New Driver Testing An Upgrade, Except In The Dreaded Transparency Department

We know the PGA Tour does a lot of things well, transparency when it comes to player violations isn’t one of those. While Commissioner Jay Monahan moved the organization into the 21st century with some improved clarity on who fails drug testing, the public still may be in the dark on a number of fronts about about player fines and suspensions related to things like slow play, club tosses, recreational drug use and courtesy cars abandoned in airport loading zones.

And now drivers failing improved and more regular testing.

Golfweek’s David Dusek rightly praises the tour for upping their game in conjunction with the USGA. And focusing on catching clubs and manufacturers possibly flirting with the rules is absolutely the correct priority. However, that’s where things shift to a protectionist mindset that doesn’t seem to actually discourage cheating.

In a letter sent to players and manufacturers this week that Golfweek obtained, the tour said, “While this testing program will test the clubs in use by players on the PGA TOUR out of necessity, it is important to note that the focus of the program is not on the individual player but rather on ensuring conformity level of each club model and type throughout the season.”

That’s fine for a player’s organization to protect their own, and I’d guess 99.9% of the time players are not aware they have a juiced club because of wear and tear changing the club’s dynamics.

However, without any transparency, what’s the punishment for a clubmaker to obey the rules when all of this is kept behind closed doors free of the public shaming necessary in place of any fine system? Because Dusek writes:

There have been whispers in locker rooms and parking lots that this player’s driver is too hot and this company’s drivers are dangerously close to being non-conforming. Random testing should stop the suspicion and spare players the embarrassment and humiliation that Schauffele must have felt in July.

Random driver testing is easy, quick and long overdue. Golf may be a gentlemen’s game, but even gentlemen want to know that the playing field is level.

That includes the public and other stakeholders, no?

To put it another way: the reaction to 2019’s Xander Schauffele episode seems to be a search for a way to prevent player embarrassment, not from reigning in clubs that cross the line, whether intentional or not. Isn’t the first priority to protect skill and the competition, not egos?

"A PGA Tour player's goodbye, and record-breaking round, at his childhood course"

Screen Shot 2019-09-03 at 9.51.45 PM.png

Sadly we’ve all lost a golf course we once knew or know of a favorite that may put us in the position Jim Herman recently experienced.

It’s a lovely read from another Cincinnati man, Joel Beall at Golf World, who talks to the two-time PGA Tour winner about returning to the muni that meant so much to his game, Shawnee Lookout. The course is closing in September and will be converted to a nature preserve.

Shawnee Lookout, a golf course that resides on the outskirts of Cincinnati. A place that charged $3 to play, that was so out of the way that Herman usually had the property to himself. A course whose fairways were rough, with greens that weren't, built on an incline so severe that it was better suited for skiing.

"It wasn't much," Herman says, "but it was ours."

Herman kept afloat through the memories of his youth that cascaded back that day, until he reached the 10th. That was the hole, Herman says, where golf hooked him. Driver, 3-wood, two-putt for a 4, from just over 300 yards, when he was no older than a fourth-grader.

Little League Putting An End To Launch Angle Chase With New "Deader" Bats

The Wall Street Journal’s Amanda Christovich looks at the crackdown on what had been a speed and distance chase in youth baseball. Home runs are way down in the Little League World Series two years in a row now since “deader” bats mimicking wood were introduced for a variety of reasons.

Thanks to reader LS who detected the many things golf can learn from the USA Baseball moves, which seemed determined to keep the sport sane and safe both instead of emphasis on exit velocity, particularly since most young lads may not be physically ready for the emphasis on speed.

But that kind of power surge is not likely to happen at this year’s Little League Baseball World Series, which is now underway. Regulation changes—most notably, the switch to a “deader” bat that mimics wood bats—mean home runs in Williamsport this year are on the verge of becoming extinct.

“The difference is astounding,” said Patrick Gloriod, who coached the Peachtree City Little League team in the 2018 LLBWS and witnessed the steep decline in home runs at that tournament once the new bats went into use.

None of this would be a problem, if not for the fact that the best youth players have spent the last few years developing a swing designed for one thing: to hit as many home runs as possible. 

They’ll get over it. Will TV?

“Telling everyone to swing up is the same as telling everyone to swing down,” said Bleecker. 

If last year’s trend continues, those dismayed that the major-league ball is juiced can rejoice in how the Little League bat is deadened.

“I’m not sure how much ESPN is gonna like watching small ball,” said Gloriod.

Distance Debate: Focus Is Turning Away From The Ball And Toward Drivers

Screen Shot 2019-08-20 at 8.40.27 PM.png

The Mauling At Medinah is Mike Clayton’s label for the shock and awe at the 2019 BMW, where Justin Thomas and many others overwhelmed the rain-softened 7600 yard course.

(Random thought interruption here: I thought it was the improved agronomy that meant tons of roll, yet Medinah was a sponge…anyway, we now return to our regularly scheduled distance post).

After looking at past Medinah majors and what scores were needed to succeed, Clayton writes:

Justin Thomas was unquestionably brilliant this past week at Medinah, where he answered all the questions the course posed. His 263 represents amazing golf, but is it a full 24 shots more compelling than Graham’s 287 was 44 years ago?

The question for the game, for the professional tour and the administrators in New Jersey and St Andrews is: How will you manage the technological assault on the game’s great courses and a game so out of balance at the top level?

Or do they abdicate their responsibility to restore the balance MacKenzie and his great contemporaries understood and built?

The evidence of what we watched from Medinah is the golf isn’t so interesting when the questions are so easily answered with power and wedges.

Much was made of Adam Scott’s comments calling out designers and officials to set courses up to require shaping the ball, but that’s tough to do overnight.

But it was his comment as reported by Evin Priest about drivers that accelerated his previous public statements about driver head size.

Scott warned superstar drivers may no longer stand out, such as Australia's Greg Norman and American Davis Love III did in previous eras.

"The driver is the most forgiving club in the bag now; it's just swing as hard as you can and get it down there far," he said.

"It's not a skilful part of the game anymore and it's really unfair for some guys who are great drivers of the golf ball.

"I don't think their talents are showing up as much as they should."

And there was Tiger as well at Medinah, echoing comments he’s been making all year:

“Now you just pull out driver, bomb it down there and you’re looking for three to four good weeks a year,” Woods said. “That’s how you play. It’s not the consistency, it’s not about making a bunch of cuts. It’s about having three, four good weeks a year. That’s the difference. Guys understand that.”

These comments have all presumably been made to the USGA and R&A as part of their distance insights research. No one mentions the ball much these days—calm down Wally!—some because they are paid not to, while others genuinely believe it’s maxed out.

So are we seeing a shifting focus to reducing the driver head size for elite players and would it make a difference? There is only one way to find out, once the manufacturers stop kicking and screaming about the massive R&D expenditures needed to knock 75 cc’s off their current models.

Taylor Made has a jump start with this mini-driver released earlier this year. Anyone test it out on a launch monitor?

Shark: Take The Ball Back To 1996 Specs

Greg Norman has been a consistent advocate for a golf ball that spins more. But unlike his recent shift away from shirtless Instagram posts, he has remained consistent on the distance matter.

And now he’s responding to Instagram posts on the hot button topic that became popular again as PGA Tour pros made a mockery of 7,600 yard Medinah.

This is the Shark we know has the game’s best interests at heart:

Golf And Gambling Hecklers: “It’s something that probably needs to be addressed, but I don’t know how you address it"

In light of Ian Poulter’s latest heckling incident last week, Brian Wacker at revisits a topic many of us have not been able to wrap heads around: how does golf intend to deal with sports gambling interference.

No sport can so easily be disrupted by a simple sound, with gambling outcomes potentially impacted as legalization spreads in the U.S.

Many will point to the lack of a high-profile incident in the UK with legal gambling, but several factors in the U.S. seem to make it more likely an issue: the coarsening of the culture, the ability of a huge audience to live-bet via mobile phones, and the PGA Tour’s “live under par” culture promoted to make golf tournaments louder and more interactive.

So far, the PGA Tour has not outlined any plans to confront these situations when the day comes, but as Wacker’s story notes, players are thinking about it. Including the U.S. Open champion:

“I played with [Poulter] in the [FedEx Cup] Playoffs last year, and he’s dealt with it for a long time and he’d had enough,” Gary Woodland said. “Enough is enough. From the fantasy standpoint, it’s huge. I see it on social media. I get blasted all the time from guys betting on me.

“It’s something that probably needs to be addressed, but I don’t know how you address it,” Woodland said. “It’s only going to get bigger and bigger. Social media, you don’t have to look at it [if you’re a player]. Hopefully out here [with spectators], we can police it better.”

Readers Questioning Clubs That Start Over The Speed Limit, But Within Testing Tolerance

Callaway CEO Chip Brewer issued a lengthy statement to explaining the Xander Schauffele non-conforming driver situation at the 2019 Open.

Brewer’s admission that the company handed their player a driver over the 239 CT limit but within the tolerance limit did not sit well with some observers.

Reader Chris writes:

Geoff, I am staggered at this statement:

“We know Xander’s driver was conforming when he received it. Probably in the range of 245 – 250 CT. At the Open we tested it at 255 CT, still conforming but close to the limit. The R&A tested it at 258, one over the limit.

The limit is 239, with a tolerance of 18 presumably for exactly the sort of circumstances Brewer describes in the statement. To hand a player a club they know to be beyond the limit is extraordinary negligence!

And Scott on Twitter also noted this issue with an analogy:

It’s hard not to wonder if both Schauffele in revealing his positive test and Brewer in admitting the company handed a driver to their player over the limit, brought all of the scrutiny on themselves. Particularly given the likelihood of “CT Creep” as outlined by Brewer in his statement.

The CEO’s statement could also backfire given the shots at the governing bodies about their testing suggesting some sort of possible tampering or illegitimacy (“Part of the issue is the testing location, a tent on the back of the range, where folks not directly involved in the specific testing can walk in-and-out too freely.”). That alone could invite more scrutiny, more required disclosure and more headaches for the manufacturers. This is trending toward ERC 2.0 by challenging the competence and very generous procedures of the enforcers.

As I noted just after The Open, all of these parties would have been wiser to admit their mistake and expressed gratitude at the lack of serious punishment. Because now it sure seems like they’ve kept this situation alive and festering, perhaps even warranting more scrutiny, more consideration and maybe tighter testing.

Given that the governing bodies have wrapped up their distance study and may take action this fall, this situation could help them make a case that the equipment rules need tightening and more public disclosure of those who fail tests. That would be an amazing turn of events.

State Of The Game Episode 97: Wrapping Up The Open At Portrush

We’re back with a wrap-up chat on The Open at Royal Portrush, plus all of the other golf news that’s fit to gab about. Drinking game warning: “skill” counts going forward. Cheers!

The iTunes show link.

And of course State of The Game is posted wherever fine pods can be enjoyed.

Muirfield (Finally) Extends Membership Invitations To 12 Women

Screen Shot 2019-06-27 at 2.56.00 PM.png

This took way too long for the Honourable Company of Edinburgh golfers to join the 21st century and now the course can actually rejoin The Open rota.

As Alistair Tait writes for Golfweek, the men of Muirfield dragged their feet “too long” especially now that it’s a non-issue for the membership.

This time 80% of membership voted in favour of women becoming members. Today’s announcement is the result of that vote.

It’s about time, too. It beggars belief that a club with “honourable” in its title has taken nearly 300 years to do the honorable thing.

State Of The Game 96: Paul McGinley And The Irish Open At Lahinch

Screen Shot 2019-06-27 at 2.48.43 PM.png

Rod Morri, Mike Clayton and yours truly chatted for a bit with longtime European Tour player and 2014 Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley about the upcoming Dubai Duty Free Irish Open at Lahinch Golf Club.

This is arguably the boldest venture yet by the European Tour to an exotic and historic work of architecture, surpassing even Gullane in terms of sheer audacity. McGinley and his foundation host this year.

The iTunes link or you can listen below, or wherever you get podcasts.

"Can this woman save Detroit’s public golf courses from extinction?"

Screen Shot 2019-06-26 at 8.45.55 PM.png

Great to see’s Max Marcovitch use the opportunity provided by the Rocket Mortgage Classic to highlight the sad (and endangered) state of Detroit muni’s.

In particular, the Donald Ross-designed Rackham is in danger and Karen Peek is working to keep it going.

Rackham is six miles north of Detroit Golf Club, site of this week’s Rocket Mortgage Classic. It doesn’t get the attention that DGC does but it has rich history of its own, extending back to its opening in 1923. Ben Davis, the first black head pro at a municipal course in the U.S., taught there for 50 years. Among his students was famed boxer Joe Louis, a Rackham regular. The two would play money matches. In the 1940s, Louis hosted an annual golf tournament at Rackham, aimed at showcasing talented black players.

Rackham is also where Peek fell in love with the game. As a kid, she convinced her best friend to attend a youth golf clinic with her at the course. Volunteer pros — Davis among them — painted small circles on the 1st fairway and had the juniors swing their clubs back and forth for one carefree hour. Peek was hooked. She recounts excitedly slinging her golf bag over her shoulder and riding her bike down to the course.

Fifty years later, the details flow with a nostalgic yearn. The clinics were a staple in a vibrant golfing community. For Peek, they were the gateway to her livelihood.

Average Age Update: Holding Steady For PGA Tour's 2018-19 Winners, A Touch Younger For FedExCup Top 20

With Chez Reavie’s dominating win at the Travelers Championship—and his reflections on the perseverance needed at times to sustain a career as detailed here by’s Brian Wacker—the 37-year-old helped maintained the trend of PGA Tour winners just on the coveted demo cusp.

Like Gary Woodland in the U.S. Open—another geezer at 35—each is the story of a player who had great potential and widely recognized talent, yet experienced more downs than ups before winning. Golf’s a weird, cruel game that way, which makes the suggestion of today’s youth being better prepared to win than ever more hype than fact.

Since the start of 2019, there have been nine winners in their 20s. Two won events opposite to more significant tournaments, one was a player who since turned 30 (Rory McIlroy) and another was Brooks Koepka, who is 29. At 25, Xander Schauffele is 2019’s younger winner on the PGA Tour and that was in January. Going back to the fall, Cameron Champ’s win at 23 makes him 2018-19’s youngest.

With Reavie’s victory at Travelers, the average age of 2018-19 PGA Tour winners holds steady at 33, while the top 20 in FedExCup points average 32.6.

There should be nothing wrong with golfers peaking in their 30s. Such a phenomenon, to the surprise of no one, would be something to celebrate as a reward for longevity and experience gained.

But as Eamon Lynch notes in this column juxtaposing the invasion of youth at the Travelers with one-time child phenom Michelle Wie’s suggestion she has little left in the tank, the youth (and the people pushing them to turn pro) can learn a thing or two about the big picture.

If we are seeing the truncating of Wie’s playing career, it is an aching loss for golf, and not just women’s golf. There is no more melancholy sight in sport than that of a sublime talent whose potential goes largely unrealized.

Wie is an exemplar of how the natural, joyous passion of a child can become the challenging, frustrating job of a professional. Yet by no measure have these been fruitless years. Whatever the capricious whims of golf inflicted, she is a winner, a Stanford graduate, a poised public figure even under intense scrutiny. That’s why, as Wie inches with characteristic grace toward the door marked ‘Exit’, young men like Hovland and Wolff who are entering the professional ranks would do well to learn from her example.

There will always be phenoms. But it’s still quite confounding to see the push to hype young players with so little appreciation for the long game in a sport that has generally seen few players peak young.

"Will Cool Clothes Make Young People Love Golf?"

In an NY Times Style piece, Sheila Marikar attends (with photos!) a Malbon Golf party at last week where the theme was to show how golf and fashion can make the sport more accessible to the hip-hop generation.

“Kids that are into fashion, hip-hop and music, they’re not into golf,” said Mr. Malbon. “It’s in danger of going where baseball is. Or think about bowling — bowling used to be lit.”

That might be a bit strong, but we get the point.

The "Team" Approach Files: Greller Takes A Strange Bullet From Spieth, Rickie Explains Why "We" Are Growing A Mullet

Screen Shot 2019-06-14 at 8.43.06 AM.png

With so many swing coaches, physios, agents, assistant agents, dieticians, physicists, psychics, baristas, sous chefs and children’s tennis coaches hovering around players, the tendency to talk about the we approach to golf seeps into the lingo more at majors.

Take first round 66-shooter Xander Schauffele’s reference to his major preparation:

Just the mentality changes, a little more focused coming into the week, extra preparation. You just kind of dive a little bit deeper into the properties. And I feel like the team and I have done a decent job of doing that.

Then there is Rickie Fowler explaining his mullet:

We're doing it for the PGA in May. We're calling it Mullet May. And we weren't doing it to, you know, get any extra attention or anything like that. It was for fun. And obviously we're not trying to look a good with it, it's just a fun thing. And I just thought it was a good way to, when asked about it, talk about our foundations.

It was Spieth’s outburst, however, that got the most round one attention and suggests the benefits of team membership aren’t all they’re cracked up to be. Spieth, understandably fuming after his 4-iron lay-up at the 8th ran through the fairway into the water, was heard barking out, “Two perfect shots, Michael. You got me in the water on one and over the green on the other.”

Spieth explained the comments after an opening 72:

“We were talking about potentially one less [club on the third shot], and I said, ‘But isn’t it playing about 60 with a fade?’ And then he said yes,” Spieth said. “So we both agreed on that. It was clearly a 4-iron off the tee. At the same time, when you hit a couple of shots exactly where you want to, and the first one is in the water and the next one is dead over the green, I’m going to be frustrated that as a team we didn’t figure out how to make sure that didn’t happen.”

We meaning, you Michael…

Five Families Slow Play Talks To Resume At The Open, Center On Ways To Make Slow Golfers Go Faster

Screen Shot 2019-06-02 at 8.10.28 PM.png

If there is one thing to like about the youth obsessed Five Families of golf, it’s that they recognize the kids do not dig watching people stand around. At least, let’s hope that’s what the children of executives are saying since that amounts to their focus group testing.

With that in mind, Alistair Tait looks at the European Tour’s efforts and potential for more as they recognize the urgency more than any other golf organization. Slow play hater Edoardo Molinari was called into the headmaster’s office and says we may see action soon from Chief Executive Keith Pelley.

“I obviously can’t tell what was said in that meeting, but something will be put in place,” Molinari added. “There will be something coming through in the next month.”

Pelley told Golfweek that steps are being taken.

“What has to happen is we collectively as administrators have to get on the same page on slow play because it isn’t just a European Tour issue,” Pelley said. He added that administrators from the European Tour, USGA, R&A and PGA Tour met in April in Augusta, Ga., to discuss the issue. Talks will resume at the British Open at Royal Portrush.

“There is a will to tackle this issue across the game,” Pelley said.

Digest's USGA Confidential: Golf Pros And Their Entourages Vent, Rip And Choose Not To Be Named

Screen Shot 2019-05-28 at 9.48.02 AM.png

As someone who has done his share of USGA, uh, critiquing, I found the Golf Digest “USGA Confidential” an interesting read at times. However, I can’t help but think most readers will come away finding golf pros and their “teams” to be inconsistent, a tad greedy and unsatisfiable even in the face of obvious mistakes, some of them colossal ones.

Particularly since the elephant in the room—regulating a distance explosion overwhelming courses—is a non-starter for a large percentage of players.

By the end of their venting, I was exhausted, in part because no single person willingly putting their name on such strong views. The totality could leave some readers USGA-sympathetic and annoyed by the understandably-annoyed golfers.

The headline-maker from the impressive effort of gathering 57 voices—35 current players and 16 major champions—was talk of an organized U.S. Open boycott. An unnamed player named names of potential boycotters:

MULTIPLE PGA TOUR WINNER: We had about 10–15 guys who were willing to sit out after 2016. Some of them were big names—Dustin was one, Rory was another.

ANOTHER MAJOR CHAMPION AND FORMER WORLD NO. 1: I was prepared to do it [take part in a boycott]. Absolutely.

ANOTHER MAJOR CHAMPION: I was one of them.

MULTIPLE PGA TOUR WINNER: I would have boycotted if it had come to that. If it wasn't a major, I wouldn't play it, and a lot of other guys feel that way.

MULTIPLE PGA TOUR WINNER: I figure we needed about 25 guys, and I think we could have gotten there based on what I was hearing from players. Really, just one would have done it, but Tiger wasn't playing at the time. Without us, they don't have a tournament.

Actually, it’s a 156-player field with a majority of the spots earned by qualifiers and would have continued on with the same purse and 156 players.

That the “stars” of the game think they could somehow shut down the U.S. Open, yet are unwilling to sign their name to the view, suggests a level of isolation from reality that might run deeper than we imagined.

Sorry boys, but only one player on the planet pulling a protest no-show would have significant meaning.

As for course setup issues, this collection speaks to the can’t-win issues facing the USGA in trying to balance a sense of fairness, difficulty and creativity in a game overwhelmed by modern distances.

MULTIPLE PGA TOUR WINNER: I miss the U.S. Opens of old, where you had narrow fairways and thick rough, and it tested everything.

FORMER EUROPEAN RYDER CUP CAPTAIN: The old DNA was worth defending. It had always been that way. The majors should pose different questions. The Open is about the weather. The Masters is about the course. The PGA is a more difficult PGA Tour event. And the U.S. Open is about narrow fairways. What makes Grand Slam winners so great is that they've passed all four tests.

WINNER OF MORE THAN 20 EUROPEAN TOUR EVENTS: The U.S. Open was always the fairest of the four majors. It was tough, but only bad shots were punished. As we saw at Paris [in the 2018 Ryder Cup], that's the way forward.

FORMER EUROPEAN RYDER CUP CAPTAIN: The Ryder Cup last year was more about accuracy, and the Americans couldn't hit the ball straight. At Erin Hills, the fairways were 60 yards wide. That's not a U.S. Open. But the USGA has adapted to the modern game rather than making the game adapt to the U.S. Open. If a 280-yard drive straight down the middle was most beneficial, no one would be hitting drives 350 yards. Straight should be as important as long.

MULTIPLE EUROPEAN TOUR WINNER: The wide-fairways thing is not working. Too many guys have no chance if you don't hit it 350 yards off the tee.

Got all of that?

Finally, the notion of the USGA building permanent, 8,500 yard venues on the coasts, first floated by CBS’s Peter Kostis many years ago, offered up the world’s golf architects for free to design the facilities and end the practice of going to golf’s iconic venues. Of course, it’s a fine idea in terms of practicalities but a dreadful notion to throw out history, character and golf’s ties to its past so that distance can go unregulated.

Kostis surfaced with the idea again, followed by many more who reinforce how all of this whining, inconsistency and silliness could all be solved with a 10% reduction in distance and a foot or so off the Stimpmeter speeds.

TEACHER OF MULTIPLE MAJOR CHAMPIONS: I said this a long time ago and was ridiculed: I would prefer for the USGA to buy land on the East Coast of the U.S. and on the West Coast of the U.S., then build two facilities for the U.S. Open. Each would have four courses. And each one would be designed to present the examination they wish to present to the players. If they want tight fairways and long rough, so be it. They're entitled to conduct their championships any way they want. So build courses to fit that ideal, whatever it might be. If they did that, they would stop ruining the classic courses by trying to jerry-rig them.

Like I said, there is a lot to Digest in this one and most of it leaves you wondering if there are many Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods and a few others who will put the game above themselves.

Latest Green Reading Book Silliness: NCAA Championship Official Book Deemed Non-Conforming On Event Eve

Screen Shot 2019-05-17 at 11.04.01 AM.png

Golfweek’s Beth Ann Nichols details the latest fiasco with non-banned-but-should-be green reading materials”: official yardage books from the NCAA Division I women’s championships are non-conforming. By 1/16th of an inch. On ten of the holes.

“We’re just going to go to Office Depot and get some sticker labels and cover up all 18 of them,” said Purdue coach Devon Brouse.

Officials didn’t specify which of the 10 holes were in violation.

The new interpretation for Rule 4.3a, which went into effect Jan. 1, stipulates that players may use a putting-green map during play, but it must be “limited to a scale of 3/8 inch to 5 yards (1:480).”

The original green reading book ban discussions would have been more restrictive, but the USGA and R&A watered things down a bit, and now we have the same information, only smaller. Most of the time.

Just ban them and get it over with!

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

Screen Shot 2019-05-14 at 5.35.05 PM.png

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.