A time to reflect

By John HawkinsSeptember 11, 2011, 9:00 am

Tenth hole, Great River GC in Milford, Conn. Many Americans remember what they were doing and where they were doing it when they first heard of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks – apocalyptic events usually receive special exemptions and head straight to the memory’s long-term vault. Details of the devastation were sketchy at first, but when someone tells you with a straight face that a couple of commercial airliners crashed into the World Trade Center, the location of a little white ball can seem rather insignificant.

Still, we hit our tee shots at what was then the par-3 10th, all of them poorly, then decided we didn’t want to play anymore. I live about 50 miles north of New York City and quickly remembered my wife was taking a train to midtown Manhattan that morning. Fifteen minutes earlier and she would have gotten stuck, probably for hours. Instead, she was back before noon, by which time grim reality had wrapped its hand around the nation’s throat.

Ten years later, the effects of 9/11, beyond those who lost friends or family, are most obvious during air travel. I’m no economist – a blissful 28 handicap when it comes to political matters – but I’m thinking the attacks did nothing to strengthen the dollar or shrink the gap between those who think our country is in shambles and those who think we’re doing just fine. Those issues are best left for the experts to ponder.

I’m a golf guy, and though the game looks a lot different competitively than it did a decade ago, that change has come about since 9/11, not because of it. The decline of Tiger Woods remains a big deal, much to the chagrin of some, but the emergence of the Europeans has done just as much to bulldoze the previous landscape. In September 2001, Phil Mickelson still hadn’t won a major. His career was becoming defined by those shortcomings, whereas David Duval, who had recently claimed the ’01 British Open, had also played better than Woods for an extended period in the late 1990s.

The PGA Tour reacted prudently to the terrorist attacks by canceling the World Golf Championships event that week in St. Louis, but I don’t think the 10th anniversary of 9/11 has anything to do with the bye week we’re in now. If you’re going to give the players some time off, it makes more sense to coincide that break with the start of the NFL season. Previously, the off-week was scheduled between Chicago and the Tour Championship in Atlanta, where the field is much smaller and everyone goes home rich.

This is better, not just to avoid competing with the NFL, which is going to happen anyway, but to give 70 guys a break instead of 30 and let everyone recharge their batteries for the final two stops of the regular season.

There was no FedEx Cup playoff series in 2001. In fact, the WGC concept was in just its third year, and the tournament sponsored at the time by American Express had been held in Spain in 1999 and 2000. The Amex gathering was the one canceled in St. Louis – it then alternated between Great Britain and the United States before a new title sponsor came along and the tournament settled at Doral (2007).

That’s when the Tour introduced the playoffs. If there is no such thing as too many premium-field events in pro golf, the FedEx Cup has illuminated the lack of an identity with the WGCs, two of which are stroke-play tournaments held at longtime Tour venues and look very much like what was played there for decades before. The fields were always strong at Doral, always strong at Firestone. The fellas just tee it up for a lot more money nowadays, which is the Tour’s definition of progress.

The playoff format, meanwhile, is obviously packed into a five-week stretch with a $10 million carrot dangling above the finish line, which at least makes it a project with a purpose. As much as the Tour could do to make its postseason better – deprioritize its commercial sensibilities and corporate-dollar craving, for starters – the system in place now works fine. There is more top-tier golf than 10 years ago, and many of the game’s hardcore fans are going to show interest regardless of how much noise the NFL is making.

This pause in the action doesn’t kill any momentum because there wasn’t much momentum to kill. It is what it is, as they say. A week away offers us a chance to reflect on a lot of things.

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.

Tributes pour in for legendary caddie Sheridan

By Randall MellNovember 23, 2017, 2:54 pm

Tributes are pouring in as golf celebrates the life of Greg Sheridan after receiving news of his passing.

Sheridan, a long-time LPGA caddie who worked for some of the game’s all-time greats, including Kathy Whitworth and Beth Daniel, died Wednesday in Indian Rocks Beach, Fla., at 63. He was diagnosed in July 2016 with brain and lung cancer.

Sheridan worked the last dozen years or so with Natalie Gulbis, who expressed her grief in an Instagram post on Wednesday:

“Greg…I miss you so much already and it hasn’t even been a day. 15+ seasons traveling the world you carried me & my bag through the highs and lows of golf and life. You were so much more than my teammate on the course…Thank you.”

Sheridan was on Whitworth’s bag for the last of her LPGA-record 88 titles.

“When I first came on tour, I would try to find out how many times Greg won,” Gulbis told Golfweek. “It’s a crazy number, like 50.”

Matthew Galloway, a caddie and friend to Sheridan, summed up Sheridan’s impressive reach after caddying with him one year at the LPGA Founders Cup, where the game’s pioneers are honored.

“Best Greg story,” Galloway tweeted on Thanksgiving morning, “coming up 18 at PHX all the founders were in their chairs. Greg goes, `Yep, caddied for her, her and her.’ Legend.”

In a first-person column for Golf Magazine last year, Gulbis focused on Sheridan while writing about the special bond between players and caddies. She wrote that she won the “looper lottery” when she first hired Sheridan in ’04.

“Greg and I have traveled the world, and today he is like family,” Gulbis wrote. “Sometimes, he’s a psychologist. Last year, my mom got sick and it was a distraction, but he was great. When I used to have boyfriend issues and breakup issues, he was my confidant. In a world where caddies sometimes spill secrets, Greg has kept a respectful silence, and I can’t thank him enough for that. He’s an extension of me.”

Four months after Gulbis wrote the column, Sheridan was diagnosed with cancer.

“The LPGA family is saddened to hear of the loss of long-time tour caddie, Greg Sheridan,” the LPGA tweeted. “Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and players he walked with down the fairways. #RIP.”

Dean Herden was among the legion of caddies saddened by the news.

“Greg was a great guy who I respected a lot and taught me some great things over the years,” Herden texted to GolfChannel.com.

Here are some of heartfelt messages that are rolling across Twitter:

Retired LPGA great Annika Sorenstam:

LPGA commissioner Mike Whan in a retweet of Gulbis:

Golf Channel reporter and former tour player Jerry Foltz:

Christina Kim:

LPGA caddie Shaun Clews:

LPGA caddie Jonny Scott:

LPGA caddie Kevin Casas:

LPGA pro Jennie Lee: