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
  • Harvey Penick: The Life and Wisdom of the Man Who Wrote the Book on Golf
    Harvey Penick: The Life and Wisdom of the Man Who Wrote the Book on Golf
    by Kevin Robbins
  • Teeing Off: Players, Techniques, Characters, and Reflections from a Lifetime Inside the Game
    Teeing Off: Players, Techniques, Characters, and Reflections from a Lifetime Inside the Game
    by Ken Bowden

There may possibly be some reader whose golf life has been so insulated and isolated that he or she does not know what is meant by the verb to yip. What it means is to be so overwhelmed by grotesque fear of missing a short putt as to lose control of the putter. That loss of control can take two basic forms: inability to move the putter at all, which was the affliction Ben Hogan suffered at the end of his career; or the putter, as if in the hands of demons, wildly stabs at the ball.
SANDY TATUM ("recovering yipper")

 

  

Monday
Jun262017

ShackHouse 40: Travelers, Rory, Phil/Bones, Gladwell, House Pod

With so much in the news House and I kick around a host of topics in this week's show, including the thrilling Travelers, Rory's putter lottery, the Phil/Bones split, Malcolm Gladwell's war on golf and news of House's new food podcast.

As always, you can subscribe on iTunes and or just refresh your device's podcast subscription page. (I'm an Overcast fan, still.)

Here is The Ringer's show page.

Same deal with Soundcloud for the show, and Episode 40 is here to listen to right now.

ShackHouse is brought to you by Callaway, makers of the Chrome Soft which still can be customized for free in the final days of June.

Get on it at CallawayGolf.com!

The Soundcloud embed option:

Monday
Jun262017

Ratings: Travelers 2.7 Second Best Sunday Overnight Of '17, Final U.S. Open Numbers Second Lowest On Record

The PGA Tour got some good news as Jordan Spieth's win at the 2017 Travelers and his overall ability to lure in non-golf fans gave CBS a nice final round rating. This is the second Sunday in a row for CBS to finish up in the numbers (Karp/SBD).

SBD's Austin Karp with the positive overnight news:

 

As for the U.S. Open, I've put off a post on the dreary ratings news (3.6 overnight) in part because I hate the reflection it makes on the players who contended.

Now that they've had their moment and we've had time to ponder the golf at Erin Hills, it's apparent that some combination of the telecast length (9.5 hours!), protagonists, venue, Central Time Zone and seemingly reduced marketing budget effort by Fox contributed to the second lowest rating and smallest audience on record.

The combination of stunning visuals, production values and noticeable difference between Fox and other telecasts can't be blamed. I would, however, strongly agree with Martin Kaufmann's Golfweek assessment that on-course reporters were underutilized.

The overall audience size was also a troublesome number according to Karp:

 

 

Monday
Jun262017

Tiger & Obama's Jackson Park Plan Unveiling Met With Questions

Take your politics and stick 'em in a drawer, as the plan unveiling for a Tiger Woods design at President Barack Obama's presidential library complex has been met with the kind of architectural scrutiny and perspective you'd hope for in a public project. The effort is of note given the role of the Olmsted Brothers in this area and their influence on Woods' lead designer, Beau Welling.

Ed Sherman sets up the TGR Design from the Chicago Parks Golf Alliance perspective this way:

The Chicago Parks Golf Alliance and TGR Design representatives unveiled the proposed layout Wednesday night during a public meeting at the South Shore Cultural Center.

Let’s just say 2020, the year of the targeted debut for the course, can’t come soon enough after seeing TGR’s plans. A golfer’s imagination truly is in overdrive in trying to envision the final result.

The Chicago Tribune's Blair Kamin looks at the proposal from a landscape architecture perspective and questions elements of the merging of two courses. He isn't thrilled from the Olmsted perspective in part because Tiger architect Welling has not yet been in communication with the folks developing the park aspect.

But the planning process for that park, which took on new layers of complexity Wednesday with the unveiling of a design for a $30 million Tiger Woods golf course in the park's southern end, almost surely would have given Olmsted pause.

He believed that all elements of a park should be subordinated to a greater whole. That's what the designers in charge of a Chicago Park District push to draft a new plan for Jackson Park said at a public meeting Wednesday.

Yet such an all-encompassing vision is not yet evident. Latent conflicts between different priorities for the park have not been brought to the surface and thrashed out. The designers of the golf course have yet to talk to the designer of the landscape that will surround the planned Obama Presidential Center. The lack of coordination threatens the promise that the center and golf course will endow Chicago's south lakefront with a park equivalent in quality to Millennium Park or Lincoln Park.

For decades, the south shoreline trailed its North Side counterpart in everything from acreage to amenities, a result of racially discriminatory under-investment by the Park District. A 1999 plan for the south lakefront has helped alter that separate-but-unequal reality. In recent years, the city has poured millions of dollars into Burnham Park south of McCormick Place, including a new harbor and playground at 31st Street as well as a new pedestrian bridge at 35th Street.

From a golf point of view, Teddy Greenstein outlines the positives he sees (10!) and sees plenty to like.

• Holes 12-14 will have the million-dollar views, with No. 13 sandwiched by two par-3s. The 13th will play 362 yards for mortals, but if the course gets a BMW Championship (aiming for 2021) or Presidents Cup, players would hit their tee shots over the public beach, stretching the hole to 543 yards.

"We asked ourselves: How can we maximize the experience on the lake?" Welling said. "The holes are going to be absolutely spectacular. (No.) 12 will have a peninsula green, water right, left and long, with a marquee snapshot of downtown Chicago. And it could be windy."

• Lake Michigan should be in view from a half-dozen holes, and others will play along the Jackson Park Harbor. A recontoured lake will swallow balls short of the par-3 eighth green.

Monday
Jun262017

Guardian: Trump Aberdeen Is Likely 2019 Scottish Open Venue

The Guardian's Ewan Murray reports exclusively that the European Tour has been making visits to Trump International Golf Links (Aberdeen) and appears set to rekindle a partnership that almost happened a few years ago (Telegraph/Corrigan).

The stars are aligning for the venue plagued by protests and other sagas since its inception, and even once thought to be hosting three Scottish Opens. Things changed when now-President Donald Trump made comments on the campaign trail.

Murray notes this as a key reason this may happen:

Martin Gilbert, Aberdeen Asset’s co-founder and chief executive, is close enough to Trump to have attended the president’s inauguration in January. With the Scottish Open broadcast live on the other side of the Atlantic, there is a growing link between the tournament and the United States.

Any such move would, however, be highly controversial. Among those who would need to be happy about it are Rolex, who have included the Scottish Open in their new and enhanced series on the European Tour. The Scottish government is also a partner in the tournament but did not respond to the Guardian’s request for comment regarding it being held at Trump International.

It's a partnership that makes obvious sense for Aberdeen Asset, especially if Royal Aberdeen is believed to be lukewarm on hosting again. However, of greater concern is the sheer difficulty of Trump International and how that aligns with former Commissioner George O'Grady's desire to play the Scottish Open on a fun, not-excessively difficult links test the week prior to The Open.

Last week, Gullane was announced as the 2018 Scottish Open(s) host.

Sunday
Jun252017

Dramatic: Spieth's 10th Win; Intriguing Rush To Compare With 2017 U.S. Open

There was much to chew on with Jordan Spieth's sporadic final round capped off by another memorable hole-out in sudden death over Daniel Berger. The Tiger comparisons are rolling in because we are already (amazingly) left to consider Spieth's 10th PGA Tour win (and with two majors he's a HOF lock).

Brian Wacker carefully made those comparisons at Golf World.

This is not a comparison to Woods, who had 15 wins by age 24, as much as it as an appreciation for Spieth’s achievement, and the memorable moments that he has compiled along the way. It started at the 2013 John Deere Classic, where he holed a bunker shot on the 72nd hole to reach a three-way playoff that he eventually won on the fifth extra hole, and concluded with his holed-out birdie bunker shot in a playoff to cap his latest wire-to-wire victory. In between came Spieth’s impressive 2015 season, in which he got nearly three-quarters of the way to the calendar Grand Slam.

“I am not comparing Jordan to Tiger at all, zero,” said good friend Ryan Palmer, who watched the finish in the clubhouse at TPC River Highlands and then from behind the 18th green as he waited to hitch a ride back to Dallas with the eventual champion. “But he has that mentality to do that kind of stuff.

The SI/Golf.com gang kick around the Tiger element in this week's Confidential...

Jeff Ritter, digital development editor, Sports Illustrated Golf Group (@Jeff_Ritter): Tiger absolutely shattered the scale by which all current Tour careers are measured. Spieth may not be on a Tiger-like winning pace, but as I learned today on Twitter, his career arc so far is Mickelsonian. And Phil never had a 73rd-hole celebration like Jordan on Sunday. Not too shabby.

Michael Bamberger, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: Tiger's personality added to his career to create an aura of Worldwide Golfing Dominance. Plus, Tiger won with a power game. It just looked more dominating. But 10 is 10—incredible, really.

The shot:

 

The round highlights

 

The Travelers is always fun at TPC River Highlands, but the combination of leaderboard, field and venue's ability to create excitement made today a long overdue reward for some of the hardest working folks in tournament golf. Couple in how great the latest renovation looked along with the golden natives contrasting with green turf, and it was off-the-charts visual eye candy.

And Spieth, like Tiger, brings out a certain adrenaline in observers. Still, I thought some of the comparisons to Erin Hills were unfair given different pars (70 vs. 72) making it easier to post lower red numbers. Nor would ever discourage anyone from bemoaning the scale of a 7,800 yard course versus the more intimate setting in Connecticut...

There is little question that the scale of this week's venue versus Erin Hills created more realistic golf, better spectating and more energy at the end when fans were on top of the action.

Imagine if the scale were even a little more condensed, just how much more democratic and energetic we could have things? And how many fun courses we could play tournaments at again?

Does this mean we all agree to a distance rollback for the pros? Maybe variably, depending on the course?

Whew, that was easy!

Sunday
Jun252017

Family And Friends Rally Around "Leaky"

Wonderful reporting here from Tim Rosaforte on family and friends supporting Bruce Lietzke as he battles cancer. One of the game's great natural talents whose ball flighting would be a ball-striking legend in the tracer era, Lietzke is currently on a break from chemo but still has hurdles to climb.

From Rosaforte's report:

Rose was scheduled for a trip to Pensacola, Fla., but Bruce said to her, “Maybe you need to stay here.” On April 12, two CAT scans at the emergency room in Tyler led them to a specialist in Dallas. Five days later, close friends Ben Crenshaw, Jerry Pate and Bill Rogers, along with their wives, spent four hours with Lietzke, telling old stories of their college days and tour life. According to Lietzke, the laughter they were creating in the reception area at the University of Texas Southwest Medical Center was so loud, he thought they would be removed from the hospital.

“We just talked and talked and talked,” Lietzke remembers. “They hung around until I was going into ICU. I said good-bye on the way in. Four hours later they were still there after I came out.”

Sunday
Jun252017

Web.com Tour Event Uses Yardage Books Made By 10-Year-Old

Royce Thompson reports on Adam Schenk’s playoff win in the Web.com Tom’s Lincoln Land Charity Championship, but it was the story of 10-year-old Seth Damsgard that got my attention.

Ryan Mahan reports that the little lad not only created the drawings used by players at Panther Creek Country Club, but he's started a business with Precise Yardage Books.

The drawings for all 18 holes of the course are a combined effort. Seth, of Brooklyn Park, Minnesota, takes satellite images of courses from Google Earth and graphically designs its layout.

Scott Brady of Precise Yardage Books visits each course in person to walk the entirety of it, measuring things like slopes of greens, depth of bunkers, manhole covers and changes in elevation.

Those measurements are then sent to Seth, who completes the drawings. Then the yardage books are printed.

Before Seth teamed up with Brady, he was making the books for courses he would play in junior golf tournaments.

“I wanted to get tips from another yardage book maker,” Seth said. “We called Scott Brady with Precise Yardage Books. We wanted to get some tips from him. We told him how we did our graphic designing. He was just drawing them by hand, so he hired us.”

Sunday
Jun252017

Aerial View: Augusta National Summer Work In Progress

To no one's surprise--including those reporting the sight of huge crane's helping to erect new structures at Augusta National, the club is finishing off the final upgrades to the Masters patron entrance area. 

Thanks to @menworking for catching this tweeted aerial from Justin Wheelon.

First, a close up look at the entrance area from Wheelon's photo shows work on the main entrance area where a new merchandise center is being constructed:

More intriguing is work on the second hole, perhaps drainage related, and the lack of work taking place at the par-4 fifth. Earlier this year, Chairman Billy Payne all but predicted changes were coming to that hole.

A closer view showing the old Berckmans Road still in place which sits where fifth hole expansion might go, also appears to show some minor work at the third hole fairway bunkers:

The full aerial:

Friday
Jun232017

SI Media Podcast: Golf Channel's Molly Solomon, AP Golf Writer Doug Ferguson

You'll have to get back to the regular reminders of how little SI's Richard Deitsch likes or cares about golf--we get it Richard!--and he steers the conversation away from the game a bit too often due to that, but there is still plenty to chew on here.

For your weekend podcast listening...

Friday
Jun232017

Roundup: More Sandy Tatum Remembrances

Starting with his longtime friend, Tom Watson:

Frank D.Tatum Jr. passed this morning leaving a rich and passionate legacy to golf.  We owe a great deal to him for what he did to enhance our wonderful game and we will sorely miss him and his infectious love for golf which indeed inspired so many of us.
Peace, Sandy

Jaime Diaz shares several memories for Golf World. This was fun for Hogan-philes:

There was a round at Cypress Point, where on the 13th fairway Tatum’s description of what he’d observed in his several rounds with Ben Hogan gave me a more palpable sense of what Hogan was like than anything I have ever heard.

“When it was Hogan’s turn to play, it was on the basis that he had been accorded the privilege of playing that particular golf shot,” he said. “And that privilege carried with it a responsibility. And that responsibility was to give that shot all the thought and effort that he could, and to make it as effective as he could. It was a very distinct characteristic.”

Michael Bamberger at Golf.com reminds us of the legendary Hinkle Tree incident at Inverness and enjoys just how much Sandy could, if you didn't know him, annoy the elite player.

I'm talking about guys who won major championships. They thought of Tatum as the USGA president from central casting, with his patrician bearing and his pipe, his $5 words. They thought he was high-minded and egotistical, a self-appointed golf god. And to a degree he was. 

Yes, he had resounding admiration for Bob Jones, for Arnold Palmer, for Jack Nicklaus, for Tom Watson, men he knew well. But he didn't think they understood golf in toto (the Latin is a tip of the hat to Tatum) any better than he. That gave him the courage of his convictions. In his long tenure as a pro bono USGA official, the organization was the stern father of American golf, and father knew best. The game was better for it.  

Telling me about it years later, Tatum said, "The players complained. 'You're changing the course, you're changing the course!' I said, 'We're rectifying a problem.'" He was a Stanford-educated lawyer and a dean of the San Francisco bar. He could make words dance. The Hinkle Tree is a footnote in the game's lore. 

Sam Weinman at GolfDigest.com on Sandy's more enduring line.

AmateurGolf.com's Pete Wlodkowski has a nice obit and roundup of quotes from golf folks on Sandy's incredible life.

An unbylined NCGA pieces includes a mention of Sandy's affinity for Youth On Course, which I have made a $100 donation to in memory of Sandy, an option you can pursue here.

In an article in the Spring 2009 edition of NCGA Golf, Tatum wrote about his passion for Youth on Course.

“One of the basic premises for the Youth on Course program is that it fills the ultimate gap that has almost always existed in respect to getting golf into the lives of young people,” Tatum said. “Access is the name of the the game, and Youth on Course provides it.”

Few, with the possible exception of Bobby Jones and Bill Campbell, have done more for amateur golf than Tatum.

Diaz also wrote this piece on Tatum's surprising NCAA Championship win in 1942:

But Tatum rode what the Associated Press called a "peppery putter" to defeat his first five opponents, including future Walker Cupper and USGA Senior Amateur champion Dale Morey in the quarterfinals. Against de la Torre, Tatum shot 69 in the morning round, and never looked back. "I played better than I knew how," he says. "I was in a zone, one like I never reached again the rest of my life."

The satisfaction was immense. When he called his father in Los Angeles, all Tatum could manage were the words, "Dad, I won."

Here is Tatum's Stanford golf history page at their wonderful website.

His affinity for Stanford was acknowledged by his alma mater:

 

Thursday
Jun222017

R.I.P. Sandy Tatum

Sandy Tatum was the the kind of person who would leave a voice mail you could not delete. The voice, the gravitas, the command of English and his love for golf was uncanny. The Stanfordian, lawyer, USGA president and, later in life, advocate for public golf, could always be counted on to return a call in short time. No matter how busy with work duties--even well into his 90s--Tatum was actively involved in the game in meaningful ways. I treasured talking golf distance issues, television contract dynamics and of course, golf architecture with a man who grew up playing Los Angeles courses when Howard Hughes was flirting at Wilshire with Katharine Hepburn.

Here is just a snippet from Ron Kroichick with must-read obituary in the San Francisco Chronicle, which addresses many elements of Sandy's life, though 1974 at Winged Foot inevitably is near the top:

Asked about ringing criticism of daunting course conditions, Mr. Tatum succinctly offered one of the most memorable quotes in golf history.

“We are not trying to humiliate the best golfers in the world,” he said, in a line repeated often since then. “We are simply trying to identify who they are.”

Beyond his interest in wide-ranging issues affecting the game — from ball and club technology to architecture (he helped design Spanish Bay on the Monterey Peninsula, among other layouts) — Mr. Tatum took special interest in Harding Park. Harding, a tree-lined municipal course weaving around Lake Merced in the southwest corner of San Francisco, had been a regular PGA Tour stop in the 1960s.

Mr. Tatum annually played there in the San Francisco City Championship, an amateur event he came to cherish for its egalitarian flavor. He embraced the diversity of competitors, with police officers and house painters tangling with lawyers and doctors, right there on a picturesque course open to the public.

From David Shefter's excellent USGA.org remembrance:

While he was a strong enough player to give professional golf a try, Tatum chose another career path with the law firm of Cooley Godward Kronish. He also served as general counsel to the University of San Francisco and as special counsel to the chief administration officer of the City and County of San Francisco.

“There is infinitely more to be had in and from a life than making barrels full of money and having extravagant public exposure,” Tatum wrote in his 2002 book, “A Love Affair With the Game,” which had a foreword by longtime friend Tom Watson. “There is no price that can be put on the opportunity to develop fully as a mature and educated person.”

This from Mike Davis, USGA Executive Director

"All of us at the USGA are deeply saddened by the passing of truly one of the great individuals ever involved with golf.   Sandy Tatum certainly impacted the USGA in immeasurable ways, but more important were his countless and significant contributions to the game.  He will long be remembered as one of the greats in golf."

At GolfDigest.com, John Strege taps into several great pieces in the archives for Tatum anecdotes and highlights an underrated element of his legacy: Tom Watson's love of links, and America's fascination with several links, particularly Royal Dornoch.

When Tom Watson was at Stanford, Tatum, a Cardinal alum who won the NCAA title in 1942, developed a friendship with him. Watson credits Tatum with selling him on the joy of links golf. Tatum recounted a trip the two of them made to Ireland and Scotland in advance of the 1982 British Open.

“We played Ballybunion, Troon, Prestwick, Dornoch,” Tatum said. “When we got to Dornoch, it was blowing and raining. We teed off about three. We're coming up 18 about 6:30 and Tom says, ‘let's go out again.’ So we did, and we’re out there, the two of us, in the rain, walking along the third fairway, Watson walking ahead of me, when he called to me. ‘What do you want to say, Watson?’ I asked. He said, ‘This is the most fun I’ve had playing golf in my whole life.’ ”

Here is a photo from that Dornoch round.

Rick Reilly wrote about Dornoch in 1987 and included this on the Tatum/Watson visit.

That evening the weather turned unruly. At one point, the rain was pelting Watson's face and the wind was bending back the flag-sticks. Watson turned to Sandy Tatum, his American partner, and said, "This is the most fun I've ever had playing golf." Which is what one says in good weather, too.

He loved it so much that he played another 18 on Sunday. The crowd following him seemed unusually big for such a remote little town. Midway through the round, Watson turned to Sandy, who was caddying for him, and said, "Doesn't anybody go to church around here?"

And Sandy said, "Well, that would be hard t'day, sir. That's the minister third from the left, sir."

Here he is talking about Watson in one of many pieces posted by historian Bob Stevens capturing Sandy's memories of Dornoch.

Here is part one of the many clips posted by Stevens. In this one, Sandy is talking about how he golf started in golf.

Tatum also was interviewed by GolfClubAtlas in 2008, discussing all elements of the game up to his involvement in Harding Park's rejuvenation.  Part 1 here and Part 2 here.

The USGA has posted this piece for the 2012 U.S. Open program on his passion for golf.

Few will ever be able to say they lived a richer, more devoted life to his community and the game. Let's hope somewhere you and Frank are bickering over something fun as some of us long for just one more of those phone calls.

Thursday
Jun222017

Video: Trump Driving Cart On Green Not Going Over Well

Perhaps because I saw him drive all over Doral a few years ago, this one didn't come as a huge shock.

But given everything that's happened, the social media rage over Donald Trump driving on a Trump Bedminster green stands out.

The sinful act occurred June 9th, according to the New York Daily News. 

Trump Bedminster hosts the U.S. Women's Open in less than a month.

A sample of the Tweets from most major sports media:

 

Thursday
Jun222017

You Can't Make It Up Files: Golf Cart Chop Shop Seized In The Villages Drug Raid

No doubt hunting for the world's largest stash of ED and VD pills at the wild and crazy Villages, authorities instead stumbled on a golf cart chop shop. Five arrests were made. (Thanks to reader Steven T. for this beauty.)

Myrt Price and Mark Boxley report for WFTV on the raid, where the elderly homeowner was unaware of the rogue stolen cart parts operation helmed by his niece. What a lovely young lady she must be!

Once a search warrant was served, deputies said they found evidence that an illegal golf cart chop shop was also operating out of the residence.

“We actually found some golf cart parts, as well,” Sumter County Sheriff’s Office Lt. Robert Siemer said. “There have been some golf carts stolen in the neighborhood in The Villages here, and we’re trying to tie some of the parts to some of the stolen vehicles.”

The full WFTV report includes a sense of the golf cart traffic in the background...

Thursday
Jun222017

Gullane Gets Return Engagement For Scottish Open(s)

There will be no excuses next year when the men can tee it up at Gullane, then drive a short ways to Carnoustie for The Open Championship.

The 2018 Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open's are headed back to Gullane, a first for the women. Rickie Fowler took the men's edition at the historic links in 2015.

Some images from day one and the week at Gullane.

For Immediate Release...

The Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open will return to East Lothian next year when Gullane Golf Club hosts Scotland’s National Open for the second time from July 12-15, 2018.

 This will be followed two weeks later by the Aberdeen Asset Management Ladies Scottish Open played over the same course from July 26-29, 2018.

 In 2015 the picturesque links course was the venue for Rickie Fowler’s thrilling win on the European Tour, as the American birdied three of the last four holes to surge past Ryder Cup team-mate Matt Kuchar and Frenchman Raphaël Jacquelin and seal his maiden European Tour title.

This year’s Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open at Dundonald Links in North Ayrshire will be the biggest yet, as it forms part of European Tour’s new Rolex Series, comprising eight of the premium tournaments on the Race to Dubai, each with a minimum prize fund of US$7million.

Some of the finest courses in Scotland, the Home of Golf, have played host to the tournament over the years, including St Andrews, Gleneagles and Carnoustie. From 1996 to 2010 it was based at Loch Lomond Golf Club, with Castle Stuart Golf Links in Inverness, Royal Aberdeen and Gullane all enjoying hosting duties since then.

In addition, golf fans in Ayrshire can now look forward to more memorable moments in the company of many of the world’s best female golfers, with this year’s Aberdeen Asset Management Ladies Scottish Open at Dundonald Links now co-sanctioned by both the LET and LPGA for the first time.  

Martin Gilbert, Chief Executive of Aberdeen Asset Management said: “We had a great tournament with a great winner in Rickie at Gullane in 2015 and we anticipate equally worthy winners of the men’s and ladies editions this year at Dundonald.

“Both events are amongst the most highly regarded on their respective Tours and have become sought after fixtures ahead of both the Men’s and Ladies ‘Open Championships.’ Gullane is a spectacular course and together with our tournament partners we will continue to host our events at the best possible venues which showcase Scotland in all its glory to an ever increasing global TV audience.”

Paul Bush, Director of Events with VisitScotland, said: “Gullane Golf Club is home to three of Scotland’s finest links courses and will provide an outstanding venue for both the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open and Ladies Scottish Open in 2018. With strong men’s, ladies and junior sections it is the epitome of a traditional Scottish golf club at the heart of the local community and I am delighted it will once again get the opportunity to welcome the world’s best players to East Lothian. We are proud to have so many world-class venues in Scotland, the Home of Golf and I look forward to two more successful events in East Lothian in 2018.”

Keith Pelley, Chief Executive of the European Tour, said: “We’re delighted to be returning to Gullane Golf Club next year, at an exciting time in the history of the tournament.

“As we return to this wonderful setting we know that we can expect enthusiastic support from Gullane Golf Club, the golf community in East Lothian and our partners and stakeholders, as we plan for another exciting festival of golf.”

In a joint statement, LET Chief Executive Ivan Khodabakhsh and LPGA Commissioner Mike Whan commented: “Aberdeen Asset Management and Visit Scotland have done an excellent job of elevating this tournament for both Tours and we are both very proud, together with our Members, to be their partners. Their strategy of playing two weeks after the men’s Scottish Open and providing the best female golfers from both Tours the ability to play in Scotland the week before the RICOH Women’s British Open is extremely positive for our Members.”

Wednesday
Jun212017

Travelers Field Quality Boost, Explained

Rex Hoggard at GolfChannel.com looks at the field strength boost enjoyed this week by the Travelers Championship.

While we'd love to think Rory, Jason and Jordan are there for the fun of it, this is the highest profile example yet of a very shrewd PGA Tour rule change.

The circuit initiated a strength-of-field regulation this season, which requires players who didn’t have at least 25 starts in the previous season to add an event to their schedules that they hadn’t played in the last four seasons.

Wednesday
Jun212017

"As Phil and Bones part ways, an appreciation of what made them so good together"

Alan Shipnuck's Golf.com mailbag covers many topics, but this on Phil and Bones was strong:

There may never be another player-caddie combo like it again, with such a pair of outsized personalities, both of whom were willing to take us inside the ropes with their insights about the game. Phil and Bones will both be all right going forward, but I'm definitely going to miss watching them do their thing.

And this from Michael Bamberger, also at Golf.com:

Bones's job was to get Mickelson in a place where he could play his best golf. That's why he is unlike any other caddie that came before him. It was a deeper role than any of us had seen before. But Mickelson was a prodigy even before the two had met, good enough to win the Tour's Tucson stop as an amateur, in 1991. In their quarter-century together, Mickelson has often needed to dance to songs he recorded himself and Bones never wavered in his support. So whether it was carrying two drivers or practicing away from the site of a major or playing catch as a warm-up exercise, Bones was all in. Phil needs somebody to look at him, and Bones did.

Wednesday
Jun212017

Should Erin Hills Get Another U.S. Open?

If I had to vote, the answer would be a reluctant no. While the B grade given on Morning Drive to Erin Hills would be more than enough to get it another U.S. Open most years and certainly proved to be a much better venue than Whistling Straits, the next eight years of courses elevates the U.S. Open in ways that Erin Hills is unable to inspire.

That said, a remote place with no business pulling off such an undertaking did so in fine fashion.

A course that had undergone so much surgery was able to shine, with several strong holes and no silliness.

The fans of Wisconsin are wonderful and I heard very little complaining about the lack of up-close viewing opportunities. They would have been within their right to complain.

The conditioning and presentation of the course, outside of the over-stimulated natives immediately off the fairways, was excellent.

Had the weather cooperated and the course remained dry all week--always an if this time of year--the width so many despised would have been necessary.

A few other views on the topic, starting with Golf World's Jaime Diaz.

It’s well positioned if the USGA is truly committed to moving the championship around the country. At the moment, there is a vacuum in the Midwest. Medinah and Olympia Fields in Chicago don’t inspire and former USGA mainstays Hazeltine and Oakland Hills have become more aligned with the PGA. The same with Whistling Straits, which has had two PGA and is slated for another Ryder cup.

And in an unofficial competition comparison with another minimalist style public course that is vying to be deemed a modern classic, Erin Hills has come off better than Chambers Bay near Seattle.

Erin Hills, with sheer bigness that requires less retrofitting for distance than older courses, and a brawn accented by humpy land and jagged bunkers that can make for exciting golf, offers a welcome but only occasional – maybe once every 20 years - change of pace from the traditional Golden Age classics.

Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette isn't a fan of the public course experiment.

If it were up to me and not Mike Davis and the USGA, I’d play every U.S. Open on the great, traditional, classic and iconic courses in our country, not these pop-up daily-fee facilities designed to bring the national championship to the public golfer, which, to me, is like playing the Super Bowl at Cupples Stadium on the South Side.

Michael Bamberger wanted to play...to the greens on the driving range, which is one of the best I've seen. From this SI/Golf.com roundtable:

Bamberger: Good for them. Not for us. The USGA wants to preach a message of playability. This course was too easy for the elites. And unplayable for 90-shooters, from any tee. Some of the greens are nutty. The place is beautiful, though. Spectacular. I'd love to play holes on the driving range all through a long dusk.

Teddy Greenstein thinks the course deserves another shot but wonders if there is competition from a nearby state.

The USGA is committed through 2026 with a greatest hits collection that includes Shinnecock Hills, Pebble Beach, Winged Foot and Oakmont. USGA executive director Mike Davis said that “in a few months, we’re going to name another tried-and-true.”

Insiders predict Oakland Hills’ South Course, a Donald Ross design near Detroit that has hosted six U.S. Opens, will get the call in 2027. Erin Hills should return soon after as another anchor of the Midwest.

USGA executives love that owner Andy Ziegler was willing to close Erin Hills to public play in October, taking a financial hit with the payoff of perfect conditioning.

Todd Milles of the Tacoma News Tribune wonders if Erin Hills will join (maybe) Chambers Bay in the every 20-year category.

Unless something unforeseen happens, Erin Hills has made such a favorable impression this week that it would be hard not to see it emerge as the USGA’s go-to venue in the Midwest for the foreseeable future.

“Erin Hills won’t be in the 10-year rotation,” Putnam said, “but it will be in the 20-year rotation.”

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Tuesday
Jun202017

Large U.S. Open Corporate Hospitality Tents "Going by way of the dinosaur"

John Lombardo's SBD report (subscription required) on all things USGA business reveals that the organization is looking to add two more "partner" sponsors, with hopes of having six primary partners next year at Shinnecock Hills.

But more interesting, at least to those who would like to see venues not need another 80 acres for corporate hospitality tents, is a trend away from companies wanted large, expensive dedicated tents.

Mimi Griffin, CEO of the hospitality sales company handling the event for the USGA, says there is a big shift occurring in demand toward more modest tables and nimble offerings.

Fading away are the 100-125 ticket "chalets" that have crept closer to play and cost $325,000 at Erin Hills. In? More table packages with a prediction from Griffin that after the next two years, we'll see fewer classic corporate tents.

“The 100-ticket tent is going by way of the dinosaur,” Griffin said from a suite overlooking the scenic sixth green at Erin Hills. “Smaller, nimble and daily, that is what the market demands.”

Hospitality offerings at Erin Hills ranged from the platinum premier package along the 18th hole, which cost $325,000 for 125 tickets for the week, to a one-day table package for $9,225 along the 13th hole that included 15 tickets.

Griffin said hospitality sales at Erin Hills were down about 10 percent from last year’s event held at Oakmont outside of Pittsburgh. “It is not drastic, but noticeable.”

Tuesday
Jun202017

"Mickelson was from Mars, Mackay from Venus, and they ruled in their own universe."

As brother Tim Mickelson takes over looping for brother Phil (DiMeglio/USAToday), the San Diego Union-Tribune's Tod Leonard salutes the Jim "Bones" Mackay run of 25 years despite his shock at the news.

He writes:

This is Lucy divorcing Desi. In a pressure-cooker sport in which some caddies change partners as often as Taylor Swift rotates beaus, Phil and “Bones” working more than 550 tournaments together with not so much as a single public spat borders on being a miracle.

Let’s be real: The fact “Bones” didn’t strangle Phil on numerous occasions makes him something of a saint.

Rex Hoggard says it was fitting that one of the great player-caddie runs ended two weeks ago in Memphis where it all began.

“I do think every time I come back here, 25 years ago to the day basically on Monday, Tuesday, it was at Farmington Golf Course was the first day that Bones and I ever worked together. It was exactly 25 years ago this week,” Mickelson said on June 7. “Every time I come back here to Memphis I always think about that and that particular moment.”

Tuesday
Jun202017

U.S. Open: Return To Walking Officials With All Groups

After seeing the USGA's revision to its U.S. Open rules setup at Erin Hills, I write for Golfweek that bringing back walking officials would be the prudent thing to do.

While there were no major rules situations, I know of one player whose playing partners were not paying attention to his ball as it entered the tall stuff at hole No. 1. But since there was a bit of a grey area there and no walking referee was there as you might find at The Open, NCAA's and many other events, the player had to play as if he lost his ball.

As I note in the piece, this is also a perk for those who put in long hours working less-glamorous events. It was embarrasing seeing them sitting in the rough or in those parade-viewing chairs and in awful red hats.

But mostly the change this year seemed like an odd reaction to 2016's events and without a referee in each group, will some day prove costly for a player.