Big Trouble in Little Doral

The PGA has always been against the use of appearance fees to recruit strong fields. However, sports management company IMG has stirred up some major controversy about the PGA and appearance fees.

IMGEarlier last week, our preview of the Ford Championship at Doral briefly touched on a Ford “company outing” where several high profile players were paid roughly $100,000 to appear on the Monday before the tournament. At the time, PGA Tour officials okayed the event, but made it clear they would be examining the issue more closely later in the year. However, a letter just published by Golf World writer Ron Sirak may speed up the time table on the issue.

The State of the Tiger is Strong

Tiger Woods has spent the last year assuring us his game was “this close” to the dominant level he demands of himself. Having already doubled his 2004 win total, the outlook for Team Tiger is bright for the rest of 2005.

Tiger WoodsStaring down his biggest rival in a final-round showdown, setting a scoring record, hitting shots no one else can hit, regaining his Number 1 ranking: all in a day’s work for Tiger Woods. Has the greatest player in the game today shaken off the slumpiness of his 2004 season? Is the artist formerly known as Eldrick ready to go on another epic run? Or is he just teasing us while complaining about the length of the PGA Tour season?

Let’s take a quick look at all the Woodsian news that Tiger has dropped on us this week.

Tiger Wants Less Quantity, More Quality

Is the PGA Tour’s season too long? Tiger Woods thinks a shorter season would lead to stronger and more competitive tournaments.

tiger_woods_interview.jpgThe tournament at Doral this week is attracting a lot of hype, mostly because 11 of the top 12 players are playing in the Ford Championship. It makes sense since talented fields and big prize money help bring drama and attention to regular tournaments. So why can’t the PGA Tour get the best players to show up every week? It seems like for every tournament with a strong field and a tough course we have to sit through three or four tournaments like the Southern Farm Bureau Classic and Reno Tahoe Open with no-name players battling on a municipal-like golf course. Tiger Woods has an answer to the problem, shorten the PGA Tour season.

Build Your Own 8′ x 8′ Indoor Putting Green (Cheaply!)

Build your own 8′ x 8′ putting green for less than $250! Illustrated, step-by-step instructions.

PuttingYou can build your own outdoor putting green or you can have one built for you if you’ve got $5000 (or more) to spare. You can buy a typical roll-out indoor putting “carpet” for $20-$50. You can’t build your own 8′ x 8′ indoor putting green for less than $250. Or can you?

I live in Pennsylvania, making “winter golf” a matter of either visiting the nearby golf dome or playing Tiger Woods PGA Tour on my GameCube. Eager to maintain my putting stroke during the snowy months, I sought to build an indoor putting green that would adjust to provide adjustable break and putts up to about 10 feet in length. Perhaps it could even allow some gentle chipping from a nearby mat.

The journey – and the project – is documented here.

The Long Ball: Distance is Everything?

The ball is going too long, right? There may be more to this than you think…

Longball MickelsonThe long ball enthralls us all, regardless of the sport. In baseball, Barry Bonds is the current king, but the McGwire/Sosa race remains fresh in our minds. In football, it’s the hail mary. And in golf, it’s the 350-yard drive. The drive that makes 550-yard par fives reachable with 6-irons and renders long par fours defenseless against an onslaught of high-arcing short irons and wedges.

But the ball, many say, has simply gone too far this time.

Drug Testing in the PGA Tour? Not Likely

As performance enhacing drugs garner attention on the diamond, is there a reason for concern on the links as well?

pga_tour_logo.jpgIf you’ve been anywhere within range of televisions, radios, newspapers, or the Internet over the last couple of weeks, you have undoubtedly heard something about the steroid controversy gripping baseball as it heads into spring training. For the first time in its history, baseball will have mandatory testing for performance-enhancing drugs following a precedent set by the NFL and the NBA years ago. And while the controversy has swirled on the diamond, there are those that might wonder, should testing for performance enhancing drugs be done on in professional golf as well?

Maxfli BlackMAX: The Newest Challenger?

Just how good is Maxfli’s BlackMAX ball? Is it good enough to knock-off the king of golf balls – Titleist’s Pro V1?

Black MAXIn 2001, Titliest Introduced the Pro V1 line of golf balls which quickly became the most played ball on the PGA Tour due to their low spin off the driver and high spin around the greens. Titleist is the number one ball of choice on every professional golf tour and perennially leads in number of wins. Even players like Mike Weir, Sergio Garcia, and Vijay Singh who have signed equipment contracts with other companies choose to play Titleist golf balls. However, the recent introduction of Bridgestone’s B330, and the new HX Tour from Callaway, which has been earning notoriety behind a hot Phil Mickelson, has proved that there is still room for competitors in the high-end golf ball market.

Earlier this week, we introduced you to Maxfli’s BlackMAX golf ball, the newest entry into the high-end golf ball market. Is the BlackMAX good enough to compete? As promised, we’ve played this ball on course and experimented on the launch monitor, here’s what we found.

Tom Fazio: Golf’s Hero or Heel?

Tom Fazio has gained notariety for his golf course designs, just how good are they?

Riviera Country Club 15th HoleThe golfing public seems quite divided over course architect Tom Fazio. Some adore his layouts while others despise his designs. There is no doubt Fazio has tremendous exposure from some high profile clients. Fazio “Tiger Proofed” Augusta National in 2002, he redesigned Riviera Country Club, and he has built several acclaimed courses throughout the country. So why the controversy over Fazio’s projects? Let’s look at Augusta National and Riviera’s redesigns to find out.

Staying Power: How Titleist Stays on Top

Titleist is like Wal-Mart… without the low low prices. Think another ball maker can ever challenge Titleist’s crown? Think again.

TitleistThe golf equipment business is competitive and cutthroat. Take a look at the leaders in woods and irons over the last few decades. The dominant brands of the 1950s and 60s were MacGregor and Wilson, who were usurped in the 70s and 80s by Ping and Tommy Armour. Then came the boom of Big Bertha in the early 1990s, which catapulted Callaway to the top for a decade. Now TaylorMade stands poised to take the title of top woods and irons brand from Callaway.

But through all those changes over the years, there’s essentially been one ball on top: Titleist. No other brand comes close at retail or on tour. How long can they keep it up?