Readers Revolt Decry US Courses

By George WhiteSeptember 18, 2003, 4:00 pm
OK, you have spoken. From east, west, north and south, you pinpoint ' accurately, I believe - what is the underlying problem of American golf. It is American greed.
The answer to the question of why we are rapidly being surpassed by the world in the Solheim and Ryder Cups is ' Where do the young people play? American developers and course owners are so anxious to turn a buck (or 100) that they charge exorbitant rates to play. If they cant squeeze a small fortune out of the course, they dont build it.
Here are a few of your comments:
If you want answers to why small countries can beat a nation of 200 million, you need only to look at America itself. Face it - golf is an elite sport. Though you have 250 million residents, only 50 million can afford to play golf at an elite level. Assuming, say,. one in 20 girls actually develops a passion for golf. The talent pool is much smaller. Only the well-off get formal training. Not everyone can send their child to the Leadbetter Academy at $40,000 a year.

Take Sweden as an example. A report I saw on TGC: They have memberships well under $4,000. They have programs to make golf affordable for ALL children. Sweden will be a golf power in women's golf. South Korea is a power. Australia is also doing amazing things as well.

It's time to look within.'
Phillip Chin
As a father of a 5-year-old girl who enjoys the game, I can attest that opportunities are few unless you live in a golf mecca, i.e., Florida or certain urban areas or you have a parent in the golf business - preferably a pro.
I live in a town of 200,000 and all that we have are summer golf camps which are generally half-day group instruction for one week. No leagues, no school golf until high school. In that kind of environment, how can a champion arise, how can you even be expected to compete with kids who were raised at the Leadbetter Academy?
Our town has numerous opportunities for kids to be involved in a plethora of sports: football, basketball, soccer, baseball, swimming, gymnastics, volleyball all offer far more opportunity to develop skill in our community than does golf. Until golf is more universally promoted and encouraged, I'm afraid that the future of American golf will be limited to a select few who have the opportunity to develop the skills necessary. Until then, expect, Europe, Asia, and Australia to continue to gain and/or pass us by on the international golf scene.
Mark Swoboda
Come on, George, the reason why Americans don't do well in golf is because the selection process is based on economics. In Sweden, you can join a golf club for a very small fee. Our system penalizes or eliminates so much talent because of economics.
In baseball, football, track, basketball, there are no economic barriers. But in fencing, ice-skating, golf, gymnastics, equestrian, polo, etc., it's all about finances.
Incidentally, how can you possibly get the best athletes in the world from such a small population that the economically well-off represent? I get embarrassed every time I watch golf, whether it's the men or the women. If it wasnt for Tiger Woods, we would not have many American winners in golf. Its unfortunate, but we need to look at ourselves and question our common sense.
John Knight
If you want to know why American golf has become less competitive, it's because in the last 30 years golf has become economically less accessible to middle class American kids and, even if kids can afford to play, these idiotic new Pete Dye style courses are too hard to learn on.
On the other hand, kids in Europe get much more access and encouragement. Once their kids go through their vastly superior junior programs, they come here to play college golf.
Although equipment has become less expensive after inflation since 1970, greens fees in the U.S. have gone out of sight. When I was a kid in Detroit in the 1960s I could play 18 holes at four different Donald Ross courses for $2.50. There was another good course also at $2.50. (My dad was a factory worker and my mom was a waitress. I paid my own greens fees by working for minimum wage in a hospital dietary department.) Even at 400 percent inflation, that would translate to $12.50 today. Where can kids play courses like that for $12.50 now?
Even for upper middle class families, belonging to a club has become such a financial burden that parents say 'no thanks' unless the father is a golf junkie. Many of these clubs waste money on opulent clubhouses and four-star dining rooms and forget that the purpose of the club is the enjoyment of knocking a ball into a hole with a stick.
The result of all of this is that Americans will increasingly field teams consisting of only their richest kids while the Euros will field teams consisting of their most talented kids.
If Americans want to field competitive international teams they need to look at what the Euros are doing in their junior programs. Juniors need economical access, instruction and encouragement. We need to change our ways of looking after junior players.'
John Gillis
What can I add, except a hearty Amen! The situation is not getting any better, people. I, too, am fed up with $100-200 golf courses. I find it despicable that kids are not welcome at some time of the day, say 4 p.m.
However, developers think that this is still the thing to do, build posh pleasure palaces so the few members can sit behind their big picture windows and stare out at the rest of us poor geeks. Isnt this era about to end, the J. Bairds FitzTipton age when you have the ultra-rich and then you have everyone else?
Give me a $20 course and I dont care that there are few bunkers or small greens or the view isnt picture-perfect. The kid I see there just might be a future LPGA star.
Email your thoughts to George White
Getty Images

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

Getty Images

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.

Getty Images

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.

Getty Images

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.