Monday, February 28, 2005

My mission statement

To my kind readers:

When I started this blog, it was a bit of a lark -- just killing some time during some downtime at work (I'm a business writer at the
National Post and write about golf part-time in the sports section). Anyway, it has started to take a life of its own and it led me to realize that I haven't given any real indication as to the purpose of this undertaking.

Interestingly, I now enjoy an average of 30 to 50 readers a day, which is pretty neat considering I had no real expectations of ever finding an audience. Going for the Green was just meant as a clearing house for some of my past writing and an interesting opportunity to post some pictures and speak about the courses I've played. I hoped it would find some kindred spirits (I'm sound all Anne of Green Gables here), and apparently it has.

Along the way, I've encountered a bunch of other bloggers with similar ideas -- many of them are fascinating (like Jay Flemma's
A Walk in the Park, Ms. Muse's Golfersmuse and the new Carlsbad Confidential -- a shout out to all golf bloggers out there).

It seems to me that the time is right to clarify some of my objectives.

So here goes:

1) I'm a Canadian and so there will be lots about Canadian golf, courses and the politics of golf in Canada on this site. Not everything, mind you, but lots. There are no other Canadian golf blogs that I'm aware of, so I'm kinda in this market alone.

2) I'm going to plunder from on an almost daily basis. This is the best golf resource on the Web and a must read every morning. The only problem is there are simply too many stories. I find the most interest one that day, discuss it a bit and post a link. I hope people have found some interesting stuff in this stories -- pieces from transexuals on the women's tour to the issues facing Riviera. I find these stories amazing, so I hope you do as well.

3) I'm going to continue to voice my opinion in short bursts and in a different way from the writing I do for magazines and the National Post. This is supposed to be a refreshing forum, so I'm going to mention that Phil Mickelson's deal with Callaway may have some baggage attached. I couldn't probably do that in the paper.... it may only be two paragraphs once a day, but I'm not going to water anything down. Oh, and the golf ball travels too far -- deal with it.

4) I'm going to try to post a photo of an interesting course once a week. It may not be a full review, but I'm going to try to do this anyway. Hopefully I'll have the chance to do some particularly interesting courses in the next bit -- places like Merion and Pine Valley that few ever see.

5) I'm not going to be too concerned about presentation. At work I spend my day dealing with a six year old Macintosh, the bane of my existence. I hate it -- it doesn't allow me to post links and use the spell check. Ugh. Anyway, I try to fix this stuff at home, but I have six month old and occasionally work on some writing that actually pays my bills. So that's going to come first. One day I'll also make the site's colours green. Until then they will be orange. What's so wrong with orange?

6) There is plans in the works to have some guests on Going for the Green (namely Ms. Muse and Jay Flemma). Hopefully this will vary the opinion. I'd love to have more guests -- kinda like submitted op-ed pieces in a newspaper. I think it'll spice things up. We'll see.

That's about all. I'd love to get more comments from people, but I'm delighted just to have my 50 readers a day. Sometimes I think that's funny, considering a half million people often read my stories in the Post everyday. However, this seems more intimate, like you and I are just heading out on the links on a cloudy day for a round. The course is quiet. We tee off and the conversation leads to the great game of golf.

That's what I'm hoping for. I may not achieve it, but it won't be boring.

Your scribe,


"Prestige Players Club" opens in Toronto

Though it has already been posted on this blog last month, today was the official opening of the Prestige Players Club in Toronto, a new concept that includes Angus Glen (which held the 2002 Canadian Open), The Club at Bond Head and Taboo.

The idea is to take public golf to semi-private model, allowing 1,000 players to "join" the three clubs for $5,000 -- without an initiation. All three are top tier courses -- though the access might be an issue for players joining the "club."

Nonetheless, it is an interesting model -- one that might become more common as courses come under financial pressure across North America. After all, who has $60,000 to join a club -- and then another $5,000 in fees each year?
This partnering arrangement would allow clubs to fill rounds and generate revenue from the start of the year -- and big factor in balancing their books.

By the way, The Club at Bond Head looks to be a pretty good Michael Hurdzan course -- though most of the design was done by associate Jason Straka. Most interestingly, it will have a caddie program of sorts included in the $200 green fee. I hope it works -- there are only a handful of courses in Canada with caddie programs, all of which are private clubs.

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Check out Jay Flemma's North Carolina tour


While I'm busy spending the day trying to churn out two stories for publication (one of Canada's great lost golf courses and another on the world's most exclusive golf courses), I'm going to avoid writing today and point you instead toward Jay Flemma's updated A Walk in the Park. Jay's having great fun writing about golf (his real job is as a noted music lawyer) and he's documenting his trip to North Carolina, including Dan Maples' The Pit, Mike Strantz's Tobacco Road and Mid-Pines in Pinehurst.

I'll be back tomorrow -- enjoy what remains of your weekend. DiMarco versus Toms, anyone?

Saturday, February 26, 2005

Tiger, Phil, Mike and Vijay all depart Accenture Matchplay; Duval watch continues

Well, at last Retief Goosen is still playing in the matchplay -- otherwise there wouldn't be any reason to tune in at all.
As you probably know already, Tiger Woods, Vijay Singh, Phil Mickelson and Mike Weir all departed the tournament in the first two rounds -- making a star-filled field, well, less filled with stars. Love to see Ian Poulter take on Goosen -- now that would be a great matchup.

* Duval Watch continues: So, I'd hoped to tell you that David Duval followed up his Thursday round in Tucson with another in the 60s. He didn't. So the Duval watch will continue.

Friday, February 25, 2005

Matchplay would be better without La Costa; Duval watch continues


La Costa, one of those fine golf courses where power lines run through the property, is host to this week's Accenture Matchplay event.
Things started badly enough when Ernie Els said he wasn't going to bother coming. Then the rains came down, making the course a swamp.
The LA Times' LA Thomas Bonk points out today that the course needs to be changed in an attempt to make this event relevent again.
The concept of matchplay is heightened by being played on a great golf course set up for such an event. Riviera would be a great example. In fact, a classic course would work wonderfully, because score isn't the main aim -- the whole point is to beat your opponent, not par. That means length isn't the key issue and a great matchplay course must be full of interesting options. Do you go for the green on a short four or lay up? Try for that tough pin on a long three or hit to the center of the green? That's what matchplay should be.
Oh well. The PGA Tour and Accenture seem to like La Costa -- though apparently no one else really does.

* Duval watch: At the Tucson Open yesterday, David Duval not only broke 80, he managed to shoot in 60s! A three-under-par 69 to be clear. Today's card is messier (two bogeys, a double bogey, three birdies in six holes), but David still has a chance to make the cut. I'm hoping he does - then I can stop my Duval watch!

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Nick Faldo: I won't be Ryder Cup captain


According a report in the Guardian, six-time major winner Nick Faldo isn't going to be picked as Ryder Cup captain. Instead, the diminutive Ian Woosman will apparently be named to the role.
Apparently Luke Donald, one of Europe's young stars, has been publicly stating the role should be handed to Faldo.
"Nick has very similar characteristics to Bernhard [Langer]," Donald told the Guardian. "He had a very similar career, golf-wise - a better resumé, in fact. He dedicated his life to making that happen, and maybe some of those skills could be put to good use if he was the Ryder Cup captain."
It is hard to argue with Donald's logic. After all, there are only a handful of players in the modern era that were more successful than Faldo. His intensity is legendary, as was his ability to completely overhaul his game when he realized he wasn't going to dominate with his original swing.
Woosman? I competitor as well -- but shouldn't this kind of position go to the best, most competitive players nearing 50? Who is better than Faldo when it comes to this?
Interesting that the U.S. also spurned bigger stars when it picked Hal Sutton and more recently Tom Lehman. One major shouldn't cut it -- but it should be very hard to ignore six.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

North Berwick, West Links review

How can you truly review one of the wonders of the golf world? That's the issue when it comes to North Berwick's West Links, undoubtedly one of the world's great golf experiences. Quirky? Yes. Remarkable? Surely.

The first issue is finding the course -- it is a hard left off the main road as you enter Berwick. If you miss it, as my car did, you'll tour right around downtown Berwick before emerging on a road back near the course. From there you park alongside a white fence -- that turns out to be right next to the 18th fairway.

The opening hole is a 328 yard par four -- as strange a hole as you are likely to ever play:


The tee shot, right next to the starter's hut, is intended to land near a foot path that crosses the fairway, which is nearly as wide as the opening hole at St. Andrews. The second shot is blind, over a hill to a green perched near the sea wall. In a word - strange.

Thankfully, the second hole is world class, certainly one of the most majestic tee shots you'll ever hit.


At 431 yards, this is a great par four, made more impressive by the fact you can play the ball from the packed sand on the beach if you happen to slice one there. The second shot is not easy, but if you can cut a long drive out to the left, you can still hit a mid-to-short iron in. On the sunny day the photo above was shot, I was hard pressed to think of a better hole -- anywhere.

Quirks abound at Berwick, mainly because it is another course that was molded over time, rather than built like today's modern efforts.
No where is this more evident than in the third hole, a 464-yard beast.


The hole requires a long straight drive -- though the tee shot is apparently often downwind. Once there, players will find one of the walls that crosses the course -- with a narrow gap and a sign that can be seen in the photo. If you've managed to miss the fescue, players then have to navigate a long iron into a large green. Thankfully it is possible to roll the ball onto the green.

In many ways, the rest of the front nine is good, but not stunning. Holes continue to run away from the starting hole, peaking in the ninth, an interesting par five with a fascinating green site.
I found the 11th to be the next stunner, especially given its tee shot high on the dunes that run along the ocean.


The 13th it one of the holes almost everyone has heard about.


I've posted this photo before -- for North Americans it is quite jarring. The hole is not long -- a total of 365 yards -- but the green is protected -- by a wall.
I love the pro tip in the yardage guide: "Don't argue with the wall -- it is older than you."

The most famous hole on the course is the Redan, the 15th hole. Often thought to be one of the world's great par threes, it features a blind tee shot over bunkers to a green that falls away. It is a difficult hole, but presents many options for the inventive player. Interesting to note that one of my group made birdie by almost skulling a shot and ending up within inches of the hole.


The final good hole at Berwick is the 17th, a strong 425 yard par four. It features a green site perched on the table top of a hill.


If you survive the 17th, the 18th is a breeze -- a strange 274 yard par four, where the only concern is the cars parked alongside the fairway. As the guide says: "Concentrate. Car repairs are expensive."

Overall: North Berwick's West Links is one of the great experiences in golf. Though at a little more than 6,000 yards, it might not appear testing -- but all the facets are there. It forces a golfer to think in a way few modern courses do. It is hard to overpower Berwick -- which is why it still holds up over time. Architect Tom Doak, in his Confidential Guide, listed Berwick as one of his Gourmet's Choices. Hard to argue with his take on this amazing course which is a throwback to golf's beginnings.

Carlsbad Confidential -- a necessary blog read


Jason, a TaylorMade soldier by day, has started a really cool new blog called that looks to present an insider's account of the golf biz, an interesting and worthy undertaking that should make for compulsive reading. The site is called Carlsbad Confidential.
The site has already made a good run at Cleveland Golf and Callaway. Can those folks with the swoosh be far off? Keep logging into Carlsbad Confidential to find out!

Nick Price finally returns


One of golf's all-time great guys, Nick Price, is finally back to playing after a blood pressure illness caused him to drop 20 pounds. I interviewed Nick a couple of years back for a story I did for the Presidents Cup program when the event was in South Africa. He was charming. I also once played behind him at Seminole in Florida -- when I told him this, he asked why I hadn't introduced myself. Classy fellow. Good to have him back, though it might not be for long. He plays a guy named Tiger Woods in the opening round of the Accenture match play.

Rube on David Duval


I'm as guilty as anyone of thinking David Duval will never make a successful return to competitive golf, especially given his downright awful play at some points this year.
That said, as I've pointed out in a story I wrote for the National Post last year, I sure hope he does make it. He's fun to watch and fun to interview, contrary to the opinions of some television reporters.
Interesting then to check out Lorne Rubenstein's article on Golf where Lorne says Duval may not be that far away from playing well again.
Duval, with his flat, unusual swing, was always a feel player who was streaky. Rube seems to be saying Duval is actually enjoying himself and practicing a lot -- making some inroads that will hopefully surface soon.
However, his wife is expecting their first child in eight weeks, a factor that might keep Duval away from the range.
We'll see....

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Ever expanding drive distances on the PGA Tour


A couple of my readers today have said I'm wrong and that distance is not the biggest factor impacting the PGA Tour. I find that hard to fathom, considering the average driving distance has increased from 260 yards in 1993 to 288 in 2003, a 10% gain in 10 years.

My main point is the impact this is having on classic golf courses -- just look at The Old Course, where the R&A have had to move some tees back dramatically just to bring bunkers back into play. Bobby Jones may have hit some big drives, as did past legends like Ben Hogan, but both players had to contend with the placement of bunkers on classic courses -- and not simply bomb their drives over them like Tiger Woods did the last time he was at St. Andrews. The distance the golf ball travels is the No.1 issue facing professional golf, in my estimation. It is limiting the great courses that are available to the game, like Merion or even Riviera, and replacing it with the typical dull, uninspired work the Tour tees it up on week after week. Why do people tune into the AT&T or the Nissan? Part of it is certainly due to the courses, two of the best on the circuit, and if they can't handle the crazy distances players are driving the ball, then the tour might have to skip them. That might be more than pro golf -- not always the most exciting game these days -- can handle.

No problems with the golf ball? Don't tell that to the long drivers at Riviera on the weekend.

The fairways may have been soaked with rain, leaving balls plugged, but it didn't stop some of the tour's top pros from hitting it tremendous distances at Riviera over the weekend.

These guys are good? Maybe. But those same guys are simply hitting the ball too far now. The USGA or the PGA Tour -- or both -- needs to bring this distance issue in line with reality, so courses like Baltrusol, which hosts the PGA this year, or Pinehurst No.2, home to the US Open, don't get overwhelmed. This has simply gotten out of hand -- akin, if you ask me, to baseball allowing juiced players to hit 70 home runs without asking any questions.

These stats, indicating some of the longest tee bombs from the past weekend, are courtesy of Shotlink via Geoff Shackelford's note in today's Golf Observer. Tiger Woods isn't in the list because, according to reports, he was busy working up a sweat with Elin. It is all in the timing, apparently.

John Rollins 3rd hole Round 1 375 yards 64 to the hole
Geoff Olgilvy 3rd hole Round 1 359 yards 77 yards to the hole
J.L. Lewis 3rd hole Round 1 353 yards 80 yards to the hole
John Elliott 9th hole Round 1 324 yards
(uphill!) 122 yards to the hole
John Daly 12th hole Round 1 347 yards 118 yards to the hole
Lee Westwood 12th hole Round 1 339 yards 125 to the hole
Brendan Jones 12th hole Round 2 328 yards 126 yards to the hole
Adam Scott 15th hole Round 1 345 yards 145 yards to the hole
Hank Kuehne 15th hole Round 2 331 yards 141 yards to the hole
Robert Allenby 17th hole Round 1 338 yards
(uphill!) 264 to the hole
Adam Scott 18th hole Round 1 332 yards 120 yards to the hole
David Howell 18th hole Round 1 364 yards 86 yards to the hole

Monday, February 21, 2005

Adam Scott beats Chad Campbell, for what it is worth

Well, with a flood worthy of Noah hitting the greater Los Angeles area over the last couple of days, Mike Weir's attempt to three-peat ended with a rather underwhelming playoff between Chad Campbell and Adam Scott. That meant a tournament ended after 36 holes for the first time in nearly a decade.
Can you say dull?

The problem is that too few PGA Tour events end up at sites like George Thomas' Riviera, and with all the rain, hardly anyone got to see much of the course. They did show lots of shots into the sixth hole, the famous par three with the bunker in the middle of it. That's about as close as the PGA Tour ever gets to playing on a quirky golf course. Neat seeing players chip from the green.

Hard to say whether the best man won -- this was hardly a tournament at all. Colin Montgomerie shot 64 in his second round to vault into the top 10. Weir took a triple bogey in his second round to end up well back. Tiger Woods, apparently, used his time away from the course to get busy with Elin.

Just another week on the PGA Tour.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Curtis Strange on the Champions Tour, Riviera under water and Tiger Woods gets it on


So, after years spent largely away from the fairway, two-time US Open winner Curtis Strange is back on course.
Strange, who was always a strong analyst on ABC's golf telecasts, butted heads with the network last year when he said he wanted to play more after turning 50. In the end, he parted ways with the network to give professional golf another full-time try on the Champions Tour after eight years in a television booth.
Well, Strange is playing in his first Seniors' event (I hate this Champions' Tour nonsense) this week, and got off to a rocky start, shooting a 2-over-74 on the first day, though he recovered nicely, shooting a 71 the next.
Not sure whether Strange is going to be the next Hale Irwin, and win everything there is, or become like Ben Crenshaw, and demonstrate that not everyone gets better as they get older.
I've had one encounter with Strange, two summers ago. On a sunny day, I was playing the exclusive Fox Harb'r Golf Club in Nova Scotia (and shooting 73) alongside my partner, David Booth, a senior executive with Hewlett-Packard. After our game, David was jetting to New Jersey for some corporate golf function, while I flew back to Toronto.
When I arrived in TO and got in my cab, my cell phone notified me that I had a message.
"Robert, Curtis Strange here. David Booth tells me you played a hell of a game yesterday and added that you need to get a real job," he said in his Virginia drawl. "Anyway, keep hittin'em straight."
Apparently Booth told Strange about me game, whereupon Strange grabbed David's cell and gave me a call. Would have been more fun had I been there to pick up.
Anyway, Strange is OK by me, and I hope he makes lots of money this year.

* Riviera was rained out yesterday, with bunkers full of water. Apparently things don't look much better today -- and there's talk this could become a 36-hole event, the first for the tour in the last nine years. Mike Weir, the defending champ and the hope of the Great White North, is 2-under after stumbling badly during his second round. I can't see him repeating, though he did make a great comeback to win in 2003.

* Tiger Woods used the rain delay at Riviera to apparently get all conjugal with Elin.
At least that's the take from a story in the Orange County Register. According to writer Randy Youngman, Woods is spending some effort on "his timing," when it comes to Elin, something that apparently can't be worked out on the range.
"I would like to be a father soon," said Woods. "It's something we would like to have happen. As you know, it's about timing."
In his discussion on the topic, Woods apparently didn't mention anything about the need to bring the club from the inside, or the concern about prematurely releasing his position.
Given his typical abilities to hit it close in the clutch, expect news on Elin's pregnancy soon.

Just so you can be certain I haven't taken this out of context, here is the full story:

Friday, February 18, 2005

Steel to overhaul Musselburgh?


Once more, the Scotsman comes through with an interesting tidbit about Donald Steel potentionally overhauling the historic Musselburgh links because the race track with which it shares land is looking at an expansion.
I've liked some of Donald Steel's work -- like the Kintrye course at Turnberry or Redtail near St. Thomas, Ont. -- but last year I played the Eden course at St. Andrews, a project he renovated, and came away distressed.
The Eden was a Harry Colt design -- full of wild greens right alongside the Old Course. Some of it was brilliant -- until you hit the four holes Donald Steel did on the back nine.
Then you were handed four of the most uncharacteristic holes you'll ever find on a links course, with flat greens and one of the worst North American-looking ponds you'll see anywhere. Made me wonder why anyone would hire Steel, who is regarded as an expert on links golf, to renovate anything. At the Eden, he clearly demonstrated he has no ability to mirror the work that made up the rest of the course.
Anyway, the saga of Musselburgh, arguably Scotland's oldest course, is ongoing.....

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Phil Mickelson, Callaway and gambling debts?


There's a rumour out there, stemming apparently from the AT&T, that Phil Mickelson's deal with Callaway involved the payment of some rather large debts in Las Vegas.
Of course, I can't imagine any of the tour writers asking Phil whether there is any truth to the rumours, but it would be fascinating to see what happens to his big grin in the interview room if some one had the cahones to ask.
Estimates of the debt have ranged from $5-million to $7-million, but I doubt any one really knows.
Maybe there's no truth to this story at all -- after all, there was a similar one about John Daly when he signed to Callaway, though that tale probably had legs.
I once encountered Daly playing piano in the lounge of the clubhouse for Dancing Rabbit in Mississippi. The course was on a native reserve, right next to a casino. Rumours were that Big John, who had the Dancing Rabbit logo on his bag, brought in high rollers in exchange for some breaks at the tables.
Don't know whether that was true either, but he sure ain't much of a piano player.

Arnold Palmer returns to Weston, 50 years after his first win on tour

Arnold Palmer may only have appeared via satellite link-up today, but The King will be in Toronto in the flesh in September for the 50th anniversary of his win of the Canadian Open.
Palmer won at Weston, a Willie Park, course located in North Toronto. My friend, Ian Andrew of Carrick Design, is in the midst of overhauling all the bunkers at Weston. He better have them right by the time the television cameras show up.

Here's the media release:

TORONTO (February 17, 2005)—Return of the King celebrations were announced today to mark the 50th anniversary of Arnold Palmer’s first professional win and to launch the Greens and Dreams charitable foundation and the two new amateur championships.
Arnold Palmer is set to return to Weston Golf & Country Club in Toronto on September 12 where he captured the Canadian Open in 1955 for the victory that kick-started one of the greatest careers in the history of modern sport, Glenn Goodwin, President of the Greater Toronto Area Golf Association, told a news conference at Weston G&CC.
Mr. Palmer would go on to win an astounding 62 victories on the PGA Tour and become the most beloved golfer in the game. So much so, he became known simply as The King.
This special anniversary occasion will include a gala dinner and a pro-am to kick off the inaugural Kings & Queens Senior Amateur Championship, a national tournament for men and women. The format is individual gross medal play.
Mr. Palmer is excited about returning to Weston to celebrate the anniversary of that first win. “It was the kicking-off point for me,� he said of his 1955 victory. “It got me started on the winning trail and smoothed things out for me. The next year, I won a couple of tournaments and felt much more comfortable about what I was doing.�
Palmer and amateur legend Marlene Streit, who recently became the first Canadian inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame, will both participate in the pro-am, and hit the opening tee shots to help launch the inaugural Kings & Queens event.
The official Kings & Queens tournament, which Mr. Palmer expects “will soon be a premier senior event in North America,� will run September 13 and 14 at Weston.
“The Return of the King should be a marvelous event for Canada,� Ms. Streit said.
“This has been 50 years in the making,� said Weston Club President Robb English. “The board members are beyond excited.�


The sky has fallen -- R&A to allow women in Open Championship


According to the Scotsman, one of my favourite newspapers for golf, Peter Dawson at the R&A is talking about allowing women in the British Open. It is an amazing thing, coming from an organization that is male-only and that plays its most pretigious championship at men's only venues (Muirfield, Royal Troon, etc.).

That means the U.S. Open, the Masters and the British, could all have women qualify for their championships. I don't expect it to have any time soon, however. Regardless of what some TV pundits say about Michelle Wie, she's never going to play in a major championship. She'd have to win the U.S. Public Links to make it and she's lucky to get through the first round, let alone win it.

Here's the story.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Shackelford's conclusion to the problems at Riviera

XXXXXX has posted the finale of writer and architect Geoff Shackelford's series on the plight of Riviera, the George Thomas design that hosts this week's PGA Tour stop.
It is well worth a read and can be found here.

I've always enjoyed Geoff's writing -- he's not a contrarian, more of an advocate. However, I wonder if the brand of advocacy that he is suggesting in his writing about Riviera is counter-productive to his cause. I doubt very much that the powers-that-be will read it and think, 'Yes, we're wrong. Fazio is the wrong guy and we've been misguided in our views.'
It has always been my experience that powerful people, like the owner of Riviera, rarely are swayed from their opinions by having their mistakes pointed out to them publicly. However, I wonder if Geoff was just fed up enough with what has gone on at Riviera that he felt there was nothing to lose by writing a sharply-worded criticism of all that has gone on.It probably won't accomplish anything, but it likely made him feel better to speak the truth as he saw it.
I actually feel the same way about his most recent book, The Future of Golf. His comments on the USGA are smart and likely correct. I just don't see him accomplishing that much through his current method. He doesn't have wide support, it would appear to me, and one has to be careful not to be viewed as the solitary individual constantly saying he knows better.
I think Geoff's heart is in the right place -- but I'd be surprised if this kind of writing accomplishes anything. Then again, in respect to Riviera, he said he doesn't want to work with the current ownership. That's too bad -- he should be the one who protects such a great course.

Mike Weir turns up the heat at the Nissan


National Post columnist Cam Cole is in California this week to watch Mike Weir attempt his three-peat at Riviera. His column is below. Dave Perkins at the Toronto Star also wrote about Weir -- you can find his column here.
Weir's putting seems to have come along -- and if he'd made anything on Sunday on Pebble's notoriously lumpy greens, then he'd have given Mickelson a go.
One thing that impresses is the amount of time Weir is spending on the course these days. That could be an indication that we'll see the success Weir experienced in 2003, as opposed to the off-season that was 2004.

Weir tinkers to again reach the pinnacle
Seeks third straight victory in L.A.'s Nissan Open

Cam Cole
National Post

PACIFIC PALISADES, Calif. - Among the many thousands of ways in which Mike Weir differs from the average golfer is this: if, on some glorious day when the planets were all aligned, you or I ever managed to hit every single fairway off the tee in any nine-hole portion of a round of golf, we would be afraid to breathe for fear of disturbing whatever celestial power had taken possession of our bodies for this one, brief, shining moment.

"Whatever caused this," we would say to ourselves, "don't jinx it. Don't go for the beer after nine. Don't have the hot dog, it could throw your centre of gravity off. Don't take practice swings. And whatever you do, don't ask why. Just swing the club."

Whereas our man Weir, after hitting 100% of the fairways on Sunday at Pebble Beach and shooting a final-round 67 to put an actual quiver in Phil Mickelson -- a man he had trailed by 10 shots after the third round of the AT&T National Pro-Am -- spent 90 minutes yesterday with his coach Mike Wilson on the range at the Riviera Country Club.

He sent caddie Brennan Little into the TaylorMade trailer with wedges and driver to be tweaked. He worked on grip and posture, setup and alignment, examined his club position and hand action, went through the bag from wedge through the irons to the woods and back down again, and then hit a few more drivers. And a few more wedges. And took a couple of whacks with a rescue club.

And three Canadian scribes stood to one side, scratching their heads at this inexplicable desire to fix what clearly not only wasn't broken, but was working like a Swiss timepiece.

Why mess with success?

"Oh, that?" Weir said later. "No, we were not mechanical there at all. It was just, 'Mike, how's my grip look?' 'Looks great.' 'How's this?' 'Looks great.' It's just reinforcing all the stuff we worked on in the off-season, and he's honest enough to tell me if my shoulder's a little open, or my fundamentals get a little off. But I'm going through a routine on every shot [on the range], so I'm keeping my mind on shaping the ball, and that's important right now."

The 34-year-old from Bright's Grove, Ont., got close enough last week, with the final day's best score by three strokes, to make his pursuit this week of an unprecedented third consecutive Nissan Open title a realistic goal.

Apart from the US$572,400 he earned for finishing second to that other lefty -- vaulting him into eighth place on the 2005 PGA Tour money list, sixth in the world ranking and (unbelievably) 14th place in career earnings with US$16.3-million -- the way Weir hit the ball at Pebble was the stuff of dreams.

"That was as good as it's been in a long time, in that weather, hitting every fairway and all but one or two greens -- it's been a while since I've been in that kind of control, and that's what I've been working for this whole off-season," said Weir, who's had but a handful of rounds when his ball-striking was so sublime -- the second round of his first Open Championship at Carnoustie in 1999, maybe, when he carved out a 71 in horrible conditions to make the cut ... the final round of the 2003 Bob Hope, when he hit every fairway and won ... the final round of the AT&T, two weeks later, when he nearly beat Davis Love III ...

This time, if he had made a couple of putts at crucial points Sunday, he might have done the unthinkable and reeled in Mickelson.

"If that putt goes on 12 ... you never know," he mused. "It might have made a couple of those up-and-downs he made a little more interesting.

"Your mindset is so different when you have a big lead like he had, you're going out in tough conditions thinking, just shoot par and no one's going to catch me. But I could have easily been 62, and then he's thinking: 'How the heck did that happen?' It's like two years ago, I was seven behind [Charles Howell] and won. And Davis, he was eight behind after the third round in 2001 or '02 at Pebble, and by the turn he was tied for the lead."

He might have mentioned last year, at this very course, when his seven-stroke lead on Saturday night had turned into zero by the 16th tee on Sunday, before he gathered himself to beat Shigeki Maruyama in a nail-biter.

What a sweet comeback it would have been for Weir at Pebble, if he had caught Mickelson, with whom he has had a not altogether civil (well, by golf's gentlemanly standards) relationship.

"I definitely wanted to be in that last group, I was a little disappointed I didn't make a few things happen on the last nine on Saturday to get into the final group," he said. "I definitely would have liked to have been there to see how he reacted when I made a few birdies."

Weir worked hard to recover from a so-so 2004, and the results have been slow in coming.

"I went down to the desert [Palm Springs] to work with Mike almost every week, down on Monday morning, back [to his home in Draper, Utah] on Wednesday night," he said. "And then I'd go to this local driving range, with heated bays, and hit it out into the snow when I was home -- you know, put the tokens in the machine, fill the bucket up with stripers [range balls] -- and then the other days I spent skiing and spending time with the family, so it was a good balance."

The payoff, perhaps, only arrived last week. Though he is in the fourth week of playing six tournaments in a row -- the Accenture Match Play is next week, followed by the Ford Championship at Doral before he takes a break -- he said he still feels reasonably fresh. The greens at Riviera are small with Poa annua grass (or weeds, actually), like those at Pebble Beach, and tend to get spiked up and unpredictably grainy.

"I've always putted Pebble pretty well and obviously putted well here. Maybe I'm good on bumpy surfaces, who knows. It's like putting spring greens in Canada, after the snow melts and the putts are bouncing all over the place."

And every day on the range, when he's hitting it this well, gives a little more confidence.

Yesterday, he seemed to be aiming at posts in the tall wire-mesh fence that surrounds the Riviera range, and pinged more than a few off the wooden poles -- much as he did on that Sunday morning at Augusta two years ago, after which he went out and won the Masters.

Weir hasn't won since his victory here. Not even Ben Hogan, who won three times at Riviera -- the L.A. Open twice and the 1948 U.S. Open -- has done three in a row.

"I feel like my game's in good shape to do it again. This would obviously be a special place to do it, to get a win under my belt, get some momentum going and get after Tiger and Vijay and Ernie."

And Phil. Don't forget Phil.

"Oh," said Weir, with a wry little chuckle. "Yeah."

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Mike Weir tries for a Three-peat and Geoff Shackelford continues on about the changes at Riviera

Mike Weir, coming off his second-place finish at Pebble Beach, will try to keep up some momentum as he returns to George Thomas' Riviera for the Nissan. He's won there the last two years in a row. If he'd had even a few putts fall in the final round at the AT&T, he'd have given Phil Mickelson a run for his money. But at least he is making some putts, a big improvement over his earlier rounds this year.
While Weir's looking to win, golf historian and architect Geoff Shackelford continues his series on about the problems in restoring Riviera. Guess what? I don't think Geoff's a big fan of Tom Fazio.

Monday, February 14, 2005

Fazio roughs up Riviera

From today's

Geoff Shakelford has written the first in a series of three articles about how USGA and Tom Fazio messed up Riviera and are now trying to find a way to fix it.
Interesting, the story says the owner of the course, who spent more than US$100-million when he bought it, is working hard at trying to secure Tom Doak to repair the damage Fazio has done.
Let's face it -- using Tom Fazio to create or rework a golf course is kind of like eating at an Outback Steakhouse in the U.S. or a Keg in Canada. The food will be fine -- good, even -- but it will never be the greatest meal you've had. Occasionally the restaurant may even screw it up.
The only reason I can think of that people still use Fazio is that they don't really understand what makes a great golf course -- which is the case with a vast majority of course owners out there.
The tragedy of Riviera is the club made its Fazio changes in the hope of attracting a U.S. Open -- and now won't get one until at least 2014.

Here's Geoff's story:

Development threatens Musselburgh Links, one of the oldest courses in the world

Interesting that Myrtle Beach isn't the only place where people are considering plowing under golf courses to make way for added development.
In what would surely be a great loss to golf, the Scotman is reporting there is serious consideration being given to expanding a race track that uses the same site as the legendary Musselburgh Links, one of the world's oldest golf courses, where the game was played dating back to the 16th century.
Well, I'm all for progress, but this is a historic landmark they are considering bulldozing to make "a modern race track."
The club that plays on the links has come out swinging to protect its course. Let's hope it connects.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Duval finally breaks 80

So David Duval managed two sub-80 rounds at the AT&T this week -- though I'm pretty sure his amateur partners were giving him strokes.

Anyway, he still was 2-over-par, but at least he broke the 75 barrier

Saturday, February 12, 2005

A recent history of Pebble Beach, as Phil continues to surge forward!

Along with Riviera, TPC at Sawgrass, Harbour Town, and Baltrusol, Pebble Beach is one of the most interesting courses used on the PGA Tour. Surprisingly, I haven't played it -- but I did walk it when Tiger Woods came out of nowhere to beat Matt Gogel.

Regardless of what anyone says, it is a terrific course, not bad to get around if you're a spectator and looks like great fun to play.

Anyway, has done a
nice little history about the course in relation to current leader Phil "The Thrill" Mickelson.

Some of my readers here yesterday seemed to disagree with my assertion that Mickelson is the best player in the world at the moment. Well, after his amazing round at Spyglass, Phil followed it up with, for him, a lacklustre 67 at
Poppy Hills. Still, he sat four shots in front of Mike Weir, who seems to have learned how to putt again.
At the same time, Vijay Singh doesn't look like he'll make the cut. I'm not saying Mickelson deserves the World No. 1 spot as he's a streaky player known to hit some impressive highs. However, he's playing like the best player in the world at the moment. With Singh, Woods, and Els also playing well this year, we might finally see some of those great Tigers showdowns we've all been hoping for.

Friday, February 11, 2005 -- golf blog worth checking out

There's a golf blog worth taking a regular look at.

In my ongoing attempt to bring attention the burgeoning community of golf bloggers, I'd like to point out John Retzer's work, called

There's lots of great golf stuff on this site -- from price comparisons on new equipment to articles John notices on the Web. Check it out and enjoy.

Other blogs I've been watching lately include, which looks like it could be good fun, and

Tom Doak to build near Muirfield

According to the Scotsman, Tom Doak is scheduled to build a new course near Muirfield. This has the potential to be an outstanding project, especially considering Doak's recent work in Australia and in Oregon at Pacific Dunes.

Here's the story.

Phil Mickelson goes low (again) and Duval still can't break 80

Phil Mickelson rattled off an amazing 10 birdies yesterday to shoot 62, just another in a series of remarkable rounds from him recently.
Is Phil the best player in the world at the moment? I think so. Anyway, it was a terrific round.
There were some other low scores, including a strong round from Mike Weir.
As for David Duval, I think I'd have to give him seven or eight strokes if we played a match at the moment. He's not on a quest to shoot 59 - he's just hoping to break 80.

Check out Phil's card for the day.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Greg Norman turns 50

Greg Norman has turned 50, and is apparently going to play some Champions' Tour events. I interviewed Norman last year and found it akin to speaking with a Fortune 500 CEO. Still, he's a powerful force in the golf business.

Norman's career designs extend beyond leaderboard: Thriving golf-related businesses keep him quite busy
By Robert Thompson

Though it may not be obvious to the average golf fan, *Greg Norman* is every bit as busy these days as he was when he carried the
title of No. 1 player on the PGA Tour.

It is just that Norman's focus is less on driving golf balls and more about driving his businesses: clothing, residential development
and even wine.

But a big portion of that business is golf architecture. The two- time British Open champion was in Canada last week to scout a site
in Fernie, B.C., a project that will see him design a public golf course called Blackstone as part of a real estate development. It is
the third Canadian project to which Norman has attached his name (the other two are in Fort Erie, Ont., and Vancouver.)

"It is a magnificent site, one that doesn't come along all that often," he said in an interview. "It is a mixture of tough
topography with dark timber and valleys. A site like this is few and far between."

Norman walked the site for the first time last week after flying up from Florida. While some PGA Tour players use golf course design as a marketing arrangement, for Norman it is a labour of love. Though he is contracted to be on site a certain number of times, Norman says he can show up more than 20 times on some jobs.

"I dedicate a lot of my time to it and I spend a lot of my time talking about different routings with my guys. But I'm very hands-on
and the most important part to me is seeing a virgin site. You get so much more out of it than simply looking at a map."

While it is unusual to see a PGA Tour player venture away from traditional tour stops to see classic courses, Norman has toured
remote sites to witness the best golf has to offer. That means he has taken days out of his busy schedule to see rustic gems such as Scotland's Machrihanish and Royal Dornoch.

That has led Norman to take a more natural approach to designing golf courses, something he expects to employ at Blackstone.

"It is a huge turn off to me when I hear about some guy moving two million yards of land to create a course. I want to work with the
least disturbance."

The Shark has tried the minimal approach at Doonbeg, an Irish course that has seen its share of controversy.

"I like to see what was on the minds of classic designers and use some of that in my projects. Technology hasn't made a lot of classic courses obsolete because of the factors that made them great in the first place."

While his playing schedule has been cut significantly, Norman, 49, likes to remain competitive. That means he will play some events to get in shape for the British Open. It also means he's considering coming to Oakville, Ont., in September to play the Canadian Open, an event he has won twice.

"That's one of the things I'm trying to work out at the moment."

Norman doesn't understand why people think he should be playing more, specifically teeing it up on the Senior PGA Tour.

He admits the idea doesn't hold a lot of attraction for him.

"Golf is not everything for me now, the way it was in my 20s or 30s. Now I like working with my businesses and growing them. It is a
different challenge. But I set a plan together in 1993 and I'm following it."

Transsexual to play British Open

Here's an interesting story that I've been following for some time.
Mianne Bagger, born a man in Copenhagen, was a four handicapper in 1992 when he decided to become a women, a process he finished in 1995. Apparently the procedure helped his golf game, because he changed his name, grew some breasts and turned pro in 2003.
Anyway, she qualified for the European Ladies Tour and will now play in the Women's British Open. By the way, I saw a couple of shots of her on The Golf Channel yesterday and she has a fine swing.
Anyway, if you want more info, here's the story.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

PGA Tour hits Pebble Beach

It may rain, there may be sunshine and David Duval may actually hit a fairway -- it is all in a regular PGATour stop!
Among the top players in the world, Mike Weir will take on Pebble, known for its legendary bumpy greens early in the year. The full field is here.
Weir is having a bunch of issues with the flatstick -- and it has been holding him back all year. Doubt Pebble is the place where he'll pick it up, but who knows?
As for Duval, the question isn't whether he'll make the cut, but how high he'll shoot. Here's hoping I'm wrong...

Phil the Thrill is going to continue going deep

Turns out the three wood Phil Mickelson hit off the tee on the 18th at Augusta last year, putting him in position to make birdie and win the Masters, could well be the last time he ponders things before pulling out his driver.

According to a piece in USA Today, Mickelson is all about distance again and is pleased with the results after his win last week.

Phil The Thrill is back and that means he'll win a bunch of tournaments that no one can remember a month later. Mickelson needs to understand the FBR Open isn't the US Open and if he wants to win majors, he's occasionally going to need to find the short grass. He's hitting it out of sight these days with his Callaway driver, but only finding 58% of the fairways. You don't win a U.S. Open by doing that, but this year at the Old Course, where it is all fairways and bunkers, Mickelson's style might work.

We'll see.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Deane Beman hits out at the USGA

Former PGA Tour commissioner Deane Beman appears to have leaked a letter he wrote the USGA about the issues he sees with the regulatory body and its inability to do anything about the distances the golf ball travels.
You can find the story here:

It is surprising that Golf World has given this issue so much coverage. After all, Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player and Arnold Palmer, all of whom have more power than Beman, have argued for the need to curtail the distance golf balls travel. None of them have had any luck -- and they are arguably three of the top players the game has ever seen.
A prediction? The USGA will continue to waver on this issue until someone else -- maybe Augusta -- decides a tour ball is needed.

Monday, February 07, 2005

More Muirfield: #8 -- Here's an example of one of the great par fours in golf, Muirfield's eighth hole. Notice the terrific bunkers down the right side. The left is braced by long fescue. The green is also a wonder to behold, and few see it on their second shot, I can assure you.

More Muirfield: On a relatively gloomy day, my brother, Chris (pictured here trudging up the 16th hole) had a wonderful lunch and played some damned fine golf in spots. The greatness in Muirfield is not hard to see the first time around, but it is the course's nuances that you see clearly the second time around. It also features three of the finest long fours in the game (#8, #9, #10). All are completely fair and remarkably tough. Muirfield will highight all of your skill and all of the flaws in your game -- exactly as a great golf course should.

The Wonder of Muirfield: Spent the evening working on a couple of golf/business stories and that got me thinking of the remarkable time I had playing Muirfield last spring. Here's a cool photo with some of town in the background. Undoubtedly great, Muirfield is also subtle and nasty. Oh, and golf at its best.

Jarrod Lyle's amazing comeback

Some golfers come from a few strokes behind on Sunday, Jarrod Lyle made his comeback from leukaemia. Lyle fought the disease for a year, and yesterday on Australia's legendary Royal Melbourne golf course, he came very near winning the Heinekein.
There's a good story about Lyle here when he was contending for the championship and briefly took the lead on the second day.
Of course, he didn't win -- ending tied for third -- when Craig Parry took the championship in a playoff. There's a really nice profile of Parry here.
Best bit of all? Seeing Royal Melbourne, with its dramatic flashed bunkers, on television. Better than Augusta, I tell you.

Sunday, February 06, 2005

More inside the PGA Tour bloggers?

First there was the inimitable Ms. Muse, now there's Fourright -- bloggers who appear to be involved with the PGA Tour and are providing some interesting insights. It is a new blog with a great story about an "unnamed" South African PGA Tour player and his mishap at the Phoenix Open that was, shall we say, "shitty."
I've heard the story before -- when Craig Stadler told it to me last summer, but it is hysterical and worth a read. This Fourright person -- whomever it is -- could be worth a regular read.

Ontario's toughest golf holes

I hadn't realized this was online, but you can find a story about Ontario's toughest golf holes (which I participated in writing) here.
Called "Hell Holes," it was kind of a cool piece. But like most magazine stories, it disappears into the newspaper bin or is used to line the cat litter box or whatever. Anyway, it is now linked here... with some nice art.

More 16th at FBR

Gary McCord tells the Golf Channel the reason CBS stuck him to cover the 16th is "all the idiots" are there. Apparently there are more than 150,000 people at the tournament, an incredible number. Mickelson looks like a lock at this one -- I doubt Kevin Na can make enough birdies to catch Phil.
In other golf news, Ernie Els came up short at the remarkable Royal Melbourne, clearly one of the most interesting golf courses in the world. Craig Parry took the title. With all the hoopla about the 16th at the TPC at Scottsdale, few actually consider the Golf Channel has shown a tournament on a truly great golf course. Rarely do tournaments get played on courses as good as Royal Melbourne, one of the Top 10 in the world. You're not going to see anything on Cypress or Pine Valley, but you can see Melbourne. Take advantage of it.

Saturday, February 05, 2005

Olympic Club gets 2012 U.S. Open

Though there were rumours that the tournament would go to Merion in Philadelphia, a newspaper in San Francisco is reporting the 2012 Open is going to the Olympic Club. You can see the story here.

Here's the list for U.S. Open through 2012:

2005 Pinehurst (N.C.) 2006 Winged Foot (N.Y.) 2007 Oakmont (Penn.) 2008 Torrey Pines 2009 Bethpage (N.Y.) 2010 Pebble Beach 2011 Congressional (Md.) 2012 Olympic Club

It is an impressive list, with the exception of Congressional and Torrey Pines, neither of which are great U.S. Open Venues. Apparrently the USGA isn't concerned that the ball will be flying even farther by 2010 -- cause Pebble won't be that long, nor will Olympic.

Friday, February 04, 2005

Quick note of thanks

Hey all -- I'm getting a lot of regular readers and comments these days, which is great. Don't hesitate to drop me a note if there's something you'd like to say about what I've posted here. I'm really enjoying working in this format, considering when I write golf for the National Post, it is usually only once a week.
That said, I'm working on lots of articles at the moment, some of which I'll post here as soon as they appear in their respective publications.
Thanks again and keep reading....

Phil Mickelson goes low at the FBR

Well, everyone still knows it as the Pheonix Open, but the FBR got christened with a great round today by Phil "the birdie machine" Mickelson, who followed up his lousy 73 on Thursday by shooting 60. Remember Phil also shot 59 in the fall, so these low rounds are becoming as common as David Duval shooting in the 80s or John Daly withdrawing from a tournament. Click on the previous link to see this downright filthy round -- which includes five birdies in a row!
Mike Weir just made it to the weekend, so I guess he's still working on the stroke with the flatstick.

Ms. Muse adds me to her list

The wonderful Golfers' Muse noted Going for the Green today, which is very kind considering her illness. This is one Texas gal worth checking out -- her smart, sharp golf blog is as good as it gets on the Web. Way more fun than reading AP stories on

Ty Tryon finally wins, Darren Clarke puts family first

Two interesting stories in the news today.

First is Ty Tryon, the one-time 17-year-old prodigy, who bombed out on the PGA Tour and is struggling to find his way in the world of professional golf. He managed to finally win something yesterday -- the only problem was that it was a Hooters' Tour event, far, far removed from the PGA Tour with its courtesy cars and pristine golf courses.
Apparently we'll see Tryon, now 20, playing on the Canadian Tour this summer, as well as trying to make it through Monday qualifying on the Nationwide Tour.
Tryon could still turn out to be Justin Rose -- a teenager who emerged as a good, strong player -- but that could also be three or four years out.
His relative failure to this point seems to be proof that golfers shouldn't be rushed into turning pro (Michele Wie anyone?). Wouldn't Tryon have been better off holding back on the Callaway deal and the PGA Tour, and instead, heading to college and playing a few U.S. Amateurs? Seems clear now. I just wonder what his parents were thinking three years ago.
Anyway, if you're interested, you can find it here.

Secondly, apparently Darren Clarke's abscence from the tour is due to the fact his wife is battling breast cancer for the second time and he's staying home with his two small children. Hope all works out -- Darren is a real character on a professional golf tour full of country club clones.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

ESPN and the 16th hole at the FBR Open

Fellow blogger Jay Flemma put me onto this issue about the 16th hole, the notorious par three at this weekends FBR Open.
Interesting that as a way of pumping its telecast of this weekend's PGA Tour stop in Arizona, ESPN has asked some pundits for their thoughts on the 16th hole, a par three which occasionally sports galleries numbering in the tens of thousands.
Apparently, according to Golf Digest's Brian Wacker and Ron Sirak of Golf World, roudy, drunk galleries are good for the game of golf.
"It's not only good for the game, it's great for the game," says Wacker. "The energy that places like the FBR Open -- or the U.S. Open at Bethpage in 2000 -- create transcends the game and thrusts it into mainstream America. And that grows the game in an ancillary fashion. Of course there's a fine line between being rowdy and downright idiotic. But you have to take the bad with the good."
Better yet is Sirak's comments (I'm ignoring the ESPN hacks, of course they'll be positive about everything on the telecast).
"As long as they quiet down when it comes time for a guy to hit, what's the problem? The game needs a little energy around it. And the only crowd control problem I've seen in recent years at a tournament was at the 1999 Ryder Cup -- and it was created by people inside the ropes. "
Oh, OK, so that guy with the gun following Tiger in 2001 wasn't that big an issue, according to Sirak. Or that guy who threw the orange at Tiger. What about the stupid spectator who heckled Davis Love at last year's match play. Or the ones who heckled Sergio? Or Monty?
Apparently those weren't issues to Sirak.

Growing the game of golf is a noble concept. I just don't think you do the game any benefit by growing it by attracting a crowd more at home tailgating at a Bills game.
Golf has a long-standing ettiquete, one some people will never understand, but which is important nonetheless. I just don't see how rowdy crowds add anything to the game.
Of couse, I take golf seriously -- and am never found drinking while I play. Golf is a supreme test of skill. When alcohol enters the picture, golf becomes a leisure pastime. I don't want any part of that. on Dougherty's free lift

Turns out and "Our Man from London" agree with me on the issue of Nick Dougherty and the free lift from the railway ties at last week's tournament in Singapore. Dougherty played nicely, but god knows what might have happened had he not received the free lift.

PGA merchandise show

Well, apparently the PGA merchandise show had some cool gadgets on display, making the show at least entertaining this year. Interesting, in past years the biggest news to come out of the show, which is held every year in Orlando, is that another equipment maker has withdrawn, making it the equivalent of what Comdex is to the tech biz. Anyway, apparently this year's show had more going for it, including having Tiger Woods around to talk about his work with Nike.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Colin Montgomerie on the comeback trail

The usually surly-looking Montgomerie (or Mrs. Doubtfire, as many know him) is on making a bid to return to the ranks of the world's top golfers. He played well last week in Singapore, an extension of his strong play last fall and at the Ryder Cup. There's a story about it here.

While I used to dislike Monty and his whining, I've come to appreciate his silky swing and the fact that, if you catch him in a good mood, he can be one of the most charming interviews around. I also like the look of disgust on his face last weekend when Nick Dougherty got a free drop into the short rough from a nasty-looking bunker. It showed Monty is on his game and now with the separation from his wife appearing more distant, look for Montgomerie to have a strong year.

Canada's Top Courses on

Golf architect Ian Andrew, golf designer Jeff Mingay, entrepreneur Ben Cowan-Dewar, and this lowly scribe, came up with a Top 25 golf course list posted on It is meant as a bit of a personal reaction to the shortcomings the four of us have seen in Score magazine's Top 100 list.

Anyway, you can see the list and commentary here.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Hey, is that a beer over there?

Thundering Waters -- A John Daly Signature

According to well-placed sources, Niagara Falls is "anxiously awaiting" Thundering Waters , a so-called John Daly signature golf course.

That led me to wonder exactly what constitutes a John Daly signature golf course.
Typically having a PGA Tour pro's name on a course is just about marketing. With few exceptions (Ben Crenshaw, Jerry Pate, Mark McCumber), PGA Tour pros simply show up for the media opening, act like they've seen the course before (they have, often when they toured it that morning) and pontificate on how they are really interested in building golf tracks that resemble "the classics." They'll often throw around names like Dornoch and County Down, places they've seen once when they played the 1996 British Open nearby.

Anyway, I assume a John Daly signature means:

1) his wife was involved, and perhaps embezzled from the owners
2) John toured the facility in October at a media stop, downed some brown pops, had a couple of smokes and proclaimed the course similar to Crooked Stick, where he won the PGA Championship. Only, of course, this course is in Niagara Falls
3) He then sold merchandise in the parking lot before heading to the casino, where he dropped a ton of cash.
4) His second visit to the course (which was actually created by the Boris Danoff who designed the wonderfully dull Royal Niagara for the inept Ted Baker & Associates) will be this year for a full-on media event whereby he'll see the whole golf course for the first time -- when he plays it.

Other Canadian courses opening this year include: Grand Niagara, The Heritage Club at Ancaster, The Club at Bond Head, The Ambassador Club and The Ridge at Manitou.

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