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  • 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
  • The Early Days of Pinehurst
    The Early Days of Pinehurst
    by Chris Buie
  • 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
  • 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
  • His Ownself: A Semi-Memoir
    His Ownself: A Semi-Memoir
    by Dan Jenkins
  • Professional Golf 2014: The Complete Media, Fan and Fantasy Guide
    Professional Golf 2014: The Complete Media, Fan and Fantasy Guide
    by Daniel Wexler
  • 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

Ladies, I have a message for you. The members request that you do not shelter in front of the window, you are obscuring the view.
Royal and Ancient Golf Club STEWARD, 1908 British Ladies Championship




Golf Digest: Groove Announcement Coming Soon

The Brood and Gloom guys at report that the USGA's pathetic backdoor attempt at not dealing with the real issue elimination of the U-groove is about to be announced, and someone at the R&A seems to have confirmed so.

Still, several industry sources contacted by Golf World believe the ruling is coming sooner rather than later. The R&A's David Rickman commented recently that a rule proposal was in the offing. "We are in the throes of various meetings and wouldn't want to pre-empt their outcome,” Rickman told The Scotsman newspaper. “But all the signs are that we're very close to going out with 'notice and comment.’ ” When asked about Rickman’s statement, USGA senior technical director Dick Rugge did not dispute that a proposal could happen in the near future, although he declined to offer a specific timetable.
Bowel and Groin also address how this might affect the average golfer. 
The good news for average golfers? You won’t have to buy all new conforming stuff by next year. I’m guessing old stuff will be grandfathered for a pretty significant period of time (minimum five years is my guess). The other good news? It’s either going to make everybody a better golfer (increased pace of play) or half the golfing population quit (plenty of tee times for the rest of us). You start flying greens or having short chip shots run 30 feet by, and you either learn to hit fairways and greens or you throw your clubs in the woods. Whatever you do, though, buy a urethane-covered ball, which is the real hidden gem in the USGA's 180-page report on grooves research.

Okay, they lost me there. Anyone know where we can read up on this urethane stuff in the 180-page report?

Meanwhile, for more on what actually goes on with the grooves and why the USGA sees this is a backdoor approach to the distance issue, check out Mike Stachura's (is he Bulldoze or Gravel?) recent Golf Digest story on grooves.


The Nicklaus Golf Digest Article, Vol. 2

Has there ever been a more conscise summary of what the distance issue is all about?

We have about 16,000 courses in the United States. Almost all of them are obsolete for tournament play. For them to become relevant, we need to roll back the ball about 40 yards. That or rebuild all the fairway bunkers at 300 yards. Which is what we’re doing, and it costs a fortune. Instead of changing equipment, we’re changing golf courses. It’s great for my business. I’m making a living redoing my old courses. But the game should be able to go back to the classic courses just as they are. Why should we be changing all those golf courses? It’s ridiculous.

Trying to build great courses today is more complicated than ever. I’ve decided it’s best to basically design for the enjoyment of the average golfer. That’s what works best for the owners, who are selling memberships and selling their land. I was once accused of designing courses that were too severe. A lot of that was because I was designing a lot of tournament courses.

Creating a true challenge for the best professional players for one week of golf makes it too tough for the average player who is going to play it the rest of the year. I’ve come to the conclusion that the only way to make the game better for more golfers is to take the driver out of the hands of the elite player. So I tighten up the landing areas for them. It’s kind of a sad compromise, but I think it’s the only solution we’ve got. 

Actually, it's not a sad compromise if we could just make driver absolutely worthless on all championship courses. Then driver sales would plummet and just maybe some of the companies would say wait a second we need to roll back the...ah forget it, what was I thinking?


Invite The Women

Cameron Morfit says the match play is in need of a lift, so he recommends inviting the LPGA Tour to contest their own match play at the same time.

The Accenture is golf’s version of a tennis tournament: single-elimination, with most everything resting on the quality of the semifinal and final. One of the things tennis has going for it is that men and women play concurrently at the same venue. Right away you double your chances of having at least one star in a final, and of getting at least one compelling match in the prime viewing hours Saturday and Sunday.
Now I don't know about this next point, since I don't believe it's accurate. 
The LPGA, in fact, bettered the PGA Tour with its most recent match play event, the season-ending ADT Championship, won by Paraguayan pixie Julieta Granada, who pocketed $1 million, the largest purse in women’s golf, and promptly bought herself a new Range Rover. (A million bucks still means something on the LPGA.)

It was stroke play wasn't it?

Anyhow, the concept seems interesting since even with a great final match, the WGC Match Play is a dud on television. As much as I love match play, if it's going to be played only at real estate developments willing to pay for the privilege, then they need more, uh, "product" to distract us.


"Some questions need to be asked, and some solutions need to be found."

Ron Sirak on the match play and state of American golf:

What we saw at Tucson was the world. And there is nothing wrong with that. In fact, there is everything right with that. Much of the rest of the world has caught up to the United States in golf. And if the Americans are going to keep from falling farther behind some questions need to be asked, and some solutions need to be found.

Too bad Big John, Eyebrows, Tillie and Sham aren’t around to help sort this out. They may not have the answers, but I’m pretty sure they would identify this problem: America needs to figure out how to get better at golf. Maybe in defeat motivation will be found.

Hey I have a thought. How about no longer embracing mediocrity as something to be proud of?


"That's exciting (laughter)."

We've got a new FedEx Cup streak going. For the second straight week Joan Alexander has noted a player's FedEx Cup point pickup, and once again it led to a brand-tarnishing reaction.

From Geoff Ogilvy's post WGC final press conference:

JOAN v.T. ALEXANDER: Geoff, thank you for joining us in the media center for a few minutes at the Accenture Match Play Championship. I know you're disappointed right now, but you've got to be really proud of yourself for the way you've played in this tournament and as far as you've come.
Along with your second place finish today, you earn 2,835 FedExCup points.

GEOFF OGILVY: That's exciting (laughter).

Feb252007 Relaunches

Check out their new look...


The Nicklaus Golf Digest Article, Vol. 1

nicklaus1.jpgWith the Nissan Open and the Golf Industry Show, I'm finally getting around to Jack Nicklaus's essay in the March Golf Digest.

Written with the assistance of Jaime Diaz, the piece is monumental on a number of levels. First, it is by far the most space devoted in a major golf publication to the distance issue and its impact since Nicklaus and George Peper penned similar views in Golf Magazine (circa 1998 I believe).  

What I loved most here is Nicklaus's defense of the claims that his motives are not pure. Actually there's a lot to love here, and I know our Fairhaven readers will especially enjoy this week-long look at Jack's rant.

The best golfers should be better today than the best golfers of yesterday. At the moment, I’m not sure that’s the case. I realize I’m an old fuddy-duddy, and that previous generations always say that their game was better. I guess I’d plead guilty—in part. But here’s the difference. The game in terms of equipment barely changed for 60 years. Then with the equipment revolution that began with metal clubheads in the ’80s and accelerated with dramatic ball technology in the late ’90s, the game changed radically. The best players suddenly found themselves able to hit shots more easily and consistently, as well as pull off shots they never would have tried in the past. It made the game for elite players simpler and easier.

Simpler. Very nice. Attention Ponte Vedra: that means less interesting to watch.

As a result, I don’t care as much for today’s game as I did for the one played for most of my career. I like the old game of moving the ball both ways and using strategy with angles, and hitting all the clubs in the bag.

My greatest concern, because I believe it has the most effect on the most parts of the game, is the golf ball. I’d very much like to see the U.S. Golf Association and the R&A institute at least a 10-percent rollback in the distance the golf ball travels. I know the ruling bodies are looking at limits on equipment, including possibly reducing the size of driver clubheads and eliminating square grooves, but that’s treating an effect more than a cause. The desired results from such moves could be taken care of by a rollback in the ball. In fact, there would be much less need to limit equipment innovations that help amateurs play if the ball were rolled back.

Which once again raises the question, why do Callaway, Taylor Made and Nike oppose a ball rollback?

And just to put the tournament ball talk to rest...

I don’t think a rollback should restrict an elite player’s options in customizing the golf ball he or she would play. It’s OK with me for, say, a player with a low ball flight to get some help by using a model of ball with a dimple pattern that creates a higher launch, or a guy whose angle into the ball generates an excess of spin getting a ball that spins less. In other words, I wouldn’t want to see every player having to use the same exact “tournament ball” picked out of a jar on the first tee. As long as players could keep the ball characteristics that best suit their games, I honestly believe it would take them only a few rounds to completely adjust to a rolled-back ball that doesn’t fly quite as far.

Erin Hills and Future USGA Championships

Gary D'Amato, writing about the wave of pro golf coming to Wisconsin, notes this about Erin Hills:
And because USGA officials are excited about Erin Hills' potential, don't be surprised if that course lands the U.S. Amateur in the next five to seven years and the U.S. Open before 2020. Both would be firsts for Wisconsin.

"The Golf Channel, by any other name, couldn't be any less of a golf channel."

Phil Mushnick is a big fan of Golf Channel's coverage...
What initially struck many golf fans as good, sensible news - The Golf Channel landing live coverage of PGA Tour events - has thus far proven to be a terrible joke.

TGC's latest co-produced train wreck - this one with NBC - began Wednesday, 64 of the world's best in match play for the World Golf Championship. Unless one tuned in to see scenery (mostly cactus), commercials, interviews, promos and insanely unnecessary cuts to TGC's studio, coverage was infuriating.

At one point, TGC abandoned live golf for a chat with Geoff Ogilvy, who'd just won his match. Among the questions TGC's Rich Lerner asked was what Ogilvy thought of Tiger Woods' seven-PGA-events win streak. "It's impressive," Ogilvy replied. Live and learn.
Then it was off to commercials, then to the studio, where we were shown clips of Woods from last year's WGC - and encouraged to watch the WGC on TGC. (We'd love to, if you only let us!)

Woods Streak Ends; Writers Flee Tucson

...but not before filing captivating accounts of what we already know.


Golf Industry Show Photo Caption Help

Thanks to the La Habra branch for capturing this uh, memory, from yesterday's surprisingly busy Golf Industry Show.

The suspects are myself, Dr. Bradley Klein of Golfweek and Mr. Ronald E. Whitten of Golf Digest. 

Be nice!



California State Am Leaving Pebble Beach

While scanning Ron Kroichick's chat with Johnny Miller in search of blatant self-references, I was surprised by this note following the piece:

State amateur moving: The California amateur championship, held at Pebble Beach every year but one since the seaside links opened in 1919 -- the course was built, in part, for the tournament -- is hitting the road.

This year's 96th edition of the state amateur will be played at Monterey Peninsula Country Club. The event will then alternate between Northern California and Southern California sites in future years.

Not surprisingly, money was a driving factor behind the departure from Pebble. The Pebble Beach Company gave the California Golf Association a discount on green fees, but the price was still significant; after all, a standard round at Pebble now costs $450 (and will rise to $475 on April 1).

The move to nearby Monterey Peninsula -- where the club will not charge the CGA for green fees -- represents a huge savings for tournament officials. They also liked the idea of holding the entire tournament at one venue, as opposed to recent years in which Poppy Hills hosted two stroke-play rounds.

Plus, match play at Pebble often led to the odd sight of tournament competitors weaving through public play. Regular folks -- well, regular folks who can afford to pay $450 to play golf -- would stop and let state amateur contestants "play through."

"There was a lot of hand wringing and a lot of anguish about this decision," said Bob Thomas, spokesman for the Southern California Golf Association. "We know how special Pebble is."



Shapiro On Washington's Prospects...

...and it doesn't sound too promising, at least for a PGA Tour event returning anytime soon.

Ralph Shrader, chairman of Booz Allen, which sponsored Washington's tour event the last three years, said in a telephone interview that no one from the tour has approached him about sponsoring the 2007 event. The date opened up two weeks ago when the International in Castle Rock, Colo., opted out of this year's schedule because a title sponsor could not be found.

"Given the tour's decision to pull the Presidents Cup out of Washington, I don't even know if we're even on their radar screen," Shrader said. "They haven't talked to me at all, and no one has offered encouragement that they're even anxious to talk to us."

And this may be even more surprising from a fellow at Congressional, one of the only viable sites in the area... 

"I think their first step is to talk to a potential sponsor, and if any of those stepped up to the plate, that's the city where the tournament would go," Brundred said. "But we haven't heard word one from anyone, and I guess that's a little surprising."


Fuzzy Wiki

An odd story on Fuzzy Zoeller suing someone over a Wikipedia post.


Nissan Open Ratings

From the good folks at Brenner-Zwikel: 


CBS Sports’ final-round coverage of the PGA TOUR’s NISSAN OPEN with Phil Mickelson losing in a three-hole playoff to Charles Howell III on Sunday, Feb. 18 (3:19-7:27 PM, ET) scored an preliminary national household rating/share of 3.4/7 , up +31% from last year’s 2.6/5 (ABC).

CBS Sports’ final-round coverage peaked with a preliminary national rating/share of 5.4/10 between 7:00-7:27 PM, ET.

Sunday’s 3.4/7 is the highest rating for the final round of the Nissan Open since 2004’s 3.9/9 (ABC)..

(Nielsen releases the national rating and share for Saturday’s third-round coverage on Friday, Feb. 23)


Lido Contest

Golf Digest/Golf World is sponsoring the Lido design contest this year, with Ron Whitten judging.

Isn't it about time they retire the par-4 and do a par-5 or par-3? 


"It's not exactly the fight over Ted Williams' head, but it's as close as it gets in golf."

jones2.jpgCatching up on my reading here and finally got around to Jim Moriarty's Golf World piece on the Jones brother spat. Some fun new anecdotes about these two hotheads wonderfully talented salesman architects:

The worst-kept secret in golf is that Bobby, 67, doesn't like Rees, and Rees, 65, doesn't like Bobby. The brothers even had separate receiving lines following their father's memorial service in Florida after he passed away in 2000 at 93. Their noogie fight over the legacy of their famous father took a particularly ugly turn and became a matter of public record when Rees filed suit against his brother in December 2005.

The lawsuit, which is currently in mediation, alleges that Bobby owes Rees $98,869 to fulfill a liability remaining from the estate of their mother, Ione, who died in 1987, and that Bobby also owes Rees one-half of all royalties (guaranteed at a minimum of $75,000) from an agreement Bobby made licensing the name Robert Trent Jones to Gear For Sports for a clothing line. In a countersuit Bobby seeks to have the court enjoin Rees from using the nickname "Open Doctor," which Bobby maintains rightly belonged to their father--who infamously turned Oakland Hills CC into Ben Hogan's "monster"--and, thus, to him since he claims ownership of all post-mortem rights pertaining to the identity of the senior Jones. It's not exactly the fight over Ted Williams' head, but it's as close as it gets in golf.

This is touching...

Five years ago, on Rees' 60th birthday, Bobby boxed an olive branch, enclosed one of his poems written for the occasion and sent it to his brother. It came back unopened. Rees refused to be interviewed for this story but made one comment during a brief telephone conversation. "There's no connection between the two of us right now," he said. "He [Bobby] has his business, and I've got mine." On the other hand, when Bobby was asked if the estrangement from his brother is complete, he replied, "No."

World Pulling Rankings

Daniel Wexler analyzes the emergence of foreign players on the professional golf stage.

"What are we doing here?"

That's the question AP's Doug Ferguson asks while sitting in the press tent at The Gallery, home to the WGC Match Play.

What might help is taking this tournament to golf courses that could add some sizzle, and not just from the desert sun. The Gallery Golf Club is a nice piece of property, a blend of lush green and desert brown. But it still begs an important question.

What are we doing here?

No doubt the tournament will help sell homes on Dove Mountain. But it won't do the fans much good. The course goes out some 3 miles before making a U-turn, with only about four holes in the middle where fans can hop around and watch more than one match. The only way to get from No. 5 to No. 11 is to follow the routing, or dodge rattlesnakes traversing the desert.

At this point I will spare you my now annual rant that this event would be great at PGA West's Stadium Course because, well, the column I wrote about it has disappeared into cyberspace.'s Ron Whitten reviews The Gallery and, well, reminds us that the PGA Tour still has a long way to go when it comes to mixing architecture with commerce.

But people persist, because there's this theory that some courses make better match-play courses than stroke-play ones. If a course is fraught with obstacles and perils, or better yet, has lots of high-risk/high-reward gambling situations, so the theory goes, it's a terrific venue for match play but a humiliating place on which to keep score. That's a good, logical theory, but one that gets trampled upon by PGA Tour officials when they choose, and then set up, a course for their match-play event.

A prime example is The Gallery, on cactus-dotted slopes of Dove Mountain, a first-class private club with 36 holes that allows non-member play for those who stay overnight in one of its pricey but plush golf cottages. (See the club's website for details.) The Gallery's North Course, opened in 1998, was co-designed by former PGA Tour player John Fought and his then-design partner Tom Lehman and is known primarily for its deep-dish fairway bunkers and its 725-yard par-5 ninth. You would think the PGA Tour would eagerly award a match-play event to a course designed by two Tour players, particularly one with returning nines, 125 bunkers and ponds guarding two greens. But instead, The Accenture will be played on the South Course, five years younger and designed solely by Fought, without Lehman's influence.

Okay, here's the setup part.

But when I played the course last December, alternate fairways on the uphill par-5 10th and 362-yard 12th were both being grown to rough. They'll be taken out of play, converted to bleacher and/or skybox space. So much for match-play options.

What's more, the Tour will play The South in excess of the 7,351 yards listed as the maximum on the scorecard. Fought recently added four new back tees, so the course can now be stretched to 7,550 yards. Yes, it sits at an elevation of 3,000 feet, so it won't play that full distance, but why cater to ball-bashers in a match-play event? Why not set up the course to play around 6,900 yards and give underdogs like Corey Pavin a chance?



Golf Industry Show Book Signing

Just a reminder to those attending The Golf Industry Show Thursday, I'll be signing various stuff including Lines of Charm from 1:30 to 3 in the bookstore. Come on by!