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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



"Children take No. 1 spot at Shriners Open"

That's the Las Vegas Review-Journal headline and there is no debating the incredible work of the Shriners. And since Justin Timberlake has departed as tournament host, the children who benefit have taken on even more of the focus.

But the focus of exactly how many is a concern for the long term health of an event that struggled for attention during the Timberlake years, and now seems even more behind events surging in buzz and charitable contributions.

Ed Graney says the event is stronger for shedding its ties to Justin Timberlake, but judging by the ratings, the Tour-buzz and galleries, the Las Vegas stop may be the least cool, least showy, least captivating event on the PGA Tour each year. That's okay, but it just seems so strange for the PGA Tour to have a Vegas stop that feels so dated.

The message got somewhat lost when pop/movie star Justin Timberlake acted as the tournament's official host from 2008 to 2012. Timberlake was a columnist's dream in that he was never on time for scheduled events and arrived with an overly pushy and deranged entourage (is there another kind?), and the fact when cameras were turned off, he disappeared quicker than Tiger Woods when it comes time to leave a tip.

Timberlake's name and star power never drew the level of players tournament officials had hoped, and he reportedly never became as personally involved with the hospitals or their patients as those from the Shriners desired.

It just wasn't a good fit.

It's better now, more centralized to the overall mission, a tournament hosted by the corporation that provides all that incredible medical attention for free.

And for those who watched, this message was received. But without star power and buzz, the question remains, who many are watching?


Smylie Won With A $37 But Totally Cool Retro Driver John Holmes on Shriners Hospitals For Children Open winner Smylie Kaufman driving his way (327.7 yard average) to PGA Tour victory No. 1 while using a 2012 driver that will get about $37 at retail.

Even better, it's an homage to persimmon, a form of club a 23-year-old like Kaufman almost assuredly has never hit.

From Holmes' report:

Kaufman games a Cleveland Classic 290 driver, which gets its name from its weight – 290 grams. The club boasts one of the most distinctive looks in all of golf, with a pear-shaped head and a sole design and color scheme that give it the look of an old persimmon driver. Its large, deep clubface makes it easy to generate solid contact, while the variable thickness of its face helps improve off-center strikes. It is also Cleveland's first adjustable driver, with 12 different settings.

The Cleveland Classic 290 driver made its debut at retail in the spring of 2012 with a suggested retail price of $299.99. It currently has an estimated trade-in value of $16.64 and an estimated resale value of $36.98, according to the Value Guide and Trade-in Network.

State Of The Game 61: Catching Up

No guest this time, just catching up after it's been a bit too long. Mike Clayton, Rod Morri and yours truly discuss a range of topics. As always, you can find us on iTunes, download the MP3 or listen here. Or below:


New Rules Of Golf Fix A Few Key Glitches, But Not All

We'll have a few less of those awkward explanations to casual fans now that the USGA and R&A have tweaked the rules. They are calling these significant changes and in the case of eliminating scorecard DQ's for cards signed where a penalty is later added, that will end the surprising number of situations that arose. However, simple math mistakes still will not be tolerated.

Rex Hoggard at with a good summary of the news.

Ryan Herrington
at answers your obvious questions to the changes and addresses the scorecard signing with this from the USGA.

Thomas Pagel, senior director of rules and amateur status with the USGA, says this is not the “Tiger Woods Rule” as born out when Woods was allowed to play on at the 2013 Masters despite failing to access a two-stroke penalty after an improper drop during his second round and not be DQ’d for signing for a score that was too low. The way the change in the rule is written, however, it will allow players (like Woods) who are unaware before they sign their cards that the card is incorrect because the score doesn’t include penalty strokes the players did not know happened not to be kicked out of an event. Instead they will be allowed to continue to compete after adding the penalty strokes to their score (any strokes for the unknown penalties plus two more strokes for signing the incorrect score card).

In all other cases in which a player returns a score for any hole lower than actually taken, the penalty remains immediate disqualification. "This is not going to cover simple math errors," says Pagel, who noted the discussion on this point has gone for years. "If you had a 5 and wrote down a 4, you will still be disqualified. This is only if you forgot to include a one- or two-stroke penalty that you did not know occurred. Whether it was ignorance of the rules or applying one stroke rather than two."

Of course this does not address those who make a 4 and sign for a 5 put down by their playing partner, which remains one we'll have to explain to those not understanding this crazy game.

Also significant is the leniency built into the new Rules of Golf for balls that move on greens mown too tight because the R&A and USGA don't want to do anything about the ball going too far.

Herrington again:

Rather than automatically being deemed to have caused the ball to move—and thus subject to a one-stroke penalty—starting in January only when the facts show that the player actually caused the ball to move (or more likely than not caused the ball to move) will he or she be subject to the penalty. This adds some subjectivity to the situation, but also allows some much-appreciated leniency.


Video: RBC's Jason Day Story

It's ten minutes long and produced by RBC, a Jason Day sponsor. But in another sign that gritty content is going to come from all over, including a players' corporate sponsor, this piece posted in September is really an impressive mini-documentary on Day's rise.

The most telling line? "I'm addicted to the process of getting better," Day says at one point. And if you ever ever seen him practice or preparing with Jason Goldsmith prior to a round, you know Day isn't joking. Granted, he's old for a pro golfer at this point, but still well worth watching this old geezer talk about his rise. Thanks reader Greg for sending.


Kevin Na Is Probably Getting Tired Of Rookies

Two weeks into the PGA Tour's 2015-16 schedule and two Tour events have broken out, but that hasn't short-changed the thousands watching. Both the season opening Open and Shriners Hospital For Children Open have featured exciting finishes, and both included Kevin Na. Unfortunately for Na, both times a rookie-you've-never-heard-of has won.

The AP game story on Smylie Kaufman's closing 61 includes his Golf Channel interview following a nearly two hour wait to see when/if Kevin Na would break out his clutch gene.

The PGA Tour highlights:


Turnberry Update: Surpassing Expectations, Architect Says

Playing catch up and reading Martin Dempster's Scotsman update on Trump Turnberry's £200 million remodel (resort and golf course) that "involves the construction of five new holes and nine new greens."

Interesting is the timing, which aims to have the revamped course playable by June 1 so that everyone coming to The Open at Troon is able to see the Martin Ebert (with directions from the eminent retired chief inspector Peter Dawson) redesign.

Ebert is bullish on the work so far, either because it's as good as expected or he's just spent too much time with The Donald. But it's a good sign since architects rarely boast this early in the process.

The new ninth, a spectacular par-3 across a bay with the lighthouse as its backdrop, is one of the holes that has already been laid out along with the fourth and 11th.

“I think the work at Turnberry so far has surpassed expectations,” said Ebert as he delivered an update on the project as another of the courses he is working on, Royal Portrush on the Antrim coast in Northern Ireland, was confirmed as the venue for the 2019 Open Championship. “They were high expectations anyway, but when you see it, it’s remarkable.

“The aim is to get all the greens finished by the end of the year and, though there is still a fair bit of other work to be done, with an Open at Troon next summer, they are despera

Dempster says the earliest Open date available for Turnberry is 2020, about the time President Trump's first term in office is wrapping up.


Ouch Video: Giving New Meaning To A Two-Shot Penalty

I saw this one initially on Morning Drive and it's nice to see the Sunshine Tour has the, uh, courage to post this direct shot to the groin area for Jacques Kruyswijk. According to's Andy Zunz, the shot came during round one of the Sunshine Tour's Voldacom Origins.

For his part, Jacques didn't mention it in a week-end Tweet. Then again, I'm not sure there is an Emoji for this one.


Lydia Ko Notches 10th Win With Heavy Heart

Here is the summary from LPGA communications after Lydia Ko won the Fubon Taiwan Championship by nine, her tenth LPGA Tour win coming at nearly 3 1/2 years younger than Nancy Lopez's 10th win.

The victory returns the 18-year-old to the No. 1 ranking and the top spot on a list of incredible players under the age of 25.

Ko did it playing with a heavy heart after learning of the death of Patsy Hankins, New Zealand Golf President who was also one of the Royal and Ancient Golf Club's first female members.

Ko dedicated the win to former New Zealand Golf President Patsy Hankins who passed away earlier this week and someone Ko considers a mentor in her junior days.

“And I think I was really playing for Patsy this week,” said Ko. “I think just hearing that on Friday morning broke my heart. She was such a huge factor into my life in my junior golf. To hear that she had passed away was very hard to hear that before you’re entering a round. But kind of just played for her the last three days, and I’m so happy that I can bring this win to her and her family.”

Ko had posted this tribute to Instagram earlier this week:

And this selfie, thanking the sponsor right off the bat.


Video: Alex Cejka's 17th Hole Shriners Ace

Third round, 2015 Shriners Hospitals for Children Open, Alex Cejka on the 196 yard par-3 17th hole.

The video:

Oct242015's Q&A With Jimmy Walker

With the five-time PGA Tour winner just two back heading into the final round in Las Vegas, you may enjoy Jessica Marksbury's October Golf Magazine chat with Jimmy Walker.

While I'm not sure I would have approved the Marlboro Man photo by Kohjiro Kinno, the rest is a good read on his transformation as a player, the Ryder Cup, and his bullishness on the future.

On what he hopes for his golf legacy:

I hope my legacy is not even close to being written. I feel and hope that I’m just starting to scratch the surface. Butch tells me all the time, “You’re not even close to being done.” And I’ve started to believe it. I want to do a lot more in golf. I’m 36, but I hit it farther than all the kids coming out. I chip and putt as good as I ever have, I hit it as good as I ever have, and I’m smarter than I’ve ever been. So maybe that’s a good recipe.


Ben Crane Cites Scripture, Writings Of Davis Love In Self-DQ

If only the feelings of guilt weighing on Ben Crane were as strong when self-reflecting on his daily golf course rudeness, better known as his glacial pace of play!

At least in disqualifying himself over a hazard grounding only he witnessed, Crane has indicated he is capable of feeling guilty. Just not about being the least considerate golfer on the PGA Tour.

It's a start!

Regarding his Shriners Hospital Open DQ, Crane cites the biblical interpretations of Davis Love on

 The writings of Captain Love, should Ben Crane ever decide to take them to heart in the slow play department.


Is There Such Thing As A Clutch Factor In Golf?

That's the question Jaime Diaz contemplates at now that the analytics gurus, apparently not busy enough sitting around crafting algorithms and thinking life is just one big fantasy league, have now attempted to get their hands on concept of clutch-performing athletes.

Their conclusion, as with most analytics, is to demean the intangible attributes of great athletes that they will never understand.

But as Diaz explains, there are special performers under pressure who like the limelight more than others. We've seen it in every generation of golfer and it's why we're excited to have a new breed showing the same (or improved) signs of clutch behavior when they get near a lead.

Statistically, pressure generally has a negative effect on performance in golf. Sometimes, memorably, it will act as a spur to a super-focused effort that produces a great round. But mostly scores get higher.

Take Tiger Woods in his prime. His 14-1 record with at least a share of the 54-hole lead in majors, which extends to 54-4 (a 94 percent conversion rate) in all official events, is arguably his most impressive and telling record (the PGA Tour average is perennially below 40 percent). And yet, as David Barrett pointed out in Golf World, from 2003 to 2009, Woods’ final round scoring average of 69.38 was higher than his overall scoring average of 69.11 for that same period. In other words, even Woods played worse than normal on Sunday with a lead.

And this is where analytics are unable to take into account course setup, weather, pressure, history, etc...go back to ruining baseball, stat geeks!


Video: Golf Club Thief's Glorious Concrete Face Plant

Thanks so much to Alex Myers for spotting this immensely pleasurable surveillance video showing a golf club thief face planting into some nice Phoenix, Arizona concrete.

Nice work for securing and looping this.


The Open Rota Set At 10 And Only 10

After the confirmation of the majestic Royal Portrush as the 2019 Open host, Nick Rodger considers the state of the Open rota.

Royal Porthcawl has been pushed out and it's hard to see Royal Cinque Ports getting a shot as the London-adjacent-ish venue over Royal St. George's, sadly. But it's a pretty stout group, even if Royal Lytham will have a very hard time remaining relevant unless the golf ball is changed.

 “We are quite happy with 10 venues at the moment,” said Martin Slumbers, the chief executive of the Royal & Ancient, after confirming that Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland would be staging the 2019 Open earlier this week. “That’s all we’re looking at. There are no discussions going on about any other course. This (Portrush) was the big decision to make and we’re looking forward to getting this one going. I think it’s important not to get too far ahead of ourselves.”

Golden Slumbers also discussed the early days of his new tenure, which has seen the fleeing of BBC and ESPN as television hosts in favor of Sky and NBC.

The early days of Slumbers’s tenure have been a bit of a whirlwind and the hasty re-jigging of the television contract for the Open, after the BBC decided to pull the plug a year early, was a robust introduction to the job. “It’s been a busy number of weeks but it will be a busier few years,” he added. “They (the BBC) asked us just after the Open to get out of their contract. Of course we were disappointed but Sky stepped in with great gusto.”


Golf In China: RIP?

Ben Blanchard, John Ruwitch and Adam Jourdan follow up on the news of a Communist party ban on golf, setting us up for what may be the first of many obituaries for China's forbidden game of golf. The timing gets more intriguing as the PGA Tour comes to Shanghai November 2-8.

Writing for Reuters:

The new rules are a blow to China's nascent market for golf, which is often seen as providing an opportunity for officials to make shady deals and an extravagance for government employees who should be serving the people.

"In other countries golf is more about the sport, here it's about the social interaction. If a company boss can't play with a government official, there's little point in him spending his money," said the owner of a golf equipment store in Shanghai who only gave his surname as Huang.

He noted his store's sales dropped 30-40 percent last year. "This year, things are even more dismal. With our regular revenues we can no longer make ends meet."


Sorry: World Long Drive Succeeds On Many Levels

I couldn't disagree more with my colleague Joel Beall who felt robbed watching the World Long Drive Championship, suggesting what he saw reinforced why it's a "fringe event." He also suggests the Long Drive needs new presentation and format ideas, but as someone whose watched the event the last few years, including in person in 2013, I'd counter that the extended match play format had players better prepared when we got to the final nights. I just wish the landing grid was about 10 yards wider.

But more to the big picture status of the event: I love Long Drive because it genuine presents real athletes using their athleticism in a different way than PGA Tour players, featuring real stories of golfers doing amazing things to a ball. Beall is right that some of the PGA Tour driving distances make today's 400-yarders in the Long Drive seem less impressive, but considering the contest faced some headwinds, I found the numbers pretty astounding.

It's also refreshing to see different forms of golf succeed beyond the weekly stroke play. But golf is so tradition-based and uptight that the theatrics presented in the Long Drive make many uncomfortable. I get that. But as a lover of tradition, I'm also open to anything that shows how golf can be embraced in divergent ways that ultimately are about exposing us to people of extraordinary skill.

Meanwhile, the news was positive for new Long Drive owner Golf Channel, as Tuesday's rating for the live Round of 16 was up 263% over 2014, while the final night saw a 43% increase over 2014. Both ratings were in the vicinity of last week's Open numbers. With replays and NBC airing in December, the Long Drive will be seen by many more eyeballs than any of the fall PGA Tour events.

Here is's video of the final match won by Tim Burke, now a two-time long drive champion.


$1.98 Million: C.B. Macdonald's Chicago House For Sale

Bob Goldsborough of the Chicago Tribune says the father of American golf's Wheaton estate dating to 1897 can be yours for $1.98 million.

Goldsborough writes of the Charles Blair Macdonald-built estate.

Known as Ballyshear, the five-bedroom, 6,020-square-foot mansion sits on a private, tree-lined lane immediately west of the Chicago Golf Club, which Macdonald founded and which is the oldest 18-hole golf course in the United States. Macdonald named the three-story home Ballyshear after his grandfather's Ballyshear manor and estate in Argyllshire, Scotland.

The Tribune reported in February 1897 that architect Jarvis Hunt designed the house, which anchored a colony of homes occupied by members of Chicago society, who congregated around the golf club between the 1890s and the 1910s. Many of the homes, including Ballyshear, were later converted to year-round use.


Deals Coming! Communists Ban China Golf Club Memberships

Looks like the grow the game intiatives may need to look beyond China, as reports say the Chinese Communist Party has banned all 88 million of its members from joining golf clubs.

Thanks to everyone who sent the unbylined BBC story on the party updating is "discipline rules," which also targeted things like extravagant eating and drinking and abuse of power. And golf club memberships.

The new rule on golf states that members are banned from "obtaining, holding or using membership cards for gyms, clubs, golf clubs, or various other types of consumer cards, or entering private clubs".

If caught, members could either receive a warning or be removed from the party, depending on the severity of the violation.


USGA Sounds Positively Thrilled About Mid-Am's Fundraising

Jeff Babineau of Golfweek, who covered Sammy Schmitz's U.S. Mid-Amateur win, considers the fundraising effort by the presumed Masters invitee.

Babineau tried to contact Schmitz but did not get a return call, only a written statement. But it's the cold, crisp statement from the USGA that is more telling:

A spokesperson for the USGA released the following: “Raising funds for reasonable competition expenses is permissible under the Rules of Amateur Status as long as a state and/or regional golf association is involved in the administration of the fund and any donations remain anonymous. The USGA has and will continue to work with all parties involved.”

In this case, any unused money would be passed on to the Minnesota Golf Association. The USGA will pass along names and contact information from the fund’s list of “anonymous” donors to Schmitz, who plans to thank those who have supported him so generously.

That chill has me putting on a sweater as we mutually share this moment in genuine warmth.

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