Twitter: GeoffShac
  • Playing Through: Modern Golf's Most Iconic Players and Moments
    Playing Through: Modern Golf's Most Iconic Players and Moments
    by Jim Moriarty
  • Tommy's Honor: The Story of Old Tom Morris and Young Tom Morris, Golf's Founding Father and Son
    Tommy's Honor: The Story of Old Tom Morris and Young Tom Morris, Golf's Founding Father and Son
    by Kevin Cook
  • His Ownself: A Semi-Memoir (Anchor Sports)
    His Ownself: A Semi-Memoir (Anchor Sports)
    by Dan Jenkins
  • The Captain Myth: The Ryder Cup and Sport's Great Leadership Delusion
    The Captain Myth: The Ryder Cup and Sport's Great Leadership Delusion
    by Richard Gillis
  • The Ryder Cup: Golf's Grandest Event – A Complete History
    The Ryder Cup: Golf's Grandest Event – A Complete History
    by Martin Davis
  • A Life Well Played: My Stories
    A Life Well Played: My Stories
    by Arnold Palmer
  • Harvey Penick: The Life and Wisdom of the Man Who Wrote the Book on Golf
    Harvey Penick: The Life and Wisdom of the Man Who Wrote the Book on Golf
    by Kevin Robbins
  • Teeing Off: Players, Techniques, Characters, and Reflections from a Lifetime Inside the Game
    Teeing Off: Players, Techniques, Characters, and Reflections from a Lifetime Inside the Game
    by Ken Bowden

The audience in the theatre, looking over the footlights, view the play as do most of the gallery following the experts of golf. However, back-stage, there are a few eyes critically regarding the play from an entirely different angle. For many years I have preferred to observe golf shots from backstage, as it were. Seeing a man whack a golf ball is of little interest to me, and frequently it is a performance that had better be missed. That which concerns me most is where the ball lands and what it does after. A.W. TILLINGHAST




PGA Tour Driving Distance Watch, Vol. 2

pgatour.jpgAt Kapalua, the guys averaged a paltry 254.9 yards off the tee, 35 yards below last year's final average.

They caught up quickly at the Sony Open, moving the Tour driving distance average to 289.3 yards

All those wintertime workout programs really paid off for the boys (or maybe it was their launch monitor work?), because in two events, there have already been 393 drives over 350 yards (134 of those at the Sony Open). There were 2059 drives over 350 in all of 2005.

Another interesting number courtesy of the Tour's longest drive stat:

  • There have been 13 drives over 400 yards in 2006.
  • There were 19 all of last year.  Heck, Bubba Watson  might hit 19 over 400 at The International alone!

And if you are wondering why these growing numbers are followed so closely, a full explanation is available here.


PGA Tour Driving Distance Watch, Vol. 1.75

You may recall last week it was noted here that Kapalua was 21.5 yards below its 2005 average of 276.4.

Golf World's Jan 13 issue revealed that the two measuring holes were Nos. 3 and 15.

On No. 3, the players average 232.0 yards, 278.7 on No. 15 (which I believe plays slightly uphill).  

So yes Kapalua does distort the Tour numbers, just not in the way we might have imagined.  

Golf World also reported that the average distance on all drives was 281.2 yards. 


Azinger On FedEx Cup

You have to love Paul Azinger's honesty amidst all of the spin. Doug Ferguson reports:

"Players don't care who covers the game," he said. "I don't think Tiger Woods cares who covers the Masters."

Nor does he believe players will care that much about the FedEx Cup, which includes three Championship Series tournaments leading to the Tour Championship, with an estimated $10 million going to the winner.

Azinger's first victories came in 1987, the first year of the Tour Championship (then called the Nabisco Championship), which was created to define the end of the golf season.

That didn't work, and he isn't sure this new format will make much of a difference.

"The best players in the world are playing to make history," Azinger said. "There are only four tournaments you can win to make history, and TPC (The Players Championship) is not one of them. And neither are those world events. And you're not going to make history winning some kind of FedEx Cup."


Tour Winners, Tour Losers

Scott Michaux takes a detailed look at the TV deal winners and losers and makes this (sad) point for some hoping to see a return of an old Masters tradition:

LOSER: Tour winners. With opposite events and even more diluted fall finish events, Hootie Johnson might be even less inclined to re-implement automatic Masters invites to tournament winners.


Klein On Pasatiempo

bp51764.jpgBrad Klein returns to Pasatiempo for a look at the recent restoration work and a Golfweek review.

Can't say I'm wild about the look of No. 3 pictured here on the right and in the story.  The bunkers look a little 2-d, way too white and more Trent than Mac.



Wie Think

14golf184.jpgJust when they wanted to write Michelle Wie off...she pulls 'em back in with a very impressive 68.

Chris Lewis sums up the state of her game and where she's headed.

John Huggan in his Scotland on Sunday column thinks she should stop playing with the men.

And Damon Hack offers a different look at Wie, who has a nice appreciation for the accomplishments of Babe Zaharias (Michelle, not Damon, well maybe Damon too, I don't know).


Trying To Get To Know Vijay

pga_20060111singh1.jpgCatching up on this week's reading and noticed the very different takes on Vijay Singh from two of the most respected writers.

Tim Rosaforte signs himself up as chair of the Vijay Mutual Admiration Society, while Lorne Rubenstein says this nonsense about not talking to the press is getting old.


Tournaments React to TV Deal

pgatour.jpgSpinning the new schedule seems to be the initial reaction to the new TV deal and 2007 schedule. Just give them all a few weeks.

Bob Harig does the best job summarizing the 2007 schedule winners and losers.

The Booz Allen got shipped to the fall and you have to wonder if Booz CEO Ralph Shrader's publicly expressed displeasure with the Tour played a role.

"I don't think flabbergasted would be too strong of a description of our reaction to the news," said Steve Lesnik, the chief executive officer of KemperSports, the company that has long directed and managed the local tour stop (currently the Booz Allen Classic). "We had no real forewarning, so it's going to take a few days to digest all the implications and ramifications of the situation."

Dan Bollerman writes about the new Mexico event, which ought to survive at least three years.

Gary D'Amato looks at the Milwaukee tournament and the efforts to put a positive spin on a dreadful date.

Gary Baines writes about The International and how happy they are with their new date. But it's hard to imagine sounds like a better way to get ready for links golf than 7 irons from 220.

Jeff Platsky looks at the B.C. Open likely making a move to the Champions Tour, and offers some interesting figures on what it costs to sponsor a Valiant Competitors Tour event.

Finally, Ed Sherman writes about the end of the Western Open name, which dates to 1899. He also looks at the mysterious move to Chicago only seeing the Tour every-other-year while the event is shifted to Hazeltine, Crooked Stick and Bellerive. The one positive is a likely jump in charitable donations to the Evans Scholarship fund.


Bonk On Woods

Thomas Bonk writes about Earl Woods and suggests that Tiger is actually taking time off to be with his ailing dad.


Week In Review Jan 8-14: New TV Deal

WeekInReview2.jpgJohn Huggan got the week off to a wonderful start with his Sunday column looking at the 2006 season and beyond.

Charles Howell likened Augusta National to Torrey Pines and struggled to say nice things about the redo. But he never said anything negative either. Oh just read the post.

We had our first driving distance watch and dispelled the myth that Kapalua has been artificially inflating the averages.

The college coaches signed up a third distance measuring device corporate sponsor, making them about the only body in golf pushing the devices for competition.

Lawrence Donegan introduced us to Steve Otto, R&A ball scientist who had some interesting things to say about the "miracle ball" concept that was widely denied to exist.

Meanwhile Peter Dawson insisted again that the distance issue has plateaued and nothing has changed over the last three years, ignoring evidence to the contrary.

But of course the big news of the week came from Ponte Vedra where Tim Finchem announced a new TV deal and his press conference raised more questions than it answered. On Friday afternoon (hmmm...someone else releases bad news then...) the Tour released its 2007 schedule with some stunning changes. More on that this week. Look for writers in towns that lost events to rip the Tour, and writers in towns saved by the bell to praise Finchem's streamlining.

I'm offering a major award to the first golf writer to actually contemplate whether the PGA Tour's "product" was less appealing to networks because of influences such as the Tour's anti-birdie approach to setup, slow play or the power game.

The early round-ups indicated the golf media thinks the 15-year deal is pretty impressive, all things considered (though they won't consider what those things are that are dragging the game down). Even Larry Bohannan was positive despite the dreadful deal the Bob Hope Classic is receiving.

We offered this flashback looking at comments following the last TV deal.

And finally, the SF Chronicle revealed the stunning budget overruns at Harding Park.

Comment of the week comes from Ned Ludd, commenting on Donald Trump's planned entry into the uh, Scottish marketplace: The warm welcome by the locals sounds like something from the movie "Local Hero"; play the chap for all the money they can. Doubt the ending will be as good.

Big points for citing one of my all time favorites Ned! Local Hero that is, not Donald Trump. 


Flashback: Optimization Talk 7 Years Ago

From the February, 1999 Golf Digest:

It wasn't enough that companies preparing to do battle for market share have to concern themselves with what competitors have up their sleeve of balls. They now have to reckon with the U.S. Golf Association as well.

Last November, the USGA announced its intention to employ modern technology to test golf balls, in the process tightening the tolerances currently allowed by its Overall Distance Standard (ODS) and Initial Velocity test.

"Let's face it," USGA Executive Director David B. Fay says, "when you look at cell phones and computers today, it's clear that 1970s technology is dated. The primary goal of our tests is to limit the available headroom for manufacturers to make the ball go farther. What impact this will have will be fairly minimal."

The USGA is concerned that technological advancements in equipment enable golfers to hit the ball farther, leading "to longer golf courses, escalating costs and slower play," Fay said at the time of the USGA announcement. Others say the organization also is concerned that technology threatens to make obsolete historic championship courses.

That test was soon scrapped after manufacturer moaning and Iron Byron was reintroduced, leading to today's mess where balls are testing fine and superceding the ODS under launch conditions favored by, uh, really good golfers who the test was meant to regulate.

"Enough is enough," Titleist chairman and CEO Wally Uihlein says. "The USGA is abusing its power and engaging in actions which it has yet to prove are warranted or asked for by the 25 million golfers and 10,000 member clubs it professes to represent."

The great majority of balls already ruled to conform to USGA rules are expected to conform under the proposed tests, whatever their parameters, according to Fay. It's that phrase-the great majority-that has the councils of war mobilizing their forces.


2007 PGA Tour Schedule

Here's the 2007 PGA Tour schedule, minus the post FedEx Cup series events (the Chase for the Card or whatever they're calling it). Harford and the Washington D.C. stops are out, which explains why the TPC Avenal redo is on hold:

Date: Tournament (Television)
Jan. 1-7: Mercedes Championships (TGC)
Jan. 8-14: Sony Open in Hawaii (TGC)
Jan. 15-21: Bob Hope Chrysler Classic (TGC)
Jan. 22-28: Buick Invitational (TGC, CBS)
Jan. 29-Feb. 4: FBR Open (TGC, NBC)
Feb. 5-11: AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am (TGC, CBS)
Feb. 12-18: Nissan Open (TGC, CBS)
Feb. 19-25: WGC Accenture Match Play Championship (TGC, NBC)
Feb. 19-25: Mayakoba Classic at Riviera Maya (Mexico) (TGC)
Feb. 26-March 4: The Honda Classic (TGC, NBC)
March 5-11: Tampa Bay Championship (TGC, NBC)
March 12-18: Bay Hill Invitational presented by MasterCard (TGC, NBC)
March 19-25: WGC CA Championship (TGC, NBC)
March 26-April 1: Shell Houston Open (TGC, NBC)
April 2-8: The Masters: USA,CBS)
April 9-15: MCI Heritage (TGC, CBS)
April 16-22: Zurich Classic of New Orleans (TGC, CBS)
April 23-29: EDS Byron Nelson Championship (TGC, CBS)
April 30-May 6: Wachovia Championship (TGC, CBS)
May 7-13: The Players Championship (TGC, NBC)
May 14-20: BellSouth Classic (TGC, CBS)
May 21-27: The Colonial Invitational (TGC, CBS)
May 28-June 3: The Memorial Tournament (TGC, CBS)
June 4-10: Stanford St. Jude Championship (TGC, CBS)
June 11-17: U.S. Open (ESPN, NBC)
June 18-24: 84 Lumber Classic (TGC, CBS)
June 25-July 1: Buick Open (TGC, CBS)
July 2-8: The International (TGC, CBS)
July 9-15: John Deere Classic (TGC, CBS)
July 16-22: British Open (TNT, ABC)
July 16-22: U.S. Bank Championship in Milwaukee (TGC)
July 23-29: Bell Canadian Open (TGC, CBS)
July 30-Aug. 5: WGC Bridgestone Invitational (TGC, CBS)
Aug. 6-12: PGA Championship (TNT, CBS)
Aug. 13-19: Carolina Classic at Greensboro (TGC, CBS)
FedEx Cup Championship Series:
Aug. 20-26: Barclays Classic/New York City (TGC, CBS)
Aug. 27-Sept. 3: Deutsche Bank Championship/Boston (TGC, NBC)
Sept. 3-9: Championship Series event/Chicago (TGC, NBC)
Sept. 10-16: The Tour Championship (TGC, NBC)



Golf Started In China?!

p1_montychina.jpgRichard Starnes in the Ottawa Citizen writes:

A leading academic says he has proof golf was played in China 500 years before it was first reported in Scotland, which is widely acknowledged as the game's home.

Professor Ling Hongling of Lanzhou University says he has unearthed clear references to golf in a book called the Dongzuan Records, which were compiled during the Song Dynasty (AD 960-1279). There are even sketches.

Ling says the book also refers to a prominent Nantang Dynasty magistrate (AD 937-975) who told his daughter "to dig goals in the ground so that he might drive a ball into them with a purposely crafted stick." The fact the "sticks" were jewel-encrusted suggests the game was for the nobleman, not the commoner.

Jewel-encrusted sticks. A game for the nobleman. So now we know: blame the Chinese.

Thanks to reader Al for the heads up. 


Trump International Aberdeenshire?

According to Frank Urquhart in The Scotsman:
Mr [Donald] Trump is believed to be determined to open an exclusive international course and luxury home development in Scotland to rival his company's flagship course, the Trump National Golf Club, at Briarcliff Manor, New York.

The potential development was welcomed yesterday by tourism and golfing organisations. Mike Young, the golf marketing consultant for VisitScotland Aberdeen and Grampian, said the staging of the seniors' championship last year had already done a lot to raise the profile of the area's golf courses with an American audience.

He said: "I think it is hugely exciting for Aberdeen and Grampian. I think somebody with Donald Trump's international reputation would bring a completely new focus to the area. He would arguably create a new market, rather than compete with what is existing. It is a huge opportunity and if we can do anything at all to help we will."

Hope-ing For The Best

Larry Bohannan does his best to put a positive spin on the Hope moving to The Golf Channel.


Harding's Crunching Numbers

hardingpark18.jpgIn America's Sweethearts, John Cusack's character watches the bizarre new Hal Wideman film as it is being screened, turns to Billy Crystal's publicist character and whispers, "sometimes you look at a film and you say, where did the money go?"

Some are looking at Harding Park today and asking the same thing.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, an audit revealed that not only did the city managed to lose $141,619 on the recent American Express Championship, but the overall cost of the course renovation project skyrocketed to $23.6 million, $7.6 million over the original (and excessive) $16 million cost.

The audit also shows how funds meant to improve park and recreation programs for lower-income San Franciscans were borrowed to reinvigorate the public golf courses.

According to Rose, the renovation of the 18-hole Harding and nine-hole Fleming golf courses at Harding Park, which began in 2002, wound up costing $23.6 million, which was $7.6 million, or 47 percent, over the original estimate of $16 million.

The project wound up being a "significant opportunity cost to the rest of the city's recreation and park system," Rose wrote.

In 2001, the Arnold Palmer Golf Management Co., which had reached a deal with the city to carry out the project and then manage the courses, withdrew. Officials tapped state bond funds that had been awarded to San Francisco and that were earmarked for recreation and park projects in underserved or economically disadvantaged areas.

In 2002, the Board of Supervisors authorized the Recreation and Park Department to use the state funds for Harding, provided that the money was repaid with interest from golf course funds within 25 years.

But, according to the audit, city courses lost money in fiscal year 2004-05, needing a $536,000 subsidy from the city's general fund to cover their expenses.

The auditors may get their wish on this next suggestion, based on the Tour Championship setting up shop at East Lake and the WGC events locking in to Tucson, Doral and Firestone.

Citing the losses on the American Express Championship -- which featured the world's top players and was won by Tiger Woods -- Rose recommended renegotiating the city's agreement with the PGA Tour or terminating the deal.

The contract currently calls for five tournaments over 15 years.

Agunbiade, citing broader economic benefits to the city from PGA play, said terminating the agreement would be shortsighted.

William Strawn, a spokesman for the PGA during the tournament at Harding, said the event brought at least $55 million in tourist spending to the Bay Area.

"Although difficult to quantify," Agunbiade wrote, "the benefits to the city go far beyond the dollars and cents which accrue to the Recreation and Park Department."

You may recall that I wrote a Golfobserver column on the high cost to renovate the $16 million figure.

Sadly, this revelation may doom future municipal course restoration projects.


Augusta Turns 73

augusta opening.jpgAugusta National opened seventy-three years ago today. And the Masters is just 83 days away.

To the left is a postcard that announced the opening (available through Golf Links To The Past for $850). 

Below are a couple of early images picked up recently from the old American Golfer magazine.  The first is Bobby Jones during his first Masters appearance en route to a 76. He is putting on the (then boomerang) ninth green, with the first fairway in the background. Note the beautiful fairway bunker lines.

The second image is of today's 18th, showing the old cross bunker whose outline remains visible today. Thanks to Tommy in the art department for touching these up.




Flashback: July 16, 2001...

...that's when the PGA Tour's 2002-2006 television contract was announced.

"Tiger has increased the exposure for the game. That's great for golf, it's great for the tour, it's great for us," ESPN senior VP for programming John Wildhack said.

"The tour continues to show opportunities for growth and for increase. We're delighted that Tiger is as visible as any athlete in the world. That adds to the overall growth of the game."

And here was Wildhack talking to Steve Elling in the Orlando Sentinel after the 2007-2021(!?) deal was revealed:

John Wildhack, senior vice president of programming and acquisitions at ESPN and ABC, said talks with the tour broke down in late December when it became apparent that Disney would continue to lose money under the new contract terms. All the networks claim they lost money on the current contract, which ends after the '06 season. Wildhack said golf's TV viewership has suffered significant "erosion'' in that time, a fact borne out by the ratings.

And then there were these remarks from ABC on July 16, 2001.

"The PGA Tour right now is really on a roll, and we would like to roll along with them," said Loren Matthews, ABC Sports senior VP of programming. "Who knows what the future's going to bring, but we look into a crystal ball and we think Tiger's going to be in a lot of our events. We hope he plays in them all, but right now golf is very strong overall." 

Compare these comments from a Garry Smits Florida Times-Union story with this week's "streamlining" spin (talking point?):

According to Marc Ganis, president of Sportscorp Ltd., a Chicago-basedsports industry consulting firm, the rights fees increase was directly due to Woods's impact on ratings, which have increased by 50 percent on average when Woods has played.
"There's a whole new demographic of fans who are watching now on television and never did before," Ganis said, noting the high ratings that followed Woods's runaway win last year at the U.S. Open. "They're getting the casual fan who didn't used to tune in, but now does. It's the whole Tiger Woods phenomenon."

'We feel very, very good about all aspects of the agreement, both financial and non-financial,' said [Bob] Combs [of the PGA Tour]. 'The financial part is reflective of the very strong growth curve that the Tour has been on.'

'I think it's a fair financial deal for us and the Tour,' CBS Sports president Sean McManus said.

Brian Schecter, a media analyst with Kagan World Media, said Woods drives everything in golf, including the new deal. "Whether he wins or loses, ratings spike dramatically whenever he's playing," Schecter said. "I would say he is by far the most recognizeable athlete on the planet right now. So it's not surprising golf is cashing in on his coattails."

But CBS Sports President Sean McManus said that while Woods has been a boom to the sport, the sport's tie-ins with its corporate partners and title sponsors led to the deal.

"All of us went into it thinking the worst-case scenario that Tiger won't play as much as he has before or in some events that we don't have," McManus said. "All of us discounted the Tiger factor to a certain extent."

Ganis said the deal made sense because golf has several marquee events that can command large audiences even though television viewership has become more fragmented. Additionally, Ganis said golf has a strong core audience and solid support from corporations. He added that the networks might not necessarily need further ratings increases to make the agreement profitable.

"They can stay where they are and be okay," Ganis said. "They're historically at the highest levels they've ever been, which is not a bad position to be in. They're expected to go up, but it depends on whether Tiger Woods stays at the top of his game. And whether a current player or young player can develop a mano-a-mano rivalry with him."

Oops. We got rivals. "Product" that is boring to watch way too often. Therefore, no ratings. No profits.

Hey, but the demographics are still good.

And check out this Ron Sirak story from the February 2003 Golf Digest.

There is one other selling point Finchem maneuvered with foresight. Instead of playing his sponsors and television partners against each other, he tries to work with both.

"Golf has protected the networks better than any other sport," says Neal Pilson, former president of CBS Sports and now a media consultant. "Golf has remained profitable for the networks while other sports have not. Other sports take every nickel off the table in negotiations. Finchem always leaves one."

And here's Pilson after this week's 2007-2021 TV deal was announced:

"They're going through a marketplace adjustment," sports-television consultant Neal Pilson said of the PGA Tour's new deal. "The fact that ABC and ESPN had withdrawn was a significant signal that it is a much more difficult marketplace today than it was five or 10 years ago," he added.

"Under the prior deal, you had several different major carriers offering packages that allowed sponsors to play the networks against each other," Mr. Pilson said.

And finally from Sirak's story...

Economic conditions could very well make the decision for Finchem, who will be 56 in April and shows no loss of enthusiasm for his job. And there is a delicious irony in the fact that the commissioner is awaiting the PR boost the Champions Tour would get in 2005 from Greg Norman, a Finchem foe ever since the Australian slapped the World Tour idea on the table just months into the Finchem administration. But if there is anyone who can share a room with a wet dog and come out smelling like a rose, it's Finchem.

Norman still yet to start a regular Champions Tour event. So much for the delicious irony.


No Rude Reaction Here

Jeff Rude says everyone is all smiles with regard to the new PGA Tour TV deal.

I wonder if anyone will look back at this story in 2021 when the cable deal expires? 


Thursday Morning Quarterbacking

Thanks to reader John for Joe Flint's Wall Street Journal story on the new Tour TV deal.

The PGA Tour has an affluent audience, but in other ways limited leverage. Even though marquee-name Tiger Woods rebounded last year, ratings for the PGA Tour have diminished somewhat over the past few years. Moreover, once ESPN signed a rights deal for Nascar auto racing, its desire to keep the PGA Tour lessened, people close to the network said.

"They're going through a marketplace adjustment," sports-television consultant Neal Pilson said of the PGA Tour's new deal. "The fact that ABC and ESPN had withdrawn was a significant signal that it is a much more difficult marketplace today than it was five or 10 years ago," he added.

"Under the prior deal, you had several different major carriers offering packages that allowed sponsors to play the networks against each other," Mr. Pilson said.

But I thought this network streamlining was a good thing...

Thomas Bonk reports on the Hope moving to cable as part of a three event, Golf Channel-broadcast start to the season (described by one TGC reporter and Mark Rolfing last night as a "big bang" to start the season...uh, maybe for the The Golf Channel but not the Tour.).

Bonk says Milwaukee and Tucson are done as events, and that Chrysler is iffy for future Hope sponsorships.

If Tucson does become the WGC match play site, that means the three remaining WGC events will be anchored in the U.S.  So much for moving those around the world. So much for the WGC.

Scott Michaux's column wins for best lead of the day.

The PGA Tour has "streamlined" its television partners and tethered itself to cable, but the "continuity" of the commissioner's Masters envy remains intact.

He goes on to weigh the pluses and minuses and is spot on. Though I think he's a little hard on Kraig Kann, who has improved significantly and exudes enthusiasm without being overbearing.

Michaux remains skeptical that the notoriously frugal Golf Channel will upgrade its production values. He probably would not feel reassured if he read Richard Sandomir of the New York Times, who offered this from TGC's David Manougian:

"The reality series show that we understand the emotions connected to the game of golf and that there are lots of ways to portray golf entertainment," said David Manougian, the president of the Golf Channel. "We'll continue to push that throttle."

Steve Elling weighs in with the Orlando angle, which is significant. He also had this tidbit regarding the negotiations:

John Wildhack, senior vice president of programming and acquisitions at ESPN and ABC, said talks with the tour broke down in late December when it became apparent that Disney would continue to lose money under the new contract terms. All the networks claim they lost money on the current contract, which ends after the '06 season. Wildhack said golf's TV viewership has suffered significant "erosion'' in that time, a fact borne out by the ratings.

Huh, but the demographics are so...ah forget it. As for the Disney event in Orlando:

Disney World learned the parent company effectively was bailing from golf broadcasting Tuesday night, when tournament officials received a memo informing them the event no longer would be broadcast in-house on ABC or ESPN. Disney tournament officials are scheduled to meet with the tour Friday to learn where they fit on the schedule.

But if the parent company doesn't want to televise golf, why host an event where you have to spend a bunch of money updating the course every few years, all for something that will be on The Golf Channel and minus big name players?