Thursday, August 27, 2009

(Barclays) Liberty National and the FedEx

Am I a fan of the FedEx Cup? Naw, I think it's silly because it's not a real playoff. In a real playoff everyone starts anew, that's the whole point. Until they fix that, it's going to be second rate. I also don't think that golf lends itself to "Playoffs" after a "Season" very well. That said, we have one of the more interesting experiments in golf to watch on the television this week. I'll tip my hand and say I really really liked and even more respected this golf course. These who know me will now be a little puzzled.

What's must see Golf on TV is The Golf Course. It is spectacular and will give the pros fits. They won't know what to think. American Professionals often say that they most respect water as the penalty is so exact - do or die. I hope that they show on TV enough of the fellows not on their game this week.
Par 3 Fourth

Liberty National and Bayonne Golf Club have come into being at more or less the same time. Bayonne has garnered comments such as completely artificial and completely engaging. A bit of Ireland in New Jersey. A great links-style course, America's best Faux Links. Stuff like that. Liberty National has been fairly summarily dismissed by the so-called cognoscenti, (the gca Kool-Aiders) and many raters. I have to say that I have played both and gave each a thorough going over in the architectural analysis department. Liberty National was built to be hard, very hard. It truly was built to test the world's most skilled professional players like no other course. Paul Firestone of Reebok spent maybe $165 Million on this course, perhaps the most expensive course when it was finished. I played it with a very veteran GolfWeek Rater with over a thousand courses under his belt and my wife on a very hot, very steamy day at 6500 yards and I want no part of it at 7400 yards as it was tough enough for me at 6500. It is indeed very hard and penal but it is very interesting.
Tee shot on five from start of hazard

green complex

Just to tell a little more than I usually do, our professional host asked the usual "How did you like the course"? And I very directly said "I liked it a lot, I saw what they were trying to do, they did it well and it's not a course I would want to play every day". The greens are very demanding and it is perhaps as demanding a driving golf course as you will play. Being on a windy site, the narrowed most preferred landing areas are going to be very challenging to hit. The green complexes are tough as nails and will interest you day in and day out. There is a moderate amount of water in play, way to much for the less or unskilled golfer playing the wrong tees. He told me I was the first rater to ever discover that -what the mission actually was. I told him and I meant it that it would be a great and very special place to watch the professionals try to deal with adversity, no one is going to tear this place up unless it's perfectly calm and the Hudson River will have something to say about that.

Tom Kite had a lot to say about how the green complexes were constructed - they are very contoured, varied in size (some very well) and a lot of short grass protects them. They are too hard for the average golfer at speed, he will be talking to himself. It is not a course for them.

I don't really expect a lot here to say that they think it's cool, but even though at first glance this course resembles a Florida Course, it is unlike any Florida Course. Anyone dismissing the course as that does not know architecture a whit, has an agenda or has not really looked at this golf course. It is a very good golf course, a better golf course of the kind they were shooting for by several orders of magnitude than what they did at Bayonne trying for a Faux Links (and failing in my opinion).

Liberty's other weakness is that three parcels were used and they don't join seamlessly. One parcel allowed this hole (14), a signature if you will, I have a pano to put in later, tune back.

Tune in on TV, my photos and some more comments will be coming later.

Monday, August 24, 2009

The Solheim Cup and Sex Selling Golf

Well, it was closer than the final score and Michelle Wie bloomed, I'd call that a complete and total success. More about Ms. Wie later, but I must say that I have always said that she should pave her own way and she had the heavy equipment out this past weekend. I truly am happy for her. She is finally in a circumstance to which she placed herself and earned everything that is now coming to fruition - just by getting that little LPGA card and playing her butt off. She has always had a beautiful, efficient swing, but now she is learning to play competitive golf. Good for all of us, too.

But first: Someone somewhere I discuss all matters golf raised the question "Does The LPGA even NEED Sex Appeal?"

I'll have to think about it some more because I watch a lot of women's golf, so it's very natural for me to look at women's golf in normal light. But off the tip of my pointy, as regards sex appeal, I find that if one wants to look at nice looking girls and women, there is someone for everyone's tastes. I think there are all kinds of really good looking women: blond, brunette, redhead, Asian, Nordic, Latina, brutish, hellaciously strong women (Well, maybe that makes Nordic redundant), feminine aquiline wisps, straight, gay, whatever, just like society they are there. There are some women that quite frankly don't know how to dress and some just like the men that are just unattractive human beings because that is how the population divvies up and like it or not dressing well and being or notbeing attractive makes first and lasting impressions.

Much of the LPGA play is interesting as they play interesting courses and/or there is good competition, their schedule is so pared down right now in that regard it might be helpful for them. Some of the courses and sometimes the level of competition is dreadful. (Same for the men, too.) I think from a golf standpoint, most men can learn more from watching women players because seriously, they are more efficient in their swings and quite frankly not too many men are really stronger than Michelle Wie, Suzanne Petterson and Sophie Gustafson! You can really learn a thing or two, in fact watching Kristie Kerr in person at this year's Open, I learned a couple of things I incorporated into my game and my competition scores have been a couple of shots better lately.

That said, even attending in person several days, the USGA Women's Open was on a too-hard-for-the-women course which led to a last human standing sort of competition which to me is just awful for any sort of golf competition.

As best I can tell from a women's standpoint the women who play golf need to watch the women more, quite honestly. Yes, THEY too, not just male viewers, need to watch more. I think that quality fashion (not the borderline trashy look a Natilie Gulbis and only 1:10,000 ladies can pull off) becomes a part of the Ladies Tour, more women's apparel companies advertise on the telly, I think it will help. Women golfers really care about how they look, so judging from that, why not sex sells?

Monday, August 17, 2009

2009 PGA Championship and Perspective on Men's Majors

I watched the final round of the 2009 PGA, my least favorite major. I can tell you it was great for golf. Golf for us, not for the pampered professionals. Part of that is that golf can come back to the rank and file golfer around whom the game is truly built, not the professional circus that is the men's US PGA Tour which is irrelevant to nearly all of us. That is an entertainment venue, a product if you will - one that harms the game we love much more than it helps it. The 2009 PGA Championship, the "Major" that is least relevant, bit back at professional golf and Tiger's mystique is broken. I have long been of the opinion that Tiger Woods is bad for golf and especially the industry of Tiger Woods the product.

As for the majors, I've written about them before, they've become a bit too Americo-centric, I think. Now that they're over:

I have long wanted to see the PGA dumped for the Australian Open championship as the fourth Major. The cash-cow Championship Tour has FIVE, so there's no reason to have four (One year Tiger'd liked to have had only three, I suppose). There could be three, four, five, six? World Championships? Tim Finchem's baby lifted from Greg Norman? Does anyone except the fans screaming for pitch outs to "go in the hole?" What has Tiger wrought with all the "sports fans" now into golf? Milk 'em, that's what Tim said.

I mean now seriously, who here really likes to play golf in the USA in August? 80% of the time no one remembers who won the damned thing because, I don't know - we're all off at the beach to finish the summer? This year we should, but will it be because Tiger lost? Personally I think Y.E. won and Tiger lost.

Why should three majors be played in the USA? If not the OZ Open, a good rotating Euro Event? A Seve Invitational a la Bobby Jones Masters?? I say: Let's drop the US PGA and add OZ. There should never, ever be any consideration that the Players should be the Fifth or Tenth Major, it's as trumped-up as a sales party. Deanne Beman's baby as I remember.

Let's consider them:

Masters -sure, nice that it's spring, but it's bad for Supers and members expectations at ramk and file courses. Gold depends more on the rank and file player far more than the professional. All the sucking up around ANGC with its Apartheid history, I don't really know how they've gotten the pass that they have. Honestly, I get really really tired of seeing the same golf course year in and year out. but ... Worth Keeping

USGA Open - It used to be a great tournament now it's a joke with either Tiger or a one-off winning, with the uni-dimensional sets-up. The attempts at mixing it up by making driveable, ill-designed for the purpose holes is a very small start, so maybe it will revive. Honestly, with the evolution of the modern game, it needs to start foing only to modern courses. Worth Keeping, but needs serious work as it has become a chore to watch.

THE Open Championship - worth keeping, nothing to say about why. If you need help understanding why and you have read to this point, please e-mail me.

US PGA - Somebody defend it as amajor, I got nothin'. I'll say lose it.

Majors are all to a degree artificial. My thought is that they ought to represent the world of golf. Therefore the Opens remain.

Certainly, I expect no one to change his opinion, but I personally feel strongly about links, parkland, sandbelt all being varied tests. In fact the Oz open would add a couch (Bermuda) test to the majors as well giving tremendous diversity. I certainly hope that none of the Tiger supporters who think Tiger lost because of budding poa annua greens. Sorry, can't buy that.

Some support the PGA Championship because it might be considered the major for club professionals. Never forget that the PGA Championship is short for The PGA Championship of AMERICA so why just America? One minor bit about the PGA of AMERICA professionals qualifying - all they have to do is beat each other and there are guaranteed spots a la Michelle Wie's failed attempts to qualify for the men's events. Pretty tainted, not exactly like qualifying for either Open. So
-It's only American PGA - what about the rest of the world?
-20 Club Pros - about as many Amateurs make the USGA Open Cut, I'm a bit disturbed by the American Bias

I am also concerned about the overall American bias for professional golf in general. After all America created excluding clubs as the norm, raised the cost to keep the riff-raff out, raised to an unattainable level agronomic expectations, let's not even start on slow play. An Asian Major Championship has been a long time coming.

CBS told us this last week that 97 Of the top 100 world ranking was in the field. What about the 20 spots the club pros took from the next 30 on the list who might have wanted to play? Certainly, club pros like Albus, for example have in the past played for a fair amount of their own money fleecing some wealthy bored members, good on 'em. If 2 of the 20 club pros were in the top 25 or better yet top 10-15 and *every year*, then it would be a sustainable argument to keep them. As it is, it's just a payday for a few who play their best, which statistics will tell us will happen. Statistical analysis will also tell us that 20 of the top 100 in the world will make fools of themselves and make way for the club pros, yet all 20 don't make it to the position where they can play the weekend. Many club pros were once tour pros or tried to be and washed out. Inclusion of them is an anachronism from the days that even Hogan and Nelson had to hold a club job to make ends meet. Thank Palmer for putting an end to that.

I really love golf, ever since being introduced to it when Arnold Palmer was Tiger Woods. Classic architectural features, travel, the enjoyment of actually playing, (forget practice!) these are wonderful aspects that professionals competing have no effect on whatsoever. Don't forget Gin & Tonic, either and Whisky for the cold days, too.

I love the game of golf but professional golf is becoming a very small, further diminishing part of it for me.

Tournament Golf

Coming to a close, a few things to say and address especially slooooooooooow play.

Except for a smattering of little things later, the big events mostly in August are complete. Not exactly a huge Tom Fazio fan when it comes to golf design, I am not one to throw out the baby with the bathwater. USGA Senior Amateur qualifying for the GAP took place at Galloway National yesterday with a field of close to 90. One fellow, a reinstated virgin, errrrr professional/amateur/whatever drove up to New Jersey seven hours from home in Pinehurst to try to qualify on a "tough golf course" and got one at Galloway. Spike Smith's 68 stunned everyone as a few good players withdrew and some had to be satisfied with scores going north of 80. None of our re-instated virgins broke 75 on perhaps Tom Fazio's best collection of holes - the routing is a little weak to give it unfettered praise as the total walk is almost 7.5 miles. I carted it for a toney-munt, there's a limit to my endurance anymore that I can't increase. The course has greens sure to satisfy any critic who doesn't think anyone not named Doak, Hanse or Coore can build great modern greens.

Here's some photos, not from yesterday, be sure to click to enlarge.

Galloway 1

Galloway 2

Galloway 5

Galloway 9

Galloway 10

The Brutal 13th

14 and the bunker I didn't get up and down from

16 - Where some say the fairway is shaped like New Jersey

17 - yes, it's as long as it looks, but site of my lonely birdie yesterday playing 240+

Kudos to Kirby Martin for a super set of pins including the generous 3rd, 17th and 18th (didn't factor in my glorious 8) the sucker pin on two on which I missed my 12-footer, and the very devilish 1, 5, 9, 10!, 12 and 14 . Six was just sublime - middle of middle on a big so-called pimple, just lovely. It was hard, fair and demanding, set up a couple of hundred yards more than a typical GAP Senior. I can't say enough about what a class act the GAP is.

Fellow Gator Head of Golf at Galloway Mike Killian was a great host being there at the club all day overseeing the event, not something all do. Galloway is a very special club in a number of ways and their boss is a great part of the reason why golf is king at Galloway, NJ.

more still coming...

Notice the lovely 8 (my ninth)

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Even Rees Gets Some Props

I just played the Pennsylvania Senior Open at Huntsville in Shavertown, PA (no it's not near Beavertown). hahaha Now get your mind out of the gutter!
My total plays now at about 10, so I think I met the C.B. familiarity test.

Tournament played at a wet 6650 or so. Casually I play it at 6900, not much difference between those tees for me. 7200 is beastly, be very talented or leave your ego at home.

When Rees builds a de novo course you know what you are going to get and it's not generally easy. Play the wrong tees for your skill set and your heinie will be handed to you in a bloody bag. Guaranteed.

Plenty of penal - 3 mental mistakes/bad shots = 3 triples in two days, otherwise I think I was 4-over.
Greens are easy to read, fair but tough, no three putts in 36 holes.
Generous driving for the most part, much more interesting than re-dos like Torrey and Bethpage for USGA.
Missed greens require real skill, I heard this from tons of competitors, I didn't have this problem but I'm told my scrambling is generally pretty good.


Two split fairway holes were either not good options or did not give anywhere near a good reward for taking the first chance.

Visually attractive
cart routed, but walkable - hardly for the 55+ crowd!
About six holes through marshy land that could have been better done and led to scores as high as 11. Six set up high and you must be able to play in the wind! Six pretty average modern setting. They do not follow six-six-six in order.

Whether you like his aesthetics and principles or not his de novo courses can be very good. Best I've played Old Kiinderhook (NY) - really good!, Huntsville (PA), Ocean Forest (GA) both very good. Golf at the Bridge what a waste of a property. others ...

Well, the first day of teh tournament I did my best to inform a co-competitor that his club was not legal for play. He mentioned that he had a cracked face on his driver (It was clearly visible and partly depressed) and he thought it was somehow OK to start his round that way. I told him that I really thought it wasn't and told him it was not "simple design" nor likely exhibited its original COR assumed to be conforming. Anyway, I didn't want to be a thingey and ruin his day nor make a scene so I didn't ask for a ruling and since I forgot to do so until the following morning his card was in. Before round two I discussed it with some officials who I knew and later when I teed off that second afternoon, one of the officials who was running the tee where I started my "stipulated round" said to me "That guy had a new driver today, he was in my first group". I sort of chuckled.

I had told the player during the round that he really had to get another driver and stop using the one he had or ask an official. I did not follow up during or after the round.

Facts of note:

We don't quite fill the field for our state amateur and true chances to win are limited to about 10 players at most out of the 130 or so we got this year in the seniors. It is always tons of fun, we play 36 holes, get a practice round and a player's dinner after round one.

Our state association is a great organization and tournaments are really fun. They are always on very good courses, (certainly no clunkers), nearly all solid and private and pretty much first tier which is pretty darned good in our state. However, the rules weren't strictly enforced as the official in question knew the infraction and also knew from my questions that a definitive answer had been decided on. This was a state championship. So ...


Are you OK with this?

Should I have "been a prick"?

I'm glad I wasn't but I know it was wrong and the officials also basically looked the other way. I would never have done the same had it been a professional in question, say a state open with prize money. But more of a "no harm, no foul" approach was taken.

This is a real dichotomy for me as I learned to follow the rules after playing a few years. (Didn't start that was as I never read the rules until playing about 5 years (started at age 11). I respect them now to the letter as much as I can but try not to be a thingey in casual golf.

This fellow was a real nice guy, wasn't in contention and I didn't fuss. On one hand I'm glad the guy had a lot of fun as it was his first tournament, but on the other hand it bugs the crap out of me and I'm sure I technically did not do the correct thing. If I hadn't liked the guy, I might have had no problem being a jerk. (blush)

I know what the correct thing to do was but what might you have done?

Anyway, equal 39th was the best I could do with the three sevens. scores
At least I have decent company if you cross-referenc scores
hole-by-hole statistics

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Fun Website Coming

Look for:

For several years I have owned this domain that I have to date never developed. My purchasing it had grown out my observation that some Golf Architecture Cognoscenti are focused on bunker appearance to an inappropriate degree. The measure of importance placed upon bunker appearance to these connoisseurs is such that a course of less merit with a certain look of bunkers will be held in much higher esteem than one that has great strategic merit but less artsy bunkers. If bunkers are so compelling to force the viewer to not rcognize other merit or lack of then it's time to do something about it.

In response to the disproportionate attention given this artistic feature I was once led me to say:

"If Bunker appearance is all that really matters than the Old Course must be crap". Consider that to be the "Golf is somewhere between a religion and a disease" of

So send me your favorite bunkers at so I can save them, I don't use that e-mail much so don't send important information there, use the one linked to this blog.

I think the time has come. But knowing me, don't hold your breath just yet.