June 1, 2006
TODD BUDNICK: We thank Slugger White the PGA TOUR Tournament Director. We brought him in for your questions.
Q. We have an understanding, at least from one player, that there's some kind of guidelines, rules, by law, constitution, whatever, about what the rake can and can't be. And, at least, I'm curious about what that is?
SLUGGER WHITE: Well, you were right in the first part. It is a guideline. There's no policy that's set in stone or in concrete. Like I said, it's just a guideline. And it's nothing that we put out throw out in the wind there, either. It's just a guideline.
Q. When you say, "It's just a guideline," specifically what is the guideline on rakes and what is this guideline in general, what does it cover?
SLUGGER WHITE: You know what, quite honestly, I need to look at the agronomy part of it. We don't have a do we have a rake that is PGA TOUR sanctioned? I don't think we do. I think it's we've used Accuform rakes here for a long, long time. And that's kind of what most of them do go to, but nothing etched in stone.
Q. In the guideline, there is something about rakes, correct?
SLUGGER WHITE: You may have stumped me with that one. I need to look. I don't have that with me, in my pocket.
Q. These are guidelines that you supply to the tournaments?
SLUGGER WHITE: It goes through our agronomy department. When they do their six month advanced visits, they go through and make sure they have enough rakes, that type of thing, and what we're asking them to have. I can find out exactly what it does say. I'd be happy to do that, research it for you.
Q. Are the Tour permitted to, if the complaints get severe enough, would you smooth the bunkers out and go back to the old rake? Or are you going to play this the whole week?
SLUGGER WHITE: We're going to play this the rest of the week. Guys, this is a test. This is not a policy. Probably in hindsight, quite honestly, we maybe should have prepped the players a little earlier. If that's a mistake, I don't know if it's a mistake, we can live with that, but, no, we're going forward with it.
Q. We've had player after player come in here, basically not everyone, but the majority voiced their displeasure. I'm curious if you've had any player come up and say, "I like the bunker"?
SLUGGER WHITE: I've had three or four players, and I won't single them out, I've had two, specifically, say that they kind of like the more complaints, the better they liked it. I've had two players say that. And most of them have good short games, for the most part.
Q. Was this Jack's idea that the Tour gave its blessing to, or was this the Tour's idea that Jack embraced?
SLUGGER WHITE: There was a post tournament meeting after THE PLAYERS Championship. I was not there. And Pete Dye is the one that mentioned this, that guys, if you want to think about doing something that as opposed to adding 30 or 40 yards to tees. We're constantly looking to enhance the playability of the golf courses. There's strategic trees being planted. And there's been a lot of criticism with length. And we're trying to narrow fairways down. And this was just one thing. We kind of took it forward. And Jack and I talked last week, in fact. And he embraced it and I did, as well. And our committee, this week, we did.
Q. The way Jack said it over the weekend was that he had this idea that sometime during the, I don't know, off season, and went to the Tour with it and said, "Do you mind if we do this?" And the Tour basically said, "We've been talking about this, also," and then it finally got to the point where they said, "Go ahead and do it."
SLUGGER WHITE: I didn't talk to Jack about that. I called him like I said, I called him last week and he asked if we were in favor of this. And I said, "Yes, we would be." And he said he was looking for the support. I said, "As are we." It's change. Yes, it's change. And again, I say if looking back, probably we should have prepped these guys a little earlier. And I'll take the blame for that, too.
Q. Do you plan to do this at additional tournaments, or are you going to wait and see how this plays out?
SLUGGER WHITE: I think we're going to have to wait to see how this plays out. We're lucky here that we've got the type of sand that would accept this, the resources are there, the manpower is there. We may go two or three weeks down the road where we don't have those resources, manpower, or the bunkers aren't conducive to this. Whether we go forward from this remains to be seen. We've taken some criticism, you guys have listened to it and we'll just go forward. I think again, it's change. Everyone is a little bit stubborn when it comes to change, we all are.
Q. Just along the same lines of the question about the time line, when they were talking about this over the weekend, they said that the Tour said earlier in the year, and I don't know how early, whether it was after the players or whether it was before that somehow something was communicated to the players along the line of, "Guys, the honeymoon is over with the bunkers, we're doing something"?
SLUGGER WHITE: Quite honestly, I wasn't privy to that. I don't know that.
Q. And the other thing is, you are using the same rakes in the fairway bunkers and the green side bunkers?
SLUGGER WHITE: It's not the exact same rake. They've kind of created a rake that has the same length of tooth on it with the same space on it, made out of PVC, the maintenance staff has made that themselves.
Q. And it's creating the same size furrow?
SLUGGER WHITE: Same furrow, same width and same depth.
Q. The rakes I saw on the fairway bunkers seemed to be they have two rakes, one is the one for the sides and then there's all I've seen is wood rakes in the fairway bunkers. And I haven't seen one of those PVC ones yet. I haven't been through all 18 holes?
SLUGGER WHITE: They were only on the fairway bunkers. You didn't see any of those? They're kind of white handled.
SLUGGER WHITE: The caddies weren't raking the fairway bunkers at all.
Q. I understand. Right.
SLUGGER WHITE: But
Q. I didn't see one PVC rake out there in the fairways?
SLUGGER WHITE: Well, I saw a bunch of them.
Q. I'm just saying, the other thing is why did you decide to use staff for the fairway bunkers and caddies for the green side bunkers?
SLUGGER WHITE: Because we felt like the caddie, if he was in the bunker and he had to get to his player, that he might back himself out, and it would create something. That's not exactly what we were looking for. And hopefully this other body would be there to, in fact, get it back to where it was when he got in it.
Q. One other thing, you mentioned this with Flesch and some other guys. They feel like this course is hard enough the way it is. The bunkers are hard enough, they're deeper, Jack is always proactive in making the course difficult. In hindsight, do you think that if you had done this at a different venue where maybe the bunkering wasn't as severe to begin with it might have been more accepted?
SLUGGER WHITE: Could have been, could be. I can't think of where right now. I'm sure there's if I put my thinking cap on as far as golf courses go, where the bunkers maybe aren't as deep or a little more shallow, I really can't answer that. But, yeah, like I say, hindsight, it's all 20/20.
Q. Just to be sure, what was the nature of the weather problem?
SLUGGER WHITE: We had a dangerous situation that was really built right on top of us. Have you guys seen the weather coming at us? We've got something coming right away. Our weatherman felt like it was a dangerous situation. And we stopped. And when I went in and looked at it, it just everything was just building right around us and right over the top of us. And what we've got coming at us here in the next little bit does not look very pretty.
Q. Dangerous situation is lightning?
SLUGGER WHITE: Lightning, right.
Q. Friday's weather looks to be rain most of the day. But even if that's the case, do you see any issues with finishing on Sunday?
SLUGGER WHITE: Not right now. We're looking for it's like scattered rain tomorrow, thunderstorms up through maybe 10:00 in the morning. And after that we're looking actually pretty good for the rest of the day and for the weekend.
Q. What's the scale, when you say you're waiting to see, how much do you take into account how the players feel about it and how much will you look at the actual stats from the sand saves?
SLUGGER WHITE: I think we'll weigh it all. If you talk to the players, they're probably 98 percent against it right now. We're taking stats every day. And we're comparing it to where they've been in the past. It wasn't something that wasn't thought out. Yes, it was put together pretty fast, but there was a lot of due diligence done, as well.
TODD BUDNICK: Thank you, Slugger.
End of FastScripts.