I am no lover of the habit of giving names to holes, but the trees and shrubs which give identity to the holes at Augusta are real enough: flowering peach, magnolia--the drive is alive with them, too; yellow jasmine, Carolina, cherry, camellia--never was the iron gauntlet of challenge more skillfully concealed in velvet.
Golfweek's Jim Achenbach looks into the future and sees a game dramatically changing to accomodate technology. Tongue planted in cheek, sort of.
Why 15 holes?
- Because so many existing golf courses literally were bursting at the seams. Many of these courses wanted to expand to confront the challenge of long-hitting golfers, but expansion often was impossible because no more land was available.
- Because golf at most courses had become a five-hour ordeal. In an effort to speed up the game, the number of holes was shortened by one-sixth.
- Because everyday life had become busier and more hectic, and many golfers wanted to devote more time to their families and less time to golf.
Still awaiting for the post-British Open Golfweek issue. My postman
must really, really love golf. And work for the Pony Express.
SI arrives reliably on Wednesdays, with Golf Plus returning (for now). Golf World has been arriving fairly close to the intended publication dates for a change. They've even put some of the content up on GolfDigest.com and a few things stood out in recent issues.
The August 12 Golf World "bunker" has the amazing news of a lost Claude Harmon instruction book being found. They report that the book comes with Anthony Ravielli drawings and a Ben Hogan "forward."
The August 5 Golf World has this ShotLink note:
Vijay Singh and Tiger
Woods proved once again at the Buick that going for the green when the
opportunity arises often leads to success. At Warwick Hills Singh went
for the green (defined as going for a par 5 in two or a par 4 on the
tee shot) 19 times and played those holes in 10 under par. Woods went
for it 18 times, going 13 under on those holes. ... Speaking of going
for it, the field attacked the 322-yard, par-4 14th hole with a
vengeance as 226 players had a go at the putting surface off the tee.
And while only 25 were successful (11.1 percent), those going for it
produced a scoring average of 3.46 on the hole while those laying up
averaged 3.79. ... Singh hit every green in regulation on the front
nine the last three days. ... Amateur Ryan Brehm was second in the
field in driving distance for all drives, averaging 307.5 yards. His
358-yard poke on the 13th hole Friday was the second-longest drive of
the week. Tiger Woods outdrove him by one yard on the 16th hole Sunday.
In the same issue, Tim Rosaforte writes:
Instead of concern and even dread over the South Korean "invasion" ruining the excitement generated by teenage rivals Michelle Wie, Paula Creamer and Morgan Pressel, there should be a reality check--and ultimately an acceptance--of the power the country has in women's golf. The victories of Birdie Kim and Jeong Jang--or "JJ" as players call her--should teach us that beyond the cultural and language barriers are stories and personalities we need to explore and embrace.Oh? And here I thought they were just fluke winners we could write off.
And as Jang alluded in broken English Sunday at Royal Birkdale, this is just the tip of the iceberg. Behind the back-to-back LPGA major-championship winners, several USGA and AJGA champs also hold Korean passports. The danger lies in some of the stories being told of overbearing fathers, but as Sean O'Hair could tell you, they exist in all countries. Kim and Jang: Like the saying goes, these girls rock, too.Nice synergy there, using the new LPGA ad slogan. Super, just super.
CBS's commercial load was a distraction yesterday - even more than on Sunday - creating a disjointed viewing experience during the year's final major. The commercials interrupted the narrative flow of this five-hole event, with 12 golfers finishing their final round, half of them separated by three shots, and half of them paid little or no attention by CBS (except for a note by Jim Nantz, as the camera focused on Vijay Singh, that yesterday was the 60th anniversary of V-J Day).And he offers this quote from CBS's Rob Correa, a CBS Sports senior vice president for programming:
CBS could have reduced the number of commercial blocks it had, or more boldly, eliminated advertising in the final 30 minutes. Perhaps it was waiting to go commercial free for a playoff, which would have caused the network to blow off more than "Guiding Light" and the first half-hour of "The Price Is Right."
But commercial interests won out over golf, even if no crucial shots were missed while CBS was in a break. Peter Oosterhuis, one of CBS's on-course reporters, seemed to believe the action was more important than mercantilism. After Mickelson missed a birdie putt on No. 17, Oosterhuis said, "Let's go to 18," but CBS went to commercials instead.
"The P.G.A. of America is responsible for the scheduling of the tournament," he said. "It's up to them." He said CBS would not have objected to an earlier start "if the weather reports were that severe."
The party lines seems to be: blame the weather reports for not making enough of a fuss. Only, that won't work as the forecasters were on the record with Golfonline's Tom Mackin as early as Friday that Sunday had the potential for severe, course-clearing conditions. Anyone watching the Weather Channel knew Sunday's afternoon forecast was for possible severe storms. As reader Stan pointed out, a simple "we goofed" would make this go away, but as usual, the spin will only prolong the criticism, and unfortunately, may even begin to taint Mickelson's win.
Meanwhile, Sam Weiman in the Westchester Journal News and Robert Lusetich in The Australian review the situation. Lusetich looks at the various "what if" scenarios had play been started earlier and not halted. Even though Steve Elkington says that even though he was the hottest player on the course, the wind shift would have made the finishing stretch brutal. So he was glad play was halted.
Speaking of the man with the best swing in the world, Jim McCabe talks to Elkington about the PGA and the Scenarios that are already keeping him lying awake at night.
Mike Lopresti in the USA Today takes a much stronger stance on the CBS-PGA screw-up than his colleague, and uses the opportunity to look at all sports and the ways they are selling out their integrity in an effort to pander to the networks.
This is old, old news — television forcing a sport to genuflect to its demands, no matter how ludicrous. Buying off nonsense with a check. And yet maybe such a screwball ending will cause some needed reflection.
Television's billions feed the wolves and always will. Fact of life. But there ought to be a line … somewhere.
The folks at the Masters, self-proclaimed guardians of the purity of the game, do the same thing, pushing their Sunday start to the very last telegenic moment. And you know the other handwork of television. The 10 p.m. NCAA tournament games. The bloated NBA playoff format that stretches toward July. The NFL January playoff games in frigid northern cities at night. All for a few dollars more.
John Huggan on Golfobserver looks at the latest behind-the-scenes
antics involving Colin Montgomerie and other European players, namely
Darren Clarke. All of it over Montgomerie's, uh, episode, in Jakarta
earlier this year.
Gosh, and I thought all of these European players had bonded during their victorious Ryder Cups.
Do the President's Cup Captain's picks make a statement about the depth of American golf?
Mind you, these are all great players. But U.S. Captain Jack Nicklaus basically had this group of players to choose from (Captain's picks in italics):
Justin LeonardAgain, all fine players, great patriots, devoted husbands, wonderful humanitarians, etc. But consider Gary Player's options:
Peter LonardBased on recent play, Ogilvy and Sabbatini would be tough to pass up, while Elkington's record in the Cup would have made him a fine choice. Lonard and Immelman aren't exactly slouches, though Immelman was way down the points list.
Truth be told, the only reason I post this is to generate some enthusiasm for the President's Cup. Right now, it's tough to even think about sitting down and watching Robert Trent Jones Golf Club for more than ten minutes.
Jeff Rude has more one-liners from Charles Barkley. Golfobserver's Peter McCleery beats the magazines to the punch and gets to say I told you so after years of warning that a major would not finish on Sunday. Steve Elling looks at Tiger's epic year in the majors and reports on the 14 players who made the cut in all four majors.
George Kimball in the Boston Herald writes about Steve Elkington's sunday shirt reminiscent of his 1995 final day garb and the backdrop on Larry King's set. Sally Jenkins writes about the ugly play on Sunday at Baltusrol.
Here's a Reuters story on Mickelson's request to move Sunday times up.
David Whitley in the Orlando Sentinel blasts the PGA and likens Sunday refusal to move times up to the infamous "Heidi" episode at NBC. Michael Hiestand in the USA Today picks up where Rudy Martzke left off...writing press releases for the networks.
Selena Roberts in the New York Times (reg. required) writes about flogging at Baltusrol and quotes yours truly on the subject.
Somehow golf has gotten to the point where inaccuracy isn't punitive because distance is so highly rewarded. A 330-yard drive into the rough, plus a wedge to the green, is far more attractive to a player than a 280-yard poke and a 5-iron to the pin.Of course we know golfers aren't on steroids, but still, Roberts brings up the point many of us are wondering. How long before such substances do become a part of the new look power game?
But is might always right? There is an aberration on the leader board in Steve Elkington, who was in a tie with Thomas Bjorn for second place when the storms blew across Baltusrol last night. Elkington is the amiable Aussie with a caddie nicknamed Gypsy and a driving distance that ranks him 132nd on the PGA Tour. But his fairway accuracy is No. 14 at Baltusrol. He is not an equipment aficionado like Mickelson and Love or an all-consumed workout fiend like Woods and Singh.
"I couldn't be like Vijay," Elkington told Australian reporters last week. "I admire what he does, but I bet he doesn't even know where the light switches are at home."
In other words, Elkington has a life. But he occupied the space among the leaders as an anomaly. More and more, players like Woods, Mickelson, Singh and Love overpower their errors to find success. "I don't blame them," said Geoff Shackelford, author of "The Future of Golf: How Golf Lost Its Way and How to Get It Back," when reached by telephone yesterday. "Over the course of four rounds, it's a wise thing to do. Power is more important."
It has become an obsession. It's all about the equipment and computer analysis, the balls and the Launch Monitor, which, in essence, is a time-lapse X-ray of a swing to determine factors like ball spin and carry distance in order to match a player to the optimum club.
"Players have picked up 30 or 40 yards on their drives using it," Shackelford said.
What else are players using? Power cravings in any sport can lead to boundary pushing of the chemical kind. There is no whisper of a steroid problem inside the P.G.A., but there is also no drug testing. So how does anyone truly know surges in distance are all about technology and not about the designer steroid THG?
Lawrence Donegan's Monday story in The Guardian has some fun notes on the tournament that hasn't ended. Damon Hack in the NY Times provides a diplomatic take on the PGA debacle. Bob Harig at ESPN isn't so kind, but also isn't has brutal as he could have been. Dave Anderson sums the whole mess up as only a Pulitzer winner can.
Just to not overdo the PGA stuff, Richard Oliver in the San Antonio Express-News writes about how the Texas Open may be impacted by the new Tour television contract. Eh, okay, back to the PGA. What was I thinking?
All of the transcripts for the week are here. Here's Tiger Woods. And Steve Elkington. And Phil Mickelson's press conference, though I couldn't seem to find the part where he was asked about the starting time call. Am I delusional?
What fun to watch golf on such a classy old layout.
Just a shame it was up against the PGA (way to go USGA!). Congrats to the both teams for such great play and sportsmanship. I'll never forget running in between rooms (TiVo people will understand) to watch the PGA and the Walker Cup unfolding!
**Update: Golfweek's Alistair Tait writes about the Walker Cup and recounts the key moments.
Q. This is for Kerry or Andy. Is it the situation that CBS dictates that the last pairing goes off at 3:00, and when you have a situation when you see that the weather is going to be poor, could that not be have been brought forward to 2:00 PM, or is it a stipulation that you must finish at 6:45 for television?
KERRY HAIGH: I think we had for about almost a year that we had agreed on the finish times, and published that in all of the schedules for everyone involved were set for 7:00. The forecast all week long has been for scattered storms and chance of storms and lightning. As we know, we've been very fortunate up until now with storms that could come at any time basically during the afternoon.
Q. Just as a follow up to that, I didn't hear a clear answer on that; is that dictated by television or does the PGA dictate that in terms of the final tee time for 3:00?
KERRY HAIGH: We certainly talked with CBS and I guess mutually agreed on what is an appropriate finish time.
Q. Did that conversation happen at a certain point today where you sat down and said, we have this forecast, and therefore we will make or not make this decision? Was that a meeting that happened today?
KERRY HAIGH: No. As I say, we agreed on the start times and we've looked at the weather basically throughout the week and kept the plan that has been all along.
Q. Truth be told, the weather forecast was far worse today than for any time of the week. There was just a chance of scattered showers early in the week and today every forecast I saw on The Weather Channel and locally were pretty certain it was going to happen.
KERRY HAIGH: The forecast was, I think, there was more of a chance of scattered showers but they were still scattered. If you look further to the south, they have had no activity at all, and we were within four or five miles of missing it ourselves. So I think the forecast was very accurate, that it was certainly very scattered. We were just unfortunate that it came too close and right on top of it.
Q. Let's see if he can drive this nail with a different hammer. You conduct a number of championships, some of which are not televised. If you were in like circumstance with a non televised championship, and you knew the details that you had today, would you err on the side of caution and adjust your time so that you didn't carry your championship over into the next day?
KERRY HAIGH: That's a good question. But no, I think we would have probably had we made all of our arrangements for a 7:00 finish and with all of the people and parties involved, we would have kept it the same.
Q. Not to belabor this anymore but Phil Mickelson was asked about this and he said he asked to have the tee times moved up. Is that accurate and were you part of that conversation? KERRY HAIGH: I'm not aware of that.
Q. Just to make sure we have this clear, there was no discussion today with CBS about moving the tee times up?
KERRY HAIGH: There was no discussion, no.
Q. Just to make sure we have this clear, there was no discussion today with CBS about moving the tee times up?
KERRY HAIGH: There was no discussion, no.
Q. Just on going back to this again, just so I know, who ultimately has the authority to change the tee time? Is it you or is it CBS?
KERRY HAIGH: The PGA of America.
...During the Golf Channel's 30 minute show between Sunday's TNT and CBS coverage, Rich Lerner of The Golf Channel asked
the PGA's Roger Warren about moving PGA Championship tee times up an hour to
ensure the round was finished.
Warren claimed that the forecast was too sketchy to make such a concrete move. But it's hard not to imagine that had they teed off earlier, the round might have finished before the weather arrived. CBS would have come on the air with the last group teeing off, and at the worst, finished a little early.
So just remember, there are several hundred very bitter writers sitting in a New Jersey tent, armed with laptops, ready to pounce. A Monday finish fiasco has been long overdue at golf's majors, because giving the networks a strong prime time lead in has taken a priority to finishing rounds at a reasonable hour.
And as I type, Phil Mickelson is being asked by a scribbler and he's choosing his words very carefully, pointing out that they finished in the dark yesterday and that alone should have been reason to move the times up a bit.
Sure looked like a lovely day at Baltusrol! It was stuffy here in the
Home of the Homeless. I actually had to turn on the ceiling fan this
afternoon. Still didn't help me ward off the nap. So what exactly did
Phil do on 15?
Anyway, GolfDigest.com's Brian Wacker leads with weather talk and has other notes in his "postcard" from the PGA. Gary Van Sickle at SI handicaps the finish and says Baltusrol is the big winner this week.
Golfonline's Tom Mackin catches up with Billy Farrell, son of longtime Baltusrol head pro who was making a rare visit to the club. He also writes about the Wolffe brothers, Rick and Stuart, who produced the Tillinghast books along with Bob Trebus.
AP has several notes on the event, including the story behind John Daly's move to a wedge and the cell phone ban. Damon Hack writes about Tiger's missed opportunity 66.
And here's a weather by the hour forecast site, one of many that the assembled inkslingers will be watching anxiously tomorrow. Nice forecast. If you were playing here in LA or in the Pacific Northwest...ah, I won't go there.
Here's the AP story on the U.S. and its 1-point lead in the Walker Cup. And the official site also has news, notes and Sunday times.
I hate to be picky, but if you are going to go to the trouble to send four NBC announcers and a large crew to Chicago, maybe we can get more than 90 minutes of golf coverage? Especially when you're scheduled for two hours!?
Some helicopter flyovers would be nice too. Nonetheless, the course looks neat.
Oh, and according to someone on site, Fred Ridley talked about C.B. Macdonald's design during the opening ceremony. Again, not to be picky, but the course they are playing this week is Raynor redesign of Macdonald's.
Thankfully, someone asked the question
a lot of us were probably wondering about: for the second day in a row
Tiger tried (unsuccessfully) to hit an easy 3-wood into 17, with
Q. What was your yardage on 17? What's the difference between 3 wood or 2 iron?Hmmm...4 would've worked too.
TIGER WOODS: Well, it's 274 and I can't carry 2 iron 274 downwind uphill. If it was flat, I'd probably hit 2 iron but since it's uphill, I can't. So I have to hit some kind of choke up cut 3 wood to the front. It was 274 to the front, or 290 to the hole, stays downwind, as hot as it is, the ball is flying forever. I tried to start the ball to the left trees, cut them, hit some kind of banana ball and I actually pulled it.
Q. Given that set of conditions, any thought to laying up and giving yourself...
TIGER WOODS: Why? No. (Laughter).
Q. You're a good wedge player.
TIGER WOODS: No. I needed 3.
He also confirms hitting 17 iron into 18 for the second day in a row.
Speaking of the finishing hole, I think it played about as easy as a par-5 ever has in a major:
18 4.4177 Eagles: 11 Birdies: 124 Pars: 94 Bogies: 8 Others: 0
The Atlanta Journal-Constitutions Glenn Sheeley looks at the slow play issue. Ben
Crane says the rumors that he reads the Bible scriptures stuffed into
his yardage book are are "absurd." But Friday at Baltusrol, Crane put
on this absurd display:
- Time to hit tee shot.. 52 seconds
- Time to hit approach........ 1:34
- Time to hit first putt...... 1:18
- John Daly Tee shot.............. 19 seconds
- Approach shot..........12 seconds
- First putt............ 16 seconds