Inside the Ropes: The Presidents Cup Travels to Asia


The golf calendar is stuffed fuller than a pro-am goody bag, with 43 PGA Tour events, including the four majors and the FedExCup playoffs, but in South Korea this year, there will be no bigger event than the Presidents Cup. From October 8 to 11, the Jack Nicklaus Golf Club in suburban Seoul will host the biennial competition between the U.S. and International Team which is taking place in Asia for the first time.

Having a golf event of this magnitude in South Korea is surely destined to ignite the interest level of many young South Koreans. And with International Team captain Nick Price adding soon to be conscripted South Korean Sang-Moon Bae to his 12-man team as one of his two Captain’s picks, Price is counting on some ‘home’ advantage.

Price said he had been keen to select Bae due to his successful record at the Jack Nicklaus venue where he has twice won the Korean PGA Shinhan Donghae Open in recent years.

“I chose (Bae) because he has played pretty well the last couple of weeks but also because he’s won on the golf course. He loves the golf course, and it’s very important to have someone on the team that the Korean fans and media could pull for,” Price said. “But it was a difficult decision.”

Bae got the nod over Australian Matt Jones, despite finishing 19th in the standings, and will give Price his second Korean-born player alongside New Zealander Danny Lee. Lee was born in the Seoul suburb of Incheon where the golf course is located and emigrated to New Zealand at age eight, becoming a naturalized New Zealander in 2008.

Following the Presidents Cup the two-time PGA Tour winner Bae will put his golf career on hold to complete two years of mandatory military service, something all able-bodied Korean men must do between the ages of 18-35.

While Nick Price went for the ‘home’ advantage by adding Bae to his line-up, he chose form when he added Australia Stephen Bowditch. Bowditch ended up 11th in the International standings and was a likely choice by Price after clinching his second career victory on the PGA Tour at the AT&T Byron Nelson in May.

In the final two picks for U.S. Captain Jay Haas he chose his son Bill Hass as one of his picks and added something of a surprise by naming Cup veteran Phil Mickelson, who was viewed by many as a long shot after struggling to find his form over the past two years.

Bill Haas will be making his third appearance in the biennial team competition while 45-year-old Mickelson will extend his record run to 11, having played in every edition since the Presidents Cup was launched in 1994. The selection of Haas was always likely as the 33-year-old won his sixth PGA Tour title at the Humana Challenge in January and finished 11th in the Presidents Cup standings, just one spot shy of automatic qualification. Five-time major champion Mickelson, however, languished in 30th spot, having not triumphed on the PGA Tour since the 2013 British Open. Mickelson’s record in the Presidents Cup is 20 wins, 16 losses and 11 halves.

It would seem that the law of averages should favour the International Team in 2015. The US have dominated the Presidents Cup, winning eight times in 10 editions, including a victory by 18-1/2 points to 15-1/2 in the most recent encounter at Muirfield Village in Dublin, Ohio two years ago. This time around the International team might just have enough firepower to beat another strong U.S. roster.

While depth has always been an issue for the International squad, the team does boast a formidable front line in the likes of Jason Day, Adam Scott, Louis Oosthuizen, Charl Schwartzel and Hideki Matsuyama. But the struggle for the “rest of the world not including Europe” squad has always been about filling out the bottom of their batting order. Just as the U.S. Ryder Cup team needed a jolt of enthusiasm from rookies Patrick Reed and Jordan Spieth, Price’s team could get an infusion of energy from the likes of India’s Anirban Lahiri and 45-year-old Thai professional Thongchai Jaidee the all-time leading money winner on the Asian Tour, both of whom are making their first appearances in Presidents Cup competition. Granted none of them have the talent of Reed or Spieth but the formula should be analogous.

Whatever the outcome, the 11th edition of the Presidents Cup will be a major source of pride for South Korea and an inspiration for a whole new generation of young Asian golfers. Kyung-Mi Kim, a member of the Incheon task force entrusted to organize the event has described the President’s Cup in South Korea as “equivalent to the Olympics” and said that having an event of such magnitude in their backyard “will ignite the interest level” in the sport among young South Koreans particularly with a Korean player on the team.

It should be a great competition and wonderfully inspiring for golf throughout the region, particularly if the law of averages produces an International win. Don’t fret for the U.S side, though. Even if it were to lose for just the second time ever, there’s still time to regroup for 2017 when the competition returns to the United States just three miles across the Hudson River to Liberty National Golf Club where the Manhattan skyline and Statue of Liberty loom large in the background. Talk about ‘home’ advantage.

About Richard (Rick) Janes: Rick Janes has had an insider’s view of the Presidents Cup since 2005 and served as a member of the Presidents Cup Committee through 2011 covering the biennial competitions staged at the Robert Trent Jones Golf Club in Prince William, Va. in 2005, at Royal Montreal in 2007, at San Francisco’s TPC Harding Park in 2009, and at the venerable Royal Melbourne Golf Club in Australia in 2011. As the long-serving Commissioner of the Canadian Tour his relations in international golf and with the PGA TOUR laid the foundation for the launch of PGA TOUR Canada in 2013. At Niagara Parks Golf since 2014 he brings his expertise in tournament operations and event management to help groups and tournament organizers produce the very best events possible.

Why Shouldn’t We Feed the Ducks?

Ducks flying over water

Some people enjoy feeding waterfowl (ducks and geese), thinking that they are helping these animals, all while providing themselves with an opportunity to get ‘closer to nature’.

While visitors have the best of intentions, feeding waterfowl and wildlife can be very harmful! It can result in delayed migration, overcrowding, the spread of disease, malnutrition and other unnatural behaviours. Also, feeding waterfowl by hand will lead to environmental issues such as added water pollution, algal blooms and shoreline erosion.

What’s wrong with feeding by hand?

It may seem harmless, but waterfowl fed by hand suffer from poor nutrition. These animals normally feed on aquatic plants, natural grains and invertebrates. But processed foods such as bread are high in carbohydrates and low in protein, leading to malnutrition, drooping wings and limited flying ability.

When hand feeding happens, unnatural numbers of waterfowl will stay in an area, upsetting the natural supply of food and habitat. This leads to an artificially elevated population level, which means overcrowding, the spread of disease and in-fighting! Diseases which are not normally transmittable in the wild thrive in overcrowded and unsanitary conditions.

Uneaten, rotting food can also grow mold which can be fatal to waterfowl or attract unwanted pests such as mice and rats, which can harbour more diseases.

Waterfowl feeding also leads to unnatural behaviour. Fed waterfowl tend to lose their fear of humans, which can also lead to increased aggression. Some waterfowl will lose their ability to compete in a natural setting, while others will change their migration patterns, making them susceptible to the harsh conditions of winter.

Effects  on the Environment

Feeding waterfowl by hand also has detrimental effects on the environment. Water quality can be significantly impacted by an over-abundance of waterfowl due to the nutrients (nitrogen and phosphorus) and high levels of Escherichia coli (E. coli) they create. Increased levels of nutrients can lead to unwanted algal blooms (eutrophication), which can then destroy aquatic ecosystems, by using up the oxygen in the water. E. coli, which can also be harmful to human health, is often found in high, unsafe concentrations where large numbers of waterfowl reside, resulting in unsanitary conditions.

The presence of an increased number of waterfowl can also impact surrounding vegetation. Vegetation along the shoreline stabilizes the soil with its roots, preventing erosion. While waterfowl will feed on shoreline vegetation in nature, once it is eaten, they will move on, allowing the vegetation to grow again. In areas where feeding by hand occurs, shoreline vegetation has been eliminated as waterfowl remain in a single location due to the artificial food source. As a result, shoreline erosion occurs leading to poor shoreline habitat, unstable banks, and impaired water quality, due to an increase of sediment entering the water.

Enjoying Wildlife in Niagara Parks

The beauty of waterfowl can still be enjoyed, as they will continue to frequent areas even if they are not fed; however, they will do so at much more environmentally sustainable numbers. Appreciating and learning about nature does not require feeding wildlife. Wildlife should be viewed or photographed from afar and left to be wild. Do your part; please do not feed the waterfowl.

Here are some links with more information about the impact of waterfowl feeding by hand:

Inside the Ropes: Playoff Time PGA Tour Style


The game of golf entered a new era in 2007 when the PGA TOUR launched the FedExCup, a season-long points competition offering $35 million in bonus money and the Tour’s first-ever playoff series. With the opening round of the four season ending playoff events scheduled to begin August 27 at The Barclays in New Jersey, the race to golf’s richest prize is about to get underway. Coupled with $32 million in tournament prize money and another $35 million in season ending FedExCup bonus money, there’s a total of $67 million on the line over the four week race to crown this year’s FedExCup champion.

It seems as if every avid golf fan on the face of the planet has had some form of opinion regarding the FedExCup point system.  Maybe the point system is too volatile during the playoffs.  Maybe the point system is not volatile enough during the playoffs.  Maybe the point system is simply too difficult to understand without a master’s degree in advanced mathematics.

So how does it work? During the 43 events on the regular PGA Tour schedule, Tour members earn FedExCup points based on their results, with a strong emphasis placed on winning and high finishes.  Once the regular season ends, the top-125 players advance to the FedExCup Playoffs. The pressure packed series of four events features a progressive cut beginning with 125 players at The Barclays, continuing with the Deutsche Bank Championship in Boston which tees off the top 100 players and the BMW Championship in Chicago which starts with a field of 70 players.  Only the top-30 players will make it to the TOUR Championship in Atlanta where the FedExCup Champion will be crowned.

Tiger Woods won the inaugural FedExCup in 2007 and again in 2009. Others to hoist the trophy include Vijay Singh, Jim Furyk, Bill Haas, Brandt Snedeker, and Henrik Stenson. Billy Horschel won in 2014. Before the playoffs began, the 27-year-old Horschel’s resume didn’t exactly strike much fear into opponents. He had one career PGA Tour victory in 2013 and posted a strong top-five finish in the 2013 U.S. Open but had otherwise failed to make his mark as an elite golfer. And he looked nothing like a FedExCup champion in the first playoff event, missing the cut at The Barclays. Then, he turned things around in a heartbeat.

Horschel brought his best to the Deutsche Bank Championship, the second of the four playoff events and while he failed to hold on to his Sunday lead over a charging Chris Kirk, with two tournaments left, he made the most of it. With a win at the BMW Championship in resounding fashion holding off Bubba Watson in the final round he followed-up with a victory at the season-ending TOUR Championship where he made no doubt of his FedExCup title. In the end, Horschel earned $14.8 million playing golf on the PGA Tour during the 2013-14 season including regular season earnings, playoff winnings and his $10 million share of the $35 million FedExCup bonus pool. That’s a lot of money, but it doesn’t undermine what he did for his caddie after all the dust had settled.  According to a story in Golfweek, Horschel left a $10,000 tip for the locker-room attendants at East Lake Golf Club, site of his title-clinching victory and then dished out a cool $1 million to caddie Micah Fugitt for helping him reach the pinnacle of golf financially.

The FedExCup will likely never rival the major championships, and the PGA Tour may keep tinkering with the format for years to come, but however you slice it the FedExCup Playoffs are all about the kind of excitement that happens when you bring the top players in the world together for a four tournament series with more than $67 million on the line. Over time, the FedExCup Playoffs will be as natural to golf as a run to the World Series or the Stanley Cup playoffs and golf will be better for it.