Friday, December 29, 2006

A Golfer's New Year's Resolutions

I’m not real big on New Year’s resolutions. Everybody makes them and then forty-eight hours later they’re down the proverbial tube. Then it’s “wait ‘til next year” and we’ve got 363 days of freedom. So why bother?

However, I think it’s different for golf, at least it should be. I think it’s important that each of us make one, or perhaps more, golf-related New Year’s resolution. Realizing this can be a daunting task, the Eye On Golf staff has compiled a short list to get you started. This list, as they say, is not all inclusive. It is provided
for your motivation and guidance.

I resolve to...

Yes, it’s a very broad resolution but very purposeful. Not everyone can get to the golf course or practice facility every day, but that doesn’t mean you cannot do something everyday to improve. Even if the weather is frightful or your time is limited, you can stretch the muscles and then swing a weighted golf club for 15-20 minutes. You’ll be amazed with the results.

Yes, you read that correctly. The game can be played on foot. If your favorite golf course does not allow you to walk, go somewhere else. Not only is it great exercise to walk around the course, it will assuredly improve your game. And you can start getting in shape for that now!

No other sport lends itself to the production of literature like golf. A few hundred “golf” books are published every year, so you’ll be a long time catching up on your reading. Every category imaginable is available: instruction, biography, course architecture, reference, anthology, etc. You name it, it’s within your reach. Spend a little less time reading magazines and a little more time reading books. You'll be a better golfer and a better person for it.

If you’re in a location where you have forced hibernation and no golf for a few months, it’s a good idea to get a quick half-hour checkup before you head to the first tee for the first time in the new season. You’ll have a lot more fun and save a lot of aspirin.

There’s just four suggestions. And there’s many more. Go for it.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

LPGA Still Has an Identity Problem

I recently wrote a blog for which elicited a response from one of our avid readers and triggered some increased intellectual golf resuscitation. In the process of a lively debate as to why Wie won over Woods in a Time magazine Influential People Poll, Alex wrote, “...are you sure that Bubbles is the only female golfer who may have influenced a great number of young girls to strive for careers in golf? After all, we do have several others like Paula, Lorena, Juli, Se Ri and Annika who have won a ton of tournaments.”
Bingo, Alex. Right to the point. And you got some great assistance from Judge Smails and One-Putt. It's all about the freaking media. Unless you're a hardened golf fan and enjoy following the LPGA, chances are you may have heard nothing or very little about anyone except Annika. Paula is a doll and can win; Lorena is sweet yet intense; Juli is personable and intelligent and still beats the kids; Se Ri and Karrie provided us with two of the most dramatic moments in golf this year and yet, unless you watch The Golf Channel religiously, it is unlikely you would have more than a passing mention of their accomplishments. In contrast who would not believe that if Michelle Wie had made the cut in a men's event, the Network Evening News would have carried it as the lead story. Katie Couric would have been slobbering.

And therein lies the problem for the LPGA. How does this marvelous group of female golfers get the attention off of a teenager who has yet to win a tournament (save for a USGA Publinx) and onto those ladies who are accomplished, athletic and attractive? The major golf publications don't even give proper recognition to the women. Within the past couple of days an writer listed the best tournaments of 2006. The U.S. Open and the British Open were 1 & 2. Number 3 was the Kraft-Nabisco. This is so far off base that it is not even credible. A strong case can be made for the Kraft-Nabisco, the LPGA Championship and the U.S. Women's Open being the top three of the year. But, if you think that will happen in a major golf magazine, come see me and I'll get you on to Pebble Beach for free.

The LPGA needs to figure it out and here's a little help with step one. Let the bloggers provide some assistance. There's thousands who would be extremely cooperative in the venture to show off the LPGA. The LPGA must begin to realize who really loves them.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Our Annual Chirstmas Reading List

Golfers, as a whole, don't read much about the game they love to play. Reading these thought provoking blogs or the Snooty Golf Magazine's latest and greatest monthly tip does not count. We're talking books here. How can we make this brash statement? Why a survey, of course. It may not be the super-scientific survey that you get from the ABC/ESPN/NY Times that can slant the results to fit their convictions, but it is simple and straightforward. Just ask a couple of simple questions, “What was the last golf book you read? And, When was that?” Just a name and a date. Nothing else. We've been doing this for a while now and can safely support our opening statement. And, as soon as the check from this government-funded study arrives, we will publish the findings.

Thus, in order to promote an increase in golfer reading, we're going to give you a few suggestions for the golfer on your Christmas list. Instead of purchasing a dozen Top Flites, head to the Internet or into your favorite bookstore and select an edifying golf book. Here's a few worthwhile suggestions from the volumes we have encountered this year:

The Art of Putting by Stan Utley. I read a fair quantity of books that claim to fall into the golf instruction category. (Many don't by the way.) This one is an exception, an excellent instruction book and one of the best ever on putting. We all know how important putting is. Just do the math. Before you hit your first tee shot, half of the game is played on the green. Utley's The Art of Putting is simple, practical, and right to the point – the necessary ingredients for a good instruction book. Utley takes you from “The Basics” right through “Advanced Techniques” and “Faults and Fixes.” This book will teach you how to putt from the moment you open the cover. One sad note, there is a DVD that can come with the book, don't bother. It doesn't really cover much of what is in the book.

Fairways of Life by Matthew Adams. For inspiration from the game of golf, you can't go wrong with Adams' uplifting insight. You might remember him from Chicken Soup for the Soul of America, The Golf Channel and a few other journalistic adventures. This is Adams' forte. Real life stories and short, uplifting essays make up the majority of the book. It's short, fast reading that will leave you feeling good about yourself and the game of golf. It may also motivate you to do more for the game of golf.

A Disorderly Compendium of Golf by Lorne Rubenstein and Jeff Newman. This is the book that follows the statement, “Everything you wanted to know about golf, but were afraid to ask.” It has pages and pages of fun facts about the game and, true to its title, it is organized in a disorderly manner. There is no Chapter One where you might find everything about The Masters and Augusta National. In fact there is no Chapter One, or Two, or Three...and no Table of Contents. It's just a volume stuffed with stuff about golf – fact, figures, stories, anecdotes and a few statistical goodies. You might not agree with everything the authors have to say but it's an entertaining read for any golf fan.

Off the Beaten Cart Path by Dave Marrandette. Yes, this is my latest book. It was written during our travels around the country in a motorhome. You'll find stories and pictures of nineteen distinctive golf courses throughout the country, courses you won't find in Golf Magazine, Golf Digest, etc. Perhaps this volume will motivate you to discover your own hidden gems that may be as close as a few miles up the street.

So, there's just four. Now go for it. Fore!

Monday, December 04, 2006

A Challenge to TW Design

Just about a month ago, Nov. 7 to be exact, I penned a blog on, focusing on the announcement of TW Design and the fact that it will not help the growth of the game. I had two main concerns: one was that a great player does not equal a great designer; and, two these courses will not come cheap and be available to the masses. That blog upset the local villagers. They proceeded to tar and feather me and then burn my cabin to the ground. Well, we have scrubbed off the tar and rebuilt the shack. And now, what do you know? TW Design has made the announcement that they intend to build their first course in Dubai, a country that has more money than seven PAC's. Tiger will join fellow pros Els, Bjorn, Montgomerie and Baker-Finch with a golf course venture in Dubai. (It'll get a little crowded over there, but it won't be hard to find a tee time.)

Why did Tiger choose Dubai for his first course? Because he wanted the "challenge of transforming a desert terrain into a world-class golf course." If Tiger wants desert, he should call me. I'm surrounded by desert here in Arizona. I'm also surrounded by thousands of children – African-American, Native-American, Hispanic, and White – who can only dream of learning how to play the game we love. The game is just a little too expensive. Wait, make that a lot too expensive.

Here's my challenge and proposal to you, Mr. Woods. If you really want to leave a legacy to the game, never charge another dime for the design of a golf course and make sure that the land for each design has been donated. Further ensure that each new course will be built in an area where economically challenged children will have ready access. (You just never know from whence the next Tiger Woods will come.) Guarantee that no child will ever have to pay more than a few dollars to play a round of golf. (There will be no golf carts, of course and we will drop the word “rental” from rental clubs.)

So, Mr. Woods, when you are ready to begin to build on the heritage that you will leave to the game, call me. I have the perfect place to begin building your true legacy.

Thursday, November 30, 2006


After a long period of inactivity I get to blog about my favorite subject – the LPGA. This time it might be good news, but, as with everything else in the world of Ms. Bivens, we'll just have to wait and see. This time she has created a new position, the CMO (that's Chief Marketing Officer for all of us who are not up on the latest corporate speak), and has selected William F. Susetka to fill the position. (Darn, if I'd only known the position was open.) She made this announcement yesterday, Nov. 29, 2006, on the first day of the Q-School finals, which may give you some idea as to why she needs some marketing assistance. Trying to snatch away the spotlight from the players during a crucial event does not seems like a particularly great marketing move. The players are the product and you don't upstage them in any way. Susetka will not assume the position until Jan. 2, 2007 so the announcement could have waited a few days.

Susetka has outstanding credentials, at least as far as the ladies are concerned: Most recently, Susetka served as chief operating officer of Nice-Pak Products (2005-06). Prior to that, he was president of Global Marketing for Avon Products Inc. (2002-05), where he led double-digit beauty growth for three years and introduced the most successful new product launches for skin care and fragrance in Avon history with Anew Clinical, Cellu-Sculpt and the Today, Tomorrow, Always fragrance trilogy. Well, at least the ladies will smell nice. And I would appreciate some feedback on the meaning of double-digit beauty growth. No, wait, let me guess. This means that there are now twice as many beautiful women in the world as there were in 2002.

And one of Susetka's responsibilities will be to oversee emerging media departments. We can only assume that this means the Internet unless we're talking about satellite transmissions to another galaxy. And with the Internet comes bloggers. Maybe, perhaps, hopefully, this guy will get the picture and allow faithful bloggers into the Media Tent. He just might open up a whole new world of positive feedback for the LPGA.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Old Works will stretch your game but not your budget

The word “unique” is frequently employed as a descriptive term for golf courses that are thought to possess one of a kind settings and layouts. Truth is any course which deviates slightly from the traditional or the accepted is given the unique moniker. It becomes difficult to designate well-deserved courses as special in regard to setting and design. Discretion in labeling golf courses is crucial. Every golf course designed and constructed cannot be extra special. On the other hand it is important not to overlook those that are obviously in the one-of-a-kind category. Such is the case for Old Works Golf Course in Anaconda, Montana.

There has been no shortage of acclaim for the Jack Nicklaus design which opened in 1996 and has consistently been included on every Top 100 Public Golf Course list. GolfWeek selects it as the best in the entire state. Golf Digest places Old Works at number 82 on its list of America's 100 Greatest Public Courses. These lofty evaluations are not mistakes or overestimations. Old Works lives up to its accolades and to our high expectations with an extremely interesting layout, excellent course conditions, friendly staff and the best darn price.

Carved throughout an abandoned copper mine, Nicklaus has truly created a work of art. And it is the copper mine that provides the fascination and the ambiance of the layout. Visions of its former existence are virtually everywhere beginning at the first tee box with the display of two huge smelters which have been turned into planters. The par 5 third and the par 3 fourth play parallel to the deteriorating stone furnaces. And the “sand” in the bunkers is not really sand at all; rather it's black slag.

First tee at Old Works

Old Works contains a first-rate practice facility that includes a range, putting green and practice green for chipping and bunker play. These are all conveniently located near the first tee. Nicklaus has also incorporated a very practical warm-up feature, a three hole course that circles the practice range. It gives you the opportunity to get a feel for the lay of the land, the greens and the bunkers.

With five sets of tee boxes appropriately dubbed Slag, Gold, Copper, Limestone and Brick, Old Works allows every golfer to play the course at a length which is comfortable yet challenging. Each tee is appropriated with the properly coordinated color tee markers. The Slag plays the longest at 7705 yards and the Brick the shortest at 5348 yards. While that may appear to be a bit lengthy, don't forget to allow for the elevation of Anaconda, almost a mile above sea level. The elevation and the fact that several holes play from elevated tee boxes make the course playable for everyone. The front nine has dramatic elevation changes as the course climbs and descends and twists and turns around the remaining mounds and hills of the old copper mine. From the fourth tee, the highest point on the golf course, you can overlook the entire front nine and a couple of holes on the back. The view is striking and gives a good perspective on what Nicklaus has done with the property. The back nine is relatively flat and has a totally different feel from the front. Approach shots on the par 4 tenth and the par 5 eleventh require a carry over a meandering creek that runs along the right side of #10 and the left side of #11. These are the only holes on the course which require a forced carry. Every other hole offers an opening to the green.

The course makes minimal demands from the tee presenting wide fairways that stretch out even wider in the landing areas. Hitting the fairways from the beautifully maintained tee boxes (We've played on some greens that were not as well groomed.) is not the dilemma. The difficulty of the course comes on the approach shots to the extra large, undulating greens that usually putt to a speed of 10 or 11 on the stimpmeter. Despite the wide fairways, it is critical to position the tee shot properly to allow for the best angle of approach into the greens. Misplaced tee shots will set up approach shots that must carry bunkers or present odd angles to the greens. This combination make the course fair yet at the same time challenging.

The front nine contains several interesting holes. The par 5 third is an uphill dogleg right that tempts you to cut the corner on your second shot. The approach shot is to a two level green with the lower part in the back. The hole also plays along the remains of the old brick furnaces. The fourth is par 3 that plays slightly uphill with more mine remnants in the background. The most fascinating and spectacular hole on the front nine is the par 3 seventh which plays to a maximum of 238 yards. But the yardage is deceiving. The tee box sits atop of what seems like a small mountain of slag and the hole plays about fifty feet downhill across a huge bunker of the signature black slag sand. The mountains in the distance also provide a nice backdrop for the hole.

We found the tenth and eleventh to be best holes on the back. Number ten is a par four that curves slightly to the right with the creek along the right and then cutting in front of the green. The fairway appears narrow from the tee, but the landing area is generous as with all the other holes. The hole plays a little longer than the given yardage and the approach shot is very intimidating. It will make you play long or right to avoid the creek. The par 5 eleventh entices you to hit it long for two shots. At that point the fairway turns to the left and you must thread your approach through an opening in the trees and over the same creek you just negotiated at number 10. The fairway is wide but the approach must be precise to the very shallow green. The most difficult holes on the course is number sixteen. It's a long, uphill par 4 that usually plays into the wind. There's a lake on the right that shouldn't come into play, but is quite visible from the tee.

Old Works is a must play. The quality and the “unique” setting of the golf course, the friendliness of the staff, and the downright bargain price (always less than $50) make this a definite stop. And while Anaconda, Montana might not be the ultimate golf resort destination, it does have two other golf courses to offer: Anaconda Country Club and Fairmont Hot Springs Golf Course. It's a small town with a big golf feel.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Masters Reflections

Picking the Winner: Well, you can see we came real close. (Just refer back to our previous entry.) At least we did mention Phil’s name.

Big Losers or Major Disappointments or When the Heck are these guys going to produce:

Mike Weir – we’re still waiting for him to do something again. He always seems to be close for the last 36 holes but can never seem to reproduce the magic that brought him that green jacket. Shame.

Darren Clarke – Clarke starts the final round just two shots back and all of us at the pub are pulling for the jolly Irishman. So how does he reward us? A birdie on the first to really get our hearts pumping and the Guinness flowing! Then, a lackluster 77 with seven bogies the rest of the way.

Ernie Els/Retief Goosen – Close, both had a chance – AGAIN! Maybe these guys need to be told that this is a major championship. At least they could show a little interest.

“The Young Guns” – Another major tournament where the young studs so heavily promoted by the PGA Tour and the media fail to produce. These kids had better get with it before a great golf career passes them by.

Summation: A good tournament, not a great one. Too many guys, i.e., all but one, failed to come up with something special in the final round.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

A Masters Victory

Attempting to pick the winner of a golf tournament is similar to strapping on a pair of skis for the first time and heading down the XXX Olympic ski slope in Seefeld, Austria. It’s foolish and it’s dangerous. Although is has to be easier in the Masters because the field is smaller. So, what the heck, we’ll give it a go. This list is so scientific that it was rejected by all the leading golf publications. If you’ve got a lot of extra green, here’s our list of can’t miss bets:

Someone you can bet on with a good chance of making a little dough:
Tiger Woods – Why would you not put down a minimal wager?
Retief Goosen – If we could only get “Goose” to show a little more interest, we might increase the wager.

No chance:
Phil Mickelson - because he played too damn good last week.

Sentimental Favorites:
John Daly - It would be great to have burgers and beer for the 2007 Champions Dinner.
Tom Lehman – He’s been playing decent and he looks Ryder Cup captainish with that long putter.

The O.F. Emotional Favorite:
Ben Crenshaw – Hey, it could happen. History has a tendency to repeat itself.

The Real Winner:
Someone you would never dare to put $1000 on.

That’s all. We can’t pick everybody in the field.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Too Chip or Putt?

Whoever is instructing Michelle Wie on the chipping and putting aspect of the game should also work with her a little more on how to think around the green. A poor thought process on the 72nd green of the Kraft Nabisco Championship may have cost her her first major title. Wie needed a birdie on the par-5 18th to tie Karrie Webb. A driver and a 5-iron put her 25 feet away just over the green with about five feet of fringe to clear. Wie elected to chip the ball and juiced it a bit. It ran about ten feet past. She made a good putt at the birdie that would have tied but it missed.

Somewhere along the line someone has taught her that if you want to sink it, chip it. Perhaps that’s true, perhaps not. That’s another discussion. What’s at fault here is her thinking process. Someone has failed to teach her how to think the situation through completely. She did not need to sink it “at all costs.” Yes, it might have been the ultimate in drama had she sunk the chip, but that’s not what she needed at this point. She needed a sure four with a chance at a possible three. She needed to play the shot that gave her the highest percentage to accomplish that. Using the putter to get down in two from 25 feet was not a difficult task. Two putts give her a tie and, if she gets a little lucky, the ball goes in and she wins. By using the putter she would have almost certainly have put herself in the playoff which started on the same 18th hole where she would have had a definitive advantage.

But that’s what makes major champions: smart decisions and the proper time.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

A Fifth Major?

Should the Tournament Players’ Championship be considered a major championship and thus raise the quantity of majors from four to five? This question arises every year and is debated everywhere in the golf world ad nauseam, ad infinitum, ad boredom. It’s no secret that Tim Finchem is trying his hardest, subtly or brazenly, to get the golf world to accept the TPC as a major. The answer to any golf traditionalist or purist is, of course, a resounding, “No!”

The most basic reason is that the math doesn’t work. The “Grand Slam” is based on the number four. It’s a baseball term with the number four at its core. A player hits one out of the park with the bases loaded and four runs score, he gets four RBI’s, he touches four bases and he makes four more million dollars. Everything is FOUR! If a fifth major comes about, no longer can we use the term “Grand Slam.” We have to use something with a connotation of five. Perhaps we could use “The Great Quinary.” Somehow that doesn’t seem to have the same quality as “Grand Slam.” Maybe we could borrow “The Mighty Quinn?” I think this would be good, then, if someone in his 50’s wins all five major championships, the media would have a linguistic Mardi Gras. The winner would be known as “The Mighty Quinquagenarian Quinn.” And further verbal possibilities are endless.

So you see how silly this whole idea is? In its elementary form it doesn’t work. In its corporate form it’s an avaricious, self-indulgent maneuver.

This year, in his continuing effort to force his will upon the golf world, Tim Finchem is employing that tried, tested and failed corporate strategy of “throw more money at it.” Before the ink dries on Stephen Ames’ check, bulldozers will be leveling the clubhouse and contouring the fairways. That’s right, a new clubhouse, better drainage in the fairways, and a pumped-in air duct system under the greens is all part of a plan to make the TPC more ornate and glamorous with perfect course conditions. All this for a cool $22-$28 million. If you can try to buy a game in the world of golf by spending an obscene amount of money on equipment, why not try to buy a major by spending an obscene amount of money on “upgrading” a golf facility that is already well-suited for the purpose. Why not cut back on a couple of new $500,000 columns on the clubhouse and employ that money to rebuild a few houses in the gulf coast states? That would be a major.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

These Guys Are Good?

Perhaps it may be time for the PGA Tour to alter its catch phrase just a touch. After watching the devastation over the weekend at the TPC, the new phrase could be, “This Guy Is Good.” Yes, I know the TPC is a most difficult golf course and it was set up to devour the world’s best golfers. Or we could take the more positive approach and say that it was set up to challenge the world’s best. In that case only one met the challenge – Stephen Ames. When the pressure was on playing a man-eating the gentlemen of the PGA Tour were hitting horrible golf shots and making poor course management decisions.

What a for instance? Let’s see, two-time champion Davis Love missed the cut by playing like the best golfer in the world on Thursday and then like the third member of your regular Saturday foursome on Friday capping it all of with a 9 on his final hole. I don’t care how you shake it, if you make a nine on a par-5, there’s some bad golf going on. Over the weekend 2004 champion Adam Scott shot 82-76. Had to be an ugly swing or two in there somewhere. On Sunday, Phil Mickelson is 200 yards from the hole on the par-5 16th. So, what’s that for Lefty, a 5-iron? You’d figure with that club in his hands it’s at least in the middle of the green with a 30-footer for eagle. Oh, no, it wound up some 40 yards left of the green and he struggled to make par.

You want more? Buy the tape from Tim Finchem. It’ll be called “These Guys Are (Ooops)!”

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Safeway International

Walking around at the LPGA Safeway International last week, it became obvious why this tournament continues to grow in popularity and attendance year after year. In 2004 there were 90,000 fans through the gates; in 2005 it was 105,800; and based on the attendance the first two days of competition there’ll be a new record in 2006.

But this doesn’t come about with just a wave of a magic sand wedge. There is a reason all this happens and it forms a tight loop making this event so popular with players and fans. The field is always one of the best of the season due to the great organization of the tournament. (The fact that it’s a prelude to the first major of the year also contributes.) This year the top fifty money winners from 2005 are playing plus a number of the top rookies. Of course, a $1.4 million purse doesn’t hurt either. The venue is perfect: a great layout that is spectator-friendly and the magnificent scenery doesn’t hurt either. It’s comfortable to walk and most of the greens have an amphitheater effect making it effortless for crowds to view the action. The big bonus is that the front and back nines crisscross at a couple of key junctures making it simple for spectators to alter their direction. If fans pay attention to their pairing sheets, they can see the whole course and all the players in one day. All this entices fans to attend which makes the sponsors happy which makes the players show up.

And a couple of other thoughts on why this event does so well:

Phoenix in mid-March is the perfect time of year for this event. The weather is usually stellar (although this year the final round was delayed by a little cold and rain).

It’s snowbird time and this migratory fowl has yet to head north for the summer so the average age of the fans is probably in the neighborhood of 65.

And then…

Once the fans are in it’s most fascinating to observe which players they follow. The Canadian snowbird contingent dutifully encouraged Lori Kane. A large group of the gray-haired set took up their traveling residence with veterans like Juli Inkster (the eventual champion), Beth Daniel, Patty Sheehan, and Meg Mallon. And, of course, young Japanese star Ai Miyazato has a large delegation of press and fans trailing her around the course.

With all this in mind the best pairing of the first two rounds was Morgan Pressel, the 17-year old high school sensation, Ai Miyazato, the 20-year old Japanese golf goddess, and Sherri Turner, a mere 49 years old and a major championship winner. It was interesting to watch them interact for a couple of rounds.

It was also interesting to observe and chat with a few of the Japanese contingent following Miyazato. She has her own media entourage. Her every move is documented by television, radio, newspaper and magazine and a few other forms of communication which the Japanese are inventing or about to invent. The snag here is that this media has no sense of LPGA history and tradition. When asked by us concerning the identity and record of Sherri Turner, several of this deputation had no idea who she was never mind the fact that she is a major championship winner. For more on this issue request a copy of our monthly Eye On Golf newsletter.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

The Golfing Machine

We were able to observe just one shot from the “golfing machine” yesterday. Standing behind the green on the 18th hole, a slightly uphill par-5 with water along the entire left side, we noticed Annika and her four playing partners in the fairway about 230 yards from the green. Being the lady that she is and in deference to the scramble format they were playing, she allowed the four guys the first opportunity to hit the green in two. Is the outcome predictable? How rhetorical! How obvious! The guys go left into the lake, right into the practice range, left over the lake and into the desert and one other into parts unknown. Now the pressure’s really on Annika. There's no one anywhere near the green. She tosses up a few blades of grass, selects the club and rips, no, excuse me, smoothes a fairway wood straight at the flagstick that rolls right by and comes to rest on the back fringe about twenty feet from the hole. Ah, the “golfing machine.”

Monday, March 13, 2006

Round One - Annika

The LPGA season is, as predicted, off to a tremendous start: two tournaments in Hawaii with exciting finishes and more than respectable performances by the teenagers and rookies. Then it was off to Mexico and even Ms. Bivens could not have devised a better final round scenario: Annika vs. Creamer and a veteran and a couple of rookies. And the winner is...Annika, not by a KO or even a TKO. Rather it was more like a unanimous decision. Nevertheless, it was a win and A.S. made the meassage clear: You're all wonderful, you're all good but...

Now it's off the the Phoenix area for the Safeway International with Annika defending. We'll see you there.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

2006 - Off to the Future

This is an excerpt from the February 2006 Eye On Golf newsletter. (To receive a copy please leave a message.) This is being posted as groundwork for the future. No telling what might happen with the LPGA.

I just can’t wait for the 2006 professional golf season to begin. “What? Wait a minute! What did you say? It already has? The PGA Tour has already played three, no make that four, well, perhaps five tournaments already. Jeez, did I miss it? I hate it when that happens. Why didn’t anybody tell me? No one really gave a hoot? Gee, what a surprise!

Okay, let me rephrase that opening statement: I just can’t wait for the 2006 LPGA season to begin. Now people are starting to pay attention. Why? BECAUSE THERE’S ATTENTION-GRABBING STORIES ON THE LPGA TOUR! If the purses on the PGA Tour and the LPGA Tour were determined by the “interest factor,” the money would need to be exchanged this year. What’s to watch on the PGA Tour this season? One thing: How many majors will Tiger win? So we’ll watch the four majors and maybe Finchem’s Fifth, The Players’ Championship – just to see how many balls get dunked on the 17th.

But the real excitement will happen on the LPGA Tour. It’s the best player on the planet taking on a bunch of cocky teenagers who almost won a couple of major before they could beg Dad for the family car. It’s not like a couple of years ago when the new “young guns” were supposed to take over the PGA Tour and make Tiger a fading memory. This is the real stuff and the right stuff.

Okay, so now you know. I am a big fan of the LPGA; have been ever since the great ladies of the game played near my childhood home in the 1960’s. Back then the LPGA Championship was conducted at Pleasant Valley CC in Sutton, MA. I became an even bigger fan in the 1980’s when covering golf for a local newspaper in Northern Virginia and they played the LPGA Championship at Bethesda CC in Bethesda, MD. And now I may be one of their biggest fans, a fan who looks to the 2006 season with the greatest anticipation. It is a watershed year. The LPGA has the chance to kick the butt of the PGA Tour. It will be the Year of the Kid. 2005 was merely the prologue. 2006 will be it. The golden goose is on the doorstep. The question is: Will Ms. Bivens let the goose in?

She’s already got a few of the golden eggs sitting in the basket. Let’s just look at that Fort Knox collection:
· Paula Creamer played like a veteran in her rookie year and then managed to stir the pot by confronting Annika on a ruling in the final event of the season. Now I know it wasn’t done as a publicity stunt, but…well, let’s just say it worked out well. So let’s pair Annika and Paula together in the first round of the season in 2006.
· Calendar girl Natalie Gulbis now has a new reality show and continues to be a big draw on the male side. Until recently it has almost been impossible to get a male golfer to go to an LPGA event. Amazing how all that is changing.
· The teenage invasion in on and the LPGA needs to grab the reins and go along for the ride. Morgan Pressel and Brittany Lang have passed Q-School and are ready to conquer.

Ed Note: Ms. Bivens appears to be a genius. Seeing the golden golf goose, she granted Ms. Pressel LPGA membership status before he eighteenth birthday. There was a bit of corporate speak going on, something about each case had to be decided on its own merits but the bottom line Morgan will play and Ms. Bivens is beginning to show the Midas touch.

Friday, March 03, 2006

The High Cost of Golf

Once again the cost of golf has reared its ugly head and managed to – once again – incense the staff at Eye On Golf.

February 10, 2006, online with GOLFONLINE, we found this intro to a web page:
Traval: Road Trip to Pebble Beach. Since this cannot obviously be a misspelling, it must be a high-priced way to spell the other variation of the word “travel” especially if it’s associated with Pebble Beach.

So we decided to check out this little road trip (the article that is, not take the actual trip; you’ll see why in a minute.) Turns out a Senior Editor of Golf Magazine took a little trip and hit five public courses from Harding Park in San Francisco to Pebble Beach on the Monterey Peninsula. We assume he played each one to provide us with an honest and proper evaluation. We also assume that each of the courses provided gratis golf when they found out he was coming. I’m pretty sure of this because he begins his article by declaring, “America's greatest public-access golf course…” If that’s not an advertising proclamation, I’ve never seen one. Of course, there is an alternative: he did pay his own way meaning that GM pays its editors quite handsomely. You see these “public” courses are not for the average, public golfer. They range in price from $78 at Harding Park to a whopping $425 at Pebble Beach, not quite what the weekend golfer would like to pay for a round of golf with his son. And, at the conclusion, Mr. Editor states that it is worth the $425 to play just once.

(Side note: To put this in perspective consider that in 2005 the Eye On Golf staff spent the summer in Buffalo, Wyoming. With a population of 3900 Buffalo sustains a marvelous, scenic, well-maintained golf course. And the best part is the price – fair. For a yearly membership a couple pays $420. That’s golf anytime you want it. The cart, of course, is extra but that’s extraneous to the game of golf.

There are, of course, many different conclusions that you can draw from all of the jabberwocky. The one we would like to point out is that articles like this lead us to the conclusion that these major golf magazines focus on and cater to the affluent golfer. If you doubt this statement, look through a recent issue and direct all your attention to the advertisements. Notice what clubs they recommend, what courses they advocate and so on. I don’t think you’ll be surprised, but you might be.

Off and Running

By popular demand Eye On Golf (EOG) has finally advanced to the world of the Blogger. For those that are unaware EOG has been publishing a periodic newsletter on the world of golf for over three years. It has been transmitted solely by newsletter. This blog will be an additional means of communication to that newsletter. If you want to catch up on any of the EOG thoughts, just let us know and we'll make arrangements.