I’m a big believer in the
rules of golf and the honor of golfers, but what happenedto Brian
Davis on the first playoff hole against Jim Furyk in the Verizon
Heritage leaves me shaking my head.
If you haven’t yet seen the videotape, in his quest
to claim the winner’s check and that hideous plaid jacket, Davis left his approach into the 18th at Harbour Town Golf Links short and left
of the green, in the waste area hazard.
Considering how nasty that
waste area can be, Davis caught a
break.He had a little flip wedge
shot up and out of the sand and weeds; saving par was definitely not out of the
That didn’t happen, however,
because Davis, an Englishman looking
for his first victory on the PGA Tour,
called a two-shot penalty on himself for grounding his club in the hazard.Game over.
As Davis told the rules
official, he wasn’t positive he deserved the penalty.Out of the corner of his eye, he thought he might have seen a
piece of grass or straw move slightly as he drew back his club to begin his backspin.
the rules official reviewed the videotape and, sure enough, a piece of grass
that was nestled just behind the ball did move slightly on his backswing.If that piece of grass had been growing
out of the ground, no problem, no penalty.But because it was loose, it was technically a "loose impediment," meaning Davis had a problem under the unforgiving
rules of golf.
As much as Furyk wanted the win, he felt awful for
Davis, and he said so.Today, Davis is being hailed for his honesty and integrity, as he should
Me, I realize the rules of
golf see the world only in black and white, no shades of gray.You broke the rule or you didn’t, regardless
of whether you meant to or not.No
excuses about the "rub of the green," the unwanted intervention of Mother
Nature or extenuating circumstances.
I don’t know, it just seems
heartless and unfair to me.And I
sure hate to see such a minor infraction determine the finish of a golf
I also agree with you, Joe. Itís not like Brian Davis tried to touch the twig, or like it had any affect whatsoever on the outcome of the shot.
Of course, this rule is no dumber than that rule that penalizes a player when a gust of wind causes the ball to wobble while he is addressing a putt.
[4/19/2010 12:27:07 PM]
Joe: I couldnít agree more. I am an avid golfer but one who thinks there is no honor in applying the rules of golf blindly. There was obviously no advantage gained from this inadvertent touch of a broken reed. I think a no harm/ no foul policy is "honorable" approach.
All this harrumping about the nobility of this tight-assed, inflexible, application of the rules of golf is silly.
Wow, what a Masters.Best in years, maybe since Tiger won in 1997.A few other thoughts and observations
about this week:
--Golf doesn’t get any
better than that 45-minute long thrill ride during Saturday’s third round, when
Phil went eagle-eagle-birdie.
-- If this week demonstrated
nothing else, it was that people are sick and tired of hearing about the Tiger Woods’ sex scandal.For a lot of people it was TMI (too
much information) from the get-go, and now they just want it to go away.They want to get back to golf.
-- Just because people have
had it up to their earlobes with details about Tiger’s infidelities doesn’t mean they ever will forgive him.The revelations about his infidelities – and by
extension about his character – have cost Tiger a ton of fans permanently, especially among women. He can win
all the golf tournaments he wants, but they will never look at him the same.
-- On Wednesday, on the eve
of the Masters, I sat down to write
a blog post picking Phil to
win.But the phone rang, I got
distracted and I never finished it.Seriously. I’m not kidding.I had Phil to win.
-- There was a time when Sergio Garcia was part of any
discussion of "best player who hasn’t won a major."Not any more.Now 30, Garcia is no longer
an up-and-coming kid – in fact, he’s neither a kid nor up-and-coming. He finished next to dead last.
-- Lee Westwood is going to win a major sooner rather than later; I’m
betting on the British Open at St. Andrews in July.
-- Anthony Kim won’t be far behind him.
-- I’m no fashion expert,
but I don’t know whose hats look more ridiculous: Ryan Moore and Ricky Barnes
in those goofy-looking painter’s caps or Rick
Fowler with hiscap pulled-down-over-his-ears.
-- As long as we are on the
subject of fashion, Phil Mickelson
needs a fashion intervention.Those
shirts he wears now are not only ugly, they are way too form-fitting.They only accentuate the fact that he
is a middle-aged man in a losing battle against gravity. A few days ago, he
wore one that had white piping, one step removed from wearing a 1970s pastel
leisure suit.Not even Tiger could look good in Phil’s shirts.
-- What to make of the fact
that when he walked off the 18th green after winning, Phil immediately found his wife Amy and gave her a big, tearful hug,
but he didn’t seem to even acknowledge his mom and dad (wearing the Sportscope cap), who were standing next
to her?But moments later,
he did hug his swing coach, Butch Harmon.
-- If you thought this
year’s Masters was more exciting
than any in recent years-- Phil finished at 16-under par --credit the softening of Augusta National to allow birdie fests
on Sunday.One story called it the
de-Hootification of the golf course.
-- If one shot can define a
player’s career and style, for Phil
it will be his second shot at 13 on Sunday: From behind a tree, on pine straw,
6-iron from 207 to four feet.
-- Despite all his smiles,
swashbuckling style and stellar career, Phil
Mickelson has a lot of detractors.The most common knock on him is that he is a phony.One major piece of evidence to the
contrary is his long and lasting relationship with his caddie, Jim "Bones" Mackay.
Joe, couldnít agree with you more. Attempting parlay the events of the past 5 months into a NIKE aided comeback story is in poor taste and disingenuous. Exploiting his dead father to do it is grotesque.
To make it even worse, Woods compared himself to Hogan during the interview after thursdayís round. When the wounds are self inflicted, you donít get to make that analogy.
You buying the Tiger Woods Penance Tour at the Masters?
I TiVoed his press conference
and I’ve watched it twice now, and I’m still not sure what to think.Imagine what it must be like for his
He’s saying all the right
things, and he looks truly contrite and humbled.But as we know now, you never really know for sure what’s
going on inside Tiger Woods.
For starters, I’ve got a few
questions and follow-ups I wish somebody had asked Tiger during his Monday press conference:
response to an earlier question, you said of your behavior, "I was
rationalizing and denying and in total denial at times. Whatever I did, I lied
to myself, I lied to others."
Was it that, or was it just that it you were having a great time
running wild and you were getting away with it?
Q: You didn’t quite answer to the
previous question about who in your management team knew about your escapades, how
much they knew, and whether any heads will roll.
Specifically, I’m wondering if your agent, Mark Steinberg, did in fact "handle" the problem, as Mindy Lawton claims, after you two were
spotted by the National Enquirer
having sex in your Escalade in a parking lot?
correct in saying that your car accident is a "closed case," but that still
doesn’t answer the question of, "Did Ambien
play a role in car crash?"Did it?
14, 15, 19 women -- whatever the total was -- and no condoms with any of them?Aside from the infidelity, didn’t you
worry about contracting some nasty or deadly disease or getting one of these
women deliberately getting pregnant so as to extort you?
Q. Despite all the shame and the financial
cost, are you in some way glad you were finally exposed and caught?
Q. If your
father were here today, what would he say to you?And what would you say to him?
Back home from my golf trip
to Scottsdale, I took a peek at GolfClubAtlas to
see if there was any discussion of my public and muniDream 18 that ran in yesterday’s Philadelphia Inquirer.
There was and, not
surprisingly, a few posters took me to task for including holes they believed
to be unworthy and excluding holes they believed belonged on the list.
One poster argued the Dream 18 was more of a Mid-Atlantic
list, because I included a hole from Bulle Rock
in Havre de Grace, Md., and the Architects Club in Lopatcong, N.J.
Because I deliberately made
the Dream 18 a mix of upscale,
mid-priced and lower-end daily fee courses, one poster suggested it would have
been nice to have come up with three separate lists from the three different
prices ranges.I found that
suggestion particularly amusing, considering that the single story I turned in
was trimmed for space reasons.
Among the stuff that got cut
was the passage about how I could have easily come up with three lists that didn’t
duplicate a hole.And the part
about the story being due while there was still two feet of snow on the ground,
precluding any revisits to courses I hadn’t played in years.
And don’t get me started on
the holes that fell out of contention because, not only could I not revisit the
courses, their websites didn’t have photos that might enable me refresh my
The Dream 18 story also generated a bunch of emails from readers, many
of whom offered excellent suggestions for holes that might have been on the
list.One fellow took me to task
for being "generous" in including holes from Walnut Lane and Cobbs Creek.
I offer no apology in that
regard.In my golfing travels, I
have been very fortunate to play the likes of Pine Valley and Merion
many times, and rub elbows with the folks who inhabit that world.
But I also have a foot firmly
planted in the other end of the golfing spectrum, where avid and enthusiastic
golfers are happy and appreciative playing the lowliest muni.Those courses and those golfers are
also a legitimate and integral part of the game.I, for one, wouldn’t think of ignoring them or their corner
of the game, especially not in a Dream
18 for a general circulation newspaper like the Inquirer.
So, for better or worse, I
am happy with the list I compiled for the Inquirer.
There was an article written by Tony Leodora back in the 1980ís written in the Times Herald that had the Dream 18 and it had only 1 hole per course from all the local courses. You should find it and revise.
[4/3/2010 4:33:41 PM]
How about your Dream18 for local private courses
[4/3/2010 7:34:40 AM]
Why nothing from Twisted Dune or Sand Barrens?
[4/2/2010 11:48:21 AM]
Thanks for getting Walnut Lane and Cobbs Creek in your Dream 18.
When the sun rose on me this
morning, I was in Scottsdale, where
I’ve come for a four-day Golfweek rater’s
If you rate golf courses for
the magazine, every two or three years you are required to attend one of these
gatherings – they stage several a year, in golf destinations all over the
country – where you meet other raters and discuss and debate what makes a
good golf course.At least I think
that’s what happens; I’ve been a rater for four or five years now, and this is my
I picked this week’s retreat
in Scottsdale because I like it out
here, and because I enjoy desert golf.Very different from the kind of courses we have in Philadelphia, or the kind of courses I grew playing in North Carolina.I’m good for about one week of sand and
cacti, however, before I develop a yearning to see green trees and green grass
somewhere other than on a golf course.
Most of yesterday was spent getting
here, using US Air miles to fly
first to Charlotte, connecting to Phoenix.Flying used to be fun.Now it is awful.Both flights were overbooked, nary a vacant seat.I had planned to do some work on the Charlotte-to-Phoenix leg, but that idea
went out the window as a soon as some guy who was about 6-foot-5 and weighed
maybe 290 squeezed himself into his seat and about half of mine.
I’m a little antsy about
today’s round.Of the 30 raters
here, more than half come from warm weather climates like Arizona, Southern California, Texas, Nevada and Florida.Those guys (there’s one woman on the list of raters)
are no doubt in mid-season form, whereas I am exactly one large bucket into my
So I will step onto the
first tee shortly after noon today with pasty-white legs and without the
foggiest clue of where my first tee shot is going.As I was zipping up my golf travel back, it occurred to me
to toss in an extra dozen golf balls.
Despite the potential for
shanks, skulls, worm-burners, chili-dips and outright whiffs, I am
excited.The dawning of a new golf
season is always a beautiful thing, made all the more beautiful this year by
this exotic locale.
A few weeks ago, I got an
email from Ryan
Gingrow, teaching pro at Whitford Country Clubin Exton.In addition to his PGA pro stripes, Ryan holds
a degree in journalism from Penn State, where he did a little sports writing during his student
That’s why he was contacting
me.He was interested in doing
some writing.We talked about him
writing up a few tips, but he has done that before and, frankly, he wanted to
stretch his writing muscles.I
proposed he write a series of columns, or essays, on life as a teaching
pro.He was game.
I just posted his debut
effort.Check it out.I think you’ll enjoy it.If you have comments or questions, let
him hear them.