Another PGA Tour Player Whines About the Rules 0 3

(ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.) May 2, 2011 — Opinion: Pity poor Webb Simpson, whose ball moved on the 15th green at the Zurich Classic Sunday. His solution: Change the rule.

Simpson is the latest PGA Tour player who thinks the rules should be changed because — well — because enforcing them costs them money.

In this case, it’s the presumption within the Decisions of the Rules of Golf that should a ball on the green move after a player has soled or grounded his putter, the player, not the wind, is deemed to have moved the ball. Penalty: one stroke.

The situation arose on the 15th green during the final round of the Zurich and likely cost Webb the outright victory. Instead, he and Bubba Watson tied and Watson won in a playoff.

Here’s what Simpson told reporters after the round, according to the Examiner:

“The unfortunate thing and the reason I don’t think it’s a good rule is golf is supposedly the last gentleman’s game,” Simpson said. “There is so much on the player to call the penalty on themselves. When wind or other natural things affect the golf ball, the player shouldn’t be penalized.”

That’s crying shame. Is this the first time Simpson has ever played in the wind? Has he never encountered an oscillating golf ball on a putting surface?

Players in New Mexico or West Texas, and particularly anyone who has tried to play in the recently gusty conditions in these parts, know the rules about grounding your putter in the wind.

Maybe Simpson should have gone to Texas Tech instead of Wake Forest. Maybe he would have known what he was facing before he put his putter on the ground. Players ought to know how to deal with the wind. Ask any Scot: Wind is a part of the game.

What the guys on the PGA Tour don’t realize they are not the center of the golf universe.. They play golf for money, but the rules are for everyone. If they want to play by their own rules, they’re free to do so — just don’t call it golf.

–Dan Vukelich


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Analysis of PGA Tour Season Changes 0 6

(ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.) Feb. 4, 2012 — Here’s quick analysis of Tim Finchem’s plan to reshape the PGA Tour season and eliminate Q School as an immediate launch pad to the PGA Tour:

Vertical product integration: Finchem’s plan makes the Nationwide Tour (or its name successor, if it’s not called the Nationwide Tour in a future year) the only gateway to the big tour.

De-Democratization: No longer will a golf phenom be able to shoot lights out over the course of six rounds of PGA Tour Q School and step directly onto the world stage. Under the Finchem plan, if you don’t have PGA Tour or Nationwide Tour status, you must go to Q School to get status on the Nationwide Tour first, then play your way onto the big tour from there.

No fall layoff: While the top 125 players will advance to the fall FedEx Cup playoffs like they do now, the other 75 will no longer be idle. Instead, they and the top 75 players on the Nationwide Tour list will basically begin a combined three-event fall Q school. Of these 150 players, only the 50 top finishers will get PGA Tour cards for the new season.

Play well or go home: The 100 players who don’t advance to the PGA Tour through the three-event fall series must go to the December Q School to retain Nationwide Tour status, play well there and win their way back to PGA Tour status.

Start the season in the fall: Instead of January events in Hawaii and California marking the start of a new PGA Tour season in terms of points and rankings, Finchem wants the season to start in the fall, right after the FedEx playoffs conclude. This lets several late fall events become part of the Fed Ex Cup race.

It also may serve as a disincentive for PGA Tour players who travel overseas in late fall for appearance money — because they’ll lose out on earning points back at home as the new FedEx Cup points season is starting up.

“So the fall events would apply toward the following year in terms of Player of the Year, FedEx Cup points, Arnold Palmer Award and those kind of things,” Finchem said in late January.

Reading between the lines: Finchem’s people apparently have tracked the success (or lack thereof) of PGA Tour Q School grads, especially repeat Q School grads, who keep going back and re-qualifying over and over again and then doing nothing on the PGA Tour year in and year out. He’s essentially saying the seasoning that occurs on the Nationwide Tour may eliminate the two-tiered PGA Tour we have now — the guys at the top who win or place most often and the guys at the bottom tier who miss cuts, who don’t make money and who aren’t really competitive week in and week out.

Timing: Fall of 2013.

The impact in Finchem’s own words: “It has the effect of strengthening the Nationwide Tour, and it has the effect of strengthening the fall events, as well. It also has the effect of strengthening the FedEx Cup, and it has the effect of bringing to a tighter conclusion what a season is of the PGA Tour competitively. This year we had the FedEx Cup champion, then six weeks later we’re still talking about the money title, and it would bring all that together, and then the votes for the Player of the Year would come right on the heels of the end of the actual season.”

— Dan Vukelich

Notah Begay Wins Golf Writers’ Honor 0 6

(HOUSTON Jan. 31, 2012) — Notah Begay III is the recipient of the Golf Writers Association of America’s Charlie Bartlett Award for service to society.

The 39-year-old Begay, a native New Mexican who is half Navajo, one-quarter San Felipe and one-quarter Isleta and the only full-blooded Native American to play on the PGA Tour, founded the NB3 Foundation to battle the epidemic of childhood and Type 2 diabetes and obesity among Native American children.

A four-time winner on tour, Begay has raised more than $3.23 million in three years through this annual NB3 Foundation Challenge Golf Event to support the foundation’s programs.

The award, named for the first secretary of the GWAA, is given to a professional golfer for his/her unselfish contributions to the betterment of society. He will be honored at the GWAA Annual Awards Dinner April 4 in Augusta, Ga.

Begay recently spoke at the “Building Healthy Communities” panel at the Clinton Founation Health Forum at the Humana Challenge. The panel included Susan Dell of the Michael & Susan Dell  Foundation, Annika Sorenstam and founder of the Annika  Foundation, and Goldie Hawn of the Hawn Foundation.

In 2012, the NB3 Foundation will be launching a two-year study to evaluate the impact of holistic interventions at San Felipe Pueblo to reduce the rates of childhood obesity and type 2 diabetes.

In the last three years, the NB3 Foundation has touched more than 10,000 Native American children in 11 states through soccer, golf, health and wellness and grant programs. The largest grant assisted the San Felipe Pueblo to build the tribe’s first recreational facility — a community park and soccer field, which is home to the San Felipe Soccer Club, another NB3 initiative.

Begay was also instrumental in building partnerships with two American Indian tribes — the Oneida Nation of New York and the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians — to sponsor the NB3 Challenge which has served as the largest one-day fundraiser benefiting Native American youth.

Begay, who also has a course design firm (NB3 Consulting) and is a Golf Channel analyst, has an Economics degree from Stanford and, in addition to his four Tour wins, was a member of the 1995 Walker Cup and 2000 Presidents Cup teams. His home course is Ladera Golf Course, a muni on Albuquerque’s West Side.

He follows Lorena Ochoa (2011), Ernie Els (2010), Tiger Woods (2007), Greg Norman (2008) and Jack Nicklaus (2009) as recent recipients.

Other former Bartlett winners include the Louisiana trio of Hal Sutton, David Toms and Kelly Gibson, Val Skinner, Betsy King, Tom Watson, Payne Stewart, Tom Lehman, Arnold Palmer, Kenny Perry, Brad Faxon and Billy Andrade, Patty Berg and Andy North.

The GWAA will also honor Players of Year Luke Donald, Yani Tseng and Tom Lehman, William D. Richardson Award winner Maj. Dan Rooney, Ben Hogan Award winner Sophie Gustafson and Jim Murray/ASAP Award winner Brad Faxon at the April 4 dinner.

The nearly 900-member professional organization takes an active role in protecting the interests of all golf journalists, works closely with all of golf’s major governing bodies and the World Golf Hall of Fame.