Twitter: GeoffShac
Writing And Videos
  • Playing Through: Modern Golf's Most Iconic Players and Moments
    Playing Through: Modern Golf's Most Iconic Players and Moments
    by Jim Moriarty
  • Tommy's Honor: The Story of Old Tom Morris and Young Tom Morris, Golf's Founding Father and Son
    Tommy's Honor: The Story of Old Tom Morris and Young Tom Morris, Golf's Founding Father and Son
    by Kevin Cook
  • His Ownself: A Semi-Memoir (Anchor Sports)
    His Ownself: A Semi-Memoir (Anchor Sports)
    by Dan Jenkins
  • The Captain Myth: The Ryder Cup and Sport's Great Leadership Delusion
    The Captain Myth: The Ryder Cup and Sport's Great Leadership Delusion
    by Richard Gillis
  • The Ryder Cup: Golf's Grandest Event – A Complete History
    The Ryder Cup: Golf's Grandest Event – A Complete History
    by Martin Davis
  • A Life Well Played: My Stories
    A Life Well Played: My Stories
    by Arnold Palmer

A little known fact about the PGA Tour is that several of your big names out here would rather spend a week in a cage with squealing lunatics than play in the Bob Hope Desert Classic.  DAN JENKINS (as Bobby Joe Grooves)


   

Tuesday
Jan172017

Four Captain's Picks: European Tour Unveils Membership Regulation Changes Impacting On Ryder Cup, Rolex Series

Thanks to reader ST who stumbled on this middle-of-the-night, past-deadlines European Tour posting of major membership regulation changes that will impact the Ryder Cup and many players who juggle time on multiple tours.

The key element: four (instead of five) European Tour sanctioned events outside of the majors and WGC's must be played to qualify for Ryder Cup eligibility. There is more.

Firstly, there will be a greater weighting for points earned in tournaments in the latter stages of the process to help ensure the European Team reflects those players in form nearer the time of The Ryder Cup itself.

Race to Dubai points and World Ranking points earned in these tournaments will be multiplied by 1.5 for the two respective qualification lists with the first counting event to benefit from this increased weighting in the 2018 season being the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth. 

With the 2018 schedule not as yet finalised, the last counting event in the quest to make Thomas Bjørn’s team bound for Le Golf National in Paris in September 2018 is not confirmed, but the starting point will be the D+D Real Czech Masters at the Albatross Golf Resort in Prague from August 31 – September 3, 2017.

This is an obvious reaction to so many players not sniffing the 2016 team while playing so well, or, in the case of Thomas Pieters, requiring a captain's pick.

Secondly, following the introduction of the Rolex Series, no Ryder Cup qualification points will be available from tournaments staged anywhere in the world played in the same week as these events in both 2017 and 2018.

Pelley!

Nice move by the Chief to protect his newly-announced series of events and to offer a little more incentive. Now the bad news...

While this change takes into account the significance of the Rolex Series for the European Tour, it also recognises it will mean fewer qualification points being available globally outside of these tournaments, hence Captain Bjørn will have an extra wild card pick at his disposal for the 2018 team – the third change.

 It means the 12-man European Team for The 2018 Ryder Cup will comprise the first four players from the European Points List, followed by the leading four players from the World Points List and completed by four wild cards. 

This is the most disappointing concession to the increasingly absurd glorification of captains. It's hard to imagine after the first two improvements that many players will be heartened by better qualifying rules while one less qualifying spot is offered.

Darren Clarke reluctantly took Thomas Pieters over Luke Donald. With a fourth pick, is he taking Donald over Russell Knox? If I were betting I'd say yes.

Here's a fun little back room preventive measure for an unforeseen scenario:

Furthermore, the committee also introduced a new regulation stating that players cannot be a European Ryder Cup Captain or a Vice-Captain if they decline membership of the European Tour or fail to fulfil their minimum event obligation in any season, from 2018 onwards.

Tuesday
Jan172017

Costco's Disruptor Ball Appears Dead, What Did We Learn?

Kudos to MyGolfSpy for reporting the likely demise of Costco's Kirkland ball sold for so little and performing so admirably.  I've been trying to track down details on the Kirkland story and my reporting mirrors that of MyGolfSpy in all but one key area. This we agree on: it's unlikely we'll see Costco replicate such a ball at the same price.

To recap, the $15-a-dozen ball is no longer even pictured on Costco's website after supplies became constrained, largely after MyGolfSpy's rave November 7th, 2016 review comparing the pellet favorably to Titleist's Pro-V1.

Tony Covey writes:

Our source inside Costco has not responded to our calls, however, a source familiar with the situation has told us that Costco has suspended production of the Kirkland Signature until further notice. Whether you want to call it a shortage or a total outage, the lack of Kirkland golf balls available to the consumer is being blamed on supply chain issues.

We're told that, internally, Coscto is saying that production will resume at a later date (and that an email will be sent to customers when stock is available), but we have good reason to believe that is an unlikely scenario.

Essentially Costco was the recipient of a one-time bargain-buy on golf ball cores that allowed them to produce the ball inexpensively. Any Trader Joes shopper knows that vineyards with extra stock but not wanting to taint their brand selling their wine at a lower price will sell otherwise nice product to the chain. Trader Joes then slaps their label on what amounts to limited editions, tells us where the grapes were grown and teases us about its heritage without ever outing the vineyard. Some of the wines are better than others, but they are almost always an excellent value.

So which vineyard dumped these cores on Costco at a low, unlikely-to-be-replicated price? Covey writes:

A representative of Nassau Golf (originally listed as the manufacturer of the Kirkland Signature Ball on the USGA conforming list) has told MyGolfSpy that Costco purchased overruns of Nassau's European-market-exclusive Quattro ball. There is some indication the sale was made through a third party, and that Nassau may not have been directly involved in the deal. The same source confirms that while the Costco balls have a different core color, the material composition and layer thickness are absolutely identical to the Quattro.

With the initial supply of overruns exhausted, Costco effectively has nothing left to sell.

Multiple sources I contacted felt that cores were from an overrun of Taylor Mades that needed to be disposed of when Adidas demanded that their subsidiary squeeze cash out of anything they could. The intent was not to disrupt the industry, but instead to cash in however they could on unused inventory. When GolfWRX noted the initial frenzy and MyGolfSpy's review hit, the ball became a disruptor.

Covey does note that the Kirkland ball's manufacturing location is now back to its mission of making Taylor Made golf balls and that a similar situation to the 2016 "K-Sig" is unlikely anytime soon, if at all.

I mention TaylorMade in particular because the company's tour balls are produced at the same factory as the Costco/Nassau balls, and there are some indications that production of new TP5 has pushed smaller companies to the back of the production line. Even if Costco otherwise had the capability to produce balls immediately, which it appears it doesn’t, the K-Sig wouldn’t be given priority over larger brands and long-term customers.

So what have we learned from this brief disruption of the ball market?

--MyGolfSpy's review was incredibly powerful, GolfWRX once again fueled interest in a product and the tide may have turned for golf equipment reviews. As other sluggish traditional publications sat on the sidelines, perhaps for fear of upsetting major manufacturers or simply because Costco is not a potential advertiser, independent internet reviews fueled the frenzy. (GolfWRX first posted about a "frenzy" on October 28th and while Mark Crossfield only posted a review three days ago, internet influencers established even greater power thanks to the Kirkland ball.)

--A lot of people don't like Titleist. There was much behind-the-scenes joy at Titleist facing a scary competitive hit around the time of their IPO. Some of the hostility could be chalked up to their longtime spot atop golf ball sales. Some of the glee was over the incredible brand loyalty Titleist inspires. Some of it related to their hostile position toward distance rollback advocates. But most hostility centered around about the price of a dozen ProV's compared to others and was aired on forums. However... 

--A lot of people don't know what goes into the cost of a golf ball. The anger ignored how much Titleist and other major manufacturers spend on R&D and manufacturing in the USA. That's right, unlike the Costco ball, we are talking about an American made product. I was amazed how many golfers were not aware that ProV's and Callaway Chrome Softs are made in Massachusetts by American workers. If you like to buy "Made in the USA" products, this episode was an eye-opener.

--Costco now looms as a potential market disruptor under the right conditions. Yes, it took some luck and timing, but they do have the ability to inflict temporary damage on major manufacturers. On the other hand, the episode may have legitimized them as a seller of golf equipment of any kind.

--Golfers and their brand loyalties were tested. Many pushed back on Twitter at my intial skepticism over the long term success potential of the ball. I questioned whether golfers could announce they were playing "a Kirkland 3 on the first tee." While I'm all for anything that lowers prices and increases competition, common sense says most golfers are attracted to their favorite brands for reasons both sane and insane.

--The episode did at least include one fun viral video. And look at it this way Wally, there were much worse clips they could have used!

Tuesday
Jan172017

Bighorns Taking To La Quinta Courses, Fence Proposed

As we get ready to see the PGA Tour head to La Quinta, longtime viewers know that a curious thing has happened: the bighorn sheep, once so rarely seen, now regularly come down to hang out on the Santa Rosa-adjacent courses. In recent years they've been lounging, bathing and eating as the Hope/Clinton/Careerbuilder has been concluding on PGA West's Arnold Palmer course (the Stadium Course now hosts the final round).

But as Louis Sahagun notes for the LA Times, La Quinta golf courses are resisting calls to install a fence that would stop the majestic creatures from setting foot on golf properties.

It's a bizarre and refreshing twist to see golf embracing the invasion of wildlife while environmentalists understandably want to protect the animals--even as they appear mostly content and safe. Except when they cross streets.

But the Center for Biological Diversity and the Sierra Club recently filed a notice of intent to sue the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Coachella Valley Conservation Commission, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and the city of La Quinta for failing to implement the barrier fencing requirements of a conservation plan designed to protect the endangered bighorns.

The Coachella Valley Multiple Species Conservation Plan requires that fences be installed within two years if bighorns roam onto urban places where they are subject to injury, or even death, from vehicle strikes, drowning in canals and swimming pools, eating toxic plants, exposure to respiratory diseases and ingestion of intestinal parasites present in watered lawns.

“How could it be that a wealthy capital of gated communities is balking at putting up relatively inexpensive fences to save these magnificent animals?” Ileene Anderson, a spokeswoman for the Center for Biological Diversity, said. “All this obstinance by officials, agencies and golf club managers is heartbreaking.”

Twelve sheep have perished since 2012, with four drowning in the canal and one ingesting oleander leaves at PGA West.

Part of the resistance to the fence has to do with an affinity for the sheep, which indirectly creates interest in helping them survive and rare species.

The dispute hinges on a concern that barrier fences could destroy the ambience of sagebrush and steep slopes rising up from the fairways, and violate private property rights to reject the structures. Beyond that, bighorns are adored by golfers, golf club managers say, and benefit from the abundance of nourishment.

In an interview in his office on a rocky outcropping, Randy Duncan, general manager at SilverRock, smiled and said, “Golfers love these guys. Two weeks ago, we had 50 bighorns on the property happily eating and drinking.”

Rams have been seen bucking horns during mating season. However, “to my knowledge,” Duncan said, “no one has ever hit a bighorn with a golf ball.”

Tuesday
Jan172017

FanDuel Adding Golf Offering, PGA Tour May See Opportunity

Thanks to reader Glenn for Daniel Roberts' in-depth consideration of FanDuel entering the golf fantasy world as they eye a merger with DraftKings.

Despite issues with legality in several states, they are forging ahead, writes Roberts. FanDuel even think they can help golf ratings the way fantasy has hooked people on the NFL.

Golf Channel, owned by NBCUniversal, recently released numbers suggesting that 2016 was a banner year for the network, especially with digital streaming, and especially among millennial viewers. DFS insiders like to theorize that if golf ratings are on the rise, it’s thanks to DFS golf. So far, there has been nothing to prove that, but Eccles buys it: “I could see it driving golf,” he says. “Because now I have a reason to watch all day, because I’ve picked my team.” When DraftKings added golf back in 2015, DraftKings CEO Jason Robins told Golf Digest, “The setup is perfect for what we do. There are these four mega events every year. Everybody stops what they’re doing to pay attention to the Masters and the U.S. Open.”

To deal with legal issues, FanDuel is taking a different approach than DraftKings and the PGA Tour's fantasy game.

FanDuel players, when they enter a golf contest, will select two different group of golfers, one for rounds 1 and 2 of a tournament and one for rounds 3 and 4—perhaps an attempt to satisfy the “multiple events” concern. On DraftKings, players draft one roster of golfers for the full length of a tournament.

This looks problematic to me give that pesky thing called a cut. Or, better things to do on a Friday night should they be letting you make those round 3 and 4 picks after the cut has been made.

Interesting, gambling came up in Rich Lerner's sitdown with incoming Commish Jay Monahan. The Big Lead's Michael Shamburger noted the key quotes.

“Is it something we look at? Absolutely, we always look at something that other sports are doing, having success with, trends in the industry. It’s something we’ve spent a lot of time on up to this point in time. You look at DraftKings and FanDuel, you look at gaming in the international markets, there’s a lot of opportunity there.”

“There’s some complexity, and that complexity has held us back from moving forward. But we will look at it and have an open mind towards it.”

Tuesday
Jan172017

Dr: Minimum Of Six Weeks To Heal For Injury Like McIlroy's

Golf Channel's Matt Adams spoke with an orthopedic surgeon who has served as an independent examiner for the NFL and who says Rory McIlroy's stress fracture is extremely rare for a golfer.

More ominous is his prescription for recovery and healing.

“They are typical in rowing or upper body weight bearing athletes,” Kunkel said. “Stress fractures are caused by an accumulation of micro-trauma. They are tiny fractures or cracks in the bone. Usually the body just heals them. If you do not give it time to heal, it can result in a full fracture. Typically, an injury of this sort will take a minimum of six weeks to heal.”

Kunkel noted that the only way to ensure that an injury of this nature does not reoccur is to stop engaging in the activity that caused the injury and to strengthen the muscles around the core and spine.

“The modern golf swing is hard on the body,” he said. "To have athletes in their 20s experiencing these types of injuries is very concerning for the long-term.”

Dr. Ara Suppiah explains more in this Golf Central phone call with Lisa Cornwell:

Tuesday
Jan172017

Club Corp Headed For Breakup?

Greg Roumeliotis and Lauren Hirsch of Reuters report that investors are pushing for ClubCorp to be broken up and that the company has formed a committee to carry out a review.

They write:

It is a serial acquirer in the golf course industry, buying 12 new clubs in 2015 and 2016. It looks to buy locally-owned golf courses and then refurbish them by adding or improving amenities such as up-scale dining and event rooms.

Shareholder FrontFour Capital Group LLC in September published a letter highlighting ClubCorp's low trading multiple as compared with leisure industry peers such Six Flags Entertainment Corp (SIX.N). It questioned some of its business decisions such as ClubCorp's model to pour money into refurbishing its golf course acquisitions.

"It is obvious to us that ClubCorp's reinvention capital expenditures are transformative in nature and are in no shape or form 'maintenance,'" the letter wrote.

How dare they try to transform their properties for a new generation!

Private equity firm KSL Capital bought ClubCorp for $1.8 billion in October 2006 before taking it public in 2013. The company operates more than 200 properties but it saddled with major debt issues.

Monday
Jan162017

More On Justin Thomas' Ascension, Stunning Sony Stats

Now that Justin Thomas has won both Hawaii events and moved into the world top ten, his backstory is probably a lot more interesting to most.

Brian Wacker does a nice job recapping how Thomas got to this point and highlighting the role of his golf instructor dad Mike.

The older Thomas said he often asked Justin if he wanted to go to the swimming pool or to play basketball. He was not interested.

“When he was 7 or 8 years old, he’d call me on his way home from a tournament and say, ‘I’ll be home by 7:30, do you want to play nine holes?’ ” Mike Thomas said. “We’d eat dinner at 9 or 9:30 every night. Selfishly, it allowed me to play more golf.”

The older Thomas taught his son the fundamentals, but he was cautious about pushing him too hard. Most of their lessons would last 10 or 15 minutes, in part because Mike Thomas had a busy schedule teaching and competing, but also because he did not want to be overbearing.

“I’ve seen it done wrong so many times,” Mike Thomas said. “It was more important that we were friends than he was a good player.”

The crack number-crunchers at ShotLink provided these stats from the Sony Open, which show a driving and putting performance that easily explains how the new PGA Tour scoring record occurred.

The divide between Thomas and his next closest competitor in approach distances is a real eye-opener.

Monday
Jan162017

Careerbuilder: Mickelson On Creating An Identity

Larry Bohannan talks to Phil Mickelson in advance of his new role as "ambassador" to the Careerbuilder Challenge, formerly known as, well, The Hope.

Mickelson says it's a three-year plan to build the tournament into a more stable and significant event.

"The idea is to create an identity. Our identity is a chance for players to build a foundation for the rest of the year. We want to get a few top players in the field as the year starts.”

As the desert tournament evolved in the 1960s and 1970s, it always had top-name pros from Arnold Palmer to Jack Nicklaus to Gary Player to Johnny Miller to Mickelson himself. Getting at least a few names like that back in the field could help push the CareerBuilder to bigger heights, Mickelson said, and maybe even bring back a little of what the tournament was decades ago.

“If we get a few top players, get some top amateurs and in the future some top celebrities out to the tournament, the tournament will be something fans want to come to,” he said.

It's interesting to see that Mickelson has singled out "top celebrities" given that Commissioner Finchem shifted the event away from celebs just as he did with the Wednesday pro-am here in Los Angeles. Whether Moonbeam was focused on squeezing more revenue out of paying customers over spectator draws, or just a general fan of watching briefcases play golf instead of celebs, I don't know.

Either way, tip of the cap to whoever secured Fitz and The Tantrums for the first Careerbuilder Challenge concert. Can't wait to see the fans free let go of their walkers to dance to The Walker!

Monday
Jan162017

Rory's HSBC WD Will Seriously Alter Pre-Masters Plans

Talk about a kickabout to Rory McIlroy's pre-Masters preparation plan.

While his beloved downtime activity of gym time is something Rory McIlroy credits for his ascension, his rib stress fracture was blamed on excessive club testing over the holidays. However, the gym work will be questioned after the almost-World-No.-1-again has WD'd from the HSBC Championship and perhaps other pre-Masters events.

Brian Keogh writes at the Irish Golf Desk:

The Northern Irishman underwent extensive clinical examinations on Monday after picking up the injury in South Africa last week and will now commence rehabilitation and return to golf when he is fully recovered from the stress fracture.

He said: “It’s bitterly disappointing to have to withdraw from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. I think everyone knows how much I love playing this tournament, which is one of the best on the European Tour thanks to the incredible support of HSBC and the Abu Dhabi Sports Council."

Last year, McIlroy discussed the injury-prevention intentions of his workout regimen, which was detailed here by Brian Wacker at PGATour.com, who sat in on the Men's Health cover shoot.

"I think from the start of 2011, the direct correlation between leading a healthier lifestyle and my performance on the course was the same.

"Obviously I'm trying to be strong, but the whole reason I started this is because I was injured."

Monday
Jan162017

Boston Globe Profile Of New Commish Jay Monahan

Jim McCabe profiles Jay Monahan for the Boston Globe and gives fans a little insight into his personality and background in both sports and charity work.

It's well worth your time, but two parts I wanted to document for posterity, starting with a rare admission of weakness from Monahan's predecessor.

Marveled Finchem one day about Monahan, who lives in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., with his wife, Susan, and daughters Sophie, 13, and Phoebe, 10: “He’s from Boston, and he’s Irish. Making a relationship is a slam dunk for him. Makes me jealous.”

There was also this from Seth Waugh and on his work for Fenway Sports Management.

A trail of success at Arnold Advertising, Woolf Associates, EMC, as tournament director of the DBC, at FSM, and eight years in training at the PGA Tour bodes well for Monahan as PGA Tour commissioner.

“I’m excited for him,” said Faxon. “I’m excited for the Tour.”

“It will look like a calmer and gentler Tour, but he does have a steel backbone,” said Waugh. “He’s not afraid to say no, but he tries to say yes.”

Monahan counts MLB commissioner Rob Manfred as a friend, and it’s not forgotten by Red Sox ownership that it was Monahan who spearheaded improvements to Fenway Park by creating the EMC Club and State Street Pavilion.

“There was a trust factor, so much appreciation and respect [at FSM],” said Monahan.

Monday
Jan162017

Obama And Woodmont: Maybe Not The Backlash Suggested

Much was made of the New York Post story on President Barack Obama facing member-backlash should he try to join the mostly-Jewish Woodmont Country Club over his Israel policies, but a few readers who know the club wrote to say they were struggling to see such a widespread membership stance against the president.

Thanks to reader Joe, who sent in this Washington Post story by Bill Turque suggesting hostilities may be the work of just a few members, while others sound more eager to welcome the soon-to-be-former president.

Simon Atlas, a former chair of the club’s admissions committee, said he would be “honored” to have Obama as a member. He added that the club had never applied a political test for acceptance.

“A person’s political affiliation was never a consideration,” said Atlas, former treasurer of the Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee. “We looked at [a person’s] philanthropy, at standing in the community, at reputation. These other things never came up.”

Obama only intends to live in the Washington D.C. area for two years while his youngest daughter finishes high school. His love of the game figures to make his golf preferences in D.C., Chicago and elsewhere (greater Palm Springs?) of great interest.

The White House life and post-presidency talk, and an entire portion of mulligan golf talk, were part of his final 60 Minutes interview with golfer Steve Kroft.

Sunday
Jan152017

David Owen On Lessons Learned Playing Golf With Trump 

Longtime New Yorker staff writer and former Golf Digest contributor David Owen writes about his time playing golf with Donald Trump long before the developer became president-elect.

Given that only one Trump course made the recent Golf Digest top 200 courses (no Bedminster or Doral!), this might explain why panelists do not rate his courses highly:

Golf publications periodically rate golf courses—the hundred best in the world, the hundred best in the country, the dozen best in each state—and Trump’s relationship with such ratings is complex. He complained to me that golf publications never rank his courses high enough, because the people who do the rating hold a grudge against him, but he also said that he never allows raters to play his courses, because they would just get in the way of the members. “I think we’d have a revolt with our membership,” he explained. “Because, unlike other clubs, every one of my membership lists is perfect. And when you start adding hundreds of raters who want to play golf . . .” Nevertheless, when someone from a golf publication does write something positive, after somehow having managed to slip past the perimeter, Trump quotes it endlessly (and, inevitably, magnifies it).

Owen also shares some of the feedback he got from an "upset" Trump after his story appeared.

He called the editor of Golf Digest to complain, and then he called me, on my cell phone. I was in the city on a reporting assignment unrelated to golf, and had the surreal experience of being chewed out by a future President of the United States while standing among the gravestones in the burial ground next to Trinity Church. He wasn’t upset that one of the article’s illustrations had been of a golf ball wearing a turf toupee that looked a lot like his deeply mysterious hair, or that I’d mentioned his asking two little girls at Mar-a-Lago if they wanted to be supermodels when they grew up, or that I’d described nearly tipping him five dollars after momentarily mistaking him for his club’s parking-lot attendant, or that I’d written that he’d introduced one of his club’s members to me not by name but as “the richest guy in Germany.” He was upset that I hadn’t written that he’d shot 71—a very good golf score, one stroke under par.

I hadn’t written that because he hadn’t shot 71. We hadn’t been playing for score, and we had given each other putts and taken other friendly liberties—as golfers inevitably do when they’re just fooling around. I said something to that effect in the politest way I could think of, but he wasn’t mollified. He was also angry that I’d described his wedge game as “poor.” (On several occasions, he’d had trouble with shots inside a hundred yards, both during our round and on the practice range beforehand.) I reminded him that I had mainly written very flattering things about his golf game, and that I’d mentioned his victories in three club championships and had quoted praise from his caddie and his pro (“You have a very nice bicycle, Donald, even if it’s not as nice as your friend’s”). But none of that made any difference. He wanted the number, and the fact that I hadn’t published the number proved that I was just like all the other biased reporters, who, because we’re all part of the anti-Trump media conspiracy, never give him as much credit as he deserves for being awesome. Such is his now familiar habit of acting like a sore loser even when he’s won.

Sunday
Jan152017

Justin Thomas Breaks PGA Tour 72-Hole Scoring Record

It's one of the biggies not just in golf, but in all of sports and Justin Thomas now holds the PGA Tour's lowest 72-hole scoring record.

Doug Ferguson on Thomas's Sony Open victory that included a 59 and a four day total of, gulp, 253.

Thomas capped off his wonderful week at Waialae that began with a 59 with his second straight victory. He two-putted birdie from 60 feet on the par-5 18th and closed with a 5-under 65 to set the record at 253.
Tommy Armour III shot 254 at the 2003 Texas Open.

"It's been an unbelievable week. Unforgettable," Thomas said before going to sign his historic card.

The final round highlights, in case you were watching something else...

Sunday
Jan152017

Video: Allstar Sports Bar's Snooker Trick Shot

I love the winter blues! So much time to plan!

Nice merging of putting and pool from the Allstar Sports Bar in Bristol, England. Nice speed-up job by the Golf Gods, and great camera work by someone.

Sunday
Jan152017

PGA Tour Tweet Says Amateur Golf Hopeless, Bowditch Pounces

I know the millennials are poorer than their parents and that cute Tweets are a source of important distraction from reality.

Also, as part of its efforts to get younger and clickier, the PGA Tour Twitter account has gone all in on relentless filling up your feed no matter how banal the topic. Sometimes, they share helpful highlights and news of a #59watch, but, sometimes, the misfires that have to be called out by their own adult members.

Like Steven Bowditch in glorious fashion. On a television image of a dog surfing that needed no context.

The Tweet in question now sleeps with Luca Brazi, but mercifully, screen grabs are our friends:

Sunday
Jan152017

Storm Wins On Patrick Reed Lifeline; Rory To Have MRI

The European Tour's 2017 kicked off in wild fashion with 38-year-old Graeme Storm edging Rory McIlroy in a three-hole playoff.

As James Corrigan writes for the Telegraph, Storm thought he'd lost his card in October after a final hole bogey and by just €100, only to receive a lifeline from Patrick Reed. Now Storm's holding the SA Open trophy and all of the perks that come with winning.

But then the American Patrick Reed failed to fulfill the minimum number of events when skipping the Final Series and so Storm was handed a reprieve. And there he was, at the Glendower Country Club near Johannesburg, captilasing on his second chance in one of the most gutsy scenarios imaginable.

To win just the second title of his career – following up his French Open a decade later - and in the process ensure he retains his Tour playing privileges for at least two years was the stuff of fantasy. But to do so when going head-to-head with McIlroy, the world No 2 and winner of four majors, was, in his words, “totally unbelievable”.

The news was tempered by Rory McIlroy's upper back issues. With a chance to retake the World No. 1 spot in Abu Dhabi this week, he's headed for an MRI machine in Dubai.

“It was manageable this week with tape and a few pill, but it’s not 100 per cent.

"Part of me really wants to make this week because there is so much to play for with world No 1 on the line. But at the same time there is so much to play for over the whole season and I don’t want to jeopardise long-term goals for short-term gain. Hopefully, I’ll be good to go.”

Despite the pain, McIlroy uncorked some stunning tee shots, including a 392-yarder to open the week. The European Tour compiled this collection of tee balls of McIlroy and his new Epic driver:

 

 

All of the three-hole playoff shots in under five minutes, courtesy of the European Tour:

 

 

Friday
Jan132017

Here We Go Again: Tokyo Governor Calls On 2020 Olympic Golf Venue To Admit Women

Amlan Chakraborty of Reuters says Tokyo governor Yuriko Koike has asked Kasumigaseki Country Club to admit women as full members.

"I feel very uncomfortable about women not being able to become a regular member in this era," Koike told reporters on Friday.

And for good measure, the club that will host the 2020 Olympic golf, bars women on Sundays. Unreal.

You really have to wonder how this slipped through the Tokyo 2020 vetting process for the course.

Thursday
Jan122017

Video: Rickie Tests A Persimmon Driver On Trackman

Rickie Fowler tested out a persimmon driver on Trackman and instructor Claude Harmon III captured it. What do you think of the numbers Trackman enthusiasts?

 

 

Thursday
Jan122017

Roundup: Justin Thomas Shoots 59 At Waialae

There aren't many highlights due to the early nature of the round, here's PGATour.com's package. And GolfChannel.com's recap with Steve Sands and Frank Nobilo.

Doug Ferguson notes this in writing about Justin Thomas's opening-round 59 at the Sony Open.

He was five shots better than anyone in the morning, but his lead was only three shots by the end of the day. Hudson Swafford shot a 62 in the afternoon. Swafford made a birdie on his 12th hole, when his caddie told him, "We've got to make seven birdies on the last six holes to catch Justin."

The average score was 68.26.

Thomas put the round into great perspective, writes GolfDigest.com's Dave Shedloski:

His hard-fought victory over Hideki Matsuyama last week was highly satisfying. But to etch your name in the history books with one magical round has a certain cache and sparkle to it.

“I would say, on paper, it would be today,” Thomas said when he was asked if his win at Kapalua or his 59 at Waialae was more special. “History wise … I have a chance to win a golf tournament every week. I don’t have many chances to shoot 59.”

Rex Hoggard on the last hole decision Thomas made that set up an eagle putt.

Thomas’ drive found the bunker at the par-5 ninth hole. “I wanted to punch something,” he said. He appeared destined for a 10-under round on the par-70 layout, but Berger, who was in the same bunker off the tee, showed him the way.

It’s what friends do.

“It was sitting really good to where it felt like I could get a 6-iron or 7-iron on it and just get it short of the green. And then I hear [Berger’s] caddie say 4-iron for them,” Thomas said. “I was like, man, can I hit it on the green? I'm like, I guess I can hit it on the green, I don't know.”

Thomas said he “flushed” a 5-iron that cleared the lip of the bunker, sailed through the warm air and settled 15 feet left of the pin. He made the putt - of course he did, what else would one expect from a player who has won twice and finished in the top 5 in four of his last five starts?

Here is that last hole with Thomas watching:

 

Speaking of the eagle, Thomas became the first 59 or less shooter to have two in one round. Great stuff from the ShotLink guys comparing the 59s and Furyk's 58. Click to enlarge:

Thursday
Jan122017

IGF "Committed" To Rio Golf Courses Legacy

The Latin America Amateur Championship has announced a South America return in 2018, reports Nick Menta. The event will head to Prince of Wales Country Club in Santiago, Chile. That South American return would have been a great chance to take the LAAC to the Rio Olympic course, but the troubled state of affairs probably ruled out Gil Hanse's design.

Menta says International Golf Federation officials discussed the course and remain committed to its survival on the same day a key park that hosted several Olympic venues closed. This from the USGA's Mike Davis:

"You know, that golf course is transitioning right now, going from the Rio 2016 organizing committee to the Brazilian Golf Confederation, and so there’s some questions about what is going on right now. But I will tell you that the IGF stands committed to help the legacy of that golf course continue. And I think that one day we would love to see this championship held at a famed venue like that."

After one round, 17-year-old Julian Perico of Peru leads Guatemala's Alejandro Villavicencio by one.