Week In Review, July 1-8: This and That

WeekInReview2.jpgA little bit of everything this week as the Women's Open wrapped up Monday, the Senior Open is being played at wonderful Prairie Dunes and the British Open looms.

Playing out somewhat under the radar is the PGA Tour's FedEx Cup announcement, which surprisingly has been met with only a few negative reviews. Considering that it has been billed as an exciting new concept, I'm surprised we haven't seen more stories questioning the many bizarre aspects of the Tour's new "playoffs." (Then again, few questioned the sanity of rewarding a Commissioner with a $27 million contract for signing a 15-year deal with The Golf Channel, so why should we expect anything else!)

Thankfully, you all had plenty to say about the Tour' s announcement this week.

JPB: "The Tour appears to be making a lot of decisions that will benefit top players, top purses, and top sponsors at the expense of everybody else. There is a place to treat stars better. There is a place for some events to be bigger and better than others. However, to throw away tournaments, fans, and entire markets for the alleged improvements is risky. And then to get meaningless MBA speak about having too much water in the glass... Perhaps the better water analogy is throwing the baby out with the bathwater."

Andreas Håkansson: "Personally, living in Sweden and watching PGA Tour telecasts past bedtime, I do not think that the demise of these tournaments is a bad thing. Uninteresting courses and unattractive fields leave them inferior to most European Tour stops during summer and fall. For me as a European, American golf ends, and has always ended, after the NEC (the old World Series). I reckon that Finchem feels the same way."

Regarding the shabby treatment of Washington D.C., reader TC writes: "Blame money hungry Commissioner Tim Finchem for this travesty. And for handling the situation like a fourth grader. He waited unitl it was too late for Booz Allen to react before telling them he had moved their event to the worst possible weekend on the tour. Then he refused to take phone calls from the Washington press yesterday."

With Annika and Pat Hurst deciding the U.S. Women's Open on Monday, the subject of 18-hole playoffs came up.

Smolmania: "When I start playing 3 or 4 hole rounds of golf, or 3 or 4 hole matches, I will agree that 3 or 4 hole playoffs are the way to go. Why does everything in life have to be based upon expedience? Golf is one game that isn't, at least it shouldn't. Besides, the USGA has much more important things to be worrying about than how many extra holes to play. It used to be a big deal when the guys on the PGA Tour could "hit the barn" at the back of the range at Cog Hill. . . yesterday 80% of the guys I saw were doing it. Fix the ball, then you can worry about the silly little details like how long the playoffs should be in the ultimate championship."

AP Maran on criticism of 18-hole playoffs: "It's the time we live in that is the problem, better be quick than dead, next town next competition, never rest, up up go go. I can see the logistical problems with burning a day, tents to move, cargos to ship. But as golf continue to be the semislow game in sports, let us hail the honour to be slow and enjoy the extra round of playoff, but at the same time don't be silly as in cricket and take tea for two hours before next batting, 18 holes is perfect."

NRH: "The USGA has it right on this one. Monday might be inconvenient for some, but not to those who are playing. There's something to be said for the mental endurance of an additional 18 and sleeping on it. Like the rough and winning scores over par, it is once a year. Deal with it Doug. Besides, there's no way the USGA would leave enough light to get in 3 or 4 holes on Sunday."

Kevin: "What does an 18 hole playoff offer that a 4 or 5 hole playoff doesn't? The ability to come back after one or two bad holes? That's a weak reason when you are talking about the a championship of golf...the stakes should be high for each hole in the playoff, whether it is sudden death or a subset of holes.

Scotty: "I've been to all four major championships at least once and attended every Masters and U.S. Open since 1997, and the USGA puts on the worst show annually -- by far. It's tedious. Every bit of it. And on the off chance that one of its events happens to get exciting enough to reach playoff potential, the USGA goes ahead and makes the whole thing more tedious by dragging it out another day. I'm all for tradition, and if that's your reasoning for sticking with 18 holes, fine. But if you can honestly tell me that any part of Sunday's final round at Winged Foot, for instance, was remotely close to the drama that unfolded in the last four holes, you're making about as much sense as the people defending oil company profits."

Gus: "They might not have needed a playoff if it were possible in a USGA set up to make a birdie. The only movement in these things is backwards to the field. The concept of an extra 18 would be fine if we were talking about exciting/ interesting golf- but we're not. The prospect of extending everyone's misery for another day is too much too bear. Somebody pull the plug! Please!

I brought up the subject of Phil Mickelson's scouting of courses and knowing what he'll hit in advance. Personally, I think it says something very bad about modern day course setup and architecture that spontaneity has been stripped from the tournament equation. But as expected, a Phil debate broke out! That's okay, the comments were still interesting.

JPB: "Golf should be something more vague than a game broken down by the stats wizards and game theory geniuses. I hope so, since I am neither of those, my brain can barely handle adding the score up."

Charlie Bell: I agree that the USGA shouldn't determine or announce tee/pin positions in advance. For me it's not a matter of challenging the players to think "on the fly" so much as ensuring that they're forced to think a lot, period. Because a course changes daily with wind, turf, and green conditions, there's no sense in setting it up until the last possible moment. The challenge shouldn't lie in the difficulty of the shots per se but rather in the variety of shots required from hole to hole and round to round, and you can't maximize this until you know the day's conditions.

On the latest and most misleading Golf Digest Bomb and Gouge blog entry yet, JM writes:  Of course, the First Corollary to this observation is Paul Fussell's Law of the Ball (as outlined in his book, Class): the smaller the ball, the higher the class. Here's a catchy new title for their blog, then: Spares and Strikes Forever."

NRH used the topic to write, "Billy Payne, take the first step and make your own Masters ball. Since Augusta always does things the classy way, only use your logo on them and do not reveal the manufacturer. Let each player choose the compression (is there even a choice anymore?), give them 4 dozen in advance of the tournament week so they can get used to them and another 4 dozen when they arrive with their initials embossed and send them to the tee."