Twitter: GeoffShac
  • 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

It is my belief that too many American courses are retarded in proper development and improvement by unintelligent although doubtless well-intended criticism and advice from the locker rooms. Without a doubt, there exist more amateur course architects and turf authorities among the members of some of our clubs than there are following these crafts professionally. A.W. TILLINGHAST

 

  

Monday
Oct162017

Hank Likes What He Sees In Tiger's Swing

Tiger shares a swing video featuring driver and his old instructor, Hank Haney, chimed in with a positive review.

That’s a swing he could win with, it’s not across the line and stuck inside coming down, a little stiff looking but it’s good enough

The Tweet in case you don't believe me:


Even better, the cautious approach from agent Mark Steinberg sounds like Team Tiger has learned from past mistakes, offering just enough reason to be optimistic but not committing to a comeback timetable.

From Bob Harig's ESPN.com exclusive on Tiger getting the go-ahead to be a full time golfer again.

"He got a nice report and is allowed to proceed," Steinberg said. "He can do as much as he needs to do. Tiger is going to take this very, very slowly. This is good, but he plans to do it the right way."

We discussed on Morning Drive that the signs point to all positives, but I understand, we've seen this movie before. However, the rhythm and audacity to post clips suggests this is a different.

Monday
Oct162017

Wanda Group Courses Declared Illegal By Chinese Government

Gabriel Wildau reports for the Financial Times on the Chinese government has declared "illegal" two golf courses owned by the powerful Dalian Wanda Group.

The FT storys says this is part of "a campaign against luxury and waste ahead of a Communist party gathering that begins in Beijing this week" and continues the trend of high profile attacks on golf in China. Given the Wanda Group's international standing, even if the move is targeting the group for non-golf reasons, it appears to be yet another blow for the game in China.

The move is a blow to Wanda’s tourism and entertainment ambitions as the group seeks to diversify from shopping malls. The government of Fusong county in China’s northeastern province of Jilin has revoked permission for the two courses there, according to a notice dated October 1 seen by the Financial Times.

Wanda is one of a group of privately owned conglomerates, including HNA Group, Anbang Insurance Group, and Fosun International, that have come under scrutiny in recent months, with a particular focus on their overseas acquisitions. Wanda chairman Wang Jianlin tumbled from his position as China’s richest man, according to the country’s best-known rich list released last week, falling to fifth place in this year’s Hurun ranking.

The ChangBaishan International Resort facilities cited include one 18-hole Jack Nicklaus course and 36-holes of Robert Trent Jones designed golf. Also on site are several thousand hotel rooms, including a Sheraton, Hyatt, Westin and Holiday Inn(s).

Golf photographer Patrick Lim kindly shared some images he shot of the courses and facilities, which I think better illustrates the significance of the closures.




Monday
Oct162017

U.S. Women's Mid-Am Needs Volunteers At Champions GC

With the U.S. Women's Mid-Amateur moved to Champions in Houston after hurricane Irma caused damage at the original venue (Quail Creek in Florida), the short-notice move requires volunteers.

For those in the Houston area, it's a great chance to hang out at legendary facility and help an amateur event and the Texas Golf Association, which is helping take on some of the responsibilities for the event November 9-16th could use volunteers.

Here is their Tweet and the link to their registration page.

Monday
Oct162017

Chairman Ridley On Distance: “We’re interested in that issue"

While not kicking the door wide open or sharing his views, it sounds like new Augusta National Chairman Fred Ridley isn't quite shying away from the issue either.

From Doug Ferguson's AP interview with Ridley discussing several topics related to The Masters.

He also was reserved about how the club felt about the distance the modern professional is hitting the golf ball, referring only to a good relationship with golf’s two governing bodies, the USGA and the Royal & Ancient.

“We’re interested in that issue,” he said. “It’s not my place to talk about what’s good and not good for the game. I might have opinions, but I’m not the person to talk about it. What I can talk about is what’s good for Augusta National and our golf course. Going back to the guiding principles, again, I believe that the philosophies that Jones and (Alister) MacKenzie established here are timeless.”

His predecessor, now-Chairman Emeritus Billy Payne, never seemed entirely comfortable talking about the impact on the course. It seems reasonable to surmise, however, that no one at Augusta National is pleased to have fairways mown toward tees and to be spending more money on possible back tees locations. But what will they do?

I also thought this was of note (and admirable) related to the 2004 U.S. Open at Shinnecock...

He was not directly in charge of the golf course, but “I was the president, so the buck stops there.”

Monday
Oct162017

Welcome Statement From New Masters Chairman Ridley

A new era in Augusta begins today as Fred Ridley becomes seventh chairman of Augusta National Golf Club and The Masters:

Sunday
Oct152017

Tiger Up To The Driver: "Making Progress"

Someone is feeling pretty good about himself these days! The swing rhythm is especially nice, as is the length of the backswing. Even better, someone has the itch again!

Great to see:

Making Progress

A post shared by Tiger Woods (@tigerwoods) on

Sunday
Oct152017

Tillie's Belmont Design Could Be A Gem, Quick-Fix Renovation Needs To Be Reconsidered

Excellent work by Andy Johnson at TheFriedEgg.com for shining a light on the potential to restore an affordable A.W. Tillinghast design in Richmond, Virginia that hosted the 1949 PGA Championship.

While it's hard to know all of the particulars of the current plans, existing design bones and operational details, the County of Henrico appears to have money to spend and to do so by a deadline. Architect Jerry Lemons will be supervising this work, and while there are no doubt many improvements that would come from the money spent at a course not getting kind reviews for its bunkers, the success of so many restorations makes it hard not to wonder if a Tillinghast deserves more attention to detail?

The scope accoring to an Request For Proposal that went out in August:

1. Remove and renovate the existing seventy-two (72) sand bunkers on the 18-Hole golf course.
2. Reconstruct fifty-eight (58) of the existing sand bunkers throughout the course including removal of existing materials, reshaping of all bunker cavities, the replacement of all materials and grassing.
3. Add one (1) bunker on hole #16.
4. Remove fourteen (14) existing bunkers including removal of existing materials, filling in existing cavity, grading and shaping, and grassing.
5. Installing sub-surface drain lines in all sand bunker cavities.
6. Supporting construction activities required to complete the Work to include: demolition work, tree removal, earthwork/excess dirt removal, and compliance with the erosion and sediment control requirements.

The County's RFP also contained a specified bunkering lining product even there there are many out there. This is not typically a sign of going into a project with an open mind:

The Contractor may subcontract with a qualified, licensed Better Billy Bunker certified installer who will be responsible for the application of the Better Billy Bunker manufactured Bunker Liner ST410 Polymer.

Again, there are many elements here with cost and timing and red tape we need to learn more about, but as Johnson passionately argues, this is an incredible opportunity to give public golfers access to great architecture and to create a more valuable, important piece of design in the greater Richmond area.

Reader Andy from Richmond shared this view upon seeing Johnson's post:

I play Belmont a few times a year and have dreamt many times about its resurrection. And the history....this golf course is historically important to golf not only in VA but in US.

If you would like to see the County take more time and spending their money to bring back more Tillinghast, you can voice your views here: recandparks@henrico.us

Saturday
Oct142017

Change Of Policy? Grayson Murray Tantrum Shared On PGA Tour Social

Unlike other sports leagues the PGA Tour has resisted sharing absurd athlete behavior for obvious reasons: theirs is a business built on players behaving like gentleman.

So whether this is a change in policy or just a share because it involves the troublesome Grayson Murray or was simply the posting of a bored overnight shift stuck trying to find the CIMB Classic, is yet to be determined.

But the post was a nice tie-in to the baseball playoffs...not so nice for the green where Grayson dug in his shoe soles:

If the @yankees, @astrosbaseball, @cubs or @dodgers need another arm in the bullpen...

A post shared by PGA TOUR (@pgatour) on




Saturday
Oct142017

Mid-Am Winner Back At The Fire Station Within Hours Of Win

Nice work by Golf.com's Dylan Dethier to interview and report on 30-year-old U.S. Mid-Amateur Champion Matt Parziale just hours after arriving home following a win that will send him to the Masters and U.S. Open.

Detheier writes:

Parziale, 30, had taken time off from his full-time job in the Brockton, Massachusetts Fire Department to play this week's U.S. Mid-Am. He'd played in the event three times before, but had never won a match. This time, he won them all.

"Oh, gosh, that'll be a good problem to have, I think," Parziale said when asked how he might work major championships in among his regular shifts. "None of that has sunk in, and everything is such a blur right now. I was trying to go through my phone, and everyone has just been so supportive, reaching out, following along, it's really been incredible."

This will also be fun come Masters and U.S. Open time:

Parziale's father, Vic, is a member of the Brockton Fire Department, too. But he was in Atlanta caddying for his son. He, too, may need to find some time in his schedule for bigger gigs next season.

Friday
Oct132017

Flashback, Tiger On Distance: "There's different ways you can get around it so that we're all playing under certain speed limits."

In Sunday's Irish Independent, Dermot Gilleece took an entertaining look at the golf ball, considering its role in the game as a precious piece of equipment compared to other sports.

He was inspired by comments from Rory McIlroy during last week's Alfred Dunhill Championship at St. Andrews to revisit the idea of a tournament ball and recounted this exchange with Tiger Woods.

The comments were from the 2004 American Express Championship at Mount Juliet.

DG: "Would you be prepared to play with an official tournament ball designated for each event?"

TW: "What do you mean by 'tournament ball'? Do you mean with the same spin rate, same launch angle, hover, same speed of core?"

DG: "I mean a uniform golf ball that would be the same for everybody."

TW: "So everybody plays with the same spinning golf ball?"

DG: "Same golf ball."

TW: "I don't think that would be right because there's too many guys have different games and different types of swing. But I think you should put a limit on the speed of a golf ball, the spin-rate of a golf ball. You can increase the spin of the golf ball and make it so that we don't hit the ball as far. You can decrease the speed of the core. There's different ways you can get around it so that we're all playing under certain speed limits. Hopefully that will be the answer to a lot of the problems that we're having with golf course design around the world."

That was 2004!

As an aside to the speed limit comment, check out the shift in LPGA Tour leading driving distances from 2002 to 2017. While about a 10 yard limit, there is nothing going on like we're seeing in the men's game where optimization of launch conditions suggests gains are being made by top men that are out of proportion with gains the rest of the sport has enjoyed:

2002:

2017:

Thursday
Oct122017

Annika On Design Career: "Tougher than I thought."

The legendary Annika Sorenstam made some interesting comments about her golf course design career's lack of trajectory to CNN Living's Shane O'Donoghue.

Bunkered Golf Magazine links to the interview and paraphrases, but in essence she senses that as a woman clients just assume she'll build "short and easy". Besides the shame of assuming one gender builds short and easy, it's a reminder how many awful developments were built on the premise of championship and tough. If only golf had more "short and easy."

“Being a female, when they throw my name in the ring as a designer candidate a lot of times they say, ‘Oh, well then this course will be short and easy’.

“I don't know where it comes from. I think they just have that predetermined notion of women designing shorter courses, and that's not really what comes to my mind.

“I consider myself, of course a female, but I'm also a golfer and I feel like I can play any golf course out there and I guess maybe my defensive mechanism is, 'Hey, I'd play you anywhere, anytime and then we can go from there’.”

Thursday
Oct122017

"Desimone battles cancer and fights for Cal Golf"

Ryan Lavner of GolfChannel.com catches up with longtime Cal golf coach Steve Desimone who explains why he left coaching when he did, what's done to fight cancer, and his effort to endow the golf program.

Given Cal's propensity to drop men's sports programs, the endowment is probably a great idea. Even better is hear Desimone has battled cancer successfully.

When Desimone started at Cal, he had three goals: win a national title; create a facility for the team; and ensure Cal Golf in perpetuity through an endowment. He accomplished the first two objectives. He and the committee hoped to finish the last part before he retired, but the cancer diagnosis understandably derailed their progress.
They’re roughly $2.5 million short of their $12 million endowment goal, at which point the interest would kick in enough to fully fund the program. That would take some of the fundraising pressure off Chun and the committee, but more importantly it would ensure that the program – that Desimone’s life’s work – remains untouched.

It’s the final task of Desimone’s storied Cal career, and he has worn himself down trying to finish it. He wants closure.

Thursday
Oct122017

U.S. Mid-Amateur: "Firefighter Parziale Faces Wedding Caterer Nichols in Final"

Brian DePasquale previews the U.S. Mid-Amateur final where a USGA trophy named after Bobby Jones, a Masters invite and a U.S. Open exemption are on the line.

No manager's of family trusts in this final...

Matt Parziale, a firefighter from Brockton, Mass., and Josh Nichols, a wedding caterer from Kernersville, N.C., each won quarterfinal and semifinal matches Thursday to advance to Friday’s 36-hole final match of the 2017 U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship. The final is scheduled to begin at 8 a.m. EDT and will be held on the par-70, 7,207-yard Capital City Club’s Crabapple Course.

For more coverage of the finals check out the official U.S. Mid-Amateur site.

Thursday
Oct122017

2016-17 PGA Tour Distance Average Up 2.5 Yards To 292.5

One key crime of the wraparound: not getting to disgest, analyze and celebrate the many fun stats produced by the players and documented by the ShotLink system.

Thanks to the crack crew at ShotLink I just started looking over the 2016-17 stats as we roll into week two of 2017-18. Naturally, I went to the distance numbers first and the overall average spiked from last year's 290.0 number.

I'm fairly certain the 292.5 yard average for 2016-17 makes it a record year, proving yet again that core work and heavy use of foam rollers can pay dividends.

All drives in '16-17 averaged 285.1, but the records do not go back as far to put that number into perspective.

(Just a reminder here that the USGA and R&A Joint Statement of Principles was issued in 2002 suggesting  significant increases would set off alarm bells. The PGA Tour Driving Distance average in 2002 was 279.5 yards, meaning a 13-yard increase since then.)

As for 2016-17...check out the interval chart:

Note that 43 players averaged over 300 yards, compared to 27 in 2015-16. That's also a new high mark for 300+ average. Just one player (John Daly) averaged over 300 yards in 2002 when the Statement of Principles was issued.

Do I need to keep going?

Wednesday
Oct112017

They're Playing Pro Golf At The Rio Olympic Course And It Looks A Lot Better Than Abandoned!

Declared abandoned, in disrepair, unsustainable and many other things thanks to its rustic appearance or lack of suitable activity in one opponent's eyes, the Rio Olympic golf course hosts the PGA Tour Latinoamerica this week.

The 64th playing of the Aberto do Brasil is the 13th of 18 PGA Tour Latinoamerica events and includes several intriguing players, including the world's top-ranked amateur last year, Joaquin Niemann.

The list of past champions includes Sam Snead, Billy Casper, Gary Player, Raymond Floyd, Hale Irwin Roberto De Vicenzo.

Players have been Tweeting, including these from Tee-k Kelly (thanks Jeremy Schilling for spotting):

They're still trying to drive near the 9th green and the condos are completed:

Aberto do Brasil 🇧🇷 #pgatourla

A post shared by Rodo Cazaubon (@rodocazaubon) on

 

And the wildlife is still sensational:

Wednesday
Oct112017

Lindsey Graham Digging In On The 73 (Or Maybe 74) Claim

Michael Bamberger spent 33-minutes on the phone with Senator Lindsey Graham, who apparently had nothing else better to do than review claims of POTUS Donald Trump nearly shooting his age.

Graham says there wasn't a mulligan, only one birdie, one or two bogeys and mostly pars despite playing Trump National Washington at a yardage similar to the Senior PGA Championship setup in May.

"On the front nine, he shot even par," Graham said. "I shot a 41, which is good for me. He hit almost every fairway. He had seven Hogans, driving it on the fairway, hitting it on the green. On the back nine, he was one over, two over at the most. He had one birdie on the back, and just really hit the ball well. On the front, he made four 10- to 12-footers for par. That's what got him to shoot even-par on the front. He missed a four-foot birdie putt. He could easily have been one under."

Golf Magazine posted this video of the President chipping during the round. Nice to see everyone holding still while the leader of the free world is playing!

 

 

Compact!

FYI those wagering with Graham on the course or hoping to see a post-round gratuity, you know, for the effort...

Graham is sticking by his claim of 73 for the president—or 74. At the end of the round, he owed the president $30, but had only $5 with him, which the president accepted.

Wednesday
Oct112017

Shark Announces "One-Time" Return To Golf, Comparisons To Hogan's Comeback To Never Begin

Nothing conjures up images of Ben Hogan's return following the accident like a big time, one-off comeback. Well, that is, until you hear it's the retired (who knew?) Greg Norman returning to the PNC Father-Son.

I'll let the goosebumps subside before we continue.

Note the matching Shark-branded workout shirts for the big video announcement that was cut with some slick 1986 music and production touches. Think Magnum PI meets Body by Jake:

Excited to make a one-time return to professional golf with my son @gregnormanjr - see you at the @pncfatherson

A post shared by Greg Norman (@shark_gregnorman) on Oct 9, 2017 at 5:28pm PDT

 

Wednesday
Oct112017

Diaz On The Lure Of Short One-Shotter And Par-3 Courses

With the short, risk-reward par-5 almost impossible design, the short par-4 has become the go-to for those still craving strategic holes. But closing fast on the must list of even the most novice design critics is a short par-3. Even better, the tough sell that was recommending a par-3 course to a developer has become an easy sell.

All of these issues are considered by a par-3 course golfing descendant, Jaime Diaz, who uses Pinehurst's new par-3 to hit a number of short par-3 angles for Golf World.

The Cradle follows a trend of alternative course openings in 2017, with the new Jordan Spieth-backed six-hole course at the University of Texas, Tom Doak’s 12-hole par 3 at Ballyneal, and Dan Hixson nine-hole pitch-and-putt at Silvies Valley Ranch.

You may note a bias toward par 3s in my commentary. Like a lot of guys my age, my first rounds were on scruffy short courses, in my case the Fleming Nine at Harding Park and Golden Gate G.C., both in San Francisco, both enduring jewels from the city’s golfing heyday.

I’ve also seen a big appetite for pitch-and-putts overseas. They can be found in a bunch of little towns in Ireland, usually teeming with an informally dressed crowd whose members tend to nonchalantly pull off very useful bump and runs. And when the Open was held at Muirfield in 2013, the so-called children’s course next to the west course at North Berwick was a big hit with visiting American pros and their families.

To me, a good par-3 course works on many levels besides just the price and the pace. A little funkiness in design and even conditioning is a plus, as the capriciousness invites improvisation. The mood should be informal and promote a hint of relaxed raucousness.

Sure, the American hunger for optimization has started a trend toward par 3s for the golfer who has everything. Such courses can be pricey, too penal to avoid slow play, and over spectacular topography that isn’t ideal for walking. There have been a few such creations.

But done right, a high end par 3 can become destination golf.

Wednesday
Oct112017

"Storm brews between players, LPGA Tour over transparency"

Reading Beth Ann Nichol's Golfweek story on players fuming at the LPGA Tour over recent weather delays and non-delays, the short term discussion of 54 vs. 72 holes isn't as eye-opening as the obvious loss of faith in leadership.

Nichols writes:

Player president Vicki Goetze-Ackerman has fielded plenty of calls from players in the past week. Some feel they can’t talk publicly about the issues.

“I feel like there is a gag order on this tour,” one veteran player said.

Goetze-Ackerman said “the big thing” she has gotten from players is the issue of safety.

“They should never feel like they’re unsafe,” Goetze-Ackerman said. “That’s something we need to address as an organization.”

Fans also put in harm's way would agree!

Tuesday
Oct102017

Nice Review Of Goat Hill Golf

Laz Versalles gives Oceanside's Goat Hill a nice, in-depth review now that we're well into its resurrection by John Ashworth and friends.

Check it out at GolfClubAtlas.com.