Week In Review, June 25-July1: Bad News Tour

WeekInReview2.jpgWhat should have been a slow week turned into a series of bad news stories on the PGA Tour centering around the demise of the Washington stop and the Western Open name change.

Regarding Ed Sherman's latest commentary on the Western's demise, reader JPB said: "Glad to see the Evans Scholars will get more money. Aside from that it is bad that the name is gone. The Western was essentially a major for crying out loud. I know it lost that status long ago, but it is sad to see the name changed to the BMW. I like free trade and globalization and stuff, but can anybody tell whether the Deutsche Bank, BMW, Johnny Walker, SBS, RBS or FBR are on the European Tour, PGA Tour, or senior tour anymore? Even BMW Western would be better at this point."

Following Jeff Rude's story on the Tour's lousy treatment of the Western, JohnV wrote: "I went to bmwusa.com and told them I think they have made a terrible decision in renaming the event. As for its leaving Chicago, the Western Open used to move around a lot so I have less problem with that.

Jimmy countered: "If Finchem and his cronies want to move an event around each year why not pick Quad Cities or Milwaukee, venues with less generated revenues than the Western Open held in Chicago and less support. Taking the second oldest golfing event in the country, run by the Western Golf Ass. and requiring a name change is astonishing. Whatever this mad man is up to one thing is quite evident, he cares nothing about tradition, values, history, integrity."

We kicked the week off with Geoff Ogilvy's comment that "if they [the governing bodies] don't take care of the game, i'm sure there is someone out there who wants to make money off the game that will."

Matt responded: "the USGA has made a ton of money off the game, and not through member dues. Their TV deal with NBC was a huge whopper that made them beyond flush with cash. How they should have used the money: staying one step ahead of the manufacturers and being proactive when it came to controlling the distance the golf ball traveled. The big TV deal was in 1995, about the same time that the golf ball started on the distance rise that has spiraled out of control in recent years. Instead they have spent the money on jet travel for executives and for hiring Rees Jones and other folks to trick up classic sites, and also some turfgrass research I guess. I'm not sure they can be trusted to 'ultimately make the correct decisions.' The game has been injured enough through the wrong ones the USGA has made."

Regarding the wonderful second hole at Newport, Charlie wrote: "This morning we managed to see only about nine holes, but I honestly thought to myself as I beheld (that's the word) the super-short 2nd, 'Man, this is a hole the rest of the world should see.' It's almost like you could play it forever and never really figure it out. It's just too easy-looking and yet... It'll require two quite good shots and two good putts to get your par - yet birdie and bogey seem equally likely for 9 out of 10 golfers. Tantalizing..."

Midweek brought the PGA Tour's announcement on next year's FedEx Cup points playoffs, which does not appear to be the answer to the Tour's spiraling ratings.

Rick Adams: "Can't you hear the watercooler talk on Monday? 'Did you see that Phil is one thousand six hundred eighty-six points ahead of Ogilvy now?'"

And on a later post, Kevin: "If they were REALLY trying to emulate Nascar then a player should get points for the 3rd round lead..."

After the Commissioner's tortured teleconference talk, MacDuff wrote, "the more I think about it I realize a points race works for a team sport, where a team has a fan base (sorry) and their ups and downs are shared by their supporters. Apply this to sports of individuals, like golf or tennis, and that magic evaporates...unless you're Tiger or Phil."

cmoore said: "That "playoff" system, as explained by Finchem, comes off as an ill-conceived load of dung. "On one hand, more or less" a player has a "home-field advantage? What? On the system not eliminating those who have no chance to win: "What that's going to create, obviously, is a player who no longer has a mathematical chance to win might play lights-out for two weeks and move well up into the points list from a distribution standpoint." Distribution standpoint? What? I fear this system may lose the 112 million fans the tour currently has."

Jay wrote: "When I was in the Air Force, they sent all the E-5s and above to a one day communication course. One of the lessons I remember is to simplify one’s message. Cut out the BS. Finchem could sure use that course...

Dave Marrandette agreed: "having been trained in the military as a BS interpreter, I can perhaps enlighted everyone about Mr. Finchem's ramblings. You see, he has followed the NASCAR and LPGA pattern. Not wanting to be outdone by a bunch of rednecks and women, he put his debate packground to the test and BS'd FedEx out of millions of dollars."

And Chuck had this to say, which I think I'll raise in a post next week: "To me, allowing 144 players in the playoff is an admission that there will not be a 'fall finish' or a 'quest for the card', as was originally planned. Guess they can't get any sponsors..."

Scott wondered: "It seems that if you win the first of the four tournaments, then you could take the next one off to rest. I don't understand all of this. What is the point? How is this going to make these four tournaments more exciting than NFL or college football?"

On overall impressions of Finchem's announcment, Glyn wrote: "If there isn't a chance of elimination then it's not a playoff, plain and simple. Thus the "excitement" is the same as any other event, week to week."

And Kevin: "Well, I will say that Finchem tried his best to make lemonade when faced with a bunch of lemons. He had Tiger, among others, complaining about the length of the season and a TV contract to negotiate. And like a good magician he pulled a rabbit out of his hat. And he got FedEx to buy in. Will I watch ? Yeah, probably. Will I care who wins the FedEx cup? I doubt it. Will Tiger now get late fall off, excuse free? Absolutely. How will the PGA Tour and FedEx fare at the end of it all? Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn..."

Bruce Selcraig's story on The K Club prompted this from Jonathan Cummings: "I played K-Club a few weeks after it opened (10 years ago??). I just looked up my notes for that round...."reminds me of a 100 other Florida golf courses...."

Jason Sobel interviewed Bubba Watson, causing Smolmania to comment: Seems as if Mr. Watson fits right in to the Commish's NASCAR revisions to the sport doesn't it? See ball, hit ball far. . . the sport of Hogan and Nelson? Yes, Bubba, there will always be big hitters. But when the manufacturers take over the game by allowing technology to permit the big hitters to take an unfair advantage of the guys who can actually play the game, the game loses relevance to the folks who pay the bills. . . the fans.

The USGA gave a press conference at Newport, and David Fay's comments on Winged Foot elicited some interesting replies.

Chuck: "'...a great old golf course can still be a great championship site for contemporary golf...' if, in five years of preparatory work, you build six or more new tees, stretch the distances by 400 yards, create single-file fairways and have a phenomenal wet spring for growing steel-wool tiered that requires a staff of 200 marshalls to avoid an epidemic of lost balls. Why not give it a try with your own "great old golf course"?"

Hank: "D. Fay must think us fools to believe this garbage that he continually puts out there, and all the lap dogs in the press(?) keep on lapping it up! I think it is fair to say that the players' remarks were more criticism than just "comments". Those greens were terrible and adversely impacted the tournament. I'd be curious as what WFGC members think?"

Regarding the USGA's Marty Parkes and his comment that the USGA is not aware of what the Ohio Golf Association is up to with their competition ball event this August, Barry wrote:  "Why should the OGA consult the USGA, an organization that seems to be paralyzed by this debate? For heaven's sake, the OGA's experiment may fail miserably - but at least they are trying something here, in reality, in this space time continuum...You can't whine about not being part of a conversation if you don't have anything to say. "We're looking at the issue" doesn't cut it anymore.

Mike B.: "Of course the USGA has no idea what is going on, they don't know where Ohio is ... or how to pick up the phone and call the OGA ...And the OGA is doing this, running the tournament, selecting the ball and collecting technical data without the warchest the USGA has..."

On Lorne Rubenstein's story about Pate and Kite's different views on equipment, AP Maran wondered after watching some World Cup ball debate, "Every championship releases a new ball model, fit to the ideas of the individual championship. By that they can promote spin against length this year, to promote more goals. Goal keepers have difficulty yo grip them with that spin and less length to promote more passes in the midfield.The discussions have been wild about the new ball but everyone accepts the need for change! Why not have specific tournament golf balls, Titleist and the rest have the specifications in good time and also creates a collectible(!?) at the same time, think about playing your home course with the "Open Championship 2006 ball" and see how you end up; if the USGA saw the moneyside in this maybe they would change...

Gene Yasuda reported on Carolyn Bivens's latest run-in, this time with the tournament owners.

Jim Jax wrote: "Glad to see the Tourney Owners taking on the dictatorial Bivens. It's hardly a golf tour partnership with her "my way or the highway" management style. She is absolutely the wrong person for the job with her confrontational approach to loyal in-house staff and the TOA. It will "Bye, bye Bivens" soon I think."