"They wanted a drivable par 4. They got it."

That's Davis Love talking about the 260-yard 15th.

While I feel for the players having to play the par-3 15th or any hole that long with a green designed for a shot about 75 yards shorter, I couldn't help but laugh seeing three and four irons as the club of choice for those under the age of 35.  And as Bill Fields explains, the guy who shot 63 sums up the best approach. Or is it?

"I'm not a huge fan of playing a 260-yard par 3 with water and bunkers, but like I said yesterday, we all have to play it, we all have to suck it up and try to hit a good shot there," said Stricker. "You're going to see some big numbers there and you're going to see some birdies there. But it's very difficult."

As Bob Sowards, an Ohio club professional who carded a first-round 69 said after parring No. 15 with a 17-degree hybrid and two putts, "I don't play many holes like that."

The hole played to a 3.4359 scoring average, with 9 birdies, 88 pars, 43 bogies, 14 doubles and two others.

It's a shame there isn't a little more fairway leading up to the green so that someone could lay-up. Though I suspect that might tip folks off that it's not the best design ever. But who says you have to hit a green from a par-3 tee?

Phil: "This is a great example again of how modern architecture is killing the participation of the sport because the average guy just can't play it."

Phil Mickelson, talking to writers after the round, made similar remarks to PGA Tour radio. Thankfully, he did not share these with Atlanta Athletic Club member and Member Hall of Fame member Jim Huber's face during his TNT interview!

Q. Talk about the golf course, different than what you played ten years ago?

PHIL MICKELSON: It's totally different. It's great for the PGA. It's terrific. It's in great shape. It's difficult. It's challenging. There's some really hard holes, and there's some birdie holes. And I think it's a great site for the PGA.

But....

But I also think if you look at the four par 3s here, it's a perfect example of how modern architecture is killing the game, because these holes are unplayable for the member. You have water in front and you have a bunker behind, and you give the player no Avenue to run a shot up, and the 7th hole, where there is not any water; there's a big bunker in front and right of the green, instead of helping the player get it on to the green, it goes down into the lower area, as does the left side.

Now, for us out here, it doesn't make a bit of difference, because we are going to fly the ball to the green either way. And that's why I say it's great for the championship.

But it's a good reason why the number of rounds are down on this golf course amongst the membership. And it's a good reason why, in my opinion, this is a great example again of how modern architecture is killing the participation of the sport because the average guy just can't play it.

And a follow up question from Tom, who must have missed the first part?

Q. Can you talk about your views on the golf course, the par 3s here?

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, Tom, I think this is a great site for the tournament, I really do. It's perfect, because there's some really hard holes and there's some really easy holes for birdies. And I think it's going to be exciting to watch. You're going to see a lot of calamity coming down the stretch and a lot of birdies early and late in the round -- early and middle of the round.

Did and again, it's a wonderful site. But the four holes, the four par 3s, are a wonderful example, and a number of others throughout the course; that is the reason why participation in the sport is going down, because of the modern architecture, that doesn't let the average guy play.

Now, we have no problem playing these holes, but when you put water in front and a bunker in back, and you give the player no vehicle to run a shot up, the member can't play and that's why membership participation on this golf course is down like 25 per cent.

And it's every course throughout -- modern architecture, there are some great ones, but the guy that redid this one, you know, it's great for the championship, but it's not great for the membership.

While I share Phil's view about modern designs like AAC and share his disdain for Rees Jones' no-reward design, it's still unreasonable to blame modern architecture for the game's problems. Modern designs like AAC are a response to the distance the ball is flying. Maybe not a great response, but a response nonetheless. You can't blame the folks for trying to respond, but when the situation is constantly in flux, you are bound to get it wrong.

And Phil is opposed to any kind of regulation of his equipment to keep courses relevant without changing them.

So complaining about such designs without also wanting something done to rein in distance advances is like complaining about credit default swaps, and then fighting any new laws to regulate them.

Stevie Bends The Ear Of Phil Mickelson (AKA The Prick)

Featured on Golf Channel's excellent PGA Pre-game show: Stevie (You like, you really, really like me) Williams yammering away to Phil Mickelson, who was merely trying to get in a little pre-PGA practice and to ponder the suggestions of his new mental coach (Tim Rosaforte reports), only to have the mad Kiwi bagman blabbering on about Lord knows what.
Read More

For Your Cleansing Consideration: 2011 Women's Amateur At Rhode Island CC

If the that whole virtual reality looking thing in Atlanta is too EA Sports for you, don't forget they've reached match play at the U.S. Women's Amateur at Donald Ross's ultra cool Rhode Island Country Club. Besides being one of the really neat places in the game with a pure golf spirit, great USGA championship history and beautiful setting, it provides a welcome contrast to Atlanta Athletic Club.
Read More

State Of PGA Presser Draws A Whopping Two Questions

Of course, you cynics are thinking that this speaks to the irrelevance of an organization that overpays its leadership and former leadership (ex-CEO at $300k four years after stepping down!), stuffs millions away in its coffers and takes the fourth of four majors to miserable climates.

Or it could have been the numbing opening remarks from PGA of America president Allen Wronowski. Wow, even Tim Finchem doesn't rally kill that hard.

Glory's Last Shot (Again) For Jerry Pate

Doug Ferguson makes a strong case that the PGA of America has hit a new low with its mysterious exemption for Jerry Pate, who is making his “farewell to golf” this week...again.

This is ceremonial golf at its worst. The 57-year-old Pate confirmed as much Sunday when he finished the 3M Championship in Minnesota on the Champions Tour, where he tied for 73rd.

“I’m not going there with high expectations about my golf game as far as being competitive in the field,” Pate said. “But I’m going there for the enjoyment of just seeing old friends and playing the golf course.”

Paul Goydos, who shot 59 on the PGA Tour last year, is the first alternate. A little bit farther down the list is Chad Campbell, who tied for fifth last month in the British Open at Royal St. George’s.

But think of the gate, Doug!

What seems out of place with this invitation is that the PGA already gave one to Pate the last time it was in Atlanta.
That was 10 years ago.

“There are a few times in the history of the championship that we’ve looked at players who have won majors connected with a certain venue,” said PGA chief executive Joe Steranka.

But a former U.S. Open champion who already was given a chance to soak up the memories 10 years ago? For a major that promotes the strongest field in golf, that was a weak decision.