Twitter: GeoffShac
  • The 1997 Masters: My Story
    The 1997 Masters: My Story
    by Tiger Woods
  • The First Major: The Inside Story of the 2016 Ryder Cup
    The First Major: The Inside Story of the 2016 Ryder Cup
    by John Feinstein
  • Tommy's Honor: The Story of Old Tom Morris and Young Tom Morris, Golf's Founding Father and Son
    Tommy's Honor: The Story of Old Tom Morris and Young Tom Morris, Golf's Founding Father and Son
    by Kevin Cook
  • Playing Through: Modern Golf's Most Iconic Players and Moments
    Playing Through: Modern Golf's Most Iconic Players and Moments
    by Jim Moriarty
  • His Ownself: A Semi-Memoir (Anchor Sports)
    His Ownself: A Semi-Memoir (Anchor Sports)
    by Dan Jenkins
  • The Captain Myth: The Ryder Cup and Sport's Great Leadership Delusion
    The Captain Myth: The Ryder Cup and Sport's Great Leadership Delusion
    by Richard Gillis
  • The Ryder Cup: Golf's Grandest Event โ€“ A Complete History
    The Ryder Cup: Golf's Grandest Event โ€“ A Complete History
    by Martin Davis
  • Harvey Penick: The Life and Wisdom of the Man Who Wrote the Book on Golf
    Harvey Penick: The Life and Wisdom of the Man Who Wrote the Book on Golf
    by Kevin Robbins
  • Grounds for Golf: The History and Fundamentals of Golf Course Design
    Grounds for Golf: The History and Fundamentals of Golf Course Design
    by Geoff Shackelford
  • The Art of Golf Design
    The Art of Golf Design
    by Michael Miller, Geoff Shackelford
  • The Future of Golf: How Golf Lost Its Way and How to Get It Back
    The Future of Golf: How Golf Lost Its Way and How to Get It Back
    by Geoff Shackelford
  • Lines of Charm: Brilliant and Irreverent Quotes, Notes, and Anecdotes from Golf's Golden Age Architects
    Lines of Charm: Brilliant and Irreverent Quotes, Notes, and Anecdotes from Golf's Golden Age Architects
    Sports Media Group
  • Alister MacKenzie's Cypress Point Club
    Alister MacKenzie's Cypress Point Club
    by Geoff Shackelford
  • The Golden Age of Golf Design
    The Golden Age of Golf Design
    by Geoff Shackelford
  • Masters of the Links: Essays on the Art of Golf and Course Design
    Masters of the Links: Essays on the Art of Golf and Course Design
    Sleeping Bear Press
  • The Good Doctor Returns: A Novel
    The Good Doctor Returns: A Novel
    by Geoff Shackelford
  • The Captain: George C. Thomas Jr. and His Golf Architecture
    The Captain: George C. Thomas Jr. and His Golf Architecture
    by Geoff Shackelford

The audience in the theatre, looking over the footlights, view the play as do most of the gallery following the experts of golf. However, back-stage, there are a few eyes critically regarding the play from an entirely different angle. For many years I have preferred to observe golf shots from backstage, as it were. Seeing a man whack a golf ball is of little interest to me, and frequently it is a performance that had better be missed. That which concerns me most is where the ball lands and what it does after. A.W. TILLINGHAST

 

  

Thursday
Dec142017

Jack Nicklaus Sounds Like He's On Board With Governing Body "Variable Distance" Option

The A Position's Steve Pike was present when Jack Nicklaus christened The Legend Course today at The Club at Ibis in West Palm Beach, Fla., and the Golden Bear spoke about the distance issue.

While this is hardly news, Mr. Nicklaus did seem to be echoing the USGA's concept of a variable distance ball.

“We ought to rate golf courses,’’ Nicklaus said. “Rather than going back and spending millions of dollars changing golf courses, golf courses should be 100 percent, 90 percent, 80 percent or 70 percent.’’

If golf’s ruling bodies (primarily the U.S. Golf Association) don’t want to roll back the golf ball, he said,  “they need to go to all the golf associations and say ‘This is our criteria to rate your golf courses.’’’

A golf ball would be rated to fit the corresponding course and could be a way to save some older, shorter courses.

“Take an old course that 5,800 yards. That doesn’t challenge anybody. But if you made that a 70 percent golf course and have a 70 percent ball for it, it would play just difficult as (The Legend) from the back tees. “If you want to play an 80 or 100 percent ball, go play it.  All you’re doing is making the course play shorter and faster.’’

Thursday
Dec142017

Video: 75-year-old claims more than 80 aces...

Dan Decando claims he's made 80 aces and the 75-year-old's claims were considered by Golf Channel.

Longtime Howard Stern contributor Artie Lang narrates this terrific 10-minute, Yaron Desalko-helmed piece from Kory Kozak's feature department, including the a look at the mathematical impossibility of Descando's achievement that is put at 1 out of 1 trillion, with a better chance of getting 20 straight royal flushes.

Here's the piece, carve out a few minutes for it. You'll be entertained:

Thursday
Dec142017

Rules Simplification: Be Careful What You Wish For, Pros

As we near the USGA and R&A rolling out their extensive, exciting and bold simplification of the 2019 Rules of Golf, Ryan Herrington at Golf World makes a shrewd point worth checking out: be careful what you wish for elite players.

After all, simpler rules mean you better know them!

With so many sections and subsections and sub-subsections, if you broke a Rule because you didn’t know it was a Rule to begin with, you often were forgiven for making an honest mistake. With a modernized Rules book, that defense becomes far more flimsy.

Indeed, if the Rules are going to be easier to understand, then golfers are going to be expected to genuinely understand them. In particular, golfers who make a living playing the game.

In that respect, the modernized Rules may well present a new set of challenges when they finally go online on New Year’s Day 2019.

Wednesday
Dec132017

LPGA In 2018: 34 Events In 14 Countries...

And back again in LA and San Francisco with $68.75 million in purses, adding big markets and better flow on the travel front, notes Golfweek's Beth Ann Nichols.

She writes:

Two events are gone from the ’17 – Lorena Ochoa’s event in Mexico City and the Manulife in Canada – but stops in Shanghai, Los Angeles and San Francisco have been added.

“Perhaps the most important aspect of our schedule is the consistency – continuing to deliver strong playing opportunities both in North America and around the world, while growing overall purse levels every year,” said LPGA commissioner Mike Whan.

Twenty-three new title sponsors have been added to the LPGA portfolio in the last six years, including South Korean skincare company L&P Cosmetic, which will sponsor the new event at Lake Merced outside San Francisco. Swinging Skirts hosted an event at Lake Merced from 2014 to ’16 but now sponsors the LPGA’s event in Taipei.

The return of San Francisco to the schedule helps build a strong West Coast Swing. Following a week off after the ANA Inspiration, the tour returns to Oahu for the LOTTE Championship April 11-14 before heading to the greater Los Angeles area for the inaugural HUGEL-JTBC Championship. The host club will be announced in 2018.

I don't know the proposed LA venue but let us all pray that the former Industry Hills, now Pacific Palms, will not be visited for a third time. No one deserves that. No one.

LPGA Commish Mike Whan explained the schedule thinking to Golf Central's Ryan Burr here.

And ratings are in for 2017, For Immediate Release:

NEARLY 22 MILLION VIEWERS TUNED IN TO NBC SPORTS’ COVERAGE OF THE LPGA TOUR IN 2017, MOST-VIEWED SEASON EVER FOR NBC SPORTS

NBC Sports’ LPGA Tour Coverage Ties 2013 for Most-Watched Year Since 2011

NBC and Golf Channel Boast Top-6 Most-Watched Women’s Golf Telecasts in 2017

ORLANDO, Fla., Dec. 13, 2017 – Beginning with the dramatic playoff finish at the Pure Silk Bahamas LPGA Classic in January and concluding with Lexi Thompson winning the $1 million Race to the CME Globe, nearly 22 million viewers tuned in to LPGA Tour coverage across Golf Channel and NBC in 2017. This makes 2017 the most-viewed LPGA Tour season across NBC Sports since Golf Channel joined the NBC Sports Group in 2011. Additionally, 2017 tied 2013 as the LPGA Tour’s most-watched year across NBC Sports since 2011. Coverage drew an average of 221,000 viewers per telecast in 2017 (+24% vs. 2016), according to data released by The Nielsen Company.

NBC SPORTS GROUP CLAIMS TOP-6 MOST-WATCHED WOMEN’S GOLF TELECASTS IN ‘17

For the first time ever in televised women’s golf, Sunday’s final round of the RICOH Women’s British Open (Sunday, Aug. 6, 2017, 1.1 million viewers) delivered the most-watched and highest-rated women’s golf telecast of the year. NBC’s Saturday (Day 2) coverage of the Solheim Cup in August placed second with 968,000 viewers, followed by Sunday’s Solheim Cup coverage on NBC with 946,000 viewers. Golf Channel’s live coverage of Sunday’s final day of the Solheim Cup drew 795,000 viewers, the most-watched women’s golf event on cable in eight years.

 

Rank

Network

Event

Day

Avg. Viewers P2+

1

NBC

RICOH WOMEN'S BRITISH OPEN

Sunday

1,100,526

2

NBC

SOLHEIM CUP

Saturday

968,202

3

NBC

SOLHEIM CUP

Sunday

946,387

4

NBC

KPMG WOMEN'S PGA CHAMPIONSHIP

Sunday

839,983

5

NBC

RICOH WOMEN'S BRITISH OPEN

Saturday

808,578

6

GOLF

SOLHEIM CUP

Sunday

795,000

Wednesday
Dec132017

R.I.P. Ed Lee, Golf-Loving SF Mayor

What a shame to lose the gregarious sports (and golf) loving San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee to a heart attack. The man loved his golf, was instrumental in numerous events coming to the Bay Area and was looking forward to more. I'll never forget chatting with him during the 2012 U.S. Open as he walked inside the ropes, watching the golf as an avid fan.

The SF Chronicle's Ron Kroichick remembers the Mayor in two pieces, including one on Lee's love of sport, and this one on his love of golf.

Lee’s death early Tuesday morning stunned the Bay Area golf community. Lee, an avid player, was instrumental in bringing the 2015 Match Play Championship and 2020 PGA Championship to Harding Park.

“It’s a huge loss for golf in San Francisco, no question,” Dillon said. “We wouldn’t have the 2020 PGA Championship at TPC Harding Park without him. He was a big supporter of the First Tee and a big supporter of women’s golf. … I’m just in shock.”

Lee also worked on the Presidents Cup, held at Harding in October 2009. Lee was city administrator at the time, and he met Presidents Cup Executive Director Tom Clark for breakfast nearly every Friday in the 18 months preceding the event.

The Mayor was a strong supporter of saving Alister MacKenzie's embattled Sharp Park design as well.

 

 

Wednesday
Dec132017

American Airlines, Other Companies Stepping Up To Save Colonial

Nice reporting work by the Star-Telegram's Sandra Baker, who has obtained a series of communications between community leaders working to save Fort Worth's iconic PGA Tour stop.

American Airlines is the primary savior, though other companies may help fill the void expected to be created by Dean & Deluca. These are of note:

Likewise, XTO Energy spokesman Jeremy Eikenberry said: “We continue to have discussions with organizers of the tournament about a potential co-sponsorship.”

And, AT&T is considering being a co-sponsor. In a Nov. 28 email to councilman Brian Byrd, Fred Maldonado, an AT&T regional vice president of external and legislative affairs, said AT&T Chairman Randall Stephenson was reviewing a $2 million sponsorship request.

Longtime Dallas golf writer Bill Nichols noted this on learning the news:

It’s also gratifying to see that officials were able to get it done when the PGA Tour essentially drop-kicked them to the curb.


Read more here: http://www.star-telegram.com/news/local/community/fort-worth/article188883194.html#storylink=cpy
Wednesday
Dec132017

Nathaniel Crosby Is The Next Walker Cup Captain

Here's one I bet you didn't see coming...but congrats to the former U.S. Amateur Champion on his role at Royal Liverpool in 2019 and, most likely, his home course Seminole in 2021.

John Strege at GolfDigest.com had the news first, and the call apparently nearly killed Crosby!

"I haven't had a great moment in 35 years, haven't won a tournament in 35 years," Crosby said. "So when Diana Murphy [the USGA president] called me, I was extremely surprised. For someone that has something to say about everything, I was taken aback. I had a serious loss of breath when she told me I would be the next Walker Cup captain."

From Golfweek's Brentley Romine:

Crosby, 56, is a Jupiter, Fla., resident who was born in Hillsborough, Calif. He is the son of the late Bing Crosby, a legendary American singer and entertainer, and the godson of World Golf Hall of Famer Jack Burke Jr.

In addition to winning the U.S. Amateur in 1981, Crosby also played on two winning U.S. national teams, at the 1982 World Amateur Team Championship and the 1983 Walker Cup.

“I am thrilled and overwhelmed to be chosen captain of the next USA Walker Cup Team,” Crosby said. “It will again be a privilege to be a part of the Walker Cup competition that I was so fortunate to be a part of back in 1983. My experiences with the USGA, the Walker Cup match and the World Amateur Team Championship have proved to be the most memorable weeks of my life, as I am sure it will be for the members of the 2019 team. Many of my closest friends are former captains who will hopefully take the time to share their approaches in an effort to help me with my new responsibilities.”

Tuesday
Dec122017

Will Golf Be Worse Off By Rules Taking Onus Off The Player?

That's the pointed question Michael Bamberger poses for Golf.com after the USGA and R&A announced the end to viewer call-ins, penalties for scorecard signing issues caused by retroactive penalties and the creation of dedicated replay watchers.

Bamberger sees the change as "soft" and his view was echoed by some rules experts I heard from in response to the rule:

How about the responsibility to know the rules and to play by them? How about doing it correctly the first time? The whole ball-dropping issue with Tiger Woods at 15 in the Saturday round of the 2013 Masters was that he dropped incorrectly. The whole ball-marking issue with Thompson at the ANA Inspiration was that she marked incorrectly. Neither player ever stood up and said, "I take responsibility for this whole mess."

Golf, by tradition, is severe, austere, Calvinistic. Every aspect of it. That's why the spectators are quiet. That's why one player does nothing to interfere with another. That's why Joe Dey, the first PGA Tour commissioner, late of the USGA, carried a bible in one pocket and a rule book in the other when he officiated.  

I certainly agree that there is a softening effect worth considering, particularly if the softening actually leads to something worse than mere player ignorance of the rules. If there is an opening created here, as Bamberger contends, does it lead to players bending the rules out of ignorance or entitlement? A case could be made that we already see that with backstopping or the current ball mark fixing of non-ball marks on greens.

However, from the player perspective the rules have become cumbersome and with an audience looking to catch you doing something wrong and needing HD to do it, I can see where some "softening" is acceptable. Crossing the line into rule bending or breaking is where things get scary for the game's integrity.

Tuesday
Dec122017

2017 In Review Through Every Club In The Bag

Doug Ferguson of the AP again takes on the challenging task of picking the year's best shots by each club in the bag.

My two favorites both in quality and underrated-ness...

6-IRON: The two memorable shots from Jordan Spieth's victory in the British Open were the shot from the driving range and the 50-foot eagle putt. The most important shot was the 6-iron he nearly holed on the par-3 14th. Trailing for the first time in the final round after his adventurous bogey on the previous hole at Royal Birkdale, Spieth's tee shot plopped down in front of the hole and stopped 4 feet away. The birdie tied the lead, and Spieth was on his way.

7-IRON: Justin Thomas took control in the final round of the PGA Championship with a par putt on the 16th. He sealed it with a 7-iron as good as any shot he ever hit. The pin was in the front on the par-3 17th at Quail Hollow, and Thomas had 221 yards over the water to the hole. It was so good that he let the club twirl through his hands as he watched it land on the front of the green to 15 feet. He made birdie for a three-shot lead and a most enjoyable walk to the final hole.

Tuesday
Dec122017

Hensby's Year Suspension Is Over A Refusal To Submit Sample

The rule is simple and the PGA Tour has done its part to uphold the sanctity of their drug testing process, but after seeing Mark Hensby's comments and the summary of his post-round frustration, I think we all understand. A little bit.

First, Hensby's defense, posted by Brian Wacker:


As Joel Beall notes for GolfDigest.com, the defense is curious but 

Unfortunately for Hensby, the tour didn't buy his explanation, and was informed of the forthcoming suspension.

Hensby waited for his ruling to go public for about a month, and admittedly is somewhat shocked at how much attention it's received. He also doesn't blame the tour for its verdict.

“Don’t get me wrong, a year is a long time, but they have rules," he said

Monday
Dec112017

Why Could Replay Reviews Still Occur After A Card Is Signed?

This remains the one question I have from Monday's announcement of an end to viewer call-in tips and penalties for signing cards that were thought to have been signed correctly at the time.

As explained by the USGA's Thomas Pagel and R&A's David Rickman, a review could still take place on, say, Friday, after something occurred on Thursday. Only now, the player will not be penalized for signing an incorrect card should a penalty be assessed by the review.

As we noted on Morning Drive, this leaves open the question of how such a delayed review would take place if the tour's had an official watching the live telecasts. Any review over a few minutes past the round's conclusion would only occur because the official missed it the first time. In this case, the official would only be working off of some sort of outside tip to review a possible infraction.

Ron Sirak, appearing a few minutes before me on Morning Drive, raised the suggestion of reviews no longer happening once the card is signed.I would agree.

I'm sure the tours and governing bodies have considered scenarios and have their reasons. Then again, we thought going from DQ to penalty strokes would solve things and as Ryan Herrington notes at Golf World, that wasn't so.

Interestingly, the two-stroke penalty only went into effect in 2016 when USGA and R&A implemented the most recent changes to the Rules of Golf. Prior to that, players would be disqualified if they had signed their scorecards and were later found to have committed a penalty that they had not accounted. In changing the rule to be more lenient, officials acknowledged a DQ was a punishment that didn’t fit the crime.

Lexi Thompson, the cause for this emergency local rule, praised the organizations.

Golfweek's roundup of player reactions is here. Lexi's post:

Monday
Dec112017

Golf Magazine, Golf.com To Be Purchased By Howard Milstein, Emigrant Capital

Golf Magazine and its coveted web URL, Golf.com, have been purchased by investor Howard Milstein and Emigrant Capital, according to sources briefed on the sale.

The 58-year-old publication has been part of the Time Inc. family since 2000 and was put up for sale in October, 2017. The golf publication and its digital site never were expected to be part of any sales talks with Meredith, the new owner of Time Inc. 

A sale price has not been disclosed, but the transaction is expected to close on January 19th, 2018.

Some staffers at Golf were notified Monday of the transaction and have been told that the Milstein group expects to invest in content and production. Plans call for a more luxurious print product and enhanced online resources. Still unknown is the status of contributors Alan Shipnuck, Michael Bamberger and other Sports Illustrated writers who worked mostly on the Golf side in recent years.

Milstein reportedly beat out multiple suitors, including Golf Channel and tee time services eager for the user-friendly URL. Several parties signed non-disclosure agreements to inspect Golf’s books, including Golf Digest.

Milstein is no stranger to golf, having invested in Miura Golf, True Spec and in the Jack Nicklaus empire. That partnership began in 2007.

Insiders say the Chairman, President and CEO of New York Private Bank & Trust—the nation's largest privately owned, family-run bank, is purchasing Golf through its operating bank, Emigrant Capital.  Milstein is believed to be bullish on making Golf work as a media company with the obvious synergistic benefits to his other investments in the sport.

Responding to a reply for comment, Time Inc spokesperson Jill Davison said, "The sales process for Golf is proceeding well and as soon as there are further developments we will share them."

Efforts are ongoing to obtain comment from representatives of Mr. Milstein and Golf.

Monday
Dec112017

Video: Pagel, Rickman Explain Why You Can Stop Calling Them Now And How Replay Reviews Will Work 

The coverage today on Morning Drive as Damon Hack interviews R&A executive director of governance David Rickman and USGA senior director rules of golf Thomas Pagel, who help explain the new rules for video reviews and penalties.

Monday
Dec112017

Five Families To Rules Geeks: Stop Calling, We've Got This

It took emergency meetings at The Masters, all sorts of embarrassment and even more meetings, but apparently the Five Families have agreed to no longer take rules infraction calls. Whether this means a replay center will be created or merely a lot of golf watching will take place between a rotating set of officials, the USGA, PGA Tour, PGA of America and R&A say stop calling them!

Martin Kaufmann, writing for Golfweek.com with the details:

The governing bodies – in conjunction with the PGA Tour, LPGA, PGA European Tour, Ladies European Tour and PGA of America – agreed to assign at least one rules official to monitor all tournament telecasts and resolve any rules issues.

“The message is, have confidence in those conducting the event that if you’ve seen it, they’ve seen it, and there’s no need for anyone to call in what they think they have seen,” said Thomas Pagel, the USGA’s senior director of the Rules of Golf and amateur status.

From what I'm hearing on Morning Drive appearance by the USGA's Thomas Pagel and the R&A's David Rickman, the video reviews will largely be off of the telecast and will vary week to week depending on the tour's in question.

They also stated replay inquiries can occur within the tournament for any round, meaning they might come back the next day and review something with a player. However, this would seem to mean the video replay official missed something, prompting a review. That's not going to be pretty since most will assume a review a day or two after a round was prompted by social media or a viewer tip.

Not accepting fan video is the right move, but what if a Golf Channel crew shooting for highlights shows captures an HD view and angle that exonerates a player?

Also unclear: is The Masters on board?

Beth Ann Nichols considers what this means for Lexi Thompson and the redemption for her with this change, plus her reaction when informed yesterday.

The full press release:

Video Review Protocols Introduced for
Broadcasted Golf Events

USGA and The R&A to adopt Local Rule to eliminate scorecard penalty

FAR HILLS, N.J. USA and ST ANDREWS, SCOTLAND (December 11, 2017) -  A working group led by the USGA and The R&A has unanimously agreed to adopt a new set of protocols for video review when applying the Rules of Golf.

The group, consisting of the PGA TOUR, LPGA, PGA European Tour, Ladies European Tour and The PGA of America, as well as the governing bodies, will implement the following measures from January 1, 2018:

  • Assign one or more officials to monitor the video broadcast of a competition to help identify and resolve Rules issues as they arise
  • Discontinue any steps to facilitate or consider viewer call-ins as part of the Rules decision process

In addition, the USGA and The R&A have approved the adoption of a Local Rule, available from January 1, to eliminate the additional two-stroke penalty for failing to include a penalty on the score card when the player was unaware of the penalty. All of the organizations represented on the working group will introduce the Local Rule for 2018, and this score card penalty will be permanently removed when the modernized Rules of Golf take effect on January 1, 2019.

The USGA and The R&A established the video review working group in April to initiate a collaborative discussion on the role video footage can play when applying the Rules, including the challenges and benefits of its use and also the issues that arise from viewer call-ins. 

“The level of collaboration with our partners has been both vital and gratifying as we look to the future,” said Thomas Pagel, USGA senior director of the Rules of Golf and Amateur Status. “As technology has continued to evolve, it has allowed us to evolve how we operate, as well.” [To watch an interview on usga.org with Pagel on Video Review, plus a copy of the protocols and full Local Rule, click here]

David Rickman, Executive Director – Governance at The R&A, said, “This has clearly become an important issue in the sport that we felt we should address at this stage ahead of the implementation of the updated Rules of Golf in 2019.

“We have concluded that whilst players should continue to be penalized for all breaches of the Rules during a competition, including any that come to light after the score card is returned, an additional penalty for the score card error is not required.”

The new protocols also recognize the importance of limiting video review to material obtained from the committee’s broadcast partner. Other video, such as from an individual’s smartphone or camera, will not be used under these protocols.

The new protocols and Local Rule are the latest measures announced by the USGA and The R&A to address concerns related to video evidence. In April, Decision 34-3/10 was issued to limit the use of video through the introduction of a “reasonable judgement” standard and a “naked eye” standard.

 

Sunday
Dec102017

Video: Butch On Morning Drive, "Never Say Never" About Tiger

Famed golf instructor Butch Harmon's comments about Tiger's return revealed a few interesting tidbits as he spoke to Damon Hack on Morning Drive last week.

Matt Ginella and I spoke to Harmon about the new par-3 course he designed for Jim Crane at The Floridian:

Sunday
Dec102017

More Design Week Talk: How To Become A Golf Architect 

Hopefully you enjoy this chat hosted by Gary Williams featuring David McLay Kidd and yours truly talking about getting into design and unique skill sets required to be a golf architect. This is part of Morning Drive's Design Week, in case you haven't noticed from this week's posts!

Sunday
Dec102017

Cameron Davis Hitting Shots Left And Righthanded: Perfection!

I apologize if you saw this around the Australian Open when Cameron Davis had his breakthrough week winning the storied title, but this was the first I saw him joining Mac O'Grady and Phil Mickelson among the best to swing the club to perfection both right and lefthanded.

Sunday
Dec102017

Golf, Golf Digest Present Peculiar "Best New Course" Awards

As the golf industry no longer churns out courses or even sees consistency in the renovation market, Golf and Golf Digest struggle to present their annual year-end "Best New" awards with any consistency. Or logic.

Golf's is an odd list given the international courses few in its U.S.-based readership will play. Then there is the blessing of Streamsong Black as the year's "best new course of the year" and Sand Valley as the year's "best new course you can play." Even though Streamsong is a resort you very much can play, with the Black opening in September.

The Golf categories:

BEST NEW COURSE YOU CAN PLAY
BEST NEW COURSE OF THE YEAR
BEST NEW PRIVATE COURSE/INTERNATIONAL COURSE
RENOVATION OF THE YEAR
BEST NEW COURSE YOU CAN PLAY (HONORABLE MENTION)
SPECIAL CITATION: Spectacular New Short Courses

Congratulations to all who won, even though we don't know why or who picked you under what criteria.

Golf Digest's categories appear to make a little more sense, though what is presented ultimately is pretty confusing.

In 2014 Gamble Sands was deemed the best new course in America.

In 2015, Golf Digest acknowledged 10 best new courses, 10 best remodels that somehow couldn’t find space for Winged Foot East, where the restoration work re-opened in 2015 has been lauded for sensitively recapturing an American classic. Given that Golf Digest pays dues for two of its editorial members to be Winged Foot members, a not-enough-votes excuse seems a stretch.

2016 saw three each of a Best New Private, Public and Remodeled categories. Still no luck for Winged Foot East. But the awards featured extensive panelist comments that added some fun reading.

And now in 2017 the marketplace forced another new approach, with this explanation from Golf Digest:

Still not enough new courses to warrant New Public and New Private categories, so the 15 new courses nominated for consideration competed in a single Best New Courses race. But with 85 remodeled courses nominated, we decided to split our Best New Remodel survey into three categories to reflect the wide range of projects in today’s design industry. Major Remodel involves a total redesign with little regard to the original architecture. Renovation improves a design but sticks to the original routing. Restoration strives to honor the original architecture. What about “blow-up” jobs, where an existing course is so drastically altered (“blown up”) that it hardly resembles the original? That was up to each architect and individual club to decide whether to compete as a Best New candidate or Best Major Remodel.

The list produced some pretty strange results, most notably with the once-loved Quail Hollow, now loathed by some tour players who just a few years ago were declaring it one of the PGA Tour's best venues. After last year's PGA Championship, most expect the club to remedy the gruesome 4th hole addition, an absurd mess of a hole. That did not stop the panel for giving high marks and placing Quail Hollow as their second best remodel behind Jackson and Kahn's Fazio's MPCC Dunes remodel.

Even though the project was largely envisioned and carried out by Fazio's former shapers, Golf Digest gave all the credit to Fazio. The club's own first placque acknowledges all of the aforementioned names.

Most inexplicably, Torrey Pines North, which stuck to its original routing except for flipping the nines, finished third in major remodel when it was pretty clearly just an insipid renovation. Did switching nines really become grounds for a major remodel label? 

The TPC Sawgrass won for best renovation with its new turf and one redesigned hole. On that basis, it may be eligible annually given its turbulent renovation history.

The Old White TPC won its second best new award, having won the best new remodel in 2007. And even though it won this time under the restoration label, Keith Foster made significant changes to the award winner. He restored around the remodel. Got that?

Something tells me after looking at the Golf Digest selections, the panel would not care for the things Matt Ginella and I presented as our ways of evaluating golf courses. From Morning Drive's Design Week:

Saturday
Dec092017

Video: Spieth Lower 40 At UT Golf Club

We profiled the new Spieth Lower 40 par-3 and practice course that will be used by the University of Texas golf teams and members of UT Golf Club.

The name and Spieth's role, which included design and a big donation, is explained in the story that first aired on Morning Drive.

Saturday
Dec092017

Video: One Architect Whose Work You'd Want To Play

On Morning Drive Design Week, Matt Ginella, Gary Williams and I pick the one architect we would play for the rest of their lives. Who is your choice?