Bunker Shots Key Venues

By Randall MellJune 1, 2010, 8:41 pm

Blasting into the week ahead, from a Golden Bear host to a sneak peak at the next Ryder Cup venue ...


PGA Tour (75x100)

The Memorial

After missing the cut at the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial last week, Phil Mickelson will be looking to fix his swing before the U.S. Open.

Mickelson’s game has never been as right as he would like it to be in the presence of host Jack Nicklaus at Muirfield Village.

In nine tries, Mickelson has two top-10 finishes at the Memorial, his best finish a tie for fourth in 2006.

Mickelson has broken 70 just six times in the 34 rounds he’s played there and he boasts an unremarkable scoring average of 71.7 at Muirfield Village.

Six of the top 10 in the world rankings are scheduled to appear with No. 1 Woods and No. 2 Mickelson joining No. 4 Steve Stricker, No. 5 Jim Furyk, No. 7 Ernie Els and No. 9 Rory McIlroy in the field.

Bunker shot: Like Mickelson, Woods also will be aiming to right his game before the U.S. Open, but Woods has history working for him. In 11 starts at the Memorial, Woods has four victories, including last year’s triumph. He has finished fourth or better seven times there and boasts a scoring average of 69.5. If Woods can’t get right at Jack’s place, where he hit all 14 fairways in the final round a year ago, he might actually lose his favorite status heading to the U.S. Open in two weeks at Pebble Beach, where he won by 15 shots in 2000.

Mell’s picks: Winner – Geoff Ogilvy. Contender – Stewart Cink. Darkhorse – Matt Kuchar.

  • Course: Muirfield Village, Dublin, Ohio. Par 72, 7,366 yards (Designed by Jack Nicklaus and Desmond Muirhead and opened in 1974).
  • Purse: $6 million (winner’s share, $1,080,000).
  • TV times: Thursday-Friday – Golf Channel, 3-6 p.m., replay 8:30-11:30 p.m.; Saturday – Golf Channel, 12:30-2:30 p.m.; CBS, 3-6 p.m.; Golf Channel replay 9:30-11:30 p.m. Sunday – Golf Channel, noon to 2 p.m.; CBS, 3-6 p.m.; Golf Channel replay, 9:30-11:30 p.m.
  • Last time: Tiger Woods shot a final-round 65 for his fourth victory in the event.

2009 European TourCeltic Manor Wales Open

Golf fans get more than a sneak peak at the home of this fall’s Ryder Cup.

They’ll get to see some European Ryder Cup hopefuls, including Luke Donald, play the Twenty Ten Course at Celtic Manor in this week’s European Tour stop. Donald is coming off a victory at last week’s Madrid Masters. The 38th rendition of the matches will be played in Wales for the first time Oct. 1-3.

Those watching also will get to see European captain Colin Montgomerie, who’s in this week’s field. Montgomerie’s competitive juices should be stoked wandering around the venue, so expect the colorful Scot to stir the pot with some strong opinions regarding this fall’s international team event. There’s always some sort of soap opera playing out on the European side before their arrival. Four months out, the Europeans are favored to win the Ryder Cup. Ladbrokes makes their odds 4/6. Montgomerie will be closely watching potential captain’s picks.

Bunker shot: Across the Atlantic, somebody cruelly coined the term for underachievement among professional golfers as “Luke Donald’s Disease.” Donald had an answer last week, winning the Madrid Masters a week after stumbling in his bid to win the BMW PGA Championship. The Englishman’s hot, having finished first, second and third in his last three starts. With a major championship a little more than two weeks away, Donald has a chance to fashion the “Luke Donald Cure.”

Mell’s picks: Winner – Luke Donald. Contender – Rhys Davies. Darkhorse – Jamie Donaldson.

  • Course: Celtic Manor Resort’s Twenty Ten Course, Newport, Wales. Par 71, 7,378 yards (Designed by Ross McMurray of European Golf Design and opened in 2007).  
  • Purse: 1,800,000 euros (winner’s share, 350,940 euros)
  • TV times: Golf Channel, Thursday-Friday, 10 a.m.-12:30 p.m.; Saturday-Sunday, 9 a.m. to noon.
  • Last time: Denmark’s Jeppe Huldahl defeated Niclas Fasth by a shot.

Champions TourThe Principal Charity Classic

Fred Couples keeps his amazing pace going.

Couples, who lost the Senior PGA Championship in a playoff last weekend, tees it up for the 13th time on the Champions and PGA tours this season, for the eighth time in the last 11 weeks. Couples has three victories and two second-place finishes in eight starts on the over-50 circuit this season.

Bunker shot: With debate ongoing over whether U.S. captain Corey Pavin needed a “brain scan” after suggesting it’s no lock he would pick Woods if Woods didn’t make the American team on points this fall, Pavin made a run at winning the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial on Sunday. He’ll take that momentum and loads of confidence to Glen Oaks in a bid to win his first Champions Tour event in his seventh start.

Mell’s picks: Winner – Corey Pavin. Contender – Fred Couples. Darkhorse – Joey Sindelar.

  • Course: Glen Oaks Country Club, West Des Moines, Iowa. Par 71, 6,789 yards (Designed by Tom Fazio and opened in 1994).
  • Purse: $1,725,000 (winner’s share, $258,750).
  • TV times: Golf Channel, Friday, 6:30-8:30 p.m., replay midnight-2 a.m.; Saturday, 6:30-9:30 p.m., replay midnight-2 a.m.; Sunday, 7-9:30 p.m., replay midnight-2 a.m.
  • Last time: Mark McNulty defeated Fred Funk and Nick Price in a playoff.

Nationwide TourMelwood Prince George’s County Open

Mathias Gronberg, who won last year’s event at The Country Club at Woodmore in Mitchellville, Md., is back to defend his title on a new course, the University of Maryland Golf Course.

Bunker shot: The top 25 on the Nationwide Tour money list, coveted because at year’s end those folks earn promotions to the PGA Tour, is an insecure collection of PGA Tour hopefuls this time of year. So much can change so quickly. Through 10 events of a 29-event schedule, Jon Mills holds down the 25th spot with $69,500 in official money. With $108,000 up for grabs this week, a player who hasn’t earned a single dollar this year could jump as high as 14th on the money list.

Mell’s picks: Winner – Kevin Chappel. Contender – Mathias Gronberg. Darkhorse – Justin Peters.

  • Course: University of Maryland Golf Course, College Park, Md. Par 71, 7,019 yards (Designed by George Cobb and opened in 1958).
  • Purse: $600,000 (winner’s share, $108,000).
  • TV times: Golf Channel, Thursday-Friday, 12:30-2:30 p.m.: Saturday, 2:30-5 p.m.; Sunday, 2-4:30 p.m.
  • Last time: Mathias Gronberg closed with a 65 to win by six shots.
Getty Images

Montana parents can't watch kids play high school golf

By Grill Room TeamDecember 11, 2017, 9:47 pm

Well, this is a one new one.

According to a report from KTVQ in Montana, this line in the Montana State High School Association rule book all but forbids spectators from observing high school golf in that state:

“No spectators/fans are allowed on the course except for certain locations as designated by the tournament manager and club professional.”

Part of the issue, according to the report, is that most courses don't bother to designate those "certain locations" leaving parents unable to watch their kids compete.

“If you tell a parent that they can’t watch their kid play in the Thanksgiving Day football game, they would riot,” Chris Kelley, a high school golf parent, told KTVQ.

The report lists illegal outside coaching as one of the rule's chief motivations, but Montana State women's golf coach Brittany Basye doesn't quite buy that.

“I can go to a softball game and I can sit right behind the pitcher. I can make hand signals,” she is quoted in the report. “I can yell out names. I can do the same thing on a softball field that might affect that kid. Football games we can yell as loud as we want when someone is making a pass or a catch.”

The MHSA has argued that unlike other sports that are played in a confined area, the sprawling nature of a golf course would make it difficult to hire enough marshals to keep unruly spectators in check.

Meanwhile, there's a lawyer quoted in the report claiming this is some kind of civil rights issue.

Worth note, Montana is one of only two states that doesn't allow spectators on the course. The other state, Alaska, does not offer high school golf.

PGA Tour suspends Hensby for anti-doping violation

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 11, 2017, 8:02 pm

Mark Hensby has been suspended for one year by the PGA Tour for violating the Tour’s anti-doping policy by failing to provide a sample after notification.

The Tour made the announcement Monday, reporting that Hensby will be eligible to return on Oct. 26, 2018.

The statement reads:

The PGA Tour announced today that Mark Hensby has violated the Tour Anti-Doping Policy for failing to provide a drug testing sample after notification and has been suspended for a period of one year. He will be eligible to return on Oct. 26, 2018.

Hensby, 46, won the John Deere Classic in 2004. He played the Web.com Tour this past year, playing just 14 events. He finished 142nd on the money list. He once ranked among the top 30 in the Official World Golf Ranking but ranks No. 1,623 today.

The Sunshine Tour recently suspended player Etienne Bond for one year for failing a drug test. Players previously suspended by the PGA Tour for violating the anti-doping policy include Scott Stallings and Doug Barron.

The PGA Tour implemented revisions to its anti-doping program with the start of the 2017-18 season. The revisions include blood testing and the supplementation of the Tour’s prohibited list to include all of the substances and methods on the World Anti-Doping Agency prohibited list. As part of this season’s revisions, the Tour announced it would also begin reporting suspensions due to recreational drug use.

The Tour said it would not issue further comment on Hensby's suspension.

Good time to hang up on viewer call-ins

By Randall MellDecember 11, 2017, 7:40 pm

Golf announced the most massive layoff in the industry’s history on Monday morning.

Armchair referees around the world were given their pink slips.

It’s a glorious jettisoning of unsolicited help.

Goodbye and good riddance.

The USGA and R&A’s announcement of a new set of protocols Monday will end the practice of viewer call-ins and emails in the reporting of rules infractions.

“What we have heard from players and committees is ‘Let’s leave the rules and administration of the event to the players and those responsible for running the tournament,’” said Thomas Pagel, the USGA’s senior director of rules and amateur status.


The protocols, formed by a working group that included the PGA Tour, LPGA, European Tour, Ladies European Tour and the PGA of America, also establish the use of rules officials to monitor the televised broadcasts of events.

Additionally, the protocols will eliminate the two-shot penalty when a player signs an incorrect scorecard because the player was unaware of a violation.

Yes, I can hear you folks saying armchair rules officials help make sure every meaningful infraction comes to light. I hear you saying they make the game better, more honest, by helping reduce the possibility somebody violates the rules to win.

But at what cost?

The chaos and mayhem armchair referees create can ruin the spirit of fair play every bit as much as an unreported violation. The chaos and mayhem armchair rules officials create can be as much a threat to fair play as the violations themselves.

The Rules of Golf are devised to protect the integrity of the game, but perfectly good rules can be undermined by the manner and timeliness of their enforcement.

We have seen the intervention of armchair referees go beyond the ruin of fair play in how a tournament should be conducted. We have seen it threaten the credibility of the game in the eyes of fans who can’t fathom the stupidity of a sport that cannot separate common-sense enforcement from absolute devotion to the letter of the law.

In other sports, video review’s timely use helps officials get it right. In golf, video review too often makes it feel like the sport is getting it wrong, because timeliness matters in the spirit of fair play, because the retroactive nature of some punishments are as egregious as the violations themselves.  

We saw that with Lexi Thompson at the ANA Inspiration this year.

Yes, she deserved a two-shot penalty for improperly marking her ball, but she didn’t deserve the two-shot penalty for signing an incorrect scorecard. She had no idea she was signing an incorrect scorecard.

We nearly saw the ruin of the U.S. Open at Oakmont last year, with Dustin Johnson’s victory clouded by the timing of a video review that left us all uncertain if the tournament was playing out under an incorrect scoreboard.

“What these protocols are put in place for, really, is to make sure there are measures to identify the facts as soon as possible, in real time, so if there is an issue to be dealt with, that it can be handled quickly and decisively,” Pagel said.

Amen again.

We have pounded the USGA for making the game more complicated and less enjoyable than it ought to be, for creating controversy where common sense should prevail, so let’s applaud executive director Mike Davis, as well as the R&A, for putting common sense in play.

Yes, this isn’t a perfect answer to handling rules violations.

There are trap doors in the protocols that we are bound to see the game stumble into, because the game is so complex, but this is more than a good faith effort to make the game better.

This is good governance.

And compared to the glacial pace of major rules change of the past, this is swift.

This is the USGA and R&A leading a charge.

We’re seeing that with the radical modernization of the Rules of Golf scheduled to take effect in 2019. We saw it with the release of Decision 34/3-10 three weeks after Thompson’s loss at the ANA, with the decision limiting video review to “reasonable judgment” and “naked eye” standards. We’re hearing it with Davis’ recent comments about the “horrible” impact distance is having on the game, leading us to wonder if the USGA is in some way gearing up to take on the golf ball.

Yes, the new video review protocols aren’t a panacea. Rules officials will still miss violations that should have been caught. There will be questions about level playing fields, about the fairness of stars getting more video review scrutiny than the rank and file. There will be questions about whether viewer complaints were relayed to rules officials.

Golf, they say, isn’t a game of perfect, and neither is rules enforcement, though these protocols make too much sense to be pilloried. They should be applauded. They should solve a lot more problems than they create.

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.”