State of the Game: The delicate fabric of the game

By Arnold PalmerMarch 17, 2013, 6:33 pm

I marvel at golf. I’ve been immersed in the game now for almost 80 years, yet every day it surprises me or affects me in some new way. Sometimes it’s a swing tip I’ve never heard before. Occasionally it’s a snippet of the game’s rich history that had previously gone unnoticed or maybe it’s that one remaining golf joke I hadn’t yet heard. But the way in which the game most often surprises me – moves me, really – is its endless capacity for good. From the game’s leading professionals to its highest handicappers, from its administrators to its administrated, it is inspiring, even golf-affirming, to know that while ropes may separate the world’s greatest players from their fans, we’re all united in two key ways: charity and the Rules of Golf.

The PGA Tour’s first recorded donation came in 1938 when the Palm Beach Invitational donated $10,000 from tournament proceeds to charity. From then on the game has been rooted in generosity. I can honestly say that I don’t know of a single person in this sport – leading administrators, top players, rank-and-file competitors, journeymen, media, tournament organizers – who is not directly involved with charity. For 75 years that philanthropy has been stamped into the Tour’s DNA. Ask Tim Finchem, who was presiding as commissioner in 2004 when the Tour passed the $1 billion mark in charitable donations, and has set a goal of reaching the $2 billion mark by 2014. I have no doubt we’ll surpass that.


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My family and I have been privileged to play a small role in these efforts. Our tournament at Bay Hill, coming up this week, raises funds for the Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children and the Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women & Babies, the only hospital in Central Florida built for women and led by women. Helping nurture these institutions was a passion of my late wife, Winnie, and remains a passion and a priority of mine. But I’m no different in that regard from any of my colleagues. From Jack Nicklaus to Gary Player to Lee Trevino to Raymond Floyd to Tom Watson and right on down to the last man on your local mini-tour money list, we’re all in.



You may have heard that Devon Quigley, son of Champions Tour star Dana Quigley, was seriously injured in an automobile accident about a year and a half ago. The resulting medical bills have been astronomical. So Jim Colbert asked me to help with a fundraiser he was putting together in Florida. He told Dana, “I’ll get you some pros.” Jack also showed up. So did Gary and Lee and Raymond and Tom and Ben Crenshaw, Larry Nelson, Nick Price, Steve Elkington, Curtis Strange, Lanny Wadkins, Tom Kite, Dave Stockton, Mark Calcavecchia and Jeff Sluman and many, many more. The outpouring was so overwhelming, in fact, that Hollis Cavner, who runs the 3M Championship on the Champions Tour, had to be brought in to manage the outing, which, of course, he did for free. The golf course, The Floridian, was donated by another golf lover, Jim Crane. And to top it all off, Jack and Barbara hosted a dinner party at their home. Why? Because (as Jack likes to say) golfers, by nature, are a giving bunch. 

What amazes me about golf, however, is that the PGA Tour family is just the tip of golf’s charitable spear. Look at the work done every day by golfers in your town, city and state. Charity scrambles, golf-a-thons, cause-related leagues, charity auctions and invitationals abound. Not long ago I read in one of the magazines about a league in Colorado comprised of dozens of local businessmen who compete in monthly tournaments at area golf courses. They play a game they love while raising thousands of dollars every year for local causes. There are thousands of golf groups doing the same thing across this country and around the world every day.

Of course, golf is not unique among sports in supporting charities. The NFL, NBA, MLB and NHL all have vibrant and productive charitable arms, but golf’s philanthropic web is wider, deeper, stronger, more committed and more resilient than any I have seen this side of the Red Cross. Why? Let me answer that with a few questions. Could it have anything to do with the kind of people who take up our sport? Could it have anything to do with the messages of sportsmanship and respect that continue to undergird our game? Could it be that golf – so often passed from fathers to sons and mothers to daughters – makes us all feel like cousins? Could it be a sense of gratitude for a life lived on grass; for one last birdie in the fading light; for the soothing cycle of another cool evening spent chasing down a purple sky? In the end, I guess “why” we give is less important than that we give. I’m just so pleased and proud that we do.

Beyond revealing the golfer’s giving heart, charity is also an indication of our game’s health. It’s a show of pride for and unity in our sport. We need that now more than ever. That brings me to the rules. In my seven-plus decades in this increasingly global game, we’ve had very few actual disagreements. We’re facing another one right now.


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With the USGA’s and R&A’s decision to recommend a ban on anchored putting and the consequent opposition from the PGA Tour, the PGA of America, golf equipment manufacturers and some rank-and-file amateurs, the stage has been set for something more ominous. I think we’re facing a serious challenge to the rules that govern the global game. My concern is that the fabric that unites us, the tie that binds you to me and me to Tiger and Tiger to you – one set of rules – will be irreparably torn. If both these ruling bodies proceed with the proposed ban and if the Tour, the PGA of America and eventually the average player in effect ignore it, where does that leave us? Where does that leave a guy like Tim Clark, who has for years legally and successfully anchored his putter? Where does it leave the guy at your club or local muni who’s grown comfortable with what has always been a legally anchored stroke? If they decide to ignore the Rules of Golf, how will the USGA maintain a relevant voice in the United States on other vital issues such as growing the game, slow play, golf course maintenance and their charitable work? Does it leave the U.S. Open and the Open Championship adrift from the other majors? Could the USGA’s other great championships or the Tour’s own events be diminished?

I have enormous respect for the USGA and the R&A. Both have been an important part of my life as both a competitor and a man for well over half a century. Many of the friendships I formed when I was playing in U.S. Amateurs, U.S. Opens and Open Championships in the early part of my career thrive to this day. I’ve worked closely with the USGA on a volunteer basis for the better part of my life. Regardless of how you or I or the Tour feels about it, the USGA is charged (along with the R&A) with the responsibility of writing the rules by which we play. They are the final judges. I think – I know – that they take that responsibility seriously.

I hope that behind the scenes the USGA, the R&A, the PGA Tour and the PGA of America – four of the central golf organizations of my life, all of which do remarkable work growing and promoting the game – can come to some understanding and we continue to have one set of rules for everyone. Like most older players, I want to pass along to my grandkids a game that’s stronger and healthier than the one I inherited. That means a game with the interwoven threads of philanthropy and integrity intact.


On GolfChannel.com, Arnold Palmer periodically shares his opinions about issues affecting golf through his column, “Arnold Palmer’s State of the Game.”

Day (68) just one back at Australian Open

By Nick MentaNovember 24, 2017, 6:40 am

Jason Day posted a second-round 68 to move himself just one off the lead held by Lucas Herbert through two rounds at the Emirates Australian Open. Here’s where things stand after 36 holes in Sydney.

Leaderboard: Herbert (-9), Day (-8), Cameron Davis (-7), Anthony Quayle (-6), Matt Jones (-4), Cameron Smith (-4), Nick Cullen (-4), Richard Green (-4)

What it means: Day is in search of his first worldwide victory of 2017. The former world No. 1 last visited the winner’s circle in May 2016, when he won The Players at TPC Sawgrass. A win this week would close out a difficult year for the Aussie who struggled with his game while also helping his mother in her battle with cancer. Day’s last victory on his native soil came in 2013, when he partnered with Adam Scott to win the World Cup of Golf for Australia at Royal Melbourne.


Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open


Round of the day: Herbert followed an opening 67 with a round of 66 to vault himself into the lead at The Australian Golf Club. He made six birdies, including four on his second nine, against a lone bogey to take the outright lead. The 22-year-old, who held the lead at this event last year and captured low-amateur honors in 2014, is coming off a runner-up finish at the NSW Open Championship, which boosted him from 714th to 429th in the Official World Golf Ranking. His 5-under score was matched by Dale Brandt-Richards and Josh Cabban.

Best of the rest: Matt Jones, who won this event over Jordan Spieth and Adam Scott two years ago, turned in 4-under 67. Jones is best known to American audiences for his playoff victory at the 2014 Shell Houston Open and for holding the 36-hole lead at the 2015 PGA Championship at Whistling Straits, which was eventually won by Day. Jones will start the weekend five shots off the lead, at 4 under par.

Biggest disappointment: Spieth has a lot of work to do this weekend if he expects to be in the title picture for the fourth year in a row. Rounds of 70-71 have him eight shots behind the lead held by Herbert. Spieth made a birdie and a bogey on each side Friday to turn in level par. The reigning champion golfer of the year has finished first, second and first at this event over the last three years.

Storyline to watch this weekend: The Australian Open is the first event of the 2018 Open Qualifying Series. The leading three players who finish in the top 10 and who are not otherwise exempt will receive invites into next summer’s Open Championship at Carnoustie.

Ogilvy urges distance rollback of ball

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 8:49 pm

Add Geoff Ogilvy to the chorus of voices calling for a distance rollback of the golf ball.

In an interview before the start of the Emirates Australian Open, Ogilvy said a "time-out" is needed for governing bodies to deal with the issue.

"It's complete nonsense," he said, according to an Australian website. "In my career, it’s gone from 300 yards was a massive hit to you’re a shorter hitter on tour now, legitimately short. It’s changed the way we play great golf courses and that is the crime. It isn’t that the ball goes 400, that’s neither here nor there. It’s the fact the ball going 400 doesn’t makes Augusta work properly, it functions completely wrong.’’


Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open


Ogilvy used an example from American baseball to help get his point across to an Australian audience.

“Major League Baseball in America, they use wooden bats, and everywhere else in baseball they use aluminium bats,’’ he said. “And when the major leaguers use aluminium bats they don’t even have to touch it and it completely destroys their stadiums. It’s just comedy.

“That’s kind of what’s happened to us at least with the drivers of these big hitters; We’ve completely outgrown the stadiums. So do you rebuild every stadium in the world? That’s expensive. Or make the ball go shorter? It seems relatively simple from that perspective.’’

Ogilvy, an Australian who won the 2006 U.S. Open, said he believes there will be a rollback, but admitted it would be a "challenge" for manufacturers to produce a ball that flies shorter for pros but does not lose distance when struck by recreational players.

The golf world celebrates Thanksgiving

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 6:01 pm

Here's a look, through social media, at how the golf world celebrates Thanksgiving.

Lexi Thompson:

Baking time!!

A post shared by Lexi Thompson (@lexi) on

David Feherty:

Jack Nicklaus:

GC Tiger Tracker:

Steve Stricker:

Golf Channel:

Frank Nobilo:

Ian Poulter:

Tyrone Van Aswegen:

Happy Thanksgiving: Biggest turkeys of 2017

By Grill Room TeamNovember 23, 2017, 3:00 pm

Thanksgiving brings us golf's biggest turkeys of the year. Donald Trump, Grayson Murray and a certain (now-former) tournament director headline the list. Click here or on the image below to check out all the turkeys.