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The caddie in golf occupies a position accorded to the attendants in no other game and paralleled only by the relationship of squire to knight in the lists.
ROBERT BROWNING


    

Wednesday
Mar262014

Royal & Ancient To Its Members: Time To Take Females

The Daily Mail's Gavin Madeley quotes a letter from General Committee chairman Wilson Sibbet asking Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews members to consider inviting female members.

Madeley quotes:

He writes that ‘now is the time to ask members of the Royal and Ancient Golf Club to welcome female members into the club.’

The letter continues: ‘It is of course for members to decide if they wish to alter the rules of the club to give effect to this change of policy.

The General Committee sincerely hopes that this rules change will be enthusiastically supported.’

Tuesday
Mar252014

Jay Monahan Profile: "Restoring Faith" In The PGA Tour?

Jim McCabe files an informative profile in this week's Golfweek on new PGA Tour Deputy Commissioner Jay Monahan.

The 43-year-old was named deputy last week and appears on track to replace Commissioner Tim Finchem in late 2016 or 2017.

He can cite impressive numbers – that PGA Tour players in 1995, Finchem’s first full year on the job, competed for $62.9 million and this year have $298 million up for grabs – to support his claim, but Monahan is adamant. To him, what the promotion means is, “I’ll work even more closely with and learn even more from the greatest commissioner in sports.”

Down boy, down!

Jay has plenty of well-deserved fans, especially because he's a golfer.

“But the thing is, Jay loved golf. He grew up with the game. His family ties to the game are enormous,” said Faxon, who wasn’t surprised when Monahan in 2008 took the job as director of The Players Championship.

“Jay is a golfer – and that was something that had been missing (high up) in our organization for a long time.”

And there was this from mentors Seth Waugh, Paul Spengler and an unidentified tournament official:

“Jay has opinions,” Waugh said, “but he doesn’t say yes blindly. He’ll say yes to something, then figure out how to make it work.”

Added Spengler: “It’s been a great rise to success, but it’s well-deserved. He’s honest and trustworthy.”

They are qualities that could serve the PGA Tour well because as profitable as business has been, it hasn’t been satisfying for everyone. Said one PGA Tour tournament official who has worked with Monahan and endorses him: “I could give you a list of tournaments that have been treated poorly or been abandoned by some in the PGA Tour. Jay does what he says he’s going to do every time. He will restore some of the faith in the Tour that has been lost.”

Tuesday
Mar252014

Masters Mood Guide: Music Edition

I say Masters, you hear Dave Loggins' piano playing on a Thursday afternoon for the first time in a year.

Okay, some of us are more warped mentally than others, so to kick off a series of Local Knowledge posts leading up to the Masters, I offer this simple music guide to all things Masters music.

Yes, if you call me right now the ringtone is set to the Loggins theme and my text sound is the Verne Lundquist "Yes Sir," but I promise that's as far as I've taken. Oh right, the phone case is a Masters case too.

Anyway, my suggestions on a playlist to get you in a musically Masters mood ranges from Augusta natives James Brown and Lady Antebellum to 50s jazz to Willie Nelson to golf crooner Billy Mac.

And you might find it odd, but I recommend most stay away from the Loggins theme to ensure goosebumps on Thursday April 10th when ESPN's coverage commences.

Tuesday
Mar252014

Brandel: "Tiger may have been born to play golf, but it seems he was also born to build and destroy."

Brandel Chamblee is back and not handing out any letter grades, but instead focusing on Tiger's desire to rebuild his swing for an Athlon Sports piece.

Chamblee says history will look upon Woods swing "by the year or vintage, the way one talks about great wines."

Because the Tiger Woods of 1997 was vastly different in form from the Tiger Woods of 2000, and different yet again in 2007, and different still today in 2014. Among his mind-blowing accomplishments, ascending to the number one spot in the world and dominating the world of professional golf with four completely different swings might be the most “in your face" feat ever achieved in sport.

Tiger may have been born to play golf, but it seems he was also born to build and destroy.

Michael Jordan worked harder than his peers to improve his form, but the mechanics he used to score over 3,000 points in the 1986-87 season looked essentially identical to those he used to hit a jumper with 5.2 seconds left to clinch the NBA Championship for the Bulls against the Utah Jazz in Game 6 of the 1998 Finals. Gordie Howe played professional hockey in five different decades, and in his 2,421st game, his style was just as recognizable as it was in his rookie season of 1946. Imagine if either of these athletes, after being colossally successful early in their careers, had completely changed the way they played their respective sports — not once, but four times, and after each change became the best again. It would just never happen, not once, let alone four times.

Tuesday
Mar252014

NBC Makes ESPN Ryder Cup Rights Trade Official

The player to be named later turned out to be Michelle Beadle, and the one question has been answered: Golf Channel will televise all of Ryder Cup Friday from Gleneagles, as well as every Friday through 2030. While the tireless Golf Channel Digital reports it today, you read about it previously in December and in January regarding Beadle.

It appears by the announced schedule that they'll be mostly live Friday and Saturday, but will Sunday's singles be tape delayed? It appears Sunday will be live, too.

Here is the 2014 Ryder Cup air times schedule (all times ET):

Day One (Sept. 26): 2:30 a.m.-1 p.m. on Golf Channel
Day Two (Sept. 27): 3 a.m.-1 p.m. on NBC
Day Three (Sept. 28): 7 a.m.-1 p.m. on NBC

The move leaves ESPN with just early round coverage of The Masters, The Open Championship and rounds 1 and 2 of the 2014 U.S. Open.

Monday
Mar242014

Video: John Feinstein On Frank Hannigan

A wonderful essay on the late Frank Hannigan from John Feinstein.

This aired on the March 24th edition of Golf Channel's Golf Central
.**

**This should be it this time.

Monday
Mar242014

Video: Peyton Uses OWGR For Snap Counts

Peyton Manning's sainthood status was sealed by sitting down for several minutes with Rymer to do a one-on-one about the QB's love of golf.

The Broncos quarterback talked about a nice range of topics, including how he shapes his snap counts around the world ranking. Tip o' the cap to Shane Bacon for the heads up on this about snap counts at the six minute mark, where Peyton explains how he uses world ranking numbers and how Tiger feels about that.

Phil Mickelson will not like this, but he is a proud Charger fan.

Manning then mentioned that when McIlroy took over as the No .1 golfer in the world, he joked with Tiger about how he has to use Rory's name as one and Tiger's as two these days, with Woods simply responding, "'I'm going to get that fixed.'"

Monday
Mar242014

California Drought Casualty: Diablo Grande Golf Course

For years we've heard from the USGA and GCSAA that water issues would come up in golf and Garth Stapley reports that the Jack Nicklaus/Gene Sarazen-designed Diablo Grande's Legends course will close due to the drought.

The Modesto course has a community of 437 homes and the homeowners urged that the Ranch course, nearer properties, stay open. They were notified of the closure last Friday.

Diablo Grande on Friday notified neighbors that watering has stopped at the Legends course, although some tournaments and booked rounds will continue for a few weeks. Some were not surprised at the bad news about the Legends course.

“We all need to suck it up,” said Bill Lindley. “I’d much rather they cut off water to a golf course and give it to a farmer.”

The 18-hole Legends course was designed by golf luminaries Jack Nicklaus and Gene Sarazen. It opened in 1998 and has been one of the big draws for the community in dramatic hills west of Patterson, earning high praise from Golf Digest and discriminating golfers.

“Each course has great qualities,” said Philip Cybert, chief executive officer of Laurus Corp., which owns the project. “The Ranch course is the gateway. The first thing you see is the Ranch course,” and neighbors urged Laurus to keep it open, he said.

Monday
Mar242014

UDMDO: Every's Caddie Was Using A Compass

I've talked to NORAD and consulted the place to go these days for rules clarifications and it seems the Unidentified Distance Measuring Device Object many saw in the hands of Matt Every's caddie Derek Mason (thanks reader Brian) was in fact, a compass. Zzzzzzz.

Missy Jones confirmed this with Every and explains why a compass is legal under the Rules of Golf. More intriguing is Matt Every's apparent issue with the concept of laying up, which should prove fun if he makes it on the leaderboard at the Masters with its do-or-die par-5s.

The caddy, who will go by that until I found our the lad's name, was caught dropping some salty language by NBC's crack sound team, but alas, the PGA Tour scrubberers will make sure to deprive of us of the moments when he was urging his man to lay-up, reports Emily Kay.

Here is a clip, so get on it scrubberers!



Stephanie Wei explains that there is a reason for the tension (not sure about the compass).

Every's propensity to not lay up, ever, was called out by Stat man Mark Horton prior to this week:

stats guru Mark Horton
stats guru Mark Horton

“He goes, let me tell you something, ‘If I was a betting man, every time you get in contention I would bet against you,’” recalled Every.  ”And I was like, what?  It kind of took me by surprise a little bit.

“Then he gave me a couple of tips and it was kind of nice to hear something like that, because a lot of people out here just pump your tires.  And depending on who it’s coming from, it doesn’t even mean anything.

“But when he said that it kind of  it hit me pretty good.  And I was like, part of me was, like, screw him, I’ll show him.  And part of me was like, he’s right, you know?  One of the reasons he said was I am way too aggressive on Sundays.  That was the main thing."

Monday
Mar242014

"It seems the elitist game has drifted even further into skull and bones territory."

Rex Hoggard with a strong argument against the new Hall of Fame structure, pointing out that baseball's hall handled 571 voters last year even as golf said 300 votes was said to be too much to handle.

Interestingly Hoggard sees the new approach as less democratic. My first read through had me feeling good that a Tim Finchem couldn't ramrod through another questionable Lifetime Achievement type, but Hoggard's take now has me wondering if the old voting structure was better.

Golf writers made up a large portion of the voting body along with members of the Hall of Fame and various golf administrators. Now only three writers will be included in the new 16-member selection committee.

This process – again, the most democratic element in a largely authoritarian sport – has been supplanted by commissions and sub-committees, which is suit and tie speak for cloak and dagger stuff.

Monday
Mar242014

Quickie: Tiger's DC Event Staying In Nation's Capital

As revealed a few weeks ago, Quicken Loans will replace AT&T and has signed on to sponsor the July 4 weekend event. More interesting is the plan to play there every other year (2016, 2018, 2020) and instead of possibly going to Philadelphia, Tiger has pledged to keep it in the D.C. area, reports Ryan Lavner.

Woods also addressed his ailing back in the press conference, calling it "too soon" to know about the Masters. Read into that as you see fit.

Here's GolfChannel.com video of Tiger talking about his back, and here talking about the tournament.

Sunday
Mar232014

OverHalled: Monty Inspires WGHOF Criteria Makeover!

Left unsaid in all of the stories I skimmed about the new World Golf Hall of Fame setup announced Sunday at Bay Hill: this may ultimately be Monty's greatest contribution to the game. For while the bloated one and his questionable 2013 induction didn't come up, it does not seem much of a reach to conclude that his inclusion (and Fred Couples' to a lesser extent) prompted Sunday's announcement.

The new look WGHOF hat led to a more streamlined set of categories, taking away the power of a certain crony-lover ushering in someone unworthy of induction, but there's also some potential for two huge committee's to make a mess of the whole affair. The only thing missing from Sunday's announcement was the appointment of the ubiquitous Condi Rice to the committee.

Ron Sirak with the details which sadly did not address arguably the hall's biggest credibility killer, certainly as much an issue as Monty's induction.

Remaining the same from the previous selection process is the minimum age of 40 for induction or, for retired players, the need to be five years removed from active competition. That means Tiger Woods and Lorena Ochoa will be eligible for the 2017 class.

Ryan Lavner focuses on who will be involved in the decision-making process. The media will be severely under-represented compared to other Halls.

Instead of an open vote, the media now will be represented by Derek Lawrenson, president of the Association of Golf Writers, Ron Sirak, president of the Golf Writers Association of America, and at-large member John Hopkins.

“It wasn’t done because there was something really broken with the other system,” PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem said. “The Hall of Famers are must more directly involved in the process, and we think that will translate to more interest in the results of the process as we forward. We liked the old system. But we like this one better.”

Exactly. There was nothing wrong with the other system that didn't need a little of this.

Randall Mell considers the biggest change to the once vaunted, widely revered LPGA criteria to match that of the men. It's still not easy to get in the Hall if you are an LPGA great. And the new system will usher in some automatic berths right off the bat.

Laura Davies, two points short of qualifying for the LPGA Hall of Fame, will become immediately eligible for the World Golf Hall of Fame’s next induction class in 2015.

Dottie Pepper and Meg Mallon, both of whom fell short of the points required for LPGA induction, also will become immediately eligible for the World Golf Hall of Fame.

Sunday
Mar232014

David Eger On Frank Hannigan

I'm going to randomly post remembrances and some old Frank correspondences going forward.

Some of the luminaries who have posted here and here have told some great stories.

And there's this from former USGA Director of Rules and Competitions, David Eger:

When I started work for the USGA in 1992, Frank's too infrequent visits to Golf House always included his faithful black lab, Sparky & an invigorating conversation in my office (which was P. J. Boatwright's during Frank's tenure). He persuaded me to bring a putter and golf balls from home so he could practice putt while we solved golf's problems.

My first round of golf with Frank was where we both belonged--Somerset Hills. I complained that some of the tees were in poor condition. His response was that because I could tee up my ball and had a perfect lie, there was no reason to bitch.

When Frank was working for ABC Sports, I stopped in the broadcast booth early one Sunday morning. He was always interested in the European Tour and told me that Padraig Harrington had just won that week's event. I then reminded him that I'd beaten Padraig in the second day singles at the '91 Walker Cup Match at Portmarnock. Frank's response--"He's a much better player now!"

I spoke with Frank just after he returned home from surgery about a month ago. His wife was screening his calls. I remember thinking, after we ended our 35 minute conversation, he valued our friendship of 31 years by insisting with her, to speak with me. My real purpose was to ask a favor. Of course, we touched on all the trigger points of golf. Even in his frail health, he was happy to help.

I really think P. J. Boatwright appreciated Frank being his boss. Frank's presence allowed him to do not only what he loved but, what he did best--the Rules & running the competition inside the ropes. My sense was that Frank understood how to manage & support his staff.

In '72, when a contestant complained about parking at Pebble Beach, Frank's response to him was that he was worried more about his newly planted tomato plants back in New Jersey than where players could park.

Sunday
Mar232014

Video: Jack Fleck Remembers His U.S. Open Win

The USGA's YouTube account posted a couple of really nice videos of Jack Fleck talking about Olympic Club and beating Ben Hogan in 1955. Some of the footage is stellar and also serves as a reminder of what a neat thing it was that Fleck reemerged and got his due in recent years.

The first:



The second features former U.S. Women's Amateur champ Kay Cockerill taking Fleck out to the 18th green during the 2012 U.S. Open to recall his winning putt and to try it one more time.

Sunday
Mar232014

Video: David Fay On Frank Hannigan: "Golf's Mencken"

Great stuff from former USGA Executive Director David Fay talking about Frank Hannigan on Morning Drive.

Sunday
Mar232014

Forgotten Genius: Frank Hannigan On A.W. Tillinghast

Frank Hannigan's 1974 Golf Journal essay on A.W. Tillinghast may be as vital as anything written on golf architecture.

So few knew anything about the master architect at the time, or that there was an entire generation of fascinating figures who created timeless works of design. The story was enormously important in motivating others to dig deeper into the lives of all the master architects (as evidenced by comments from Ron Whitten and Michael Bamberger here.)

It's in PDF form, but I was thrilled to see the entire story is online courtesy of the Tillinghast Association.

Saturday
Mar222014

Remembering Frank Hannigan

I owe Frank Hannigan just about every ounce of credibility I have. If it weren’t for his “Letters,” which started back in 2006, I’m not sure what would have become of this website. That someone of his stature—a former USGA Executive Director known to millions of golfers thanks to his years as part of the ABC announce team at their peak—would sit down to write a letter for publication on a blog? More than anything, it was Frank who convinced many of you that this was a site worth visiting.

While his health prevented him from writing much (he hadn't written a letter since the USGA’s television deal with Fox Sports was announced), Frank posted a comment just last week before he went in for a surgery that had been scheduled in January, but postponed.

Frank in 2013. Photo courtesy of Darren CarrollOn the list of Frank’s accomplishments and contributions to the game, his letters here will fall very low on the list.  Though I know he enjoyed having this blog as an outlet for writings that would not be of much interest to golf publications that had lost interest in the issues of interest to a man of Hannigan’s depth. In his six or so years as USGA Executive Director, it’ll be noted in obituaries that he got the USGA back to Shinnecock Hills for the U.S. Open.  What won’t be noted, because it’s not as sexy? The fine place he left the USGA after handing over the reigns to David Fay who he admired dearly, fell out with over differences related to the 1994 U.S. Open along with Frank's criticism of the USGA, and who he (thankfully) reconciled with before his passing.

Frank was enormously proud of the decisions made during his tenure and was enormously disappointed, but not entirely surprised, that the USGA had gradually changed over time into a corporate outfit. One that, as Frank wrote many times, lost the battle against distance and lost its way. Yet in the many private emails he wrote, the stories of managing often-difficult committee members helped me understand that the job of Executive Director was as much a job of massive ego management as it was about overseeing the USGA's mission in golf. At the task of keeping the USGA on point, Hannigan succeeded wildly.

He could be so difficult. His letters had to run as he submitted, of course, after the typos were cleaned up and the 1’s fixed because he still typed lower case l’s as 1’s (some sort of old typewriter habit he said).

The man was a brilliant writer. A master storyteller with a great recollection of details and a cadence that had you hearing his distinctive voice as you read his words. In the coming days I’ll share snippets of his many emails to me sharing memories of his USGA and ABC days.

As blunt as he could be, Frank was also a total mensch when it came to his wife, kids and grandkids. He was incredibly proud of daughter-in-law Sondra’s and son Keith's accomplishments in the legal world, and even had consulted her over a situation of mine that I tried to convince Frank was not worthy of his energy. He would have none of it, as the repugnant behavior of an individual had him convinced he could help me and that it required immediate attention.

As recently as March 14th he had sent me an email letting me know how clueless I was (he was mystified by my admiration for Jim Murray and Arnold Palmer). I never took these personally, as I knew he was just trying to keep me honest. Based on conversations with many others, it was just Frank’s way to be the administrator of tough love.

Already, I miss him terribly. Golf will miss him. Life will miss him. The world is a much less interesting place today without Frank Hannigan to set it straight.

Saturday
Mar222014

R.I.P. Frank Hannigan

It's with a heavy heart that I have to report the passing of Frank Hannigan. I'll be collecting some thoughts on this great man and occasional contributor to this site.

Saturday
Mar222014

New Golf Graphic...What Do You Think?

If you flipped over to the Arnold Palmer Invitational from the NCAA Tournament...errr, the other way around. Anyway. I'm not sure yet about the new numbers added to NBC/Golf Channel graphics to tell you which shot a player is playing.

I get the concept, like the concept, but I'm not sure viewers can handle more numbers in a small area when the "For Birdie" is what most want to know.

Here are the screen grabs of them in advance of the week. When Tiger was going to play.

Friday
Mar212014

Na Slow, Na Heckled

Interestingly, no one in the Arnold Palmer Invitational crowd was ejected for heckling Kevin Na over slow play but according to his playing partner Scott Stallings, the comments were too awful to repeat. Na took the high road after the round but did tell Golf Central that he loves the API.

Will Gray reports on the incidents, which peaked at the 10th hole when the PGA Tour's Mark Russell was called in:

“It was all day, both days. He handled it great, but he just got fired up,” Stallings said, adding that the comments directed at Na included “stuff that doesn’t need to be repeated.”

“He’s trying his absolute best,” he said. “It’s unfortunate … He had every right to be frustrated.”

Moore offered some specifics about a situation that he said occurred Friday on the No. 13, the group’s fourth hole of the day.

“There was an instance earlier in the day where someone was yelling something way up from the green while he was standing over his (approach) shot,” Moore said. “I mean, you don’t want that. You don’t want that to happen to anybody. That’s just disrespectful.”

I'm wondering if he was playing at a normal pace would there have been time to get in a heckle?

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