There's no whining in golf. Unless, of course, you're a PGA Tour pro at this week's Memorial Tournament. This week, some (most?) pros are busy whining about the furrowed bunkers. They're "unfair." Players "weren't warned." They introduce "luck" to the game. And on and on…
Tuesday at The Memorial is mainly about two things: the induction ceremony for the year's honorees and the clinic Jack Nicklaus and selected PGA Tour golfers put on for the benefit of a small crowd. This year, Bubba Watson pounded drives out of (Jack's) sight and José Maria Olazabal demonstrated his tremendous wedge game.
Of course, neither of those events are particularly newsworth, so I ventured onto the course to take a slew of pictures. A few gigabytes heavier, I returned with a helpful dose. I've hand selected a few for you here. Yes, this version will be light on the commentary and heavy on the imagery, so click through and wait just a bit for the images to load. I hope you find the wait worthwhile…
I've long argued for making bunkers on the PGA Tour penal. Too many good golfers, particularly on par fives, aim for bunkers and prefer a lie on the beach than any in greenside rough.
That may all change soon if the PGA Tour's experiment this week at Muirfield Village during The Memorial Tournament proves successful. The Tour is trying out a new rake that gently furrows bunkers this year, and the early feedback is that it's working.
The PGA Tour has, to this point, only talked about acting on their threat to do something about the bunkers, but in place of fine-toothed rakes, contestants (and their caddies) will find widely spaced and long-toothed rakes made of wood. The result: less consistent lies and tougher shots.
Not long after Stephen Ames putted out on the 72nd hole to win the 2006 Players Championship, bulldozers rumbled onto the famed course and tore down fairways, greens, and even the clubhouse. It's all part of a massive renovation to bring the facility up to world-renowned status.
The fairways renovation includes removing the topsoil, adding extensive irrigation and fresh sand. Five fairways (1, 2, 4, 5, and 9) have already been completed. Every green on the course is having a subsurface mechanical drainage system instealled which will serve two purposes: to hydrate the greens during dry weather and to quite literally suck the water out in wet conditions. These changes should make the course more playable in worse conditions and put a halt to the extensive rain delays the Players Championship - which moves to May in 2007 - regularly sees in its current March calendar slot.
This past weekend at the Byron Nelson Championship, Adam Scott had a share of the lead going into the final round. Needless to say, the young Aussie didn't hang on to that lead, enabling Brett Wetterich the opportunity to pick up his first career PGA Tour victory. Wetterich took advantage of the situation en route to victory, but I saw it as more "Adam Scott letdown" than "Wetterich surge."
The Byron Nelson Championship was just another situation where a top-tier golfer had a weekend letdown. It has happened all too often over the past couple months. The top golfers in the world are supposed to dominate on Saturday and Sunday. That's more often than not the way they earned that top ranking. That hasn't been the case this year.
For decades, beginning in the 1950s, Etonic was the Avis of golf shoes to FootJoy's Hertz. Both were based in Massachusetts, both sprung from that area's strong heritage in shoe making, and both transitioned from street shoes to become golf shoe specialists. Together they dominated the market.
Fred Funk, one of the shorter hitters on the PGA Tour (which, at 49 years of age and 5'8", is not altogether shocking), is feeling left out these days. He believes that the modern golf ball gives players who swing 115 or 120 MPH a "boost." More specifically, as he said in a recent interview, "You just get this huge gain hitting the ball a certain speed."
Unfortunately, despite what Fred and others believe, the facts on this issue have recently been made quite clear. The USGA, on April 11, dispelled some commonly held beliefs in an article called "Myths About Golf Equipment and Performance." The first myth was "Golfers with faster swing speeds get disproportionately greater distance benefits from new golf balls that have been introduced after 2000."
Phil Mickelson won a few events with two drivers in his bag. Since winning the Masters on Sunday, I've received no less than four or five emails from Edwin Watts, TGW, and other online golf retail stores urging me to buy a second driver.
Do these retail outlets think golfers are that stupid? Are golfers really that stupid?