CBS's New "Aerial Tracing" Is Getting Slaughtered, Maybe A Bit Unfairly?

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People, people! Breathe!

Sure, the latest attempt at breakthrough technology was not perfect in its Saturday debut. GolfDigest.com’s Christopher Powers rounds up the rants in reaction to the first hole tee shot of Justin Rose, the technology’s debut on CBS.

The issue appears to be one of scale and visibility. The holes were presented horizontally, forcing a reduction in hole scale that made it hard to tell if a ball was heading for fairway or rough. The shot from the blimp kept the entire hole in view, which took us even farther away from being able to see details. There was also some uncertainty in when to cut away from the trace to the ball landing.

I still see a level of authenticity in seeing the actual hole instead of a graphic (since the graphics often do not reflect reality).

If the architectural features of the landing can be better delineated by the view, and the hole presented vertically to improve size and perspective, this could have great value.

Here is the Tweet with quite the onslaught of comments


2019 PGA First Round Ratings Hold Steady, Close To Last Year's May Players

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Paulsen at Sports Media Watch notes the “slight bump” in PGA round one ratings, the first in the new May date. Up 1% from the 2018 PGA, down 7% from 2017 PGA.

The average audience of 990,000 viewers was comparable to last year’s Players, played a week earlier, where the audience was slightly larger (1 million viewers).

You Could Have Watched Tiger Woods Play In A Major For $6 Today (Plus Service And Handling Fees)

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GolfDigest.com’s Joel Beall noted the incredibly small crowds for Bethpage practice rounds, a stunning contrast to 2018 at Bellerive where fans were lining fairways before the tournament even began.

On Tuesday and Wednesday, many of the holes boasted more volunteers than spectators, a sight especially true on the remote part—holes six through 12—of the property. A beverage vendor mentioned sales were "about 30 to 40 percent" off from their weekly forecast. And a fan noted on the fifth hole, “It’s more crowded out here on a normal Saturday.”

On Monday sports business writer Darren Rovell Tweeted about the low resale market prices, calling the lowest in recent major history. Make sure to read the replies if you want a laugh or insight into how the New York market sees things.

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A study of StubHub showed $6 prices Wednesday morning. Surely that would not happen again Thursday?

Despite Tiger Woods and Brooks Koepka going out early in absolutely perfect first round weather, the resellers were giving tickets away again for round one. The Forecaddie says by sometime around 9 am, the price had dropped from a low of $16 to $6, not including handling fees (around $6). Large chunks of tickets were available for prices in the single digits.

Prices are higher for the remaining three days, but well under the $110 face value for general admission.

In February, the PGA of America touted robust, near-sellout situation, then CEO Seth Waugh touted a boost to sales after Tiger’s Masters win.

The Man Who Saved Bethpage's Major Venue Status Isn't Here

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Former PGA President Ted Bishop is given his rightful credit for his role in the idea to bring the PGA Championship and a Ryder Cup to Bethpage Black after the USGA had decided to pass on future U.S. Opens here. Former PGA CEO Pete Bevacqua and his team also deserve credit for getting the deal done, but as Herrmann writes, the idea started with Bishop:

Bishop was the PGA of America’s secretary, in line to be president, in September 2010 when he met at the park with state officials. The U.S. Golf Association had given up on Bethpage after two rain-drenched U.S. Opens. The PGA Tour had yet to hold its two FedEx Cup playoff events there (which turned out to be poorly attended).

“The future of championships at Bethpage, at the point we started talking, was obviously in doubt,” Bishop said from The Legends, the club in Franklin, Indiana, that he runs, serves as head pro and now is superintendent, too. “I knew about the concerns that everybody who loves Bethpage had, with funding and maintaining conditions going forward.”

Despite the USGA having pulled out, Bishop chose to dive in. His confidence was confirmed during a practice round for the 2010 Ryder Cup in Wales, when he was on the 18th fairway with Phil Mickelson and Rickie Fowler. “Just out of the blue,” he said, “they started talking about Ryder Cup venues and Phil says to Fowler, 'Can you imagine the home course advantage that we would have if they ever played this Ryder Cup at Bethpage.' "

The piece goes on to explain why Bishop isn’t here this week—hint, hint, the hard working PGA Board of Directors stripped him of his PGA status and celebrated the brilliant idea to return to Bethpage with some Hampton’s golf.

Vide: A.W. Tillinghast, The PGA (Of America) "Tour" Years

While the return to Bethpage brings up mixed emotions for A.W. Tillinghast fans, there is little doubt about his influence over the Black course and hundreds of courses across the United States. And Tillinghast’s mid-1930’s work, a lifeline of sorts from the PGA of America’s George Jacobus that turned into an incredible project, plus his late years in obscurity, were the subject of our focus for this Golf Channel feature.

The piece first aired Monday on Live From The PGA, so if you missed it, here’s an encore presentation (also embedded in the righthand column). A special thanks to Dominic Dastoli for a fine producing and supervising effort, and to the PGA of America’s Bob Denney and Dr. Tony Parker for helping us tell the Tillinghast story. And a special thank you to Jim Nantz and Jack Whitaker. Jim for helping us contact the broadcasting legend, and to Mr. Whitaker for becoming the voice of A.W. Tilinghast for us. Tillinghast and Whitaker, two of Philadelphia’s grandest contributions to the game!

Tiger On Hitting His Numbers, Five Hours As A Grow The Game Killer

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Tiger Woods was in good spirits to kick off his return to Bethpage Black and the 2019 PGA Championship, touching on an array of topics from Olympic golf (nice if it happens) to the state of his game and the Black Course. Steve DiMeglio with the full round-up here for Golfweek.

Two quotes stood out in his comments.

Q. You haven't gone major to major without playing all that often in your career, but as you look ahead now, is it something you might consider doing more often? And just sort of how do you weigh the need for reps versus the need for rest at this point?

TIGER WOODS: You know, that's a great question because the only other time where I've taken four weeks off prior to major championships is going from the British Open to the PGA. Usually that was my summer break, and take those four weeks off and then get ready for the PGA, Firestone and the fall. So I'm always looking for breaks. Generally it's after the Masters I used to take four weeks off there. Now, with the condensed schedule, it's trying to find breaks.

You know, I wanted to play at Quail Hollow, but to be honest with you, I wasn't ready yet to start the grind of practicing and preparing and logging all those hours again. I was lifting -- my numbers were good. I was feeling good in the gym, but I wasn't mentally prepared to log in the hours.

Ok first we had players wanting to his certain Trackman numbers. Now gym numbers?

Coming here is a different story. I was able to log in the hours, put in the time and feel rested and ready. That's going to be the interesting part going forward; how much do I play and how much do I rest. I think I've done a lot of the legwork and the hard work already, trying to find my game over the past year and a half. Now I think it's just maintaining it. I know that I feel better when I'm fresh. The body doesn't respond like it used to, doesn't bounce back quite as well, so I've got to be aware of that.

And this seemed to be a nice statement for those leading the game who insist there is nothing wrong with five hour rounds, or slow play in general.

Q. Tiger, more minorities and young women are taking up the sport than before because of all of the initiatives in place, but that isn't reflected in the college participation numbers. Asians are the only minorities that are showing an increase. What do you think is happening? Why aren't the kids who are taking up the game sticking with it?

TIGER WOODS: You know, that's the question for all of us that's been a difficult one to figure out, to put our finger on. The First Tee has done an amazing job of creating facilities and creating atmospheres for kids to be introduced to the game, but also have some type of sustainability within the game.

But it's difficult. There are so many different things that are pulling at kids to go different directions. Golf is just merely one of the vehicles.

Now, with today's -- as I said, there's so many different things that kids can get into and go towards that honestly playing five hours, five and a half hours of a sport just doesn't sound too appealing. That's one of the things that we've tried to increase is the pace of play and try and make sure that's faster, because most of us in this room, if you've gone probably five minutes without checking your phone, you're jonesing. Kids are the same way; five hours on a golf course seems pretty boring.

Brooks Koepka: From 156 To 80 To Maybe 35, And Pressure Is Going To Get To Some Of 35...

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Brooks Koepka did the math on how he sees a field and, well, you can see why he’s a regular contender these days in majors. The man is confident, as Dan Kilbridge notes for Golfweek in writing about the defending champion.

Here is the actual 2019 PGA Championship press conference transcript outlining his view of a major field:

Q. We've heard you say several times majors are the easiest to win; yet that seems too simple for complicated minds. What has led you to internalize this approach which clearly seems to be a winning approach?

BROOKS KOEPKA: The easiest way I can break it down is there's -- what is there, 140 --

JON DEVER: 156 in the field.

BROOKS KOEPKA: 156 in the field, so you figure at least 80 of them I'm just going to beat. From there, the other -- you figure about half of them won't play well from there, so you're down to about maybe 35. And then from 35, some of them just -- pressure is going to get to them. It only leaves you with a few more, and you've just got to beat those guys.

If you just hang around -- I think one of the big things that I've learned over the last few years is you don't need to win it, you don't have to try to go win it. Just hang around. If you hang around, good things are going to happen.

So I think that's what's kind of caused me an issue in the regular PGA TOUR events. I've gone out on Saturday and tried to build a cushion, maybe pressed a little bit too hard and gotten ahead of myself, where in the majors I just stay in the moment. I never think one hole ahead. I'm not thinking about tomorrow. I'm not thinking about the next shot. I'm just thinking about what I've got to do right then and there. And I kind of dummy it down and make it very simple, and I think that's what helps me.

2019 PGA Championship Picks Roundup: Prognosticating At Soggy Bethpage

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Prognosticating golf tournaments is generally a fool’s game. Then dump lots of rain on a major venue and watch the nullification of many of the best setup and design elements. While Bethpage Black is usually soft for its major events, this year’s weather may further dull the local knowledge or experience advantage some might have enjoyed.

This is my way of saying this one seems wide open. Particularly when you factor in the mostly so-so track records of top players in four significant events since 2002. I consider those finishes and recent form in this “ten to watch” for Golfweek. 

And our team makes their picks for USA Today/Golfweek. I am sticking with Tiger again. He likes the place, he’s confident and he’s rested. Oh and he has Privacy here.

It’s hard not to see length being a huge factor, particularly without warmer temperatures this week that players enjoy so much. Ball-striking is paramount, as Joel Beall notes for GolfDigest.com.

Check out some of the changes in iron distance detailed in this Monday preview from Bethpage by Golfweek’s David Dusek. 

The Golf.com team’s picks.

Ryan Herrington’s “sneaky” PGA picks for Golf World.

And Oddschecker is always great fun to watch as it evolves during the week.

Warning: The Black Course Is An Extremely Difficult Course That Players May Light Up During The 2019 PGA

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And it’s ok! Really.

For three simple reasons: spring conditions, simple greens and huge changes in the game.

As Jim Nantz and Nick Faldo noted in this week’s CBS call to promote the new May date for the PGA Championship, the combination of spring conditions and more rain the weekend before means rough is likely to be inconsistent. While long and playing long due to cool conditions, the course should be soft.

But as Tom Dunne notes for Golfweek, Bethpage Black was meant to be a beast from the start and has largely maintained that reputation. (I’m sure it’ll still give players some fits but do remember that the 265-yard carry off the 10th tee in 2002 was understandably controversial. Today, it would take a major wind to restore that fear factor. )

Tillinghast wrote about the “Man Killer” element to the place in 1937 for the PGA Magazine (page 14 of 16 from the TIllinghast Illustrated by the great folks at Tillinghast.net).

Another factor worth watching: the relatively simple greens. In recent years hole locations have been in some astounding places to protect scoring but a soft Bethpage hasn’t many places to hide the holes. So even if the greens are slower than players like and maybe a little bumpy by day’s end, the lack of complexity in the green complexes makes the place more vulnerable.

So it will be interesting to see how the place’s reputation is viewed if the players score well in this PGA. It shouldn’t matter one bit. Because we all know the place has taken on a lot of water and will do so again all day Monday (100% chance of rain). But this is The Black and the good people of Long Island want their course to extract pain!

Oh and here is how things looked Sunday out there:

Return To Bethpage Begins The Wind-Down On Muni's As Major Hosts

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The state of New York’s glorious Bethpage State Park hosts this week’s 2019 PGA Championship and the 2024 Ryder Cup, while Harding Park is site of next year’s PGA. Throw in one US Open at a true public venue—2021 at Torrey Pines—and that’s about it in the way of muni’s hosting majors. The foreseeable future has been lined up for both the PGA and U.S. Open, with clubs or upscale resort courses the focus.

As I write for Golfweek, it’s been a mixed-bag in terms of success rate and benefits for the facilities. But it’s also clear that the cost to host and list of potential venues has shrunken due to the bench press and gluten free diets of today’s better athletes.

But do not despair, as I make the case that these majors at muni’s spawned interest in restoring classic public courses, with a tip of the cap to the new National Links Trust and efforts around the country.

Bethpage Black And The Credit Question

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As Ron Whitten detailed back in 2002, A.W. Tillinghast had a limited role in the design of Bethpage Black. Yet he will be lauded next week during the PGA Championship while the primary designer, Joe Burbeck, only gets a few mentions.

It’s a peculiar bit of irony that guilty of that at Golf Channel too, where we have a feature set to air during Live From on Tillinghast’s later years in obscurity and his incredible cross-country consulting tour for the PGA of America. But there is also a lovely irony in the PGA Championship coming here that allows us to consider his place in the game later in his life.

Since Whitten’s story seventeen years ago was met largely with frustration, maybe even derision, we’ve come to realize a lot more about course design credit. While Tillinghast seems to have only been on site a small amount and appears to have walked away (or was fired) in frustration with the Works Progress Administration’s methodology, there is still something undeniably different about the scale and design of Bethpage Black that speaks to his influence. Which is undoubtedly why Tillinghast still warrants a co-credit in Golf Digest’s listing of top 100 courses.

Sure, the greens have none of the flair you’ll find at other Tillinghast designs in the area and the course is woefully over-bunkered given his views by the Depression years. But as Whitten detailed, he still had a hand in making the design more than just long and hard.

In August 1937, Tillinghast wrote for the first time about Bethpage Black, in PGA Magazine. He credited Joseph Burbeck with the very concept of the Black Course.

"Now it was Burbeck's idea to develop one of these layouts along lines which were to be severe to a marked degree. It was his ambition to have something which might compare with Pine Valley as a great test, and although my continual travels over the country in the PGA work have prevented me from seeing play over Bethpage's Black since its opening, I am rather inclined to believe from reports from some of the best players that it is showing plenty teeth."

The next few lines suggested he made at least one visit to the Black. He described the par-5 fourth in some detail: "In locating and designing the green, which can only be gained by a most precise approach from the right, I must confess that I was a trifle scared myself, when I looked back and regarded the hazardous route that must be taken by a stinging second shot to get into position to attack this green."

While Tillinghast may have walked out of the studio during the sessions, he was there, crafted key notes and lyrics, and is undoubtedly part of why the Black went to a different place architecturally. He might also have made the 18th hole better had he stuck around.

Onward!

Whitten has narrated a nice drone flyover of the course to get you in the mood for the Black’s return to major championship golf:

Tiger Enjoys Bethpage In Shorts Weather While He Can...

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More clips of Tiger Woods at Bethpage have surfaced and it would appear he got in his shorts-wearing before needing to pack those away as temperatures dip Sunday through Wednesday and struggle to get into the 60s. The tournament days look, for now, to be quite pleasant for the PGA Championship’s move to May.

I wonder what the people on Round Swamp Rd. thought when they saw the Masters winner strolling by…

Love the cart just whizzing in front of him on 17. Of course, they have tents practically on top of the fairways—what could go wrong—to finish building.

Tiger Gets Bethpage To Himself In Advance Of The 2019 PGA

Given the dreadful weekend forecast, those wondering if Tiger would get enough scouting in at Bethpage can rest assured after he turned up there Wednesday. Rest assured.

At least it looks that way based on his shorts and fluid swing and lovely solitude, though I’m sure there were plenty of hard working folks setting up infrastructure and trying to get the turf ready. Or maybe shooting some video!

Riggs of Barstool Sports posted this exclusive:


PGA Approves John Daly's Use Of Cart At Walking-Only Bethpage Black

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AP’s Doug Ferguson reports on the PGA of America’s approval of a cart for 1991 winner John Daly, who is going to try to play next week’s championship at Bethpage State Park’s Black Course.

"I hope I don't get a lot of grief from the fans," Daly said in a telephone interview. "My knee is screwed. I had the meniscus cut out. I have osteoarthritis so bad ... I can walk up a hill, I just can't walk down one."

The PGA of America said Daly applied to use a cart through its American with Disabilities Act policy and provided "the requisite information to allow for a review of his request by the PGA's medical team."

Daly tells Ferguson he’s been suffering from diabetes and dizzy spells during a drive to Birmingham for the Tradition. Daly has subsequently set up shop in front of slot machines in Mississippi hoping to improve enough to make the drive to New York.

Bethpage’s Black course is walking only during its season.

May Gray: PGA Would Like Some Sun And Warmth At Bethpage

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You can usually read into Kerry Haigh’s comments when discussing PGA Championship venue issues, and in a press conference today it sounds like things looking good at Bethpage Black. However, it sounds like a more sun and warmth would be helpful to get the course looking ideal for the upcoming PGA.

Here’s Haigh today:

As Seth mentioned, we are extremely excited looking forward to the up coming PGA Championship at Bethpage and as we all know, Bethpage is a wonderful test of golf. We've come through the winter very well from a conditioning standpoint.

Obviously the next two weeks are important in terms of leaves on the trees and grass growing, which is exactly what we knew and anticipated the past two years when we have been monitoring conditioning into this new date.

We're very excited where we are. Andrew Wilson, the superintendent and Mike Hadley, the Black Course superintendent, both are feeling very positive about the overall conditioning. Just need a few warmer days the next 10, 14 days, and I think the golf course will be in just outstanding condition for the 101st PGA Championship.

Obviously we're excited about the date change from a conditioning standpoint in that the grasses will be -- the cool season grasses will and should be a lot healthier. They will be sort of improving, as opposed to in the August date previously, we were sort of more on a hanging-on, keeping-the-grass, the-cool-season-grasses-alive mode. Whereas the spring temperatures are likely obviously to be more temperate and easier, cooler temperatures, which I think everyone will enjoy. But also more likely, and possibly have more chance of wind and probably tougher playing conditions.

So with that said, can't say more how excited we are to come to New York and see the best players in the world, the strongest field in golf, play on what is truly a great golf course.

Q. Couple of technical questions. In perfect world, how thick or how high do you anticipate the rough being, and how narrow the fairways?

KERRY HAIGH: Good morning, Doug. The fairway widths we have not adjusted at all since the last events that have been played there.

So they are very similar, the exact same as they were then, other than hole 18. That is the only fairway we sort of recontoured and that was really more to make the shot from the tee, you know, the player has more options now from the tee, whereas it used to be sort of an hour glass fairway is more of a reasonable width fairway throughout the lens.

So a player could still hit a an iron off the tee or a hybrid or a 3-wood, or can now even hit a driver. So that's the only fairway change since I think the '09 Open that I'm aware of.

In terms of the rough, a lot will depend on how well it does grow the next couple of weeks, but our plan is for it to be 3 1/2 to 4 inches long, and again, the anticipation based on what we saw the last two springtimes is that it should be pretty healthy and growing fairly quickly.

The Accuweather forecast does show some warmer options in the coming days. Tournament week suggests we might see some rain.

PGA Of America "Officials" Will Be Taking A Helicopter To Bethpage From New York City, And You Can Too For $4300!

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Thanks to reader John for this almost April 1-worthy PGA of America release proving more than ever that the officers and leadership are thinking of solutions for themselves.

The PGA membership?

If you can afford to stay in New York City, they’ve got a great way to commute to Bethpage State Park for this May’s PGA Championship. Maybe there will be post-PGA lessons included with Bethpage’s vast PGA-trained staff as well?

For Immediate Release…

PGA of America and Bell announces helicopter program for the 101st PGA Championship at Bethpage Black

The PGA of America today announced, in collaboration with Bell Helicopter, a Textron Inc. (NYSE:TXT) company, a new and innovative transportation solution to the 101st PGA Championship at Bethpage Black. The partnership between Bell and the 2019 PGA Championship will offer an unparalleled flight program that will transport key stakeholders - including C-Suite executives, corporate hospitality clients and PGA Officials – from multiple sites in Manhattan and surrounding New York Metro corporate centers to/from an on-site landing zone located at Bethpage State Park, just minutes from the PGA Championship.

Oh at the park, how charming! Can’t wait to hear that noise as we try to watch a major championship.

As part of the relationship, Bell will be the Official Helicopter Provider of the 2019 PGA Championship. This 2019 PGA Championship-specific flight program will utilize two types of aircraft, Bell’s class-leading 429 and Bell 407 models, both of which deliver a smooth ride, optimal comfort and unsurpassed visibility.

We want to make sure you can look down on the little people!

Bell will coordinate operations with their longtime customer, Zip Aviation and BLADE, the leading on-demand flight service in/around New York City.

 “The PGA is excited to be working with Bell in New York around the 101st PGA. Via this relationship, we’ll be providing an innovative transportation solution to the PGA Championship while also enhancing our corporate hospitality program,” said PGA of America Director of Championship Sales and Marketing John Handley. “To work with Bell, an industry leader in the aerospace sector, also aligns with our strategy of being a technological leader in the golf industry.”

When we think technology in golf, some might believe that means better helping all PGA of America professionals adapt to things like launch monitors and other tools of the trade, but really we’re about how to best move fat cats to and from our major. Handy though if an officer is battling a DUI!

“Bell is proud to provide aircraft to services like Zip Aviation and BLADE who give customers precious time back when traveling,” said Susan Griffin, executive vice president of Commercial Sales, Bell. “We are excited to offer customers attending the PGA Championship at Bethpage Black a one-of-a-kind experience and raise the bar for air travel in one of the world’s most popular corporate helicopters, the Bell 429.”

While tickets for the PGA are very much still available at $110 plus tax for each round, that looks like a bargain compared to the Zip Aviation-PGA costs.

Roundtrip tickets starting at $4276? But remember, you may get to sit next to a PGA official!

Note the locations as well.

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Bethpage, Other Northeast Venues Confident They Are Ready For May PGA

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GolfDigest.com's Joel Beall checks in with several northeast venues on the PGA Championship schedule a year out from the even't first May playing date.

Bethpage agronomy director Andy Wilson says all is well, other than this week's weather. 

“We came out of this winter fine," he said. "We are a little behind a typical spring, but the course is green and the park has a spring look to it.”

Wilson admits the rain, snow and cold complicated matters, and mentions the trees aren’t as far along in leafing out as usual. However, all systems are operational. “The greens, fairway and tees are ready for the PGA,” Wilson says. “The playing surfaces are very good right now. We will have to change some practices in taking care of rough, especially high rough, to leave certain areas undisturbed in the fall to have a good look in the spring.”

A recent visit by Golf Digest confirmed as much. Contrasted against other Northeastern facilities, both public and private, you’d be forgiven if thinking Bethpage was sheltered in a dome the past six months.