"Is it a Hall of Fame or a mausoleum?"

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That’s the very appropriate question posed by Golfweek’s Eamon Lynch a week after we learned of the latest inductees, including one who was worthy long before she passed away.

From Lynch’s column:

The tardy selection of Peggy Kirk Bell isn’t the first time the Hall has soured what ought to be a special achievement.

Last year’s ceremony was in New York, a lavish affair so tedious and drawn-out that I feared some older Hall of Famers present might make the “In Memoriam” list before the evening ended. Earlier that day I met with Ian Woosnam, one of the inductees. Woosie won the Masters, was ranked World No. 1 and had more than 50 career victories. I asked if it rankled that he didn’t get the call to the Hall until he was almost 60 years old, after years of seeing others with less impressive careers cut in line.

“What do you think?” he answered with a thin smile.

Part of the problem lies in the vetting and selection of candidates. That is determined by two committees, both stacked with officials from various Tours and governing bodies. Honorable people all, but it stretches credulity to assume that every decision is free of institutional or personal bias toward particular candidates.

From there he goes into the selection that expedited the Hall’s ongoing run-ins with credibility: Monty.

We discussed all of this silliness on Morning Drive today, including the reason to even care about having a great HOF, the oversights, the issues with voting politics caused by shifting away from writers as voters, and, most of all the ongoing issues with having a Hall full of too many oversights to ever just enjoy the current class.

 

Johnny Miller Really Is Retiring To Spend More Time With His Family

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I’m getting weepy just thinking how weepy Johnny Miller will be at the 2019 Waste Management Open when he hangs up his IFB, questions his last club selection and takes his well, well, well earned retirement to really, truly genuinely spend more time with his family.

From G.C. Digital’s item and Golf Central where Miller will be talking more extensively on Tuesday’s show about his plans after nearly 30 incredible years as the most concise, prepared and opinionated analyst golf television has known.

“The call of being there for my grandkids, to teach them how to fish. I felt it was a higher calling,” Miller told GolfChannel.com. “The parents are trying to make a living, and grandparents can be there like my father was with my four boys. He was there every day for them. I'm a big believer that there is a time and a season for everything.”

Johnny To Retire, Azinger To Replace While Still Working For Fox

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The Forecaddie with fantastic news for golf fans grappling with the thought of Johnny Miller retiring and no standout, no-brainer replacements.

Except one.

Will we get a Paul Azinger-Tirico-Faldo cameo of their old ESPN days on some weekday telecast on Golf Channel (Faldo can’t work on NBC, I don’t believe)? Maybe at The Open?

Golf Lives: A Look At Genuine "Grow The Game" Courses

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As golf’s leaders fuss over their PSA’s and other feel good grow the game efforts, we all know the sport will only really sustain players and passion if there are fun, relaxed and maybe a tad quirky facilities.

Callaway and Vice’s collaboration on Golf Lives is highlighting three “Home Courses” in Washington D.C., Portland and Gothenburg. This is just Season 1, so if you have nominations for similar places to highlight, please post in the comments here or message me.

Each piece, around 6 minutes, highlights the best of these places. I’m particularly enamored with Edgefield’s vibe and character, though having been to Wild Horse can attest to what a perfect golf facility they’ve created (and maintained).

The series can be seen on CallawayGolf.com or on Callaway TV on Apple TV and Roku. And below.

The description for volume 1:

“Opened in June 1939, Langston is steeped in a rich history. Known for its triumphant role in the desegregation of public golf, the course has been integral to the growth of the game’s popularity amongst African Americans. With its celebratory feel, Langston shows us golf is not only a uniter of people, but of generations.”

Beer drinkers and golf bag inventors will especially love Edgefield, described here but not mentioning the “Cartender” and the home-made bags created by a local:

“The air is fresh, the beers are cold and the vibes are electric at Edgefield. You'd be hard pressed to find a more laid back, approachable and enjoyable environment for a round. Overlooking stunning panoramic views of Northeast Portland, two par-3 pub courses (12 holes and 20 holes) wind through vineyards, thickets of blackberry bushes and a vintage distillery bar. All are welcome at Edgefield, especially those who have never swung a club.”

And the final film from Dave Axland and Dan Proctor’s Wild Horse design in Nebraska is explained this way:

“In 1997, the locals and farmers living in the tight-knit town of Gothenburg decided to build a golf course. A bank loan, a couple of tractors, and a whole lotta sweat equity later, their prairie land masterpiece is now considered one of the best in the country. Wild Horse is the soul of the community, providing unforgettable memories for all who play it.”

USGA, R&A Budge In Final Green Reading Book Ban

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The full release is here. Golfweek’s Brentley Romine has the highlights of the final announcement.

Here is what was gleaned from the feedback period of the green reading book limitations presented this summer:

Some of the changes made to the original proposal following the feedback period include the removal of: (1) the proposed minimum slope indication limit of 4% and (2) the prohibition against using handwritten notes to create a copy or facsimile of a detailed green map.

Additions to the original proposal include: (1) a new size limit for the printed book/material (restricted to pocket-size), (2) a new prohibition against magnification of putting green information and (3) a new requirement that any hand-drawn or written information must be in a book or on a paper meeting the size limit and must be written by the player and/or his or her caddie.

Reading Mike Stachura’s Golf World account, the author sounds pretty skeptical of Thomas Pagel’s claims on behalf of the USGA suggesting that the limitations will still limit these books in competition.

The new interpretation, however, seems to shift from some of the original proposal’s fundamental convictions. In July, Pagel said, “Basically, the books are giving them a recommended line, and that goes too far. The skill of reading a green was diminishing, quickly going away. And we wanted to make sure it was retained.” But there were two factors that seemed to sway the decision away from specific restrictions on the information in any green-reading book. One was history, and the other was enforcement.

“First, we know the ability to take notes has been part of the game for a very long time, and we did not want to get away from that,” he said. “I also heard loud and clear about the challenge of enforcing the rule. Players were asking, How do I know if my notes are OK? and How do I know if the notes another player has on the other side of the fairway are OK?

Will this turn out to be another anchoring ban that ultimately leaves people wondering if players are skirting the rule? I hope not.

Not Everyone Is Excited About Congressional's Restoration Program

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Congressional Country Club, soon slated to host a PGA of America event every other year for the rest of our lives, has a Keith Foster restoration of Devereux Emmet’s design in its immediate future. With that is tree removal apparently carried out in a questionable manner for Montgomery County, reports the Washington Post’s Jennifer Barrios.

After inspecting the grounds and comparing aerial photos with photos received as part of a complaint, authorities said the club appears to have removed roughly half an acre of tree cover in recent months — possibly in preparation for hosting several high-profile tournaments in coming years, including the PGA Championship and the Ryder Cup.

A club member, who triggered the investigation by tipping off a local environmental group, estimated that 1,000 trees were taken down on the 358-acre property. The member thinks it happened in the colder winter months, when the courses are less utilized.

“I am [upset] because they’re ruining my club,” said the member, who spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of retribution from club officials, but added that dozens of fellow clubgoers are also concerned.

“I think they don’t want members to fuss,” the person said. “I think it [was] also quietly done so it didn’t draw attention from the county.”

Too late now!

Calls Should Come Any Day Now For Thomas Bjorn To Solve Brexit

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Is he a Hard Brexit guy or more of a Soft Brexit type? Given that he gets a standing ovation these days for walking to a first tee en route to an inevitable round starting in the 70s, the Captain Thomas Bjorn lovefest is now hitting full stride. Comparisons to Churchill seem inevitable. 

Alistair Tait of Golfweek on what the victorious 2018 Captain is planning now that he managed to craft winning lineups, drive his buggy without injuring a spectator and keep his players from bad mouthing their week. Oh, and he’s not pulling the I-told-you-so-card on his Sergio selection, as he’s entitled to do. 

Take the Dane’s “controversial” decision to select Sergio Garcia as one of his wild-card picks. Bjorn was pilloried from all points – including this one – for picking the out of form Spaniard. If Bjorn had any reason to say “I told you so,” this was his opportunity. Instead, he took a dignified stance.

“I’m not one to sit there and say I told you so, because Sergio could have showed up and not won points,” Bjorn said. “He could have played well and lost matches. That happens in the Ryder Cup.

Now, I’m happy the Europeans are enjoying this victory, but as we discussed on Morning Drive, the excessive celebration flags are about to start flying.

Trophy Wrap: Leishman Is CIMB Worthy, Pepperell Takes British Masters, Chun Claims The Hana, Langer Wins No. 38 In The SAS And Tennant Wins US Senior Women's Am

Marc Leishmann fended off—who else?—but Justin Thomas along with 54-hole co-leaders Gary Woodland and Shubhankar Sharma to take the CIMB Classic and the solar panel trophy for the winner.

Because it was just too bloody cold for anyone to go back outside, Eddie Pepperell posed inside Walton Heath’s clubhouse to celebrate his Sky Sports British Masters victory. Alistair Tait with details of the win for Golfweek.

In Gee Chun takes the turquoise jacket and a matching lamp base in the KEB Hana Bank:

Bernhard Langer won again on the PGA Tour Champions, his 38th title. This time it’s the SAS Championship and a piece of crystal he can pawn to buy a non-white belt with.

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Trophy No. 38 for @bernhard.langer. 👏🏆

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And it was a few days ago, but congrats to Lara Tennant for winning the U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur. The 51-year-old had her father on the bag! Scott Lipsky with the the story of Tennant’s 3&2 win over Sue Wooster.

Jason Day: Roll Back The Ball? Better Move The Tees Up!

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In a new Golf World interview with Brian Wacker, Jason Day is asked about the prospects of a limited-distance ball at the Masters and the possible effect on the game.

First off, people would still play the Masters. But if they did that, then they better shorten the tees again. If we have limited-flight balls, we're going to have 4-irons into No. 7 and things like that.

Oh no a long iron! We can’t have that!

You see, the idea is to actually make long par-4s long again and par-5s risky again and maybe even get back to getting the fairways at Augusta National running instead of grainy and slow fairways. But go on…

But do I want the ball to go shorter? No. Why? Isn't it fun watching Dustin Johnson crush a drive over a lake 300 yards away? No one wants to see someone plod it down the right and not take it on. That's boring.

If you push trying to rein it in too far, then people will stop watching golf. People want to see risk.

Actually, when everyone can carry it 300 yards, the thrill of such risk taking is gone because it’s no longer risk. The reward for being genuinely long off the tee has been muted either because so many can do it, or because the courses have no chance of keeping up. That’s boring to watch.

The problem is the architects—some of them, anyway—decided that because the ball is going forever, they need to make courses longer to make them harder. No, you don't. Just be a better architect.

Psssssssst…most architects of the courses you play are….dead. They can’t be better architects.

Even after hearing these rationales for so many years, I’m still surprised at the level of misunderstanding about what is genuinely fun and satisfying to watch.

Video: The Great Distance Debate With Lucas Herbert And Mike Clayton

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Nice work by Mark Hayes, Mike Clayton and Golf Australia to do some more extensive testing with various driver-ball combinations with professional Lucas Herbert. And most admirable of young Herbert to subject himself to the old clubs at his peril (he’s continued his fine year since being reunited with this Taylor Mades, in case you worry after seeing some of the shots hit with persimmons).

Anyway, I’ve spoiled the results above but I think you’ll enjoy watching this not only to see what the results are, but the impact of driver head size:

PGA Tour Closing In On Alameda's Corica Park For Curry Tournament, Two-Week 2019 Off-Season

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I’m not sure what’s more eye-opening in Ron Kroichick’s update on plans for a 2019 PGA Tour stop in San Francisco and hosted by Steph Curry: that a true public course is likely to host, or that it would me just two weeks between the end of the Tour Championship and

First reported by Golf.com as the likely venue, Kroichick confirms and then notes where this likely new PGA Tour stop will fit:

Tour officials have not announced the dates of this potential tournament, but it’s tentatively slotted for Sept. 19-22, early in the 2019-20 season. The current 2018-19 “wraparound” schedule started last week in Napa, takes a break in December and ends with the regular-season finale Aug. 1-4. Then the FedEx Cup playoffs run for three weeks, ending Aug. 25 with the Tour Championship.

The tour is expected to take a two-week break before launching its season Sept. 12, 2019, at the Greenbrier Resort in West Virginia. Curry’s event would be next, followed by the Safeway Open in Napa, Sept. 26-29, one week earlier than in recent years.

At Least Team USA Helped Coin A Spectacular New Term: Crony Captainism

Peter Kaufman restructures distressed assets as an investment banker and takes a businessman’s approach to America’s latest Ryder Cup rout in Europe.

In it he spawns a spectacular phrase that will make Patrick Reed happy, assuming he reads MorningRead.com.


1. End crony captain-ism. Let’s stop the parade of old PGA Tour players as captains. No more, Whose turn is it? Or, Which of my buddies do I want to hang around with in Paris? I hate to pick on U.S. captain Jim Furyk – he seems like a nice-enough fellow – but he is the most recent glaring example of what needs to change.

Furyk chose his pals Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods as captain’s choices, and it’s clear that they had huge influences on everything Furyk did, or did not do. They are a combined 90 years old (really). They also are ranked Nos. 1 and 2, respectively, in the category of Most Ryder Cup Points Lost in History.

But they are “very experienced”! Very experienced at losing, actually. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting a different result. Their losing Ryder Cup scar tissue has scar tissue on top of scar tissue. They just do not play nicely with others. That is not a recipe for success.

New Evidence Surfaces Suggesting Europe Is Enjoying This Ryder Cup Win A Bit Too Much

Enjoy it, savor it, hype it a little, but a MoliWood signage build out at the British Masters when your tour is in the red? Too much! The Golf Gods will note this.

More Details For The Match: No Lights, No Tickets Available

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As a TV show it’s not a surprise they are limiting this to high rollers and other corporate drones, but it’s a bit disappointing that the “under the lights” element Phil Mickelson predicted for his pay-per-view match with Tiger Woods will be played only in daylight.

Brian Hurlburt reports for the Las Vegas Journal-Review on the $9 Million (Because The PGA Tour Says So) match set for next month at Shadow Creek.

“I will say it’s not uncommon for players not to like each other on Ryder Cup teams. But they almost always like each other more after.”

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With Justin Thomas backing USA captain Jim Furyk’s assertion that 2018 Ryder Cup couplings were decided and communicated well in advance of the matches, Patrick Reed’s complaint of Jordan Spieth separation-frustration took another hit.

That will not be an issue again until he makes the next American team, potentially as soon as 2019’s Presidents Cup in Melbourne. But until then Reed will be the villain and Eamon Lynch says that’s a good thing for golf.

This quote in the piece from Paul Azinger is fun food for thought:

“I’ve always viewed him as sincere. I like the way he handles himself on the course,” Paul Azinger said. Then he added wryly, “I will say it’s not uncommon for players not to like each other on Ryder Cup teams. But they almost always like each other more after.”

Great Aces! Pepperell's High Bouncing Spinner, Whee Kim's Beemer

Two beauties today for different reasons.

Eddie Pepperell at Walton Heath will down as one of the wackiest hole-in-one’s you’ll ever see. From round one of the 2018 Sky Sports British Masters:

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Wow. Just wow 💥 #BritishMasters

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At the CIMB Classic in Malaysia, Whee Kim files a stock ace but gives it a little extra something with the delayed running reaction after hanging around the tee to pose with his new 7 series plug in hybrid! Not a full on Rich Beem reaction but a Beemer in his future!

Brilliant Move Or Fox Redux? Sorting Out PGA Of America's New TV Deal

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I had trouble not recalling the many apparent similarities with the USGA and Fox TV deal in reading today’s rollout of the PGA Championship’s CBS renewal/ESPN television deal.

There is the 11-year deal term, which remains confounding on so many levels given how much more lazily entities perform when not incentivized by an expiring contract.

There is the PGA of America turning to an organization—ESPN—that had all but given up doing golf except for the Masters rights, earned as much through their reach as their devotion to golf.

There is ESPN primarily looking to lock up new content deals to fuel a new product. In the PGA’s case it’s ESPN+ coverage. For Fox with the USGA, it was Fox Sports 1.

There are the usual proclamations of getting special attention to under-covered events like the PGA Junior League which, as we saw with the USGA-Fox deal now just doing 8 of 13 USGA events with no front or back end coverage, fizzled out as the cost and rating realities led to altered intentions.

There are the usual vapid statements about better opportunities to grow the game, etc. The USGA and Fox promised unprecedented opportunities to raise the USGA’s profile for the betterment of the game. The USGA has never been more anonymous or underserved.

And then there is the PGA price tag: a rise from around $22 million annually for the PGA Championship to $70 million according to multiple sources who I spoke to after the deal was announced. Furthermore, CBS has insisted that ESPN pay a higher share of the rights fee, an amazing thing given that CBS gets the prime weekend coverage. So let’s use basic logic and assume ESPN is paying $40 million or so annually to CBS’s $30 million.

So far, not a word has been uttered about how the extra cash in the coffers will benefit the PGA of America membership, nor was there any mention of reducing the horrible commercial and promo overload that has made the PGA Championship golf’s least appealing major on television.

Also intriguing to see will be how deep into the night both networks go for the PGA’s two West Coast playings during the 11 years. Will 60 Minutes have to wait on golf? Will NBA playoffs move to ESPN2?

John Ourand and John Lombardo report for Sports Business Daily on the deal’s known details and players, with the emphasis on ESPN+ and the PGA Championship as a key part of building the budding streaming service.

But ESPN also is looking for content to convince people to subscribe to its ESPN+ streaming service. “We’re building a new business in ESPN+. It was ideal for us to have a golf major available for acquisition.” Starting with the ’20 event at Harding Park in S.F., CBS and ESPN will have wall-to-wall coverage (more than 175 hours) during the tournament. CBS will carry weekend afternoon coverage, while ESPN and ESPN+ will carry the Thursday and Friday rounds exclusively. It also will carry weekend rounds before CBS goes on air. Interestingly, while CBS is on air on the weekend, ESPN+ will have live coverage from featured holes and featured groups.

Amazing to think that for 11 years, CBS will yield to ESPN on those digital fronts. Anyway…

There was also this:

ESPN+ also will carry practice rounds before the tournament, press conferences and driving range interviews. ESPN will produce “SportsCenter” from the event. Other aspects of the deal: ESPN will carry the PGA Jr. League Championship starting in Oct. ’20. “That could become a different version of the Little League World Series,” Waugh said.

It could. And probably won’t.

Where this deal could differ from USGA/Fox is in the partnerships: CBS loves golf and has been devoted to covering the game a long time, including the PGA Championship since 1991. The last year saw major technological enhancements to the PGA broadcast. Finally.

ESPN, while clearly stockpiling content ala Fox and FS1, has at times shown great interest in golf and as with its involvement in tennis, figures to go all in to make this work. Many of their top Sportscenter anchors love the game and as Mike McQuade and Rob King’s roles at the network increased, golf coverage has expanded.

Still, eleven years is plenty of time to lose interest and to have little incentive to invest, especially if the parent companies deem the deal a loss leader. Even as Fox has settled into their role handling the USGA events and innovated, the network broke away from live US Amateur golf at Pebble Beach this summer to show golf documentary reruns, presumably because a corporate beancounter wasn’t about to cover overtime pay.

So while danger signs exist for similar headaches that annoy viewers, the PGA of America has diversified their partnerships to now include CBS, ESPN, NBC (Ryder Cup, KPMG LPGA, Senior PGA) and Golf Channel (Ryder Cup, KPMG LPGA, Senior PGA). One hopes they negotiated more outs and opportunities to refine broadcast details in response to changing times or changing corporate cultures.

The next priority for the PGA? Figure out how to take their riches and somehow restore the golf professional to a higher place in the game.

Full CBS press release.

Full ESPN press release.

Full PGA of America press release.

Is It Time To Just Start Ignoring The World Golf Hall Of Fame?

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That’s the question I’ve grappled with on the news of the World Golf Hall of Fame’s latest induction class announced today.

The short answer to the above question is a simple, lamentable and painful yes.

This is not a reflection on the current class, all fine contributors to the game who at various times were, are or will be worthy inductees at Pebble Beach next year. The problem lies in the increasingly clubby edge to who does get inducted. I’ve grown bored with the blatant, almost incomprehensible disregard for anyone who might have contributed to the game prior to 1990. Or, anyone who might have crossed former the long list of executives and former players whose feathers are easily ruffled.

Because, heaven forbid, someone designed a bunch of brilliant courses, wrote profound books that documented the game’s charms or broke ground in the instruction world. Those core professions vital to “growing the game” mean nothing to golf’s Hall of Fame. Remember, this group only took A.W. Tillinghast after much kicking and screaming, then inducted him with tributes from esteemed historian Harris English and other tour players. A man who gave his life to the game on multiple fronts, who had more golfing soul than most of the Hall members combined, and continues to influence the sport decades after his passing, could barely get in the Hall.

A long list of visionaries, revolutionaries and dreamers who gave their life to the sport has been shunned by the Hall either due to ignorance, politics or the laziness of not grasping how those people influenced the sport. The structure of the Hall also does not help recognize anyone outside of players. Sheer ignorance of what it means to contribute to the sport claims plenty of other victims, too.

Due to inevitable comparisons, many inductees often get unfairly seen as unworthy given how many of their equally worthy predecessors have been overlooked.

Which is why, like most of today’s top players and some of the committee types listed on the selection profess page who have blown off Hall ceremonies even when they were within blocks of the induction, it’s time to start ignoring the World Golf Hall of Fame. Given its already tenuous place in the sport, this won’t be difficult.

Another Fine Flashback: The First Live TV Ace By Tony Jacklin

Another gem from the European Tour archives was posted to celebrate this week’s British Masters at Walton Heath, this time the first ace seen on live television.

Here I would have guessed Sarazen at Troon in 1973 was the first, but it was six years later by Tony Jacklin: