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Shoving large quantities of dirt around back then was difficult and arduous undertaking, whereas these days designer can just roll in an army of earth-moving machines and remake nature virtually overnight. Add to that the huge improvements in golf equipment since the golden oldies were built, plus the developer syndrome that big yardage denotes "championship" quality, and you have the answers to why the game becomes even more power-oriented.  JACK NICKLAUS



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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


Shocker: Pods Ratings Down

This isn't really of much significance except for the face we see ratings published so rarely. Thomas Bonk reports:

The combined overnight ratings for the PODS Championship on NBC were down slightly from last year. Saturday's rating was a 1.7 and four share, up 21% from a 1.4 and four share last year; but Sunday's were down 10% to a 1.9 and four share, compared to a 2.1 and four share last year.



"Nice job, dumbass."

On the post about Tripp Isenhour's unfortunate decision to hunt down a harmless hawk and make a fool of himself (not to mention, break the law), I noted that this will not help golf's cause with environmentalists. Reader Adam Clayman wondered what I meant.

Well, Pat Jones answers the question in a short rant that probably violates the number of times you can call someone a dumbass in such a short span.

All I can add is this: for at least the next five years (and probably longer), everytime a golf architect or superintendent is dealing with an environmental group over an issue related to wildlife, this incident will come up.


Els Worn Out By PGA National, Innisbrook?

Citing fatigue, he pulls out of Bay Hill.

You have to wonder if the new-look, U.S. Open style Florida swing is a good thing. 


Where Will Tiger Play?

march4_oldpalm_299x193.jpgMichael Bamberger speculates on Tiger's limited golf options when he moves to Jupiter. The Dye Preserve would be his best choice in terms of seclusion and golf, but the drive is way too long from his new home.

If I had his millions, well, I wouldn't live in Florida, but not withstanding that minor issue it would seem the wise choice would be to build his own practice facility. That was the rumor when I was there last fall, and Lord knows there's plenty of swampland just waiting to be converted.


Golfweek's Classical and Modern Rankings

cover_030808.jpgI really have little to say about the latest Golfweek ranking. The same things I like from last year are there and the same bizarre choices by the panel remain. does not yet have the new lists up, nor even Gil Hanse's guest commentary which the print edition promised would be online.

You can view the issue here in the online digital edition format, or check out the lists and bantor at GolfClubAtlas here and here.

And I'm pleased to note Rustic Canyon remains on the Modern list at No. 99, moving up only a notch despite improved conditioning that had reportedly caused it to slip down the list.


A Day At The Hooter's Owl's Nest With John Daly!

img10697926.jpgAnwar Richardson reported on John Daly's visit to the Hooter's Owl's Nest, which included this bizarre photo slideshow and accompanying audio where you can hear John sloshed.

The Richardson piece prompted Steve Elling to suggest that Tim Finchem be Dean Wormer to John Daly's Kent Dorfman.

From the Richardson write-up:

Daly, whose best finish this year was tied for 60th in the Mayakoba Golf Classic, and his associates gave a news photographer who tried to take photos of him the middle finger. One member of Daly's group mooned the photographer, resulting in boyish laughter from his group.

The golfing Buddha also willingly autographed Trinity resident Kim Geiger's jeans, who bent over and offered her backside as his canvas.

"I go, 'Here I am again. I'm your worst nightmare.' He goes, 'Oh no you're not, honey. As a matter of fact, I like it when you walk away,'" Geiger said. "He goes, 'I like your butt. I'm an butt man.' He goes, 'And you have a nice butt.' Yeah baby, he likes my butt."

12-Player Pile-Up At Innisbrook; Maybe It Would Be Better If They Don't Find A New Sponsor

capt.590e270706a74204bd62aa552da509a6.pods_championship_golf_flmc101.jpgI know some people watch NASCAR to watch the cars crash and that some dizzying amount of readers (76%) voted for protecting par in last week's Golf World/ survey, but sheesh was that final round at Innisbrook painful to watch.

Anyway, congrats to Sean O'Hair for making it out of turn three ahead of the pile-up and winning under that yellow flag.

Now the PGA Tour needs to find a sponsor for the event. Or would a quick death be such a bad thing.

Oh right, the charity.  


Good Week: Atwal Wins In Malaysia And Is Cleared Of Charges

He's got status on the European Tour and the state of Florida seems to have finally made up its mind about his case. The bad news: back to the Nationwide Tour.


Lobbyists, Get Your U.S. Open Passes

I'm not really sure why it's relevant other than as an entertaing look into mooching, backstabbing, hornswoggling ways of politicians in San Diego dealing with U.S. Open tickets. The Union Tribune's Matthew T. Hall breaks down the mess.


Fly and Spy

Thanks to reader John for John Paul Newport's column looking at various golf course related aerial image web sites and DVD's.


If Old Tom Morris Were Here Today...

askernish_18773t.jpgThanks to reader Stan for this Mark Hughes story on the resurrected Old Tom Morris design at Askernish that's opening this summer, and the controversy surrounding it's rebirth.
It has already been described as the "jewel in the crown of world golf". But this isn't Carnoustie, Prestwick or any of the other famous Tom Morris courses. It is the tiny Askernish Golf Club – a one-time nine-hole pitch and putt course on South Uist, an Outer Hebridean island with a population of less than 2,000.

But, while the golfing world has been vocal in its appreciation of the resurrection of Old Tom's lost course, and many of the islanders say it is a chance to provide a much-needed boost to the island's flagging economy, not everyone on South Uist is pleased about the proposals to restore the links course of Askernish to its 18-hole glory.

A small band of local crofters has started legal proceedings against the golf club, claiming that the expansion of the course will leave them with less land on which to graze their animals. They say that their rights to the land on which the golf course is situated – known as Askernish machair – were enshrined in 1922.

The club claims that isn't correct and that the golfers have more rights to the land than the crofters. The argument over who has the better claim has divided the small island community and has now spilled into the courts.

Both sides are confident they will win, the golfers so confident that they have already set a date for the official club opening – 22 August – and have named an honorary president, the former Liverpool and Scotland footballer Kenny Dalglish.

The crofters, meanwhile, are vowing to go to the highest courts possible to stop the golf course going ahead on land they believe is rightfully theirs.

It's fair to say that the rugged but beautiful island of South Uist, a tiny, windy speck on the north-west corner of the UK map, has never seen such a bitter divide.

Humane Society Latest To Confuse PGA Tour and PGA of America

While nothing is funny about this episode, Thomas Bonk reports on the letter mistakenly sent by the Humane Society's Wayne Pacell.

"By setting an example of compassion for the public, the PGA has the chance to make a difference for our communities and instill an ethic of animal protection," Pacelle said in his letter.

However, the humane society might have missed its mark. The PGA of America has no jurisdiction over Nationwide Tour players, who are governed by the PGA Tour.



PGA Tour Finds Isenhour "Incident Regrettable and Unfortunate"

Not much grey area here...

Statement from Ty Votaw, PGA TOUR Executive Vice President

We  are aware of the incident involving Tripp Isenhour at the Grand Cypress Golf Club in Orlando  last December that resulted in the death of a protected migratory  hawk.  Obviously, any set of facts which involve an individual  hitting a golf ball at a living target is clearly inappropriate behavior.

Tripp has publicly apologized and has expressed remorse and regret about his actions. We find this entire incident regrettable and unfortunate.


National Geographic To Expose How They Paint That Little Black Line On A Pro-V1

Courtesy of our faithful readers in Fairhaven Greater New Bedford:


Who Knew? With Marshall Brain Debuts March 13

Fairhaven, MA (March 6, 2008) ? Viewers of a new National Geographic Channel series, "Who Knew? With Marshall Brain," will journey into the world of product design, manufacturing and testing in a weekly one-hour series beginning Thursday, March 13, 2008, at 9 p.m. EST.

The season premiere will include a visit to the Greater New Bedford, Massachusetts facilities of Titleist, the world's leading manufacturer of golf balls, where host Marshall Brain explores the research, development and manufacturing operations of Titleist golf balls.

Quick, factory workers: take down those Spalding-patented ball specs!  The television crews are coming! The television crews are coming!

From the mixing of a combination of ingredients that eventually form the cores of a golf ball, to the stamping of the legendary Titleist script on the covers, each of the unique processes that go into making the #1 ball in golf are featured in the segment videotaped at Titleist's Ball Plant II.

But we don't get to sit in on a marketing meeting where we hear PR gurus brainstorming "creative," figuring out how to get Vijay to say as little as possible in a 30-second spot? Boo...

Following his visit to Ball Plant II, Brain [SP.] then visits Acushnet Company's Manchester Lane Test Facility where, with the help of Titleist engineers, he examines the aerodynamics of the golf ball and explains why it flies theway it does.  The fast-paced 15-minute segment is one of three separate features in the one hour program.

Naturally, this is a show The Golf Channel should have done, oh, ten years ago. Even a technophobic crank like me is fascinated by how things are made. But that might deprive us of Road Trip: Myrtle Beach...sorry I brought it up.


"He won't even go over there and look at it. I don't think he wants to play there."

Leonard Shapiro says the folks at Congressional don't want to see Tiger's AT&T National anywhere near Washington in 2010 or 2011 so they can sell those corporate chalets for the US Open. Oh but Ponte Vedra thinks otherwise...

Another Congressional source indicated the PGA Tour still would like to persuade the Woods Foundation to play the event in 2010 and 2011 at newly renovated TPC Avenel, about a mile from Congressional. The club is owned by the tour and had been the site for Washington's annual tour event since 1987, when the course first opened for play. Avenel is undergoing a $24 million course and clubhouse renovation scheduled to be completed in November.
Something tells me the USGA was on the phone to the club after word got out they were using the 2009 AT&T to pay for the greens reconstruction. And you wonder why they went to Chambers Bay?

They're upbeat at Avenel:
"It's going to be a lot different golf course for the pros," said Mike Sullivan, Avenel's general manager. "It would be ideal for us to have the [Woods] tournament here; we'd love to have it. All we can do is prepare and be ready."

Another Congressional source said Woods, who has not played in a PGA Tour event at Avenel, has heard so many negative comments about the course, "he won't even go over there and look at it. I don't think he wants to play there."

Sullivan confirmed Woods has never visited Avenel but said: "Maybe once we get some grass on it, we can persuade him to take a ride around here. It might change his perception."

Key word: might. 


Tripp Isenhour Cements Lead In Lowlife Of The Year Award Race

Thanks to reader Tony for a fine reason, courtesy of Sarah Lundy in the Orlando Sentinel, to hope Tripp Isenhour never breaks 75 ever again.

And people wonder why golf has a lousy reputation with environmentalists.


Player Wives Not The Only Ones Who May Turn To Botox

dataThanks to reader James for Bloomberg's Michael Buteau report on the exciting news that the yips may have a medical cure: Botox.

Well, news might be a stretch. Let's rephrase that: interesting information gleaned from a drug company study. The same drug company that wants to sell their stuff:

The study is the first to include analysis of brainwaves and muscle activity in hands and wrists, Adler said. Researchers monitored 50 golfers, 25 of them yippers and 25 non-yippers.

It was financed by a $193,000 grant from Allergan Inc., of Irvine, California. Botox is Allergan's biggest product, with $1.2 billion in sales last year. The drug is best known for reducing skin wrinkles and also is used to treat muscle cramping in musicians and Parkinson's disease.

The yips, commonly described as an involuntary movement, or jerking, of the putter before striking a golf ball, have long been thought to be caused by anxiety or stress.

``Your brain is sending you a message and your body just kind of backfires,'' said Louise Simpson, 50, of Tempe, Arizona, who took part in the study.

And now the body will send a message that because you don't have those forehead wrinkles anymore, you can make this three footer? Oh, sorry...

If the study shows yips are primarily caused by muscle cramping, Adler said the condition could be treated with small injections of Botox. The drug isn't considered performance- enhancing and isn't banned under golf's new subtance policy, said U.S. PGA Tour Executive Vice President Ty Votaw.

That'll change!

Meanwhile, noted yipper Doug Sanders isn't so sure...

Sanders, 75, who missed the British Open putt, says he knows one proven cure: ``It's called vodka tonic.'' Alternatively, he says, ``Sometimes if you have three or four beers, it really helps a lot.''

Alcohol can be a short-lived treatment, Adler says. Yips sufferers can become tolerant of the drink and will eventually need more to get the same effect. Over time, the movement disorder often gets worse, he said.
The movement disorder. Now there's a euphemism for yips!

Toshiba Classic: One Event That Gets It

toshibagolf.gifThe Valiant Competitor's Champions Tour has reversed it's Southern California stops this year, with the Toshiba Classic kicking things off followed by next week's AT&T something-or-other at Valencia. It's always amazing to witness the contrast between the two.

The Toshiba is played in the heart of Newport Beach at the sporty William F. Bell designed Newport Beach Country Club. The combination of the course's ideal location at the heart of a significant population base, it's ability to be played with relative ease (but it's no pushover) and a strong volunteer base make the event a real delight. It was day one of the pro-am and it would not be a stretch to call it festive.

Hanging out on the range today collecting quotes from select players, not only was most of the field out in force their pro-am rounds, but they were in great spirits. Hale Irwin smiled at me. Really, he smiles! Another highlight was Fuzzy Zoeller (not a surprise) heckling Tuesday qualifier Mac O'Grady about his hair, while Andy Bean (who knew?) strolling by the 10th tee and yelling out to Mac that his pro-am partner's swing was just fine and to leave him alone.

Then there's next week's event at Valencia, a monstrous Robert Trent Jones Sr. design next to the 5 freeway in that massive slice of over-development hell known as Santa Clarita, a solid 25 minute drive from a decent population base and 45 minutes from the heart of LA (mid-morning, with a police escort). The rough is always hideously dense, the course a brutal grind, the crowds tiny and the weather iffy. Players rarely hang around the range and every year I leave the place intensely depressed about what the game has become. Particularly since this same event was a huge success when played at Rancho Park and Wilshire Country Club in the city. You know, fun golf courses. Near where people live.

So just in case you were wondering, I probably won't be going out to Valencia this year.

According to Steve Eubanks, they expect 85,000 this week in Newport Beach, which would probably surpass what the regular tour drew at Riviera a few weeks ago.

Amazing how far a little fun will take you.