R&A Chief Slumbers Says They're In Listening Mode On Distance And Touts "Collaborative" Relationship With Players

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Alistair Tait of Golfweek sums up R&A Chief Martin Slumbers' explanation of driver testing conducted at Carnoustie and notes that the random effort looks like it's part of a more proactive approach.

 

The R&A has had capabilities at previous Opens to test drivers for COR (coefficient of restitution) and CT “characteristic time.” In laymen’s terms, the spring-like effect of driver faces. But the governing body is becoming more proactive this year.

“We’ve always had an equipment test capability down on the range, certainly since I’ve been involved in the Open,” Slumbers said. “It’s been an option for players or the manufacturers to take their equipment in and have it tested. We felt it was an appropriate next step to more actively seek to test players’ drivers straight out of the bag.”

And from the transcript, it's worth noting that Slumbers sees the players as having a positive impression of the R&A. Whether that means in contrast to the USGA or in general, I'm not sure.

It was a request to players, and I think many of you underestimate, we have a very good relationship with our players, and it's a very collaborative relationship, and we had absolutely no problems with the players coming and were interested in what we're doing. A lot of them actually wanted to know how does the test work, and what is it really testing for?

I'm sure they loved giving up their drivers and their caddies to go find out if their club is conforming! 

Roundup: What To Make Of Carnoustie, Who To Pick

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It's yellow, then it's green.

The fairways run, the putting surfaces hold. 

The forecast is fairly benign, with spells of wind. 

What does it all mean fellow prognosticating degenerates? 

The Forecaddie says expect some good scoring thanks to benign rough and holding greens. Think under on the over/under. Or is it under? Take the lower scoring barrier.

As for picks, Alistair Tait says look for longshots and consider other factors in an interesting deep dive on how Carnoustie is playing.

Golfweek's fantasy experts, including yours truly, chime in with picks, sleepers, Draft Kings bargains, etc...

Ryan Herrington takes on the sleeper angle, with names like Casey, Dufner, etc... out there with good games right now and not much attention.

ESPN.com's team makes their predictions

G.C. Digital with the latest weather reports for GolfChannel.com.

For those tracking at home, Ladbrokes will be getting my each-way win bets on Fowler and Noren, some missed cut bets on...oh let's not go there...and a winning score bet, several small shots at first round leaders favoring early players Thursday (Willett, Pieters, Hatton, Fowler, Stone, Pepperell). Oh and a Bernhard Langer top 20 at 14-1 too. Just trying to help the local economy!

Tiger Admits His Open Prospects Are Best Over The Long Term

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Reading between the lines, I was not surprised to hear Tiger suggest The Open is his best major opportunity over the next few years. I was, however, surprised to hear that a player averaging 304 off the tee this year can see the day coming where Augusta is too long for him. 

My Golfweek item on Tiger's pre-2018 Open Championship press conference.

Hmmmm: R&A Conducts Surprise, Random(?) Driver Test

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Thirty players were greeted with letters from the R&A ordering them to offer up their drivers for a COR test. It's not clear if the tests were random or if the players were specially chosen by their manufacturer affiliation or driving distance average.

Welcome to Scotland!

Tim Rosaforte reports for Golf Channel on what appears to be a step-up in the effort to ensure there are conforming drivers in this week's Open Championship

Keegan Bradley, Brendan Steele and Brooks Koepka all confirmed that their drivers all passed the COR test (coefficient of restitution, or spring-like effect) administered by the R&A.

This was the first time the R&A took measures that were not part of the distance insight project being done in conjunction with the USGA.

 

There are two ways of looking at this. 

The sunny side up take would believe this is just part of normal monitoring and amidst some rumblings that this year's distance increase could be fueled by hot drivers.

The cynical take says this is the act of a desperate governing body looking for something to blame this year's increases on, instead of simply anticipating that a combination of technology, athleticism, fitting and a generation of players reared on modern clubs have passed the testing procedures by. AKA, anything not to do something about the Joint Statement of Principles.

ShackHouse 70: 2018 Open Championship Preview

 Auction items benefitting Bunkers In Baghdad

Auction items benefitting Bunkers In Baghdad

We break down all things Open Championship, including some picks for who will win, comparisons between this year and Hoylake in '06, my insights from Gullane and players to keep an eye on throughout the tournament.

As always we're brought to you by Callaway, who have a couple of swell offerings mentioned in the show.

There is the auction from Callaway Create for special Seamus-made headcovers benefitting the incredible work of Bunkers In Baghdad.

And this Callaway Community member quiz with the winner getting the 3-wood Henrik just can't use because it goes...too far!

Patrick Reed, Scottish Open Winner Brandon Stone Pick Up Hickories And Golf Gods Karma While In Gullane

 Boris Lietzow's Jack White shop in Gullane Was A must visit for several scottish open players

Boris Lietzow's Jack White shop in Gullane Was A must visit for several scottish open players

The Golf Gods clearly endorsed Brandon Stone's affinity for links and hickories and they might have even guided him to victory in the 2018 Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open at Gullane

A final round 60 came agonizingly close to the European Tour's first ever 59.  Alistair Tait on a breakthrough win for a highly touted player who has struggled, especially on links.

Here is what Stone had to say after about hickories:

Q. And you have a wedding present now of Hickory Golf Clubs. Is that correct?

BRANDON STONE: I do indeed. I don't think it's going to last until the wedding, though, if I'm brutally honest. I think I'm going to get home; I just had a Southwest green put in my house and probably picked up the purist putter I've ever seen in my entire life. It's probably got about 12 degrees of loft on it, 29 inches, but it just sits so flush. So I'm going to be on that. My fiancée was under no illusions that when she bought them for me that they wouldn't be boxed and wrapped up until the wedding. But hey, what are you going to do?

Q. How did that come about? What prompted that?

BRANDON STONE: Just drove past the store, if I'm brutally honest. I mean my fiancée is always giving me a little bit of sticks in that she can't buy someone who has everything something. So when we drove past the Hickory store on Monday afternoon, I said, that would be quite cool. So she was like, perfect. So we went and popped in there yesterday afternoon, and obviously I went to college at the University of Texas, and there was just this beautiful set of burnt orange, untreated leather-gripped Hickories, and I was like, bang, go, 400 pounds later, smiling. Been chipping in the garden at the house all week. I think that might have been helping me because that wedge has got zero bounce on it, so the moment you get a little bit of bounce you feel like you can conquer the world.

Hook 'em horns.

I wrote about Patrick Reed's interest in old clubs for Golfweek and his interest in Lietzow's work. It all started with the Hickory Challenge earlier in the week. And now we have active and very good players into hickories!

Here are some photos of the shop, Reed's set and Boris Leitzow at work:

Tiger: Carnoustie's Fairways Faster Than The Greens

Some fun stuff from Bob Harig's Carnoustie account for ESPN.com of Tiger's first practice round for the 2018 Open.

The course is already rife with examples of players finding the ball going extraordinary distances, whether it be due to the wind or the firm and fast conditions. For example, Woods hit a 7-iron off the No. 4 tee to position himself short of bunkers; it went 215 yards. His normal distance with that club is 180.

"Right now the fairways are faster than the greens," he said. "I am sure they will probably speed the greens up a touch, but I'm sure this will be one of those weeks where the fairways are a little quicker than the greens."

Also interesting on the narrowness factor:

As for adjusting to the links style of play and learning how far to hit shots on each hole, Woods said: "It is mainly trajectory. You can get the same numbers [yardages] with different trajectories. That's what is going to be important, how hot you want the ball coming into the fairways. You can really make the ball roll 60, 70, 80 yards. Is it really worth it or not? Some of the holes, can you carry bunkers? It is a risk/reward golf course, and the way it is set up right now, it is going to play very narrow because it is so fast."

The New Yorker On Trump Turnberry And Financing

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The New Yorker's Adam Davidson takes the opportunity created by Donald Trump's weekend trip to Turnberry to examine how the President financed the renovation. 

Davidson's description of the project itself suggests a bit of ignorance about Turnberry's place in the game, its stature as a world class property and as a potential Open rota venue. 

Nonetheless, the question of why Trump took such a huge financial risk compared to his previous project financing methods. 

 

In this case, the questions are simple. Did Trump take a turn, in the midst of his years-long frenzy of overseas deals with questionable partners, toward the sentimental use of his own cash to fund a hopeless money pit? Or has Trump’s business practice stayed constant? Did he purchase and rehabilitate Turnberry, as he did so much else, with other people’s money?

Brandon Stone On Winning Scottish Open On A Links

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South African and former University of Texas golfer Brandon Stone's final round 60 at Gullane was something, but his post-round comments were particularly enjoyable. 

This on winning at a links course was fun:

I mean I'm going to be brutally honest. I don't think I made a cut on a links golf course in my entire career. Maybe the Open last year. But growing up I always struggled to move the ball way too much in the air. Used to play quite a big draw. Couldn't really move it left to right under pressure or in some strong winds, so the work that we've done just got everything a lot more neutral. The swing and the rhythm felt spectacular today. And yeah, I think the changes that we made, although it was extremely frustrating, you know, when you make those team changes and you're not quite getting the results that you're after and you feel like you're close, but every week you're kind of being kicked down, kicked down like you feel like you're getting two steps forward and three steps back, to sit here now on a Sunday afternoon, with a trophy two feet away from me, knowing that I was the best player in Scotland this week is something I hold very dear to my heart.

#liveunderpar Files: Paraglider Tells Trump He's "Well Under Par"

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Fearing a call from PGA Tour lawyers looking to protect the greatest slogan in the history of great slogans, a Greenpeace protester flew disturbingly close to President Donald Trump with a "Well Under Par" banner in tow.

Jack Aitchison of the Daily Record with the story and a video clip of the President walking into the Turnberry hotel and the protester getting shockingly close. 

Phil Chimes In On Shinnecock, Carnoustie, Le Golf National And More

Joking that he would only talk about the last month and would not discuss his opening 70 at Gullane, former Scottish Open winner Phil Mickelson chimed in on a number of topics. Including, under fairly steady questioning from the UK's finest, his 2018 U.S. Open.

My roundup from Gullane for Golfweek.

Last Of The Fox Architects Gone: USGA's Hirshland Takes USOC Post

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The USGA's Chief Business, Sarah Hirshland, has departed for the United States Olympic Committee's CEO job, reports GolfDigest.com's John Strege

Hirshland will be best known as the architect of the USGA's move to Fox, engineered with consultation by Wasserman Media Group.

“Sarah has been a wonderfully impactful leader as we have worked to preserve, protect and enhance the game of golf,” Mike Davis, CEO of the USGA, said in the news release. “With golf’s return to the Olympics a couple years ago, the game already has a strong working relationship with the USOC and now with Sarah at the helm this connection will only be strengthened.”

Not coincidentally, there is a reuniting with the USOC move.

“I know firsthand that Sarah is a visionary leader and exactly the right person to lead the USOC as we collectively build to the LA 2028 Olympic and Paralympic Games,” Wasserman, the chair of LA2028, said. 

The Fox deal, signed in 2013, has helped the U.S. Open deliver three of the four lowest rated tournaments since such records were kept, but has fattened USGA coffers.

As the head of USGA business decisions, Hirshland also oversaw the end of the U.S. Open's sellout streak, which began last year at Erin Hills and was repeated again in 2018 at Shinnecock Hills despite limited availability.

Her departure now means that four years into the deal, all who crafted the 12-year Fox arrangement are free of USGA ties. 

Joanne Carner (79) Shoots Her Age To Kick Off Inaugural U.S. Senior Women's Open

All sorts of great anecdotes at Golfweek.com from Beth Ann Nichols on Joanne Carner's opening round in the inaugural 79 U.S. Senior Women's Open. Opening with a 43 in her first round walking a golf course in 14 years, Carner battled. 

 

She relied on the advice of club caddie Peter Wilson, a student at Carnegie Mellon with a penchant for reading greens, to shoot her age in Round 1.

“She is one of the toughest women I have ever met,” said an admiring Helen Alfredsson.

When asked if she was pleased with the score, Carner shook her head emphatically.

“No, I just hit some atrocious shots,” she said. “Like golf 101.”

Carner went on to describe what went wrong on the squirrely 5-wood she hit up the last: “I can tell you all the alibis.”

Gearing Up For Carnoustie: Hogan In 1953 In Many Forms

The win has been well-chronicled, though the debate won't go away about what route he actually took on the 6th hole.

The Open's official film, including a shot of Bobby Locke out spectating:

British Pathe's preview after round one:

The return home and ticker tape parade:

A wonderful look back helmed and written by Jim Huber, with interviews featuring Ben Wright and John Derr.

Rickie On How Slow Greens Reward Better Putting

Picking up where he left off here at Gullane, Rickie Fowler opened with a 64 in the Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open. 

In my item for Golfweek, take note of his comments on how slower greens actually bring out more putting skill. 

Good bulletin board stuff for courses chasing Stimpmeter speeds thinking they are making their course a better test of skill!

Scottish Open Headed To Renaissance Club In 2019

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Reported by the Forecaddie recently, an unbylined East Courier Journal story confirms news that the Tom Doak-designed Renaissance Club will host the 2019 Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open.

While it's a bit of a blow for the tournament's rota-model and the steady run of pure or almost-pure links, Renaissance should retain enough links-like golf to entice top players. This also means a nice, steady East Lothian presence that will be popular with many.