that there won’t be anything about a drill on taking aim at feathered creatures in trees. As to whether or not these videos are “revolutionary” or truly reveal “secrets of the short game,” as the advertisement states, that’s for you to decide.

This is America and thanks to our precious capitalism, Isenhour, for sure, is free to cash in on his status as a professional golfer and pitch products like the “Practice Like a Pro,” just as you are within your rights to purchase the Medicus dual-hinged Driver, the Brush-T, the Heavy Putter, the Swing Glove, or any magazine that announces on its cover that you can cure your slice or hit your drives 20 yards further.
Getting better at golf is a huge industry, but I guess it took the unfortunate death of a migratory bird to make me realize once again just how huge it is. I mean, Tripp Isenhour offering help with golf instruction? I hadn’t heard much of him since he won the Trinidad Open.


"You're looking at the shortest golf window along the entire North Sea."

gwar03_080314trump.jpgGolf World's John Huggan weighs in on the viability of The Donald's Scotland project moving forward. This lept off the page...

All of which presupposes that the course actually will be built. While the odds are currently heavily in favor of the project gaining official approval, nothing yet is certain. Indeed, the story of Trump and the Menie Estate already has taken many twists and turns. As a "Site of Special Scientific Interest" that is home to many varieties of plant and wildlife, the area always was going to be difficult from a planning standpoint. American Mark Parsinen, who developed the highly acclaimed Kingsbarns course near St. Andrews, was one who previously rejected the site because of possible environmental restrictions. "I looked at this location, but it is on a Site of Special Scientific Interest," says Parsinen, who is now building another project at Castle Stuart, near Inverness in the Scottish Highlands. "These things take a lot of time. I settled here with my family to slowly build up relationships with the local community. I want them with me, not angry with me."

Meanwhile in last week's Golfweek, Bradley Klein writes of the project:

Didn't any of The Donald's consultants tell him that the site for this proposed 36-hole golf resort and real estate spread north of Aberdeen is on the East Coast's coldest stretch of land? Between the frequent morning "haar" or fog and the early afternoon shadows cast by the Grampian Mountains to the west, you're looking at the shortest golf window along the entire North Sea.



"We’re the electives. And there are lot more requirements now.”

Doug Ferguson looks at Tiger Woods' increasingly picky schedule and features this epic quote from Wachovia Championship tournament director Kym Hougham on the impact of Woods essentially locked in to the majors, three WGCs, three or four (!?) playoff events and The Players Championship The PLAYERS:

“It’s a dwindling opportunity because of the majors, the WGCs, and now the playoffs,” Hougham said. “It’s like in college, when you have requirements and electives. We’re the electives. And there are lot more requirements now.”


Harmon Revokes Daly's Hall Pass

Tim Rosaforte's original February note on John Daly and Butch Harmon resurfaces in the April Golf Digest, and includes this from Harmon:

"I told [John] to look in the mirror to see the guy who's causing all the problems. On tour, he needs to stay on his bus, stay out of the Hooters and the bars. I told him, 'If you can't do that, we don't have a deal."

Harmon added, "I gave him one hall pass. One is all I'm going to give him."
ALeqM5i2UuMmncnsQYJESYshumcAw7XCWgNot surprisingly, Daly's well documented weekend foray into the Hooter's pavillion did it for Harmon. From a Doug Ferguson wire report:
"My whole goal for him was he's got to show me golf is the most important thing in his life," Harmon said from his golf school in Las Vegas. "And the most important thing in his life is getting drunk."
No one can accuse Butch of holding back. 
"I've let him know that after his actions of last weekend, we are no longer together," Harmon said. "In all honesty, I'm a very busy person. I'm willing to help the kid, but until he helps himself and makes golf his No. 1 priority, I'm not his guy.

"Jon Gruden caddying, I thought was ridiculous. I thought he made a circus out of the whole event."

Daly, who is playing the Arnold Palmer Invitational on a sponsor's exemption, could not be located for comment.


One Golfer Left...

ObamaBarack.jpgI'm not sure where, but I do recall someone writing or saying that with Mitt Romney's departure from the presidential race, the next occupant of the White House would not be a golfer. Where, I can't recall. Hey, it happens.

Anyway, I was pleased to see this in Lisa Furlong's introductory story to the Golf Digest ranking of Washington golfers:

We haven't seen President Bush playing golf in a while, but he's still considered a 15. Presidential hopeful Barack Obama, who's about a 16, weighed his decision to run while playing golf in Hawaii in 2006.

"Holmes resembles a preying mantis painstakingly stalking its lunch as he goes through his staccato pre-shout routine."

Karl MacGinty offers the latest slow play rant and it's a beauty. A few highlights:

Okay, O'Hair's not as mind-numbingly slow as JB Holmes, the mega-hitter from Kentucky who pounded Phil Mickelson into submission on the first tie hole at last month's FBR Open.

This guy is utterly infuriating. Holmes resembles a preying mantis painstakingly stalking its lunch as he goes through his staccato pre-shout routine. I lost count of the number of times I ended up screaming "hit it, for God's sake" at the TV screen.

Yet Holmes and O'Hair are good enough golfers to make it onto the US Ryder Cup team at Valhalla. Maybe they're America's secret weapon...
And I didn't see this second line from J.B. Holmes...
There seems little chance of Holmes following suit. "A lot of old habits kick in when you're under pressure," said the Kentucky native recently.

"You're playing for $1m. If someone thinks I'm slow or taking too long, I don't care."

Holmes would care if the same fate befell him as Angela Park when she was docked two shots at last month's SPG in Hawaii. No warning. No appeal.

When it comes to slow play, America's LPGA Tour has balls, while their male counterparts clearly do not!

We have the makings of a trend here: the LPGA is trying to get a grip on slow play and the PGA Tour is not. Note in the recent slow play pieces here, here and here how the focus is on the PGA Tour's refusal to penalize players. 


Golf Digest Provides Best Reason Yet To Get Rid Of All The Lobbyists...

raar01_politicalranking.jpg...yhey and the people who employ them are taking up valuable space on the latest edition of my favorite ranking, the Washington Top 200.

"The fact, is golf isn't hungry. It talks hungry."

It's been too long since I've read an honest to goodness rant, but Bob Carney delivers on the editor's blog.

I'd just hate to have been Carney's keyboard after he and a buddy got turned away from Montauk Downs on a perfectly playable day (well, to Easterners anyway):

The fact, is golf isn't hungry. It talks hungry. It issues press releases as if it's hungry. But if it were really hungry, there would have been no question about golf on Sunday at Montauk Downs. If it were really hungry, there would be free clinics for kids every month at every public course. If it were really hungry, there would be after-school junior hours where kids could get access to local courses. If it were really hungry there would be nine-hole leagues for every conceivable human subdivision, from singles to sorority sisters, heck, maybe even six-hole leagues. If it were really hungry, I'd be writing about a crazy, gale-swept, laugh-out-loud, triple-digit round at Montauk on Sunday.

Golf ought to take a lesson from the Mom and Pop owners of the courses we grew up on who created couples outings, hit-and-giggle clinics, breakfast leagues, free hot dogs with rounds, you name it, to fill their "inventory". Or from Frank Thomas, the former USGA official whose new book, "Just Hit It", echoes this back-to-basics theme. "Golf really should be a simple and pleasant experience," says Frank. "The game began in nature," says Frank. "That's where we found satisfaction." Not in perfect conditions. Not even in big-name designs. That's all we wanted on Sunday, a little tussle with nature. Folks who understand why people play don't find reasons to shut their gates. They might warn us about the wet spots. But they enjoy crazies like Rich and me who would want to play in a 40-mile-an-hour wind. We're they're customers.
On the subject of participation levels, thanks to reader John for spotting Michelle Coursey's piece about dwindling numbers in New Zealand.


"But things are OK with you and him now?”

I know I should never delete the digital recording of a tour telecast until the dust has settled, but I just didn't want that Pods disaster clogging up space. Now I see on the HookedOnGolf blog that I missed one of the epic boondoggles in post-round interview history and a chance to share it with you via YouTube.

Note to Tommy Roy: rush Jimmy Roberts to an Orlando ear doctor and have those canals steam cleaned.