Spitting threatens viewer enjoyment — and more

Contributing Columnist

I’m going to use this article to clear up a few things sitting on my desk. I’ll start by mentioning spitting. It has become an ugly issue on the PGA Tour. Keegan Bradley, Tiger Woods, Spencer Levin, Scott Verplank, Dustin Johnson and Kyle Stanley are all guilty of spitting in excess. Maybe the close-up views of Bradley’s habit finally will awaken the Tour Commissioner.

I don’t want golf to become difficult to watch like baseball where spitting is mindless, constant and disgusting. Fortunately, someone spoke to Bradley, he has ceased the habit and he is much better to watch because of it. Now if the other players would quit spitting, I would be much happier.

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Padraig Harrington shot an opening round 61 last week. That was the fifth such score on the Tour this year. Ryan Moore, Robert Garrigus, Charlie Wi and Brian Herman all shot 61 this year. Interestingly, none of them followed with lower than 68. After making a remarkable 195 feet of putts in round one, Harrington shot 73 the next day and said he was too cautious putting with the lead. He three-putted Nos. 6 and 7, missing from 18 inches at six.

“My mother would have cursed at me for missing the tap-in,” he said. “She wouldn’t be so impressed with me not going through my routine on that.”

The five 61s already are more than last year, when three players shot that score and one competitor, Amateur Patrick Cantlay, shot 60.

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Supply continues to outpace demand in golf, and the pressure on golf courses yielded predictable results last year. According to the National Golf Foundation, 157 golf courses closed in 2011 compared with 19 new openings. Since the golf economy started to diminish in 2006, a cumulative 358 golf courses have closed representing a 24 percent drop from the 2006 peak.

The supply correction is likely to continue for the near future. From 1986 to 2005 more than 4,500 courses were built in the United States. The slow correction that is now taking place is very much overdue and necessary to help return the golf course business to a more healthy equilibrium between supply and demand.

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Adams Golf for years has defied industry consolidation, grinding out gains in market share. However, the company’s stock price ultimately didn’t reflect its success, prompting the board of directors to consider a sale of the business. What seemed inevitable became a reality March 19, when the Plano, Texas-based equipment maker announced it agreed to be acquired by the Adidas Group, TaylorMade’s parent, for approximately $70 million.

The deal is expected to close in mid 2012. The sale marks yet another chapter in the disappearance of independent golf companies, as Adams becomes the latest of nearly a dozen brands in the past 15 years to relinquish sovereign ownership.

• • •

Congratulations to Michelle Wie who took her final exams last week and graduated from Stanford. That’s quite an accomplishment, despite the fact it took her five years to get her diploma. She has managed to play a full LPGA schedule in addition to her scholastic excellence at one of the nation’s toughest academic institutions. Wie proved that for a select few, you can really work hard and have it all.


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