Saturday, June 30, 2007

Another Costly Mistake by the USGA

Once again the USGA has made a costly mistake. By scheduling the U.S. Women’s Open in North Carolina in the summer that have brought the inevitable weather delay into play for virtually every round. The southeast is the hot, unbearably humid, dangerous thunderstorm capital of the U.S. If you really want to sweat (or glow) like a little piggy when you play a round of golf, go play there in the summer.

So now the USGA is stuck in the middle of round two. Half of the field has not even teed it up for its nineteenth hole and the majority has not finished 36 holes. It has now become a logistical nightmare to finish this tournament on Sunday assuming there are no more weather delays.

But the solution is simple. Hold the event here in southern Arizona in late June. There are a myriad of reasons why So. AZ is a better choice than some tree-lined, Donald Ross-designed course in the middle of one of the self-appointed golf capitals of the world.

Consider just a few of the undeniable benefits:

The weather will be no problem. We can almost guarantee all day sunshine with the temperature about 110 degrees with virtually no humidity.

There will be no need for evacuation vans in the event of thunder and lightening.

Parking will be no problem for the few hundred spectators and staff. There are hundreds of acres of desert.

The players won’t have to put up with all those damned pine trees that tend to reach out a grab a golf ball. And there’ll none of that ultra-thick, made-for-hay bluegrass rough that’s ill advised for the limp-wristed.

Yes, and I have no doubt there are a multitude more valid reasons for AZ and the place. Just add your own.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Book Review: The Scorecard Always Lies takes us behind the scenes of the PGA Tour

2006 was a most magnetic and perhaps watershed year on the PGA Tour. You could say it was all about Tiger and Phil. Tiger Woods missed the cut at the U.S. Open, his first missed cut in a major championship as a professional, albeit because of the passing of his father less than two months prior. But then he roared back with convincing wins at The Open and the PGA Championship reestablishing his dominance. At that same U.S. Open we witnessed disaster after disaster on the final hole with the grand finale being Mickelson. Just when you thought he was going to win his third straight major Lefty self-destructed. Alas, it was also the final year that the Official Money List carried any significant meaning at least as far as the PGA Tour Commissioner declared.

But along the way there were a multitude of other memoirs, heart-warming or tear-jerking and encouraging or repressing. These were the sagas you seldom read about in the media. These were the stories that might influence someone to take up the game or the tales of the ups and downs of the traveling troupe known as the PGA Tour as it traversed the country. These were the happenings of the human part of their existence.

To engage us with the statistical maze is commonplace. To capture the humanity of that year in words is a wonderful triumph. And that is precisely what Chris Lewis has done with his new offering The Scorecard Always Lies published by Free Press. It is not a statistical junket through the year on the PGA Tour relating all the meaningless numbers that are forgotten when the next season commences. Rather, it is a human interest narration. The Scorecard… presents us with entertaining and seldom expressed back stories of well-known players (Mickelson and Woods) and lesser known players such as Michael Allen and Robert Garrigus. It takes us behind the scenes of the tournaments. Lewis will break your heart from the beginning with his account of Stuart Appleby’s relationship with his wife Renay and her untimely death.

The Scorecard… also takes us through the biennial media spectacle known as the Ryder Cup with some fascinating and revealing insider information. Lewis also chronicles the emergence and the rise to prominence of the Stack & Tilt teaching gurus Andy Plummer and Mike Bennett. It is interesting to observe what motivates a very good golfer to undertake a completely different swing theory in an effort to improve further. Lewis examines this motivation.

There appear to be a couple of historical inaccuracies – like twice stating that Payne Stewart’s putt on the final green at Pinehurst in 1999 was 40 feet. (It was more in the fifteen foot range, I believe) And there are also a couple of grammatical and typographical oversights. Nevertheless, the avid golf fan will find this volume most captivating with its unusual revelations of life on the PGA Tour. The average golf fan will enjoy the human interest perspective.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

The Future of the Young Ms. Woods

Congrats to Tiger and Elin on the birth of their daughter Sam Alexis Woods (SAW). Since the household that figuratively gave birth to Eye On Golf has also raised a daughter of its own, we thought it would be appropriate to pass along some adjectives to Mr. and Mrs. Woods that accurately describe the challenges ahead. So Tiger and Elin here you go: rewarding, frustrating, fun, exasperating and the list goes on and on and on...

But now to the business at hand. Anytime a world-class athlete passes along his or her DNA to an offspring, there is great speculation concerning the sporting future of the child. Eye On Golf has been quite fortunate to gain the possession of a southwestern soothsayer stone, (Said stone was discovered in the Arizona desert while relocating our golf clubs in preparation for future play.) with which we have been able to divine the future of the young Ms. Woods. In other words we were able to foresee-SAW.

The year is 2026 and we have been privileged to gain a glimpse at the season ending money list for the LPGA. There are no doubt a couple of surprises and there are also several enduring legacies that need to be maintained. We were also astonished to find that the list is conspicuously absent of one name in particular.

Sam Alexis Woods
Morgan Pressel
Paula Creamer
Juli Inkster
Tap In Kim
Say Hi Kim
One of the girls in the USGA Advertisement, “I swing like a girl!”
Annika Sorenstam
Natalie Gulbis (still no victories)
Ai Miyazato (thanks to her first win in twenty years on tour)

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Prelim U.S. Open Observations

The pairings for the first two rounds of the U.S. Open annually present some fascinating reading (the best from the USGA since the demise of the USGA Journal) and lend themselves to a bit of perverse, or rather, insightful analysis.

So, after a bit of reconnaissance of the groupings, we can present the following declarations.

When the USGA publishes its pairings, players from outside of the U.S. have only their country of origin listed, but U.S. players have the city and state. So why not just United States for U.S. players? Do we really care how many live in Scottsdale?

The player who drew an early tee time on Thursday because he’s up to answer nature’s call anyway, but will probably miss his Friday tee time because it’s right at his nap time:
Allen Doyle (two-time U.S. Senior Open Champion) – 7:22 & 12:52. He’ll be a great one to watch with his home-grown, slap shot swing.

Pairing that will have no English spoken for forty-eight hours:
Jose Maria Olazabal, Sergio Garcia, Pablo Martin – all from Spain.

Pairing most likely to get trampled by the unruly crowd: Jose Maria Olazabal, Sergio Garcia, Pablo Martin. They’re playing right in front of Tiger Woods.

Player most likely to get trampled by the unruly crowd: U.S. Amateur Champ Richie Ramsay of Scotland who is paired with Tiger Woods. I hope the USGA puts a live mike on young Ramsay. His reactions to the golf chaos going on around him will be classic.

The absolutely, most interesting pairing: Charles Howell III, Justin Rose, Sean O’Hair. You don’t have to say much about these three young studs except potential, potential, potential, but…

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Wie Has (Golf) Media Trained

Today is the first day of the LPGA Championship. I’ll bet many of you were not aware that there was an LPGA Major Championship being played this week. All the attention from the golf media for the past seven days has been centered on a Wie wrist and last week’s controversial withdrawal. And that’s just the way MW and her gang want it. She has been unable to gain any attention with her golf skills, but has artfully been able to turn an unfortunate injury into a convenient one. If Michelle doesn’t make headlines on the golf course, she manages to get them off the links drawing attention away from other young players much more accomplished and deserving.

So here’s a quiz. Who won last week’s LPGA tournament? Quick now! No fast Google-ing! A hint? Okay. She beat the number one female player in the world in a playoff. And if you get that one, here’s a little extra credit: Another young LPGA member won her first event earlier this year but defeating the number one female player in the world in a playoff. Name her.

Okay, so the answer to the first one is Nicole Castrale, a determined competitor who has worked her way up through seasons on the LPGA Tour and the Futures Tour. She has earned the little attention that the golf media has given her.

Every golf media outlet is consumed with the MW withdrawal and resulting controversy.

Geoff Shackelford, usually informative although sometimes cynical, has become totally consumed with the scandal. The World Golf Wire led with the story in its Wednesday, June 6th edition. And the list goes on and on and on.

MW has the entire golf media collared and is leading them (us) around on a leash.

Friday, June 01, 2007

88 Good Reasons to Withdraw from an Event

For an excellent analysis of Michelle Wie’s first day back in LPGA competition, I recommend that you read Beth Ann Baldry’s commentary on

Then consider these questions and comments.

Did MW have the magic 88 in mind? I think she did. She’s a recent high school grad on her way to a prestigious college. Certainly she can add.

Has she been studying the rule book during her layoff? If she has, she had plenty of opportunity for practical application during her round.

How much communication should a player’s entourage have with that player during a round?

And any other questions that might arise during your reading.