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December 05, 2003
Volume II, Issue 19
Fringe Clippings
Contracts are only as good as ...
Charles Howell III and his former agent Rocky Hambric have settled a nearly two-year dispute over breach of contract. CH III, who is now represented by IMG, left Hambric in December, 2001, with four years left on his contract. A trial date had been set for April, 2004. Hambric's instrumental role in securing Howell's contract with Callaway was no doubt taken into consideration in the settlement.
Up, up and away!
Lilly ICOS has announced it will assume the title sponsorship of The Western Open. In addition to sponsoring this PGA Tour event, the company will also be a primary sponsor on the electronic billboards used on both the PGA and Champions Tour. Lilly ICOS is a joint venture between ICOS Corp. and Eli Lilly & Co., the pharmaceutical manufacturer. Eli Lilly is developing an erectile dysfunction medication.
Life changes daily for Daly
It had been nine years since John Daly last tasted victory on U.S. soil, but this past weekend in Pebble Beach at the Callaway Pebble Beach Invitational his taste was refreshed. A one-stroke victory in California gave Daly his second win in a row after having last month's win in Korea. Daly is said to finally be getting comfortable again with his swing.
Open to interpretation
Like leap year, the rules of golf are revised on a four-year schedule. And, this is the year! The year's most significant change reportedly concern behavior. Severe penalties could be levied for players who are intentionally offensive or intentionally disruptive to competitors. Other rule adjustments involve club length (increased to 48) and amateur status reinstatement (down to two years from three).
Paralysis by Analysis
No more bucket hats!
It is that time of year when the non-golfing significant other(s) in our lives might be purchasing hand crocheted sweater vests and 2-4-1 jiffy mart soft spike shoes as our gifts. Whether you are celebrating Christmas, Kwanzaa, Chanukah or some other traditional religious or cultural holiday that has been somehow transformed into a reciprocity based retail promotion, you know that there will be bad gifts coming. And the sad part is the gifts will come from those whose sole intent is to recognize your golf fixation and bring you joy. Fear not, return-loathing recipients; I am here to save you!

In order to insure ourselves against the ball monogram giving family members, we must establish that golf equipment is as personal as roll-on deodorant vs. spray! Communicate to your family &151; those who will be asked by others what to give you &151; that you play a particular type of golf ball or really need to replace your alma mater head covers. If you are lucky enough to have an eccentric Aunt, feel free to email her your club fitting specs so she may order directly online. The key is communication, Fringe Faithful!

If the thought of hitting concrete covered golf balls makes you weak in the tees, then let your wife, girlfriend, daughter, son or personal assistant know what you need!

Golf trinkets and art can be tricky, and we may just be eternally sentenced to the taste (or lack thereof) of others. At any rate there are several sites online where one could shop for a classic print of the Azaleas at Augusta or a Swilken Bridge picture autographed by Mr. Palmer . I would offer mine, but ... well, never mind.

Do not feel intimidated to request something specific, as these are people who have taken enough interest in your life to know that you spend frivolous hours every week desperately seeking to string together 70 consecutive shots equal to the best you have ever made. If they care that much about you to take note, they want to please you. If they themselves are not golfers, there is almost no chance they will hit it on the seams without some instruction. Actually, the odds are about the same as you getting that string of 70 best shots.

For those of you reading this who will be shopping for this special person, please allow me to interject two words of wisdom for which you and your intended will be eternally grateful: GIFT CERTIFICATE!
Reading the Line
Tigers and Nannies, OH MY!
It is true; golf's hottest commodity is officially off the market. I am not referring to Tiger. I am referring to Elin. Tiger Woods tendered a marriage proposal in South Africa last week to the startlingly gorgeous Elin Nordegren. She honored his offer and accepted. Nordegren, who has been relentlessly following T.W. around the globe for the past two years — despite all my messages and emails that I, too, am lots of fun at parties — has broken the hearts of Tiger groupies near and far. Congratulations and best wishes to the happy couple on their impending nuptials and lottery-winning offspring.
Winning fans and more
Two weekends ago I attended the LPGA's season-ending Tour Championship in West Palm Beach, Florida. I attend many tournaments on a yearly basis, but rarely — as any faithful reader could deduce — do I have an agenda set forth to research and report upon. I take in the week's events and regurgitate pertinent information based on observation and funnel cake availability. I made an exception at this tournament, and here is some of what I noted:
  1. Jan Stephenson could not have been more wrong! I singled out Se Ri Pak and Grace Park to see how the Asians are supposedly killing the LPGA Tour. Pak and Park were both extremely warm and receptive with the crowd. More often than others, they were smiling and acknowledging fan appreciation of their efforts. Not to mention they were the two best-dressed women all week long.
  2. Annika does not appear to be human in the normal bio-mechanical sense. The precision with which she plays is disproportionate to anything human and more closely approximates the precision and focus of the fembots created by Dr. Evil to destroy Austin Powers.
  3. The LPGA is so fan-friendly it is scary. When I was making my way back to the media tent I witnessed an older couple "testing" the door handles on Annika's car to see if they were locked! Luckily they were, but ... this is where I usually throw in something that I think is funny, but I can't so ... WOW!
LPGA tournament attendance is up, and its sponsor satisfaction ratings are through the roof so next year should a banner year for the ladies tour. Ladies, lock your cars!
Jack is still my hero
Let me first establish my take on the President's Cup outcome. Well done! It was the perfect ending to an incredibly compelling tournament. Gary Player is to be admired and applauded for his gesture in taking into consideration how hard each team worked all week, not to mention how far each had traveled. His team had as much of a chance at winning the cup as did the American team, and yet he took it upon himself to offer the draw.

Having said that — and about as close to choking up at a golf tournament as I will ever become, shy of the streaker at this past year's US Open — Jack Nicklaus almost ruined a perfect moment. During the negotiation of the draw on National television Jack actually had the audacity to make it perfectly clear that despite the tie, the American's would retain the cup. I will not digress into the semantics of rules and regulations regarding team match play and its variegated formats, but I will stand in valiant contradiction to his suggestion. The showcase was complete with out an award being given.

Jack is a competitive man and by nature wants to always be the winner. What he did not realize was that he had already won. The public had taken notice of an incredible format on a stage without a stateside equivalent! Take some parting 8 X 10 glossies to be forever sold at silent auctions across the world, and let everyone go home as a hero! Thanks to ghosts of President's Cups past, the storybook ending was preserved.
Not brain surgery, but close
The U.S. Golf Association and the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews have overhauled the testing procedure for spring-like effect. The test, to go into effect January 1, 2004, calls for the "characteristic time" of a clubface to be measured. Characteristic time is the time that a small weight swung from a pendulum stays in contact with a clubface. The limit for that collision is 239 microseconds, with a test tolerance of 18 microseconds. Characteristic time is expected to replace coefficient of restitution (COR) as the term used when discussing spring-like effect. Devices for measuring characteristic time, which any manufacturer may build to test its clubs, must follow USGA specifications. The new test procedure is less involved than the previous method, which required taking clubs apart and shooting golf balls at the club heads and measuring the effects of the collision. The pendulum can fit onto a tabletop, and its portability will allow the PGA Tour the option of testing clubs at tournament sites, beginning with the Mercedes Championship in January. This could prove interesting and quell the "he's got a trick stick" comments.

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