Thursday, October 29, 2009

Golf media ticked at LPGA

Alrighty then, yesterday the LPGA named Michael Whan as the new commissioner. The announcement caught the golf media totally unaware and the scribblers are ticked. Here’s a few examples.

At, one of the better websites for everyday golf news, Sal Johnson flat out lambastes the LPGA for the rookie PR move the LPGA put on. It's a fun read.

Ron Sirak, veteran LPGA observer for GolfWorld, was not totally thrilled with the timing or the info either.

Randall Mel, senior writer for, wonders a bit about Whan’s credentials at this critical time for the LPGA. Be sure to read the comments at the end.

And finally check out for a little on Whan’s employment-saving move.

Assessment: The first day Whan opens the door to his new office, he'll have to please the ladies of the LPGA and now gain the confidence of the golf writers – again.
(Photo by Getty Images)

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Golfer makes ace and albatross in the same round

If we were to have a post-round gathering at the 19th hole and the discussion turned to the skill of PGA Tour participants, There would perhaps be dissension concerning who has the greater skill. However, we would not question the overall skill of these players. As the slogan says – These guys are good! - very good. How good is good or very good?

Well, when you combine very good with the appropriate portion of luck that comes along with dedicated practice and developed skill, you might have a nine hole stretch like Nicholas Thompson had yesterday at Grayhawk Golf Club during the Open. First, let it be understood that the scores are very low in this tournament – very, very low. After three rounds Troy Matteson leads at 19 under on the strength of back-to-back 61's (9-under each day). But his scorecard is not spectacular, did littered with lots and lots of birdies and one eagle.

The great scorecard belongs to Thompson who shot 30 on his back nine yesterday. But it's how he got to that number that's incredible. That 30 included a double-eagle (albatross) and a hole-in-one (Ace) – all within a three hole stretch. That's right, an Albatross and an Ace in the same round on the same nine.

Now the odds of making an ace are reasonable, so to speak, but variable. Experts at these number things figure about 5,000 to 1 for a low handicapper and a little lower for a tour pro. But take a guess at the Albatross. As best as anyone can figure, the odds are one million to one. But what are the odds of making an Albatross and an Ace in the same round? I don't think anyone has taken the time to figure that out. Perhaps the odds are about the same as winning the lottery each and every time you play for a month.

So, which would you rather have – the Albatross and the Ace or the lottery?

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Book Review: SI The GOLF BOOK

It's big and it's beautiful. Weighing in at nearly five pounds and possessing an eye-catching cover, Sports Illustrated's latest addition to its sports pictorial series has entered the world of golf. And it has taken it on in spectacular fashion. SI's THE GOLF BOOK is a heavyweight in the world of golf books – literally and figuratively. As it sits in our library it is second in dimension just lagging behind Jack Nicklaus Simply the Best, but first in quality. As it rest in our mind it's on the top rung of our fun ladder.

THE GOLF BOOK is the ultimate coollection (no misspelling here) of golf photographs. It is pure fascination to leaf through the pages and encounter photographic bliss with every turn of the page. There are photographs from virtually every era of golf. It is certain that on numerous occasions you will find yourself asking the question, “Where did they get that?”

A certain amount of text and facts are involved but that is at a minimum. But don't skip the text. The articles, all by SI staff and contributors, are timely to the period and absorbing today. There is a enchanting essay by Bernard Darwin on Francis Ouimet's victory in the 1913 U.S. Open that is highlighted by a photograph of Ouimet's scorecard which was kept by Darwin. Lots of history on that page. And don't forget to read the forward by Roy Blount, Jr. It's cleverly done and a fun read and gets you into the spirit of the book.

However, in the end this volume is a photographic essay of the history of golf. The publication is separated into seven chronological sections categorized generally by historical significance. The pictures and text included in each division are pertinent to the era.

Our favorite was the Centerfold - yes, a centerfold. In a poll with a panel of fifteen judges, each was asked to name his or her favorite golfers of all time. The final list and a masterful pictorial montage make up the centerfold. Once you get passed the centerfold, don't hastily pass by the pictures of equipment, clubs and balls in particular. You'll get an appreciation as to how the game has changed.

If there is a golfer in your life who has the the slightest interest in the history of the game, this is the perfect book to place in his or her library. While the game of golf can always be a great topic of conversation, this volume itself will generate great quantities of verbal communication. It is a must have for every golfer.

We could go on and on and on and … extolling the virtues of this book. Just get it!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

A suitable format for Olympic golf

Now that golf has been accepted into the Olympics, there have been, of course, all kinds of conversation and consternation concerning the format that will determine the gold, silver and bronze. There has been no shortage of suggestion. Virtually every golf scribe and nearly all sports pundits have offered advice. So, with that in mind, Eye On Golf, with its multiple years of expertise in the game, would like to present its submission for the proper format to determine the medal winners. We have alluded to such in one of our recent entries.

What we do not want is the same-old, everyday 72-hole stroke play tournament with the low man or woman taking home the gold. If you want that for international competition, just go to the World Cup or almost any WGC. We need something original. After all this is the Olympics. The Olympics require a format that is unique, something that combines stroke play and match play.

It has already been pretty much predetermined that there will be sixty men and sixty women competing. Some Olympic Golf Committee has decided that. Each group of sixty is derived from world rankings and a couple of other criteria.

Now what our plan proposes is this: the sixty from each group play a 36-hole qualifier, possibly in one day, for the privilege of entering into the match play portion of the event. Only the lowest 48 from each group advances to match play. Match play brackets are determined by the 36-hole qualifying score. From this point, on days two and three of the competition, 18-hole matches are played leaving twelve players at the end of three days of competition. Those twelve remaining players then compete over 36-holes of stroke play on the final day with the lowest three winning the appropriate medals.

With this format the participants are tested in both forms of golf competition. With this format we get complete champions.

Yes, it’s a lot of golf in four days and it could possibly be stretched out to five or six days. However, the Olympics are for athletes pushing their bodies to the limit to gain the ultimate prize in sports. Golf should be no different.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Presidents Cup final thoughts

U.S. defeats the Internationals (Rest of the World) by a margin wider than you would need to drop a nuclear bomb to destroy San Francisco. Why is it that the European team, when competing in the Ryder Cup, always gives the U.S. a better battle? Think about it, the whole match and atmosphere just seems so much more exciting and competitive.

Poor Dan Hicks! NBC needs to ship him off to MSNBC to be a foil for some of the liberals. He apparently didn't realize that the two teams involved in the competition were the U.S. and the Rest of the World (Internationals), not the Europeans. (Dan, that's the Ryder Cup as even the most casual fan could tell you.) He also referred to the Nobel Prize as the noble prize. (Dan it's not that hard to distinguish between the two words.) Hicks further displayed a height phobia. His constant reference to Tim Clark's height (the “little guy”) became annoying and insulting. Zach Johnson, his opponent in the singles, is perhaps an inch taller. It's surprising that Hicks didn't make some reference to Leprechaun golf. Hicks was just amazed at how a “little guy” could play golf so well. Duh, Dan. It's an easier game for short people because they're closer to the ball?!

Despite Mr. Hicks, NBC did a pretty good job. Commercial interruption wasn't too bad but it did increase proportionately as the day went on. It seemed that the more matches that were on the golf course, the more commercials we saw. Shouldn't that have been in reverse proportion? As usual the network covering the singles matches wasn't able to keep up with all the matches. We all realize how confusing golf can become when there are twelve important matches occurring simultaneously. Wow, think of the panic in the production truck. That is perhaps why they show more commercials as more matches are on the golf course. If you can't make a decision concerning which match to show next, then just go to commercial.

The singles matches had great drama and some really good golf. Let's face it, the singles competition is really the only socially redeeming factor of the these team matches. We never get to see these guys (or gals) go head to head in battle. It's good stuff.

So, with the conclusion of the Presidents Cup, we hope now that the golf season is over and we can get down to some serious figure skating viewing as NBC would like us to do. There are really no more reasons to have any further PGA Tour competition despite the fact that we were bombarded with the fact that the PGA Tour Fall Series is designed for us, the fan. Yeah, right!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Same-old, same-old for golf in the Olympics

Has anyone else picked up on the strange karma that happened on Friday between the worlds of politics and sports? On the very same day, and likely within moments of occurrence, President Barack Obama was announced as the recipient of the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize and golf received the okay for inclusion in the 2016 Olympics.

The timing of all this is really extraordinary. Pushing the weird meter even further into the red is the fact that all this is coming out of Scandinavia. (Here's a little more fun you can have. Ask any freshman in high school, who at the time of the 2016 Olympics will be about 21 and a possible Olympian, to find Oslo and Copenhagen on the map. If he or she is successful, ask them to find Rio.)

[With proper instruction this young lady could be a future Olympian.]

Comment on the Nobel Peace Prize event is for another time and place, but suffice it to say that it is somewhat curious that President Obama can jet to Denmark and unsuccessfully secure an Olympic bid for Chicago and then one week later be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize emanating from the same corner of the world.

As for golf in the Olympics it will be the same-old, same-old. Medals for golf in male and female events will be determined by a 72-hole stroke play tournament with 60 players in each field. Whoopee! Can't wait for another 72-hole event. There are only two basic methods of competition in golf – stroke play or match play. All but a handful of events worldwide are resolved by stroke play. A few others resort to match play. So, if the Olympics are supposed to be special, why not come up with a special, Olympic-only format to decide the Golf Medal winners?

But, aside from the humdrum, everyday format, the greater problem for Rio is the venue. Bradley Klein of Golfweek gives a good assessment of the dilemma. Golf is not quite as popular in Brazil as in the U.S. I'm sure the Brazilian Olympic organizers knew this was coming, but you can't help but think that they were secretly hoping for team snorkeling to be included instead of golf.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Why we love golf

The reasons that all of us golfers love the game of golf are multitude. If we took a poll of one hundred golfers, we would easily have one hundred reasons. Reasons are one thing, but examples are another.

This short exchange provided by LPGA professional Morgan Pressel via Twitter is priceless. It took place during last week's LPGA event in Alabama. Pressel is a big fan of Twitter and her thoughts are readily available on Twitter.

morganpressel Guy in the elevator "oh you play golf? What's your handicap?" Me "I don't keep a handicap" guy" yeah neither do I, so I know what you mean."

Monday, October 05, 2009

Book Review: The Golf Bag Book

Beginning life in the world of golf is often a daunting task. Not only must the aspiring golfer learn how to hit the ball (and all beginners should learn from a qualified professional, not two buddies), he or she must also ingest a myriad of information concerning the game itself. The game is just not that simple. But what if there was a book that could assist beginners with the basics of the game?

Such is Scott Martin's latest volume The Golf Bag Book published by Burford Books, Inc. The volume is quite appropriately named. It contains a condensation of useful information for the beginner in a size that fits perfectly into a golf bag (unless, of course, you have a small Sunday carry bag). The volume measures out a 5x8 inches, just the size of a large index card. And that is just what it is, 140 pages of heavy duty, yet light-in-weight, basic information for the beginning golfer. It's a ready reference guide to the game of game – short and sweet, down and dirty.

Hardcore golf fans may be familiar with a previous Martin golf writing exploit The Book of Caddyshack. And naturally The Golf Bag Book contains a couple of short chapters on that iconic movie which helps to serve as part of the beginners golf education.

Martin begins the book with instructional information on the actual playing of the game giving short, precise tips that you would (and should) get from a specific lesson. For example, under the chapter on “Practicing.” he emphasizes that attention should be placed on the short game (warming the heart of every instructor who tries to lower the scores of his students). In Part II he focuses on playing with other golfers covering such topics as etiquette, dealing with unsolicited advice, and fun games to play. He wraps up the volume in Part III with notes on famous architects, notable golf writers and well-known courses, basic knowledge that serves to round out the golfer's development.

We highly recommend the The Golf Bag Book to all beginners as part of their initial education to the game and every experienced golfer who wants a little fun and light reading.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

LPGA has a great weekend in store

Questions: Is this week's LPGA event, the Navistar LPGA Classic Presented by Monaco RV, an omen of the future for the struggling organization? Is there a Nostradamus effect in play here? Has the LPGA turned up the excitement a notch now that the PGA Tour season is over?

Answer: Yes, we sure hope so.

This week's event in Prattville, AL has all the makings of an astrological happening. All the stars have aligned for this one tournament. The top ten players are separated by just two strokes. Perhaps not unusual but it's a dynamic mix of international stars, the top players, the hottest players, the unknown players, the old, the young and the very young.

See if you recognize any of these five players at -10: Lorena Ochoa, the #1 female player in the world who has rediscovered her golf game; Laura Davies, a major championship winner who is experienced (a synonym for moving along in years) yet still has great events; Yani Tseng, a 20-year old with a major victory in the 2008 McDonald's LPGA Championship; Giulia Sergas, unknown Italian with ten years of professional experience; and here's the kicker … 14-year old amateur phenom Alexis Thompson who wins just about everything in the amateur ranks and is now picking on the big girls.

One stroke back if the LPGA's hottest player, Sophie Gustafson who won last week's tournament. And five players are two strokes back at -8. This quintet features the only and only Michelle Wie still looking for her first LPGA victory.

So it's about time the LPGA got a break. And here's what we're hoping for a the end of 72 holes – wait for it – a playoff between Michelle Wie and Alexis Thompson.