It was a week of firsts here. Record traffic with 25,000 hits and yes, I have included Google Adsense in the lefthand column so that I could better understand how Google makes so much money. Despite many people kindly clicking on the ads, revenue to date might cover a Frapuccino...tall.Also debuting was the Taking Aim interview with Stu Schneider of Golf World. I've already warned several writers (and I'm hoping a few Tour players) that I'm going to be IM'ing soon.
While we're on the firsts front, we learned that Roman soldiers may have invented golf, not the Chinese or the Dutch or even Donald Trump.
Jim Achenbach followed up his Golfweek prediction that the USGA would roll back the ball this year with an online column fleshing out the same topic.
There was bad news for muni's hosting big time events (besides the fact that they probably need to add another 500 yards of length because the guys are working out so much), at Harding Park and Torrey Pines.
The Tour TV deal and 2007 schedule news continued to be the big story, led by the growing sense of shock over the 15-year commitment to The Golf Channel. John Hawkins touched on the ESPN issue.
The tournaments themselves reacted to the TV deal in several articles. And writers looked at the deal, starting with Thomas Boswell, who blasted the handling of the TPC Avenel event in the Washington Post.
Frank Hannigan's Golfobserver.com column was great fun (as always), while Scott Michaux made a subtle but important point about a Masters-related impact of the deal.
Robert Bell looked at how Greensboro got a better date and revealed some interesting details.
I considered the signals this backward step should (but won't) send to the Tour about course setup, pace of play and the power game. Several looked at winners and losers, including Gary Van Sickle, Ed Sherman and Steve Elling.
Doug Ferguson analyzed whether the little guy would get squeezed in the new deal, while Lorne Rubenstein looked at the Canadian Open's fate.
Golf World's Ron Sirak called the new TV deal "pure magic" and suggested that the Tour may have intentionally run off ABC while Rex Hoggard talked to tournament directors and questioned the length of the contract with The Golf Channel.
In other Tour news, Ty Votaw joined the Tour and took on a most ironic job title. We (well, I) continued to look at the driving distance numbers. And we may have to create a Bubba Watson watch, now that the Nationwide distance king is on the PGA Tour.
Speaking of Bubba, we learned that the entire power game is really why golf is in the situation it is in thanks to Tim Rosaforte.
So many good comments from readers this week. Not sure where to start, but here goes:
Mark Smolens on the Achenbach ball post: "Until the non-governing bodies of the game step up, the Bubba Watsons of the new age are going to continue to make golf courses look silly. I know that people like CB McDonald were making these very same protestations of doom many years ago, but it's now becoming reality."
Pete the Luddite on the same thread: "When did tennis "jump the shark" or start to die in terms of viewership and popularity? When guys like Phillipousis (spp?) started winning with the cannon-speed serves and no other fundamental game elements. Tennis bacame a boring, for TV at least, sport where the server bombed it, the receiver lunged, and you moved to the next point. Who cares about golf when it's: blast it as far as possible (Hi, Vijay!), then pull out one of your 5 wedges to flip it onto the green. There's no need for players to focus on true shotmaking anymore."
The Big K came clean about watching the Big Break and I admire him for it. We should support him: "I for one wish everyone would cease and desist on the 'Big Break' jokes. I know, I know, but I kinda like the show. To me, golf is about performing under pressure, whatever that pressure is: a $2 nassau or your best round ever or just that approach shot on the hole you always seem to screw up. That's why I don't watch a tournament when someone is six strokes ahead with 5 to go. No mind-racing, stomach wilting, vision-blurring pressure (OK, that's what happens to me). OK, I admit the show is presented in melodramatic fashion. But that is why man invented the digital video recorder. OK, I feel better. My secret is out."
Hey, I TiVo'd John Daly's show...while we're in the confessing mood.
Finally on the DC schedule, uh, shift, Jonathon and Mike M's comments were insightful too. Actually the whole thread with the help of sodface, njmike and Smolens is fun.
Thanks for the comments, look forward to more.