Twitter: GeoffShac
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The object of inventors is to reduce the skill required for golf. If it were not for the counterskill of architects, the game would be emasculated.



Li's China Open Victory A Win For HSBC's Grassroots Support

While the Volvo China Open didn't sport the greatest field in the tour's history, a tip of the cap to HSBC for getting to see the first European Tour winner from its CGA-HSBC China Junior Program, the only sanctioned program for aspiring players in the country currently hostile to the game.

"Grow the game" has become a tired and obnoxious phrase wheeled out way too often in the name of trying to justify greed or pandering, but when the results are tangible like this, I say let 'em pat themselves on the back. Especially after Haotong Li contended at last fall's WGC-HSBC Champions event in Shanghai and looks to be headed toward big things.
From Giles Morgan, HSBC's man in golf:

“Haotong Li’s win clearly demonstrates just how far golf in China has come over the last decade and what an exciting future the game has. It’s an incredible story of human ambition and shows exactly why HSBC supports golf and why our junior programs are so important to our sponsorships around the world. A win for any golfer in their home nation is inspiring but for this to happen in China for a 20 year old is really special.”
“For HSBC he is proudly one of our own. Haotong was first inspired into the game as a youngster by attending our tournament, HSBC Champions in Sheshan and now he has the potential to inspire a new generation. He graduated through the ranks of the CGA-HSBC Junior Golf Program, a development program we started nine years ago with the ambition of supporting future champions. Today we have realised that ambition. We saw glimpses of his potential at WGC-HSBC Champions last year and now he’s advanced into the winner’s circle and we’re delighted for him. For Li and golf in China this is only the start. The CGA-HSBC Junior Golf Program offers a proven pathway to the very top of the game and I’ve no doubt with this victory many more will be inspired to make that journey.”

As Will Gray notes at, with this win Li likely vaults into the top place for one of China's male Olympic golf exemptions.

Nice setup:

A star in the making ๐ŸŒŸ #VolvoChinaOpen

A video posted by European Tour (@europeantour) on May 1, 2016 at 10:30am PDT


Full highlights from his win:


The Conundrum Files: Kisner's Palmetto Suspension Deserved?

Last week's SI/ Confidential gang found the spring break antics of the Bakers Bay Bahamas Boys too tame despite some drunking cart rooftop dancing, yet this week they declared Kevin Kisner's cart race/beer drinking/gambling at Palmetto a somewhat deplorable act.

After arguing John Daly's HOF case, they turned to Kisner, seen with buddies on Vice Sports in a light bumper cart race that got the PGA Tour player suspended from his club, prompting a declaration from Forbes that disciplinary actions like this are killing the sport's ability to translate to millennials.

Passov: I'm completely confused as to how this "video" was greenlighted in the first place. I mean, the club had to know about it, right? After watching the video, I wasn't appalled with anything, even as I'll defend any club's rights to enforce its rules. Sure, it was boys acting like boys, but they didn’t do anything that isn't done at any other club I know of. Maybe the cart race at the beginning was foolish, as somebody really could get hurt, or property damaged ... but drinking beer? Gambling? At Bushwood? In Casablanca? I’m shocked, shocked!

Sens: As John Daly once said, "I hate them rules and crap." But the club has every right to have them and to enforce them. Kisner being a Tour pro gives him no special exemption. Guys in his salary bracket already get enough of them around tax time.

Ritter: Right, Josh. It's totally up to the club. And doesn't Aiken have a go-kart track?

Van Sickle: I’m not sure what was dumber: doing what Kisner and his pals did or posting it online. I think the punishment fit the crime for doing it. For posting it online, I'd kick his butt out of the club.


McGinley: Rory Will Not Be One Of The Olympic No-Shows

Dermot Gilleese talks to Paul McGinley about the hits Olympic golf has taken of late and is assured by Ireland's cart driver that, in spite of having to wear some New Balance, Rory McIlroy has a big picture view on the games.

From Gilleese's report:

"As a realist and in the knowledge that I'm not going to change people's views, I'm still sad that some players have decided not to go," said McGinley yesterday. "But I'm very confident Rory will play, because he has told me so. There wasn't the hint of indecision when we talked recently, prior to the Masters.

"Rory acknowledges the Olympics as the biggest sporting event in the world and he wants to be part of it. He wants to represent Ireland and he wants to represent the sport of golf. It will be great to be involved in the Olympics and it will be a tremendous achievement if we come away with any colour of a medal."


Report: Tiger May Have Checked For British Open Pricing Comparison

And he just loved the prices he saw at the Premier Inn!

Now, we're all excited that Tiger may come back soon and it seems like he is just waiting to feel close to 100%. Shoot, he's even claiming to have an itch to play again, which is 3/4th's of the battle at this point for someone who has been grinding away for twenty years now.

But as much as I respect the reporter and news organization in question (Andrew Both, Reuters), the idea that Tiger has booked a room in Columbus for the Memorial as the presumed location of his comeback sounds a bit premature given reports had him coming back this week or next. Quail Hollow is out and The Players seems highly unlikely at this point given Tiger's comments (Alex Myers' report here).

To put it another way: I know people who ate a cake reserved by Tiger for his Masters week entertainment. The man has people, they play, they book and they prepare in case the Big Cat decides to show up.

The swing at this week's pre-Tiger Jam clinic: 



Golf Boosting U.S. Olympic-Related Ad Spending By 10%?

Paresh Dave and Steve Battaglio of the LA Times detail some particulars of the NBC-Snapchat partnership announced for the 2016 Rio Olympic games.

Deep in the story there was this interesting factoid that suggests golf is having an impact on the bottom line. Oh, and rugby too, I guess:

NBC already has topped $1 billion in ad sales for this year's Olympics, a mark it passed only just before the opening ceremony in 2012. The rights to broadcast from Rio de Janeiro cost NBC an estimated $1.2 billion.

The Olympics are expected to boost overall spending on U.S. television ads by $703 million in 2016, or about 10% more than the games did in 2012, according to ad research firm Magna Global. The firm attributed the increase to the addition of two sports (golf and rugby) to the games this year.


Former Olympian Slams Nicklaus & Player's View Of The Games

Martin Inglis reports that 62-year-old Scot David Wilkie--a gold medal winner at the 1976 Olympic games--has heard Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player's defense of Olympic golf's grow-the-game possibilities and feels they are off-base. Actually, he call their views "absolute bullshit."

From the Bunkered exclusive:

“Golf doesn’t need any stimulation, it doesn’t need a wider audience, and if people in these countries are going to play golf, it’ll never, ever filter down to the poorer people so I think what they’re saying is absolute bullshit.

“I think they’re just looking after their own psyche in the sense that they want to build more golf courses because of the money they’ll get paid for designing them.”


What Is Really Golf's Millennial Conundrum?

In a piece posted this week, Michael Buteau raises many fine points in wondering if Kevin Kisner's Palmetto Country Club suspension "illustrates golf's millennial conundrum."

You know the themes: golf is stiff, stale and dull, hostile to fun on-course antics, loud music, hats on backwards, pot smoking and general wackiness. It all discourages growth of the game.

Buteau writes:

Yes, it’s clear that Kisner and his buddies were being a bit reckless and could have damaged club property. Everybody understands that he broke the club’s rules and there’s a price to pay for that.

To Steve Mona, CEO of the World Golf Foundation, Kisner’s suspension serves as the perfect example of golf’s “old guard” clashing with the emerging “new guard.”

“That’s a really good example of the balancing we’re trying to adapt to,” Mona said. “On one side, when you join a club you know what the rules are. I can see why they took the action they did. On the other side, when you’re talking about the need to bring this new generation into the game, that is exactly an incident where you might say ‘hey, if we’re going to be more welcoming to that generation and we’re going to change our image from a stodgy game played by upper, middle-class white males, to more of a cool game played by everyday people, then you could argue about something like that being fine.’ That’s exactly the conundrum.”

Certainly generational dynamics are in play, as I can attest from how personally millennials took it that someone would question the coolness or grow-the-game-wondefulness of #SB2k16's extreme examples of on-course antics, deemed tolerable by the conspicuous consumption sensibility of the super-high end Discovery Land. Many noted how relatable all of these antics made the protagonists and how groovy Bakers Bay golf appeared. However, golf's millennial problem has little to do with the coolness quotient and mostly everything to do with economics.

For years the First Tee has always felt slightly deranged in its mission to introduce new players and instill life skills to kids. The First Tee turns their graduates loose into an American game that has, in my lifetime, made it very hard for non-children of privilege to afford quality golf on a regular basis or to allow reduced-price access to clubs for those trying to build a career and/or family, with the eventual goal of full membership.

While I'm hearing the occasional heartening story of clubs re-introducing old membership programs to attract younger membersin grad school or who seem like upstanding citizens, most clubs in major cities do not have a need to go that route. The same goes for high-end, shiny new resorts like Bakers Bay where so many could relate to behavior they can only experience if they were...famous millionaires.

Most of the facilities "stooping" to this sensible, smart grow-the-game activity in the form of cutting some slack to a new generation are desperate and see bleak futures. Yet in major, thriving American cities where there are millennials who can afford to join a club or consider some sort of investment in the sport, they often have few decent options. Several clubs have gone down in flames trying to retain the "value" of membership entry over caving and letting in a new generation of a lower price.

Consider millennial loving Mona, who is a member of a private club in Ponte Vedra Beach.

He said he’d even welcome a backwards-hat-wearing-headphone-listening 20-something onto the very same fairways he plays.

“As long as they’re not slowing us up or interfering with our game in some fashion, let them do what they want to do,” he said. “I tell my friends that, too. What difference does it make if the group ahead of us is drinking beer, listening to music and having a good time as long as they’re not interfering with us. You have to be adaptable.”

I'd ask though, does that private club have an adaptable membership program for someone under 35 who is not the child of a wealthy parent, but who loves the game? In most major cities, such programs are rare and even at clubs in trouble, the desperation to protect existing member "value" indicates that affordable access to halfway-decent continues to be far more problematic for golf's future than suspending someone for having a cart race.

Golf's millennials have developed very much of an Us vs. Them attitude, though I'd argue the rise of Bernie Sanders' message suggests this attitude clash is an economic matter separate of golf. Though certainly some of the generational tension stems from a divide created by the dated atmosphere they find at golf facilities or or how antiquated some rules appear. But one of my favorite millennials,'s Alex Myers, starts the Golf Digest podcast by noting the show originates from One World Trade Center, "overlooking dozens of courses that would never have us as members."

Oh they'll take you Alex, if you're willing to pony up $200,000 and $15,000 a year in dues. But golf now faces a generation that is eschewing the ownership society in part because of more economical ways of doing things (i.e. Uber), and in part because they simply can't afford the price tag attached to contagiously fun, satisfying golf access.

And that, I believe, is golf's real millennial conundrum.


Bamberger: Dr. No Says Yes!

Michael Bamberger got agent Mark Steinberg on the phone and the infamous sidekick to Tiger Woods actually spoke to the columnist.

They even got around to talking about something other than Tiger.

But now here he was on the phone, answering some of my questions with disciplined economy, politely passing on others. When I asked him what he learned from Mark McCormack, he quoted the IMG founder: ""Rather own than rent."" In other words, sign clients for life. I asked him what he thought of Billy Payne's welcome-back sermon when Woods played in the 2010 Masters, following the golfer's brief leave of absence after running over that hydrant. He passed. I asked Steinberg how his relationship with Woods has changed over the years, in good times and in bad. He said, "We are unwavering in our commitment to each other." A cynic would be tempted to tell you to follow the money on that one, but there's surely more to it than that.


Bringing "Sexy" To Golf: Bob Parsons My Shot

Granted, the photo of PXG founder Bob Parsons in his best Harley cut-off might not my scream sexy, but the founder of golf's newest equipment company won't care.

He's all about new clubs and tells his story to Golf Digest's Guy Yocom for an eye-opening My Shot that touches on his club company, benevolent dictatorships and how he built his fortune.

WHEN MY ENGINEERS asked what I wanted our clubs to look like, I began with "sexy." Sexy is subjective, and beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but I wanted the clubs to beckon to you when you looked at them. I wanted you to fall in love. I wanted the irons to look like a blade but be a little oversized with a sweet spot the size of Texas. I wanted them to go higher and farther without goosing the lofts. They sighed. "Is that all? This might take awhile." After many false starts, they nailed it.

And some day if sales ever slow, he may regret this...

ONE OF THE MANY THINGS I got from being a Marine was respect for authority. I completely support the USGA and the way they've laid down rules for equipment. I believe in the way they set standards and uphold them. I like their integrity.


DII School Bans Team From Trump National Doral; Coach Endorses The Donald

Brentley Romine with the story of Division II Barry University barring its golf team from practicing at Trump Doral because the school's mission statement clashes with the campaign rhetoric of the resort's owner.

Forget your political views for a moment, and note that Trump Doral was providing some free golf to a Division II school. In an era when more and more clubs sadly close their doors to local college and high school teams, it's pretty impressive that a high end resort course was still providing some free golf to a Division II school.

Anyway, coach Jimmy Stobbs tells Romine that he has no opinion...well, not really...

“We were very appreciative of the opportunity to play on the outstanding courses that aided in the player development. Barry University administration has an issue with Mr. Trump that now affects the golf team in many ways.

“I will keep my opinion of the decision to myself, but for the record, my wife and I both voted for Mr. Trump in the Florida primary, and we will again in the general election.”


John Daly At 50: An Appropriately Fun Retrospective

Kind of glad Herb Wind didn't have to do a New Yorker piece on this birthday.

John Daly gets a more appropriate retrospective from the SkratchTV gang. Oh, and Fuzzy owes Long John $150k according to USA Today's Josh Peter, money that will be well spent no doubt.

PS - Long John, two majors...shouldn't he be on a World Golf Hall of Fame ballot?


USGA: Third Most U.S. Open Entries Ever

The most democratic championship on the planet isn't getting any less popular.

For Immediate Release:


More Than 9,800 Will Attempt to Qualify for 116th Championship at Oakmont Country Club

FAR HILLS, N.J. (April 28, 2016) – The United States Golf Association (USGA) has accepted a total of 9,877 entries for the 2016 U.S. Open Championship at Oakmont (Pa.) Country Club.

The number of entries is third to the record 10,127 accepted for the 2014 U.S. Open at Pinehurst Resort & Country Club’s Course No. 2, and the 9,882 entries accepted for last year’s championship at Chambers Bay, in University Place, Wash. Among this year’s total are 50 players, including 12 past champions, who are fully exempt into the field (see list below).

The USGA accepted entries for the 116th U.S. Open from golfers in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and 72 foreign countries.

“The number of entries received underlines the global appeal of the U.S. Open Championship and the historical greatness of Oakmont Country Club,” said Stuart Francis, USGA Championship Committee chairman. “We look forward to conducting local and sectional qualifying and to hosting the U.S. Open at Oakmont for a record ninth time on June 16-19.”

To be eligible, a player must have a Handicap Index® not exceeding 1.4, or be a professional. Local qualifying, which will be played over 18 holes at 111 sites in the United States, will take place between May 2-19.

Sectional qualifying, played over 36 holes, will be conducted on Monday, May 23, in Japan, on Monday, May 30, in England and on Monday, June 6, at 10 sites in the United States, ranging from New Jersey to California. This will be the 12th year with two international qualifiers, which were established in 2005.

Jordan Spieth, the 2015 champion, and 11 other champions are fully exempt from having to qualify for the championship. They are: Angel Cabrera (2007), Ernie Els (1994, 1997), Jim Furyk (2003), Lucas Glover (2009), Martin Kaymer (2014), Graeme McDowell (2010), Rory McIlroy (2011), Geoff Ogilvy (2006), Justin Rose (2013), Webb Simpson (2012) and Tiger Woods (2000, 2002, 2008).

Cabrera won the most recent U.S. Open played at Oakmont, when he held off Furyk and Woods by one stroke in 2007. Among the previous Open champions at Oakmont are Ben Hogan (1953), Jack Nicklaus (1962), Johnny Miller (1973), Larry Nelson (1983) and Els (1994). Nicklaus defeated hometown hero Arnold Palmer in an 18-hole playoff for the first of his record 18 major championships. Miller shot a final-round 63 to defeat John Schlee by one stroke. Miller was the first player to shoot 63 in a major, and it is still the lowest final-round score to win a major championship.

For the sixth consecutive year, only online entries were accepted. The USGA received 620 entries on the last day applications were accepted (April 27), including 122 applications in the final hour. Gordon Vietmeier, a 48-year-old professional from Pittsburgh, Pa., submitted his entry just 37 seconds before the deadline of 5 p.m. EDT. Anthony Monica, a 33-year-old amateur from Panama City, Fla., was the first entrant when entries opened on March 9.


Early Photos Of Trump Turnberry Reveal Shocking Twist!

Some of you may know I find the links golf move toward immaculately manicured jacuzzi bunkers to be a depressing evolution of seaside bunkering. Especially given what the old photographs show and the vitality of naturalness in links golf.

So imagine my shock and joy in seeing the first photos emerging from Trump Turnberry showing off the finished product. No more bathtub bunkers. Architects Mackenzie and Ebert deserve most of the credit, especially since they convinced The Donald to go this route.

Exciting stuff from Turnberry, which reopens soon and will be getting a full inspection from yours truly this July:

And click on the lower left photo to see the new par-3...



European Tour Winning Battle Of The Bridgestone?

The news of Rory McIlroy choosing to play the European Tour's 100th French Open June 30-July 3rd instead of the WGC Bridgestone (where he's a former winner and where the European Tour will not be a co-sanctioner this year), allowed's Bob Harig to point out the ugly scheduling showdown between tours.

And based on McIlroy's decision, Harig says the PGA Tour's decision to hold its ground on the WGC date (or having the event at all this year) has backfired.

This WGC's traditional date is prior to the PGA, which wasn't going to work. So what to do?

Move it to a time on the schedule that clearly rankles a so-called partner in these events, the European Tour? Clearly the two sides discussed the situation, with the European Tour expressing its unwillingness to bend on its schedule. And the PGA Tour did it anyway?

McIlroy won't be the only top player to skip Akron. Henrik Stenson is also not going, meaning he will miss two WGCs this year. And defending champion Shane Lowry has a brutal decision to make as a European Tour member who dearly wants to be part of the Ryder Cup team but can't earn any points at the Bridgestone.


Rory In Rio: Will Have To Wear New Balance!?

An unbylined Belfast Telegraph Irish Golf Desk (original location) story by Brian Keogh says Rory McIlroy will be wearing, gulp, New Balance stuff at the Rio Olympic Games because Nike never build to sponsor team Ireland.

Worse, Ireland's Olympic Council boss Pat Hickey revealed that Nike was given the shot to outfit Team Ireland and passed.

Instead the deal went to Boston-based New Balance for what Hickey described as "peanuts" - believed to be less than €2m - compared to the $20m a year that Nike are paying the four-time major champion.

"Before Rory decided whether he'd declare for Team GB or Ireland we put our team gear out to contract," Hickey said at the '100 days to Rio' presentation in Dublin.

"Just in case he declared for us, we went to Nike in the UK and told them we might have Rory. But they just dismissed us out of hand and now they regret it, I believe."


"With friends like Michael, Tiger is all set for detractors."

Thanks to reader Tom for Marina Hyde's entertaining Guardian look at the most surprising component of Wright Thompson's feature on Tiger's downfall: the comments of Michael Jordan.

Considering the two might have to share a cart at this fall's Ryder Cup--assuming Tiger can fit on the seat next to MJ's dad jeans--the comments were rather strong. Perhaps because they arrived late in the 11,000 word piece they didn't care as much weight, but as Hyde notes...

“What does he do all day?” wonders Jordan, rather unwonderingly. “I don’t know. I haven’t the slightest idea. I don’t know.” Of Woods’s failed marriage, he observes: “It’s a ship he can’t right and he’s never going to.” Alrighty. Might he not find someone else? “I don’t know if he can find that type of happiness.” Oof. There is, of course, a fine line between tough love and toxic buddydom – even if it feels like we crossed it a couple of fairways back.


Fox Revamps, Reduces Broadcast Team For 2016 U.S. Open

As remarkable as Fox Sports was in 2015 with its first year golf coverage--so says the USGA President--they've overhauled and shrunken their 2016 announce team.

Besides Greg Norman's retirement after just a year and Corey Pavin not returning, Awful Announcing points out some notable new faces, including Paul Azinger, Curtis Strange, Ken Brown and Jaime Diaz.

And this:

Furthermore, Oakmont director of golf Bob Ford will provide special insights on the course for the US Open broadcast from the historic venue.

Perhaps the most notable thing to mention on the full Fox lineup outside of the Azinger-Norman switch is the absence of Fox NFL Sunday host Curt Menefee, who served as the network’s studio host for the US Open, and analyst Tom Weiskopf.


R.I.P. Manuel de la Torre

Thanks to the readers who sent in Gary D'Amato's obituary of Manuel de la Torre, golf instructor extraordinaire who passed away at 94. The man who helped thousands also worked with Carol Mann and Tommy Aaron.

He sounds like quite the instructor:

He eschewed modern teaching philosophies that focused on specific body positions and movements. Though he could talk in great detail about the geometry and physics of the swing, his method was based on the simple concept of swinging the club toward the target.

"You don't think about your elbow when you're brushing your teeth," de la Torre said in a 2015 interview with the Journal Sentinel. "And yet, you're very successful at brushing your teeth. But this is what happens with golf. People are not concerned enough with what they have to do with the club. They focus either on the body or the ball, and neither of those things produces consistency.


Baker-Finch: Olympics Needs Team Format ASAP

Some of us don't want to say I told you so, but it's fascinating to hear a narrative brewing from those dealing with the players who are passing on the Olympics: Zika virus and the format.

As I noted on ShackHouse this week, a very solid source has told me that the South Africans are passing largely because of concerns about the Zika virus and their desires to have children free of birth defects, but I didn't get to mention in the show, it was also pointed out that the format does not force players into a team situation.

AAP talked to Ian Baker-Finch who all but backed this up with his "team" Australia member Adam Scott.

"I don't think people realise that Adam is not letting anyone down. It's his decision and he's entitled to make it. I am disappointed he won't be with us but I totally understand his position."

Baker-Finch has passed on his thoughts to the International Golf Federation.

While Gary Player and others fear the pullouts will affect the vote to keep the sport in the Games past 2020, Baker-Finch hopes it will just make them heed format change calls.

"I think it will make them think about making it a team competition. I'd even love to see it as a mixed team even - that would be awesome."

I don't know the feasibility of mixed, but it's fascinating as a longtime format hater to see so many no only coming around to a team element, but actually suggesting that such a format forces players to show up compared to an individual stroke play tournament.

Also, there is the radar issue for players: this is a first year event. Granted, as Baker-Finch pointed out last weekend it's also the world's oldest sports gathering, but Jason Day explained why that doesn't mean much to golfers. Ryan Lavner reports.


ShackHouse Podcast: Patrick Reed, Tiger, Olympics, Millennials

We're back after a two week hiatus we return with world No. 12 Patrick Reed fresh off his second place finish in the Valero Texas Open.

We discuss his bold play on 18th hole, the wait to hit the shot, his attempt to hole the eagle chip, his desire to make the Olympics, key food insights and more.

House and I also kick around the latest in Tiger and Olympic news, along with my criticism of the reaction to the Bahamas boys antics.

Here is the Soundcloud link to the Reed show.

iTunes link to the Reed episode and free subscription opportunities. And here are the current show pages for iTunes and for Stitcher. And those relying on pushed pods to your mobile device should have it soon.

As for a few things mentioned in the show...

Our presenting sponsor Callaway Golf has launched a Roku app with great content (AppleTV coming soon), including Callaway Live and other goodies. The Callaway community, sponsor of this week's Speed Round, is a must if you're a latest-and-greatest buyer. For those intrigued by Callaway's iron 50% trade-in offer, here's their iron selector page.

And don't forget that promo code HOUSE for some MeUndies, this week's sponsor! House swears by them.

Content wise, also mentioned:

Valero Open final round highlights from the 18th hole

Patrick Reed's post-round comments as reported by Will Gray

Wright Thompson's Tiger Woods story

My commentary on the millennial vacation for the ages

Tiger's swing as it looks today (Matthew Rudy with help from instructors dissects here).