Augusta National Getting Even Longer

By Associated PressJune 28, 2005, 4:00 pm
Augusta National is getting another facelift. The home of the Masters announced changes to six holes on Tuesday, lengthening the course to a staggering 7,445 yards - the second-longest layout in major championship history.
 
Only Whistling Straits, which played at 7,514 yards for last year's PGA Championship, has presented golfers with a longer challenge.
 
The Masters
The par-3 4th hole - currently 205 yards - will be lengthened by 30-35 yards.
Augusta National underwent a major renovation leading up to the 2002 Masters, altering nine holes and adding 285 yards to the historic course designed by Bobby Jones and Alister Mackenzie.
 
It wasn't enough to fend off today's long-hitting golfers, who have benefited from improvements in conditioning and equipment. Augusta National, which refuses to turn its rough into a U.S. Open-style quagmire, must rely on length and slick, tricky greens to keep scores from going absurdly low.
 
Club chairman Hootie Johnson insisted that no one has been scoreboard-watching at Augusta.
 
'Since the first Masters in 1934, this golf course has evolved and that process continues today,' Johnson said in a statement. 'As in the past, our objective is to maintain the integrity and shot values of the golf course as envisioned by Bobby Jones and Alister Mackenzie. Players' scores are not a factor. We will keep the golf course current with the times.'
 
The club is altering three holes - Nos. 1, 4 and 7 - on the front side and three more - 11, 15 and 17 - on the back.
 
The tee at the par-3 fourth will move back 30-35 yards, lengthening the hole to about 240 yards. The club was mindful of the late Jones' assessment in 1959, when he said the hole should require a long iron or even a wood. This year, most competitors teed off with a 5- or 6-iron.
 
'We want to keep the hole as it was intended to be played as a long par 3,' Johnson said.
 
Then there's No. 11, which leads into 'Amen Corner' and will become the first par-4 hole in Masters history that stretches beyond 500 yards. With the tee shifted back 10-15 yards, the hole will measure about 505 for next year's tournament.
 
Again, Jones' desires - 'the second shot is usually played with a 3-iron or strong club,' he once wrote - prompted the club to toughen the hole.
 
At its former distance, some players were going for the green with an 8-iron. Now, even the longest hitters will be forced to use at least a 6-iron with their second shot.
 
As for the other changes:
 
-No. 1: The tee will be moved back 15-20 yards, trees will be added to the left side of the fairway to require more accuracy with the driver, and the par-4 hole will stretch to 455 yards.
 
-No. 7: Adding 35-40 yards will transform the par-4 hole into a 450-yarder. Also, the green will be altered to create a possible right-rear pin position, while trees will be added along both sides of the fairway. 'At Nos. 1 and 7, we want to emphasize accuracy off the tee while continuing to maintain the integrity of the holes,' Johnson said.
 
-No. 15: The par-5 hole will be stretched to 530 yards by moving the tee back 25-30 yards and shifting it about 20 yards to the left.
 
-No. 17: The tee box is going back 10-15 yards, lengthening the par-4 hole to about 440.
 
'The changes on the second nine holes again stress accuracy off the tee and maintaining shot values,' Johnson said.
 
Construction work began this month, while the club is closed to golf for the summer. The changes should be completed by the fall.
 
Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Lexi 'applaud's USGA, R&A for rules change

By Randall MellDecember 11, 2017, 5:15 pm

Lexi Thompson’s pain may prove to be the rest of golf’s gain.

David Rickman, the R&A’s executive director of governance, acknowledged on Golf Channel’s "Morning Drive" Monday that the new protocols that will eliminate the use of TV viewer call-ins and emails to apply penalties was hastened by the controversy following Thompson’s four-shot penalty at the ANA Inspiration in early April. The new protocols also set up rules officials to monitor TV broadcasts beginning next year.

“Clearly, that case has been something of a focus point for us,” Rickman said.

Thompson reacted to the new protocols in an Instagram post.

“I applaud the USGA and the R&A for their willingness to revise the Rules of Golf to address certain unfortunate situations that have arisen several times in the game of golf,” Thompson wrote. “In my case, I am thankful no one else will have to deal with an outcome such as mine in the future.”

Thompson was penalized two shots for improperly returning her ball to its mark on a green during Saturday’s round after a viewer emailed LPGA officials during Sunday’s broadcast. She was penalized two more shots for signing an incorrect scorecard for her Saturday round. Thompson ultimately lost in a playoff to So Yeon Ryu.

The new protocols will also eliminate the additional two-shot penalty a player receives for failing to include a penalty when a player was unaware of the penalty.

Shortly after the ANA Inspiration, the USGA and R&A led the formation of a video review working group, which included the PGA Tour, LPGA, European Tour, Ladies European Tour and PGA of America.

Also, just three weeks after Thompson was hit with the four-shot penalty, the USGA and R&A released a new Rules of Golf decision decision (34-3/10) limiting video evidence in two ways:

1. If an infraction can’t be seen with the naked eye, there’s no penalty, even if video shows otherwise.

2. If a tournament committee determines that a player does “all that can be reasonably expected to make an accurate estimation or measurement” in determining a line or position to play from or to spot a ball, then there will be no penalty even if video replay later shows that to be wrong.

While the USGA and R&A said the new decision wasn’t based on Thompson’s ANA incident, LPGA players immediately began calling it the “Lexi Rule.”

Getty Images

PGA Tour, LPGA react to video review rules changes

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 11, 2017, 1:32 pm

The USGA and R&A announced on Monday updates to the Rules of Golf, including no longer accepting call-ins relating to violations. The PGA Tour and LPGA, which were both part of a working group of entities who voted on the changes, issued the following statements:

PGA Tour:

The PGA Tour has worked closely with the USGA and R&A on this issue in recent years, and today's announcement is another positive step to ensure the Rules of Golf align with how the game is presented and viewed globally. The PGA Tour will adopt the new Local Rule beginning January 1, 2018 and evolve our protocols for reviewing video evidence as outlined.

LPGA:

We are encouraged by the willingness of the governing bodies to fully vet the issues and implement real change at a pace much quicker than the sport has seen previously. These new adaptations, coupled with changes announced earlier this year, are true and meaningful advances for the game. The LPGA plans to adopt fully the protocols and new Local Rule as outlined.

Getty Images

Sharma closes on Monday, wins Joburg Open

By Associated PressDecember 11, 2017, 12:43 pm

JOHANNESBURG – Shubhankar Sharma won his first European Tour title by a shooting 3-under 69 Monday in the final round of the weather-delayed Joburg Open.

The 21-year-old Indian resumed his round on the eighth green after play was halted early Sunday afternoon because of storms. He parred that hole, birdied No. 9 and made par on every hole on the back nine.


Full-field scores from the Joburg Open


Sharma finished at 23-under 264, three strokes ahead of the pack, and qualified for next year's British Open, too.

''I actually wasn't going to come here about a week ago ... so I'm really happy that I came,'' said Sharma, who shot 61 in the second round. ''I don't think I'm ever going forget my first time in South Africa.''

Erik van Rooyen (66) was second, three strokes ahead of Shaun Norris (65) and Tapio Pulkkanen (68).

Getty Images

Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 11, 2017, 12:30 pm