The USGA's 2011 Herbert Warren Wind Book Award winner
I would suggest, however, that no money be lent for constructing an elaborate clubhouse. The first club of which I was a member had only a hundred dollar hut as a clubhouse and beer and sandwich luncheons, yet we got as much health and happiness out of it as any other. ALISTER MACKENZIE
Golf Channel begins their final day coverage at 12:30 EST.
Looking at the leaderboard, it's surprising to see (A) how many established players will be headed to the Nationwide Tour and (B) who many guys WD'd.
In the January/February 2003 Virginia Golfer, USGA Executive Director David Fay said:
I believe a burning issue facing the game is whether the talent gap between the best players in the world and the rest of us is widening to the point where we need to consider a more restrictive set of equipment rules for the most highly skilled players. A number of very thoughtful people who have golf's best interests at heart have widely divergent views on this topic. The game is attracting more outstanding athletes who are better trained and more fit and they are benefiting from advances in golf equipment technology and golf course maintenance. And these athletes are also much more committed to spending seemingly endless hours fine-tuning, practicing and improving their games. As a result, today's golf courses are playing shorter for the best players than ever before. Whether this is a "problem" or a natural evolution of a healthy sport depends on your point of view - and quite often, your age.
That final comment went over wonderfully with folks who were tickled to have Fay write their views off to nostalgia. He used a similar "age" argument during this May's Sports Illustrated roundtable.
Now, in Matthew Rudy's excellent Golf World story on steroids, various experts state that performance enhancing drugs are used in golf or will become an issue for the sport. Especially as long as there is no testing and power is rewarded.
In the Rudy story, Fay refused to comment on the subject. Maybe that was a wise move, since the same story reveals PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem demonstrating a Donald Fehr-like interest in steroids (and we know how well Fehr's approach went over).
Earlier this year, Fay touted the USGA's compliance with the International Olympic Committee's policies on boys-becoming-girls as part of his and Peter Dawson's International Golf Federation quest to get golf recognized as an Olympic sport. Yet, as part of the unsuccessful Olympic effort, there was no publicly-stated interest in having the U.S. or British Open become IOC-compliant on steroid testing.
"Gender reassignment" was a higher priority.
The thought of a golfer taking strength-enhancing drugs was once unfathomable, and yet we are now learning that various steroids or performance enhancing drugs may help players get an edge.
So why the lack of action by the governing bodies or Tours?
Perhaps because no change in golf has been more important in rewarding and understanding the role of clubhead speed than optimization of launch conditions. This fitting process allows ball-driver combinations to pass the USGA testing under the launch conditions stipulated in the rules, while allowing players to go undetected even as they exceed the Overall Distance Standard under their own launch conditions.
Strength is going to be vital to the golfer of the future that wants to get the most out of today's equipment and who hopes to further optimize launch conditions under the USGA/R&A radar. Matched with the right ball-driver combination along with added strength from performance enhancing drugs, a player could pick up significant tee-shot distance without breaking any rules.
Yet courses are getting longer and narrower in response to dramatic changes in the way golf is played thanks to this lax (well, negligent) deregulation.
Is this really the natural evolution of a healthy sport?
The envelope please...
The first ever winner of the unofficial Golf Digest Best New-Best New Remodel (that's a renovation of a former Best New winner) goes to...Colleton River, where Jack Nicklaus recently remodeled his 1993 Golf Digest Best New Private Course winner.
Colleton River placed 4th on this year's inaugural Best New Remodel list, so Nicklaus edged out his 7th place remodel of Loxahatchee, the 1985 Best New Private winner that also apparently required an overhaul despite the Golf Digest panel's initial euphoria.
Word is that in early 2025, Jack will re-install the dreaded chocolate drop mounds he just took out at Loxahatchee, and the course will have a chance to win 2026's first ever, Best New-Best New-Best New Remodel.
Early prediction: Pelican Hill, a 1992 Best New winner currently under renovation, is a lock to win the 2007 Best New-Best New Remodel.
The 2005 Golf Digest Best New Course awards are now posted online.
Here's Ron Whitten's write up explaining the year of firsts (hint, you may wonder if only Midwest raters voted this year).
Charles Happell of The Age writes about the distance debate and exposes more anti-technophobic troublemakers: Craig Parry, Greg Norman (well, he was exposed long ago) and Geoff Ogilvy.
Now 39 and in the twilight of a wonderful career, Parry, who stands 168 centimetres in his Niblicks, wonders where it will all end. How, he asks, will relative pipsqueaks such as himself remain relevant in golf's new leviathan age?
"I'm lucky I'm coming to the end of my career because I wouldn't like to be going out there now with all these strong young guys and trying to match them," Parry told The Age. "Anyone who's 5'6" and coming out on the tour now, they're going to struggle."
And that old anti-capitalist himself, Greg Norman, weighed in.
Greg Norman told The Age last week it was time the rule-makers at the Royal and Ancient Golf Club and the United States Golf Association put a stop to the nonsense and applied the brakes to this runaway train.
"For someone like Craig Parry, it's tough. I really think it's time we woke up and put restrictions on the equipment being used by the pros," Norman said.
The former world No. 1, who now spends much of his time designing courses, said each year, his new designs have to be altered to take into account increasingly sophisticated technology.
"It affects our design work each year," he said. "Now we've got the landing areas at 300 yards (274 metres), and carries over bunkers are now something like 310 (283 metres). Back in the
old days, it was something like 265 yards (242 metres); that's how much it's changed."
And finally, guys named Geoff clearly just don't get it.
Australia's Geoff Ogilvy is a child of the 1980s, and someone who has known nothing but metal-headed drivers, graphite shafts and these new multi-layer, soft-core balls.
Two weeks ago, at Royal Melbourne, playing with Bob Shearer and Mike Clayton, the group used a number of clubs that were made before Ogilvy was born: among them a persimmon driver, three wood and Slazenger one iron with a blade not much thicker than a letter opener.
Ogilvy found the experience fascinating. The shots he hit in the sweet spot went virtually as far as his modern clubs; the ones hit slightly off-centre sounded clunky and went a fraction of the distance.
At the end of the round, he decided it was not the new clubs that were the problem but the ball. "I realise now that the problems lie mostly with the ball," Ogilvy said.
"I feel very strongly that the balls should be backed off, certainly for the pros. It's a shame to change all these classic courses such as Augusta and St Andrews. We need a uniform professional ball."
Mike Clayton summarizes the wild and weird Australian Open for Golfobserver.com. First he covers the Mark Hensby-Greg Norman war of words:
It is impossible to win in this country if you choose to attack Norman and Hensby didn't articulate his argument well enough to convince the average golf fan. But inside the locker room there were more than a few who thought there was some merit in what he was trying to say.
Ironically, on the very first morning of the Open Norman was fifty miles away across the bay announcing the establishment of a new golf course financed by one of the countries richest men. It was not lost on some that perhaps there were 364 other days in the year that might have been a little more appropriate for Greg to promote a new development.
Of course, it is no secret that Norman has a more than prickly relationship with the Australian Golf Union and with his ex-managers, IMG, who promote and run the Open.
And then there was the Wayne Grady-Colin Phillips spat:
In a group behind, Tour chairman Wayne Grady blistered the long-serving and retiring Executive Director of the Australian Golf Union, Colin Phillips, the man responsible for the pin positions.
"Congratulations Colin for &$#%ing (rhymes with trucking) up another Australian Open. Watch-out the door doesn't hit you on the arse on the way out."
There has long been a simmering resentment between the two but it had never been voiced so personally or publicly.
Phillips response was a simple "I would have been upset if the criticism had come from a player I respected." Ouch.
And finally, my favorite part of Clayton's piece, the player perceptions of Moonah Links.
The weekend wind freshened and the players distaste for the course heightened.
Craig Parry had nothing complimentary to say and nor did Stuart Appleby and their opinions were widely reported in the newspapers. Several players privately suggested they would not be back.
Complaining players have always been sitting ducks for press who assume golf pros don't like a venue simply because it is too hard. Parry and Appleby have played plenty of hard golf courses — Parry was eight over par and a shot out of the playoff at the 1999 Open at Carnoustie — but they needed to articulate why they disliked the design of the golf course.
Poor Tiger. No matter how many times he tells the golfing scribblers that his game is better than it's ever been, they refuse to believe him.
Bob Casper over at SI.com has been looking at Tiger's swing change patterns and equates the 1999-transition season with 2005, another transition year.
FYI: 1999 Tiger in the majors: T18-T3-T7-1; 2005 Tiger: 1-2-1-T4.
But Casper says 2006 will not like Tiger's 2000. Why? Five reasons, here's #1:
Earlier this year Tiger said, "driving accuracy means nothing these days, it's a non-stat." He had better reconsider that statement with two of the four majors being contest at traditional old -style layouts with majestic tree-lined fairways.
They've taken out a ton of trees at Winged Foot and apparently have done a fair amount of trimming over at Medinah, which may neutralize the whole "majestic tree-lined" thing. The USGA's David Fay has said he would like to see 8-inch at Winged Foot (because this flogging thing is really shining a big annoying light on optimization), but they can't do that if the men in blue want to finish on Sunday.
In 2000, Tiger hit 71.2 percent of his fairways. If he gets close to 70 percent in 2006, watch out. But that's a big if. Great scoring on golf courses is set up off the tee and Tiger needs to do a better job.
Sorry, that was five years ago. The game has changed and Tiger has not only kept up with the times, but established how the game will be played in the future.
It will be interesting to see how long people go before they realize the absurdity of grinding out tee shots and worrying about hitting fairways when 340 yard drives and proficiency with 15-footers far outweighs tee-shot accuracy.
On another note, just in case you have an interest in meaningless trivia, reader Jon reports that "flog" (golf backwards) is a member of the palindrome family. It is a semordnilap.
A popular motivational saying goes, "Desserts is stressed spelled backwards." This is an example of a reversible word, which when read from the right yields another word. All of this week's words exhibit this quality. Just like reversible clothing that changes pattern when worn inside out, reversible words result in other usable words. A special case of reversible words are palindromes, which spell the same when reversed. So palindromes are a subset of reversible words which in turn are a subset of anagrams. Another name for reversible words is semordnilap, a self-referential word coined by reversing the word palindromes.
How about that news flash from the city!
From the New York Post...
Christmas came early this year.
No, not the lighting of the Rockefeller Center tree but the elite luncheon of the top editors, publishers and executives who work for billionaire S.I. Newhouse Jr. inside the glitzy Condé Nast publishing empire.
This year's extravaganza at the posh Four Seasons restaurant was the first to stretch beyond Condé Nast's traditional top-bracket titles such as Vogue, Vanity Fair, GQ, Glamour and The New Yorker, to include the less prestigious titles of its Fairchild group, home to Jane and W, and the more pedestrian Golf Digest Companies.
First there were tees to supplement all of that improved athleticism allowing for distance increases, now we have shoes to add to the list of reasons guys are hitting it longer.
The shoes have increased my ball speed from 166 mph to 173 mph. Each mile per hour is equivalent to about 2 1/2 yards, so that's an additional 15 yards on my drives. This has taken me from the top 100 in driving distance in Europe to being in the top 10 in the space of a year, which is amazing.
They've also taken his voice down two octaves and made his blond highlights almost look natural.
Thanks to reader Tuco for this.
Lorne Rubenstein gets to the essence of what we love about some tournaments, and why all of these no-cut, rich-get-richer affairs aren't doing the Tour much good.
Real tour golf should be intelligently designed, then. Only then are golfers forced to be strong and to see if they have what it takes to survive.
The game has always been about getting it done without the security blanket of a guaranteed cheque. Little by little, that's changing, sure. Anybody who wins a tour card will make at least a couple of hundred thousand dollars from equipment contracts and other endorsements. But that disappears if the player doesn't keep the card.
Five-year-old Barona Creek (No. 78 in Golfweek's Top 100 Modern) has overcome its dated back tee yardage to earn the right to host two Nationwide Tour Championships. Tod Leonard writes:
With a hotel/casino on site and plenty of room for corporate hospitality and the expected 5,000 spectators, Barona's only obstacle to getting a top-level event was its length. At 7,088 yards from the championship tees, it was deemed short for today's big hitters with high-tech clubs. In October's Collegiate Cup, for example, Denver's James Love shot a 10-under-par 62 in the first round and went on to card 15-under in three rounds.
But the club has made extensive renovations this fall, adding 12 new tees to lengthen the course to about 7,500 yards. Several jagged-edged bunkers – among the course's standout design traits – were added.
Here's a story on Mark Hensby refusing to apologize for his controversial views expressed at last week's wild and wacky Australian Open. But this is what I found interesting:
Stuart Appleby yesterday joined the list of players fined by the PGA Tour for a rules breach in publicly criticising aspects of the Australian Open, he revealed errors had been made by AGU officials in measuring pin placements.Appleby said players had been notified mid-round that incorrect distances were shown on official pin placement sheets.
Boy this Australia Golf Union really knows how to put on a tournament. Top notch, top notch.
Check out Ran Morrissett's interview with Alfie Ward, creator of the Arbory Brae course and world class traditionalist. I suppose this could be viewed as good news for those going to Scotland hoping to play lesser known gems without seeing Americans, but otherwise, it's pretty sad:
13. As technology goes unchecked, what is the future of the numerous sub-6000 yard courses around Scotland (and the UK & Ireland for that matter)? Is their appeal in any way lessened?
Excellent question, and one which gives the greatest concern of all (IMO). You know, history does repeat itself – maybe because life itself is a cycle of fashion and trends ? It can be argued that these fashions and trends were the death knell for numerous courses and their respective clubs circa 1930 – 50’s in Scotland, and most probably, elsewhere in the UK ? At this time, golfers became more selective in the courses they played because they had the advantage of travelling far greater distances than they could have previously! Support for the smaller courses dwindled as visitors travelled further afield and in pursuit of superior challenges at the longer courses. So too, and still do, are those seeking membership to a club. Who’s to say that the same scenario isn’t about to be repeated in the next few years ? I reckon it’s happening already, and so too, I think, does the Scottish Golf Union ! Of Scotland’s 500 plus courses, there’s probably about 300 (minimum) that don’t meet the 'must play' expectations of the modern tourism golfer ! Why ? Because they’re instantly deemed much too short from the yardage stats in the first instance of course selection. So the appeal factor is diminished from the outset, and so long as technology in golf goes unchecked – then life isn’t going to get any better for the vast majority of courses (worldwide) that are lagging in this mad distance race !
In response to reports of serious concerns over the state of Scottish golf and falling club membership numbers (Nov 2004) I undertook a little research on Scotland’s golf courses. Of 503 registered in the 2003 Golf Guide I found that 155 (31%) were sub 5500 yard layouts ; 113 (22%) 5501 – 6000 yards ; 185 (37%) 6001 – 6500 yards ; and 50 (10%) 6501 yards and over. In direct relation to the question you ask Ran, and if my personal concerns are justified – then that puts over 50% of Scottish courses under the 'at risk' umbrella ? That is, if fashion and trends and unchecked technology has anything to do with it ? I believe it has !
TGC's George White dares to go where few others will: he remembers that Tiger said the Tour schedule is too long, and he's wondering why Tiger is so much playing fall golf.