California Gov Arnold Schwarzenegger wants to tax golf
Their anger is directed at the Republican governor's proposal to extend the state sales tax to cover more services, an idea that has surfaced in other states as they race to plug crippling budget deficits. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a research clearinghouse, predicts such deficits nationwide could reach $350 billion by 2011.
In California, Schwarzenegger wants to help close a nearly $42 billion budget deficit by taxing rounds of golf, auto repairs, veterinary care, amusement park and sporting event admissions and appliance and furniture repairs.
Service taxes in other states include levies on pet grooming, water well drilling, fur storage, massages, shoe repairs, swimming pool cleaning, taxidermy, and dating and diaper services. But that doesn't make the groups affected by Schwarzenegger's proposal feel any better.
'We're old and retired. We don't need any more taxes,' said Fred Mayers of Sacramento as he played golf recently at a public course in the state capital. 'The only luxury we have is playing golf. They can't charge us any more.'
Scott Pattison, executive director of the National Association of State Budget Officers, said more states could be looking at service taxes as they get deeper into legislative sessions.
'It's one of those things that's so politically difficult and controversial that it's usually one of the last proposals that's floated,' he said.
California already taxes some services, including gift wrapping, tuxedo rentals and video rentals for home use. But virtually every other state applies its sales tax to more services, said Jean Ross, executive director of the California Budget Project, a Sacramento think tank.
The tax on services is part of $14.3 billion in hikes Schwarzenegger has proposed to help close a budget deficit that's projected to total $41.6 billion over the next 17 months. He also is seeking $17.7 billion in spending cuts and $10 billion in additional borrowing.
In addition to the service tax, Schwarzenegger proposes hiking the sales tax by 1.5 percent through the end of 2011, boosting taxes on alcoholic drinks, increasing the vehicle registration fee by $12 and taxing companies that extract oil.
Local sales taxes in California range from 7.25 percent to 9.25 percent, varying from county to county and even from city to city. A 1.5 percentage point increase would boost the rate to nearly 10 percent in many areas of the state.
Republican lawmakers have refused for months to consider raising taxes but recently indicated a willingness to consider hikes if they're tied to tough spending controls.
Schwarzenegger and lawmakers have little time left to strike a deal. The state controller has said he will have to delay tax refunds and some other payments for 30 days starting Feb. 1 because of a cash shortage. The governor also has ordered tens of thousands of state employees to take two days off a month without pay, starting Feb. 6.
'There's no good time to raise taxes,' said H.D. Palmer, a spokesman for Schwarzenegger's Department of Finance. 'This is not something that the governor is putting forward because he enjoys it.'
He said the six types of services Schwarzenegger is proposing to tax were picked because they involve businesses that commonly collect sales taxes on goods they sell and could quickly adjust.
The affected industry groups say they are being unfairly targeted and that similar businesses are exempt.
'You don't see a tax on movies,' said Bob Bouchier, executive director of the California Alliance for Golf. 'You don't see a tax on bowling. You don't see skiing. You don't see a tax on any other sport.'
The administration estimates that the service taxes would raise $1.4 billion through the fiscal year that ends June 30, 2010. Schwarzenegger wants to implement the taxes on appliance and furniture repairs, golf, veterinary care and vehicle repairs by March 1. The taxes on amusement park and sporting event tickets would kick in on April 1.
Opponents question whether the taxes would raise that much, saying they would result in layoffs and fewer customers.
'You're looking at a $50 increase on a $500 (repair) bill at a time when people are not buying new cars and instead are having their old cars repaired so they can keep them on the road to drive to work,' said Peter Welch, president of the California New Car Dealers Association.
'This is really going to hit people when they're down.'
Opponents also suggest that other increases, such as a boost in income taxes or restoration of the annual vehicle license fee that Schwarzenegger cut when he took office, would be less damaging.
Not everyone that would be affected is upset.
Sean Grace, a home remodeling contractor from the Sacramento suburb of Elk Grove, said die-hard golfers will find a way to pay the tax if lawmakers approve it.
'Ten percent is not too much,' he said before slamming a long drive down the fifth fairway at Sacramento's Land Park golf course. 'You've got guys paying $100 (for green fees). What's another $10? They're going to find it somewhere.'
Piller pregnant, no timetable for LPGA return
Gerina Piller, the American Olympian golfer and three-time Solheim Cup veteran, is pregnant and will not be rejoining the LPGA when the 2018 season opens, the New York Times reported following the season-ending CME Group Tour Championship.
Piller, 32, who is married to PGA Tour pro Martin Piller, is due with the couple’s first child in May, Golf Channel’s Jerry Foltz reported.
Piller declined an interview request when GolfChannel.com sought comment going into the CME Group Tour Championship.
Piller told the New York Times she has no timetable for her return but that she isn’t done with competitive golf.
“I’m not just giving everything up,” Piller said.
As parity reigns, LPGA searching for a superstar
Apologies to the LPGA’s golden eras, but women’s golf has never been deeper.
With the game going global, with the unrelenting wave of Asian talent continuing to slam the tour’s shores, with Thailand and China promising to add to what South Korea is delivering, it’s more difficult than ever to win.
That’s a beautiful and perplexing thing for the women’s game.
That’s because it is more difficult than ever to dominate.
And that’s a magic word in golf.
There is no more powerful elixir in the sport.
Domination gets you on the cover of Sports Illustrated, on ESPN SportsCenter, maybe even on NBC Nightly News if the “D” in domination is dynamic enough.
The women’s best chance of moving their sport to another stratosphere is riding the back of a superstar.
Or maybe a pair of superstar rivals.
A constellation of stars may be great for the devoted regular supporters of the women’s game, but it will take a charismatic superstar to make casual fans care.
The LPGA needs a Serena Williams.
Or the reincarnation of Babe Zaharias.
For those of us who regularly follow the LPGA, this constellation of stars makes for compelling stories, a variety of scripting to feature.
The reality, however, is that it takes one colossal story told over and over again to burst out of a sports niche.
The late, great CBS sports director Frank Chirkinian knew what he had sitting in a TV production truck the first time he saw one of his cameras bring a certain young star into focus at the Masters.
“It’s this player coming up over the brow of the hill at the 15th hole to play his second shot,” Chirkinian once told me over lunch at a golf course he owned in South Florida. “He studies his shot, then flips his cigarette, hitches up his trousers and takes this mighty swipe and knocks the shot on the green. It was my first experience with Arnold Palmer, and I remember thinking, ‘Wow, who is this guy?’
“The thing about golf, more than any other sport, it’s always looking for a star. It’s the only sport where people will root against the underdog. They don’t want the stars to lose. They’re OK with some unknown rising up to be the story on Thursday or Friday, but they always want to see the stars win.”
And they go gaga when it’s one star so radiant that he or she dominates attention.
“It didn’t matter if Arnold was leading, or where he was, you had to show him,” Chirkinian said. “You never knew when he might do something spectacular.”
The LPGA is in a healthy place again, with a big upside globally, with so much emerging talent sharing the spotlight.
Take Sunday at the CME Group Tour Championship.
The back nine started with Lexi Thompson and Michelle Wie making the turn tied for the lead. There is no more powerful pairing to sell in the women’s game today, but there would be no duel. It would have been too far off script as the final chapter to this season.
Parity was the story this year.
Sunday in Naples started with 18 players within two shots of the lead.
Entering that back nine, almost a dozen players were in the mix, including Ariya Jutanugarn.
The day ended with Jutanugarn beating Thompson with a dramatic birdie-birdie finish after Thompson stunned viewers missing a 2-foot putt for par at the last.
The day encapsulated the expanding LPGA universe.
“I’ve never seen such crazy, brilliant golf from these ladies,” said Gary Gilchrist, who coaches Jutanugarn, Lydia Ko and Rolex world No. 1 Shanshan Feng. “It was unbelievable out there. It was just like birdie after birdie after birdie, and the scoreboard went up and down. And that’s why it’s so hard to be No. 1 on this tour. There’s not one person who can peak. It’s all of them at a phenomenal level of golf.”
If Thompson had made that last 2-footer and gone on to win the CME, she would have become the sixth different world No. 1 this year. Before this year, there had never been more than three different No. 1s in a single LPGA season.
Parity was the theme from the year’s start.
There were 15 different winners to open the season, something that hadn’t happened in 26 years. There were five different major championship winners.
This year’s Rolex Player of the Year Award was presented Sunday to So Yeon Ryu and Sung Hyun Park. It’s the first time the award has been shared since its inception in 1966.
Thompson won twice this year, with six second-place finishes, with three of those playoff losses, one of them in a major championship. She was close to putting together a spectacular year. She was close to dominating and maybe becoming the tour’s one true rock star.
Ultimately, Thompson showed us how hard that is to do now.
She’s in a constellation we’re all watching, to see if maybe one star breaks out, somebody able to take the game into living rooms it has never been, to a level of popularity it’s never been.
The game won’t get there with another golden era. It will get there with a golden player.
Love's hip surgery a success; eyes Florida swing return
Within hours of having hip replacement surgery on Tuesday Davis Love III was back doing what he does best – keeping busy.
“I’ve been up and walking, cheated in the night and stood up by the bed, but I’m cruising around my room,” he laughed early Wednesday from Andrews Sports Medicine and Orthopedic Center in Birmingham, Ala., where he underwent surgery to replace his left hip. “[Dr. James Flanagan, who performed the surgery] wants me up. They don’t want me sitting for more than an hour.”
Love, 53, planned to begin more intensive therapy and rehabilitation on Wednesday and is scheduled to be released from the hospital later this afternoon.
According to Love’s doctors, there were no complications during the surgery and his recovery time is estimated around three to four months.
Love, who was initially hesitant to have the surgery, said he can start putting almost immediately and should be able to start hitting wedges in a few weeks.
Dr. Tom Boers – a physical therapist at the Hughston Orthopedic Clinic in Columbus, Ga., who has treated Fred Couples, Phil Mickelson, Greg Norman and Brad Faxon – will oversee Love’s recovery and ultimately decide when he’s ready to resume normal golf activity.
“He understands motion and gait and swing speeds that people really don’t understand. He’s had all of us in there studying us,” Love said. “So we’ll see him in a couple of weeks and slowly get into the swing part of it.”
Although Love said he plans to temper his expectations for this most recent recovery, his goal is to be ready to play by the Florida swing next March.
Vegas lists Woods at 20-1 to win a major in 2018
He hasn't hit a competitive shot in nearly a year, but that hasn't stopped one Las Vegas outlet from listing Tiger Woods among the favorites to win a major in 2018.
The Westgate Las Vegas Superbook published betting odds this week on dozens of players to win any of the four majors next year. Leading the pack were Dustin Johnson and Jordan Spieth at 3/2, with Rory McIlroy next. But not far behind was Woods, who has been sidelined since February because of a back injury but was listed at 20/1.
Woods will make his much-anticipated return next week at the Hero World Challenge, and next month he will turn 42. Next summer will mark the 10-year anniversary of his last major championship victory, a sudden-death playoff win over Rocco Mediate at the 2008 U.S. Open.
Here's a look at the odds for several marquee players on winning any of the four biggest events in golf next year:
3/2: Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth
5/2: Rory McIlroy
7/2: Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Rickie Fowler, Jason Day
9/2: Justin Rose
5/1: Brooks Koepka
15/2: Sergio Garcia, Henrik Stenson, Paul Casey
10/1: Adam Scott
12/1: Tommy Fleetwood, Tyrrell Hatton, Matt Kuchar, Phil Mickelson, Marc Leishman, Thomas Pieters, Patrick Reed
15/1: Daniel Berger, Matthew Fitzpatrick, Patrick Cantlay, Branden Grace, Kevin Kisner, Alex Noren, Louis Oosthuizen, Xander Schauffele, Charl Schwartzel, Brandt Snedeker, Bubba Watson
20/1: Tiger Woods, Francesco Molinari, Rafael Cabrera-Bello, Tony Finau, Martin Kaymer
25/1: Ryan Moore, Zach Johnson, Webb Simpson, Lee Westwood, Jimmy Walker, Kevin Chappell, Bryson DeChambeau, Bill Haas, Jason Dufner, Charley Hoffman
30/1: Pat Perez, Gary Woodland, Bernd Wiesberger, Brian Harman, Padraig Harrington, Emiliano Grillo, Ross Fisher, Si Woo Kim, J.B. Holmes