Week In Review, May 14-20: Lettin' The Club Do That For You

WeekInReview2.jpgThe week got off to another fun start with John Huggan's column on Andrew Coltart, who lamented the demise of more subtle shotmaking elements and the huge advantages that long hitters are getting, prompting OldSchool to write, "Distance Myth #11. Professional golfers are not paying attention to the tremendous distance gains over the past 4 years. Specifically those gaining an incremental distance advantage."

A pair of John Hawkins blog posts touched off many comments about the state of Tour golf here, but oddly, not on the Golf Digest site!

The first post was on the PGA Tour's television ratings decline, prompting reader Matt to write, "Today's one-dimensional power game is being played on boring tracks built to accomodate housing, for paychecks that would take most fans lifetimes to make. No one worries about choking anymore-they know they have a big bank account to console them."

And Carl wrote: "Put some damn fire back into the competition and maybe golf will be interesting as a spectator sport once again and not seem to be just a gathering of nice fellows content to make a good check and have a good time. Screw the good time, get serious!"

And RGB wondered this: "With Commissioner Finchem renewing his own contract, doesn't the membership question his process? In all 501 C 6 organizations the membership decides those decisions for themselves because they are the shareholders of the corporation. Finchem is also not allowed by law to withhold the financial information of such an organization from a dues paying (shareholders) union incorporated into a 501 C 6 labor league. That is a serious breach of fiduciary duty on his part."

Regarding Hawkins' post on the likely FedEx Cup points system, Sean Murphy asked, "Can John Hawkins write us a story about the Charles Schwab Cup (another points race), who actually won the last 5 of them, and why we even care?"

Reader Chris wondered about Hawkins' line on the Tour "failing to realize that the boat would move much faster with a lot fewer oars in the water," noting that "in rowing, taller, heavier individuals have a small, but significant advantage. It is based on the same physical principle that causes boats with more rowers to go faster."

Those nautical metaphors! Is rowing considered nautical!? Anyway...

Regarding the ongoing Fed Ex Cup points watch, Mike Cummins noted that MacDuff's "points structure is the only structure that truly rewards often and consistent play. I would hope just one thing from you, if the Tour does decide to invent their 5th Pyramid Scheme pay out, that you would continue to provide your points structure model here so we can compare how bad the Tour's is flawed."

On Canadian Open and it's lousy date on the new PGA Tour schedule, Wayne K said the "RCGA should consider switching the Canadian Open from a PGA Tour event to a European Tour event. They could have a date in the prime of the summer close to the US Open to attract Europeans that are travelling to the US for that event. And Europeans playing most of the year on the PGA tour would have the benefit of being able to collect Ryder Cup points in North America which would be of benefit every two years."

Jonathan Cummings pointed out that the Booz Allen is facing many issues thanks to its recent decline: "In years past Avenel has had waiting lists to become one of the 1300 volunteers that help put on the tournament. In a financial statement of the times, Booz announced that volunteers will be charged this year (not uncommon at PGA tournamnets). The volunteer pool reacted - just 4 weeks from the tournament they have only 500 folks who have signed on. This is not enough to pull off the tournament. What are the chances that a PGA tournament gets canceled because of not enough volunteers?"

Easily the most discussed story of the week continues to be the fascinating two-driver debate that was reignited by Monty's remark about letting the club do the work for you, with both sides making compelling cases.

tread softly: "...this exemplifies why the golfing powers-that-be must get their act together.. we are witnessing the surreptitious slithering towards the demise of any artistry, as so elegantly vented by Andrew Coltart in John Huggan's recent column... l would even venture to call it 'back door cheating'."

And on the other side, Smolmania: "14 clubs in the bag. You choose which ones you want to carry. You want 2 drivers, knock your socks off. I carry 5 wedges. Is that "cheating"? Sorry, I just don't see it. There's a lot bigger problems in golf -- the ball, for example? -- that I don't think this is remotely one of them."

A fine point by cmoore: "What if Hogan had decided to carry two drivers: one with lead tape on the heel and one with lead tape on the toe to encourage different ball flight? Would this have caused any controversy? Is there any real difference between the draw/fade bias drivers of today and the lead-taped drivers of the past?"

But then there is this take from St. Pete: "The ball is going so far today as Nicklaus pointed out, that long hitters can take 4 or 5 clubs out of the bag...Jack was correct, players like this can take 4 or 5 clubs out of the bag today because the ball is going to far. And because that is true, Phil has plenty of room in that bag for 3 drivers. Fill er-up please, I'll have another!"

I asked an innocent question about linked stories opening in the existing window or a new window, and new window won 13 to 3, with some votes in between.

Hale Irwin endorsed the USGA's new tiered rough concept, but Glyn noted, "the problem I see getting worse is ability of fans to see the action. The Masters suffered from that this year as 'patrons' had less access due to course lengthening, now they will see less due to rough 'lengthening'?"

Pete the Luddite said that "Hale's comments are especially sad for someone who has spent so much time in the game. Narrower fairways and wider roughs = less fan access. Remember, Hale, that these are the people (aside from the corporate sponsors) who provide those big winner's checks. Driving the fans out of the game (pun intended) is only going to hurt golf in the long run, and further marginalize the sport."

And regarding Bob Verdi's entertaining chat with Fred Couples, who pointed out the silliness of the PGA Tour locking themselves into a 15-year deal with The Golf Channel, reader Chris asked, "How many bars have the golf channel on? None that I've been to."