The Real Reason Scores Are Low

By George WhiteMarch 16, 2001, 5:00 pm
Mark Calcavecchia sets a record for lowest 72-hole score at the Phoenix Open. Joe Durant sets a record for lowest 90-hole score at the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic. What in the name of Bobby Jones is happening with these absurdly low numbers that the lads have been shooting this year?
Well, youve read all the stories. Yes, the players are getting bigger. Yes, the players are becoming more fit. Yes, clubs are getting better. And yes, so are the balls.
But something else deserves as much mention for this carnage on the golf courses as any of these. Put simply, its this: the courses themselves are so much better. They are playing grass palaces, for goodness sakes ' 200 acres of beauty, all lush green with a finely mown surface, cut down to a precise measurement that is so much more definitive than the old courses were.
The course owners are very proud of their acreage, manicured to perfection. But theyve got to understand that these museums they are playing on are going to serve some very low scores. Nary a weed anywhere, the turf looks like an enormous blanket to the players. Lovely to look at, but when they start shredding it with all those birdies and eagles, the powers-that-be had better be understanding. The host got what he wanted ' golf played on top of a perfect cake ' but he had better be ready to accept the record-breaking consequences.
Arnold D. Palmer was one of those gentlemen this week. He is the proprietor, of course, of Bay Hill, site of the Bay Hill Invitational Presented by Cooper Tires. He also knows quite a bit about golf courses, since he was playing the Tour back in the 50s. He looks out at his golf course and he sees the velvet that passes for greens and fairways now. And he saw the ruts and weeds he had to play on 40-50 years ago. There is no comparison now, not even one.
Thank you! Palmer said to a questioner when asked about agronomys effect on todays low scoring. And I mean that sincerely.
You know, we talk about equipment and talk about all the other things that are making scoring better, said Arnie, now 71 years old. I can tell you that you walk out on the golf course ' and any golf course that we play today. The conditions are absolutely perfect. You couldnt ask for any better playing conditions.
Palmer remembered a little example. The 72-hole record before Calcavecchia destroyed a pretty good Phoenix course was set Mike Souchak at the Texas Open 46 years ago. Palmer was there for that tournament. The conditions, he said, were deplorable.
I started walking in that tournament and I was 5-10 and inches, he said. But when I finished, I was over six feet tall. My feet swelled up so I was taller than when I started. So conditions in those days were nowhere near what they are today.
In other words, courses that you call dog tracks today were the norm for a tournament course 50 years ago. Dog tracks, goat pastures - all the words that you use today to describe a dog-eared, chewed-up track ' those courses were in fairly good condition for the times. But they all pass for decent rough nowadays.
Look at the advantages Palmers Bay Hill greenskeeping staff have given him today. There is absolutely no need to scoot the ball around in the fairway. There are no thin spots. The ball sits up atop the grass blades perfectly. The golfer feels like he can hit a perfect shot every time ' and he does. It a short iron is called for and he wants to spin it, he can.
You could spin it in the old days ' occasionally. The ball would sit up on some shots and settle down on some shots. On the greens today, there never is a putt that must roll over a thin area. The player strokes it and the only thing that will move is it the natural contours of the land.
The players know the condition of the course isnt going to be a negative factor. Palmer has the mowers set at 3/8 of an inch for the fairways ' thats less than half an inch. They are mown perfectly. The greens mowers are set on the bottom of the reels ' thats as low as you can get them. The tri-plex mower, a fairly recent invention, has the grass carpet as low as it can go.
The fact is, everyone can reach pins, regardless of the location, if the wind doesnt blow. No course exists that can hide the hole from an aggressive player. The precision instrument that passes for a golf club, if wielded by a good player, and get the ball in the nearby vicinity of the hole ' IF the turf has the ball sitting up when the golfer strikes it.
Course agronomy today has every bit as much effect on scores as clubs and balls. You want high scores? Let your course go to weeds. You want low scores? Manicure it perfectly. And I do mean perfectly.
Getty Images

Rose leads halted Indonesian Masters; Snedeker WDs

By Associated PressDecember 15, 2017, 2:04 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose held a three-stroke lead at the Indonesian Masters when bad weather stopped play Friday during the second round.

The Englishman, who shot a 10-under 62 on Thursday, had completed 13 holes and was 5 under on the day at the Royale Jakarta Golf Club course.

Kiradech Aphibarnrat (64) was in second place.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew wit on the 11th hole at 2 under for the day after shooting an opening 72.

There was no reason given for his withdrawal, but the American has been affected by a rib-sternum injury for most of the season. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 2, Donald Trump

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 1:00 pm

Even away from the White House, President Donald Trump generated plenty of headlines this year.

Trump’s first year in office didn’t dim his enthusiasm for the game, as he made splashy appearances at two big events, tweeted about golf to his more than 44 million followers, teed it up with some of the sport’s biggest stars, including Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Lexi Thompson, and fired a few eyebrow-raising scores. Logging more than 75 rounds since his inauguration, the 3-handicap has only bolstered his reputation as the best golfing president, particularly after his alleged 73 with Sen. Lindsey Graham.

None of his appearances created a bigger stir than when he attended the U.S. Women’s Open. Despite protests and calls for the USGA to move its premier women’s event from Trump Bedminster – the president reportedly threatened to sue – his weekend there went off without incident, as Trump watched the action and hosted players in his private box near the 15th green.

Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year

Despite his controversial rhetoric on a variety of national issues, Trump has remained a staunch supporter of women’s golf, and he became the first sitting president to attend the U.S. Women’s Open.

An honorary chairman of the Presidents Cup, Trump also flew to Liberty National for the biennial team event, where he presented the trophy to the U.S. team and dedicated the victory to the hurricane victims in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico.

In late November, amid tweets about the national anthem, Turkey, Egypt and Time Magazine, Trump announced that he was playing a round in South Florida with Woods and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson.

Yes, that too became a headline, just like everything else Trump did in 2017.

Playing with the pros

Tiger, DJ and Faxon

Article: Video, images from Tiger, DJ's round with Trump

Article: After DJ and Tiger, Trump plays golf with Jack

Rory faces criticism

Article: Rory: Round with Trump about respect for presidency

Article: Rory: Round with Trump not a 'political statement'

President at the Presidents Cup

Video: President Trump makes the rounds at Liberty National

Article: President Trump presents trophy to U.S. team

Article: Stricker: 'Great thrill' to get trophy from Trump

Purported round of 73 with Lindsey Graham

Article: Senator tweets Trump shot 73 in windy, wet conditions

Article: Graham offers details on Trump's round of 73

Cart on the green

Article: Trump appears to drive cart on Bedminster green

Presence and protests at U.S. Women's Open

Article: Trump makes presidential history at Women's Open

Article: Trump supporters, protesters clash near Women's Open

Article: UltraViolet takes protest inside Trump National

Photo gallery: President Trump at the U.S. Women's Open

Trump golf properties


Article: Environmental group vandalizes Trump golf course

Article: Man accused of vandalizing four Trump courses


Article: Two Trump courses in Scotland losing millions

Article: Eric Trump denies Russia helped fund golf courses

Article: Trump company ordered to pay $5.77M in dues dispute

Reportedly fake TIME covers

Article: Trump clubs display fake Time magazine cover

Trump apologizes for voter-fraud story

Report: Trump's voter fraud claim tied to Langer

Langer: Trump 'apologized' for story mix-up

Pros comment on the president

Article: Players defend Trump at Senior PGA Championship

Article: Trump congratulates Daly; Daly congratulates Trump

Getty Images

Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 12:30 pm

Spieth, Thomas headline winter break trip to Cabo

By Grill Room TeamDecember 15, 2017, 1:05 am

Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth. Really good at golf. Really good at vacationing.

With #SB2K18 still months away, Thomas and Spieth headlined a vacation to Cabo San Lucas, and this will shock you but it looks like they had a great time.

Spring break veteran Smylie Kaufman joined the party, as did Thomas' roommate, Tom Lovelady, who continued his shirtless trend.

The gang played all the hits, including shoeless golf in baketball jerseys and late nights with Casamigos tequila.

Image via tom.lovelady on Instagram.

In conclusion, it's still good to be these guys.