Week(s) In Review September 2-16: Walter and the Ryder Cup

WeekInReview2.jpgThe Ryder Cup has arrived and Ian Woosnam's captain's selections generated plenty of questions, especially after Thomas Bjorn's tirade blasting Woosie.

Lefty writes: Clarke is a sentimental choice. However, Petterson is a better golfer currently than Clarke. Sorry, Darren...Of course it IS only an exhibition. So maybe the sentimental choice is the right one...

Jeremy Rudock: Bjorn should be crying. It's almost criminal that Westwood was selected over him for the team. Bjorn's results are much better than Westwood's on the course this year.

Matt: Poulter should have the biggest beef of all-he played well last Ryder Cup and had some good finishes in majors this year. That would have been like the US picking Love and Duval, only much worse because Davis and David are playing better than Darren and Lee and aren't going through the emotional baggage.

Hawkeye writes: It is fairly obvious that the main criteria Woosnam went for are "speaks rural English" and "likes a pint". And I have a strange feeling that might be the right thing.

On the USA Today article about course closures, Smolmania brought this up: For those of you familiar with golf in Chicagoland, Pine Meadow -- named Golf Digest's Best New Public Course some time in the mid '80s -- may be in trouble. The Archdiocese owns the property the course is on, and the Jemsek's lease is coming up quickly. Rumor has it that negotiations are not going well. . . there are developers lining up to build houses on this property, and Lord knows the Church has lots of litigation settlements to pay. What a shame if we lose one of the best conditioned public courses in our District.

There were some interesting developments on the distance front, starting with Martina Navratilova's comments about tennis and golf equipment regulation.

GeorgeM writes: "Stronger" golfer uses harder ball and driver to attain more distance. Weaker driver uses softer ball and trust skill to carry the day. I have no problem with different balls favoring different players. However, if the same design were applied to lighter or larger balls, distances could be reduced and lenghtening of courses stopped. It would not hurt for the USGA to abandon COR specs and adopt a spec minimizing relative movement or deformation of the club face. That would relate more closely to "springlike effect."

On Tim Finchem's shifting stance on drug testing after Tiger Woods endorsed a PGA Tour drug testing program, R.J.W. says: Tim's finally come down off whatever that was he was on a couple weeks ago. No longer is he in complete denial, just quasi aloof now. Hey media, Tim just needs a few more weeks to make sure everything is out of his system, then he'll be ready to field your questions.

Walter Driver was the star of an ESPN.com chat and he revealed that the USGA won't be doing much to address the distance issue.

Barry writes: ...to paraphrase: “Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Tiger Woods, Tom Watson, Greg Norman, Seve Ballasteros, Ernie Els, Lee Trevino, Ben Crenshaw, etc., etc. – you are ALL WRONG. Your years of playing and observing the game at the highest levels are worthless. We at the USGA have the ‘facts’ on ours side. And the ‘facts’ that we choose to pay attention to allow us to do nothing, and thereby avoid getting sued.”  Thanks Walter for clearing things up. Really, I mean that. After a few years of organizational doublespeak – we’re studying the problem, there is no problem - we now know exactly where the USGA stands. I can now give up any last shred of hope that you will do a damn thing to protect the game.

Garland: The USGA is conducting tests. They have determined that the modern ball goes 25-30 yards farther with the same swing speed than the ball used on tour in the early 90s. What that means is that the initial velocity and overall distance standards failed to keep the balls the tour players choose from going far beyond the intended distances.

Chuck: ...the longest players on the PGA Tour may not be dominating the money list. What I say to that is, I don't care. What is inarguable is that all of the courses that host PGA Tour events are being forced into unrecognizable alterations.

Kevin notes: one cannot argue that technology has not seriously changed this game. In my mind the perfect example is the 17th hole of the Old Course at St. Andrews. Always a feared hole, approached with care using long irons. Why did the R&A grow rough so high and so penal as to make using a driver a fool's play? Because the new tehnology would have turned that hole into a pitch and putt. And if you are OK with that, then you are on the other side of the fence from me. Driving averages are a bunch of numbers; when greats such as the Road Hole are rendered irrelevent then I see a clear sign that technology is out of control.

N Gn: I have been a Tour player for several years and I don`t need any statistical evidence to prove that there has been an excessive increase in distance over the last couple of years. The problem, in my opinion, is that the USGA and the R&A don´t have the guts to regulate accordingly, and my impression is that it is a legal fear. I believe that it will be the Augusta National members that will make the the right move, and when that day comes, we will see how quickly the USGA and R&A will take action.

Meanwhile the grooves issue continues to be the one area that the USGA sees a problem.

Scott S writes: Keep in mind that there is a difference between V, box, and U grooves. The super-ripping Cally, Titleist, and TM wedges use U grooves (TM calls them Y grooves, but their cross-section looks similar to the other U grooves). This is probably what they have their sights on. That said, what good will this create beyond adding a few million to wedge and possibly iron sales to the manufacturers? Oh, that's right, no one cares what they do to grooves, so long as no one loses any yardage!

RGT: ...grooves are not the problem when a 16 year old kid can average 339 yards off the tee in a Nationwide event. ince the USGA is not going to do anything about distance which is totally their fault, the PGA Tour should cut and run from the USGA. Go to a tournament ball, save millions in golf course renovations and still be able to afford the drug testing. Bottom line, these ballistic distances are driving up costs while TV ratings are in a major slump. Unless of course Finchem can convince TIGER of playing every week, fat chance.