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 โ€“ A Complete History
    The Ryder Cup: Golf's Grandest Event โ€“ 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

[Riviera] became Hogan's Alley, a part of the most famous partnership in sports history. Ruth-Gehrig, Dempsey-Tunney, even Notre Dame-SC had nothing on Hogan-Riviera. Ben knew and loved every blade of grass on it and in later years used to describe them to me in detail. JIM MURRAY

 

   

Monday
Feb202017

Sigh: Royal St. George's Lands 2020 Open Championship

The Open venue most desperately in need of some restoration after some dodgy changes through the years, lands the 2020 championship. While the southeast English links sports plenty of fine holes and is a beautifully maintained club, the course once revered decades ago for its uber-natural features has lost some appeal due to a bit too much man-made quirk.

That said, they may surprise us, and for fans of next door neighbor Royal Cinque Ports, it gives reason to return to one of the most underrated links on the planet.

Meanwhile Trump Turnberry is still on the R&A radar, reports John Huggan, but reading Alistair Tait's item on Muirfield's upcoming vote, Martin Slumbers makes it sound like they will be penciled-in ahead of Turnberry.

Fun times!

Oh and The Old Course will inevitably host in 2021.

For Immediate Release:

THE 149TH OPEN TO BE PLAYED AT ROYAL ST GEORGE’S IN 2020

20 February 2017, St Andrews, Scotland: One of the world’s great sporting events will return to the south east of England in 2020 when The 149th Open is played at Royal St George’s.

The Open will return to the historic Kent links for the 15th time. It was last played at Royal St George’s in 2011 when Darren Clarke showed his mastery of links golf in challenging weather conditions to hold off Americans Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson to become Champion Golfer of the Year.

“It was an unbelievable feeling to lift the Claret Jug and know that my name was displayed on the trophy alongside so many of the greatest players ever to play the game,” said Clarke.

“The Open is what it is all about for me as a golfer and it is the championship I always dreamt of winning from when I first took up the game as a kid. I have so many wonderful memories from that week at Sandwich and I will be thrilled to go back there for The Open in three years’ time.”

Martin Slumbers, Chief Executive of The R&A, said, “We are very much looking forward to the return of The Open to Royal St George’s in 2020. The Open is a true celebration of sport and the global spotlight will fall once again on Sandwich.

“Royal St George’s has produced a series of outstanding Champion Golfers over the last 120 years and it is a thrilling prospect for golf fans to see the greatest players competing on one of the world’s finest links courses.”

James Furber, the Captain of Royal St George’s, said, “We are delighted and honoured to be invited to host The Open in 2020. This is tremendous news for the Club and a wonderful commercial opportunity for Sandwich, Thanet and Kent.

“The Club is most grateful to all those in the local authorities and the local MP’s who have worked so hard with us over the last few years to bring this about.  We look forward to working with The R&A and others over the next three years to deliver one of the world’s most prestigious championships in 2020.”

Royal St George’s first hosted The Open in 1894 and it was the first occasion on which the Championship was played outside of Scotland. The 35th Open was won by JH Taylor, who became the first English professional to win the Championship.

Over the years, the historic links at Sandwich has seen some of golf’s greatest players lift the Claret Jug including Harry Vardon, Walter Hagen, Henry Cotton, Bobby Locke, Sandy Lyle and Greg Norman, who secured a two-shot victory over Sir Nick Faldo in 1993.

Paul Carter CBE, Leader of Kent County Council, said, “We are absolutely delighted that we have secured The Open in 2020 at Royal St George’s. In 2011 there were over 180,000 visitors to The Open, and an extra 37,000 passengers travelled on the special High Speed train service from London St Pancras.

“The benefits to the tourist economy was massive, amounting to over £64 million.  Significant transport improvements were needed to improve spectator flows in and out of Royal St George’s and KCC has played a leading role in facilitating partnership funding with the Local Enterprise Partnership and District Councils.”

Cllr Paul Watkins, Leader of Dover District Council, said, “We are delighted to be welcoming The Open back to Sandwich in 2020.  It’s the biggest sporting event to come to the region and provides the perfect showcase for Dover and the wider East Kent area.  

“We’re proud to have some of the world’s finest links courses and The Open always provides a huge boost to the local economy.  We look forward to working with The R&A and partners to deliver another outstanding event in 2020.”

Christian Brodie, Chairman of the South East Local Enterprise Partnership, added, “The Open is one of the country’s iconic sporting events and it’s fantastic news that Royal St George’s will host it again.

“The Open in 2016 was worth an estimated £110 million to Troon and Scotland and in 2020 it will present us with an opportunity to highlight the economic opportunities for business to invest in East Kent to a global audience.”

The 149th Open will be played from 12-19 July 2020.

Monday
Feb202017

Rory Answers The President's Call!

No Laying Up podcast co-host Rory McIlroy reports to NLU that he teed up with President Donald Trump Sunday.

McIlroy expedited his return to play a week early for the Trump International round that also included ISM agent Nick Mullen and Trump friend Rich Levine. More intriguing than the President is the golf with Mullen, who works for the agency that first represented McIlroy (photo on right is not the full foursome).

Score was not kept but McIlroy said the President played well:

“He probably shot around 80. He’s a decent player for a guy in his 70’s!”

The White House initially said the President only played a few holes, then clarified that it turned into a full round, reports the AP's Catherine Lucey.

Monday
Feb202017

Increasing Athleticism! Then How Are Geezers Picking Up Yards?

With the tour in town I haven't had a chance to read the USGA/R&A distance report, so I'm relying on Mike Stachura's take at GolfDigest.com. It's fascinating to see that those suggesting distances are changing were labeled distance "truthers", implying a conspiratorial element.

That description is even more peculiar given this:

To clarify, the PGA Tour driving distance average has grown by 2.8 yards from 2013-’16, or 0.7 yards per year. In that same time frame, the PGA Tour Champions has seen a 5.7-yard increase, or nearly 1.5 yards per year, while the Web.com Tour is up 2.1 yards since 2013, or better than half-a-yard per year.

So the not-flatbellies of the PGA Tour Champions have picked up five yards in four seasons--once an eye-opening number--yet we are to believe athleticism is driving many increases as opposed to the manufacturers and Trackman out-maneuvering the governing bodies?

The Distance Report specifically breaks down distance into several groups, including the percentage of 300-yard drives as tracked by the European Tour and PGA Tour. Most notable is how the PGA Tour with 31.2 percent of its drives longer than 300 yards in 2016 shows nearly a 17-percent increase since 2003.

When the 2003 Joint Statement of Principles was issued by the organizations it discussed the skill word, the significant word and the statement did not care what caused increases. A 17 percent increase is, apparently, not significant.

As well, the number of players averaging more than 300 yards for the season has increased. In 2003, that number was nine. That figure was 13 in 2008, 21 in 2011 and 25 in 2014. By 2016, it had tripled to 27. This year’s number (38) is actually about 20 percent fewer than a year ago (47).

But back to increasing athleticism. From the USGA's John Spitzer:

“We do not have a trigger and there’s no contemplation of one, but clearly even if you look at this slow creep of one foot a year and attributed that to athleticism, in 20 years you’re going to have a seven-yard increase,” he said. “Athleticism is still going to increase and at some point it may need to be addressed, just not as an equipment issue but as a pure distance issue long term.”

How did the Joint Statement of Principles fail to address the long term?

Saturday
Feb182017

Genesis Open Second/Third Round This And That

It'll be a 36 or so hole grind on Sunday at Riviera, with Dustin Johnson leading Pat Perez and Cameron Tringale by one.

Riviera drained beautifully after three inches of rain, but given the pristine conditioning and benign weather forecast for Sunday, the 72-hole record could be in jeopardy. Players will be playing the ball down for the final 36 holes, speaking to just how well Riviera has drained.

Still, it seems like the early/late side of the draw got a huge advantage weather-wise, Rex Hoggard writes.

The early wave scoring average for Round 2, those who played through the worst of Friday’s tempest, was 72.86 (including just 29 of 72 rounds in the 60s), while the afternoon draw was more than two strokes better with a 70.47 average.

There were several WD's, including Bubba Watson (two holes to go after morning restart), and Bryson DeChambeau (injury). Hoggard reports.

Sahith Theegala has made the cut and the Pepperdine sophmore is getting to play with Phil Mickelson for the final 36 holes. My Golfweek.com story on Theegala.

For leader Johnson, it's another chance to win at Riviera.

From the ShotLink team:

Cameron Tringale with the shot of the day:

 

 

Phil Mickelson with the recovery of the week, by far:

 

 

Friday
Feb172017

Monty's Back! Wouldn't Trade His Career For Tiger's And How Technology Deprived Tiger Of Majors

It wasn't all about Monty. In fact, he said some pretty interesting stuff about the de-skilling of elite level golf due to technology, which was once a concern of the governing bodies (they even put it in writing!).

Speaking to golf.com's Michael Bamberger, who wisely just turned on his tape recorder and let Colin Montgomerie talk. After reminding us repeatedly that he predicted Tiger's success at the 1997 Masters--he was villified!--Monty offered this assessment of technology and Woods.

“What might Woods have done had the game never moved off the balata ball and the wooden wood? Many golf fans would say he would have won less. I believe he would have won far more. He has the 14 majors. Without the equipment changes, I believe he’d have well into his 20s now. Because now everybody has clubs where they can do what he could do.

“Two others lost out hugely to technology. Greg Norman was one. He was the best driver of the ball with the wooden club ever. He lost out when drivers went to metal and suddenly we could do what he did. He lost his asset. And the other was Seve. When Ping developed its L-wedge, with box grooves, we could suddenly do what Seve could do with a 52° club. He lost his asset too. Tiger had all that, in spades. And then we were given equipment that allowed us to do what he could do."

But driving distances are steady, so all is well.

The line that is getting all the attention.

“I never won a major. Tiger won 14. But would I trade my career for Tiger’s? No. I started out this game a pretty good golfer and finished in the Hall of Fame. I feel I have overachieved. So how could I say I wish it were better? People will say, `Well, he didn’t win a major.’ And, yes, I would have liked to shut them up by winning one. But that’s my only regret, really. Great that I have won senior majors, which has quieted the odd person.

Odd, indeed.

Thursday
Feb162017

"Are pro golfers losing their longevity?"

That's the topic tackled by the WSJ's Brian Costa in light of injuries to top players, huge purses, wraparound calendars and signs that we may see shorter runs by tour players.

After setting up the premise, Costa includes this:

Of course, no one wants to end up exactly like Woods, no matter how many tournaments they win along the way. His present is painful and his future appears increasingly bleak. And there are plenty of ways today’s stars can avoid the same fate.

Day said he is making a slight swing change this year that will make it easier on his back even if it is likely to cost him a few yards off the tee. Players are becoming ever smarter about the way they approach fitness. And if more of them break down at earlier ages, their peers can draw lessons from that.

“If these guys only have 10-year careers, that will be more learning for golf,” said 2006 U.S. Open champion Geoff Ogilvy. But if they have 20-year careers, that might well be enough for some of them.

Thomas Pieters, a 25-year-old Belgian who is one of golf’s rising stars, said for as much as he wants to win major championships now, he wants to do something else by the time he is in his mid-40s. He has thought about joining some of his friends in the real estate business one day.

“There is more to life than golf,” he said.

Thursday
Feb162017

Fog Lifts, Riviera Gets Lit Up, And Now Here Comes The Storm

Riviera's never been in better condition and the players took advantage of the perfection on a windless, beautiful day for golf. A staggering 73 players were under par when play was suspended.

Following a 75-minute fog delay, play resumes Friday at 7:10 am PT but an expected storm may cut play short in Genesis Open round two.

The first tee view when fog persisted after seemingly moving out:


Sam Saunders posted a bogey-free 64 and did something his grandfather never could: dominate Riviera.

Nice Tweeted photo by the Genesis account of Arnold Palmer and Sam Saunders teeing off on the first decades apart.

Billy Hurley (67) is grappling with many emotions after releasing a letter to his late father.

Here is Hurley's Players Tribune piece.

Phil Mickelson hasn't lost a step on Riviera's greens after a three year hiatus from LA, also posting 67 despite an un-Phil-like day with his irons (10 of 18 greens).

Sergio Garcia nailed a cameraman with his 8th hole tee shot.

Dustin Johnson was stung by a bee on the first green and because he can all but sleep walk his way around Riviera at this point and still break par, Johnson posted a 66 (Rex Hoggard reports).

Kevin Hall struggled in round one but as Ben Everill notes, he still inspired.

PGATour.com's round one slideshow.

Thursday
Feb162017

Oops: "Neglected" Rio Olympic Course Actually Looks Perfect!

Reuters' Gabriela Milian files a report on the Rio venues falling apart, with this piece focusing on aerial shots.

Reinforcing that the minimalist, sustainable maintenance aesthetic intended for the course may not be everyone's cup of tea, the January 15th, 2017 actually shows the course looking...perfect!

Milian wrote:

"The sweeping Olympic golf course has also been neglected."

Wednesday
Feb152017

Euro Tour Chief Wants Thursday-Friday "Payoff"

Alan Shipnuck talks to European Tour Chief Keith Pelley and commissioner Elton is questioned about his eyeglasses and other fun stuff, but it's his comment on Thursday-Friday play that intrigued me.

The "payoff" quote:

"Because in the way that people live their lives, they want immediate gratification," he continued. "They want to be able to get immediate results. And they want to follow things that are meaningful, because there is such a saturation of content. Our Thursday-Fridays are not as meaningful as they need to be. Yes, they position you for the weekend, but there is no result. There is no payoff at the end of Thursday or Friday. So what I'm turning our attention to internally is what are we going to do in 2018 to address Thursday-Friday? Because we need more engagement. We need higher ratings. I think that is a worldwide challenge for every tour. You're the only person I've ever said that to."

Lucky Alan! His poor staff.

This is the nature of a golf tournament, unless the formats create more volatility. Can't wait to see what they come up with!

Wednesday
Feb152017

USGA & R&A Declare Distance Gains Not Happening, And Positively No One Is Taking Them Seriously At This Point

These kids today? So cynical!

I remember the good old days when the USGA and R&A would dump one of their heaping piles of horse manure on our laps and it would be me, a few architects and the late, great Frank Hannigan calling them out. Well, thankfully while I was busy chasing some fun stories around Riviera today, others gave away time they'll never get back in their lives to point out just how absurd our governing bodies' latest report appears.

Before we get there, For Immediate Release:

USGA and The R&A Publish Research on Driving Distance in Golf

FAR HILLS, N.J. and ST. ANDREWS, SCOTLAND (February 15, 2017) -  The USGA and The R&A have published their annual review of driving distance, a research document that reports important findings on driving distance in golf.

Introduced last year, the review examines driving distance data from seven of the major professional golf tours, based on approximately 285,000 drives per year. Data from studies of male and female amateur golfers has also been included for the first time.

Key facts noted in the paper include:

Between 2003 and the end of the 2016 season, average driving distance on five of the seven tours has increased by approximately 1.2%, around 0.2 yards per year.

For the same time period, average driving distance on the other two tours studied decreased by approximately 1.5%.

Looking at all of the players who are ranked for distance on the PGA TOUR and PGA European Tour, the amount by which players are “long” or “short” has not changed – for instance, since 2003 the 10 shortest players in that group are about 6% shorter than average, while the 10 longest players in the group are about 7% longer than average. The statistics are not skewed toward either longer or shorter players.

The average launch conditions on the PGA TOUR – clubhead speed, launch angle, ball speed and ball backspin – have been relatively stable since 2007. The 90th-percentile clubhead speed coupled with the average launch angle and spin rate are very close to the conditions that The R&A and the USGA, golf’s governing bodies, use to test golf balls under the Overall Distance Standard.

Mike Davis, executive director/CEO of the USGA, said, “We appreciate the collaboration we have received, industry-wide, to access and review this data to benefit the entire golf community, which can be used to both educate golfers and advance the game.”

Martin Slumbers, chief executive of The R&A, said, “In the interests of good governance and transparency it is important that we continue to provide reliable data and facts about driving distance in golf.

“Driving distance remains a topic of discussion within the game and the review provides accurate data to help inform the debate.”

Furthermore, Governor William J. Lepotomane chimed in: "Gentleman, this study is the finest of its kind ever published!"

Now, I write to you from Riviera where, when I started hitting balls on the driving range tee in the late 80s, a 10-12 foot fence was in place. Then it went to 40 or so feet in the 90s, 80 feet in the 2000's and since 2012, for the PGA Tour's annual February visit, a special extension is added to raise the driving range fence to 120 feet.

The same fence extension will be needed this August when the U.S. Amateur comes to Riviera. Here's guessing the USGA would not appreciate an invoice to cover the cost of installing a temporary addition since, after all, today's report says recent distance gains are a figment of our imagination.

Reading today's report, GolfChannel.com's Will Gray writes more presciently than he probably realizes given that the USGA leans so hard on its outside PR firms to spin certain news:

As any PR firm can attest, statistics are a versatile tool. Choose the right data points, frame the right time period, and you can quantify support for nearly any argument. Such is the case with this study, the second in as many years released by the game’s governing bodies and one that simply continues to miss the point.

And I enjoyed this key point by Gray:

The study’s data focuses not on distance outliers, but instead on the large swath in the middle where, for the PGA Tour, the average drive reportedly lingers around 290 yards. But those top-end outliers have become increasingly noticeable in recent years as more and more marquee players launch towering drives.

A whopping 27 players cracked the 300-yard average last season on Tour, 15 more than the 2010 season and 18 more than in 2003. Individual drives over 300 yards, which made up just 26.56 percent of tee shots in 2003, accounted for 31.14 percent last season.

Then there’s Rory McIlroy tweeting out other-worldly Trackman data, Dustin Johnson bending Oakmont to his will and Henrik Stenson lifting the claret jug by relying not on his driver, but instead his trusty 3-wood.

And don’t forget about Ariya Jutanugarn, who powered her way to LPGA Player of the Year honors while barely touching her driver in 2016, mostly hitting 2-irons off the tee.

Those are data points that the study fails to address, although the findings insist that PGA Tour players hit driver on “measured” driving holes more than 95 percent of the time last year.

James Hahn even took to Twitter to agree:

Rex Hoggard talked to players and equipment reps at Riviera and noted the skepticism about the USGA/R&A launch conditions take.

According to multiple equipment representatives from various companies, the average golf ball spin for a driver on Tour is down about 500 rpm from ’03, while the average launch on drives is up between 2 and 4 degrees. Without getting lost in the science of the golf swing and new technology, lower spin and higher launch means more distance and it’s the players with the highest clubhead speed that enjoy the greatest benefit from this evolution.

Put another way, more clubhead speed is the byproduct of better athletes, not better equipment, and modern technology can be maximized for these players, which at least partially explains why the number of players averaging 300-plus yard drivers has tripled since 2003.

“You have kids like Justin Thomas who are using their bodies in ways that we weren’t taught and they swing for pure distance with their drivers,” said Johnson Wagner, who only half-jokingly refers to himself as a “dinosaur.”

“I think it’s working out, it’s launch monitors, it’s coaching. I don’t think it’s equipment; the clubs are what they are and have been for the last 10 years. It’s just everything and there’s nothing you can do.”

Oh don't be so sure!

Wednesday
Feb152017

Take A Few Minutes To Watch Kevin Hall's Press Conference

Hopefully you've become acquainted with the basics of his story, but if you haven't I give a Golfweek.com overview of Sifford exemptee Kevin Hall's Genesis Open debut and press conference. The deaf-since-2 pro golfer's personality was on full display in his pre-tournament press conference. It had to be one of my top 5 favorite press conferences ever. What an inspiration.

Jason Sobel on Hall's infectious ways:

"We enjoy watching Kevin compete," his mother said. "We enjoy watching him overcome the hearing loss. We enjoy watching him not let that be a handicap. He was taught to just use that as a positive and use it the best you can. He's never allowed deafness to stop him."

She calls her son's sense of humor "second to none," and if his laughter that penetrated the interview room throughout his answers didn't prove it, then some of his stories should.

Carve out a few minutes to watch Kevin Hall's press conference posted by PGATour.com.

And nice work by PGATour.com to dig up Kevin's 2005 profile that earned an Emmy:

Wednesday
Feb152017

Preview And Quick Roundup, 2017 Genesis Open

The tournament formerly known as the Los Angeles Glen Campbell Presented by Nissan Northern Trust Open kicks off with a new sponsor, new identity and same old classic course. Riviera, though mildly defaced by a few too many plastic surgeries, remains a stellar test and fantastic venue.

The forecast remains bleak but we'll just wait and see. In the meantime, the strongest field in recent memory has assembled to tackle a perfectly-groomed course. So sit back and enjoy!

A few pre-tournament stories and videos:

Tournament favorite Jordan Spieth revealed that players are watching him to figure out the mystery of putting poa annua greens. Wes Bryan even Tweeted some video as part of his research.

Thomas Pieters returns to the site of his 2012 NCAA Individual title and kicks off a PGA Tour portion to his 2017 schedule.

Lost ball rough has been added on the ninth hole to prevent players who are said to not be hitting the ball longer from bombing and gouging. I report for Golf Central:

Tournament host Tiger Woods cancelled his press conference but is in LA. Jason Sobel tries to read into the latest matter.

In lieu of Tiger regaling us with stories today, here is my chat with him from media day a few weeks ago about the change in touranment operations to his TGR Ventures and foundation.



Michael Shamburger with a swell round up of TV Times, key tee times and odds. The main TV times here:

CBS coverage (ET):

Saturday and Sunday: (3:00–6:00 PM, ET and 3:00-6:30 PM, ET)

Golf Channel coverage (ET):
 
Thursday         2-6 p.m. (Live) / 7-11 p.m. (Replay)
Friday              2-6 p.m. (Live) / 7-11 p.m. (Replay)
Saturday          1-2:30 p.m. (Live) / 7-9 p.m. (Replay)
Sunday            1-2:30 p.m. (Live) / 7:30 p.m.-12:30 a.m. (Replay)
 
Golf Central Pre and Post Round Coverage on Golf Channel (Eastern):
Thursday         1:30-2 p.m. (Live) / 6-7 p.m. (Live)
Friday              1:30-2 p.m. (Live) / 6-7 p.m. (Live)
Saturday          Noon-1 p.m. (Live) / 6-7 p.m. (Live)
Sunday            Noon-1 p.m. (Live) / 6:30-7:30 p.m. (Live)

My first ever Golfweek video preview:

Wednesday
Feb152017

Video: Dissecting Riviera's 10th From Right Of The Green

It's that time of year again: Riviera's 10th becomes a huge focus at the Genesis Open and for good reason. With PGA Tour Live coverage on top of four hours of first and second round coverage on Golf Channel, there should be plenty of opportunity to see this great hole in action.

Zac Blair has shared his thoughts on the hole and George Thomas's work for PGATour.com. Including this:

If your tee ball is not placed down the far left hand side of the hole, your angle into the green forces you to play towards the middle of the putting surface. This green is extremely shallow, and tilted from right-to-left, so it makes it almost impossible to attack the back hole locations (even for the best players on the planet) if the lay-up is hit anywhere right of center.

Thomas’ creativity makes it easy to remember each and every hole at his masterpieces, which include three of Los Angeles’ top courses: Los Angeles Country, Bel Air Country Club and Riviera, as well as Whitemarsh Valley in Lafayette Hill, Pennsylvania. The 10th hole is just one example of his genius, and still challenges TOUR players today.

David Dusek crunched the recent numbers at ten and the trends are interesting.

Yesterday I went out to the hole and tossed golf balls Nobilo style to show what happens when a player misses right. Here's the Golf Central video:

Wednesday
Feb152017

Hats Are In The Mail! USGA Denies Report of Membership Program's Demise

Entering its 42nd year, the USGA members program once formed a strong bond between golfers, the Rules Of Golf and the best traditions of the sport. Plus, it gave us some stellar address labels and notepads.

However since the closure of Golf Journal magazine twelve years ago, there has been a gradual eroding of golfer-USGA relations in part because, well, how many US Open hats can one get excited about? In recent years, members have enjoyed some cool-on-site perks at the US Open.

But according to MorningRead.com's Adam Schupak, the USGA has "disbanded its membership program and created a development initiative aimed at raising $100 million." The USGA, contacted by Schupak, denies the report and says hats are in the mail!

When reached for comment, USGA spokeswoman Janeen Driscoll said, "The USGA has no intention of eliminating the members program," and noted that renewals are out and hats are being mailed to members.

This part of the report was the most depressing given what a shining star this person was for the operation:

A USGA switchboard operator confirmed Tuesday that Fiona Dolan, the USGA's senior director of member programs since 2003, no longer was employed. Sources said another part-time membership position had been eliminated. When contacted by Morning Read, Dolan would not respond to questions.

Tuesday
Feb142017

Tiger Cancels Press Conference Due To On-Going Back Spasms

The Tiger Woods Foundation benefits from the Genesis Open proceeds and his TGR Ventures is running the tournament now.

Woods was scheduled for a Tuesday press conference even after he chose to miss the event due to back spasms. The presser was moved to Wednesday to coincide with appearances on the property related to his Foundation and Woods Jupiter restaurant's satellite location overlooking the 10th hole.

Late Tuesday night, however, the media received this notice:

After receiving daily treatment the last several days on his on-going back spasms, Tiger Woods has again been advised by doctors to limit all activities and will not hold a press conference Wednesday. It will not be rescheduled.

I never quite understood how Woods could appear and answer the inevitable health questions in a way that left anyone feeling good. Still, that his back is keeping him from sitting or popping in on-site takes the latest setback's seriousness to another level.

Tuesday
Feb142017

ShackHouse 27: Riviera Week And John O'Donnell

It's LA week on the PGA Tour so we talk some Riviera, some Spieth at Pebble Beach, some Tiger and to get in the LA golf mode, we interview Johnnie-O founder John O'Donnell fresh off of caddying for brother Chris.

As always, you can subscribe on iTunes and or just refresh your device subscription page. Here is the direct link to this week's show.

Here is The Ringer's show page.

Same deal with Soundcloud for the show, and Episode 27 is here to listen to right now!

As always, ShackHouse is brought to you by Callaway, who have unveiled the new Great Big Bertha Epic driver, Microhinge Technology-fueled Odyssey putters coming to stores this Friday.

And this week, promo code HOUSE employed at CallawayGolf.com for orders over $100 gets you free swag!

Bring your love for golf talk online to the Community where House and I debut a debate this week on the West Coast Swing vs. Florida Swing.

And if our coastal bickering bores you, you can always find out about testing and review products before they are in stores, get custom fitting advice and more at the FREE Community.

Monday
Feb132017

Perth Super 6 And Other Bold Formats: Too Much Too Soon?

Given the conservative nature of golf, I'm slightly concerned about the European Tour's effort to spice things up might a lot for the golf world to take in, as I explained to Damon Hack today on Morning Drive. Will it all just be a bit too much out of the chute?

That said, it's exciting to see outside-the-box thinking with events like the Perth Super 6 this week and May's just-announced GolfSixes outside London. But I'm thinking we could save the pyrotechnics for year...four. Or never.

Alex Noren and Louis Oosthuizen headline the Perth event this week. Here is the format:

After two days of strokeplay qualifying, the leading 65 players and ties qualify for the third round which is typical of most tournament structures. However, it is from that point on things begin to change.

Those players who have made the initial cut on Friday evening are all playing for a place in the final 24 who advance to a knock out match play contest on Sunday.

The leading eight players at the completion of 54 holes earn the right to sit out the opening round on Sunday with the winner of those first round matches advancing to face them in round two in what effectively becomes the round of 16.

Each match is played over six holes with a specially constructed playoff hole to decide tied contests.

Monday
Feb132017

The "Caddyshack" President

Elizabeth Williamson takes President Trump to task for turning the Mar-a-Lago ballroom into the Situation Room so that a response to North Korea's missile test could be sorted out.

As members shared photos of the man charged with carrying the nuclear codes on social media, the President openly discussed a proper response with Japan's prime minister. For this, Williamson invokes the Al Czervik metaphor.

Though President Trump never asked a bartender what time he was due back in Boy's Town or hit on Judge Smails' wife...

One would think leadership of the free world would have scratched Mr. Trump’s itch for publicity. But this is the man who called reporters using a fake name to generate stories about himself; who introduced a member of one of his clubs to a Golf Digest reporter as “the richest guy in Germany,” instead of by name; who looks pained when having to share the podium with anyone, from Sarah Palin to the prime minister of Canada. This is rule by Al Czervik, Rodney Dangerfield’s character in “Caddyshack”: a reckless, clownish boor surrounded by sycophants, determined to blow up all convention. But this is real life, and every time Mr. Trump strikes a pose, the rest of the world holds its breath.

Easy there, Czervik is no boor! Ok, maybe a tad...

 

 

Monday
Feb132017

Video: Kevin Hall, Not Just Any Sponsor Exemption

Kevin Hall is recipient of the annual exemption given to a minority golfer, a spot in the Genesis Open that helped Harold Varner early in his career. Now named after Charlie Sifford (after a dispute had his name removed), Hall is a 34-year-old former Big 10 champion who lost his hearing at age 2.

KCBS 2 in LA filed this excellent feature on Hall. Thanks reader DS.

Monday
Feb132017

Pepperdine's Sahith Theegala Qualifies For Genesis Open!

Three swell things happened Monday at Riviera: Jordan Spieth showed up less than 24 hours after winning the AT&T National Pro-Am to play in the third annual Collegiate Showcase, Pepperdine won the team competition led by Web.com Tour Player Jeff Gove (good for $50,000 to the program), and Pepperdine's Saweeth Theegala won low medalist honors and a spot in this week's Genesis Open.

The Chino Hills sophomore posted a 69 to beat UCLA's Tyler Collier by one.

He spoke to Golf Central following the round.

And he was well supported in the effort: