More Choices on Pro Golfs Menu

By Adam BarrJuly 8, 2007, 4:00 pm
Seems like no sport works harder than golf to define itself. Ask any golfer of more than casual interest what golf is, and youll get a specific answer supported by a firmly held conviction.
Ask the same person about a particular element of the game outside his definition ' wild dress, certain equipment, Mulligans, you name it ' and youll likely get a much more impassioned response, sometimes followed by a request to vacate the premises.
I think we can all agree that certain things ' say, foot wedges ' have no place in a fairly played game. But constantly running around pointing to little inconsistencies and crying, Thats not golf! seems to me the same as storming out of a Mexican restaurant because theres no French food on the menu.
Lighten up. Nobodys making you concede 2-footers. If putting out is your game, putt out. Leave others to their whims.
These thoughts came to the surface after a conversation with an old friend about U.S. Open courses, and how they play differently than those typically found on the PGA TOUR.
Lately they yield different winners too; solid players who arent necessarily household names. More bounce, less sticky greens, more wiry rough, nervier landing areas ' you get the idea. The seeming randomness of some of the bounces reminds people of the undulating courses of the British Isles, some of whose fairways look like ocean swells stopped in time.
Do you think, I asked my friend, that the annual U.S. Open setup is the U.S. Golf Associations statement that their brand of golf is the real deal, the pinnacle of what the game should be?
We didnt settle that one before the conversation had to end. But since then, I have concluded that it doesnt matter. Its all golf.
To say that the fly-it-in, spin-it-to-a-stop kind of golf that excites so many PGA TOUR fans is somehow better than the skip-it, bounce-it, roll-it-in variety found on firmer courses (or vice versa) is to cheat oneself of a lot of good golf.
Better to embrace both. I mean, why not?
You can enjoy the Phoenix or Pebble Beach tournaments, with their different challenges, as much as the Open Championship on dry, tough and toasty Royal Liverpool, where a shot on the flag will end up way off the back of the green. Its all about menu choices. One night chicken, another fish. Get the right chef(s), and its all good.
My son and I are planning to attend a NASCAR race. Its a sport I know only a little about, so I checked out the NASCAR website.
Turns out there are four kinds of tracks: short tracks (Bristol and Dover are examples) are a mile or less. Intermediates (Charlotte, Darlington, Homestead and the like) range between a mile and two. Super speedways are greater than two miles long (Daytona, Talladega) and a road course is more complex than an oval ' it has right turns as well as left (such as Sonoma and Watkins Glen). Each track style is represented on the schedule.
How can this not add variety and spice?
Its the same theory that has all our major tours on the road every week. Former LPGA commissioner Charlie Mechem, the nicest guy in the world, still loved to get the needle into his tennis buddies.
The courts are the same everywhere, he said. Why travel?
This always got a chuckle, and nobody knew better than Charlie that you have to take the sport to the people. But as a one-up for golf over tennis, the message was clear. Were more interesting because we play on varied fields, each with its own challenges and charms.
The only way to improve an already solid rota is this: use what we know to adjust course choices and conditions, and bring in golfs engaging variety. Instead of weeks-straight of aerial golf, work in a few more bump-and-run opportunities.
Theres no need to undo the schedule; it may be as simple in some locations as not watering as much. Of course, weather can interfere ' extreme heat may require more water to keep turf playable ' thats something we all have to live with. But any effort to call for a variety of shots, perhaps something different than the last week, can only help.
To be fair, we see some subtle changes already.
Starting in Memphis, the PGA TOUR had three straight weeks of par-70 courses (including Oakmont, the U.S. Open venue). Strategy changes arising from fewer par-5s made those tournaments more interesting. And overall, no one could accuse the courses on the PGA TOUR schedule of being homogenous.
But when we start hearing people say, in anticipation of an event, Oh, this is that tournament where they have to run it onto the green, and its not just the Open Championship ' well, well be dealing with a good product made even better.
Email your thoughts to Adam Barr
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What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 10:37 pm

Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:

Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts

Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts

Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red

Ball: TaylorMade TP5x

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Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff

By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 9:45 pm

Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.

While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.

The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.

So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.

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Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over

By Randall MellJanuary 22, 2018, 9:36 pm

The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.

As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.

Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.

And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.

And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.

McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.

The Ryder Cup topped his list.

Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.

When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.

“Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”

McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.

Or similar assertions from TV analysts.

“The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”

European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.

And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.

The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.

Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.

And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.

Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.

The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.

The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.

More bulletin board material, too.

Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.

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Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions

By Rex HoggardJanuary 22, 2018, 9:14 pm

Quail Hollow Club - a staple on the PGA Tour since 2003 - debuted as a longer, tougher version of itself at last year’s PGA Championship, receiving mixed reviews from players.

The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.

It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.

The video, which includes Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris and runs nearly five minutes, begins with an explanation of how the first hole, which played as a 524-yard par 4 at the PGA, will play much shorter at the Wells Fargo Championship.

“I had a number of my friends who were playing in the tournament tell me that tee was better suited as a lemonade stand,” Harris joked of the new tee box on the fourth hole. “I doubt we’ll ever see that tee used again in competition.”

Harris also explained that the greens, which became too fast for some, will be “softer” for this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.