What Price Golf Technology?

The last 20 years have witnessed a sea change in golf equipment performance. Today we have more and better choices than ever. But is all that a good thing?

Bag DropFred Ridley, the former USGA president who now heads Augusta National’s Competition Committee, must be pleased with himself and his club for turning the Masters into a U.S. Open venue.

But after watching the train wreck that was this year’s event, it occurred to me that we were seeing more than the result of poor choices by the green jackets. We were seeing a consequence of poor choices by the blue jackets at the USGA who have allowed technological advances to change the game.

Would the hallowed grounds of Augusta been so bastardized had not club and ball technology forced it? I don’t think so. And that’s why I believe that while technology on some levels has helped the average golfer enjoy the game a bit more, on the whole I think we’ve lost more than we’ve gained.

Volume Ninety-Three

Zach Johnson, Masters Champion. Has a nice ring to it.

Hittin' the LinksThe kid from Cedar Rapids, Iowa showed some big heart and deft putting down the stretch as he carded a final-round 69 to win the coveted green jacket at the 2007 Masters Tournament.

This week we have recaps of the Masters, the Masters, and the Masters.

2007 Masters Live Blog

Join us in a running commentary on the 2007 Masters. Who will win? Reload frequently.

18:40 – Tiger fails to hole out for eagle to tie Zach Johnson. The final leaderboard looks like this:

Pos Player         R4  Tot   R1   R2   R3   R3   Total
--- ------         --  ---   --   --   --   --   -----
1   Z. Johnson     -3   +1   71   73   76   69    289
T2  R. Sabbatini   -3   +3   73   76   73   69    291
T2  R. Goosen      -3   +3   76   76   70   69    291
T2  T. Woods        E   +3   73   74   72   72    291
T5  J. Kelly       -2   +4   75   69   78   70    292
T5  J. Rose        +1   +4   69   75   75   73    292
T7  P. Harrington  +1   +5   77   68   75   73    293
T7  S. Appleby     +3   +5   75   70   73   75    293
9   D. Toms         E   +6   70   78   74   72    294

Phil Puts the Green Jacket on Zach

The Cheers Have Left Augusta

I hope that Bobby Jones and Clifford Roberts are superglued in their coffins. If not, they’re probably spinning so fast they’re likely to pop out in China before the final round concludes on Sunday.

Masters LogoThrough most of two rounds of the 71st Masters, one thing is clear: the music has died. The cheers have died. The excitement has died.

With a first-round lead of -3 (which required a 20-putt performance by one of the two leaders) and a stroke average of 76.147, Augusta National is playing more like a U.S. Open venue than the host course of The Masters. You can not only count on one hand – no, make that half of one hand – the number of eagles we saw in the first round.

Have you ever heard less cheers at any golf tournament than you heard yesterday during the first round of The Masters?

Best Golf Swings

Five of the greatest swings are on display in this week’s offering. Most of them will be remembered among the greatest champions of all time.

Trap Five LogoGolf, like fly-fishing (another sport I love), can be poetry. While we see more jerks and hacks than poems in our weekend foursomes, thankfully there are some swings worth emulating.

After some deliberation, I’ve chosen the best golf swings of all time and ranked them in order from five to one. See if you agree.

2007 Masters Predictions

Was anyone brave enough to pick against Tiger? Read our predictions to find out.

Thrash TalkThe 2007 Masters begins today. It’s a great day to be a golf fan! (On the other hand, it’s not so great to be the spouse of a golf fan.) The season’s first men’s major championship has arrived, and everyone has a clean slate as far as predictions go. The Sand Trap staff members are included in this group and have once again voiced our opinions in what has become a tradition for us come majors time.

This year, Tiger Woods will be attempting to win his fifth green jacket and third straight major while Phil Mickelson will be trying for his third green jacket in four years. The spotlight will be on those two golfers for the most part, but there are plenty of guys talented enough to win this time around.

Were any of us brave enough to pick against Tiger? If so, who did we pick to knock off the world’s best? Finally, which golfers may sneak up on the field and contend, and what are our opinions of the ever-changing Augusta National? All this and more can be found below. If you have anything to add, please comment below or discuss it in the forum. Now let’s get this show on the road!

Bunker’s Dozen: March 2007

The world’s best, an LPGA Tour young gun, a spitting Spaniard, and more in this month’s list.

Thrash TalkThe West Coast Swing ended in February, and The Florida Swing began shortly thereafter. Now it’s the beginning of April, and The Masters is here. The 2007 season is well underway, and it has been very exciting to say the least. On top of that, the LPGA Tour’s first major championship is in the books, and the Nationwide Tour is in full swing.

Tiger Woods had an up-and-down month of February. Woods completely lost focus at Bay Hill in the final round, shooting a lofty 76 on Sunday at Arnie’s place. In true Tiger fashion, however, he bounced back by winning at Doral, and he also won the individual scoring title at The Tavistock Cup.

How did all this affect the world’s best in this month’s Bunker’s Dozen? Also, did Vijay move up any after winning his second PGA Tour event of the season? Finally, where will LPGA young gun Morgan Pressel find herself after becoming the LPGA Tour’s youngest ever major winner? These three and others can be found in the March edition of Bunker’s Dozen. If you have anything to add, please comment below or discuss it in the forum.

Golf Talk [Episode 052]

Jeff is back, so I can’t make any snarky comments in the subtitle here, but this week I don’t need to: Phil sets himself up for his own ice cream joke.

PodcastMorgan Pressel makes her first LPGA win a major, while Adam Scott and Stuart Appleby prepare for The Masters by playing “Rinse-a-Ball” in Houston: who would win? Also this week, more on Sergio’s spit, Phil’s Masters dinner, Billy Payne, and the demise of Augusta Natioanl. All this and more in this episode of Golf Talk.

You can subscribe to the RSS feed for our podcasts here or download Episode 052 as an MP4 file. For those who want to subscribe to us in iTunes, click here.

For this week’s Show Notes – links to articles we discuss in the show and additional information – just read on.

2007 Masters First-Round Tee Times

When will the players head out? Well, Tiger Woods is at 1:52. First out this year? Ian Poulter and Billy Mayfair.

8:00 am – Billy Mayfair, Ian Poulter
8:11 am – Scott Verplank, Nick O’Hern, Joe Durant
8:22 am – Larry Mize, Tim Clark, Troy Matteson
8:33 am – Sandy Lyle, Dean Wilson, Bradley Dredge
8:44 am – Ben Crenshaw, a-John Kelly, Davis Love III
8:55 am – Chris DiMarco, Kenneth Ferrie, Steve Stricker
9:06 am – Gary Player, a-Julien Guerrier, Vaughn Taylor
9:17 am – Arron Oberholser, Niclas Fasth, Zach Johnson
9:28 am – Tom Watson, a-Casey Watabu, Fred Funk
9:39 am – Mark O’Meara, a-Dave Womack, Stuart Appleby
9:50 am – Bernhard Langer, Rich Beem, Colin Montgomerie
10:01 am – Chad Campbell, Angel Cabrera, J.J. Henry
10:23 am – Mike Weir, K.J. Choi, Henrik Stenson
10:34 am – Fred Couples, Geoff Ogilvy, Ernie Els
10:45 am- Sergio Garcia, Bart Bryant, Shingo Katayama
10:56 am – Phil Mickelson, a-Richie Ramsay, Adam Scott
11:07 am – Jose Maria Olazabal, Charles Howell III, Justin Rose
11:18 am – Stewart Cink, Todd Hamilton
11:29 am – Seve Ballesteros, Carl Pettersson, Paul Goydos
11:40 am – Ian Woosnam, Tim Herron, Robert Karlsson
11:51 am – Jim Furyk, Rod Pampling, Ben Curtis
12:02 pm – Raymond Floyd, Miguel Angel Jimenez, Jeff Sluman
12:13 pm – Robert Allenby, Brett Wetterich, Lee Westwood
12:24 pm – Shaun Micheel, Jeev Milkha Singh, Ben Crane
12:46 pm – Craig Stadler, David Howell, Stephen Ames
12:57 pm – Retief Goosen, John Rollins, Yong-Eun Yang
1:08 pm – Michael Campbell, Lucas Glover, Rory Sabbatini
1:19 pm – Fuzzy Zoeller, Darren Clarke, John Edfors
1:30 pm – Mark Calcavecchia, Thomas Bjorn, Tom Pernice Jr.
1:41 pm – Padraig Harrington, Jerry Kelly, Luke Donald
1:52 pm – Tiger Woods, Paul Casey, Aaron Baddeley
2:03 pm – Vijay Singh, Brett Quigley, Hideto Tanihara
2:14 pm – Trevor Immelman, Camilo Villegas, David Toms