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The average golfer is inclined to become emotional when talking about golf course architecture. RICHARD TUFTS


    

Tuesday
Jul292008

Norman Already Plotting To Undo Dawson's Turnberry Design Work!

Seems the new owners of Turnberry may realize that their course needs fixing post-Peter Dawson's R&A branded redo in advance of the 2009 Open Championship.

John Huggan writes for Golfobserver.com:

Still, for Norman as for everyone else who has endured a sporting loss, life goes on. Only a couple of hours after completing his opening 75 at Troon, he was at Turnberry, scene of his first Open victory back in 1986. Accompanied by David Spencer, the chief executive of Leisurecorp, Norman toured the back-nine on the Ailsa course with a view to recommending changes that will be implemented immediately after the Open Championship returns to the famous links for a fourth time next year.
And...
While he was too diplomatic to say as much, one got the feeling that Norman was less than impressed with the work already done on the Ailsa’s closing three holes. Under the direction of the R&A’s chief executive, Peter Dawson, the 16th fairway has been moved 50 yards left of its previous location and new tees have been built at each of the last two holes. Brown had apparently wanted to leave the 17th alone and call it a par-4, but the man from St. Andrews would have none of it.
Then again, maybe Brown had a point. Although Dawson was understandably quick to hail the changes “a great success” in the immediate aftermath of the recent British Amateur Championship, it would perhaps have been more professional of the press pack in attendance to ask some of the players what they thought. Especially those unfortunate individuals who, unable to reach the fairway into an admittedly strong wind at the long 17th, took ten or more shots to eventually hole out.
Oops. So I'm not the only one thinking a few too many writers have R&A memberships in their eyes!
“The R&A have obviously recognized that some adjustments to the course are required if it is to stand up to the technology available to the players nowadays,” said Norman, ever the diplomat. “It’s interesting how, when you look at it from a player’s perspective, you see things differently than you might do on a plan. Some of what they have done I might have done a bit differently. But that is what my eye sees; I see it from a player’s perspective as well as an architect’s.”
Welcome to the backstabbing world of golf course architecture, Mr. Dawson.
Tuesday
Jul292008

"The AP did neither, it contends, but that's not the main thrust here."

In last week's "message from headquarters," LPGA Commish Carolyn Bivens made a big fuss about the AP running a corrected story, when, as was pointed out here, there wasn't much to correct.

Seems, the AP did not correct the story, as Thomas Bonk writes in his LATimes.com column:

Four days later, in a two-page memo from Commissioner Carolyn Bivens to LPGA members (but leaked to news agencies all over the place), Bivens explains the incident, defends the rules official and says the Associated Press misquoted the official and ran a correction.
The AP did neither, it contends, but that's not the main thrust here. Why such a memo was necessary in the first place is an issue, but then so is a potentially greater after-effect, such as, why give the impression that you're picking on Wie again when the thing is already done?

Monday
Jul282008

"The LGU had an open mind about Scottish venues and did not rule out the possibility of also utilising more modern links..."

An unbylined Scotsman story says the Women's British Open has been locked into Scotland five times between 2011 and 2020. I share this not because you need to mark your calendar, but because this caught my eye:

In a break with past practice which prevented the LGU from staging its flagship event at a men only club, Shona Malcolm, the chief executive of the LGU, indicated it would now be happy to hold discussions with either Muirfield or Royal Troon, the two Scottish links on the Open rota where the clubs don't have women members, about staging the Women's British Open.
Malcolm also revealed that the championship would not necessarily be held on a links and they would look at outstanding parkland courses on a par with Gleneagles and Loch Lomond. She said the LGU had an open mind about Scottish venues and did not rule out the possibility of also utilising more modern links such as Kingsbarns, near St Andrews, Archerfield in East Lothian and Dundonald in Ayrshire.
Monday
Jul282008

"The Presidents Cup is fun. Jack just makes it fun."

A few weeks ago reader John warned me that if I was planning to tie my record for power flipping through Golf Magazine (4 minutes, 33 seconds cover-to-cover), the August issue would give me fits. I've heard this before. Oh you'll see, it's a good issue, only to paper cut myself up working through mindless instruction and even more pathetic Maxim-wannabe items geared to frat houses that wouldn't even use the mag to balance a keg, much less be caught subscribing to Golf.

But John was right, the issue was outstanding and hopefully the first sign that an SI influence has taken hold at Golf. Not only is there a nice opening photo spread ripping off a cornerstone of the SI franchise, but excellent content throughout highlighted by two Alan Bastable pieces.

The first is his interview with Hunter Mahan who proves to be sort of a modern day David Duval, only with a sense of humor, enough humility to be likable and no painful speeches about the trials and tribulations of fatherhood. The Ryder Cup remarks were of most interest:

The Presidents Cup sounds like fun. Has the Ryder Cup become a chore?
Phil Mickelson and Tiger — their time is worth money. And for the PGA of America, the Ryder Cup is a moneymaker like no other. They don't have to pay anything. I think when [Mark] O'Meara said players should get paid for it or some of the money given to their charities, I think [he said that] because the PGA takes so much out of the event that the players don't really get anything. Is it an honor to play? Yes, it is. But their time is valuable. This is a business.
So there's resentment?
I just feel like the players don't have much control over it, and I don't think they like that. I wouldn't like that.
How do you explain the U.S. team's recent woes?
I think Europe really, really takes it seriously. I think the U.S. does, too, but not like Europe. For one, every place they hold a Ryder Cup in Europe is a place on the European Tour schedule. That's really smart because right away they have an advantage. The PGA of America could care less about winning it, honestly. They pick a site where they're going to have the Senior PGA, the PGA and the Ryder Cup, which means less money they have to pay out to get more money. And from what I've heard the whole week is extremely long. You've got dinners every night — not little dinners, but huge, massive dinners. I know, as players, that's the last thing we want to do. We want to prepare ourselves. That's part of the whole thing: you're just a slave that week. At some point the players might say, "You know what — we're not doing this anymore, because this is ridiculous."
Guys might actually refuse to play?
Don't be surprised if it happens. It's just not a fun week like it should be. The Presidents Cup is fun. Jack just makes it fun. We had a great time, we really enjoyed each other's company. From what I've heard, the Ryder Cup just isn't fun. The fun is sucked right out of it. That's the word I hear a lot.
The other story you must read is Bastable's compelling profile of Arjun Atwal that clears the Nationwide player's name and fleshes out the bizarre events surrounding the fatal accident he was involved in.
Monday
Jul282008

Championship Vision At The PGA

If you are going to the PGA, it seems the folks at American Express will be handing out their Championship Vision TV's to the first few thousand cardholders. Definitely the best deal of the group...

Are You a Cardmember?
While the PGA Learning Center is open to all, only Cardmembers will have the exclusive opportunity to enjoy:
•          Championship Vision:  Cardmembers can borrow complimentary, hand-held televisions that deliver a live telecast of the championship that fans can pause and rewind, check out aerial views of Oakland Hills Country Club and view player bios from anywhere on the course
•          American Express Cardmember Club:  The exclusive lounge area features complimentary food and beverage items and a silent auction featuring historic golf memorabilia and travel packages (Located between the 8th and 12th fairways, open all day from August 4–10)
•          Commemorative PGA Poster:  Special gift available with all purchases over $175 made using an American Express Card at the merchandise tents

After the U.S. Open at Torrey Pines, I reviewed Championship Vision here.

Note to Julius: you'll score major points with scribblers if you can procure a few of these for their use. I know you appreciate these tips.

Monday
Jul282008

Greg, Chrissy Turn Down Chance To Sweat Off A Few Pounds In Detroit

Craig Dolch reports the not surprising news that Norman turns down the PGA of America's exemption offer. Darren Clarke is now in.

Monday
Jul282008

Dodson On Drum

Jim Dodson recalls the role Bob Drum played in creating the modern grand slam and also offers this, which got me thinking...

Bob Drum continued being, well, Bob Drum -- literally the loudest, largest, hardest-drinking character in the press caravan bumping along the Tour Trail and various by-waters of the game for the next two decades -- until a CBS producer had the crazy idea of making Big Bob Drum the color man on a celebrated broadcast crew that included the likes of Jack Whittaker and Ken Venturi.
Legendary CBS golf producer Frank Chirkinian later told Drum's wife, "M.J., this could be the best idea I've ever done -- or the worst."
Almost overnight, at age 68, however, six-foot-three, 290-pound Bob Drum became a large-than-life TV star -- a mountainous, rumpled, oddly comforting presence who spoke the language of the everyday golf fan. For eight years on a two-minute segment called "The Drummer's Beat," Drum's gruff and salty Everyman commentaries on the vagaries of golf and life in general -- most of which sprang from his oversized head only minutes before airtime and were recorded in one take -- comprised some of the most entertaining moments in golf broadcasting. He was eventually nominated for an Emmy.
Wouldn't it be fun of CBS posted some of these online or even put a DVD together of the best of Bob Drum?
Monday
Jul282008

"There was a very strong response from people who don't believe in global warming. I was surprised by that, because global warming was actually a very minor part of the piece..."

In the July Golfdom, I pen a column/essay on the importance of Golf Digest redefining their conditioning category. Along with the piece was a column that surprisingly hasn't elicited surprisingly nice emails from superintendents.

Online, Golfdom offered editor Larry Aylward pens a column taking issue with Barton's tone toward superintendents.

I also interviewed Barton, who had plenty of great stuff to say about his research and the surprising reaction Golf Digest received.

The entire package of Golf Digest stories can be viewed here.

Sunday
Jul272008

Lesson To Tour Groupies: Flash Your Badge Before Aiming A Champagne Bottle At Your Client

"Chronic pain specialist" Jim Weathers, whose client roster includes John Daly and Phil Mickelson, received a pain treatment of his own after running out to hose down Canadian Open winner Chez Reavie. If I were the cop and hadn't seen his credential (but did look at those tats and guns), I'd have figured he was up to no good, too.

The only ill fortune to find Reavie came during his celebration, when an overzealous police officer tackled his trainer, Jim Weathers, who was giving Reavie a champagne shower.
"Once he saw (my credentials), he was okay," Weathers said, laughing off the incident.
Thanks to reader Tim for the heads up on the Yahoo images.

Saturday
Jul262008

"The manufacturers got ahead of the USGA and the R&A. That's the bottom line."

John Huggan talks to Tom Watson about the state of game and in particular, the ball and equipment.

"I am very adamant that I think the ball should be brought back," he says, echoing the sentiments of many others of his generation, including Jack Nicklaus. "It goes too far. It also goes straighter and is therefore easier to control in a wind. But there are a lot of factors involved other than just pure distance. The rate at which the ball spins is important. They spin less these days and that is one reason they go farther. A higher spin rate would exaggerate misses and send the ball more off line than at present.
"The manufacturers got ahead of the USGA and the R&A. That's the bottom line. Those companies made balls that conform to rules that unfortunately allowed them to go too far. They're too easy to play. And that is true for all classes of player. Yes, they make less of a difference to the handicap golfer, but they still make a difference. Just not to the degree they do for the better leading professionals."
As you'd expect of a Stanford graduate – his fellow alumnus and close friend, Jim Vernon, is the current president of the USGA – Watson has solutions to the problem that has led to the vast majority of the current generation of players never knowing the joy that comes with perfectly shaping a shot into a stiff crosswind.
"When the ball goes as straight as it does now, you don't have to 'work' it from left-to-right or right-to-left; all you have to do is aim right at your target," continues Watson. "That takes a skill factor out of the game.
"The old guys had that skill factor, but the younger guys don't seem to have that same ability. Yes, they learn how to play that famous Tiger Woods 'stinger' – I saw a few of the kids using it at Birkdale last week – and that is a useful shot to have. But can they hit a stinger from right-to-left or left-to-right? That's what I want to see them doing, but right now I'm not.
"In defence of the young players, they have never had to learn a variety of shots. They have three wedges, for example. They have never had to add loft to their 56-degree wedge to make it play as if it has 60-degrees. I'm sure they understand how to hit the ball a little higher, but it's a lot easier to hit a high lofted shot with a 60-degree wedge than it is to hit one with only 56-degrees."
Saturday
Jul262008

"Yes, designing golf courses do make reading putts a little easier."

Joy Chakravarty in Business 24-7 talks to Greg Norman about his British Open play and other Dubai-related matters.

I can walk away from here being disappointed, but I can walk away from here with my head held high because I hung in there. It wasn't meant to be, and you've got to take that with a grain of salt.
Any cliches he miss?
You are a prolific golf course architect and are also designing three of the four courses at Jumeirah Golf Estates. Do you think your course designing knowledge had any part in the success at the Open this year?

I think it does help, and the one place where it helps the most are the greens. When you are designing a golf course, you've got to take the water off the green, and in most golf courses you have two to three places where you can take the water off the green. So, when you look at the places where the water will go, it gives you a good idea of where the blades of the grass will grow, and about the slopes. Yes, designing golf courses do make reading putts a little easier.
So that's why so many players are getting into course design. And here I thought it was the money.

Saturday
Jul262008

"I have no idea what goes on."

Michelle Wie was peppered with some interesting questions to plug her appearance at next week's Reno event (sorry, no linkable transcript). This exchange struck me as disturbing but not surprising:

Q. I also know the PGA TOUR can't pay any appearance fee, but do you get anything from your sponsors when you play on the PGA TOUR?
MICHELLE WIE:  You know, I don't think I'm the right person to talk about my financial stuff.  I have no idea what goes on.
Q. Is that your dad?
MICHELLE WIE:  Yes.  I just play.
Friday
Jul252008

"So, now that the fertile fields of home have been scorched, we're headed abroad to see if we can fool 'em into making the same mistakes. Shame on us."

Steve Elling considers Tim Finchem's "grow the game" argument for making the push to get golf in the Olympics and writes:

Costs for players skied as daily fee courses commanded triple-digit payouts. Courses became too hard to play in under five hours. The cost of a new driver, needed to handle the 7,000-yard tracks being built, rose to $400. A legion of folks was priced out of the game because of time and money. For every new customer, another one quit.
The number of rounds played each year in the U.S. stagnated. Now, alarmingly, it has begun to drop in some parts of the country. Worse, more courses have closed over the past three years than have opened. People bought homes in golf communities in good faith, only to see the developer-owner of the courses bolt when the land was sold.
The economic model of the game in the States pulled a hammy chasing after money. Now that some cities are cracking down on water usage, which will affect course conditions and desirability, it's likely going to get even worse. Crude prices have driven up fertilizer costs markedly.
So, now that the fertile fields of home have been scorched, we're headed abroad to see if we can fool 'em into making the same mistakes. Shame on us. Granted, it's a slight leap of faith to hold the PGA of America or USGA responsible for the general direction of the game and current economic climate, but in golf, most of the parts are somehow linked.
And of course, regarding the format, which in a sport full of potentially emotion-rich team formats is 72-holes of individual stroke play...

 

Besides, is there really a great appetite for golf in the Games among the public, especially if it results in yet another four-day stroke-play event? I'm not feeling the love.

Friday
Jul252008

Chrissy On PGA Decision: She Just Wants Greg To Be Happy

John Garrity caught up with the lovely bride who reports that the happy couple has until Monday to decide whether they will sweat off five pounds stomping around muggy Oakland Hills.

“He has until Monday to decide,” his bride Chris Evert said this afternoon as she followed Norman in the second round of the Senior British Open at Royal Troon
“He has a lot to consider,” said Evert, who has faced a few roadforks of her own since retiring from competitive tennis. “What are your motives for playing? Do you play just because you’re flattered that you’ve been invited, or do you play because you feel good about your golf and really want to play?”
And this just warmed my heart...
“I’ll give my opinion, but it’s entirely his decision,” Evert said of the PGA invite. “If he wants to play, I want him to play. I just want him to be happy.”
Friday
Jul252008

Phil Holds Ground In Testimony; Tells Congress That His Charity Efforts Are Working Wonders

Not included on the YouTube edition were tough questions from our hard-working Congressmen.

Thursday
Jul242008

“Andrew played harder than some of the other boys wanted to play.”

Thanks to readers Ari and John for these stories related to Andrew Giuliani suing Duke University over coach O.D. Vincent dismissing the senior from the golf team.

Ellis Henican in Newsday:

Late yesterday, his attorneys filed a federal lawsuit in North Carolina, contending the university has violated its obligations to him as a student-athlete and demanding he be invited back to Duke's state-of-the-art golf-training facility.

It's obviously been a tense few months on campus.
On Feb. 11, the lawsuit says, men's golf coach "O.D. Vincent announced to the team that he was unilaterally canceling Andrew's eligibility to participate in the University's Athletics Program immediately and indefinitely. Andrew and his teammates were shocked. Andrew had no prior notice of what was about to happen. At no time was Andrew ever given an opportunity to defend himself; instead he was summarily dismissed."
Dan Slater posts these details on the WSJ's blog. Unfortunately for Vincent, it reads like satire.
The suit claims that incidents of misconduct that Vincent cited in his reasons for expelling Giuliani were not appropriate reasons for expulsion, such as:
    •    On Feb. 2 Giuliani flipped his putter a few feet to his golf bag.
    •    On Feb. 3, Giuliani leaned over his driver and it broke, and “in O.D. Vincent’s telling, this became ‘throwing and breaking’ a club.”
    •    On Feb. 3, Giuliani walked ahead of his playing partner at Treyburn Golf Course and later that day “gunned the engine” of his car and “drove fast while leaving the golf course parking lot.”
    •    On Feb. 4, during a golf-team football game, “Andrew played harder than some of the other boys wanted to play.”
    •    On Feb. 10, while Giuliani was eating an apple, a teammate twice hit the golfer’s hand and knocked the fruit to the ground. After that same teammate “slammed a door hitting Andrew’s face,” Giuliani “tossed the apple at a teammate, glancing off the side of his face.”
Thursday
Jul242008

"She was like looking at a little kid after you tell them there's no Santa Claus."

Now I should know that when the Brand Lady looks to smooth over something, it warrants further investigation. Especially when we have videotape contradicting her written statement. And for the life of me, why the LPGA is trying to spin this, I have no idea (unless the emails are coming from parents with crying children who have just found out there is no Santa Claus).

According to her "Message from Headquarters" Carolyn Bivens writes:

...there has been some misunderstanding about comments made by Sue Witters, LPGA director of tournament operations and the lead official in this situation.  The initial AP story that ran misquoted Sue. Acknowledging the error, the AP ran a corrected story.  However, for those who only viewed the original story, it is important to know Sue’s comments in the press conference were referencing her own emotion when she had to notify Michelle; the comments were not directed at or describing Michelle.
Here's what the corrected AP story says:
Sue Witters, the LPGA’s director of tournament competitions, disqualified Wie in a small office in an LPGA trailer at the course after asking her what had happened.
“I felt like I was telling somebody that there was no Santa Claus,” Witters said.

Courtesy of Springfield's WAND TV's video viewable here (and below), Witters told the assembled media:

"She was like looking at a little kid after you tell then there's no Santa Claus. She was upset, I don't blame her. We forget how young she is because how well she plays. We gotta remember, she's a kid."
The AP had the quote correct the first time, so I'm not sure why the LPGA sought to have the story retracted?


Wednesday
Jul232008

"The rules are the rules."

Thanks to the reader who forwarded this letter from the Brand Lady regarding the most recent Michelle Wie incident, which went out to friends of the LPGA Tour and LPGA members. Bloggers were not included.

While Commish Bivens clarifies several key points related to timing and the circumstances, I'm surprised she had to clarify the comments of Sue Winters as not being a put down of Michelle Wie (must have been a big part of the fan email?).

The fundamental question still has not been answered: why does the LPGA lack an official in the scoring tent like other
major tours?

Here's the letter, minus the fully branded e-stationary announcing a "A Message From Headquarters."

Carolyn F. Bivens
LPGA Commissioner 

July 23, 2008

Dear LPGA members:

Since the LPGA disqualified Michelle Wie from last weekend’s LPGA State Farm Classic for not signing her second-round scorecard, the LPGA has been the subject of countless feedback e-mails, blogs and phone calls to LPGA headquarters.  Many of these have had varying and inaccurate accounts of what happened and why the various steps were taken when.  All of this has confused and angered individuals, when in fact we enforced a very clear-cut rules infraction.  I also understand that many of you have experienced first-hand the emotion that this decision has created.

 With this in mind, I would like to share with you the details and timeline of the events relating to the rules decision so you will have all of the information relating to the events at the LPGA State Farm Classic, and be as informed as possible to share the information with anyone you may come across.

Timeline/details

Friday, July 18

-          After the second round, Michelle turned in her score card and left the roped scoring area without signing her card. A scoring volunteer noticed that the card was missing Michelle’s signature and caught up with her approximately 40 yards from the tent. The volunteer asked her to sign the card, which she did.

-          When LPGA Officials were verifying cards and scores on Friday evening, they had a fully signed card. They did not know that Michelle left the scoring area without signing her score card.  They had a signed card – for all players – and proceeded with the daily round verification.

Saturday, July 19

-          While the third round was underway – and all players were on the course -- an LPGA staff member overheard volunteers discussing the events from Friday re: Michelle’s card and the staff member asked the volunteers to recount the situation.  Realizing there was an issue, the staff member alerted an LPGA Official.  The LPGA Officials gathered the facts and interviewed various individuals – some of whom were onsite and some who were not working the event that day -- and all repo rted the same story.  LPGA Officials decided not to disrupt the pairing and determined they would speak with Michelle when she completed her round.  It was important to get Michelle’s side of the story, but interrupting the round would have impacted Michelle’s fellow competitors as well.  When the round was complete and she was advised of the situation, Michelle confirmed the details and the LPGA imposed the disqualification effective with the end of the second round.

-          LPGA Officials were in contact with the USGA as soon as the incident was reported. The on-site officials proceeded cautiously and correctly.

 Rules infraction

-          Rule 6-6b. – Signing and Returning Score Card governed the situation:  After completion of the round, the competitor should check his score for each hole and settle any doubtful points with the Committee.  He must ensure that the marker or markers have signed the score card, sign the score card himself a nd return it to the Committee as soon as possible.

-          The 2008 LPGA Rules of Play define the scoring area as the roped area defining the boundary of the scoring tent.  Supplementary rules of play stipulate that the scoring area boundary may instead be defined by a white line, which has the effect of decreasing the size of the scoring area.  The white line was not deemed necessary this week and was not put in place, and as a result the boundary is the scoring tent.  Prior to signing her card, Michelle left the defined scoring area.

I addition, there has been some misunderstanding about comments made by Sue Witters, LPGA director of tournament operations and the lead official in this situation.  The initial AP story that ran misquoted Sue. Acknowledging the error, the AP ran a corrected story.  However, for those who only viewed the original story, it is important to know Sue’s comments in the press conference were referencing her own emotion when she had to notify Michelle; the comments were not directed at or describing Michelle.  In fact, Sue represented the LPGA in a way that we can all be proud of. She handled the situation with the utmost care and attention.

In the end, we should all hold our head up high knowing that our organization upheld the rules of golf and administered them with Michelle the same way they have been applied to every player since the LPGA’s founding in 1950.  The rules are the rules.

Should you have any questions about this or need additional clarification, please let me know.


Best regards,

Carolyn F. Bivens

Let's not pat ourselves on the back too much here CB. This would not have happened on the PGA Tour. Where, incidentally Michelle will be teeing it up soon.
Wednesday
Jul232008

Greg And Chrissy To Discuss PGA Championship Appearance Over Dinner

For the sake of golf fans in Detroit, they might want to hope it's a really good bottle of red. Because a PGA appearance would be four weeks in a row, and following four days (presumably) at The Broadmoor/altitude, so I'm going to guess Greg Norman is going to decline the PGA of America's invite to tee it up at Oakland Hills, especially reading his comments about all of his injury issues.

He may not look like an old man, but he's starting to talk like one.

Tuesday
Jul222008

"But Wie’s sponsors have a lot invested in her, and time is running out this year on them getting any returns for the $10 million they gave her to celebrate her 16th birthday."

Tim Dahlberg nails it with this point regarding Michelle Wie's latest sponsor's invite:
But Wie’s sponsors have a lot invested in her, and time is running out this year on them getting any returns for the $10 million they gave her to celebrate her 16th birthday. She has only one sponsor’s exemption left on the LPGA Tour, and if she doesn’t make $80,000 or so in the CN Canadian Women’s Open next month she would face having to go to qualifying school to try to get on the tour next year.
And she had better get on tour soon, because her novelty act has long since worn thin. Wie might some day be a fine player, but she is no longer a precocious child playing against grown-ups and she still has yet to win a tournament.
Joe Logan isn't too excited about the invite either. And this blog post lists the previous Wie debacles. Anyone excited about her appearance in Reno?