Almost without exception the old seaside rabbitty turf has disappeared and been replaced by grasses entirely unsuitable for golf. The turf near the clubhouse is usually worse than that farther away as on most seaside links there still remain a few rabbits on the outskirts of the course. ALISTER MACKENZIE
So much wit and wisdom from Bobby Clampett in 2006, and most of it delivered right to my email box by the poor souls at TNT who would document his thoughts.
There was his ridiculous attempt to claim that there was "no bad blood" between Faldo and Woods at Hoylake, along with the ensuing jibberish about the TV business.
There was this, uh, brilliant metaphor to describe the par-4 12th hole at Poipu Bay: “That hole is placed like a candle on the side of a birthday cake.”
And his big phrase of the week at Hoylake. How could you forget? Why it was that course's propensity for...come on, you remember: “This golf course lends itself towards “bunching.” You have to take your medicine on a certain number of holes and birdies are hard to come by. And the combination of the two leads to bunching on the leaderboard.”
But my favorite was his tribute to Yogi Berra during the Grand Slam of Golf telecast, which, mercifully, I did not watch. Speaking of Geoff Ogilvy...
"If he wasn't a professional, he'd be out there playing every day."
"Sometimes you can't fully appreciate the impact of an alteration until it's been built and you have another look at them in reality rather than on a drawing," said Dawson yesterday.
Damon Hack writing about the FedEx Cup, with this from Commissioner Finchem:
"When you see situations where a couple of top players are really pitted head to head, the Mickelson-Woods match from years ago in Doral, the year Ernie and Tiger went to a playoff in Hawaii,” he said, referring to Ernie Els, “those kinds of things can generate more interest. What we see the FedEx Cup doing is doing that on a weekly basis.”
That kicks in when, again? The Buick at Torrey Pines? Or the Buick at Warwick Hills?
It's fascinating to read year-end reviews touting this year's U.S. Open as 2006's best tournament. While it may have been the most dramatic and unforgettable, Tiger's artful display at Hoylake was a lot more inspirational and uplifting. (And that was before he broke down on 18).
The Nielson numbers said most people did not enjoy watching the train wreck golf brought on by Winged Foot's anti-birdie setup, but we know the USGA will surely blame Tiger's missed cut at Winged Foot for the lowest Saturday since measuring began and the second lowest rated final round since 1994.
Seem so long ago that we got to see Golf Digest's Ron Whitten flip flop on Tom Fazio's Augusta modifications after the floodgates were opened by Jack and Arnie much talked about criticism.
But for my money, Ben Crenshaw wins for his more subtle attack on the changes, printed in the USA Today by Jerry Potter.
Ben Crenshaw, a two-time Masters champion, says the Augusta National that Jones built after winning the Grand Slam in 1930 was "revolutionary in American golf course design at that time."
"It was completely different architecture," says Crenshaw, a golf historian when he isn't designing courses or playing senior golf. "The course Jones wanted had as many options to play a hole as was necessary to keep any golfer's fascination."
Jones wanted a course that was a pleasure for a recreational player and a challenge for a skilled player. It wasn't too long, it wasn't too narrow and it had no rough. It did have undulating greens that placed a premium on the second shot at each hole.
"There was a safe way and a dangerous way to play each hole," Crenshaw says. "It set itself apart from other courses."
Remember Wally, I just copy and paste this stuff. In fact, reader David sent this to me, so I didn't find it, didn't write it, didn't think of it. That said, John Huggan has you on his Santa wish list...
2 A NEW LEADER AT TITLEIST: Sadly, the man in charge of the world's biggest golf equipment company is a world-renowned point-misser.Way harsh Huggy!
In a position to do the world of golf a favour and agree to withdraw his tacit threat to sue if the game's hard-pressed administrators should make rules that will shorten the vast distances the very best players can propel shots, Wally Uihlein chooses instead to follow a policy that can only damage the sport and, by extension, his own company, in the long term.
Look at some of the nonsense that we already have to put up with: courses covered in long grass and stretched to something like 7,500 yards so as to all but eliminate from contention anyone not physically big enough to hit drives over 300 yards on a consistent basis - goodbye Justin Leonard and Corey Pavin and Andrew Coltart.
All of which is largely down to Uihlein's intransigence.
He has to go.
I also liked his plea for more Geoff Ogilvy's and fewer carts in the U.S., but this was especially good:
7 A DROUGHT IN AMERICA: Having not long returned from a visit to Australia, where water is currently in very short supply, Santa would like to see those conditions replicated in the US.
Having sampled fast-running fairways and greens that only enhanced the strategic qualities of the likes of Royal Melbourne, Kingston Heath and the stunning Barnbougle Dunes, some of the same would do nothing but good in the land of 'hit and stick'.
Instead of wedging on to pudding-like greens from basically anywhere, Uncle Sam's nieces and nephews would suddenly be forced to consider where best to place their drives. Angles would have to be created in order that approach shots could be landed short and run up to the flag.
Thinking on the golf course? What a concept, eh?
"The one thing we did not change was our signature No. 1 hole that features a green in the shape of Texas!"
From the press release wire...
Four Seasons Resort and Club Completes Cottonwood Valley Golf Course Design and Greens Enhancement
Irving, Texas -- Friday, December 22, 2006 -- Four Seasons Resort and Club officials announced today that the exclusive Cottonwood Valley Golf Course is slated to re-open in a grand celebration golf tournament for its private golf members on Saturday, December 30, 2006.
Exclusive? Did I miss a press release?
Cottonwood Valley Golf Course was closed to Sports Club golfers in July for a multi-million dollar enhancement to its greens and for some exciting design enhancements to several holes. The work took place under the direction of golf course architect Jay Morrish. In addition, the golf course's logo has been updated so that it can be placed on everything from pin flags, to tee markers and golf apparel.
That's good to know.
"We are very excited to showcase the enhancements to our golf course," Cowan said. "It is truly a gem. Jay Morrish has done a tremendous job of taking a really memorable golf course and making it that much better. We are especially excited to be able to offer a more consistent quality to our greens and a more challenging experience for our members - many of whom have been playing the course since it opened in 1982. The one thing we did not change was our signature No. 1 hole that features a green in the shape of Texas!"
That's really good to know. I wonder if the fronting bunker in the shape of Oklahoma was restored to its original dimensions as well?
Course Highlights: Some of the most noteworthy enhancements to the Cottonwood Valley Golf Course include 1) slight lengthening of the golf course overall from the championship tees 7,011 to 7,030,
Boy that ought to really offset the increased athleticism...
2) replacement of the turf with fresh Bentgrass on all of the primary playing surfaces including tees and greens, 3) complete renovation of all the bunkers including new drainage, new barrier fabric to reduce erosion and contamination,
...for the inevitable Byron Nelson Classic deluges...
...goes to who else but CBS talk jockey and Titleist Golf Products Design Consultant Peter Kostis for this oh-so-not-subconscious attempt to channel his inner rage at Tiger's refusal to listen to his inane post round interview questions:
If the tour and television truly are partners, then the players have to do their part. Tim Finchem evoked the success of NASCAR in creating the FedEx Cup points race, which begins in 2007. But the success of NASCAR isn't only derived from a season-ending points race. It's also from drivers willing to share comments with television viewers while in the final stages of strapping themselves into their seats and risking life and limb at over 200 mph. Most tour players, however, are reluctant to talk to television hours before they play or warm up because it might ruin their mental state! It only takes a matter of seconds to lend some insight, so no more of this "I'm too busy to talk" stuff on the range.
Apparently this reaching out tugged at Tiger's heartstrings and he will now, on occasion subject himself to a Kostis interview. All is right with the world!
Sounds like a bad sequel to one of my books, but according to The New York Times's Frank Bruni, the former proposed home of the USGA's downtown meeting and wedding center is serving up some serious dog food.
The room looks exactly as a I rememember it. (We can only dream where the Joe Dey portrait might have hung, and I can just see Eric Gleacher's in the back lit up by that neo postmodern brothel chandelier).
From one of his press conferences...heck, I can't even tell which one now, they all sound the same...
In addition to those things, on the cable side, I think I should point out that the Champions Tour and Nationwide Tour programming have been extended coterminously to a 15-year arrangement with The Golf Channel, as well. So in a nutshell, that's our programming situation, and we are very excited about the way it came out.
Since taking in a portion of Sunday's Target World Challenge at Sherwood, something's been bugging me about the playing conditions. Naturally it took until Wednesday for me to figure it out.
Now, I'm all for playing the ball down whenever necessary, especially in major championships.
But a Saturday rain combined with the newly sodded fairways (not draining worth a lick) led to poor conditions and balls covered with mud. Third round leader Geoff Ogilvy and eventual winner Tiger Woods hit their share of squirrely shots, with Ogilvy twice having mud wreak havoc that ultimately cost him a shot at defending his third round lead.
The decision not to play lift, clean and place sums up pretty much everything that I find disappointing about the current PGA Tour leadership: their consistent inablity to understand what makes golf entertaining to watch. As I understand it, this was tournament director Mark Russell's call, and it was not his best.
The Target World Challenge is an exhibition intended to entertain the fans, enrich the players and benefit a worthy cause. This is not the time to worry about the integrity of the game. The primary goal is to create some excitement, and in this case allowing the players to play shots with a clean ball would have been a lot more fun than what ultimately unfolded Sunday.
I appreciate the Tour's stated desire to uphold the traditions of the game, but this was not the time to do it.
If they want to get serious about integrity and protecting the traditions of the game, they should worry more about the impact of distance increases. I know, now I'm really delusional.
Going in the "this is going to get ugly files"...from Steve Elling in the Orlando Sentinel:
That's actually the alchemy of choice for the folks at Bridgestone Golf, who are rolling out a slightly antagonistic national "ball-fitting" program in 2007 intended to take a bite out of Titleist's decades-old dominance of the ball market.
Simply put, the last great sacred cow in golf is about to be paraded into the public square, shot, then ground into hamburger. For the first time, a competing ball company is "outing" a top competitor by shouting from the mountaintop what the industry has whispered among itself for years. To wit, millions of golfers are wasting millions of dollars on balls like the pricey Titleist Pro V1, even though there's minimal chance it will improve their game. In fact, it might be hindering it.
"[Titleist] is the brand they don't have to think about," Dan Murphy, the marketing director of Bridgestone's golf division, said of consumers. "It's an ego thing. Instead of ego marketing, we're introducing logic marketing. There's a quote."
Remember Wally, I just copy and paste this stuff!
But seriously, shouldn't Mr. Murphy be saying that instead of ego marketing, they're introducing logic fitting? He seems to be saying they are trading one form of marketing for another, as opposed to marketing being substituted for genuine fitting.
"But the community felt they would much prefer to be in the summer, so we worked with them on all the permutations. We already knew it could work in the time frame and told St. Paul we weren't in position to do exactly what they wanted to do to trigger their commitment. But when 84 Lumber stepped aside, they were the first port of call and everybody got excited."
This column ought to make Doug Ferguson's next encounter with Tiger at the Buick interesting...
So here's how it shakes out. Woods can either take two weeks off to ski and then practice for the Mercedes-Benz Championship, or he can take five weeks off and return at Torrey Pines to defend his title in the Buick Invitational.
Should he play? Yes.
Woods was largely responsible for PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem revamping the regular season to make it shorter and more compelling. And while the world's No. 1 player is singularly responsible for a $6 million purse considered routine, he needs the PGA Tour as a platform for his worldwide success.
In other words, it's time to give back.
Doug Ferguson has the details...
“No one really believed me,” Wie said from Orlando, Fla., where she is working with swing coach David Leadbetter. “Now that I got into Stanford ... it was one of my dreams, and I want to go through with it. I definitely want to go there and really try to graduate before I launch my golf course design firm."
Just checking to see if you were reading!
She has no plans to open up her own design firm. Not for at least 5 years.
Thanks to reader Graeme for this Jim Tucker story on positive numbers for the Australian Open, as well as hopes that a Mike Clayton-refurbished Royal Queensland may make a run at hosting sometime soon.