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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
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    Grounds for Golf: The History and Fundamentals of Golf Course Design
    by Geoff Shackelford
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    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
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    Men in Green
    by Michael Bamberger
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    Unplayable Lies: (The Only Golf Book You'll Ever Need)
    by Dan Jenkins
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    Professional Golf 2015: The Complete Media, Fan and Fantasy Guide
    by Daniel Wexler
  • The Forbidden Game: Golf and the Chinese Dream
    The Forbidden Game: Golf and the Chinese Dream
    by Dan Washburn
  • 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
  • Unplayable Lies: (The Only Golf Book You'll Ever Need)
    Unplayable Lies: (The Only Golf Book You'll Ever Need)
    by Dan Jenkins

    Kindle Edition

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    The Magnificent Masters: Jack Nicklaus, Johnny Miller, Tom Weiskopf, and the 1975 Cliffhanger at Augusta
    by Gil Capps
Classics
  • 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

Don't worry about your caddie. He may be an irritating little wretch, but for eighteen holes he is your caddie. ARNOLD HAULTAIN


    

Wednesday
Jul292015

State Of The Game 59: The 2015 Open And UK Golf

It's just Rod Morri asking Mike Clayton (still in the UK) and myself questions about The Open at St. Andrews, links golf and more. But there's just so much to talk about!

As always you can get it on iTunes or wherever podcasts are distributed.

Or get the MP3 here.

Check out past shows here. Or listen below:

 

Wednesday
Jul292015

Special Olympics World Games Golf In LA!

Ellen Leyva of KABC7 in LA profiles Orange County's Greg Kozlowski, a veteran of Special Olympics golf playing in his hometown(ish) for this week's World Games.

The final two rounds are being played at Griffith Park Wednesday and Thursday, for those of you in SoCal wanting to take in the action. (More info here.)

Kozlowski already has 25 medals from past Special Olympic events, but he really wants to add a World Games gold medal to his collection.

"I do want to do it, but I'm not going to say I'm going to win a medal and then don't win a medal and put myself down. I'm just going to go out there and have fun and keep an open mind," Kozlowski said.

All the Special Olympics World Games sporting events are free and open to the public.

The video:

Tuesday
Jul282015

Going To Scotland? Bite The Bullet And Ship Your Clubs

Matt Ginella and I discussed on Morning Drive the approach to a Scotland golf trip, and while we didn't agree on who to trust with the details (tour operator vs Google), I'm pretty confident he would endorse the idea of shipping your clubs.

While it's an added expense (up to $500 if the journey is an exotic one), my recent experience confirmed that shipping is a must for Americans traveling to the UK. Yes, it's a tough pill to swallow when you are already spending a lot or worse, if you have status with an airline and get baggage fees waived. But shipping via one of the big services will save you stress, physical effort and in some cases, ensure you get to play your first planned round (or all your rounds with your unbroken set).

Consider my recent experience: fly to London's Heathrow airport on my preferred airline (where I have premium status and therefore a "priority" tag on the bag), then have a four-hour layover.

Surely the clubs would make the connecting flight to Edinburgh, right?

Of course not.

While my suitcase made the journey, the clubs somehow needed another hour in Heathrow before making their way onto the next flight. Because of that, I missed out on a late nine at the incredible Musselburgh on this night:


The clubs did eventually arrive in fine shape, though my trusty Sun Mountain travel bag was missing one of its two wheels. However, I was lucky because U.S. Amateur champion Gunn Yang was in line at the same service desk only to learn his clubs never made it out of London.

With the recent run of UK events, we know from players making the trip that no matter how famous you are or how obvious it is that you are a professional golfer, the airlines just aren't great with golf clubs these days. Especially flying internationally.

Just in the last few weeks, I give you Brittany Lincicome, Stacy Lewis and Graham DeLaet, among others. Oh, and then there was what DeLaet's clubs looked like when he opened his travel bag.

For the return journey, Luggage Forward picked up my clubs late at my last lodging locale late on a Thursday. After I had made a leisurely trip to the airport without lugging the clubs, I returned home and by the following Monday afternoon the clubs were here. In between I got email updates on their location. Everything was in perfect order. when they arrived.

I've yet to hear of any negative stories about Luggage Forward or the other name brand shipper, ShipSticks. I believe Luggage Forward uses of all three shipping services (DHL, FedEx, UPS), which comes in handy for pricing and getting things picked up conveniently. ShipSticks formerly did, but I believe now relies primarily on UPS. (Here's a good ShipSticks review from Jason Scott Deegan at GolfAdvisor.com.)

Either way, just ship 'em. You may miss a day or two of last minute practice and you won't be able to play immediately after you arrive home. But these are small prices to pay compared to missing out on a great links course or having to enlist rentals because the Heathrow baggage handlers decided to hurl your clubs around the tarmac...for hours.

Tuesday
Jul282015

Tiger's Close...To Playing His Last Tournament Of 2014-15

It's bizarre to believe, but after this week's Quicken Loans National Tiger Woods may only play the PGA Championship and then be done with his 2014-15 season.

But he says after a few days off and some practice, his game is close. Steve DiMeglio writes for USA Today:


Woods has already played 32 holes since arriving here and put in an additional 2 hours, 20 minutes of work on the range Monday. He’ll play another 18 in Wednesday’s pro-am. He’s hoping to play 72 more starting Thursday.

“It's frustrating not to be able to win golf tournaments. I'm not really there in contention very often and so that part is frustrating. But I know how close it feels and I know that I just need a couple shots here and there and it turns the tide,” Woods said. “People don't really realize how close it has been between a person who is winning and a person missing the cut. It's not as big a gap as people might think. … Obviously I’ve got to clean up my rounds, convert the opportunities that I have and I just haven't done it and hopefully I can do it this week.”


As Brian Wacker notes at PGATour.com, only a win this week gets him in to the WGC event next week at Firestone. There's always the Wyndham...

Woods isn’t yet eligible for next week’s World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational, though a win this week would get him in.

He could play the Barracuda Championship, opposite the event at Firestone, too, but indicated that he wouldn’t.

After that, there’s the PGA Championship followed by the Wyndham Championship (a tournament he has never played) before the FedExCup Playoffs begin.

Tuesday
Jul282015

Billy Hurley Needs Help Finding His Dad

Brian Wacker with the unfortunate story of Billy Hurley asking for the public's assistance in helping to find his father, who hasn't been seen in nine days.

Wacker writes:

Fighting back tears, Hurley, in the field at this week’s Quicken Loans National, said his father drove off in his truck on July 19 with some clothes and cash, and hasn’t been heard from since.

Hurley’s mother filed a missing person’s report Monday in Virginia. The couple lives in nearby Leesburg and has been married more than 30 years. Hurley said his father has no history of mental health issues.

“No one really knows why,” said Hurley, who found out on Monday that his father was missing. “It's complete speculation as to why he left.

“I'm just hoping that there's a story that maybe he goes to PGATOUR.COM to check my tee time or check my score and sees this and understands that dad, we love you and we want you to come home. We have no idea where he is.”

Tuesday
Jul282015

Debuting: PGA Tour's Digital Streaming Subscription Service 

I'm not sure if the “Stop Missing, Start Watching" slogan will resonate, but the PGA Tour's pre-Golf Channel Thursday/Friday digital streaming package (plus marquee groups when Golf Channel is on) arrives this week.

The kneejerk take is to assume that the subscription option will likely only excite friends and family, except perhaps on a few rare days when some sort of must-see round is emerging. On the other hand, as noted with Fox's extensive U.S. Open package and to a lesser extent at the Masters where the selected groups can vary, the "featured group" component may be a better way to watch golf because (A) you see stars and (B) you get into the flow of a grouping, a round and get a better sense of the golf course by following one group.

There is also the intriguing ramification of the PGA Tour putting out an offering of their own which, at least in the featured group setting, will compete with their partner at the Golf Channel. Like other leagues who have started channels and supplemental coverage, it's an intriguing move that could be seen as the first step to an independent network approach (until they do the math and realize how nice it is to have someone else pay for the right to televise the product).

PGATOURLIVE is offering a free seven day sampler and remember, this is in partnership with Major League Baseball, pioneers in the streaming world. They have an incredible customer satisfaction record and are leaders in the world of streaming, so it will function well.

For Immediate Release:

PGA TOUR LIVE Debuts This Week at Quicken Loans National

First-of-its-Kind OTT Subscription Service Provides Exclusive Live Coverage of Featured Morning Groups during the First Two Rounds of Competition

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. (July 28, 2015) – PGA TOUR fans will have access to Thursday and Friday tournament rounds for the first time ever beginning this week (July 30-31 from the Quicken Loans National) with the debut of the PGA TOUR’s first-ever, digital Over-The-Top subscription service. As announced in April, PGA TOUR LIVE, developed in partnership with MLB Advanced Media (MLBAM), will provide fans access to exclusive live coverage of two different marquee morning groups featuring the TOUR’s biggest stars each day during Thursday and Friday tournament rounds that have never been available live.

“PGA TOUR LIVE is a groundbreaking service for golf fans, enabling them to watch live Thursday and Friday early morning action as soon as competition begins,” said Rick Anderson, the PGA TOUR’s Executive Vice President for Global Media. “We’re confident that this exclusive coverage of marquee groups, alongside our Thursday and Friday Golf Channel telecasts, has strong potential to build fan interest and viewership for our traditional television coverage.”

PGA TOUR LIVE begins with seven tournaments through the remainder of the 2014-15 PGA TOUR season and, moving forward, more than 30 PGA TOUR events per season. Initially available through a special seven-day free trial on iPhone, iPad and desktop/laptop platforms (at PGATOURLIVE.COM), fans will now be able to follow the game’s biggest names with full coverage from a dedicated broadcast team leading up to Golf Channel’s afternoon telecasts.

PGA TOUR LIVE debuts Thursday at 7:30 a.m. ET and will provide exclusive shot-by-shot coverage of the following groups on Thursday: 8:10 a.m., THE PLAYERS champion Rickie Fowler paired with Ben Crane and James Hahn, two of the players starring in the PGA TOUR LIVE ad campaign (see links below); 8:21 a.m., former Quicken Loans National champion and The Presidents Cup 2015 International Team vice-captain K.J. Choi from host country South Korea with International Team hopefuls Danny Lee of New Zealand and John Senden of Australia.

Friday’s 8:10 a.m. feature group includes three former Quicken Loans National champions: tournament host Tiger Woods, Bill Haas and Nick Watney. At 8:21 a.m., defending Quicken Loans National champion Justin Rose tees off with Jimmy Walker, No. 3 in the FedExCup points standings with two wins this season, and David Lingmerth of Sweden, who won his first PGA TOUR title last month at the Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide Insurance.

Following the conclusion of the featured groups on Thursday and Friday, PGA TOUR LIVE will shift its live broadcast coverage to the Featured Holes at the Robert Trent Jones Golf Club – a pair of par-3s, the 11th and 16th. Overall, PGA TOUR LIVE will deliver access to more than 11 hours of live coverage to fans each day.

Hosting the coverage throughout the season will be veteran broadcasters John Swantek, Brian Katrek, Grant Boone and Ned Michaels. They will be joined by a team of former PGA TOUR regulars as on-course analysts: Bill Kratzert, Craig Perks, Phil Blackmar, Aaron Oberholser, John Maggines, Mark Carnevale, Phil Tataurangui and Gary Christian.

PGA TOUR LIVE initially will be available in the United States, Canada, Ireland, Australia and the United Kingdom. Other markets will follow.

Coinciding with PGA TOUR LIVE’s launch, a new print and on-air campaign featuring PGA TOUR players is debuting this week with the tagline: “Stop Missing. Start Watching.”

Their preview clip:


Monday
Jul272015

Jordan Spieth vs. Tiger Woods At 22

Stephen Hennessey at GolfDigest.com compares birthday boy Jordan Spieth with Tiger Woods at 22 and the numbers are fascinating (on top of the magazine covers and hair loss chase).

Spieth's five wins trail Woods by one, but Spieth has one more major.

Tiger won six times before he turned 22. (1996 Las Vegas Invitational, 1996 Walt Disney World Classic, 1997 Mercedes Championship, 1997 Masters, 1997 Byron Nelson, 1997 Colonial, 1997 Western Open.)

World ranking: No. 2. Spieth trails Rory McIlroy by one point after the British Open. Same as Tiger, who trailed Greg Norman by less than a point.

Golf.com weaves in Nicklaus and McIlroy for fun and it's shocking how many more PGA Tour starts Spieth has than those two at 22.

ESPN's Mitch Adams wonders if Spieth is the planet's best 22-year-old athlete and you'll see he in some pretty elite company (if you like baseball or basketball).

G.C. Digital posts this slideshow of Spieth "through the years" (all six of them). And Golf Central went through their top five moments in Spieth's career.

Monday
Jul272015

Trump Spotlight Turns To Turnberry

Graham Ruthven of the New York Times reports from Turnberry where the Ricoh Women's British Open arrives this week.

Now managed by Donald Trump, the planned overhaul of the resort and the high-profile nature of its brand icon, whose recent controversial comments may or may not bring extra attention to this week's event.

Trump has pledged around $250 million in investment toward his Turnberry resort, and with gold fixtures, marble floors and shimmering glass now adorning the recently renovated clubhouse, it is easy to see how $10 million of that money has already been spent.

Most locals seem hesitant to comment on Trump’s character, as if torn between wanting to voice their derision and express begrudging gratitude for the investment he has plowed into the region.

“We try to ignore what he says in the media,” one man said. Another golfer — a tourist from Connecticut — quipped, “He’s better at owning golf courses than is he at being a politician.”

Make sure to stay long enough with the story for the correction.

Meanwhile, in the player category, Beth Ann Nichols reports that Michelle Wie was inspired by the men's Open at St Andrews and will be pushing her injured leg to get her around Turnberry.

Monday
Jul272015

Boston's 2024 Olympic Bid Ends Before It Begins

LA 2024 has a nice ring to it!

How about some Olympic golf--if it survives the first two games--at say, Riviera?

The AP's Eddie Pills reports.

Monday
Jul272015

Day's Drives: What Was In The Glen Abbey Air?

The PGA Tour put out a few pretty shocking numbers from Jason Day's RBC Canadian Open win that suggest either (A) the course is now at altitude, or (B) someone's vertigo is all cleared up!

Steve Elling at GolfBlot.com with the roundup of Day's numbers from the week, plus a couple of Tweets from the PGA Tour's Mike McAllister.

And there was this from the Shotlink gurus:

Sunday
Jul262015

Video: Jason Day Doesn't Leave This One Short

As noted here a few days ago, there wasn't as much to be ashamed of in the putt left short at St. Andrews by Jason Day. Still, that missed opportunity to put himself in The Open playoff ultimately won by Zach Johnson was certainly on his mind at the RBC Canadian Open, where Day just won his fourth PGA Tour event and second of 2015.

Mark Hayes with the report for Golf Australia.

“The first thing I said was I’ve got to get to the hole this time, that’s what I said in my head.

"There's no better feeling than coming down to the wire and contending with these guys. It was just back and forth all day, and I'm so glad that I got that putt in.

"To be able to do that it just gives me a lot more confidence going in to the rest of the season."
Day, who had been in contention for the past two majors, the US Open and The Open at St Andrews, fired a final round four-under-par 68 to finish 17 under the card to beat American Bubba Watson by a shot.

A further stroke back was hometown hope David Hearn who was aiming to become the first Canadian winner in 61 years.

The highlights of what turned out to be a compelling final round at Glen Abbey.

Sunday
Jul262015

Is Golf A "Small Part" Of The Donald Trump Empire?

John Barton's November 2014 Golf Digest interview with Donald Trump is worth another look now that the mogul is leading Republican polls in the bid for the presidential nomination.

In it, Trump says golf is a small part of his net worth.

Well, it's an interesting question. It's a relatively small part of it. You know, I own buildings. I'm a builder; I know how to build. Nobody can build like I can build. Nobody. And the builders in New York will tell you that. I build the best product. And my name helps a lot.

Yet CNBC's Tim Mullaney breaks down Trump's financial disclosure forms and feels that golf was declared as an unduly large portion of the candidate's net worth.

The Donald's financial-disclosure paperwork, released Wednesday by federal election officials, claim that Trump's 16 golf-related businesses are worth $550 million to more than $675 million. That's a big chunk of his net worth, which the filing said was at least $1.15 billion and which Trump himself says is about $10 billion.

Experts say there could be good reason to disqualify the Republican presidential hopeful's scorecard math when it comes to the way he values his golf courses, based on standard valuation measures in the golf sector.

The financial disclosure form values many of Trump's courses at two to four times the multiples of annual revenue other courses command, in an industry where most operators struggle to make profits, according to golf course appraisers. An industry rule of thumb is that courses are worth 1 to 1.5 times their annual revenue.

Trump reported combined revenue of less than $160 million, excluding the Miami resort, which doesn't break out golf-related revenue, and land sales at the Los Angeles property. Based on the industry standard valuation metric, that would put the value of Trump's golf empire closer to $160 million to $250 million.

Sunday
Jul262015

Allenby's Caddy: "I think he fell over and someone picked up his wallet and had a great time with his credit card."

The Age's Megan Levy reports on veteran looper Mick Middlemo's radio interview where he confessed to telling the story Robert Allenby wanted told, not the one the now-fired caddy believes was the truth back in January.

That's when his boss said he'd been drugged, kidnapped, beaten and many other things. Now Middlemo, having been fired mid-round, says what he really thinks about this former boss.

Middlemo now says he believes Allenby simply fell over and injured his face after drinking too much wine and tequila and not eating enough food.

"Do I think he got mugged and bashed and absolutely robbed? No I don't. That's the story I told because that's the story he told me to tell because I wasn't there," Middlemo told News Corp Australia.

"Do I think he just fell over and cracked his head? Honestly I do … I think he fell over and someone picked up his wallet and had a great time with his credit card."

As for the firing incident in Canada that allowed Middlemo to free up his thoughts, Al Tays has this from another caddie in the group backing Middlemo's story. Not that anyone was doubting him at this point in light of his bosses' street cred.

Sunday
Jul262015

Why Can't We At Least Have An Old Course Ball?

The concept of a rollback in distance is understandably awkward for a culture as self-involved as ours. One where folks naturally recoil at the thought of losing a few yards from their drives and pay for the privilege in so many unsustainable ways.

But let's allow the narcissism to run rampant for a moment and just agree that the world economy would collapse if the current USGA and R&A Overall Distance Standard was tightened a wee bit.

Instead, how about we agree that as in professional tennis, where enough integrity was unearthed to agree that a slightly slower ball would make Wimbledon better, we could do the same in golf at our Wimbledon: the Old Course.

From John Huggan's post-Open-at-the-Old-Course assessment:

Everything the R&A did to prepare the Old Course for this Open was designed to make the ancient links more difficult. Not more interesting. Not more fun. Just more difficult.

Appallingly and inappropriately, the Old Course surely has more long grass growing within its boundaries than at any time in its long history. With varying degrees of offensiveness, many bunkers are surrounded by rough. Plus, almost all of those wonderful hazards now appear man-made. So perfectly round are they, their faces close to vertical, they resemble doughnuts more than bunkers.

His point: all of the hole-tucking, green speed-pushing ways were employed not to test skill, but to work around modern distance that dates the Old Course. The same distance we are told has been capped. Though tell that to Jason Day and Bubba Watson, who had under 75-yard shots into a 456-yard par-4 Sunday in Canada.

I think we can all agree visiting the Old Course for the Open is a special affair and that it would be fun to actually see the it play somewhat more like it did 20-40 years ago when a long iron had to be used on par-4s.

So I ask: what would be so awful about an Old Course ball emerging every five or six years? The manufacturers could package it in a fun way, sell it to us suckers and advertise how they did their part to make The Open better?

What would be so terrible about this? Please, enlighten me...

Sunday
Jul262015

The Biggest Victim Of The 2016 Schedule Mess?

Reading and considering the information presented in Jim McCabe's exclusive on how the 2016 schedule mess will shake out a year from now when the Olympics are added to the calendar, it looks like the world's best will have to skip a key event.

While McCabe notes the politics involved for the John Deere Classic and Travelers Championship--two events with strong sponsors and long term agreements--it sure looks to me like the WGC Bridgestone is ripe for a mass defection from elite players and those with heavily stamped passports.

The 2016 breakdown from McCabe at Golfweek.com:

Thus will the summer of 2016 flow this way with the PGA Tour schedule:
    •    June 2-5: The Memorial
    •    June 9-12: FedEx St. Jude Classic
    •    June 16-19: U.S. Open (Oakmont)
    •    June 23-26: Quicken Loans National
    •    June 30-July 3: WGC Bridgestone Invitational
    •    July 7-10: Greenbrier Classic
    •    July 14-17: British Open (Royal Troon)
    •    July 21-24: RBC Canadian Open
    •    July 28-31: PGA Championship (Baltusrol)
    •    Aug. 4-7: Travelers Championship
    •    Aug. 11-14: Olympic Golf
    •    Aug. 11-14: John Deere Classic
    •    Aug. 18-21: Wyndham Championship

McCabe argues that the Travelers and Deere, who have settled well into their potentially cumbersome dates, would suffer in this scenario. But I think it's harder to imagine anyone in the world of golf wanting to go to Akron ten days after the U.S. Open and 11 days before The Open, even though the event's primary perk is easy cash and easier world ranking points.

This issue will be avoided in 2020 (to an extent) when the PGA Championship is not played in its traditional date. Though all of this would be moot if the playoffs weren't in a hurry to be played before football season.

Sunday
Jul262015

Lose The U.S. Junior In Historic Fashion, Still Get Holly For Prom

Andrew Orishak lost a 5-up lead to lose the U.S. Junior Amateur on the 37th hole. While there's nothing to be ashamed when you reach such a prestigious final, the lad has been understandably frustrated.

But as Andy Zunz at Golfweek notes, via Twitter he has still secured one Holly Sonders as his prom date despite having needed to win to lure the Fox Sports personality.

 Orischak and Sonders made a bet earlier in the week that if the class-of-2017 Virginia commit won the U.S. Junior, she would accompany him to his Hilton Head Island High School prom. He came up just short of the win, but Sonders had some news on Twitter later Saturday night...

You can see the full exchange here.

Thursday
Jul232015

Considering The 2015 Open After Playing The Old Course

Of course I’m rubbing it in by mentioning the great privilege of playing St Andrews the day after The Open. But move past the envy stage! Because there is still plenty to consider from the 2015 Open Championship.

The once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to play after such a fascinating Open also meant getting to play the final round hole locations in far more pleasant conditions than the leaders faced. (Though we did get an opposite wind direction: into the breeze going out, downwind coming in.) The greens were not cut, but there was no shortage of speed.

More on that and some other random observations…

-The hole locations.
I can only recall two pin placements that seemed genuinely accessible. The 9th was so center cut that it was almost deceptive due to the lack of definition. The 5th hole was cut 85 yards deep. I faced a third shot yardage of 73 yards to the front.  Now there’s something you don’t experience everyday. The rest of the holes were tucked, hidden or stuck in places the caddies had rarely seen. I heard the same observation from locals who were pleased to see some new locations used, but who also groused about the inability to come up with a few more creative uses of these amazing greens.

- Were these tucked pins offering risk-reward possibilities?
Not really. The third and seventh holes featured locations that a ball could be funneled to by a player who could recall how to use the contours, but the rest seemed designed to prevent scoring. Which only makes the final round 66’s from Zach Johnson and Marc Leishman that much more extraordinary. They performed in some of the worst weather and managed to take advantage of the limited opportunities.

- The putting were shockingly good. Consider this: no mowing, a full tee sheet from 6:50 am on and play to hole locations that were used the day prior. Our group, that included Australian journalist Ben Everill and Golf World editor Jaime Diaz, teed off at 3:40 (and behind Americans…you know who you are!). Yet I felt like anything inside six feet was going in if you started the ball on the proper line. The greenkeeper and his crew really do work wonders there. But clearly there is also something very special in the St Andrews turf that allows it to withstand the abuse it gets. 


- Jason Day’s 18th hole birdie putt could very easily be left short. On our list of key putts to try was Jason Day’s final effort that would have gotten him into a playoff. Day left it short and many were shocked how well he took it or that a player could leave that putt short. We tried it and sure enough the cup was on a spot where the ball slowed dramatically near the hole. Whether this was an intentional choice or mere coincidence, we won’t know. But we all agreed to appreciate Day’s point of view.

- Jordan Spieth’s first of four putts on No. 8 was, to be fair, pretty terrible. I was pin high of the back left hole and because of the contours, had a nearly impossible two-putt from about 75 feet. I pulled it off but had to make about a 20 footer. Jordan Spieth’s path to the hole had very little contour in the way. It was just long and you couldn’t leave it above the hole (the green rises up and then falls down to the collar area). It was just a very, very bad attempt that could only happen on greens that large and with an immense amount of pressure.

- Jordan Spieth’s par putt on 17 was very good. Many pointed out that his putt for four at the Road hole missed and forced the need for an 18th hole birdie was actually quite difficult from our late evening sampling. It took quite the dive at the hole if you didn’t hit it firm.

- The Road hole plays better and just as tough with light rough. Naturally. Without the pitch-out rough to the left of the 17th fairway like we saw in 2010, the Road played as hard as ever. Many players curiously took an Auber-conservative route to the hole by playing into No. 2.  Yes a new back tee was required, but I can assure you the difficulty is maintained by the difficulty of the green and not the bizarro work down to the area around the Road bunker. Let’s hope they remedy that and then leave the hole alone.

- The course remains a marvel in so many ways. From the way it handles all of the traffic to the magical contours, to way the greens are mere extensions of the fairway, the endearing qualities written about for so many years remain as ever-present today as they did 150 years ago. And while some don’t care for the commercial quality to the place with so much tourist play, the Old Course at St. Andrews is the world’s most important course and the Links Trust ably balances the needs of the local clubs, the town and the university player with the desire of golfers worldwide to experience this historic place.

Thursday
Jul232015

He's Back! Allenby Bickers With Caddy, Needs Police Escort

Score Golf's Jason Logan with the latest twist in the wild, wacky and weird world of Robert Allenby, who bickered with caddie Mick Middlemo over club selection. The resulting brouhaha ended with Middlemo getting fired (but finishing the front nine!), then walking off and according to Allenby--I repeat, according to Allenby--suggested he'd be waiting for the Australian golfer in the parking lot.

And this is mostly in Robert's words. Enjoy. Including this:

“This is the worst incident I’ve ever witnessed as a player,” the veteran continued. “I’ve never been threatened and as he walked away he said, ‘I’ll be waiting for you in the car park.’

“He’s an Australian and he didn’t act like an Australian, let’s put it that way.”

Allenby said he would be asking tournament officials for a security escort out of the golf course.

Thursday
Jul232015

Video: Sunningdale Has Gone To The Dogs

No leashes (except around the clubhouse), sausages during the round and no lost balls (for some). What's not to love?

Here's a superb ESPN feature tied to today's coverage of the Senior Open Championship at Sunningdale Old.

And here's Ran Morrissett's very recent review of this classic venue.



Wednesday
Jul222015

The Open Championship Finishing On Monday: "There were a lot more families in the crowd than any of the other days."

Before we leave St. Andrews behind, I'm going to milk every drop out of this remarkable place both here and with my sticks!

Which also means while I'm out and about collecting a few more thoughts and insights from locals, let's try not to dwell too much on the negative. Except that we just had a 10-hour major championship delay, Monday finish and the third such play suspension in a row at an Old Course major. This is not acceptable.

With rumblings around town that the greenkeepers were overruled on a roll-instead-of-mow strategy for the putting surfaces prior to the forecasted winds, the R&A may be directly to blame for not having kept control of the links, making their 60% refund to fans paying 80 pounds a questionable (and unwieldy) solution.

From Martin Dempster's excellent assessment of the week.

High winds, of course, then became the next problem on Saturday but, alas, the R&A initially got it wrong with their attempt to tackle those conditions. Starting play on time was a gamble that should not have been taken and, in fairness, chief executive Peter Dawson did admit that in hindsight. In the final throes of his tenure – Martin Slumbers, who shadowed Dawson at the event, takes over the reins later in the year – a ten-and-a-half-hour suspension of play certainly wouldn’t have been on the wish list for the week. Nor would a decision about refunds and it is safe to say that Dawson may well have some heavy mail bags landing on his desk before heading off into the sunset because 60 per cent on a ticket costing £80 seems like short-changing spectators when they saw less than four hours of golf.

There was a silver lining. Many around town are noting that they either witnessed or heard about an unparalleled day here for golf viewing Monday. Alcohol was virtually non-existent on site and there was an air of youthful excitement thanks to the prices. Dempster writes:

In truth, the decision to extend the event into the Monday for only the second time in its history became the only one available to the R&A and, in a roundabout way, it may have actually helped attract some newcomers to the game.

Taking advantage of a day ticket at £10, many in an attendance of 35,370 may not have been at the event otherwise and, moreover, there were a lot more families in the crowd than any of the other days.

It was also pointed out to me that the corporate world had exited the stage, leaving the day almost solely to golf fans. Combine that with the civility and exuberance in the air, and it's something to note for all the grow the game crowd the next time they sit down to prioritize and set ticket prices, especially in this part of the world.

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