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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
  • Men in Green
    Men in Green
    by Michael Bamberger
  • Unplayable Lies: (The Only Golf Book You'll Ever Need)
    Unplayable Lies: (The Only Golf Book You'll Ever Need)
    by Dan Jenkins
  • Professional Golf 2015: The Complete Media, Fan and Fantasy Guide
    Professional Golf 2015: The Complete Media, Fan and Fantasy Guide
    by Daniel Wexler
  • The Forbidden Game: Golf and the Chinese Dream
    The Forbidden Game: Golf and the Chinese Dream
    by Dan Washburn
  • 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
  • Unplayable Lies: (The Only Golf Book You'll Ever Need)
    Unplayable Lies: (The Only Golf Book You'll Ever Need)
    by Dan Jenkins

    Kindle Edition

  • 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
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

On two-shot holes it is highly desirable in many cases to compel the player to place his tee shot so that his shot to the green may be clear, and if not properly placed, the shot to the green may to some extent be blind.  DONALD ROSS


    

Friday
Dec282007

The Rookie Class

Steve Elling analyzes the potential of young players who won't get enough starts between now and Labor Day by looking at both the Q-School grads (with pictures!) and the Nationwide Tour grads.

 

Friday
Dec282007

The Ecclectic Year In Review...

...comes from AP's Doug Ferguson.

Thursday
Dec272007

"The network improved somewhat, but its progress was a little disappointing."

Credit Gary Van Sickle for revisiting his 2007 predictions, though his Golf Channel critique was more interesting (to me anyway):

The network improved somewhat, but its progress was a little disappointing. Critiquing the on-air personnel choices would be subjective, so I won't do it, but the Golf Channel proved no better than the other networks when it repeatedly signed off for the day even though play wasn't finished. Its post-round coverage at majors was spotty. It delivered one good hour, but unfortunately was on the air for three. Quality, not quantity, should be a goal in '08. The lack of audience was such a sore spot that the network only released the numbers that included the viewers who watched the nightly replays, too. Score a point.
Well there's good news. WinZone (remember that!) says there's a 95% chance this will be a winner:
A Doppler radar system made by the Denmark-based software developer Interactive Sports Games will begin to be used to convey club movement, ball trajectory, and other statistics to viewers, according to the company. The Golf Channel's first use of the TrackMan system will be at the Mercedes-Benz Championship in Hawaii on January 3, according to reports.

 

Thursday
Dec272007

Breaking: Golf Digest Hot List Arrives Just In Time To Spoil Holiday For Manufacturers

2008hotlistwoods_eqindex.jpgI know many of you wondered why GolfDigest.com bloggers Bubala and Goy took two months off from suggesting that St. Andrews and Augusta National are not worth preserving, and here's why: the now-annual Hot List has arrived to the misery of most people in the equipment industry who were trying to enjoy the week between Christmas and New Year's and who must now explain to their bosses why they didn't win a gold medal.

There's a video showing you the top secret location where the testing takes place and where Golf Digest staffers racked up a massive bar bill to get them 14-days of tech talk.

Don't miss the survey that let's you figure out what junk you should buy this year so that it can take a place of honor in your garage sale by March 2009.

Here's where the judges tell you why you should spend $500 to replace last year's noisy, offensive looking driver.

Don't forget to stock up on Gold Medal winning woods, since that's what you'll use when the new driver doesn't work. And for when you can't hit those, there are always the winning hybrids.

The ball report will make you feel better about agonizing over a $45 dozen-ball purchase even though they essentially all working off of the same patent...if you believe those dreadful juries.

Might as well pick up some irons too since we haven't heard a thing about U-grooves in a while. Which reminds me, I need to change my wedges out every two weeks like Vijay and Padraig, so maybe I'll see what the judges are recommending.

And finally, do check out all of the new blades things they say are putters but really look like rejected set pieces from Spaceballs.

Wednesday
Dec262007

All Things Torrey Update

Tod Leonard begins the countdown to the U.S. Open with a look at various aspects of preparations, including this news for anyone thinking of playing the North or South Courses prior to the event:

For golfers who enjoy the North Course, some advice: Play it soon, because after the Buick it won't appear as its normal self for at least seven months.

City Golf Manager Mark Woodward said work on the Open driving range will begin in the days immediately following the Buick Invitational's conclusion on Jan. 27. About 30,000 square feet of sod for the range tee area will be laid in front of the 10th tee and ninth green. Shorter versions of those holes will be available.

On March 1, nine holes of the North will be shut down as corporate villages are constructed. Woodward said the North Course will close completely May 1.

The South Course will be open to the public until May 21. From then on, the maintenance crew will be “dialing in” the conditioning for the Open.

“I've joked in the past that we were going to peak at the last minute,” Woodward said. “But the way things look now, I think we're going to peak in the spring and have really good conditions for the last four or five months.”

Tuesday
Dec252007

"The starter put them with another couple who just started playing golf five months ago."

Doug Ferguson with a fun note on Henrik Stenson booking a U.S. Open tune-up round at Torrey Pines recently:
When he arrived in California for the Target World Challenge, he made a detour to San Diego and booked a twosome on the golf course. The starter put them with another couple who just started playing golf five months ago.

Turns out the woman's name was Pamela Anderson - no, not that one - and Stenson's remembers her boyfriend's name only as Jesse.

"Let's just say it was an interesting round," Stenson said. "She told me, 'The next time you're south of L.A., give me a call.' And I told her, 'Which Pamela Anderson am I going to look up?"'

It was an awakening of sorts for Stenson, who won last year in Dubai and the Accenture Match Play Championship. Outside of a round in Spain last year, he said it had been 10 years since he paid a greens fee. The good news is he received the San Diego County residents rate.

And he bought a bucket of balls for the range, the first time in a while he hit balls with a black stripe around them.

"They were limited-flight balls," he said. "It was cool in the morning, and the ball was going nowhere. But it took a couple of swings to realize this is not down to me. Some of it was the balls."
Monday
Dec242007

"For revealing he is a Rolling Stones fan..."

John Hopkins in The Times offers his year end awards. (The Hoppy's...hmmm...sounds familiar.) Loved this eye-roller:

George O'Grady, executive director of the European Tour, who last November announced the most significant response to the world dominance of golf by the PGA Tour in the US. This is the $10m Dubai World Championship, the biggest purse in golf. Starting in Dubai in December 2009 it will be the culmination of what is currently known as the Order of Merit but from 2009 will be renamed the Race to Dubai. For revealing he is a Rolling Stones fan, Tim Finchem, Commissioner of the PGA Tour in the US, is a close runner-up to O'Grady.

He revealed that about three tours and a previous century ago, never too early for some!

Now, how does Finchem get an award when he's the mastermind of this excellent award:

Most overrated event of the year

Any world golf championship event.

Monday
Dec242007

“We’re seeing free agency for sports journalists.”

The New York Times's Richard Perez-Pena has Rick Reilly at $3 million a year from ESPN, up from $2 million in last week's WSJ story. Essentially he writes the same piece with a few other interesting items:

The competition for writers has even produced bidding wars, especially for big-name columnists like Rick Reilly (from Sports Illustrated to ESPN), Howard Bryant (from The Post to ESPN) and Selena Roberts (from The New York Times to Sports Illustrated) — but also for less widely known reporters. People who were briefed on the deals said that Mr. Reilly’s contract, easily the biggest of the recent signings, was worth more than $3 million a year.

“It’s the exact same model as what happened to athletes,” said Leigh Steinberg, a top sports agent. “We’re seeing free agency for sports journalists.”

And this surprised me...not that that's saying much since I didn't even know what a carbon footprint was until last weekend:
ESPN.com is one of the most popular sports sites on the Web, with 20 million visitors in November, according to Nielsen/NetRatings, behind only Yahoo Sports, with more than 22 million. The Web site holds the vast bulk of what the writers produce, much of which is never seen on printed pages or heard on the air, including news, features, analysis, commentary and articles to accompany segments produced for television.

 

Sunday
Dec232007

Scots Vying With Irish...

...for the site of Donald Trump's next self-proclaimed masterpiece and perhaps the coveted Isle of Stupidity crown. Because as Eddie Barnes reports, the Scots may be falling for this Leveraging 101 nonsense where The Donald is still going to visit Northern Ireland to consider his alternatives should one of these corruption probes or common sense overtake the Scottish government.

Meanwhile, Geoff Runcie, chief executive of Aberdeen & Grampian Chamber of Commerce, has warned that Scotland has "played out an amateur production on the world's stage".

He said: "Our big name star – Donald Trump – has auditioned and made known his ambitions for the show but has come to the stage only to find himself playing alongside the amateur dramatics team. The words of our bard Robert Burns 'to see ourselves as others see us' have clearly not registered with many and we still put petty and party politics before serious economic opportunity."

Oh they're amateurs alright. 
Saturday
Dec222007

Sunday Night Sports/KABC 790 Appearance

2267357.jpgFor those of you in LA and really bored online, I'll be sitting in on KABC 790's Sunday Night Sports Show with John Phillps from the end of Sunday night football telecast until 10 p.m. PST.


Saturday
Dec222007

"The game's cowardly administrators have let us down. They have dropped the ball."

John Huggan offers his Christmas wish list, with wishful thinking for the governing bodies, Rory Sabbatini, George O'Grady, Monty and many others...
To the Royal & Ancient Golf Club and the United States Golf Association: A backbone

Over the past 15 years or so, golf at the very highest level has sadly become a less interesting spectacle. The world's leading players are, almost without exception, hitting the same shots time after tedious time. Gone are the likes of Lee Trevino and Seve Ballesteros, men who could conjure up subtle fades and draws rather than simply aim straight at distant flags.

Then there are the courses the biggest events are played on most weeks. Stretched almost beyond imagination, covered in more and more unimaginative rough and with pin positions cut ever closer to the edge of putting surfaces, the tracks played by the leading professionals encourage a crash-bang-wallop style of play that has all but lost almost every semblance of subtlety.

The root cause, of course, is the golf ball. It goes too far and it flies too straight, facts the R&A and the USGA are well aware of, but are loath to do anything about in case those big-bad manufacturers like Titleist and Callaway and their big-bad lawyers take them to court. The game's cowardly administrators have let us down. They have dropped the ball.

Saturday
Dec222007

"My carbon footprint is substantially higher than the average person..."

Tony Jimenez's profile of Justin Rose includes several comments from the Englishman about aspiring to the number 1 spot in the world (but unlike Jason Day's recent remarks, they're far less audacious).

And as you're reading some of his observations of Tiger, well... 

 "When you first play him, that's definitely the case," said the Florida-based Englishman. "There is an aura, a presence about him, but that's something you have to get over quickly if you want to take him on.

"Ultimately you've got to give him the respect he deserves, I think that's all he really wants from his playing partners. He is genuinely one of the guys, if you have a laugh with him, he'll have a laugh back."

Rose has just finalised a deal with sponsor Tradition, a leading broker dealer, that will mean the globe-trotting golfer becomes one of the world's first carbon-neutral sportsmen.

The company plans to trade carbon credits based on his carbon footprint in 2008.

"My carbon footprint is substantially higher than the average person so it is even more prevalent for someone in my situation to give something back to the environment," said Rose.

Wow, we went from talking Tiger to calculating carbon footprints. Well, give him credit for taking on a noble cause.
 

Uh, have you calculated your carbon footprint today? Or were you like me and didn't know what the heck that was?

Friday
Dec212007

“Before we even selected him, I bet Mike put in more than 40 hours, walking around, beating a path out there and trying to get a feel for the land"

asset_upload_file699_2034.jpgLinks Magazine's Adam Brady explains how Mike Strantz's outstanding redo of Monterey Peninsula CC's Shore Course came to fruition.

The photo is by Larry Lambrecht.

Friday
Dec212007

"Called for comment, the USGA's media office referred questions to Carter Rich, the organization's manager of equipment standards. Rich declined to comment, saying such questions should be handled by the media office, which did not return subsequent messages."

sidebar_product_photo.jpgDavid Hanners in the Pioneer Press writes about Minnesota golfers Brian Trachsel and David Healy suing the USGA over their non-conforming invention.

In 2005, the two designed and patented the Windage, an inexpensive, simple device to help golfers determine which way the wind is blowing, important to know when lining up a shot.

The design is simplicity itself. It is a golf-ball-sized bulb that, when squeezed, blows a small cloud of talc into the air and lets the user see where the wind is blowing.

In a game where new improve-your-score gadgets come along every week, Healy believed they'd hit on something useful. "It's something that everybody can use," he said. "It's a lowbrow and simple tool, but it's affordable."

Then they ran into Rule 14-3(b) of the Rules of Golf, published by the United States Golf Association, the game's governing body.

When the two men submitted the Windage to the USGA for approval, the organization rejected it. The USGA, which allows the use of pricey laser range finders and GPS devices, branded the $6 tool an "artificial device" to gauge or measure conditions affecting play.
Unlike a rangefinder, which is so organic.
This week, Trachsel and Healy, co-owners of Rochester-based Windage LLC, took their complaint to federal court. The two sued the USGA and "unnamed co-conspirators" they claim have schemed to keep the Windage off the market and off golf courses.
"As a result of the USGA's arbitrary, inconsistent, unfair, unreasonable and unjustified actions in refusing to approve the Windage product, retail stores, pro shops and other golf retailers have refused to stock the product specifically because it is not USGA-approved, and the lack of approval is a major sales obstacle for retailers and manufacturers," the men claim in the suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Minneapolis.
But at least the USGA was ready for a spirited defense.
Called for comment, the USGA's media office referred questions to Carter Rich, the organization's manager of equipment standards. Rich declined to comment, saying such questions should be handled by the media office, which did not return subsequent messages.
Where's Marty Parkes when you need him?

Got to say, the gents have a pretty strong case:
Reaching down and tearing off a few blades of grass, then letting them go is one way golfers gauge wind direction and speed. Players - or caddies - who smoke do the same thing by exhaling a puff of smoke and watching how it moves in the wind.

Both methods have their drawbacks, the lawsuit alleges:

-- Pulling grass damages the course "and forces the player to come into contact with potentially harmful fertilizers, pesticides, etc."

Okay, that's a bit of a stretch, but this isn't:
-- Puffing smoke is "dangerous in and of itself and a competitive advantage to those who smoke over those who do not."
And... 
The men submitted Windage to the USGA for approval in July 2006, and less than a month later, the association rejected it as being an artificial device for "gauging or measuring distances or conditions that might affect ... play."
The men appealed, and less than two weeks later, the USGA rejected the appeal. Undaunted, Trachsel and Healy took the matter to the USGA's executive committee, which upheld the earlier decisions.

That's because none of them were Windage investors! Get with the times guys!

Healy said the reasoning behind the association's rejection makes little sense.

"Coming from a bunch of retired lawyers, it was kind of a joke, their responses," he said. "The reason they came back with why a laser range finder or GPS is approved is it speeds up play and it's readily available information. We argued that wind condition is also readily available information.

"Our product was invented to speed up the game. Slow play is sucking the life out of the game. Who has five hours to play these days?"

Friday
Dec212007

"To relive this historic season..."

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 20, 2007
NBC Sports Special PGA TOUR 2007: A New Era in Golf Highlights Successful Debut of FedExCup and Playoffs

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, FL– It was perceived as a particularly bold concept for such a tradition-steeped sport, and not necessarily one that was universally embraced when it was first introduced.
Oh but now...
But by the time the PGA TOUR’s season-long FedExCup competition had finished its inaugural run, and Tiger Woods had emerged as champion following a compelling run through the TOUR’s first-ever Playoffs, it was widely deemed a significant success.
And now, we get to relive all of the points permutations?
The introduction of the FedExCup with a restructured schedule, and the ensuing drama that unfolded throughout the season, is documented in PGA TOUR 2007: A New Era in Golf, an NBC Sports special that airs on Sunday, December 30, at 3 p.m. ET.
Friday
Dec212007

"TV ratings have flattened out, and Internet upstarts are luring away young sports fans who grew up with ESPN as part of the sports establishment."

Go figure. With the likes of YouTube and Deadspin coming along, Adam Thompson in the WSJ says that one reason ESPN is coughing up $2 million a year for Rick Reilly and hiring away quality journalists is to break news and in general, deliver a higher quality, gulp, product.

The brand ESPN created was a fun, irreverent locker room, driven by the highlights and hijinks of "SportsCenter," which it aired several times a day, updating all the while. But as video begins to explode on the Internet, the highlight formula is showing signs of plateauing: Sports fans can go elsewhere to catch up on the day's games -- and especially to indulge their local-team loyalties. TV ratings have flattened out, and Internet upstarts are luring away young sports fans who grew up with ESPN as part of the sports establishment.

 

And....

So to remain the self-proclaimed "Worldwide Leader in Sports," the network is bulking up on content that is harder to duplicate. Rather than just introducing game video, the idea is to serve up breaking news and expert analysis, aggressively blanketing TV, the Internet, the magazine and even cellphones. In the new Internet-fed landscape, a two-minute video can be just as important. And the ESPN brand isn't enough -- it needs individual go-to names like Mr. Reilly, or ESPN's existing Web star, "Sports Guy" columnist Bill Simmons.

Good news for the PGA Tour and it's 14-years-to-go partner Golf Channel: even ESPN's ratings are down. 

ESPN's cable-TV operation is still a juggernaut. It charges cable operators more than $3.26 per subscriber per month, an industry high that will jump to $3.65 in 2008, according to Derek Baine, senior analyst at SNL Kagan. Mr. Baine values ESPN at close to $30 billion.

But the network's year-to-date ratings are down from a year ago. The average number of households tuned into ESPN in 2007 declined 10.2% in prime time and 5% for the full day through last week, after climbing over a similar period between 2005 and 2006, according to Nielsen Media Research. Some of its brand extensions have failed: A much-touted mobile-phone service went bust last year (the ring tone was the SportsCenter theme song, but the other features weren't compelling).

Thursday
Dec202007

USGA Alters Handicap System: Moronic CEO's Rejoice

Looks like the USGA has made it tougher for intrepid reporters to catch stupid CEO's who play golf when their company stock price is headed down the drain:
The most significant revision clarifies the definition of “peer review” to specify the information that must be provided in connection with a scoring record. As a result of these changes, peer review will become more sensitive to privacy-related concerns.

The new definition of “peer review” mandates two types of scoring records – a general scoring record that provides basic information to those involved in peer review; and a complete scoring record that provides more detailed information to a club’s handicap committee, fellow club members and officials in charge of any outside competition where a golfer plans to compete.

General scoring records will not show the date (day) and course on which a round of golf was played. The name of the course where a round was played is only recommended as part of the complete scoring record. For both types of records, however, the six most recent revisions to a player’s Handicap Index® are required.

“Certain portions of the scoring record are essential for peer review to flourish, and we have painstakingly worked to determine what is necessary in various situations,” said USGA President-elect Jim Vernon, who brought this topic to the attention of the Handicap Committee for review in 2005 in his role as committee chair.
Thursday
Dec202007

"The tournaments on our Tours have vividly demonstrated that giving back is the heart of the PGA TOUR"

Tim Finchem announced $123 million in in contributions, up from $114 mill. Maybe we could spend a little on getting him a better press release quote maker-upper? Then again, he is giving nearly all of the credit to the people who do the hard work, which is admirable.
“Once again this year, the tournaments on our Tours have vividly demonstrated that giving back is the heart of the PGA TOUR,” Finchem said. “This tremendous accomplishment underscores the vital roles that our tournaments play in their communities.  Our players, sponsors, tournament organizations, and volunteers and fans can all take pride in their role in ensuring that ours is a sport that leaves each of our communities better off for the presence of one of our events.

“The important thing about this effort is that it helps people,” Finchem said.  “We also take note of the total impact, and when we surpassed the $1 billion mark in all-time charitable giving in 2005, we noted that that it had taken 67 years to reach that total and that we could reasonably expect to achieve the second billion in only 10 years. It’s extremely gratifying to find out that we are well ahead of that pace, and now expect to achieve it within only seven or eight years.”

These tallies are most impressive:
Among other significant developments was the new record established by The Presidents Cup, which reached a high mark of $4.2 million in donations from the biennial event.

On the Nationwide Tour, both the Albertsons Boise Open presented by First Health and the BMW Charity Pro-Am generated more than $2 million. Numerous Champions Tour events exceeded previous high levels of charitable giving, led by contributions of approximately $1.3 million from both the Toshiba Classic and the 3M Championship. In total, both the Champions Tour and Nationwide Tour achieved charitable giving records.
Thursday
Dec202007

Wie Opting To Leave Men's Tours Alone For Now...Maybe

Lewine Mair breaks the news but does note she may play in a men's event in Japan later in the year. Steve Elling reports the same news with extensive quotes from David Leadbetter. Elling notes actual news with word that Wie is taking the spring semester off at Stanford to focus on her game even though she currently is not exempt for any women's majors.

Somewhere Earl Woods is shaking his head.

Thursday
Dec202007

"You still have adrenaline flowing in your body, but you don't feel that adrenaline rush so you're not distracted by your own nervousness"

Karen Kaplan and Denise Gellene of Los Angeles Times consider the use and benefits of cognitive enhancers like Adderall and Provigil for those in high stress positions. Of course, golfers call penalties on themselves and Nick Price tried beta blockers during the Reagan administration years and found them to be useless, so why I'm even linking this is a mystery...
Philips, the poker player, started using Adderall after he was diagnosed with ADHD five years ago and later got a prescription for Provigil to further improve his focus. ADHD drugs work by increasing the level of the brain chemical dopamine, which is thought to improve attention. Provigil's mechanism of action is not well understood, but boosting the effect of dopamine is thought to be part of it.

The drugs improved his concentration during high-stakes tournaments, he said, allowing him to better track all the action at his table.

"Poker is the sort of game that a lot of people can play well sporadically, but tournaments are mostly won by people who can play close to their best at all times," he said. "It requires significant mental effort to play in top form for 12 hours a day, five days in a row."

In the world of classical music, beta blockers such as Inderal have become nearly as commonplace as metronomes.

The drugs block adrenaline receptors in the heart and blood vessels, helping to control arrhythmias and high blood pressure. They also block adrenaline receptors in the brain.

"You still have adrenaline flowing in your body, but you don't feel that adrenaline rush so you're not distracted by your own nervousness," said Dr. Bernd F. Remler, a neurologist at the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee.

That's why Sarah Tuck, a veteran flutist with the San Diego Symphony, takes them to stave off the jitters that musicians refer to as "rubber fingers."

"When your heart is racing and your hands are shaking and you have difficulty breathing, it is difficult to perform," said Tuck, 41, who discovered them when she began performing professionally 15 years ago.

A survey she conducted a decade ago revealed one-quarter of flutists used the pills before some or all of their performances or in high-pressure situations like auditions. She believes use is now more widespread and estimates that three-quarters of musicians she knows use the drugs at least occasionally.

Prescriptions for Inderal and other beta blockers can be readily obtained from physicians. Tuck said some doctors had told her they used the drugs themselves to calm their own nerves before making presentations at medical meetings. Musicians say their drug use is all aboveboard.

"It's not like we're sending our clubhouse attendants to BALCO to get us our Inderal," said double bassist Bruce Ridge, 44, referring to the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative that allegedly provided slugger Barry Bonds and other athletes with performance-enhancing drugs.

That's right, because it is made by a publicly traded company, it must be A-okay!