3. The R&A began work on its second round of changes to the Old Course this week, as captured in photographs by former Golf Magazine intern Graylyn Loomis. What do you think of these changes: a necessary evil or should the Old Course and other classic courses be deemed untouchable?
PASSOV: I litigated this issue a year ago and I'm holding to my argument. No classic course should be deemed untouchable. Every great course, from Pine Valley to Pebble -- and especially the Old Course -- has changed through the years, especially if it wants to stay relevant for longer, straighter hitters. Tiger told me last year that he was fine with most of the changes -- and the Old Course is his favorite course in golf. Admittedly, we should exercise the utmost care in altering golf's holiest ground, and wield the lightest touch possible over similar shrines, but it's been done countless times over the centuries.
VAN SICKLE: The Old Course changes are deplorable. The earlier changes were painting a mustache on the Mona Lisa. This round is erasing the mustache and painting in a nose ring and stitches. Blimey, f it ain't broke, don't fix it!
SHIPNUCK: Every course evolves over time, none more so than the Old. The real issue is what is driving the changes. In this case, it has very little to do with play for 259 out of every 260 weeks. But because of the R&A's (and USGA's) negligence in reigning in driving distance for the pros, we have to desecrate the Old Course to accommodate the Open once every five years. It would be laughable if it weren't so sad.
MORFIT: This is a sad story. Ben Crenshaw told me it was like defacing the Mona Lisa. Why redo a classic? If the wind is up the course is plenty tough.
WALKER: These classic courses should be on a historic register of some sort and deemed untouchable. The game needs permanent yardsticks and St. Andrews is a pretty good one. If you can’t hold a major championship there, then something else is wrong.
SENS: Necessary evil if the course is going to continue to be a stage for the game's best players. It would be easier to get into a traditionalist's lather over all this if the changes were fully transforming the character of the course. But they're not. They're subtle. It's not like they're installing a waterfall behind the 18th green.
4. The pro-anchoring PGA of America and the pro-anchoring PGA Tour announced a partnership/cooperation agreement this week. Is this a reaction to the USGA’s ban on anchored putting? How does a PGA of America/PGA Tour partnership change the balance of power in golf?
PASSOV: Given the end-of-the-world schism the PGA of America and PGA Tour experienced in 1968, it's remarkable that they've formally joined forces on anything. I'm not sure where it will all lead, but it seems they must identify and define their leadership role in the game vis-à-vis the USGA.
MORFIT: I was thinking their press conference was going to address anchoring. Maybe they'll cross that bridge later. It seems more likely this week than it did last.
VAN SICKLE: I'm still waiting for the other shoe to drop on the PGA Tour and PGA of America so-called alliance. I'm not quite sure what to make of it.
SENS: You would have to be an especially odd brand of conspiracy theorist to see this as being all about anchored putting. But this is about trying to exert greater control over the game's future direction and, of course, the revenues that come with it.
WALKER: The anchoring issue showed a real fissure between PGA Tour/PGA of America and USGA/R&A. And I suspect we ain’t seen nothin’ yet.
SHIPNUCK: All I know is I can't wait to see Tim Finchem and Ted Bishop in the remake of Thelma and Louise!