A Year Out, Looks Like Captain Stricker Is Feeling More Pressure Than Captain Harrington

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The 2020 Ryder Cup captain’s kicked off the year-long countdown to what will be highly anticipated matches with a joint press conference. At rainy Whistling Straits, where lousy weather kept things largely indoors and will be a factor next year, it was clear who is a bit more assured where things stand: Captain Padraig Harrington, current holders of the Ryder Cup.

As Eamon Lynch notes for Golfweek, Captain Steve Stricker still sounded a bit tied to the “task force” and it’s (sometimes) successful, (sometimes) clubby ways.

Mickelson was also on that task force. So too was Woods. The last three U.S. captains have been drawn from that small circle, and the decisions they have made — particularly Furyk’s decision to pick Mickelson — creates a perception of an old boys’ network looking after its own. Are the captain’s decisions being crowdsourced? And is the captain compromised as a result?

Stricker didn’t do much to dispel that notion in his comments Tuesday.

Of greater concern may ultimately be a venue seemingly more favorable to the Europeans than normal. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Jim Owczarski focused on the fairly revealing presser remarks. At least, by year-out standards.

“Here at Whistling Straits, this is a much more natural golf course,” Harrington said. “I'm interested to see down the road what Steve has in store but doesn't look like you can do a lot with this golf course. As much as it was obviously designed and built there, it looks like it's just in a natural setting all its life and it's going to present its way. Even the weather could be very changeable the week of the Ryder Cup next year.

“So in many ways, this is a golf course that is just going to test the players on its own merits.”

Even Stricker, whose presence will bring an even more passionate home-state fan base to an already charged atmosphere, couldn’t help but hope the weather in about a year is a tad bit different for his team.

“Yeah, it concerns us, when we look out, and I don't know if you brought this weather today or what, but hopefully we have nice, sunny 75-degree days next year at this time,” Stricker said looking out to the lake. “But yeah, you know, when you look out here, it has the feel of -- does it not, over there in Ireland…”

“It looks like an Irish day out there, yeah,” Harrington interjected with a smile.

On Golf Central, Isenhour and I were in agreement: Captain Stricker has delicate matters to resolve in the all-important course setup department:

Nicklaus Outlines (In Great Detail) His Final (?) Overhaul Of Muirfield Village

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This is a long one but certainly no shortage of meat on this bone!

For Immediate Release…

Muirfield Village Golf Club set to undergo course renovations for 2020 and 2021 

Dublin, Ohio – Muirfield Village Golf Club, home of the Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide, officially announced today a two-phase course renovation project that will be overseen by the Club’s founder and course designer, Jack Nicklaus. The renovations will take place over the next two years and will include three new teeing grounds, rebuilt greens and bunkers, and a redesigned fifth hole.   

Phase One will begin this fall and include new back teeing grounds for the par-3 8th hole, par-5 11th and par-5 15th, as well as new rough area for the par-5 5th hole.

A new rough area?

The work will be completed by this May and used during the 2020 Memorial Tournament, June 1-7. Each new tee box will add yardage to its respective hole, with No. 8 increasing by 25 yards, No. 11 by 15 yards and No. 15 by 30 yards. The changes will increase the total course yardage from the tips to 7,462 yards. Nicklaus’ ground-breaking and innovative design—done originally with input from the late Desmond Muirhead and officially dedicated on May 27, 1974—first played at 6,978 yards.

Well, little more than input, but let’s not get lost in a credit battle when the real eye-opener is the nearly 500-yard increase. And that Nicklaus is adding more might suggest he’s either not confident in distance regulation, or feels even with some rule changes some day that the yardage is needed.

To begin Phase Two of the renovation, Muirfield Village Golf Club will close the course July 6, 2020, at which time all 18 greens will be rebuilt, including new sub-surface heating and cooling equipment. Bunkers will be re-built, tees leveled, and the irrigation system upgraded.

As fairways are regrassed, Nicklaus said he will create new fairway widths, but keep them “fairly generous off the tee,” which has been a trait at Muirfield Village.

All greens will be laser-scanned prior to the beginning of Phase Two in order to retain the general slopes of the original design, with any modifications taking place in the field by Nicklaus. “Once we decided to redo the greens, I realized I wanted to make some minor changes to the contours,” Nicklaus said.

Once a tinkerer, always a tinkerer!

Phase Two will also include a redesign of Hole No. 5. The new layout will include an expanded landing area and convert Muirfield Village’s first par 5 on the outward nine to a par 4 during Tournament play, making the layout a par 71 for the 2021 Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide. “It’s the easiest hole on the golf course,” Nicklaus said. “They play a 3-wood or iron off the tee not to reach the creek, and then play a 5- or 6-iron into the green. I just want to create more landing area on the tee shot, so that quite often they will play driver off the tee, and then play 5 or 6 iron into the green as a true par 4.”

Sad, but true.

“This will probably be my last bite at the apple,” Nicklaus said. “I’ve done little tweaks on the golf course throughout the years, and some significant changes, like the par-3 16th. This time, we are going through the golf course, A to Z, and making sure we do everything at one time.”

One thought, just, you know, off the top of my head: maybe a little work on that new 16th too? Just saying…

“My director of grounds operations, Chad Mark, is a good man, and he helped talk me into it. He said Jack, ‘Once we’re in there, let’s just do this thing right!’ Once we decided to redo the greens, improve the irrigation system, redo bunkers and regrass fairways, the collective group—one that included Chad, General Manager Nicholas LaRocca, Head Professional Larry Dornisch and Memorial Tournament Executive Director Dan Sullivan—basically said, ‘Jack, if you are going back in there and do all this work, and the course is going to be down, you don’t want to go back to the membership and redo it again five years later for irrigation or three years later for bunkers. Let’s get the whole thing done!’ So that’s what we are doing.”

Mark has already developed a detailed timeline for the project and is excited about the work ahead.

Hopefully he consulted Chief Leatherlips.

“Working closely with Mr. Nicklaus, and with support from Nicklaus Design Associate Chris Cochran and our team at Muirfield Village, we envision the fairway bunkers and irrigation getting started after the 2020 Memorial and jumping into greens as soon as we can in July,” Mark said. “Once greens are completed in late August, and fairways and approaches are re-seeded to bentgrass, we will then finish the bunkering and push juvenile turfgrass toward maturity. Work in spring 2021 will include punch-work items with irrigation, compacting bunker sand, mending sod seams, and plugging any thin turf.”

Quick turnaround to the 2021 Memorial…

“We are very excited to carry out the vision of Mr. Nicklaus, and I think the end result will only further elevate an already spectacular golf course!”

Nicklaus emphasized that while many of the enhancements will make Muirfield Village Golf Club a better tournament venue, the renovation is also being done with the membership always front of mind.

“From what I have heard thus far, the membership is really excited about bringing the golf course back to state of the art, which they felt it was a few years ago,” Nicklaus said. “I want to make sure I do the best I can for the membership and for the Memorial Tournament. I’m putting in as many forward member tees as I can at Muirfield Village and The Bear’s Club. I will put in some forward tees at Muirfield Village while I am doing this. I have to make the golf course playable for its membership.” 

But….

“But my belief is that tournament golf should be a test to find out who is the best golfer that week. Far too many tournaments have eliminated the rough and firmness of greens, and that is just not my idea of what the game of golf should be. So I am going to stick with my old-fashioned beliefs about how the game of golf should be played and the way golf courses should be set up. How the USGA’s Joe Dey used to set up courses is how I learned and how I thought golf should be played. It’s the guy who drives the ball the straightest; the guy who plays the best iron game; the guy who is best around the greens and is sometimes challenged when he doesn’t play a good shot to the green; and the guy who putts well. The whole gamut of all shots is what the game of golf is all about. The game should challenge every facet of every club in the bag.”

Read into that however you like, but it sure sounds like the Golden Bear is tired of waiting around for governing body action on distance and defending skill.

Three-Year Suspension For A Bird Flip After Phone Goes Off Mid-Swing?!

Ryan Lavner reports for GolfChannel.com on one of the more extreme suspensions in sports history after Bio Kim flipped off a ringer-on gallery member.

The incident took place on the Korean PGA’s DGB Financial Group Volvik Daegu Gyeongbuk Open—aka the DGBFGVDGO—where Kim heard a cell phone camera and slammed his club into the ground. The club slamming was, frankly, more bothersome in a golf context given the course destruction.

He went on to win the tournament but lose his plea for forgiveness, reports Lavner:

Apparently that mea culpa wasn’t enough to avoid a suspension, as the Korean Tour cracked down by unanimously voting to ban Kim for three years and fine him the U.S. equivalent of $8,350. After the emergency tour meeting Tuesday, news-wire photos showed Kim kneeling in front of a row of television cameras.

In a statement, the tour said: “Kim Bi-o damaged the dignity of a golfer with etiquette violation and inappropriate behavior.”

I poked around a bit and have yet to find an explanation for why the bird-flip is so offensive in Korean culture, but did learn this about the arm wave, just in case you are headed to South Korea.

Don't hail a cab or wave someone over to you with your palm facing up in South Korea. That's how Koreans summon their dogs. The proper way to wave is to move your hand up and down vertically with your palm facing down.

Avoid Using In: South Korea.

There you go.

But back to Bio Kim. Here is the video:

Tripp Isenhour and I discussed this bizarro story on today’s Golf Central:

Brooks: "I have an athlete’s mentality, a true athlete, and if that rubs people the wrong way, tough."

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The world No. 1 returns to action this week in Las Vegas, and Brooks Koepka is profiled by Golfweek’s Steve DiMeglio.

He’s still brutally honest, though I’m not entirely clear what being a true athlete means…

“I’m not going to be someone else just to be more popular,” Koepka said. “I’m not your typical golfer, definitely not a golf nerd. I have an athlete’s mentality, a true athlete, and if that rubs people the wrong way, tough.

“I’m just going to say what I feel, I’m going to be honest and I’m not going to hold back. That’s who I am.”

Random Testing Finds Multiple Non-Conforming Drivers From Multiple Manufacturers

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Andrew Both reports for Reuters on multiple drivers failing the 30-driver random testing that began with the PGA Tour’s 2019-20 season. As promised, the tour would not comment on the failed tests or makers of the clubs, but Both says at least five belonged to players using a variety of clubs.

The non-conforming drivers are from across the manufacturing spectrum, including major brands such as Titleist, TaylorMade and Cobra, two insiders with knowledge of the matter said.

It is believed that Corey Conners, Robert Streb, Jason Dufner, Michael Thompson and Mark Hubbard were among those whose drivers did not pass the test.

That nearly twenty percent of the clubs tested failed has to be a shock to the system. Then again, it’s late in the hear and the “creep” factor that likely led to Xander Schauffele’s now-infamous failed test at the 2019 Open may be heightened near year’s end. Many players are likely to be soon switching to 2020’s latest-and-greatest drivers.

Still, the sheer number speaks to how close to the line manufacturers are taking the clubs and why the testing is both necessary, and likely to generate plenty of attention in spite of efforts to keep the results private.

Rory Apologizes: “Strategy, course management and shotmaking…are being slowly taken out of the game at the top level...worldwide"”

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Realizing he barked a little too loudly after his Alfred Dunhill Cup appearance about European Tour course setup, Rory McIlroy posted an Instagram apology. But it was the last paragraph that suggests he did not lose sight of the bigger picture matter as it relates to skill and whether today’s equipment is having too much influence.

The full post:

Match Play: Pebble Beach Versus The Old Course

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The Morrissett brothers of Golf Club Atlas fame taught me the joy of settling golf course debates via match play. While not a perfect system to compare to works of golf architecture, it can be incredibly effective between semi-like-minded souls. Think of golf course match play as a war of attrition that sheds outside influences that muddy so many golf course rankings.

Forget the friendliness of staff, size of clubhouse and deliciousness of the cheeseburger. They can’t intrude on a straight-up, hole-by-hole duel.

Sadly, there are few forums for such debates and maybe as with 18 holes of golf, laboriously debating the merits of holes strikes some as tedious. But in an incredible week when the world of golf took us to Pebble Beach and The Old Course, the two most important jewels of their respective nations prompted a match to settle a question Matt Adams and I (sort of) addressed earlier in the week for Golf Central.

Here’s how my Pebble Beach vs. Old Course match played out. Disagree away and please, if you’ve been fortunate enough to play both, tell me your match outcomes. I won’t be hurt.  (PS – we play these matches to the end, even if one course closes things out early.)

First Hole – The setting, the width, the burn, the tee where every legend of the game as stood, matched against the mediocrity of Pebble Beach’s opening hole, makes this a quickie. Old Course 1 up.

Second Hole – The “Dyke” features beautifully simple strategy, a need to consider the day’s hole location and a mind-boggling green complex at the end. While I love Pebble Beach’s second hole, changes in recent years to the landing area, the manicured barranca and a shrunken green complex add up to a loss. Old Course 2 up.

Third Hole – For years this would have been an easy win for Pebble’s third, one of my favorite holes until tweaks have taken some of the life and strategic subtlety away. Should be a Pebble win, but it’s not. Halve. Old Course 2 up.

Fourth Hole – Pebble Beach’s fourth has benefited from tree loss down the right, opening up the round’s first view of the sea. Some odd bunkering tweaks do not take away from this drive and pitch in the way gorse might be getting carried away at St. Andrews’s “Ginger Beer” par-4. Old Course 1 up.  

Fifth Hole – Jack Nicklaus’ par-3 is a big improvement over the old fifth and has aged pretty well in twenty years. But the Hole O’ Cross is one of the world’s most bizarre and fascinating par-5’s, with an enormous green fronted by a deep swale that also can feed balls onto the absurd green. Old Course 2 up.

Sixth Hole – Speaking of fantastic par-5’s, Pebble Beach’s 6th remains beautiful and peculiar. A green expansion to reclaim trickier hole locations could make it better. While the Old Course’s sixth is a fine par-4, it’s not nearly as memorable as Pebble Beach’s sixth hole. Old Course 1 up.

Seventh Hole – Order another round, a long, drawn-out debate should ensue here. Pebble Beach’s 107-yard par-3 seventh remains one of the world’s most photographed and fun to play. There may be no better spot in the world of golf. But the green has morphed into a circle and old photos show a far more interesting hole. While the “High (Out)” hole requires a well-conceived tee shot, and one of the most underrated second shots in golf has you playing over the Shell bunker to a double green shared with the Eden. Sorry Pebble Beach. Old Course 2 up.

Eighth Hole – Pebble Beach’s magnificent second over the ocean easily beats out the fine, but ultimately so-so 8th in St Andrews. Old Course 1 up.

Ninth Hole – Another easy win for Pebble Beach. While St. Andrews’s 9th is fun to play, it can’t compete with the setting and shots required. Or the views. All Square.

Tenth Hole – Bobby Jones is another nice little drive and pitch, though the green shared with the 8th is a bit of a dud. The tenth at Pebble Beach? As magnificent a meeting of golf architecture and nature as you’ll find. Pebble Beach 1 up.

Eleventh Hole – The glorious High hole backed by the Eden Estuary, guarded by the Hill and Strath bunkers, offering views of town. Oh, and all of that history. Versus an uphill, mid-length par-4 with two hole locations?  All Square.

Twelfth Hole – The most important short par-4 influencing designers from Jones and MacKenzie to Nicklaus and Weiskopf’s is too much for Pebble Beach’s modified Redan anchored by another circular green complex with most of the best hole locations lost. Old Course 1 up.

Thirteenth Hole – This one is tricky. The Hole O’ Cross is a strange, hard to grasp par-4 at the Old Course but ultimately one with strategy, interest and character. The uphill 13th at Pebble Beach also featured strategic charm, though I’m not sure how often in the modern game its steeply tilted green rewards drives down the left. Both are fun to play. Halve. Old Course 1 up.

Fourteenth Hole – Difficult three-shotters at both courses, the edge goes to St. Andrews on the back of its magnificent green complex and strategic variety. Old Course 2 up.

 Fifteenth Hole – Straightaway par-4’s at both courses and of similar distances. Again, the green complex makes the difference. Old Course 3 up.

 Sixteenth Hole – The Old Course, with its Principal’s Nose and Deacon Sime bunkers, a boundary fence and glorious green, get the edge as much as I enjoy the topography, shot shapes and difficulty of Pebble Beach’s 16th. Old Course 4 up.

 Seventeenth Hole - The Road hole, even in its emasculated state with rough grass covering what should be fairway sending balls farther away from the optimum angle of attack, is still the Road hole. A restored green at Pebble Beach almost made me halve this one, but the restoration wasn’t perfect and the options just aren’t as interesting. Old Course 5 up.

Eighteenth Hole – As much as I adore the finish in St. Andrews, nothing compares to the conclusion of a day at Pebble Beach. Old Course 4 up.

 

There you have it. At least architecturally, a pretty turbulent match with few halves and ultimately an easy Old Course at St. Andrews win.

Here’s our chat from Golf Central:

Bryson Says The Data Will Prove He's Not The Slowest By Any Means, So Why Can't We See It?

At the risk of sounding old, I wrote back in 2010 about the PGA Tour’s slow play data and what a wonderful opportunity it would be to sign up a sponsor and reward the tour’s fastest players. Nine years later we’re still hiding the data on PGA Tour’s equivalent of the codeword servers to protect repeat offenders.

Maybe with Bryson DeChambeau blowing the whistle on this hidden data that could easily make for one really fun bonus pool, we’ll get some of the numbers published. Shoot, we’ll take the top 75 and let people with no lives try to figure out who the bottom 75 are in pace of play.

Here’s DeChambeau, now (maybe somewhat slightly kinda unfairly) branded as the poster child from Saturday at the Safeway Classic:

“There’s data out there now that shows that I am not the slowest player at all by any means,” he said.

When asked to elaborate on the data he was referring to, DeChambeau was less than forthcoming.

“Well the PGA Tour has it. I’ve seen it. I don’t know if I can disclose any of it,” he said. “But I’m definitely not in the top 10 percent. I’m not close to that. That’s from Shotlink data. We have that. So, I can say that, I know I can say that without a shadow of a doubt.”

Well, not a shadow of a doubt until we see the full list. But the point is, the PGA Tour has the data, knows who the fastest and slowest players are, and just doesn’t want to share.

And maybe they are right to keep things private given the crueler world we live in now compared to 2010. Twitter and the discourse has become coarser.

Still, a points race focused on the fastest players and a sponsor wanting to be associated with efficiency and speed sounds a lot more interesting than the FedExCup.

Rory Blasts European Tour Course Setups: “I’m sort of honestly sick of coming back over to the European Tour and shooting 15 under par and finishing 30th"

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Some illuminating comments from Rory McIlroy coming off a fun week at the Alfred Dunhill Links, where, after nearly winning the pro-am with his dad, Gerry, the 30-year-old bemoaned the lack of difficulty found on European Tour setups. While he sounds a tad bitter largely with the Scottish Open setup earlier this year, this comments also speak to just how hard it is to find a course setup balance in the juiced equipment era.

From John Huggan’s GolfDigest.com report at the Dunhill:

“I’m sort of honestly sick of coming back over to the European Tour and shooting 15 under par and finishing 30th,” said McIlroy, who has played only four “regular” European Tour events (non-major and non-WGC tournaments) this season. At the Dunhill, McIlroy posted scores of 70-66-70-67 yet finished seven back of winner Victor Perez.

“I don’t think the courses are set up hard enough,” McIlroy said. “There are no penalties for bad shots. It’s tough when you come back and it’s like that. I don’t feel like good golf is regarded as well as it could be. It happened in the Scottish Open at Renaissance. I shot 13 under and finished 30th [actually T-34] again. It’s not a good test. I think if the European Tour wants to put forth a really good product, the golf courses and setups need to be tougher.”

While McIlroy sounds like he’s justifying his decision to play more in the U.S., the comments serve as a reminder that players want to be challenged and for their skill to shine. As the game becomes increasingly less interesting to play when players feel untested or fans sense a give-and-take between player and course is entirely in the player’s favor, there may be a range of consequences. The most obvious being a less interesting sport to watch.

In this case, McIlroy made clear the combination of setups and travel will keep him sticking largely to the PGA Tour.

“It’s been a great year,” McIlroy continued. “I’ve won big events and I've consistently played well. Every week I show up and I shoot good scores and play good golf. If I continue to do that, I’ll be in a good spot. I don't want to travel that much anymore. I’ve done it for 12 years. I want to have easy flights and not have to go across eight, nine time zones and have to get acclimatized. I’m happy to do what I’ve done this year.”

The Open Champion Caught Browsing At The Open Shop!

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Heaven knows few spend much time these days in the beautifully restored Tom Morris shop, since converted to a place for The Open gear just off St. Andrews’ 18th green.

But Shane Lowry, the Champion Golfer Of The Year, added to the long list of legends to set foot in the space. He was caught there claiming he’d been asked to stop in for a quick photo. Sure Shane! ;)


Tiger Says He Can Resume Full Practice, Lifting

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He shared the good news with Michael Stranahan on Good Morning America following a successful inaugural NEXUS Cup, a TGR Foundation fundraiser.

From a Golfweek report:

“I got the clearance last week to start full practice, so I played nine holes the other day,” Woods said of his recovery in an interview this week with Good Morning America’s Michael Strahan. “It’s sore, yeah, but now I can start lifting and getting my muscle back.”

Lee Westwood Scores The First Hole-In-One Captured By Plane Tracer

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Definitely a first! And what a fantastic look given how tight the shot was to the ball.

From round one of the Alfred Dunhill Links, Lee Westwood making an ace at Carnoustie’s 8th hole.

Awkward Alert: Romo Opens Strong In Napa; A Made Cut Will Interrupt His CBS Work Sunday

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In a contract year with CBS and rebelliously teeing it up during all-important NFL regular season, former Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo opened the Safeway Open with a 70, his best PGA Tour round by far.

The possibility of a made cut has him potentially playing the weekend and missing his Vikings-Bears NFL assignment with Jim Nantz.

According to the New York Post, Boomer Esiason is slated to replace Romo.

While this is an awkward situation for CBS given Romo’s popularity as a broadcaster and his obvious passion to play golf over watch film of the Bears, imagine how the 74 PGA Tour pros who were beat by Romo feel? Granted, the field includes a few retreads and folks you didn’t know have tour status, but Romo’s T28 position has him well ahead of several major winners.

From Adam Schupak’s Golfweek report in Napa:

That would prevent him from doing his day job commentating for CBS Sports on the Chicago Bears-Minnesota Vikings game on Sunday.

“It’s a good problem to have,” Romo said with a smile.

Romo is playing this week as the lone amateur in the 144-man field, and had players buzzing about his round.

“It’s bloody impressive,” said Adam Scott, who held a share of the lead after shooting 65. “I ain’t ever going to throw a pass in the NFL, that’s for sure, so I think it’s unbelievable that he can do that.”

Romo tees off at 1:25 Pacific, putting him in a good portion of Golf Channel’s broadcast window.

Endeavor: IMG Owners Scrap Planned IPO

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While IMG has a different presence in golf than in years past when they were known primarily for representing players, Mark McCormick’s brainchild remains a major player in tournament operations, licensing and consulting.

Purchased in 2014 by WME, the conglomerate scrapped its IPO at the last minute. The impact on golf is not clear, though a possible change in direction for the operation now known as Endeavor could lead to big changes.

From Ryan Faughnder and Stacy Perman in the LA Times on Endeavor leader Ari Emmanuel:

Emanuel built his reputation and that of Endeavor on a series of bold, risky moves and unexpected acquisitions, including Professional Bull Riders. The IPO slated for Friday was his biggest gamble to date, intended to catapult Endeavor into a global juggernaut, one that would shape the future of media and entertainment. Now that is all on hold and Emanuel is going to have to define a new future for the company.

SBJ: Pitchtime In Ponte Vedra For Network Executives

Sports Business Journal’s John Ourand reports in great detail that some network heavyweights are descending on Ponte Vedra Beach to make initial PGA Tour, Champions, Tour, Korn Ferry Tour and LPGA Tour media rights pitches.

Ourand lays out the schedule to include sessions with Warnermedia chairman Jeff Zucker and Turner Sports head Lenny Daniels, CBS’s Sean McManus and David Berson, ESPN’s Jimmy Pitaro and Burke Magnus (EVP programming), Eric Shanks and president Mark Silverman from Fox Sports, Amazon’s Marie Donoghue and Jim DeLorenzo, with NBC Sports Group President Pete Bevacqua and Golf Channel President Mike McCarley helming Comcast’s effort.

With the NFL’s timing in limbo, Ourand notes the PGA Tour’s desire to wrap things up by year’s end comes with risk.

The tour is coming to market after a year that saw weekend television viewership (excluding the majors) drop considerably. NBC’s weekend coverage was down 18% this season; CBS’s was down 10%.

The looming NFL rights negotiation also could have an effect on these negotiations. All the networks are prepared to pay a lot more to keep the NFL when its rights come up in 2021 and 2022. The risk is that the prospect of those rights could keep networks from committing as much money as the PGA Tour is hoping for.

(The Athletic’s Daniel Kaplan filed an update on the NFL’s proposed plans which now focus on a 17-game schedule and other elements that might take their schedule into late February if the season begins in the traditional post-Labor Day period, including an extra playoff game and an added bye week.)

Ourand says the number of bidders is working in the PGA Tour’s favor in spite of a ratings drop.

AT&T has told tour officials that it has looked into flipping one of its existing channels (Headline News or truTV) into a golf channel that would pick up the rights that currently are on Golf Channel. It’s likely that AT&T would offer the PGA Tour a stake in that channel.

ESPN is expected to make an aggressive pitch centered on streaming rights for its ESPN+ platform. CBS has carried PGA Tour rights since 1970 and wants to maintain that relationship. Finally, NBC has built a healthy business around PGA Tour rights, like Golf Channel and GolfNow, and is expected to be aggressive in trying to keep them.

Notably absent from the meetings: Discovery and its GOLFTV Powered by the PGA Tour, aka golf Netflix.

Jack Nicklaus To Renovate His Muirfield Village Design (Again)

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Tim Rosaforte reports on Jack Nicklaus announcing to the Muirfield Village members a planned greens redo, not the first for his co-design with Desmond Muirhead.

Most noteworthy may be the efforts to lengthen the 11th and 15th holes, two splendid back nine par-5s he’s been unwilling to stretch out. Does Nicklaus believe regulatory help is not coming and this is why he did so, or is he believing that even with some sort of change in equipment rules, the tees are still needed?

Flashback: Love For And Resistance To The European Tour's Seve Logo That Never Was

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With the excitement already cratering from the European Tour’s brand refresh, I went back into the archives after Seve’s passing and was reminded how aggressively players and fans attempted to initiate a change. Stories about player support for the idea were written in places as varied as PGA.com and the Wall Street Journal.

Then Chief Executive George O’Grady had to issue a statement and Seve’s children had concerns about the use of his likeness. That killed the issue.

Padraig Harrington advocated for it and even Monty…MONTY loved the idea!

"I think you will find it does change and let's hope it is sooner rather than later," said Montgomerie. "I would vote for that immediately. When you talk about the European Tour you talk about Seve, and I think it's only right he should appear on our logo."

So there you have it. A bummer.