Twitter: GeoffShac
Writing And Videos
  • 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
  • Players: The Story of Sports and Money, and the Visionaries Who Fought to Create a Revolution
    Players: The Story of Sports and Money, and the Visionaries Who Fought to Create a Revolution
    by Matthew Futterman

The true links were moulded by divine hands. Links-land, the fine grasses, the wind-made bunkers that defy imitation, the exquisite contours that refuse to be sculpted by hand--all these were given lavishly by a divine dispensation to the British. ROBER HUNTER


    

Thursday
Jun302016

Rough Sales For Nike; Upbeat Talk From Dicks CEO

Brian Sozza at The Street reports on the 8% drop in business for Nike Golf, which accounts for about 3% of Nike's overall business.

He writes:

Sales for the Nike golf division fell 2% to $771 million for the fiscal year ended May 31, 2015. Excluding the impact of the strong U.S. dollar, sales were unchanged from the prior year. Nike golf didn't light up it up on the sales line the year before, either. Nike's golf division saw sales relatively unchanged at $792 million for the fiscal year ended May 31, 2014. Excluding the impact of the strong U.S. dollar, sales rose a meager 1%.

Adding insult to injury for Nike here? People are back out playing more rounds of golf, which is spurring sales of new drivers, shoes and irons.

Sozza noted the uptick for others and highlights this from last month, which I didn't see:

"Some brands came out with some really great product that captured the imagination of the golfer," said Dick's Sporting Goods (DKS) CEO Ed Stack on a May 19 call with analysts. Stack praised all of the big names in golf product manufacturing but Nike for their latest innovations. "Taylor Made with the M1 and the M2 [drivers and irons], Callaway with the Great Big Bertha [driver], and there has been some new shoe designs out from FootJoy -- so, there has been some good products out there."

Thursday
Jun302016

Diaz: What Really Happened At Oakmont

Now that Dustin Johnson has spoken and has not had his mind changed a bit about his actions at Oakmont (Will Gray reports), Jaime Diaz has filed an in-depth, definitive account for the September Golf Digest of the 2016 U.S. Open's Dustin Johnson penalty. While most of the facts will still be very familiar, Diaz brings in views of some notable rules figures and tries to figure out the options for changing the rule.

This from two noted USGA veterans stood out, starting with comments from David Eger:


Eger believes the right call was made based on the rule as written, but admits his experience writing, interpreting and administering the rules gives him an uncommon perspective. “All the rules officials I know think Dustin broke the rule, but none of my friends who I play golf with think he did. None of my friends have all the information. They use the wrong criteria to judge. But the rules are so fastidious, precise and often complicated.”

But David Fay, the USGA’s executive director for two decades, who served as the Fox telecast’s rules expert, contends the Johnson ruling was a close one even for officials. “You could get 10 rules experts and show them video evidence of Wattel and Johnson’s actions around the ball. I guarantee some would say Wattel deserved a penalty and Johnson didn’t, or that neither deserved a penalty, or that both did.”


Wonderful!

There was also this from Diaz:


In retrospect, executive director Mike Davis, didn’t take charge at a time when an accountable leader was desperately needed to speak for the organization. Hall and Pagel were too careful and scripted in their interviews on Fox and Golf Channel, clearly looking over their shoulder. At Oakmont, the buck had no place to stop.

I think this next part is where the average golfer differs from the rules expert, but nearly two weeks later I'm still not entirely sure why the experts are so sure of their stance.

But in trying to solve a problem, the new rule created new ones that are arguably worse. The main one? When it comes to determining what made a ball move short of the club hitting the ball, there is almost never anything close to “proof” that a player’s actions were the cause. “More likely than not” or “51 percent of the evidence” is a recipe for too many close calls that will leave a feeling of player victimization, especially if and when it costs someone a championship.

Thursday
Jun302016

"Golf Channel Posts Most Watched Second Quarter Ever"

Interesting bumps from NCAA golf and the KPMG, now the most watched women's major outside of the U.S. Women's Open.

For Immediate Release:

For 24-hour Total Day (6AM-6AM), 125,000 average viewers per minute were tuned in to Golf Channel during second quarter, a +1% increase vs. 2Q 2015. This growth was driven by the most-watched April and June ever, along with these year-over-year gains:

·       PGA TOUR: +5%
·       PGA TOUR Champions: +20%
·       European Tour: +8%
·       LPGA Tour: +6%
·       Millennials (P25-34): +29%
·       Prime viewership (8P-11P): +7%
·       Retained No. 1 ranking for quarter, delivering most-affluent audience in television in Total Day and Primetime

And...

NCAA Men’s and Women’s Golf Championships:
·       Live Coverage of the Men’s Championship (218,000 average viewers) is +70% vs. 2015.
·   Live coverage of the Men’s Wednesday night final match delivered 325,000 viewers per minute (+139% year over year).
·       Live Coverage of the Women’s Championship (152,000 average viewers) is +12% compared to 2015.
·     Live coverage of the Women’s Wednesday night final match delivered 249,000 viewers per minute (+25% from last year).

And...

KPMG Women’s PGA Championship: Second Most-Viewed Women’s Golf Event since June 2014:

·       The 2016 KMPG Women’s PGA Championship aired across Golf Channel and NBC for the 2nd year and was seen by 6.1 million unique viewers. That’s the second largest audience for a women’s golf event since NBC/ESPN’s coverage of the US Women’s Open in 2014 (9.8 mm) and the first time since 2010 that any LPGA Tour major other than US Women’s Open was seen by more than 6 million viewers.

Wednesday
Jun292016

Video: The Three-Putt One-Putt

Wednesday
Jun292016

The Case For Amateur Golfers In The Olympics...Isn't Strong

No offense to all who have written in the wake of star WD's from the Rio Games who have suggested that this would not be happening if we had amateur golfers instead of pros.

Zane Bojack is just one of many who have written this in recent days, suggesting many of the emerging new talents in golf would have remained amateurs for the Olympics.

I think he has a point with the amateur game farewelling stars like American Bryson DeChambeau, Englishman Matthew Fitzpatrick, Spain's John Rahm and Australia's Ryan Ruffels in the past 12 months.

If you don't know them yet, then you soon will as these athletes who've recently turned professional are the future of the game.

DeChambeau finished tied 15th in the recently completed US Open, Fitzpatrick took out the 2015 British Masters, John Rahm just finished third in a PGA TOUR event at Congressional and Ryan Ruffels turned pro at the ripe old age of 17.

These young guns should be the players competing for a gold in Rio, with the Olympics keeping them in the amateur game for longer.

Already there are fears Ruffels may have turned professional too early after missing the cut in seven events he has taken part in on the PGA Tour.

Unfortunately, the money to be made coming out of college is still there, as is the pressure to begin playing and earning status on various tours. I'm not seeing how an Olympic opportunity would change that or cause more to remain lifelong amateurs.

Here is the current World Amateur Golf Ranking top 20. All fine young golfers with immense talent but would anyone want to watch this field?

Wednesday
Jun292016

Poll: What is the main reason some male golfers are skipping Rio?

I know that Zika, the Olympics and scheduling debates do not make the most enjoyable golf reading, but longtime readers know I've been excited about Olympic golf's prospects in spite of the unimaginative format.

While I will not defend the selection of Rio, nor be hitting the streets there at night (or day!), I do think the Olympic golf course will send a great message to the world and become an iconic venue of the 2016 games. And once the competition starts, the intrigue will be there to see who wins, who surprises and who inspires. Then, we can go about finding a format that excites players, fans and the IOC, while maybe even peeking the interest of those who have not seen what kind of emotions are elicited by team match play.

In the meantime, however, a few things to consider before I ask your vote.

Jason Sobel nailed the entire male golfer/Zika/schedule/format mess in this ESPN.com column titled, "How Zika virus lets golfers off the hook for wanting to skip Rio Olympics."

Use the excuse that it's a crowded schedule and the Olympics are an unnecessary detour from their overall goals, and they'll be criticized for a me-first attitude. Explain that competing in another no-money event (in addition to the Ryder Cup or Presidents Cup) is an unfair ask, and they'll be ripped for greediness. Suggest that playing once per year for one's country should be enough, and they'll be castigated for a lack of patriotism. Contend that traveling to a country with an increasingly unstable government is a poor personal choice, and they'll be tsk-tsked for eschewing private resort accommodations.

And then along came the Zika virus.

It became the perfect get-out-of-jail-free card for professional golfers. Despite medical experts insisting there is minimal risk of contracting the virus in Rio de Janeiro during the Olympic fortnight, it's impossible to denounce a player's decision to skip the tournament based on the long-term welfare of his family.

I have been in touch with folks on the ground in Rio, and golf course superintendent Neil Cleverly confirms that not a single member of the maintenance crew has contracted Zika. Furthermore, testing done over the last few weeks by the City of Rio health department found after a week of capturing and testing mosquitos that there were no transmitter Mosquitos found in the traps. Meaning that it is unlikely that Zika is in the area. Also, remember, the course is by the salt water and there is almost always a breeze. Not exactly mosquito breeding grounds.

As of June 7th, according to 2016 Rio Olympics Chief Medical Officer Joao Grangeiro, there have been zero Zika infections reported among the 17,000 athletes, volunteers and staffers participating in test events over the last year.

Reuters' Julie Steenhuysen reported that researchers at the Sao Paulo School of Medicine project that the risk of tourists contracting Zika during the Olympics at 1.8 cases per million people. Numbers suggest 500,000 international visitors are expected in Rio for the 2016 games.

I suspect this information has been passed along to the golfers. Now, as reader Mike notes in this RuthlessGolf post, there is a plausible explanation for male athletes having a greater concern than female athletes, assuming they do not want to use a condom for six months.

Moving right along...

Since everyone has a theory on why some of the world's best male golfers want no part of Rio--there are still many others who are looking forward to the event--what would you vote as the top reason the likes of Day, Lowry, Oosthuizen, McIlroy and Schwartzel have dropped out?

What do you think is the primary reason some male golfers are skipping the Rio games?
 
pollcode.com free polls

Tuesday
Jun282016

Spieth Now Talking Down Golf's Future Olympic Prospects?!

And mentioning a possible John Deere Classic appearance over the chance to win and Olympic medal?

Sad.

Yes, there's a lot to chew on with all of the Olympic golf WD's by the male golfers.

There is little doubt that Rio is a dangerous, strange place that isn't high on many summer must-visit lists. The idea of the Olympics landing in the middle of a busy schedule stinks. But we've known that a while. And Zika virus is a scary thing if you want to start a family in the immediate future, though few in Brazil are as worried as male golfers who fancy themselves as possible sires for a future King.

Oh, and no one working at the Olympic golf course has contracted the virus.

But with so many male pro golfers withdawing from the 2016 games, there's no doubting now that most of the world has had their stereotypes of golfers reinforced. While athletes in all other sports, including women's golf, are set to go to Ri the male golfers saying they will not attend are increasingly seen as soft, non-athletes. Given how well compensated they are, many of them will laugh their way to the bank and ignore the comments of fans or fellow athletes.

That's all fine.

To read that Jordan Spieth, once all-in on Olympic golf and now waivering on his 2016 participation, doesn't even bother me.

What bothers: he has the gall to suggest golf's prospects as an Olympic sport have dimmed because of the recent WD's. Sure, he may have some inside info from his sponsors at Coca Cola, who he also posts Instagram ads for only to be reminded by his followers about the dangers of soft drinks.

But talking down 2020 and beyond to possibly lay the groundwork for a 2016 WD? Lame.

Will Gray with the roundup of Spieth's Firestone press conference in advance of, ironically, the utterly meaningless WGC Bridgestone which, unlike an Olympic gold medal, will never be mentioned in any player's obituary.

The only data that officials will have at their disposal will be what happened in Rio, a tournament that is likely to be defined as much by who wasn’t there as by who ultimately stood atop the medal podium.

“No matter what I do, it’s already – there’s already been enough players (withdrawing) that I think it’ll definitely have an impact,” Spieth said. “Pending some crazy, great finish or whatever, I think there’s a significantly lower likelihood now of it staying in the Olympics than there was six months ago.”

I have an idea for Jordan! Let's get to The Open early this time like you plan, and leave the IOC-politicking to the guys in suits.

Meanwhile, Jason Day, who obviously regrets having to pass on Rio, at least was trying to be positive about golf as an Olympic sport going forward:

Q. Jason, do you hope that the decision makers that choose the sports in the Olympics and whatnot can look past this situation and not let it affect golf's future in the games and hope that it's just a one-off?

JASON DAY: Yeah, I think it is a one-off. It depends. Certain things we just don't know. Like something could happen elsewhere down the road, and unfortunately that could make people pull out. I just hope they look past this and go, you know, we're looking at the bigger picture and trying to grow the game, and hopefully if they can do that, then the Olympics can stay -- the golf can stay in the Olympics and everyone can move on to hopefully Tokyo and try and play there.

Tuesday
Jun282016

ShackHouse Episode 12: Henrik Stenson

On ShackHouse Episode 12, I discuss with Joe House his hometown's full-field Quicken Loans National, won in thrilling fashion by Billy Hurley over a diverse leaderboard, as contrasted with the no-cut, world ranking points-grab that is this week's WGC Bridgestone. We also discuss the latest news on Olympic golf and the continued chatter over the Dustin Johnson episode.

But best of all we bring you a chat with world No. 5 Henrik Stenson, fresh off his BMW International win and a favorite for The Open Championship at Royal Troon. Stenson discusses the state of his game, playing two tours, managing his body at the age of 40, excitement for the Olympics (yes, he's all in), and Dustin Johnson's win at the U.S. Open.

We kept things pretty straightforward but if you want to enjoy Stenson's lighter side, check out this recent video where Stenson must use his favorite club to hit shots within a designated target area or be forced to answer uncomfortable questions.

As always, you can subscribe on iTunes and or just refresh your device subscription page.

Same deal with Soundcloud for the show, and Episode 12 is here.

And the ShackHouse Stitcher page.

Special thank you to our sponsor Callaway now offering a Community for fanboys, curiousity seekers, brilliant thinkers and brand loalists, and also makers of the XR driver used by last weekend's winners Lydia Ko (XR 16 Pro Driver (10.5*), Stenson (XR 16 Driver (9*) Oban Tour Kiyoshi 60x Shaft) and Ollie Schniederjans (XR 16 Driver (10.5*) - MRC Diamana Blue Board 70 TX Shaft).

As mentioned in the show, here is the Arnold Palmer piece mentioned from Callaway's Facebook page:

Thanks to OdysseyGolf.com who have new Milled RSX Putters to check out along with the White Hot flatsticks that were in the bags of various winners last week. 

Also also many, many thanks to this week's other sponsors whose products I love:

Ministry Of Supply, home to the best hi-tech, no sweat, super comfortable, NASA-engineered clothes you can buy. The Aviator suit and Apollo dress shirt have become musts for every trip I take, and the golf shirts put the Lulu's to shame! Get 15% off your order with code SHACKHOUSE15.

SeatGeek! I'm hooked. Twice already since downloading the app has helped me find great last-minute tickets with their fun (maybe a little addictive) seat selecting app. To get your $20 dollar rebate on tickets, download the FREE SeatGeek app, go to the Settings tab and click ‘Add a promo code’ where you enter promo code SHACK

Trunk Club. I visited the operation here in LA and believe they are going to be a very popular addition to the lives of discerning men (and women now too), who don't have time to shop for clothes but want to look good at work, golf or going out in the evening. Go to TrunkClub.com/HOUSE, type in your measurements, share your likes and dislikes, and you get your very own personal stylist. They’ll pick your clothes from over 80 top brands, and ship them right to your door. The real value is in your stylist’s one on one relationship with you, understanding your likes, dislikes, and preferences, so they can help you always look your best. They also welcome in-store visitors to their ultra-cool labs in LA, New York, Chicago, Washington DC and soon, Charleston. Also, and this is not something they asked us to say, but I just feel it: Trunk Club is tremendous gift idea for someone you love who needs to upgrade their wardrobe...but maybe isn't easy to suggest that to!

Thanks to all for subscribing, listening, offering your feedback and supporting our advertisers, including Bill Simmons and TheRinger.com, with Bill's episode 2 featuring Bill Hader, Malcolm Gladwell and Mark Cuban Wednesday, June 27 at 10 pm.

ShackHouse remains the #1 golf podcast on iTunes. Thanks all for your support.

Tuesday
Jun282016

Reminder: Golf's Greatest Rounds: 1989 Open Championship

The 118th Open saw Mark Calcavecchia capture his lone major, defeating Greg Norman (64 final round!) and Wayne Grady in the first aggregate playoff at Royal Troon.

Catch Golf Greatest Rounds: 1982 Open Championship, Tuesday at 8 p.m. ET on Golf Channel.

Cue me some more Jim McKay and Dave Marr!

Jimmy Roberts with a recap...


Tuesday
Jun282016

Day Out: Blame It On Rio? Is This A One-Off?

Dave Shedloski weighs the comments of Jason Day and the statement from Shane Lowry adding themselves to the list of Olympic WD's, and in the short term Rio is taking the blame.

He writes:

Both said they are still fully committed to attending the World Cup in December in Australia. Yes to the World Cup and no to Olympic gold.

Blame it on Rio. All of it.

Both men, in their 20s and intending to have children in the near future, cited the Zika virus in their decisions.

What remains to be seen: how the male golfers' view of Rio contrasts with athletes in all other sports. If the Games go off well and the virus is a non-story (big ifs), they will end up looking pretty bad. If it's a boondoggle and spreads the virus, then all of this will be forgotten.

This, however, may be wishful thinking if the above best case scenario plays out:

“Yeah, I think it is a one-off. It depends,” Day said. “Certain things we just don't know. Like something could happen elsewhere down the road, and unfortunately that could make people pull out. I just hope they look past this and go, ‘You know, we're looking at the bigger picture and trying to grow the game,’ and hopefully if they can do that, then the Olympics can stay -- the golf can stay in the Olympics and everyone can move on to hopefully Tokyo and try and play there.”

Jeff Babineau at Golfweek makes the point about other athletes grinning and bearing it only making golf look worse.

This may be a one-off situation and 2020 in Tokyo could be fine, but golf has no concrete place in the games beyond that. A decision on golf’s future rides on this year’s performance. Will the Olympic torch holders who make the big decisions give golf a pass? Or whisk golf away? Truthfully, if athletes in many other sports show up in Rio, you have to think golf’s future in the games has dimmed.

But as Luke Kerr-Dineen notes in calling the situation a disaster (I, the eternal optimist see silver linings galore), points out that lack of excitement over the format along with scheduling should not be discounted.

Tuesday
Jun282016

Olympics: "The entitlement and point-missing among the top (male) golfers is depressing."

Even though it doesn't take a rocket surgeon to know that schedule congestion, motivational issues, format problems and overall spoiledness are the more likely culprits for male "grow the game" advocates skipping Rio, it's still nice to see someone finally call out the men passing on golf's spot in the Games.

Alan Shipnuck in this week's SI/golf.com roundtable:

The entitlement and point-missing among the top (male) golfers is depressing. They are on their way to getting their dying, boutique sport tossed from the biggest athletic happening in the world. Then they won’t have to worry about playing in the Olympics beyond 2020. A small win for these selfish players but a big loss for the sport to make new fans and reach new markets. 

But we won't focus on all of the South Africans passing or grow-the-game advocate Rory McIlroy making a last minute decision not to go.

Because at least Sergio is all in, John Austin reports:

"There are some security issues there that I would like to be taken care of and the Zika virus is causing a few problems but I don't have immediate plans of having a family with my girlfriend.

"But if nothing else happens between now and when it is time to go then we should be fine."

Golf Digest's Undercover Pro tells Max Adler that while there are issues, the golfers who pass on Olympic golf will ultimately regret it. Or so he thinks.

Put Alex Miceli at Golfweek down as the first to push back at the IOC member whining about the lack of top stars wanting to go to Rio.

If the games were in North America, Europe, many parts of Asia, Australia or New Zealand, athletes likely would make the trip. Instead, the IOC want to make statement by going to Rio for the first Olympiad in South America. And now the golfers are making their own statement.

Golf doesn’t need the Olympics, but the sport is willing to support the quadrennial games, if it makes sense.

The IOC, in turn, should be willing to support golf and not criticize its best players for making a thoughtful stand.

Monday
Jun272016

Ben Hogan In 2016: A 3-Time Genesis Open Winner & 5-Time Dean & Deluca Champion!

And Hogan would have won a fourth Genesis if not for Sam Snead and that pesky 1950 playoff a week later!

The PGA Tour released its 2016-17 schedule, as Rex Hoggard notes here, and it includes a no-sponsor-listed Tournament of Champions in January, meaning the tour will funding some of the purse.

(That's a move it would not make in conjunction with Cadillac to keep the Florida swing in tact at Doral. Now we know how much the execs like breaking out their Hawaiian shirts once a year!)

The new WGC in Mexico City does, indeed, land between Florida stops in Palm Beach Gardens and Tampa Bay. Cue the next Zika virus excuses!

The old Northern Trust Open/LA Open officially became the Genesis Open, as Doug Ferguson explains here.

Hyundai is actual the sponsor, but is keeping its name off in an effort to build the Genesis luxury brand into the next Lexus or Acura or Infinity.

So just remember, Ben Hogan won three Genesis Opens and five of those Dean & Deluca's!

Monday
Jun272016

Help An Aspiring Golf Architect In Need's 100 Hole Quest For Better Developing Country Water!

Thanks to reader Mike for passing along Hayden Hunskor's passion for golf course design and clean water.

The high school freshman earned a $1,000 scholarship to be used towards the pursuit of a career in golf from Duke's COO John Moscrip and Cascade Golfer, but his other passion beyond golf course design is way more important.

In addition, Hayden volunteers as a board member at Lakeside with a Seattle-based non-profit, Water 1st, helping raise money to support families without access to clean water. In June, he will attempt to play 100 holes in a day at Sand Point Country Club as part of a fundraiser called “Golf for Water,” (click the link to learn more) through which his goal is to raise $5,000 to build a well in a developing country. (In fact, Hayden’s mother Angele was so appreciative of the honor, that she made a $500 donation to Golf for Water in the name of Duke’s Chowder House.)

And if that wasn’t enough, Hayden is also an aspiring golf architect. He’s already designed his first hole, an oceanside par-3, for a class project, and says his goal is to pursue a career in golf course design.

Well, Hayden attempted his 100 holes Monday but you can still donate here, as I gladly did.

Monday
Jun272016

Westwood On USGA's DJ Ruling: "I felt like I should have been involved in every aspect of what went on"

Golf World's John Huggan talked to Lee Westwood about the U.S. Open's Dustin Johnson saga and Jaime Diaz relayed the comments here.

As the playing partner and scorecard marker for Johnson, Westwood is dismayed that his view of the incident was ignored and that he was not asked his opinion.

The entire account is essential reading, but this stands out the most...

“When we finished the round, Dustin was taken into the scorer’s hut to be shown the footage. I wasn’t invited to join him. Again, that disappointed me. I had to say to someone, ‘Shouldn’t I be in there as his marker?’ So they took me in after that. It was odd, though. I felt like I should have been involved in every aspect of what went on.

“The whole thing was handled very badly. I don’t think anyone should be treated the way Dustin was. A ruling was made on the fifth green, and that should have been it, cut and dried. He certainly should never have been asked to play the last six holes of the U.S. Open without knowing what the score was. I was thinking going down the 12th, Does Shane Lowry in the next group know where he stands? It was ridiculous."

Monday
Jun272016

They Want To Vote Again! (Just The Muirfield Members)

No, it's not a Brexit do-over (yet), but it's a start.

Martin Dempster on the statement issued by the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers, suggesting the membership has heard what was said (or done the math), and would like to (sort of) be liked again.

“A substantial majority of our members voted for change and many have voiced their disappointment with the ballot result and with subsequent events,” said club captain Henry Fairweather.

“The Club Committee believes that a clear and decisive vote in favour of admitting women as members is required to enable us to begin the task of restoring the reputation of the Club that has been damaged by the earlier ballot outcome”.

Sunday
Jun262016

U.S. Open: "It was clearly an institutional breakdown in communication and procedures."

Watching how replay has been used in other sports (particularly baseball, football, tennis), most sports fans have accepted the use of technology to get calls right. We've seen so many calls either confirmed or overturned for the betterment of the competition we are watching, and, let's face it, in a way that has made the sports more entertaining. Yet the USGA ruling at Oakmont stands as the most confusing, unnecessary and frighteningly dangerous use of video replay most sports fans have seen, even if it was an accurate interpretation of the Rules of Golf "Decisions".

So no matter how great a story Billy Hurley is, or what a magnificent weekend golf enjoyed with a combination of old (Ernie, Vijay, Henrik) and young names (Rahm, Lydia, Ollie) playing so well, the U.S. Open continues to be the 19th Hole subject of discussion.

And I'm still waiting to hear how it gets better for the USGA.

The SI/golf.com roundtable is not the place for the folks in Far Hills to look.

Alan Shipnuck, senior writer, Sports Illustrated (@AlanShipnuck): It was a brutal public relations hit for the USGA, and Davis’s quasi-apology didn’t really help. I got the first interview with him at Oakmont. Davis was upstairs in the locker room changing into his tie for the trophy presentation and I pounced on him. At that point DJ was on the 16th hole and Davis still hadn’t seen video of the incident! He was just going by reports from other staffers. It was clearly an institutional breakdown in communication and procedures. This will all lead to some soul-searching and clearly the USGA needs to overhaul how it handles things on the ground at big tournaments. 

That's just bizarre.

Bamberger tries to see nuance and both sides and comes closest to defending the decision, even though he's no in agreement:

In my opinion, the videotape was completely inconclusive and I would have not accessed Johnson the shot, but to reach another conclusion is entirely reasonable. Now if you want to say there should be a new rule by which these minute movements shouldn’t matter, go ahead and try to draft such a rule. But right now, the rule is that any movement must be accounted for and the USGA was trying to do right by Johnson and the rest of the field. That is its obligation. The rest -- including Tiger and Jordan and Big Jack himself -- is noise. The USGA is not in the public-relations business. Its purpose is to stage a championship and assure that the rules, which it tries constantly to improve, are applied fairly to all. 

And the last word from Gary Van Sickle speaks to what I sense many golfers feel:

Nice of Davis to apologize for delay in penalty assessment, a terrible mistake. But by Monday, he had plenty of time to recognize that Hall and Pagel had wrongly assessed a penalty and ignored USGA’s own definition that “unless the facts show that a player caused the ball to move,” there is no penalty. I lost a lot of respect for the USGA on this one. This can’t happen again.

Sunday
Jun262016

"Story Of The Year" Billy Hurley Wins At Congressional

What seemed like a ho-hum week on the PGA Tour turned into an epic, emotional and intriguing mix of youth, age and sentimentality merging into the best tournament of the season.

Photo by JD CubanIt wasn't just that former Navy man Billy Hurley III won in his native D.C.-area almost a year after his father went missing and eventually, took his life, and did so with his career at a low point where he had limited status. He did it with a sponsor's invite by Mike Antolini of the Woods Foundation, in front of understandably emotional family and friends, all while holding off HOF's Els and Singh, and new young-gun Jon Rahm.

John Strege with some great backstory info on Hurley.

Thomas Boswell in the Washington Post on the win. And this quote from Hurley says so much about the emotions he had to battle en route to victory.

On Saturday, as he held the lead at Congressional, Hurley noticed that there were policemen following him, protecting him, so to speak. “Obviously I think about my dad a lot,” Hurley said after his round. “I was walking from 9 to 10, and I’ve never really had a whole lot of police officers following my group. You know, I’m not like that cool. But playing in the lead, they have a couple police officers following you around. It dawned on me, ‘Hey, this is what my dad did.’ He walked inside the ropes and did this at Presidents Cups [and other Washington-area events].”

The chip-in, which is enough to make anyone believe in the Golf Gods.

The full round highlights:

The day was big for those hoping to play in the next major. Hurley, Rahm, Singh and Harold Varner (!) made it to Troon thanks to their great play at Congressional.

For Immediate Release:

HURLEY III, RAHM, SINGH AND VARNER III QUALIFY FOR THE OPEN AT QUICKEN LOANS NATIONAL

26 June 2016, Bethseda, Maryland, United States: Billy Hurley III, Jon Rahm, Vijay Singh and Harold Varner III have qualified for The 145th Open at Royal Troon after today’s final round of the Quicken Loans National at Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Maryland.

The Quicken Loans National was the seventh event in The Open Qualifying Series, which gives players the opportunity to qualify for golf’s most international major championship at leading Tour events around the world.

The four players will now compete against the world’s best golfers to become Champion Golfer of the Year when The Open returns to the famous Ayrshire links for the ninth time from 14-17 July, 2016.

Meanwhile, six players also qualified for The Open through the European Tour Race to Dubai and the PGA TOUR FedExCup rankings. In the Race to Dubai, England’s Andrew Johnston, Sweden’s Rikard Karlberg, South Korea’s Soomin Lee, and Joost Luiten from the Netherlands all earned a place at Royal Troon, while Americans William McGirt and Smylie Kaufman booked their place through the FedExCup.

At the Quicken Loans National, American Billy Hurley III earned his first PGA TOUR title and a place in The 145th Open after a tremendous performance in front of a raucous hometown crowd. The former US Naval officer thrilled spectators by chipping in at the 15th and following that up with a 27-foot birdie putt on the 16th green to close out the tournament with a two-under-par 69.

The 34-year-old finished on 17-under-par and will now challenge for the Claret Jug for the second time after making his Open debut in 2014 at Royal Liverpool where he finished tied 64th.

Vijay Singh, who made his first appearance in The Open at Royal Troon in 1989, will play in his 25th Championship and 89th major after finishing runner-up behind Hurley. The 53-year-old Fijian’s best finish was tied for 2nd place with Thomas Bjorn in 2003 at Royal St George’s. At Congressional, Singh closed out his round of 65 with a birdie at the 18th to finish on 14-under-par for the tournament.

Former no. 1 in the World Amateur Golf Ranking™ Jon Rahm booked his spot at The Open after tying for third place alongside Bill Haas, who has already qualified for the Championship. The 21-year-old Spaniard, who was making his professional debut this week after finishing as low amateur at last week’s US Open, posted a final round  70 to finish on 13-under-par.

American Harold Varner III also qualified for The Open after nudging out European Ryder Cup player Francesco Molinari, who was in position to scoop the fourth qualifying spot after finishing 8-under-par. But a final day score of 70 saw him finish in seventh place at 9-under-par behind Ernie Els and Webb Simpson who were both already exempt for the Championship. He will now make his Open debut at Royal Troon.

Sunday
Jun262016

Video: Tiger Talks Return With CBS, Not Sounding Too Close

Sporting his Sunday red (!?), Tiger Woods talked about his return to golf at the Quicken Loans and said he wants to play this year, but doesn't know if he will. He's trying to get into golf shape and perhaps most encouraging was that he sounded a little more like a competitor than a fan, almost seemingly bored by the proceedings which were a wild mix of crazy veteran stories and a heart-string puller in Billy Hurley.

Kevin Maguire summed up the comments here and also mentioned Woods' early week remarks.

Anyway, here's the interview with Jim Nantz and Nick Faldo.

Sunday
Jun262016

Good USGA News: Record Low Audience Saw '16 Fiasco!

Woohoo!

Who would have thought it'd be positive for the U.S. Open to "enjoy" the lowest four-day viewership since records have been kept starting in 1995. But given things like the rules fiasco or the President struggling to speak during the trophy ceremony (but not impaired, according to the USGA, via Steve Elling), maybe this news is positive!

SBJ's Austin Karp reports:

The 2.34 million viewers is down from 3.5 million viewers last year, when coverage aired in primetime from the West Coast, and also down from 2.44 million viewers across NBC and ESPN in ’14. Fox finished with 5.4 million viewers for final round coverage on Sunday, which saw Dustin Johnson take home his first major. That figure is down sharply from 6.7 million viewers for Jordan Spieth’s win in primetime last year, but up big from 4.6 million viewers on NBC for Martin Kaymer’s runaway victory in ’14.

The chart:

Sunday
Jun262016

Roundup: Trump Opens Turnberry In Glorious, Bizarre Fashion!

Ok, glorious might be strong, but the weather was lovely, the bagpipes flowing and the course looks sensational. Not that anyone noticed with the bizarre Brexit results and an even more bizarre stunt overshadowing the proceedings.

There is Golf Channel's video report on the opening. And an AP report on the day, including quotes from Trump as they toured the course. Though few had anything to do with golf.

A GolfChannel.com gallery of the people and those hats made by the staff!

For the non-golf reaction, Jenna Johnson of the Washington Post says Trump's energy level was down, perhaps after a protester interrupted the opening speeches' beginning. The Secret Service could not have been pleased.

The next day Trump flew to Scotland’s opposite coast, to the golf course he built on sand dunes north of Aberdeen, then had dinner with media giant Rupert Murdoch. At the gate of the Trump International Golf Links, security turned away journalists from The Washington Post, which has been banned from all of Trump’s events for nearly two weeks, BuzzFeed and Politico, along with MacAskill.

Those who were allowed inside followed Trump on a tour of the course, stopping at holes 10, 13, 14 and 18 for questions.

British prankster Lee Nelson snuck into the press conference posing as an employee who’d forgotten to hand out a new line of red golf balls. They featured a swastika.



On a much lighter note, the halfway house looks pretty incredible.


As does the new 9th hole:


The full press conference…