As a builder of courses, I have had to observe closely through the years the subtle changes that have crept into shotmaking and to an extent, reconcile course design to new balls, and new shots, or rather it would be better to say, the passing of old ones. A.W. TILLINGHAST
As the sun sets on Peter Dawson's R&A tenure lowlighted by changing the Old Course (just so he wouldn't have to push his organization toward a messy marriage with the equally money-hoarding obsessed USGA against a ball manufacturer), we must remember that Mr. Dawson has told us things have hit a "plateau" on the distance front.
However, with the end to the PGA Tour season upon us, Joel Beall has already started crunching some numbers and you will be shocked--shocked!--to learn that there are more players than ever averaging over 300 yards, more greens hit in regulation than ever, and more par-5s rendered meaningless.
But, whereas these rockets used to be a feat that garnered "Can you believe that?!?!" elbows to your friends, they've now become routine. If anything, it's eyebrow-raising when someone doesn't cross the 300-yard barrier with their drive.
And just to spare you newer readers the trouble of posting: I know that the players are more athletic than ever. I know they are armed with the best-ever equipment, instruction and fitting tools in the history of the game. Which is all fine. But just remember, there are rules governing distance in place. All I'm asking is that they be shifted a bit to keep the courses we have relevant.
If the need for maintaining relevance and reasonable-amount-of-acreage part still perplexes you, that part I can't help you with.
Watching Jason Day stumble around Conway Farms in 69 today was arguably more impressive than his opening 61-63. After all, the real sign of playing on another stratosphere in this goofy game is not necessarily how low you go, but how well you manage the not so great days.
While I'm still not sold on this becoming the year of Day after Jordan Spieth's historic major run, he's making things interesting.
Ryan Lavner, in his GolfChannel.com third round story from the BMW Championship, offered this:
Day has played 33 rounds since early June. He has signed for an over-par score in only two of them. In other words, it’ll take a super-low round to even challenge him.
“It’s almost playing golf darn near perfect,” Fowler said.
Though Day has a suspect record with a 54-hole lead – 3-for-9 – he has closed out his last two victories, including at the PGA. Coughing up a six-shot advantage would tie a Tour record.
As golf's playoffs re-appear with a thud after a week off, playoff supporter Jason Sobel says at ESPN.com that one last major tweak is needed: a Labor Day ending.
Unfortunately, if Tim Finchem stays on as Commissioner past next year, such a revision seems unlikely merely because unlike his peers at the NFL, Finchem is about what's best for his image and bonuses, not the common sense fan perspective.
Sobel with the backstory:
It all dates back to a rare miscalculation from PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem, who theorized nearly a decade ago that the playoffs would coexist in football's domain without any real issues.
"This is not just an event that's scheduled out there as an island into football," he said at the time. "This is a series of events that starts before football, runs two weeks pre-NFL, runs two weeks into NFL, is all tied together. ... I think it's like a growing tide during the course of the year; it will carry us in and have really solid ratings. We'll get nicked if it's a huge football game, but ... I feel very bullish about it."
The real head-scratcher is there is a fairly simple solution to this problem.
Think about it: With minimal tweaking, the playoffs could finish on Labor Day, perhaps on the West Coast, offering so many fans a primetime finale not just to the season, but the summer. If the hushed hum of golf telecasts resonates as one of the season's traditional sounds, then the last one should signify a conclusion to this time period, a gentle whisper that it's time to go back to school, back to work and, yes, back to the fantasy football draft room.
We do a lot of looking back on the web, so with that in mind check out my column at GolfDigest.com looking ahead to the week.
Granted, it doesn't seem like the best week to preview tournaments and other goings on, but as you'll see the lack of Thursday PGA Tour, LPGA Tour, Web.com or Champions Tour golf means some fun Golf Channel programming.
And how to find Patriot Golf Day-friendly golf. That, and more in the Forward press.
(BTW this is the first of hopefully many, so the themes and content will vary, but I'm open to suggestions and tips for this early week table-setting-minded column.)
Normally MVP's and Player of the Year awards aren't of much interest, so it was surprising to see the reaction to the chat we had on Morning Drive.
Damon Hack took the view that Jason Day has entered the Player of the Year debate, while I just can't see how Jordan Spieth's 2015 can be overlooked considering his 2015 performance in the majors goes down as one of five best of the modern era alongside efforts by Hogan, Nicklaus and Woods.
Day could win the next three playoff events--Deutsche Bank, BMW, Tour Championship--but he still won't be remembered by history the way Spieth will be. Yes, Day would be very rich, the leading money winner and the player of the year most years based on wins and capturing the PGA. It might cause the vote to not be unanimous, yet perhaps in a nod to dwindling attention spans, the idea of overlooking Spieth winning the Masters, U.S. Open and missing The Open playoff by one, is still hard to fathom.
Then again, we are in a "what have you done for me lately culture," so maybe Spieth's going to be old news if Day keeps up the amazing golf. After all, memores for some suggest Tiger beat nobodies!
Doug Ferguson took on the topic and got this from Day:
“Right now, Jordan Spieth gets my vote,” Day said. “Winning two major championships at such a young age is big. Winning four tournaments overall is great.”
Then again, there are still three FedEx Cup playoff events remaining, including the Tour Championship that determines the $10 million bonus. It’s already been a banner summer for the 27-year-old Australian, and he’s not done yet.
“I think winning the FedEx Cup and maybe one or two more tournaments, that could put my name in the mix for player of the year,” Day said. “I’m not sure. I’m going to leave that to the peers, to the people. That will definitely throw my name in the mix.”
And your vote right now for Player of the Year, with an option to wimp out...
There's a superb photo gallery accompanying Steve Polti's most enjoyable Star-Ledger column on Donald Trump taking The Barclays by storm.
While most of the photos were pretty self-explanatory, I just felt like this caption on John Munson's image didn't quite tell us everything:
Donald Trump and Wayne Gretzky watch Dustin Johnson on the 14th hole during the final round of The Barclays golf tournament at the Plainfield Country Club.
Don't get me wrong, it works, but I feel like we, as fans of the Star Ledger, might be able to do better...
The best player on the planet right now actually has a chance to get the algorithm's attention at this week's Deutsche Bank Championship. Why is this funny?
Because we could be in for a lot of discussion, speeches, thank yous and cutting of bonus checks for one of the three lads vying for the typically-six-weeks-behind "World No. 1" label.
Anyway, Rex Hoggard explains how Day can pull a Keen Ice and come flying down the lane while American Pharoah and Frosted were outdueling most of the way. Hint: Day needs to win this week, not that this is a reach given the courses power bias, his affinity for TPC Boston and the way he's playing.
Brian Wacker touched on this and five other things from Sunday's Barclays, where Day dominated.
“Really trying to manage that has been tough. But over the years it's starting to become a lot easier. The last six weeks, they've been crazy. U.S. Open, The Open Championship, you mix that in with three other wins. The good thing about it is it's not over. I have this great momentum going into next week to a course I absolutely love. It's only positive stuff moving forward from here.”
ESPN.com's Jason Sobel notes how Day suddenly makes winning look easy after having done so little of it up until this year, where he has four victories.
Entering the current season, Day had competed in 151 PGA Tour events and won only twice. For most players, the "only" qualifier in that sentence wouldn't be applicable. That type of victory ratio throughout a career will keep any player employed at the game's highest level and, yes, extremely wealthy.
Hoggard says the difference may be in the lag putting. The stats back him up.
Maybe a more detailed explanation would be dramatically improved lag putting, like when Stenson gave Day something to look at on the leaderboard on Sunday, moving to within two strokes with back-to-back birdies at Nos. 13 and 14. Your new FedEx Cup front-runner answered by rolling in 61 feet of birdie putts at the 14th and 15th holes.
On paper it would explain how Day, who hasn’t ranked outside the top 30 in strokes gained-putting the last five seasons, is second on Tour in putts outside of 25 feet this year, converting 10 percent from that neighborhood.