Nine biggest golf stories that happened off the golf course

Thursday December 31st, 2009
Michael Whan was hired as the new LPGA Commissioner.
Tina Fineberg/AP

1. Tiger Woods scandal. Only the sexiest scandal in golf history. Probably the only sexy scandal in golf history, for that matter. What, you've been off-planet and missed it? You're the last to know.

2. Square grooves are going, going... gone! Pros will have to start using irons with modified V-grooves instead of the grabbier U-grooves (or square grooves, as they're often called). This means short-game shots will require more skill. Look out, here comes Phil Mickelson and Justin Leonard and, if he comes back, that Tiger guy.

3. Golf included for 2016 Olympics. That still gives Michael Phelps plenty of time to hone his putting stroke.

4. LPGA gets new leader. The LPGA had 35 events on its schedule when Carolyn Bivens took over as commissioner in 2005, and only 10 had signed on for 2010 when she was finally ousted in June. She was a victim of her own failed hardball tactics; marketing whiz Michael Whan took her spot.

5. Drug bust. Journeyman golfer Doug Barron tested positive for banned substances and was banned for a year by the PGA Tour. Barron challenged the PGA Tour's drug-testing policies in court but failed to win an injunction to allow him to compete in the Tour's qualifying tournament. Further legal action is expected.

6. Honey, I shrunk the Tour. Sponsors and advertising dollars are getting harder to come by. The PGA Tour schedule has one less stop in '10 (Milwaukee). The Nationwide has two fewer with 27 (after adding a new event in Pittsburgh area). The Champions tour remains at 26.

7. Dubai dip. The Race to Dubai, the European tour's heavily promoted response to the big-money FedEx Cup series, slashed its initial purse from $10 million to $7.5 due to the global recession.

8. Asian invitation. The Masters announced that it will save a spot in its field every year for the winner of the Asian Amateur Championship. The first player to earn a trip to Augusta was Han Chang-won, a 17-year-old from South Korea.

9. Shark split. Greg Norman and Chris Evert broke up. If even they can't make a go of it, what hope is there for the rest of us?

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