Future Olympic venues provide welcome stability

By Rex HoggardSeptember 13, 2017, 7:40 pm

It’s not as though it was any big surprise. This plan had been in the making for some time, but following the stress and strain caused by golf’s return to the Olympics last year there is something to be said for turnkey venues.

Although the Olympic Golf Course has emerged as a rare beacon of hope from last year’s Rio Games, for those who endured years of delays and constructions concerns it was not an ideal situation.

The anxiety caused by having to start from scratch in Rio for golf’s return to the Games was just part of bigger-picture concerns that led to many of the game’s top players passing on a trip to the ’16 Olympics, but on Wednesday the executive board of the International Olympic Committee made sure that’s not an issue for the foreseeable future.

The executive board officially announced that Paris will host the 2024 Summer Games and Los Angeles will get the ’28 Olympics.

Both cities originally bid on the ’24 Games, but were considered such leading candidates they agreed to alter hosting duties in ’24 and ’28. It was a win-win for the IOC and for golf.

While golf needs to officially be approved past the 2020 Games, which should happen this week, the venue for the ’24 Games would be Le Golf National, the venue for next year’s Ryder Cup and a regular stop on the European Tour, and Riviera Country Club, the annual site of the PGA Tour’s Genesis Open since 1929, in 2028.

There will be no scrambling to create something from nothing, like Rio architect Gil Hanse and Co. did in Rio. No worries over whether the game’s best will find a suitable test or how the competition will show to the world – just fine-tuning.

 It’s a comfort that Antony Scanlon, the executive director of the International Golf Federation, couldn’t hide during a recent interview.

“A good test event next year,” joked Scanlon, referring to Le Golf National and the ’17 Ryder Cup. “Every year after that with the French Open we will try to improve on it.”

If golf is approved for the ’24 Games and beyond, which officials are confident will happen, Riviera is considered one of the game’s best courses and annually draws one of the Tour’s best fields.

This may seem like a small portion of the Olympic puzzle for Scanlon, but given how trying the ’16 and ’20 Games have been logistically it’s a genuine reason for organizers to celebrate.

Although the Rio course was completed on time for last year’s Olympics, and by all accounts proved to be a successful venue despite countless construction delays, protests and legal wrangling, it was a distraction that golf would have gladly done without.

Even the 2020 venue in Tokyo hasn’t exactly been a home run. Following weeks of criticism for not allowing females members, Kasumigaseki Country Club, the venue for the ’20 Games, voted in March to reverse its policy and allow women to join the club.

This change of heart came after the IOC made it clear it would have no trouble finding another venue if the policy remained in place.

The Paris and Los Angeles venues will have no such issues. Both are established clubs with close ties to the game’s leading organizations, like the PGA and European tours.

The courses also have a proven track record, with Riviera regularly voted as one of the Tour’s best venues by players and Le Golf National among the Continent’s most popular stops.

While Rio was a unique success story, for vastly different reasons, consider the game’s best going head-to-head on a course in Versailles just minutes outside of Paris’ city center, or at Riviera, which is wedged between San Vicente Road and Sunset Boulevard in Brentwood (In a related note to 2028 athletes: traffic could be an issue).

It’s always the play on the field that makes a competition special, but having fields with established reputations and proven logistics can only enhance an event that exceeded many expectations in ’16.

For all the issues faced by organizers last year in Rio, there were advantages to golf returning to the Games in South America, the primary benefit being able to introduce a country with very little golf history to the game on such an important stage.

But all things considered, Scanlon will gladly embrace a little less uncertainty for future competitions.

Day (68) just one back at Australian Open

By Nick MentaNovember 24, 2017, 6:40 am

Jason Day posted a second-round 68 to move himself just one off the lead held by Lucas Herbert through two rounds at the Emirates Australian Open. Here’s where things stand after 36 holes in Sydney.

Leaderboard: Herbert (-9), Day (-8), Cameron Davis (-7), Anthony Quayle (-6), Matt Jones (-4), Cameron Smith (-4), Nick Cullen (-4), Richard Green (-4)

What it means: Day is in search of his first worldwide victory of 2017. The former world No. 1 last visited the winner’s circle in May 2016, when he won The Players at TPC Sawgrass. A win this week would close out a difficult year for the Aussie who struggled with his game while also helping his mother in her battle with cancer. Day’s last victory on his native soil came in 2013, when he partnered with Adam Scott to win the World Cup of Golf for Australia at Royal Melbourne.

Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open

Round of the day: Herbert followed an opening 67 with a round of 66 to vault himself into the lead at The Australian Golf Club. He made six birdies, including four on his second nine, against a lone bogey to take the outright lead. The 22-year-old, who held the lead at this event last year and captured low-amateur honors in 2014, is coming off a runner-up finish at the NSW Open Championship, which boosted him from 714th to 429th in the Official World Golf Ranking. His 5-under score was matched by Dale Brandt-Richards and Josh Cabban.

Best of the rest: Matt Jones, who won this event over Jordan Spieth and Adam Scott two years ago, turned in 4-under 67. Jones is best known to American audiences for his playoff victory at the 2014 Shell Houston Open and for holding the 36-hole lead at the 2015 PGA Championship at Whistling Straits, which was eventually won by Day. Jones will start the weekend five shots off the lead, at 4 under par.

Biggest disappointment: Spieth has a lot of work to do this weekend if he expects to be in the title picture for the fourth year in a row. Rounds of 70-71 have him eight shots behind the lead held by Herbert. Spieth made a birdie and a bogey on each side Friday to turn in level par. The reigning champion golfer of the year has finished first, second and first at this event over the last three years.

Storyline to watch this weekend: The Australian Open is the first event of the 2018 Open Qualifying Series. The leading three players who finish in the top 10 and who are not otherwise exempt will receive invites into next summer’s Open Championship at Carnoustie.

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.