Week In Review, August 26-Sept. 3: Ohio, Ohio

WeekInReview2.jpgBetween Tiger's bizarre win at Firestone, Tim Finchem's press conference and the Ohio Golf Association's Champions tournament, last week's events in Ohio continued to provide plenty of fodder. For a first hand account of the OGA event, check out the IM interview with SI's Gary Van Sickle.

Regarding Tiger's drop and the outrage of writers like John Hawkins, reader Etienne writes: I don't think I have ever played a course where the parking lot and clubhouse are in play. This was the most bizaare ruling, I am sure that most players would have been into their bag playing their 4th shot without thinking twice!

TEPaul writes: Maybe the PGA Tour didn't "set-up" the course correctly in the opinion of some by designating the clubhouse an Obstruction rather than OB but since they did do it that way before the tournament and in the tournament "condition of competition" the Tiger Woods ruling was definitely the correct ruling.

Alan Shipnuck chimed in and the responses continued to vary. John Gorman writes: Having played the course last summer, I know that if I or one of my brothers had jacked one onto the roof of the clubhouse, we would have taken stroke and distance without thinking twice. I'm sure the rule is different (though ridiculous) for the tournament. If it had not been a tournament, Tiger would have lost to Cink by a stroke, maybe two.

Jeremy Rudock noted the line, "He got the same ruling every other golfer in the field would have gotten. " He responds: You honestly think Jason Gore would have been given 40 minutes for a rules official to figure out what was going on?

And after Ron Sirak's piece, John N. quotes the story and says, "Shots as off line as the one Woods hit Friday need to be penalized." Well, that kind of sums up his whole point, doesn't it? Never mind what the rules actually say, Tiger made a bad shot, and, golf not being subject to random bounces and odd breaks, he should have had a much more difficult recovery than he actually did. That's only fair.

Tiger Woods mentioned his love of Firestone on multiple occasions and noted it's "right in front of you nature," prompting this from reader ken-one-putt: It's pretty clear that his love of St. Andrews is due to the requirement for inventive shotmaking and intelligent planning of strategy, at which he may as good as anyone--ever. But Firestone hardly calls for that kind play. It's got a series of long, straight, narrow, tree-lined holes that mostly run North/South. Few of them have room to shape the ball, and several have those despicable, tall green aerial hazards near the green that make even some shots from the fairway impossible. So there's no thinking required,Maybe now and then he just likes a break from having to use his brain while playing. Or maybe he's learned that saying nice, nondescript things about golf courses gets him out of the media center faster.

After reading about the U.S. Ryder Cup team taking carts around The K Club, JPB kicked off host course bashing with this:  Is it because the cart paths are the design highlight of the K Club?

My Golfdom column on slow play prompted a number of replies.

Steven T.: I recently played at a more demanding private club in 10 minutes less than 4 hours. Why the differential? Because members care. Golf course operators don't. Cetainly, the public does not.

Kevin: Slow play is due to bad golf course management: 1) putting groups off the first tee at a rate faster than the course allows 2) not monitoring play and eliminating the slow groups.  Let's face it - on a one lane road nobody goes faster than the slowest car...

Smolmania: I saw Frank Jemsek take a group off the course after 9 holes one Friday afternoon. They finished 21 minutes behind the group in front of them, and in 2 hours and 25 minutes. He told them to go into the pro shop and get 1/2 of their money back, and nicely invited them to come back some time if they could play more quickly. I thought one of the guys was going to have a stroke he was so angry. The crowd watching then started to applaud, and he left without even getting his refund!

Solipsist: The first time I heard that some folks in Scotland regularly play a round in 2 1/2 hours I thought it was a joke, but it is eminently do-able once you've seen someone do it and learned the joys of it. If we could just educate the good folks who have merely been led astray by a lifetime of faulty experience, it would be a lot easier to deal with the true asses who know better and still play at a glacial pace.

Regarding the Ohio Golf Association event and their attempt to make older courses relevant with a shorter flying ball, Hux writes: the same effect could be had by raising fairway mowing heights. This was Tom Doak's idea: to keep U-grooves and instead relax the level of conditioning expected on fairways. Agronomic, budgetary and strategic win-win, er, win.

Pete the Luddite: Raising fairway mowing heights slightly would not deteriorate playing conditions and lies. It has the benefit of easier maintenance, less stress to the turf, and lower requirements for chemical applications. Same for greens, too. Let's go back, if not to shaggy greens that required a little muscle, then at least to a mid-point between shag and the current state of affairs: linoleum/concrete smooth and fast.

And in response to some of the player comments and talk of possible USGA rules changes pertaining to u-shaped grooves, Oldschool writes:  The USGA looking at grooves again will drive the consumer out of the market place. The modern golf balls today are harder than Chinese algebra. Titleist has introduced their new prototype Pro- V-1-XX. Groves are not the answer, PGA Tour pros are switching wedges every 4 to 5 weeks, irons every 3 months. If the USGA bans U or Box grooves these Pros are going to be switching out irons every two weeks for a sharp corner. Amauters simply can't afford to play the same game as the Pros, they can't afford it. Simplt put, V-Grooves will not change a thing on the PGA Tour as far as the play is concerned. What will happen, amatures will not be playing the same game as professionals, they won't be able to afford new irons every 3 weeks because their V- Grooves have rounded down. Chalk up another round where the USGA has failed to police the distance of todays modern golf balls.

Scott S: If it came to a choice between balls and grooves, it will be cheaper for everyone in the short and long term to do something with the ball. This should be plain enough, given the lifetime of a ball doesn't tend to last out a season (for me, anyhow...).

And on news that ball maker Volvik is reporting strong sales of the pellet used in Ohio, JPB writes:  If the golf ball manufacturers figure out that if they made retro or high spin or "classic course" balls, they would sell more of them, many problems we now face will get better. I know would buy more balls, certainly would buy a high spin 70's-80's type ball to hit with the old persimmons sometimes. Look how many hats and shirts the other sports sell with the throwback idea.