Spy on Golf: Shove It, Stevie

This just in: Steve Williams is an idiot.

Make that a bleeping idiot.

Steve Williams

Steve Williams needs to memorize part three of the caddie mantra.

We already knew Williams possessed a vastly inflated sense of importance. Now Tiger Woods’ former caddie has revealed a stupid streak as big as his ego. Maybe bigger.

In case you missed the latest news, Williams took a stupefying shot at Woods during an annual caddie awards ceremony. First, Williams was roasted by colleagues for his infamous display of self-satisfaction following a victory by his new boss, Adam Scott, at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational. Taking his turn to speak, Williams explained.

“My aim was to shove it right back up that black (bleep),” he said, referring to Woods and an unprintable part of Tiger’s anatomy.

The remarks set off another roasting, and not the good-natured kind.

Media issued the requisite calls for discipline by the PGA Tour, Scott, and anyone else in position to punish the surly New Zealander. Williams, naturally, issued an apology while Scott stood by his bag man. The Tour claimed its hands were tied and said Williams’ apology would have to suffice.

As if this month’s Presidents Cup – where Woods will play as a controversial U.S. captain’s pick while Scott anchors the Internationals – needed any extra drama.

There’s a well-known mantra regarding a tour caddie’s on-course responsibilities: “Show up, keep up, shut up.” Williams should learn to follow part three, everywhere he goes.

Golfweek: Old is Best New

Once upon a time, Golfweek compiled an annual list of the 50 best courses opened in the U.S. during the previous year. Then that list dwindled to 40 in 2009. Now, it’s down to a mere 25 – which covers a two-year period and includes two renovations.

Such is the slow state of affairs in the course construction business, victimized by the economic downturn but already suffering growing pains earlier in the decade.

The building boom of the 1980s and ’90s, when several hundred new courses came online each year, created a demand-exceeding glut in supply. Things only got worse when the economy went belly-up. Now, more courses are closing than opening each year.

It’s sad, for sure. But that’s the free market at work, and far worse things have happened during the downturn. Besides, we’ve got a new Golfweek list to peruse.

No surprise at the top: Old Macdonald, the fourth course at Bandon Dunes Resort. Conceived by Tom Doak and right-hand man Jim Urbina, it’s a sprawling ode to Charles Blair Macdonald’s seminal design work at National Golf Links (Long Island), Chicago Golf Club and numerous other Golden Age classics.

The Patriot Golf Club

The Patriot Golf Club

The second spot goes to an equally intriguing project, The Patriot GC in Oklahoma. Robert Trent Jones II leaned on the men who helped him make Chambers Bay (Wash.) such a smash, Bruce Charlton and Jay Blasi. The trio hit another home run, carving a compelling course from a rugged, boulder-strewn chunk of northeast Oklahoma.

What makes The Patriot truly special is its purpose. The club is home to the Folds of Honor Foundation, the brainchild of PGA professional and F-16 pilot Major Dan Rooney. Folds of Honor provides scholarships to the kids of service members killed or wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Patriot is a private club, but sets aside three tee times a day for one-time public access. Ten percent of the $150 fee goes to Folds of Honor.

If you’re in the Tulsa area and covet a tee time, or just want to contribute to the cause, visit www.patriotgolfclub.com.

Now Trending: Golf Changes We Can Believe In

For a game that’s been around lo these many centuries, golf continues to evolve at a remarkable pace.

Some changes fall under the everything-old-is-new-again category. (Persimmon woods will soon make a comeback – trust us!) Other times golf adopts ideas from the world at large (see golf shoes, below). And some innovations are simply golf-driven attempts to roust the game from its own inertia. (Anyone “Tee It Forward” this summer?)

Change is good – sometimes. Here are a few examples of golf trends we like.

Brown Is Beautiful

Brown is the new green. Golf goes brown.

Write your own catchphrase, but the fact is a number of factors – economic, environmental and artistic – are pushing American courses to reduce treatment on their fairways and greens. The result is a firmer, faster playing surface reminiscent of the British Isles.

Pacific Dunes Golf

Pacific Dunes

Hallelujah.

Long enthralled with the Augusta National “green is good” aesthetic, U.S. courses pursued the lushest possible conditions. That meant watering, watering everywhere and applying massive doses of fertilizer. But facing shrinking revenues and stricter regulations, many courses have altered maintenance practices to cut costs, water consumption and pollution.

At the same time, a new breed of old-school architects -- like Tom Doak and the team of Bill Coore/Ben Crenshaw – have brought the artistry of the ground game to these shores. Most notably, to the Oregon coast and its incomparable Bandon Dunes Resort.

So brush up your bump-and-run, 21st-century golfers. You’re gonna need it.

Shorter, Faster, Easier

Golf courses continue to get longer in an effort to combat the prodigious distance gains made in recent years. Problem is, the average golfer can’t hit it much farther than he did 10 years ago – yet many insist on playing from tees their skill sets can’t manage.

All that does is make the game less enjoyable and more time-consuming than it should be. This summer, the USGA and PGA of America teamed up to introduce the Tee It Forward campaign, encouraging golfers to play one tee box up from where they’d normally hit.

Depending on whom you ask, the initiative has been a roaring success or just another fizzling attempt to make golf faster and more fun. The Weekend Golf Warrior blog weighed in with some interesting thoughts.

There have been other, similar efforts undertaken recently, including Jack “Cayman Ball” Nicklaus’ 12-hole tourneys with 8-inch cups, and the big PowerPlay Golf rollout.

Here’s hoping something sticks.

Taking It to the Street

Ever wish you could skip the shoe change and head to the first tee in what you’re wearing, but didn’t like the idea of sporting sneakers on the course?

True Linkswear

TRUE Linkswear Golf Shoes

Your time has come.

Kick-started by Fred Couple’s 2010 Masters run in Ecco’s uber-casual Street Premiere models, golf shoemakers have gotten hip to the notion of non-formal footwear. Adidas recently hopped on board while new companies including Kikkor and TRUE Linkswear have sprung up to claim a corner of this niche.

The latter has made the biggest strides, thanks to PGA Tour fashion maven Ryan Moore and reams of positive reviews. Like this one from the GolfBlogger.

We haven’t gotten a pair yet ourselves, but we plan to be kickin’ it new school very soon.

 

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