The University of Texas Board of Regents and legislators who hold the future of Lions Municipal apparently need to be reminded again that a lot of people care about Austin’s gem of a public golf facility.
This Thursday they vote on whether to extend the Brackenridge Tract Agreement deadline for canceling the Muny Golf Course lease. An extension is needed to allow the state of Texas and City of Austin to continue negotiations on Saving Muny and the Brackenridge Tract.
The Save Muni Instagram account offers this handy sample letter with pertinent email addresses.
Former PGA Tour player and broadcaster Phil Blackmar has been watching the assorted technology debates breaking out in response to Brandel Chamblee’s Tweetstorm over the distance explosion and how to address the situation.
Blackmar’s worries less about the pro game and instead wonders how much enjoyment technology has brought to the game, particularly in once-passionate markets now well into golf popularity recessions as we’ve never seen better technology and science applied to the game.
As you can see, handicaps have come down 2 strokes over the past 27 years. Take a minute to consider all the tech advancements I just mentioned plus: better understanding of biomechanics in the swing, launch monitors revealing misunderstood impact relationships and launch monitors providing invaluable feedback. Then, add better agronomy, workout specialists, mental gurus, short game experts and finally the countless articles, books and videos detailing all sorts of methods and philosophies. Add all that up and ask yourself: is a two stroke gain over 27 years significant? Is shooting 86 rather than 88 that much more fun? I don’t think so either.
I think everyone was a bit shocked by Rory McIlroy’s suggestion he’s pondering an all-PGA Tour schedule in his 2019 future to play against better competition, particularly given how few true European Tour events he plays and that he has one win on the that tour in the last three years.
Now, saying you want to spend more time in the U.S. because you have a nice home here, the weather is better and your wife is from here would have have sufficed. But suggesting the competition element is behind your thinking when Europe just dominated the Ryder Cup and your lone win since 2016 came in the Irish Open, seems like a shot at the European Tour more than it’s a compliment to the PGA Tour.
Anyway, from Ewan Murray’sGuardian story from the season-ending Dubai event:
“I am starting my year off in the States and that will be the big focus of mine up until the end of August and then we will assess from there,” he said. “I’ve got a couple of ‘pure’ European Tour events on my schedule up until the end of August. I guess my thing is that I want to play against the strongest fields week-in and week-out and for the most part of the season that is in America.
“If I want to continue to contend in the majors and to continue my journey back towards the top of the game, then that’s what I want to do.”
It's not a vast leap of the imagination to suspect the Saudis are using their oil wealth to lure sport into something of a devil's pact, to present a more acceptable persona to cover up human rights abuses.
But are we in the Western world really in a position to take the high ground and dictate where sports events should be staged?
While Lawrenson correctly notes that the Western world has its violence issues, none of them were potentially endorsed or ordered by the person described by the tour as having visited London “to confirm the full-field event that will play a key part in the European Tour’s early-season Desert Swing in 2019.”
Lee Westwood and longtime looper Billy Foster have officially split, with the move actually happening before the former World No. 1 captured the Nedbank accompanied by his girlfriend, Helen Storey.
The split could have reverberations across the bib-wearing circuit when coupled with Matt Kuchar’s win the same week as Westwood while using a local caddy. In Westwood’s case, it was not love that drove him to make the move, but a desire to have a true luggage handler who freed him up to do his yardages and thinking. His best finishes in 2018 all came with either his son or girlfriend toting the bag.
“Lee wanted to work differently to everything we had ever done, which basically meant me just carrying the bag,” Foster said. “I struggled to adapt to that situation as a caddie, and it created a bit of an uncomfortable atmosphere on the course.
“Ultimately it was no good for Lee and not fair on me either. So unfortunately the partnership had run its course and we both knew that. Times change. It has been a great 10 years of my life with Lee and we had many special times and successes together.”
New PGA of America president Suzy Whaley has already been lauded for breaking barriers everywhere you read pure golf fluff. She’s growing the game, revealing a desire to make golf more accessible to more people and some other stuff about a funnel.
I get it. The job is ceremonial, exposes you to some of the game’s most wanton bores, and most people won’t mind if the PGA President gives a few paid talks. Or, jack up that rate for a lesson and maybe get a pay raise at the job, assuming you have one (Whaley’s predecessor, uh, gave up his early into his term, another first for the PGA).
But on business day one announcing a $1899 junket through a PR firm and resort? Guess Whaley has to strike while the barrier-breaking proclamations are hot.
For Immediate Release:
Casa de Campo Announces ‘Women’s Getaway with Suzy Whaley’
Renowned Master PGA Professional to Host Four-Day, Three-Night December Event
Whaley, recently elected as the first woman President of the PGA of America, is recognized as one of the country’s top instructors. She was an LPGA Tour member in 1990 and 1993. Most notably, she qualified for and took part in the 2003 Greater Hartford Open, becoming the first woman since Babe Zaharias in 1945 to qualify for a PGA TOUR event. She is the PGA Director of Instruction at Suzy Whaley Golf in Cromwell, Conn.
The four-day / three-night stay-and-play is all-inclusive and starts at $1,899 per person (double occupancy). The many highlights include unlimited green fees on all three of the resort’s classic Pete Dye-designed courses and personal instruction by Whaley for the attendees at the resort’s new state-of-the-art, PGA Tour-quality Golf Learning Center highlighted by Trackman and BODITRAK technology.
Also featured are three nights’ Elite Room accommodations (with one cart golf per room); breakfast, lunch and dinner in all resort restaurants (SBG and Minitas Beach Club & Restaurant excluded); unlimited drinks in all hotel bars, restaurants and Oasis bar as well as beverage carts out on the courses; one massage at the Casa de Campo Spa; souvenirs; and complimentary transfers from La Romana, Santo Domingo or Punta Cana airports.
Taxes and service charges are additionally included. For more information, call 809.523.8115 or email email@example.com.
“When I turned 50 two years ago, my husband surprised me with a trip to Casa de Campo and had our two daughters and a number of my friends meet us down there for one of the great vacations of my life,” says Whaley. “The property is incredible, the golf is outstanding, the setting is breathtaking, and the service is impeccable.”
‘It’s a true honor for us to partner with Suzy,” says Jason Kycek, Casa de Campo’s senior vice president of sales and marketing. “We invite women to join Suzy and us for this wonderful event and discover first-hand why we’re one of the premier golf resorts in the world.”
Golfweek’s Eamon Lynchreports on the red-hot rumor mill that had players gossiping in recent weeks about a positive test result at the Ryder Cup. Lynch explains on the surprise (Bonjour!) test administered at the team hotels by France’s AFLD, still smarting from the Tour de France issues over the years.
Good news, everyone passed!
“All the results are in and there were no positive tests,” said Maggie Durand, a spokeswoman for the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), to which the French AFLD affiliate reported its findings. When asked about the method of testing, WADA confirmed it was urinalysis. And about the players tested?
In the event of a negative test, public disclosure is up to the athlete, WADA echoed.
But drug testing is golf’s third rail that no one wants to touch. That was apparent when I asked managers for every Ryder Cupper if their man had been tested. Even a clean slate of negative results didn’t encourage transparency among the tested.
But it was interesting to see who responded to Lynch about even being tested at all.
In the end, managers for just four of the 24 Ryder Cup players were willing to directly address the events of that Tuesday evening in Paris. Representatives for Tommy Fleetwood and Thorbjorn Olesen said that neither had been asked for a sample. Agents for Rory McIlroy and Ian Poulter confirmed they were among the eight men tested.
It was a big weekend for 2018 Ryder Cup VC’s who put away their driving gloves and rode the classic Cup boost to victories. I’m not sure which is more meaningful—Lee Westwood at the Nedbank or Matt Kuchar at Mayakoba—both both pulled off their feats without full-time pro jocks.
Besides the obvious effort by Newcastle Investments to cover its bets, some of the quotes in Carter’s story suggest very little bullishness on the future of golf compared to entertainment-driven ranges. While American Golf has been downsized, spliced and diced from its former standing as the world’s largest course operator, the new direction is still an eye-opener.
Now, I’ve scanned Google News for players mentions of accruing FedExCup points as their motivation to play this fall and haven’t found one yet. Still, Commissioner Jay Monahan says the appearances by some big names this fall is all about FedExCup points positioning. From Rex Hoggard’sGolfChannel.com story:
“You are seeing right now at the first part of the season more top players playing and trying to get themselves in position as we flip the switch and get into the new year,” Monahan told GolfChannel.com. “It’s important not to be too far behind and to be in a solid position for the FedExCup.”
It’s important, but not nearly as important as getting into majors or winning them.
“Given where we are now with the significance of the FedExCup and now the Wyndham Rewards Top 10 and a shorter season with fewer at-bats in the playoffs, the significance of these fall events has grown. The support they get from the markets they play in and the sponsors has grown and they are as critical a part of the season as any,” Monahan said.
Hard sell alert!
Golf is still about the majors and for viewers, sponsors and players, January-July. So while the Wyndham Rewards could be the real reason Jordan Spieth is playing in Mexico this week, they likely are not given that he heard from his buddies what a great event the Mayakoba Classic is (as the story notes).
There is one disconcerting takeaway from Hoggard’s story: increased fall starts may be a response to the crowded 2019 schedule and the expected need to drop starts to deal with a compacted schedule.
Monahan concedes that the flow of the new schedule will likely create an extended learning curve for players who must now find places to take breaks in order to play their best when it matters the most at the majors. One of the likely ways players will do that is to add to their fall schedules.
So stars may subtract a stop or two during the bread and butter portion of the season when the most eyeballs are on the sport. Something to remember when the old Bob Hope Classic can’t get a sponsor or events like Bay Hill struggle to draw a star-studded field.
To put it another way, selling FedExCup sounds more important to the PGA Tour than the individual tournaments doing the heavy lifting and charitable contributions. Some events will benefit from the schedule change and shifting dynamics, but by touting the potential trimming of field quality in the prime winter/spring season to prop up the fall, the tour risks chipping away at the “product” presented when the most eyeballs are watching: the West Coast and FloridaSwings.
A much deserved narrative is forming as Tiger Woods reportedly joins Roger Federer in passing on a huge Saudi Arabia appearance fee, reports the Telegraph’sJames Corrigan. The inaugural European Tour event, already on the ropes even before Jamal Khashoggi’s murder, is to be played Jan 31-February 3rd, the week after the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines.
Yet it is understood he deemed Saudi Arabia to be an excursion too far - even for at least £2.5m - an amount that apparently dwarfs anything he has received before for an official overseas tournament.
By then the Kingdom had already signed up Dustin Johnson, Patrick Reed and Paul Casey to play in the government-sponsored event, which has become even more controversial since last month's pre-meditated killing of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi Arabia Embassy in Istanbul.
I’m less excited about predictive data stuff since I actually know that golf is totally unpredictable, but also because the limited galleries and two-player format will incorporate live drones into the visuals. Woohoo! Finally! (Fox tried a few years ago at Chambers Bay but the technology has improved.)
As for the hole-by-hole lines and gaming elements, those are only as fun as the cleverness of the “props”—will Tiger twirl the club after his drive—and the ability to join to contribute to the MGM bottom line.
The side challenges component will all come down to the players and what they are able to pull off on the spot, but certainly seem interesting.
For Immediate Release:
Turner Sports’ Presentation of Capital One’s The Match: Tiger vs. Phil
PPV Event – Friday, Nov. 23, at 3 p.m. ET – to Incorporate First-of-its-Kind Innovations for Live Golf
PPV Broadcast to Include First-Ever Use of Predictive Data for Each Hole; In Addition to Proprietary Data Stream Provided by MGM Resorts Race & Sports Books
Live Drone Coverage Presented by AT&T & Unprecedented Access to Woods & Mickelson Among Innovative Technologies Bringing Viewers Inside the High-Stakes $9 Million Match Play Competition
Turner Sports’ exclusive coverage of Capital One’s The Match: Tiger vs. Phil, the blockbuster pay-per-view event featuring the iconic Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson, will incorporate a number of innovative concepts into the live golf presentation including first-of-its-kind integrations centered on predictive data. The match will take place Friday, Nov. 23, at Noon PT / 3 p.m. ET with a suggested retail price of $19.99.
The broadcast will include real-time, hole-by-hole statistics that will be displayed on screen to forecast the probability of certain outcomes during the match. The data is based on a model and algorithm that combines ShotLink Intelligence with characteristics of Shadow Creek to calculate the likelihood of various scenarios to occur. Separately, after a hole has concluded, the broadcast will integrate a proprietary data stream provided by the MGM Resorts Race & Sports Books – in association with the MGM/GVC Interactive Gaming Joint Venture – to deliver odds, moneyline and other information associated with the golfers’ performance.
Both Woods and Mickelson will selectively make side challenges against one another during the live competition. For instance, Woods or Mickelson could raise the stakes by challenging the other to get closest-to-the-pin; whether one of them can make a crucial putt from 10-feet away; the chances of getting “up-and-down” from a certain location on the course or similar competition during a hole as they play their match, with money being donated to the winning golfer’s charity of choice.
Live PPV coverage will also integrate enhancements that will provide fans with unprecedented access to Woods, Mickelson and Shadow Creek including:
Woods and Mickelson, along with their caddies, mic’d throughout the entire event, to capture the strategy and competitive banter that takes place during the winner-take-all $9 million match play competition;
Live state-of-the-art drone coverage – “Drone View by AT&T” – delivering camera angles that have never been seen before for a live golf event;
Data elements from Toptracer, presented by Capital One, that will display real-time trajectories and flight path for each shot;
The use of Virtual Eye real-time golf animations;
A variety of super slo-mo cameras to provide more defined coverage of specialty shots on the course.
As previously announced, Capital One’s The Match: Tiger vs. Phil will be available on PPV through Turner’s B/R Live (available now for purchase), AT&T’s DIRECTV and AT&T U-verse. The PPV event will be distributed to other cable, satellite and telco operators including Comcast, Charter, Cox, Verizon and Altice in the U.S. and Rogers, Shaw and Bell in Canada through In Demand and Vubiquity (an Amdocs Company). AT&T is the official 4K sponsor of The Match, which will also be broadcast in 4K High Dynamic Range (HDR) on DIRECTV channel 106 for $29.99*. Turner International will facilitate the distribution of live PPV access outside the U.S. and Canada.
In addition to live pay-per-view event coverage, accompanying content will be distributed across wide-ranging Turner, WarnerMedia and AT&T platforms including:
HBO Sports and its groundbreaking 18-time Sports Emmy ® Award-winning 24/7 reality franchise will capture all the excitement leading up to the match when it airs Tuesday, Nov. 13, at 10 p.m.;
Bleacher Report and its wildly-popular House of Highlights, which recently surpassed 10 million followers on Instagram, will offer comprehensive highlights and behind-the-scenes content;
Turner’s TNT will also televise programming with select content from the event a week following the live competition.
The media rights agreement with Turner was completed in partnership between CAA Sports, Excel Sports Management and Lagardère Sports. Excel and Lagardère Sports, who represent Woods and Mickelson respectively, are also the event organizers for The Match.
There is also a new trailer featuring people when their forces were higher, more nasal infused and so, so young:
The Strip’s historic Desert Inn course, rebuilt by Steve Wynn and then closed, is going to get new life after Wynn Resorts decided to abandon an ambitious expansion project. Oh, and they found out golfers were taking their money elsewhere.
Company executives discovered that removing the golf course resulted in some loyal customers going elsewhere. Maddox estimated the company lost $10 million to $15 million of domestic casino business from people coming in for golf trips who decided to go elsewhere.
It’s always strange to see a player with all cylinders firing making a big equipment move. But that’s what Justin Rosehas planned at years end, reports Golf’s Jonathan Wall, who says if Rose regains No. 1 status he’ll be the first top players since Rory McIlroy in 2013 to make such a move.
Two elements of Wall’s reporting are of interest, starting with Taylor Made’s apparently focus on fewer players under new owner KPS Capital Partners.
Assuming Rose is no longer in the picture, TaylorMade’s Tour staff for 2019 would consist of Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm, Jason Day and Tiger Woods, who are all currently ranked inside the top 13 in the Official World Golf Ranking.
Then there is Honma, known as a maker of high-end and high-priced equipment now run by former Taylor Made CEO Mark King. It sounds like Rose has wisely reserved the right to not jump into their unproven-at-the-highest-level woods.
It’s been reported that Rose’s deal with Honma would require him to play the brand’s irons and wedges but allow him to continue using TaylorMade woods. It’s unclear if he’d continue using a TaylorMade golf ball or switch to a Honma model.
That’s the question Alex Miceli asks at MorningRead.com on the eve ofSuzy Whaley’s expected election to the PGA of America Presidency. She will be the organization’s first female president. Yet at the PGA’s annual meeting in Palm Springs, media has been denied access despite requests to attend.
Miceli shares the PGA’s statement explaining why they are not welcoming coverage and then asks:
The issue was the same for those members as it is today: transparency.
Being transparent and being well-informed work in tandem. Open access to information allows voters, shareholders or members the best opportunity to make educated decisions.
The organization has had a dreadful year on the governance front, with current president Paul Levy arrested for driving under the influence and the organization resisting membership requests for transparency on Levy’s status.
Levy continues to helm PGA events to the very end according to the organization’s Facebook page.
Let’s be clear: most of Cameron Champ’s unprecedented driving distances that have led to a quick rise come from technique, strength and modern equipment.
Still, given that the USGA and R&A once loathed the idea of a player picking up an advantage through a simple equipment change, Champ and PING’s tour team offer another reminder at how sophisticated club fitting has gotten for even a player seemingly maxed out distance-wise.
On Monday before the Shiners Hospitals for Children Open, Pena built Champ a new gamer driver using the same components as in the driver that broke. However, Champ said he wanted to make the same swing but launch the ball slightly higher. To do that, Pena would need to add loft, which would also increase spin and reduce distance. Instead, Pena made some drivers with counterbalanced shafts that allowed him to make Champ a head with a heaver back weight. That increased the dynamic loft at impact.
Champ’s typical drive had been launching at 7 degrees with about 2,700 rpm of backspin, creating a carry distance of about 325 yards. Using the new shaft in his G400 Max, a prototype Accra TZT 265 M5, he started hitting the ball even farther.
“The first he hit launched at 9 degrees, carried 15 yards farther and the ball speed was almost 198 mph,” Pena said, laughing. “We looked at each other and said to ourselves, ‘What the heck did we just do?’”
Champ led the field with a 353.2 yard average on the measuring holes.
Yes, he got longer after losing his gamer and getting fit for a new one.
G.C. Digitalreports on the fine calculations byGolf Channel’s Alan Robison suggesting Brooks Koepka will again take the World No. 1 mantle from Justin Rose, just days after Rose reclaimed the throne (and hopefully assorted bonuses).
The 38-year-old Englishman returned to No. 1 in the world – a position he first assumed at the BMW Championship in early September – after his playoff victory Sunday at the Turkish Airlines Open. That moved him just .05 points clear of Koepka.
Koepka’s divisor dropped from 45 to 44 in the two-year OWGR calendar, resulting in his average points rising.
After this week, Koepka will have 10.32 average points to Rose's 10.16.
Might this be a good time to agree to ignoring World No. 1 status for a while? When divisors dictate positioning to this supposedly meaningful throne even as the players in question are sitting at home seems like a solid reason to focus on more important areas?
David Beckham wants a mall, hotel and 25,000 soccer stadium in Miami and Melreese GC is the unfortunate location he’s chosen. The City is on board and with the passage of a referendum can grant approval without the usual bidding process.
If he doesn’t win the Schwab Cup Championship in Phoenix this week, Scott Parelwill need some help fromBernhard Langer and others to claim the $1 million prize. Still it’s been a while since the PGA Tour Champions has seen someone who played so little PGA Tour golf (five starts at age 38) turn into a leader money winner and potential Schwab Cup champ.
Parel didn’t even join the paid ranks until he was 31 years old, after a decade in the IT industry. He made just five career starts on the PGA Tour, and it wasn’t until 2003, when he was 38, that he secured Web.com Tour status. He made 18 starts that year and earned $3,344. His lone win came in 2013. By then he was 48 and turning his attention to the over-50s circuit.
With no playing privileges, Parel had to rely on Monday qualifiers, a system that offers odds only slightly better than a Mega Millions lottery drawing. He made it through eight times that first season but remained realistic.
While his eagle putt from off the 16th green created the buzz (above), Bryson DeChambeau’s fifth PGA Tour win and fourth in the last five months was marked by an incredible ballstriking performance. Imagine how good he’ll be with a flagstick in the hole to help him make more putts.
From the ShotLink crew:
It’s pretty unusual to see a putting performance that mediocre win a PGA Tour event.
Also note in his five wins how he’s improved in ballstriking versus the field in each victory: