Week In Review, Feb 5-11: J.B. and Jim

WeekInReview2.jpgThe week started off with a look at the election of Walter Driver to the USGA presidency and his inaugural Q&A.  Driver's annual meeting address was posted online, with the new USGA prez taking the opportunity to talk a whole lot about himself, prompting Ned Ludd to wonder "if President Oversized Driver has ever invited the parking attendant in the bottom of his building to a friendly round, or even to wash his hands with the Pine Valley Soap."

That didn't stop Jim Achenbach from declaring Driver a man of the people because of his speech (which included an introduction from Arnold Palmer (the jet fuel tab on that must have been pretty high if he came from the desert!).

Speaking of jet fuel, many of you jaded cynics wrote in to predict that Walter Driver and Fred Ridley used the USGA jet card to transport themselves to the AT&T pro-am, where they are playing to inspect Pebble Beach for the 2010 U.S. Open. Naturally, I'm sure they flew commercial.

The real USGA highlight came later in the week with the posting of Jim Vernon's annual meeting speech on equipment and where his committee stands with its research. The address was a landmark moment for a group that has in recent years struggled to take a stand, and now appears to be laying the ground work for a monumental decision. Stay tuned...

J.B. Holmes became this week's next great American hope with his stunning win at Scottsdale. On Saturday he displayed Spackler-esque distance, hitting an 8-iron from 198.

The inkslingers of America jumped on his bandwagon, already forgetting boring ole Bubba Watson (who they realized is not exactly the world's greatest interview). Holmes is working on his graduate degree in flogging at the young age of 23, and while Crankpot chimed in to point out that he lead the field in putting, Tom G reminded us that "Putts/GIR is a somewhat misleading stat. If you are hitting a wedge into every hole, the chances are greater that you will be closer to the hole for your birdie putt than the guy hitting 5-iron in there."

J.B.'s post round talk mentioned his 4 iron from 257 and his 3-wood into 17, prompting reader Jay to ask, "Are we entering an era where we say “what a shot!” even on a drive??"  This story on the flogging at Scottsdale suggested that the hard and fast fairways were the cause of Holmes' drives, and then went on to contradict itself repeatedly.

The Tour driving distance average jumped 2 yards but figures to take a hit this week at Pebble where most of the bombers are not playing and where the fog rolled in Friday.

I wondered if the Tour is on board with the USGA in case of a lawsuit, while reader NRH brought up a good question that hopefully someone can help answer: "wondering if any other visitors to this site with a knowledge of the law and restraint of trade precedent could inform us as to how such a case would likely turn out (beyond who has the best/most expensive attorneys of course)."

John Huggan slammed the Tour for not handling the World Golf Championships better, in a week when everyone finally noticed that the 2007 WGC's are all scheduled to be played in the U.S.

Tiger Woods reminded us that he's a traditionalist at heart, shooting down the notion that distance measuring devices should be allowed in pro golf. As usual a debate broke out on this hot-button issue and in light of that, I started a thread on the question of skill and these devices.

Jim Nugent of Golfweek made the LOL funny claim that Tiger could play in the NFL to assuage his advertisers prove that the equipment must not be regulated.

Gary Van Sickle's latest column elicited quite a bit of discussion on the issue of shorts on the PGA Tour, with The Duke questioning a photo caption including Tiger in shorts: "Letting players wear shorts might get marquee players like Tiger Woods to enter more tournaments."

I looked at the USGA's latest attempt to prevent flogging, and it seems they are going about it about as badly as you can imagine.

And if you don't to read all of this stuff, I appeared on Ryan Ballengee's excellent 19th Hole Golf Show to discuss most of these topics. The show also includes a chat with Frank Thomas about his recent survey.