Tag Archives: Tour Tempo 2

KC Pro Fights for Hillcrest Ranking

“Hey, John,” writes Kansas City club pro John Bozarth. “When we get the ninth green finished here at Hillcrest, will we move up in the Top 50 list?”

Hillcrest's 9th green

Richard III wasn’t found under the tailings of Hillcrest’s old 9th green — just a lot of ribbons and rice. (John Garrity)

Bozarth is referring to the original Donald Ross green at 45th-ranked Hillcrest Golf Club, a three-time PGA Tour venue. Several years ago, a club executive decided that Ross’s green would produce more revenue as a wedding bower, situated as it was close to the clubhouse and parking for tin-can-festooned getaway cars. Dimly aware that golfers would still need a place to hole out before moving on to No. 10, the executive installed a new ninth green of dubious merit — a small, sticky putting patch fronted by a bunker and a stone wall.

Ross promptly shifted in his grave.

Since 17-½ holes falls just shy of the accepted standard for championship play, Hillcrest no longer evokes comparisons to Ross’s more-famous parkland courses, such as Chicago’s Beverly CC, Atlanta’s East Lake GC, and Rochester’s 51st-ranked Oak Hill CC, site of this summer’s PGA Championship. But Bozarth assumes, with logic on his side, that the restoration of Hillcrest’s once-great ninth hole will put his track back in the national picture.

“I would at the very least like to go ahead of the other course listed from the Kansas City area,” Bozarth writes.* “What is the criteria for choosing the ranking? Is there a way to influence that decision, like free fountain drinks, or maybe a season’s supply of tees? Or I could let you use my covered cart when it is cold. Well, I think you can see where I’m going with this.”

*The “other course” would be Tom Fazio’s 42nd-ranked Hallbrook Country Club, one of the midwest’s most challenging layouts and home course of Tour Tempo pioneer John Novosel, co-author of Tour Tempo 2: The Short Game and Beyond. 

Bozarth is a friend, so I know that his wink-wink, nudge-nudge is merely his way of acknowledging the incorruptibility of the Top 50 ranking. (It’s all science here at Catch Basin. A season’s supply of tees doesn’t even move the needle.) But he’s not crazy for supposing that Hillcrest will move up when the old ninth green is put back in play.

That new fleet of golf carts won’t hurt, either.

Top 50 on TV: Ninth-ranked Pebble Beach Golf Links swept defending champ Phil Mickelson off his feet today at the AT&T National Pro-Am. (Those rocks are slippery.) Meanwhile, the postman just delivered a book by Oliver Horovitz called An American Caddie in St. Andrews: Growing Up, Girls, and Looping on the [16th-ranked] Old Course. I enjoyed An American Caddie in page proofs some time back, but it’s possible that Gotham Books has trimmed it to appeal to the bridal-shower crowd. I’ll read it again and let you know.

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Free-Lunch Reprise for Top 50 CEO

LA JOLLA, CALIF. — As you probably have heard, I paid something less than a hundred grand last year to have the consulting firm, Mackinsay & Company, find ways to enhance reader satisfaction while cutting costs at our Kansas City headquarters. Mackinsay, after making certain that my check had cleared, recommended that I fire forty staffers at Catch Basin and plunder the pensions of those lucky enough to keep their jobs.*

*Having just re-read A Christmas Carol, I rejected Mackinsay’s advice and gave every employee a Christmas goose and a copy of my latest book, Tour Tempo 2: The Short Game & Beyond, available as an e-book on all iPads, Kindles and Nooks.

Highland Links, Cape Breton Island

Top 50 courses like Cape Breton Island's Highland Links (above) could suffer if consultant's advice is followed. (John Garrity)

Mackinsay’s second recommendation called for a de-emphasis of golf course reviews (“because they’re closing more courses than they’re building”) offset by a boost in tour coverage (“because pro golfers get a lot more air time than golf architects do”). This advice made more sense, but I pointed out that qualified golf writers, such as I used to be, are paid immensely more than the quasi-galley slaves who work in my basement computer room.

Mackinsay’s rejoinder: “You only paid for two recommendations. A third will cost you forty thousand.”

So now that Mackinsay is out of the picture, I’m wrestling with a decision: Should I spend more time at pro tournaments, trying to extract something quotable from sweaty guys who spend most of their days in the hot sun? Or should I spend most of my time in the hot sun, playing the world’s greatest golf courses on behalf of my readers?

To help with that decision, I’ve put on my old reporter’s hat — the fedora with the press pass sticking out of the band — and planted my laptop on a black-fabric-draped table in the media center at the Farmers Insurance Open. I’m working for my old employer, Sports Illustrated, but I’m also here for you, my Top 50 readers. If something pops into my head that I am not contractually or ethically obligated to share with SI, I promise to share it with you.

Fortunately, nothing like that has yet popped into my head. And since it’s been a long day, I think I’ll pack up and drive over to the Del Mar Driving Range for a sunset bucket of balls.

Top 50 on TV: Nothing this week, but Phil Mickelson praised a couple of courses at his post-pro-am presser. “My favorite golf course out here is probably Hilton Head,” he said, referring to Pete Dye’s 51st-ranked Harbour Town Golf Links. “And I don’t even play there any more because it’s the week after the Masters.” Reminded that the U.S. Amateur was returning to 52nd-ranked Cherry Hills Country Club in Denver, Col., site of his 1990 Amateur triumph, Lefty said, “I loved that golf course. I thought it was spectacular. There is so much history there, from Palmer driving the green on 1, to Hogan backing up his wedge on 17 … you can’t help but feel it.”

Until prodded, Mickelson modestly left out his own contribution to Cherry Hills lore: his jaw-dropping concession of a 30-foot par putt on the first hole of his second-round match with perennial New Jersey amateur champ Jeff Thomas. “I’ll never forget the look that he gave me,” Mickelson recalled with a smile. “I ended up making a three- or four-foot birdie putt to win the hole.”

Those of us who were there remember that Mickelson minimized the length of his birdie try after the match, saying, “I wasn’t going to try to lag a two-footer. I thought it was a gimme.”

My contemporaneous account of Mickelson’s memorable week at Cherry Hills is in the SI Vault. Check it out.

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Top 50 Author Debuts at No. 1

A worried reader asks,“Is this a golf course blog? A week or so ago, you popped up on Golf Channel’s Champions Tour Learning Center with some snake-oil swing remedy. This morning I caught you dispensing tips on bunker play on “Teed Off,” Brian Katrek’s PGA Tour Network program. Now I’m in my dentist’s waiting room, and here’s your byline on an SI Golf Plus rant about Tiger Woods’s screwed-up tempo. What gives? Have you forsaken course rating for the Hollywood allure of swing-guru celebrity?”

John Novosel Jr. on "Learning Center"

John Novosel Jr. explained Tour Tempo to a Golf Channel crew at the TPC of San Antonio. (John Garrity)

Fear not, Worried Reader. I just spent a working weekend in the Atlantic time zone, checking up on our two Canadian courses (24th-ranked Cabot Links and No. 31 Highlands Links) and I’m already packing for a trip to Oregon’s Bandon Dunes Golf Resort, where I’ll tee it up and trade rants with Tom Doak, designer of Pacific Dunes, No. 26. And just to forestall confusion, the Top 50 is not “a golf course blog.” It is the golf course blog.

However, like the late Steve Jobs, I take pride in revolutionizing whole industries. To that end, I co-authored the best-selling golf instructional, Tour Tempo: Golf’s Last Secret Finally Revealed, now in its 11th printing by Doubleday. And now John Novosel and I are out with an e-book sequel, Tour Tempo 2: The Short Game & Beyond, available on the Amazon Kindle* and Apple iBooks** platforms.

*Tour Tempo 2 debuted at No. 1 on Amazon’s golf books list. No surprise, that, since the original Tour Tempo was Amazon’s best-selling sports book of 2004, beating out Leigh Montville’s compelling Ted Williams biography.

**The Apple edition [which also debuted at No. 1 among golf books in the iTunes Store] is “enhanced” with color photography, instructional video clips and the  Tour Tempo short-game training tones. Buyers of the Kindle version can acquire these TT2 extras via a free download from the Web.

Naturally, promoting the new book has kept me from blogging as often as I’d like. But that hasn’t kept our highly-paid Top 50 evaluators from their appointed rounds. Within the past hour, for example, the A.W. Tillinghast-designed Wissahickon course at the Philadelphia Cricket Club jumped from No. 62 to No. 53 upon news of a breakthrough in the European sovereign-debt crisis. At the same time, a perennial Top-50 favorite, Colonial Country Club of Fort Worth, Texas, plummeted from No. 24 to No. 238.*

*Colonial’s fall, a by-product of program trading, was interrupted by a computerized “circuit breaker.” Our IT staff is looking into it.

Tour Tempo 2 Cover Art

TT2 is $9.99 on the iPad and Kindle reader.

How good is Tour Tempo 2?  Sports Illustrated senior writer Michael Bamberger, co-author of the best-selling golf novel, The Swinger, rates it ahead of the collected output of every last golf guru of the past half-century. “Since Eisenhower took to the links,” Bamberger writes in his latest blurb, “there have been two important golf instruction books: Five Fundamentals, by Ben Hogan and Herbert Warren Wind, and Tour Tempo, with John Novosel playing the Hogan role and John Garrity as Herb. TT2 is clearer yet. It’s like a wonder drug.”

Coming from Bamberger, a master of understatement, this is high praise. But let’s talk value. For a mere $9.99, you get the aforementioned color photography, the short-game tones, and the instruction videos. And if you order in the next hour, you’ll receive at no extra cost a bonus chapter, “The Force,” from an upcoming e-book by long-drive specialist John Novosel, Jr. Act this very instant and we’ll throw in “The Force” video clip, which will take strokes off your game faster than you can say “Popeil’s Pocket Fisherman!”

As for Worried Reader … stop moping and play some golf before winter sets in. I recommend any of the courses on the adjacent list.

Top 50 on TV: Nothing this week, but Rory McIlroy leads after one round of the Shanghai Masters, which is being played on the Lake Malaren Masters course, a Jack Nicklaus design. Robert Allenby, meanwhile, is the first-round leader at the Asia Pacific Classic, held at The Mines Resort & Golf Club in Selangor Malaysia, a Robert Trent Jones Jr. track. Both courses are “Unrated” pending a review of the Colonial situation.

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