Twitter: GeoffShac
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The duties of the caddie are manifold, including the responsibilities of preceptor, doctor and lawyer. He will be called upon to devise means of escape from soul-trying bunkers, administer to the wounded pride of the unsuccessful, and turn legislator at a crowded teeing ground. C.W. WHITNEY (1894)


    

Wednesday
May042016

" When Oscar De La Hoya says Donald Trump 'cheats in golf,' this is what he's talking about"

There have been a few "I won't vote for Donald Trump because I've played golf with him" stories, but also one Lou Holtz endorsement because he loved the service at a Trump golf property. Politics is dirty business!

Still, Oscar De La Hoya sharing his golf story from a day with the presumptive nominee at Trump National Los Angeles--as written up by Lance Pugmire of the LA Times--is fun to visualize. I'm just teasing you with the punch line...hit the link for the full story.

“We get up there [to the green] and he’s like, ‘Oh, my ball’s right here!’ Three feet away. ‘And by the way, I’m going to pick it up, it’s a gimme,’” De La Hoya said.

“You don’t do that in golf,” De La Hoya said, adding there were no side games in play where money was exchanged.

“No money at all, how can I win?” De La Hoya said. “I’m not [voting] for someone who cheats in golf.”

Of course, another former President was known to fudge the mulligan rules. Oh, and his wife will be running for President against Trump. What a world.

Wednesday
May042016

Who Will Buy Taylor Made?

The strategic review results are in and Adidas is selling the club company, its Adams golf division as well as the Ashworth brand.

Mike Stachura at GolfDigest.com with a rundown of the events as they've unfolded over the last year, and this from CEO Herbert Hainer. Get out our corporatespeak translators, I did my best here:

“TaylorMade is a very viable business.

So much so we want someone else to enjoy the profits! Go on...

However, we decided that now is the time to focus even more on our core strength in the athletic footwear and apparel market,” said Herbert Hainer. “With its leadership position in the industry and the turnaround plan gaining traction, which is clearly reflected in the top- and bottom-line improvements recorded in Q1 as well as recent market share gains, I am convinced that TaylorMade offers attractive growth opportunities in the future.

I smell a big "however" coming.

At the same time, the planned divestiture will allow us to reduce complexity and focus our efforts on those areas of our business that offer the highest return and where we can have the biggest impact in reaching our consumers and winning their loyalty for the adidas and Reebok brands.”

Aaron Ricadela's Bloomberg piece is accompanied by an interview with Hainer who says the Taylor Made driver is "#1 on the golf course" and that he's "doing what’s right for the brand."

This line by Ricadela won't help the efforts to get more money from a prospective Chinese buyer, if they care:

Adidas got into golf when it bought French ski and skate company Salomon in 1997, but younger consumers are staying away from the game, and it isn’t popular in emerging markets like China and India. Sales plummeted 13 percent last year as the industry has been beset by discounting.

‘‘The golf market is not growing at the moment but it’s also not falling further,” Hainer said during a call with reporters.

I was thinking of a poll on who the possible buyers might be, but it would seem more likely that it'll be a Chinese company like Wanda Group or private equity firm with a name like Majestic or Majestic Elm or Thoroughbred Capital, instead of something sexier, like Under Armour. Thoughts?

Tuesday
May032016

Nice: Chandler Egan's 1904 Olympic Medals Found, On Display

Nice work by Dave Shedloski to tell the story of Chandler Egan's medals having been found by his family and handed over to the USGA for display in Far Hills and the U.S. Open, before moving on to the World Golf Hall of Fame.

Longtime readers know about Egan, the actual architect of Pebble Beach as we know it who, for mysterious reasons, is ignored by historians who apparently aren't as enchanted with his story as they are with the Neville/Grant/amateurs-make-good story. But Egan's life in golf was pretty impressive: Harvard man, Olympic medalist, U.S. Amateur champion, NCAA individual champion (and three time team winner), golf architect, beloved friend of Bobby Jones, etc.

Shedloski writes at GolfDigest.com:

Until a year ago historians believed that none of the individual medals from the golf competition in the 1904 Olympics at Glen Echo Country Club in St. Louis still existed. That changed when the silver medal of H. Chandler Egan, former U.S. Amateur champion, was discovered (along with his team gold medal) in the bottom of a bookcase in the former home of Egan’s daughter in Chagrin Falls, Ohio, about 25 miles southeast of Cleveland.

Tuesday
May032016

Rory Season Is Upon Us, Will He Step Up?

Rory McIlroy's game has been as good as ever at times but just a bit off too much to be racking up wins, but as I note in this week's Forward Press, the Wells Fargo Championship this week kicks off Rory's month.

Besides returning to Quail Hollow where he posted at 61 last year en route to winning, McIlroy then has two events he finds less compelling--The Players and BMW PGA--along with the Irish Open he hosts. We should have a pretty good idea where his game stands by month's end.

That and TV times on Wednesday's National Instruction Day, NCAA Men's Regional selections on Morning Drive, the European Tour and LPGA Tour this week.

Tuesday
May032016

SI's More Magnificent-Than-Normal Player Poll 

Sports Illustrated's annual anonymous players poll is always fun, but the questions were more clever than ever this year and the responses are all worth looking at as long as you can handle the motion sickness that comes with reading golf.com.

You won't be shocked to know that the male players are not Hillary fans, but the LPGA's finest also don't sound too excited. In the "If you were to be in a bar fight" question, Ernie edged Keegan. Congrats guys, you are considered the most likely to do damage when inebriated!

There are also some epic quotes--"I have a Twitter, but I have never twittered"--

The most alarming question may have been the apparent hostility many players have for paying caddies 10% after a win.

Does the caddie deserve 10% of a winner's check?

PGA TOUR

Yes 67%
No 33%

Loose Lips: "Maybe more like 8%."

The Donald seems to be embraced by the players, with Trump Doral surviving 45% to 39% in favor of keeping the Doral event. In the voting booth, Trump carried the PGA Tour votes 34% to 22% for Undecided.

The other shocking result that speaks to the vitality of the almighty dollar: players would rather win The Players than an Olympic medal.

The Players or a gold medal?

The Players 62%

Gold 38%

The Texas Open or a gold medal?

Gold Medal 76%

Texas 24%

Tuesday
May032016

The Olympic Golf Will Really Be On Golf Channel A Lot!

Doug Ferguson previews NBC/Golf Channel's upcoming schedule of big-time golf--The Open, Olympic Golf, the Ryder Cup and because he's a nice guy, even mentions the FedExCup Playoffs and their football-dented ratings--and says it doesn't get any bigger than this.

Ferguson writes in his AP notes column:

There won't be another summer like this one from the number of big events to two premier tournaments that the networks have never broadcast.

''We're fortunate enough to have a deep, talented bench,'' said Mike McCarley, president of Golf for NBC Sports Group. ''We've got a 12-week stretch of The Open Championship, the Olympics, the FedEx Cup playoffs and the Ryder Cup. It will be the busiest time we've ever had.''

It all gets started at Royal Troon in Scotland for the British Open, which NBC and Golf Channel acquired a year early from ESPN. Golf producer Tommy Roy and Golf Channel executive producer Molly Solomon began making trips to the Ayrshire Coast late last summer. Expect to see more graphics involving wind (the best defense of any links course) and a deeper sense of history of a championship that dates to 1860.

The Olympic viewing schedule was released and if you were worried about missing anyone in the 60-player fields, do not worry: 8 1/2 hours of coverage each day with 9 hour broadcasts set for the final rounds of both men's and women's competitions.

While those viewing windows will lead to lower Nielsen numbers, they shoud accumulate nice total audiences and more importantly, give golf fans nothing to complain about in the witholding/tape delay department. At least, that's my working theory.

For a quick update on the course, Brian Wacker talked to Gil Hanse about the test event.

Tuesday
May032016

People Are Praying For Spieth; He Still Holes Absurd Lob Shots

Sam Weinman at GolfDigest.com on Jordan Spieth resurfacing after his Bahamas vacation and suggesting the outpouring of grief over his plight as a Masters runner-up continues to surface in the strangest places.

Just the image of this is so surreal given what actually happened (a golf tournament lost)...

"I'm not taking it very hard. I've got ladies at the grocery stores putting their hand on me and going, 'Really praying for you; how are you doing?' I'm like, my dog didn't die. I'll be OK. I'll survive. It happens. It was, again, unfortunate timing."

I'm not sure what's more amazing to see here, Spieth making a lob shot off the green at Oakmont or that sunset sky! From Tim Rosaforte who will have more on Morning Drive Wednesday:

Monday
May022016

Stuard's Historic Putting Performance Salvages Zurich Classic

Let's not sugarcoat this one: the 2016 Zurich Classic was pretty much a nightmare on all fronts thanks to horrible weather and players who didn't seem to be in a big hurry to finish Monday with another storm on the way. That slow play at least prompted some great on-air moaning from the always-morbid Peter Kostis, who had to stay another day on swampier-than-normal New Orleans.

(Bad news too, the tournament is not going anywhere as (Jeff Duncan at the Times-Picayune explains).

And while a 54-hole win is not as great as a 72-hole win, especially wearing a t-shirt under a golf shirt, the stats from playoff winner Brian Stuard help justify the win and all that comes with it:

He's also only the fourth tour even winner with a perfect scrambling record (20 for 20).

Stuard also found time after his win to talk to A.J. Voepel about the big day:


The final round highlights:

 

Monday
May022016

A Glowing Review: Revamped MPCC Dunes Course

Future Monterey Peninsula Chamber of Commerce Chairman Emeritus Alan Shipnuck got a sneak peak at Monterey Peninsula's revitalized Dunes Course and declared it about the greatest thing he's ever seen in golf.

Granted, architects Jackson and Kahn were trying to improve on a Rees-toration that somehow managed to not improve the majestic site, but Shipnuck still sees greatness in a course that figures to join the AT&T National Pro-Am rota by 2018.

The Dunes’s signature hole has always been the par-3 14th, which demands a full-blooded carry over the Pacific. That remains unchanged but the hole has been enhanced by more natural bunkering, a larger green offering more pin placements and the importation of one tree to frame the vista; it has been so artfully placed that tourists are already confusing it with the iconic Lone Cypress.

Golf.com posted this slideshow with a few images of the course.

Monday
May022016

The Story Of An Impromptu PGA Tour Champions Wedding

They know a thing or two (or three or four) about weddings on the Senior Tour Champions Tour PGA Tour Champions, and Golfweek's Adam Schupak has the proof: Scott McCarron’s impromptu wedding to Jenny Klein, organized, officiated and witnessed by some of golf’s finest over-50 golfers.

And if you ever need a harpist in Branson, Faxon is your man!

During dinner that night, Bass Pro Shops owner Johnny Morris, who also owns the Big Cedar Lodge, stopped by the couple’s table and confirmed that the chapel was available for a Saturday evening wedding. While McCarron played his Saturday round, Klein went into Branson and found a gown and bought two rings at Kohl’s.

Faxon had a friend who lived in Branson and knew a harpist. Morris provided the resort’s bagpipe player. The resort also supplied a wedding cake and hors d’oeuvres. The Stadlers pitched in with champagne and the Frosts with the wine. “Pretty soon we had a party,” McCarron said. “By the time I was on the ninth hole, the wedding was planned. It was how to plan a wedding in 24 hours.”

Monday
May022016

“Golf wise, this might be John Daly’s last chance.”

Jaime Diaz of Golf World kindly takes John Daly's Senior Tour Champions Tour PGA Tour Champions debut this week seriously, as has the PGA Tour, which arranged a conference call with the two-time major winner. Golf Channel even racked up the 1991 PGA Championship to launch Big John's Geezer Tour debut.

Mitzvah!

Funny how in the name of a dollar, the PGA Tour is looking past its mostly tortured, relentless negative relationship with Daly.

But as Bob Harig of ESPN.com notes, the numbers most associated with Daly are less than flattering.

Eleven times he was cited for conduct "unbecoming a professional," 21 times for "failure to give best effort." The missed cuts and withdrawals were only outdone by the sponsor exemptions that tournaments continued to give him, his drawing power still that great.

Four wives, nine lives -- the only thing left for Daly is another second chance at golf, and it comes in the form of senior golf.

Sunday
May012016

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 GolfChannel.com, 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 🌟 #VolvoChinaOpen

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

 

Full highlights from his win:

Sunday
May012016

The Conundrum Files: Kisner's Palmetto Suspension Deserved?

Last week's SI/Golf.com 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.

Sunday
May012016

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."

Sunday
May012016

Report: Tiger May Have Checked Travelocity.com 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: 

 

Sunday
May012016

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.

Sunday
May012016

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.”

Friday
Apr292016

What Is Really Golf's Millennial Conundrum?

In a Forbes.com 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, GolfDigest.com'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.

Friday
Apr292016

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 golf.com/SI 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.

Thursday
Apr282016

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.