Now that the ball-makers have successfully ruined most of our leading course, it remains for the golf architects to so design the greens that they shall be both difficult of access and that the putting shall demand care and skill in judging slopes and undulations.
As the Houston Open tries to remain on the PGA Tour schedule where it's been since 1946, Golf Club of Houston is out as the host venue.
The Houston Business Journal's Jack Witthaus reports on the potential move to the downtown muni going forward. (A Memorial Park change in operator to the Houston Golf Association has been proposed.)
The move to Memorial Park would return the PGA Tour to a course it last played in 1963. Even if no sponsor is found for 2018, let's hope this leads to a long term goal of saving the event and carrying on the Houston Golf Association's efforts to refurbish the Houston city courses.
We know about the bizarre correlation between Tiger Woods' play and market bullishness, but given the recent market fluctuations Luke Kerr-Dineen understandably tries to surmise what seems to have Wall Street placing buy ratings on Callaway and Acushnet, among others.
The Tiger factor is again in play, but it may also be something as simple as this:
The growth is supported by an encouraging uptick in overall equipment sales as reported by golf research firm Golf Datatech, including a 23-percent increase in woods sales (in dollars) in March year-over-year, and a 46-percent increase in wedges.
Kevin Casey with the list--as of now--for the weekend's Zurich Classic walk-up music.
I'm fairly certain we're all rooting for Harold Varner and Robert Garrigus to make the cut. I just forgot how spectacularly bad this music video was.
Experts are warning, however, that youngsters Cody Gribble and John Peterson could make a charge with their gloriously cheesy selection, as could wily vets Rose and Stenson.
The PGA of America, longtime holders of the Probst Library featuring an incredible collection of golf books and historic materials, has donated the collection to the USGA Museum.
From the press release:
The Probst Library was developed by South Bend, Indiana-based golf collector Colonel R. Otto Probst, whose passion for the game was kindled in the early 1920s with the acquisition of his first golf artifact. Topics explored through the wide-ranging collection include golf instruction, golf club histories, architecture, equipment, fiction, women in golf, travel, humor, literature and poetry. Several pieces explore Scottish history and its relationship to golf.
“The Probst Collection adds depth and richness to the USGA’s library, providing incredible insight into the game’s cultural and historic evolution,” said Rand Jerris, USGA senior managing director of Public Services. “We are grateful to Colonel Probst and the PGA for cultivating this treasure trove of information, which we can immediately share with fans who love and play the game worldwide.”
Probst (1896-1986) began his collection in 1923 and went on to acquire numerous items from renowned collectors through his life, including Cecil Hopkinson and C.B. Clapcott. In 1938, Justice Earle F. Tilley, a USGA Museum Committee member, endowed his golf library to Probst .
Which is all a good reminder for those interested in golf history and in Far Hills, or just searching from home...
Today, the USGA Library is the world’s foremost repository for the game’s history. Books and periodicals in more than 20 languages cover all aspects of the game. Other areas of collecting include sheet music, dissertations, scrapbooks and over 30,000 scorecards from golf clubs worldwide. The Library also contains the personal papers of some of the game’s greatest personalities (including Bob Jones and Walter Travis) and is home to the USGA/PGA African-American Archive of Golf History. The complete library catalog, containing more than 70,000 volumes, can be accessed online at usga.org or in person.
Ryan Lavner reports on a big change to the Zurich Classic's two-man team format this week: alternate shot will be used on Friday and Sunday this year, best ball on Thursday and Saturday.
That means fewer birdies and roars, but the Tour is hoping that the move will create more strategy and volatility – leaders likely won’t be able to run away from the pack, while the contenders have more of a chance with a good round.
I love foursomes/alternate shot for match play, but wonder if it's needed for two rounds in this event. Putting it on Sunday certainly heightens the pressure on teams, but also deprives fans of some golf on Sunday, as Lavner notes:
The Zurich has its best field in tournament history, with 10 of the top 14 players in the world, and those stars will only hit half the shots on Sunday. That’s not ideal for either the fans at TPC Louisiana or those watching at home.
“That’s sort of a bummer,” Billy Horschel said. “They had success last year, but they’re trying to make a little tweak and see if it’s any better. If not, they can go back to the old way.”
Golf Channel's Jaime Diaz explains what has happened to the vaunted CBS Golf Classic series, an early and important part of growing the game in the early days of often cited by golfers of a certain age.
House and I are pleased to introduce you to one of golf's coolest men, Bon Appetit editor Adam Rapoport. A former GQ editor, Rapo is stylish bon vivant without the pretension. He can write, communicate, edit, cook, among some of his talents. And he really loves golf.
Following his first trip to The Masters where he already discussed the food with House on HOC, we discuss a few more Augusta topics, his take on New Orleans food for Zurich Classic week, the state of golf course food and our dream items/F&B essentials. You can check out his Bon Appetit work by subscribing, reading on Texture and following his outstanding Instagram account.
Referenced in this week's ShackHouse: Matthew Rudy GolfDigest.com piece on Halfway Houses, with more on the Olympic Club's Bill Burger, House Of Carbs on NBA food cities, Rapo and House talking Masters food.
Other topics include a little Tiger talk, some Valero chatter, some LPGA/Wilshire discussion and our picks--plus walk-up songs--for this week's Zurich Classic.
As always, thanks to our friends at Callaway for their sponsorship and their new EXO putters referenced in the show. Industrial design nuts rejoice!
iTunes subscriptions are encouraged for IOS listeners, but any find podcast app will do. Or you can always listen here:
Ok so a 1.7 for the 2018 Valero Texas Open final round isn't going to be cited as a sign of post-Tiger hope or even the inevitable and obvious audience growth impact of #LiveUnderPar, but given a very strong weekend for NBA playoff action on TNT and no major stars in the Valero field, CBS must be pleased to have the Andrew Landry win show an increase.
Austin Karp with the weekend roundup for SBD.
On the surface, Augusta National's creation of a women's amateur tournament beginning in 2019 turned heads and seems an aggressive reach into the LPGA's territory.
But in reading Beth Ann Nichols' Golfweek look at the LPGA dilemma in how to schedule their first major of the year going forward and now up against the new Augusta event, I wonder if there is a danger in overthinking this one.
After all, the Augusta event will only be televised on Saturday and the field only play Augusta National that morning. Given that the members will want to play their course, I suspect play will start early and can occupy a similar time frame as Sunday's Drive, Chip and Putt. That leaves the afternoon to the PGA Tour and LPGA.
“They’re an amateur tournament, we’re a professional major,” Cristie Kerr said. “I don’t think we should have to move our professional major because there’s a one-round event at Augusta National for amateurs.”
I agree! But should the ANA move because the pre-Masters week means it gets lost in some of the attention devoted to The Masters? Yes, say many. But there are scheduling issues with that scenario as well, Nichols notes.
What seemed an obvious fix, at least for one year – to flip-flop the Kia Classic and the ANA – has a significant consequence for TV.
Right now the ANA Inspiration offers 20 hours of live television coverage. Moving one week back puts the women’s major up against the PGA Tour’s Dell Technologies Match Play in Austin. That could mean tape-delayed coverage for early rounds of the ANA and a significant drop in the live window on the weekend. Tape-delayed coverage for an LPGA major would be a controversy in itself.
“The major experience is priority No. 1,” Whan said.
That's what the Detroit News' Tony Paul reports, though no agreement is finalized. The rumor mill has been suggesting a Quicken Loans event in the Detroit area is inevitable, so for me the pleasant surprise is the selection of Detroit Golf Club.
With two Donald Ross courses and a delightfully old clubhouse, it's a grand and bold selection. There is plenty of space, though it'll be tough to see what happens to the short, delightful South Course around tournament time. For architecture geeks it'll be a great chance to go look at some very special Ross green complexes.
Anyway, from Paul's report, on what sounds like an inspired choice if it all comes together.
The tournament likely would debut in 2019, and be held at Detroit Golf Club, making it the first PGA Tour tournament to be played within the city limits.
A high-ranking employee at Detroit Golf Club declined comment when reached by The Detroit News on Monday.
A title-sponsor candidate would be Dan Gilbert's Quicken Loans, which sponsored The National in the Washington, D.C., area from 2014-17, but pulled out after last season’s event. Quicken Loans had told the PGA Tour that its priority is a tournament in Detroit.
The event would likely replace The National, which seems destined for its final playing in the greater Washington D.C. area this June 28th to July 1st.
It's been a long time since a course has elicited as many texts, Tweet responses and consistent commentary. They all went something like this: "Wilshire looks great! Fun viewing! Great crowds!"
Perhaps it was the prime-time placement of the LPGA Tour action from stately and cool Wilshire Country Club. Maybe it was that ingeniously placed crane shot, conspiring with the late light to make Wilshire and surrounding old Hollywood look so darn cool. And just possibly all of that, with enthusiastic commentary from Gannon/Stupples/Cockerill/Foltz/Abbott juxtaposed with the already-tired-looking and soulless TPC San Antonio served as yet another remind of golf in a classy old course in the city center is way better than rural TPC golf.
Wilshire won the week 8&7 over TPC San Antonio.
All of this should sting at PGA Tour headquarters but won't, even though the Valero Texas Open used to be played at a beloved city-center course with Tillinghast ties and big crowds. The PGA Tour chases the money and worries about the fallout of going to antiseptic, suburban, bloated venues later. Or the events just die and no one examines the ties between venues with soul and those where even a novice detects the joylessness.
As the PGA Tour pursues a mind-bogglingly short-sighted position in favor distance advances that will all but rule out quaint, city-center courses on a more human-scale like Wilshire, they will have no one to blame when the numbers speak volumes.
Sure, the PGA Tour will still out-rate the LPGA Tour this week because a network broadcast still always wins. But only three of the world top 30 could find their way to San Antonio, while LA's new LPGA stop drew 21 of the world 25. For perspective, the upcoming Zurich Classic and its two-man team format has landed 10 of the world's top 14 thanks almost entirely to the fun format change.
The Valero will change dates next year to a pre-Masters slot. But major changes in the TPC San Antonio design and maintenance will be needed to build upon what Houston did in the pre-Masters position. Though as I noted in last week's Alternate Shot, the Valero should be careful what it wishes for in demanding the pre-Masters date. Houston's venue offered no masterpiece, but it also didn't make players want to hurl their drivers.
As Eamon Lynch notes for Golfweek, the May calendar spot is not helping the Valero, nor is the stagnant nature of PGA Tour golf. But really, it's all about the venue for players, fans, television and ultimately, the sponsors footing the bills.
That same poll declared the AT&T Oaks Course at TPC San Antonio the fourth-worst stop on the schedule, suggesting that being named for a corporation isn’t the most objectionable thing about it. The Greg Norman design (presumably he confessed to it under interrogation) hosted last week’s Valero Texas Open. It is one of the Tour’s oldest and most respected events and raises huge sums for charity. Yet players look forward to TPC San Antonio much as a condemned man does the gallows.
Then it gets appreciably worse, as an unbylined AP story notes of Grandview Golf Club apologizing to a group of five black women--known as Sisters of the Fairway--who were harassed by the course co-owner and his father for not playing fast enough.
At the second hole, a white man whose son co-owns the club came up to them twice to complain that they weren’t keeping up with the pace of play. Thompson, an attorney and the head of the York chapter of the NAACP, told the newspaper it was untrue.
On the same hole, another member of the group, Sandra Harrison, said she spoke with a Grandview golf pro, who said they were fine since they were keeping pace with the group ahead of them.
Despite that, the women skipped the third hole to avoid any other issues, she said.
And there was this dreadful image...
Thompson said the man from the second hole, identified as former York County Commissioner Steve Chronister, his son, club co-owner Jordan Chronister and several other white, male employees approached the remaining two women and said they took too long of a break and they needed to leave the course.
If you pitched the Hugel-JTBC L.A. Open inaugural story to an executive from one of the studios up the street from Wilshire Country Club, the verdict would have been something like: "na, too good to be true."
You had the big sister of a top player always playing second fiddle and in her 156th start, holding off a legend of the sport and a sweet-swinging star-in-the-making in Jin Young Ko (with both nearly acing a final hole that created the hoped-for theater.) Just off the green was the year-younger little sis, bawling like a baby at the sight of big sister finally winning on the LPGA Tour.
Throw in some beautiful late light, huge crowds, a fantastic setting dotted by the Hollywood sign and a tournament that wasn't even on a schedule a few months ago, and you have a special week for LA's return to the LPGA schedule.
As Beth Ann Baldry writes, Moriya Jutanagarn's win was one for the family, who were all on hand to enjoy a special day at a special course.
Ron Sirak notes for LPGA.com that Moriya's win makes the Jutanagarn's the second sibling set to win on the LPGA Tour, joining the Sorenstam's.
Inbee Park made a couple of uncharacteristic mistakes as Jutanagarn played nearly flawless golf, but as I wrote for Golfweek, Park regains the world No. 1 ranking for the third time despite multiple layoffs from the sport.
Many players expressed their delight for Moriya winning on such a big stage against such a strong field (21 of the world top 25), who has long played second fiddle to a more famous sister. But the media outpouring of pleasure tells you just how long overdue the win is, and how admired Moriya is for her dedication to craft.
Golf Channel, which did a beautiful job delivering great sound and pictures of Wilshire CC, offers this final round highlights package helmed by Terry Gannon and Karen Stupples:
Andrew Landry's Valero Texas Open win was an emotional one for his family, who've saw him come close to winning earlier this year and have witnessed no shortage of struggles, Mike McAllister writes for PGATour.com.
Also impressive of Andrew to take a few minutes away from his celebration to piece together a #LiveUnderPar graphic and image to make for Tweet No. 70 from his account. These Guys Are Good!
The winner's boots will definitely look better with a pair of jeans...
Moriya Jutanagarn wasn't near as emotional as her sister upon winning the inaugural Hugel-JTBC L.A. Open with a strong final round that required holding off the almighty Inbee Park.
Kid Rock sports some retro glasses and displayed way more than anyone wanted to see of his mid-section during the Bass Pro Shops Pro-Am and Rain Dance.
Sand Valley celebrated Earth Day with a message about their efforts.
The LPGA Tour's Hugel-JTBC L.A. Open wraps today on a perfect Sunday with a pretty tightly packed leaderboard.
There is also the fine play of Rio Olympian Aditi Ashok, who at six back is probably too far back today, but remains one of the more inspirational stories in pro golf, writes Beth Ann Nichols.
Ashok had Saturday's shot of the day on the short par-4 14th:
It's been a very successful week at Wilshire based on the reviews of those watching Golf Channel's east coast prime time coverage. I explain here why this was a great get for the LPGA Tour and why more courses of Wilshire's architectural intrigue should be the tour's next frontier, especially as the PGA Tour endorses distance chasing and the road to 8,000-yard snoozefests.
Those who know Wilshire love its 10th hole and are irked by its use as the closing hole this week. But for legitimate logistical reasons, the dreaded par-3 finish may not be so dull after all. Here is my story for Golfweek on what to expect with this grand one-shotter.
A few more images:
Great to see Sergio Garcia getting back to his roots by shelving the big name producer and the lavish string arrangements for a stripped-down, acoustic version of his classic club right-handed club hurl.
Following a missed cut at The Masters, Sergio's first single off the new album pays homage to Lyle Lovett's classic: San Antonio Hurl. Reviewers will swoon over how little speed he's lost even as he shifts to a left-handed toss.
Mercifully this time around, he kept his Rogue driver--with groundbreaking Jailbreak Technology no less--out of a lake and instead deposited the wounded weapon into cedar-infested shrubbery.
The hurl took place in round two of the Valero Texas Open. Make sure to watch all the way through to :48 when analyst Billy Kratzert suggests the club hurl was "highly untypical of Sergio" while the Spaniard takes another lash at something in the shrubbery! He's living under par!
Garcia's new album is also expected to feature a duet with wife Angela, "Don't Go Breaking My Club."
There are many fine courses and clubs in the Chicago area, but it's still nice to see a facility with the history and architecture of Beverly Country Club's caliber welcoming the golf-loving former president of the United States to its roster.
Teddy Greenstein reports for the Chicago Tribune.
This was interesting:
Members refer to Beverly Country Club as “the United Nations” of golf clubs, a home to people of all ethnicities, races, faiths, political parties — and both sexes. The membership includes multiple Nobel Prize recipients and politicians such as Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan and Ald. Ed Burke.
The club features a Ron Pritchard restoration of a Donald Ross original.
It's a law firm!
In a Friday golf architecture-focused edition of Instagram shots I've enjoyed, we kick off with an unusual angle of (photographic) approach to Kingston Heath's 11:
A very LA Open-like weather day for the LPGA's return to the LA city limits. A few of my shots, just use the arrows to the right to see all...
The tents are going up, now it's just time for spring weather to rejuvenate the native grasses. One of golf's most beautiful par-4s: