Week In Review, April 30-May 6: Goodbye Hootie and Earl

WeekInReview2.jpgEarl Woods passed away, Hootie Johnson stepped down, John Daly started plugging his book  and Brad Klein chimed in for this site's third Taking AIM installment. And once again, lots of great comments from readers.

Regarding the Klein discussion, which included his thoughts on the planned Winged Foot "tiered rough" concept, reader F.X. said, "Graduated rough is a classic example of reinventing the wheel. What the USGA seems to be striving for is preserving the opportunity for recovery in the context of a penal architecture. It's a strained technocentric solution that will have all sorts of consequences, particularly the intended-by-the-mower-manufacturers ones pointed out in this discussion."

Meanwhile The Donald's plans for a Scottish golf course got plenty of attention.  Later in the week, John Huggan weighed in.  Reader Hux chimed in on the Donald's pride in his ability to create top quality medical facilities to go with his golf course: "He said they build big golf courses, and they understand how the medical situation needs to be done. Can Crenshaw administer so much as a band-aid without getting an end all twisted? I thought not. With medical facilities like they're going to have, even if they don't get the British Open, there's always the British Grand Prix.  Always have a plan B you see. Smart fellow, The Donald."

Rex Hoggard noticed some of Dale Jr.'s recent comments about settling for 3rd and wondered how that would impact the FedEx Cup. It prompted plenty of thoughts on the FedEx Cup.

NRH: "As for being satisfied with a nice check vs. winning as the only thing that matters, this has been going on for quite awhile. It sounds terrible to say, read or hear, but it is the truth. The younger guys on Tour can't identify with hustlers along the lines of Trevino or even Rich Beem's stint at the Speaker Shack. The purses are insane...it doesn't seem like that long ago you would read the results in the back of the sports page on Monday morning and shake your head at the $180,000 next to the winner's name. That's tenth place money now."

GeorgeM noted that "The Nextel Cup is flawed by the VERY low number permitted to qualify. The FedEx Cup will admit the vast majority of fully exempt players. On the other hand, each cup attempts to minimise any lead in points gained during the season. The end result will not be a season champion, but the player who is playing best in early September."

Sean Murphy asked, "What happened to great golf selling itself, why all the smoke and mirrors??? Players in the locker room on the PGA Tour are really scratching their heads, what will they think of next???"

Regarding the driving distance stats and the New Orleans event, Steve White wrote: "I remember being on the course during one of the first years they played at English Turn and watching Greg Norman hit what everybody thought was a Herculean 3-iron to get it on the green in two at 15. Now, it's a routine driver, mid-iron hole. The only players who don't go for the green in two are those who drive the ball in the rough."

A reader from Spain kindly sent in a few entertaining photos, including a religiously-correct bunker that MacDuff noted was the ultimate cross bunker. You be the judge!

On the subject of shot shaping, grooves and the changing game, John V asked, "I've seen Tiger and others shape shots. Is it perhaps that many of today's players don't know how or have forgotten how? Is that because they've only been taught one way to hit the ball or really because it can't be done?"

Sean Murphy noted that "A rules official shared with me on Monday that players are changing wedges every two weeks and irons every 4 weeks, all in an effort to be able to work these rocks today. Yes, it is possible to somewhat work them, but it is an awfully expensive proposition for the average Joe who would like to be able to do the same."

On the USGA Distance Myths, as regurgitated by the USA Today, John V pointed out that one of the readers seemed to not be aware of USGA testing standards, perhaps justifying the myths: "One of the myths is that there are not standards. This guy certainly sounds like he thinks there are none."

Tom Wishon responded that it may just be a myth that the USGA actually tests today's typical launch conditions: "There is a .083 on Cor for drivers witnessed at 109mph so that no more than an 83% transfer of energy can be witnessed.  John V., what is the ceiling for Cor transfer as it relates to thicker club faces bouncing a harder core golf ball at 120mph where not all professionals on the PGA Tour swing the club 120mph? A COR reading for any swing speed above 112mph should not be allowed to be witnessed at anything over an 83% transfer of energy. That is where the ceiling should be with regards to Cor benefits for drivers."

On the news that the USGA is finally getting around some of the rolled back balls that they asked for a year ago, reader Matt wrote, "They don't want to drag it on forever but that's exactly what they're doing. Meanwhile the integrity of the game continues to erode...I sincerely hope this is the last year of the juiced ball era on tour, but I won't hold my breath."

Our resident think, Pete the Luddite, asked Matt for patience. But I asked Pete if he would conduct research as the USGA has, issueing press releases dispelling myths before the results were completed. Pete wrote: "Pre-supposing the results for the client and using cash as a means to drive the answer desired. I've seen those consultants out there who will tell you what you want, regardless of fact, if they are paid enough. Makes me sick. Ethical twists occur, and this is essentially what USGA's "researchers" are doing. For them to state that it will be "done when it's done" is farcical."

David Feherty joined the long list advocating a change in the ball. Reader C.W. wrote, "Yes, the only thing that needs to be done is standardize the core hardness of the golf ball and the Cor benefits of drivers...It would be easy to soften up the core of modern golf balls while maintaining the same flight characteristics. The golf balls have been made harder to increase their distance by expanding the Cor of a driver further."

And finally, the bombshell of the week: Hootie Johnson handing over the keys to Augusta to Little Feat co-founder Atlanta Olympic game head man Billy Payne. Nice work by reader Smolmania noticing that Payne is associated with Eric Gleacher, former member of the USGA-Augusta cabal.

I'm sure we'll get more discussed on the subject of our dearly beloved Hootie next week, but he has a fan in reader Matt:  "Im actually disappointed in a way over this-say what you want about him, but Hootie really stirred things up in his time as Augusta chair; he raised The Masters profile I think. You may not have agreed with the way he did things, but you respected him because he didn't care what people like Martha Burk had to say. He didn't even flinch when the majority of the golfing world condemned him for the course changes. Hey, the guy stuck to his principles."

Too bad for golf that he didn't stick to Jones and MacKenzie's design principles!