Big Oak Buzzing About Golf's Inability To Stem The Tide Of Embarrassing Rules Imbroglios

I file this Golfweek.com on informal samplling of big-wigs at Augusta National who are tired of all the talk centering on golf's inability to get this whole replay, rules, scorecard phone-in ruling nonsense figured out.  the Masters should not be distracted by such nonsense (or worse, if the forecast holds, issues arising here).

It's time for an emergency meeting of the Five Families. These wars need to happen once every ten years or so.

Leave the guns and the cannolis outside the meeting and get this figured out!

The piece.

For some context on what the greats are saying, here is Beth Ann Nichols on what Jack Nicklaus and Phil Mickelson had to say about the situation.

Jack On Lexi, Scorecard's Signed And A USGA Apology

Pretty gripping stuff yesterday from Jack Nicklaus at a 5 pm Masters pres conference.

First on ball marking...

Q.  In a discussion earlier today with Phil Mickelson about what happened with Lexi Thompson, he suggested that on the TOUR, players are becoming very lax about marking their ball, and maybe the difference between two and three inches on the marks.  Did you ever have problems with that when you were playing?  And secondly, when you saw a rules violation when you were playing, did you bring it to the attention of the player or would you keep mum about it?

    JACK NICKLAUS:  First of all, I was very careful how I marked the ball.  I did not ‑‑ we govern ourselves.  We call rules on ourselves.  The integrity of the game is that you do things the right way.  So I don't think I ever in my career ever marked a ball incorrectly, okay.

    Second, on three occasions on the TOUR, guys were cheating.  And I looked at my playing partner, and he came to me and we talked about it and we said, if it happens again, what do you think.  So on three occasions, it happened again.  Three occasions we took it quietly to the tournament director of the tournament and got out of it.  Nothing was ever said publicly about it.

    Do I like that ‑‑ and I think it's our obligation as a player, if there is a rules violation that's blatant ‑‑ I mean, it could be accidental.  But if it's blatant, then I think it's not fair to the rest of the field not to bring it up.  But you bring it up quietly and try not to embarrass somebody and do it in a class manner that would maybe ‑‑ we had one in The Presidents Cup last time, I think it was last time.  Anyway, and we said, what do we do about it.  And I don't know why I got involved in it.  I wasn't in the tournament but I was there.

    They just got the captains together and had a little conversation with the young man and it was probably the best thing that ever happened to him.  I think you can handle it properly, to his advantage.

    What happened with Lexi, how in the world she did what she did, I don't have any idea.  She had a 12‑inch putt.  She certainly wasn't getting any advantage from it.  And I think she just made a mistake.

    I don't think she did it on purpose.  I don't think she did anything malicious about anything or trying to cheat.  It just happened.  She did it and did it wrong, and it was obvious that she marked it back probably an inch and a half away from where it was.

    So I mean, I don't know her well, but I know her.  I played with her.  Nice gal.  I don't think that's the way she was brought up or the way she would play.  And so I think it just happened to be a mistake.

And then there was this, which was the primary Big Oak topic of the day: the scar on golf caused by scorecard signing, phone-in rulings and the issues created by an outdated system.

    Now, my opinion on that kind of stuff is that once the round is over, and the scorecard is signed, the day is over.  That's my opinion.  I mean, that isn't necessarily what it is.  But that's what I think.

The Golden Bear has spoken.

Then there was this on Oakmont and Dustin Johnson's situation last year.

 I mean, I think what happened with Dustin last year at the U.S. Open, and to tell him on the 12th hole after waiting six holes to tell him; and then waiting, we're going to discuss it at the end of the round, you can't do that.

    I mean, if you're going to penalize somebody, penalize them.  At least let them know and that's when they have the ability to be able to correct it, or try to do the best they can.

    I mean, I had a big argument with Mike Davis about that at The Open.  I says, You can't do that to the guy.

    Says, Oh, we did it throughout.

    I said, Mike, I don't think so.  That was not the right way to do it.  You need to really ‑‑ you've got to tell the kid right away and he's got to know where he stands.

    Mike said, No, I think you're wrong.

    Well, okay.  Taking it back ‑‑ I went to Ireland and next day I'm coming back on an air plane from Ireland and Mike Davis found me over the Atlantic (laughter).  And he says, Jack, I want to apologize.  I think you were right.

    And I thought that was very nice that he did that.  I think the USGA, you don't often hear them say they think they were wrong (laughter).

    And that's not against the USGA or anything.  They are the ruling body in the game and try to do their best and try to do the best of their ability.  For them to make a mistake and think that they were wrong and correct it ‑‑ they had a couple last year that were not real good.

    But I think everybody in the game of golf tries to do it the right way, the best way.  I think there are very, very few people who take advantage of the rules in the game and if somebody does take advantage of the rules of the game, move on and make a lesson of it and I think that's the way we should handle it.

Scott, Mickelson And Spieth's Insights On Augusta National

The Masters press conferences always seem to make players up their game in architectural and course setup assessments.

Three favorites from today's 2017 pre-tournament pressers, starting with Adam Scott on how he gets reacquainted with the course.

ADAM SCOTT:  Yeah, the couple things that really come to mind as I think about that quickly is the severity of the slope on the fairway and standing on uneven lies.  Sunday here, my second shot into 2, I had a perfect tee shot and I had a 3‑iron into the green, and as I walked into the bowl, I was shocked at how severe the downslope was and had to back off and completely readjust to how I was going to hit the shot.  It's very severe, even though it doesn't look it, because there's so much slope everywhere else, I think you can sometimes be fooled.  That's one of the big things.

    The other thing for me is when I look at my aim points off tees, I think of 10 especially, there's been a branch up in the top of a tree that I look at every year to get that line.  That's an important tee shot to kind of have to move one, and so I just check that that same branch is there and if it's not, I don't know what I'll do.  But it was there again this year, a little U‑shape up in the top of the trees there through the fairway.

    Those kind of eye lines and comfort things that have obviously been in the last five or six years really comfortable for me here, I check those.  I've felt very comfortable getting back on the greens this year, probably more so than ever.  I feel like now I'm really getting a good understanding of the fall lines and the few little nuances they have here, because obviously they are very tricky at times.  So I feel very comfortable with that.

    And they are the kind of things ‑‑ but my level of comfort here the last five years has grown so much, and now it's far less daunting coming here than in the past.

    Q.  And 13th tee shot?

    ADAM SCOTT:  It's really condition‑dependent.  If there's a little help, I like to hit the driver and aim it at the kind of corner of the trees through the fairway, and if it draws, then it's perfect.  And if it doesn't, it's 50/50 it might get a bounce to the left in the grass and it might go in the pine straw.  But I think if there's a bit of help, I can hit it long enough.  I know I can carry the corner of the trees, not the highest point like Dustin Johnson hits it over, but I can get across the corner and it's worth trying to get a 7‑ or an 8‑iron in on a helping wind.  And if it's not helping, I'm very comfortable just hitting a 3‑wood pretty straight.  It's now 200‑maybe‑yard run‑out up there, if you just hit a nice 3‑wood, it shouldn't run out.  So it's not a real priority for me to turn it around the corner.

Phil Mickelson on the delicate art of lengthening and how a golf course should properly ebb-and-flow.

Q.  You've designed some great golf courses like Whisper Rock, and now that the Club has room to move the tee back on No. 5, No. 2 and possibly No. 13 one day, would you be in favor of that?

    PHIL MICKELSON:  Well, longer is longer.  Longer isn't always better.  Sometimes it is; sometimes it isn't.  I think that you want to make the hard holes harder, but you don't want to make the ‑‑ you want to actually make the easier holes easier.

    So when you start looking at the birdie holes, which are the par 5s, the last thing you really want to do is continue to lengthen them to where they are not reachable and they become just a wedge game for everybody.  Loses a lot of excitement and it loses a lot of greatness.

    But to move a hole back like No. 5 or No. 11 that are designed to be the tougher holes out there and sandwiched in the middle of a round in between birdie holes, like 2 and 3, I don't think ‑‑ I think that's a good thing.  So you want to make the hard holes harder, but you've got to be strategic on what holes those are.
    I think when you make an easy hole, like 7, one of the toughest pars on the golf course, it changes the entire dynamic of how the golf course plays.

And Jordan Spieth with general thoughts on why excites him about the place.

Q.  I'm just curious, what is it about Augusta, Jordan, that appeals to you, that suits your eye and that allows you to elevate your game in such a way?

    JORDAN SPIETH:  Well, I like the golf course specifically.  I like the elevation changes, the sidehill lies, the pull to Rae's Creek, the way it affects putts.  It's imaginative golf.  It's feel golf and I really enjoy that; when I can go away from technicality and towards feel, it's an advantage for me personally, compared to how I play other places.

    I really love the tournament.  It's pure golf.  When we get to the driving range, it's just us.  It's myself, my caddie, my coach.  No offense; there's nobody else on the range, and that's actually kind of nice for a change to be able to feel like you're not pulled in any direction.  You can just get out there and get done what you want to get done.

    And then obviously, just the feel, the crowds, leading into the tournament is second to none.  I really like that and am able to feed off that.  Rounds like today, just played the back nine, and just had a great time out there.  It was just a lot of fun.  You don't come away from a lot of Tuesdays saying that.  It was just a neat experience in itself.

Phil On Lexi Situation: "I think it should be reversed"

Phil Mickelson's comments today on the Lexi Thompson situation make too much sense. Well, maybe not reversing it, but the sentiment is sound in suggesting what a black eye this is for golf.

From The Masters Press Building:

Q.  Curious to get your reaction to what happened to Lexi, and viewers calling in.

    PHIL MICKELSON:  So rather than address that specific instance, what I would say is this:  I know a number of guys on TOUR that are loose with how they mark the ball and have not been called on it.  I mean, they will move the ball two, three inches in front of their mark, and this is an intentional way to get it out of any type of impression and so forth and I think that kind of stuff needs to stop.

    But I think it should be handled within the TOUR.  I think that the TOUR should go to those players and say, look, we've noticed you've been a little lax in how precise you've been in marking the ball.  We'd like you to be a little bit better at it ‑‑ and see if that doesn't just kind of fix the thing.

    Because we've all marked the ball imprecisely, especially when you're standing on the side of the ball like she was and not directly behind the ball, in line with the hole, where it's easy to draw a line.

    And I think that that should have been handled within the LPGA saying, hey, look, you're a little lax in how you're marking the ball.  You need to be careful.  Here's a warning and let's go from there.

    But to have a tournament be decided like that, with all the scenarios going around, as far as viewers calling in, as far as it being a one‑foot putt with really no advantage, just a little bit of loose marking, if you will, something that happens all the time, intentionally and unintentionally, I just think that's ‑‑ I think it should be reversed.  I think that she should be given the trophy.

Danny Willett Tweets Out His Champions Dinner

If memory serves the Champions Dinner Menu doesn't usually get released until the day after, but defending Masters Champion Danny Willett took to Twitter to share his to help his fellow Green Coats mentally prepare for mini cottage pies and, of course, Yorkshire pudding. At the same time a video at Masters.com goes into his menu choices.

 

 

ShackHouse 31: 2017 Masters Preview

The tradition unlike any other is here and Joe House and I talk all things Augusta National.

Among the topics covered: pushing back at Drive, Chip, and Putt Championship cynics, the new press center, the food, your Twitter questions and lots of make gambling picks and predictions.

As always, you can subscribe on iTunes and or just refresh your device subscription page.

Here is The Ringer's show page.

Same deal with Soundcloud for the show, and Episode 31 is here to listen to right now!

As always, ShackHouse is brought to you by Callaway, who debuted the latest episode of Callaway Live with Luke Wilson last week.

We're also sponsored by Callaway’s new Steelhead irons, so visit CallawayGolf.com to try the Iron Selector tool.

Best of all, they're offering ShackHouse listeners an Epic driver for the best iTunes review for the ShackHouse pod between now and when the 2017 Masters winner slips on his green jacket - and use the word “EPIC” somewhere in the review - and you’re entered to win a Driver.

Masters.com Posts Full Telecasts Of Palmer's Four Wins, Tiger's 1997 Masters Final Round

And just to completely ruin your productivity, Masters.com has embedded all sorts of amazing content available on their site that will also be available on their Apple TV app.

While the 1997 Masters was very special and the online coverage here excellent, including an interview with Tiger hosted by Jimmy Roberts, that tournament is still in our recent memory. So as much as I'd love to advocate watching the final round broadcast posted there...

The King's four wins, with full original telecasts and Jim McKay leading two of them, will give you goosebumps.

The best way to stumble on this is as I did: check out today's leaderboard featuring a classic image and click on Palmer's score in red.

Because for those who weren't alive during Arnold Palmer's seven-year run here at Augusta National, the combination of imagery and words posted at Masters.com will give you a greater appreciation for the partnership.

Here is John Steinbreder's piece on Palmer and Augusta if you want some good reading.

Here is the 1958 final round with Jim McKay opening the proceedings as only he can.

Here is the 1960 final round and do make sure you get to the 31:15 minute mark for the Green Jacket Ceremony to get a BIG Clifford Roberts-inspired chuckle.

Here is the 1962 final round telecast.

And here is the 1964 final round telecast.

Best Of Masters Merchandise, 2017 Edition

I managed to make it into the Masters merchandise center off the first fairway and as usual the folks have put together some fun, fresh items.

There's a bit of something for everyone and while I know most buy shirts and hats, most of the pieces included in this Golfweek.com slideshow are of the gift/keepsake/one-of-a-kind.

 Just click on the first image and the slideshow will kick in. Enjoy!

DCP Wrap: Golf's Best "Grow The Game" Effort?

Not surprising a "grow the game" initiative centered around fun, family, simplicity and a possible trip to Augusta National, is a success.

Still, as I point out in this short Golfweek assessment from Augusta after year four of the Drive, Chip and Putt, it's an event that could have fizzled. Yet it has succeeded both in exposing talented kids to fun competition, but  also is "growing the game" in ways we might not have imagined. The characterization by officials of the numbers suggest the event is not slowing down.

Rex Hoggard tells some of the kids' stories for GolfChannel.com and what's motivating them to get to the DCP.

Ryan Herrington at GolfDigest.com on Fred Couples livening up one of the trophy ceremonies. Not Gary Player livening up, but still better than just a boring speech.

Jordan Spieth, favorite of most of the participants, checked out the proceedings.

The official website's gallery of images.

Rich Lerner and Peter Jacobsen recap the day with highlights of the best moments.

The winner's interviews:

Girls

7-9 Division (Maye Huang – Katy, Texas)

10-11 Division (Lucy Yuan – San Diego, Calif.)

12-13 Division (Alexa Pano – Lake Worth, Fla.)

14-15 Division (Savannah Grewal – Mississauga, Ontario)

Boys

7-9 Division (Carter Gaede – Manhattan Beach, Calif.)

10-11 Division (Liam Hartling – Redlands, Calif.)

12-13 Division (Zachary Colon – Bolton, Mass.)

14-15 Division (Mason Quagliata – Scottsdale, Ariz.)

And it's not too early to sign up for next year!

2017 Drive, Chip & Putt Preview: These Kids Are Good

The kids are back!

Given the bleak forecast in Houston, it may just be the wondrous little ones and the first major of the year from Mission Hills for your Sunday viewing pleasure.

But beyond the mere necessity of needing some golf viewing, the Drive, Chip & Putt has been entertaining, humbling and inspirational. To see these young people thrown out into such a potentially intimidating situation and perform has been a privilege for me to cover. The skill and fortitude of these young golfers is something to behold. As is Gary Player's annual lecture on whatever he sees plaguing the youth!

Golf Channel will do its best to cover these amazing DCP participants starting earlier at 8 am ET following a shortened Morning Drive, meaning we'll see even more shots than the first three years.

Ryan Herrington filed this article with graphic explaining how it all works for the kids from the drive up Magnolia Lane to the actual competition.

All of the finalists are listed here at the official website.

Easily the best story is that of Alex Panos, making her third appearance in the "DCP". Here is her story, narrated by Rich Lerner:

Chairman Billy Payne Joins Twitter, Starts By Tweeting His '17 Masters Tie Scripting

After years of his tournament carefully embracing social media, Masters Chairman Billy Payne has finally joined Twitter at @chairmanbilly.

As with many new Twitter users, Payne first posted the dreaded "testing" Tweet that has since been deleted.

He then jumped into Twitter head first, picking up on the trend of companies telegraphing what their players will wear Masters week, only offering up his tie scripting for the 2017 Masters week.

The image of Chairman Payne's ties puts an end to any rumored patron-wagering on Chairman tie choices. The practice was thought to be inspired by bettors at Royal Ascot speculating on the Queen's dresses. His Tweet shows one Augusta National tie and two from the R&A's Open collection.

In the Chairman's first interaction with a follower, he clarified that the rest of his ensemble never changes:

Spieth After Pre-Masters Missed Cut: Other Players Know "We Strike Fear" Next Week

Will Gray reporting from the Shell Houston Open where Jordan Spieth's missed cut wouldn't have turned many heads except for a fascinating post-round quote.

The 2015 Masters champion said:

“I think we know, and the other players that are playing next week know, that we strike fear in others next week,” Spieth said. “So that’s our idea, that’s going to be my confidence level going in, and we’ll step on the first tee ready to play.”

Time To Update Your Masters Apps!

They've listed tablet picture-in-picture capabilities (two channels at one time viewing?), Apple Watch notifications and Shot Tracker enhancements listed as new to 2017, but most interesting of all will be Apple TV options that allow the legendary feeds to be seen on a big screen.

Of course those great feeds remain Amen Corner Live, Holes 15 and 16, Featured Groups and Masters On The Range.

Looking at the App's schedule, Monday includes an hour of coverage at hole 16 from 2-3 pm ET.

Here is the iTunes link for IOS users.

Here are the Masters Live times that encompass both the app and website options for viewing.

The 2017 Masters Live line-up of channels include:
 
●       Featured Groups: This year, for the first time, Bill Macatee will tee off coverage of the 2017 Masters along with Davis Love III on Thursday morning with Featured Groups.  

In addition, Andrew Catalon, Brian Crowell, Mark Immelman, Billy Kratzert and Love III will also serve as announcers for the Featured Groupslive streaming coverage of select pairings throughout their entire round each day.  

●       Amen Corner: Live streaming video of the 11th, 12th and 13th holes from Augusta National. Grant Boone and Billy Ray Brown will serve as announcers for Amen Corner.

●       15 & 16: Live streaming video of the 15th and 16th holes from Augusta National. Bobby Clampett, Luke Elvy and Ned Michaels will provide commentary and analysis for 15 & 16.

●       Masters On The Range: The live show originating from the Tournament Practice Area at Augusta National will be presented Monday through Sunday on CBSSports.com and CBS Sports Network. Masters On The Range will feature interviews with players and analysis of the field leading up to the start of the 2017 Masters and throughout the Tournament. Catalon, Clampett, Immelman and Kratzert will provide commentary.
 
In addition to the four channels of live golf action, Masters Live will present the following video highlights:

●       In-Progress and End-of-Day Highlights: Video highlights of play during the 2017 Masters Tournament, including in-progress highlights and a round recap at the end of each day.

●       Highlights from the Par 3 Contest: First played in 1960, the Par 3 Contest has become a beloved Wednesday tradition at the Masters. The 2017 Masters Par 3 Contest will be held on Wednesday, April 5.
 
●       Historical Highlights: On-demand video of memorable highlights and classic moments from past Masters Tournaments.

●       Augusta National Aerials: On-demand video fly-overs of Augusta National allowing fans to enjoy the beauty of one of the most famous golf courses in the world.

●       Press Room: On-demand highlights of player interviews conducted in the Interview Room from Augusta National.

Masters Live and additional features available on Masters.com will be available for free at CBSSports.com.
 
The Masters, the most renowned tournament in golf, will be broadcast on CBS Sports for the 62nd consecutive year, a record for the longest-running sporting event broadcast on one network. This year marks the 81st Masters Tournament, one of the most highly anticipated sporting events of the year.
 
Schedule for Masters Live Video Feeds on CBSSports.com and Masters.com in 2017
* Start and end times are estimates and subject to change. All times eastern daylight.
 
Featured Groups*
Thursday, April 6:      9:00 AM – 7:00 PM
Friday, April 7:           9:00 AM – 7:00 PM
Saturday, April 8:       10:30 AM – Completion of play
Sunday, April 9:         10:30 AM – Completion of play
 
Amen Corner*
Thursday, April 6:      10:00 AM – 6:30 PM
Friday, April 7:           10:00 AM – 6:30 PM
Saturday, April 8:       12:00 Noon – 6:00 PM
Sunday, April 9:         12:00 Noon – 6:00 PM
 
15 & 16*
Thursday, April 6:      11:00 AM – 6:45 PM
Friday, April 7:           11:00 AM – 6:45 PM
Saturday, April 8:       12:30 PM – 7:00 PM
Sunday, April 9:         12:30 PM – 7:00 PM
 
Masters On The Range (Also airs on CBS Sports Network)
Monday, April 3:        12:00 Noon – 2:00 PM
Tuesday, April 4:        9:00 AM – 11:00 AM
Wednesday, April 5: 9:00 AM – 11:00 AM
Thursday, April 6:      11:00 AM – 1:00 PM
Friday, April 7:           11:00 AM – 1:00 PM
Saturday, April 8:       11:00 AM – 1:00 PM
Sunday, April 9:         11:00 AM – 1:00 PM

Brandel: Tiger's Practicing Diligently, Don't Rule Out Masters

The Golf Channel's pre-Masters teleconference call included this from Brandel Chamblee, writes G.C. Digital fresh from a two-week tour of Myrtle Beach's best courses.

G.C. writes:

“If you can believe anything that you read on social media – I know that his coach has been down there, and they’ve been hitting a lot of golf balls down in Palm Beach. The way I understand it, he’s been practicing quite diligently. So it wouldn’t surprise me if Tiger showed up at Augusta National.”

For his part, Montgomerie said that if Woods does show up, he hopes fans don’t see the 14-time major champ bowing out after “77-78 and going home from there.”

DJ Out At Houston, Day To Play Masters But Hasn't Touched Club

As the Masters approaches I'm not sure there is much to read into Dustin Johnson's WD from the Shell Houston Open following his WGC Dell Match Play, citing fatigue that surely wasn't helped by those 2-a-day Soulcyle classes last week.

Bob Harig reports for ESPN.com:

"After a great deal of thought and consultation with my team, I have decided to withdraw from this week's Shell Houston Open,'' Johnson said in a statement. "Having played seven rounds of competitive golf in the last five days, I feel it is best to give my mind and body a much-needed rest heading into Masters week.''

Meanwhile Jason Day says he hasn't touched a club since his match play WD and a Masters appearance will depend on his mom's prognosis.

From an AP story:

“It’s very, very difficult to even think about playing golf when a loved one is going through such a traumatic experience,” Day said. “Once I get past this initial stage, hopefully I’ll find some balance and I’ll be able to kind of move on and really focus on getting my game back.

“Unfortunately, I’m human. I like to feel like I’m always on it, I’m always … ready to go and trying to compete and I want to get back to that stage but sometimes it’s very, very difficult.”