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March 11, 2006
Volume V, Issue 5
 
Fringe Clippings
 
And now for a list of the courses you and I can't play...
 
Calling it the "ultimate mix of course history, membership, tradition and class," Golf Connoisseur magazine has a list of the 100 Most Prestigious Private Clubs in America. There are no surprises at the top: Pine Valley, Augusta National, Cypress Point, Shinnecock Hills and Merion Golf Club make up the top five.
 
Yeah Bubba, and she's getting the big bucks too...
 
Bubba Watson is one of the new faces on the PGA Tour. A lefty, he turned heads from the moment he teed it up in Hawaii. One reason was his length. Watson kills it off the tee and leads the tour in driving distance at more than 313 yards per tee shot. He finished tied for fourth at his first tournament, the Sony Open, and has played nicely since. But he isn't getting caught up in the hype. "I see success as when you start winning," he said. "I've never won ... and if you starting winning, they say why haven't you won a major. It's just going to escalate from there. Right now, I'm a nobody in the golfing industry because I haven't won. Third place isn't looked upon highly, unless you're Michelle Wie." Touché.
 
Hale to the sexagenarian! Come on, that's not what you think...
 
At 60, Hale Irwin does not appear to be slowing down. Twice in consecutive Champions Tour events he had a chance to win coming to the last hole. The latest was at the Outback Steakhouse Pro-Am, where Irwin finished a shot behind Jerry Pate (who, by the way, won for the first time in 24 years, since his 1982 Players Championship victory). Irwin's tie for second at the Outback Steakhouse Pro-Am gave him 85 finishes of first or second in his 254 starts on the Champions Tour. That's a 33.5 percent clip at first or second. Irwin has 44 victories. He just keeps going and going ...
 
He also gave him a bunch of grief about his demeanor around Hillary, but we won't go there...
 
When Tiger Woods opened his learning center in Anaheim, Calif., last month, former President Bill Clinton was on hand to speak, an honor he performed in return for a round of golf with Woods. But that was no condescending game. Woods made Clinton play from the back tees. "I'm twice his age and don't play that much," Clinton said. "He said, 'You can play the wuss tees if you want. Otherwise, you can stand back here like a man and weep.' So I sucked it up. One hole I made a birdie and he didn't. And he still beat me by 25 strokes."
 
The pressure on Annika must be brutal...
 
Wow, The Rolex World Rankings lists Michelle Wie as the #2 woman golfer in the world. They have moved Michelle from a questionable #3 position to #2 in their World Rankings list. Sure, Sorenstam has been #1 in Golfweek's Index for 207 consecutive weeks, and yeah, she has won over 50% of the tournaments she has entered over the past 52 weeks, but heck, with the way they are running the Rolex Rankings, how solid can that #1 position be. The pressure must be brutal.
 
 
Paralysis by Analysis
 
Moon Pie in Georgia!
 
I was playing in my standard $20 a round match last Saturday. My competitor, the "rules czar" of Central Georgia, landed his tee shot in a greenside bunker on the par-3 4th hole.

Next to his bunker ball was a pine cone from a tree above the bunker and a Moon Pie wrapper. My buddy, the "rules czar" said because the pine cone and wrapper were "loose impediments" he was allowed to move them both out of the way before he hit his ball. Since I wasn't sure and figured he knew, I allowed him to move both objects out of the bunker before he hit his shot. Sure enough, he went up and down and won the hole and eventually the match and my $20. When we got back to the clubhouse some of the guys at the bar, upon hearing the story, said he was incorrect. They said that when you're in a bunker, you are not allowed to move anything, regardless of whether or not it's a "loose impediment", that's why it's called a hazard. Who has the rule correct, the "rules czar" or the boys in the bar?
 
Hey Georgia Boy,
 
Both the "rules czar" and the guys at the bar are wrong. Your friend should not have moved the pine cone but was allowed to move the Moon Pie wrapper, and here is the reason:

In the rules of golf "loose impediments" are defined as natural objects such as stones, leaves, twigs, branches, dung, worms, insects and casts or heaps made by them, provided they are not fixed or growing, and are not solidly embedded, and do not adhere to the ball.

USGA Rule 23 is the Loose Impediments rule. Except when both the loose impediment and the ball lie in or touch the same hazard any loose impediment may be removed without penalty.

USGA Rule 24 is the Movable Obstruction rule. A player may take relief without penalty from a movable obstruction.

You may not move loose impediments in a bunker. The pine cone is a natural object and if in a hazard / bunker, may not be removed. The Moon Pie wrapper might be fairly common in Georgia, but being a man-made -- not natural -- object, it can be moved in the bunker. Other examples of obstructions would be Mountain Dew cans and Dixie cups.

If the same situation occurred in the fairway, both objects could be moved without penalty.
 
 
Reading the Line
 
OK, humor me here, let me ramble...
 
I understand what happened here. It can be partly explained by "Bob's age theory of relativity." It's why young people buy new cars every 2-3 years and old people drive cars for 8 years. The theory goes something like this. A person who is 25 and has owned a car, a stereo, or a golf club, or anything else for 2.5 years, has owned it for 10% of their life, or 12.5% of their cognitive life using 5 years old as the point of cognitive memory. So, the object to them seems like they have owned it for a very long time. A sixty-year-old would have to own the same object 6 to 8 years to have it seem as old, relatively, to them. In this theory, age and time are relative to cognitive memory. I said humor me. Please don't unsubscribe. I seldom go on this wild of a tangent. OK, this rambling serves as a segue to a neat golf story ...
 
He still thought of them as his new clubs...
 
When Loren Roberts won the ACE Group Classic a few weeks ago for his third straight victory on the Champions Tour, he did so using a new driver, TaylorMade's r7 425. There is nothing unusual about players changing drivers. Heck, some have been known to do so every round. But for Roberts, this was a big deal, a real big deal. He had not made a switch in five years, all but letting pass a huge gain in technology. Roberts had been using the TM 300 driver since the 2001 Houston Open. But at the Sony Open in January, Roberts' caddie noticed a crack in the face. "He didn't want to tell me then," said Roberts, who went on to win his first two Champions events with it. "The crack had gotten a little worse, and he figured he ought to tell me. It was time for me to move on to a new driver anyway." He apparently does know there is a better alternative to metal spikes.
 
Sometimes better is just butter misspelled...
 
For 20 years, the PGA Tour event at Doral has kicked off the Florida Swing of tournaments. There was a time when it was considered the unofficial start to the season. Players viewed it as the time to get serious. The Masters was only a month away and Doral brought that into focus. All of that changed after the final round of the Ford Championship at Doral this past weekend. A tournament that for 45 years has been part of the Florida Swing, many years going first, will now move to the end of the month as a World Golf Championship known as the CA Championship. The field will be limited to the top 50 in the world ranking and leading money-winners from six tours around the world.

This is great for the golf fans of Miami, who are guaranteed a field of the top 50 in the world ranking and 70-some players who will be there for all four days, as there is no cut. But it's not so good for the rank-and-file PGA Tour players who won't get an opportunity to play the venerable tournament.

Two-time Doral winner Steve Elkington has played Doral the past 17 years. Others like Paul Azinger have played 16 consecutive years. Unless they get hot this year and break into the top 50 list, despite being a past champion, they will not be back playing Tournament golf at the Blue Monster.

It's not so good for other venues and fans around the world. They no doubt believe that a tournament with "World" in the name should actually move around. And it's not so good for the other tournaments in Florida that can't compete with a big-money world event.

Doral might now be considered better, but I liked it butter the way it was.
 
20/20 is a great place to be...
 
The dominating days are no more. The blowout victories, the coronation walks ... all a thing of the past. Tiger Woods must grind to the finish now. But one thing remains the same: he still wins. His win at the Ford Championship at Doral was a bit more difficult than anticipated. He made two bogeys on the final two holes to win by a stroke. But he did what he needed to do. It was Woods' 48th career PGA Tour victory. It was not accomplished in blowout fashion, as had been his calling card during his most dominating times. But it kept an amazing streak alive. Woods has now gone into the final round of a PGA Tour event with a two-shot lead or more 20 times -- and he has converted all 20 times. His overall record with a 54-hole advantage is now 34-3. His only defeats came the first time he had the chance (in 1996, to Ed Fiori of all people) and to Phil Mickelson and Retief Goosen. In his last three victories on the PGA Tour, Woods has been aided by an opponent's final-hole bogey: John Daly at the American Express, Jose Maria Olazabal at the Buick Invitational, and David Toms at Doral.

"I look at it this way: I put myself there," Woods said. "If I put myself there enough times, those things are going to happen, as well as other guys are going to make birdies to beat me. That's the way it goes. As long as I'm there each and every time, it's not a bad place to be."
 
 
 

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