Twitter: GeoffShac
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There are more "Don'ts" in golf than there are in any other avocation in life.
ARNOLD HAULTAIN


    

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…

 

Sunday
Jun262016

Slugger: USGA Made Right The Call(s), Rule Needs To Change

Ken Willis talks to PGA Tour VP of rules and competitions Slugger White, who says the USGA got the Dustin Johnson penalty right, got the notification of the players correct, and also wishes the rule was changed ASAP. He also says the green speed chase must be evaluated, calling this the "root of the problem".

Willis writes:

“If it had been Thursday, Friday or Saturday, they would’ve met him in the scoring area after his round and taken him to see the video and go from there,” said Slugger. “But in the final round, you have to tell him because he has to know his strategy coming down the stretch. They told every other player in the field about Dustin’s situation, too, which I think was good.”

The underlying issue here is the modern love affair with lightning-fast greens, which invite the inadvertent movement of golf balls that are sitting atop the marble-like surface. There’s been plenty of blow-back on green speeds in the wake of DJ’s high-profile situation, and maybe something good will come out of it, because ridiculous green speeds have hurt golf at all levels.

Unless and until there’s a philosophical shift on green speeds, Slugger would love to see the rule amended again to allow for the replacement of a ball that moves for any reason without being touched.

“I’ve been beating that horse for years,” he said.

It's fascinating how the rules community continues to see a violation while most golfers I've talked to can't see anything close to evidence of Johnson causing the ball to move. Nor can many even make sense of the entire episode more than a week later, other than to express disdain for the rules of golf.

White's comments also contradict the view of most players that the PGA Tour rules staff would have ruled differently.

Michael Bamberger tried to make sense of it all and while he concludes the rules officials did what they had to do, this does not mean it came without consequences.

The movement of the ball had no practical influence on whether Johnson was going to make that short putt or not. But it had the potential to have a profound influence on who won the 116th U.S. Open. It was a perfect storm. It was a study in conflict and conflicting agendas and incomplete evidence. It was, and remains, a mess. The Rules of Golf seek to turn all matters into black-and-white cases. But then real-life oddness raises its head and bedlam ensues. Something made that ball move and someone was going to pay for it. In the end, both the USGA and its newest champion did.

Sunday
Jun262016

Video: Youthful (16 Months) Passion For The Game!

Sam Blewett is 16 months old and will do anything to have a small, white object to whap around.

And at this pace, he may be needed for Team Australia in Rio!


Saturday
Jun252016

IOC Member: No Golf If It Can't Deliver Top Players

Let's reluctantly look past the part where his organization chose Rio over, say, Chicago, putting the entire credibility of the Olympic Games on the line. Especially after Friday's buried lede: the Rio Olympic drug lab has just been suspended by WADA six weeks ahead of the Games.

Duncan Mackay reports that IOC member Barry Maister feels golf should lose its place if it can't guarantee the participation of top players.

"I think it is appalling," Maister, winner of an Olympic gold medal in hockey at Montreal 1976, told New Zealand radio station Newstalk ZB.

"I don't like it and I don't think the sport should be allowed to continue in the Games under that scenario.
"Once they've got in, they have got to deliver.

"Just getting in with your name, and then putting up some second or third rate players, is so far from the Olympic ideal or the expectation of the Olympic Movement."

"The Olympics is about the best, and they pledged the best.

"Quite frankly, any sport that cannot deliver its best athletes, in my view, should not be there."

Any IOC board that can't deliver high expectations for a safe Games may also want to look within before speaking out.

Friday
Jun242016

State Of The Game Podcast 67: Roger Cleveland

The master club designer and collector joines Rod Morri, Mike Clayton and myself to talk about his career in club design, the state of the game and the 2016 U.S. Open.

The show page.

The MP3 version. And of course you can listen below, or subscribe on iTunes.

 

Friday
Jun242016

The Church Pew Bottle Opener Lives On! 

By popular demand, Seamus Golf's Church Pew bottle opener, made in a numbered edition of 145 and sold out early in U.S. Open week, is coming back for more!

Akbar Christi sent out a note to his Seamus golf mailing list today.

You can order here and also see the opener being made here.

We featured the opener last week at GolfDigest.com and on Golf Channel.

Friday
Jun242016

"Oakmont incident inevitable as ruling bodies let golf fly out of control" 

It's both heartening and amazing that the game has reached a point we are seeing the governing bodies taken to task in mainstream publications over their push for green speeds to mask the distance explosion.

Ewan Murray of The Guardian files an excellent must read on the various green speed fiascos we've seen of late, capped off by the Oakmont rules mess that was undoubtedly a product of the speed push.

Murray writes:

Golf’s ruling bodies also opted to ban the anchored putting stroke, and were right to do so, but their sleeping at the wheel for a far more serious equipment issue is a glaring contradiction. It does nothing to douse the argument that manufacturers have too much power. This resonates in junior golf; emerging players do not shape shots – and can’t anyway, given the way balls are constructed – because they have no need to. Blasting it high and long generally, not quite exclusively, is the answer. At members clubs everywhere, sadly, discussions over how to make modifications aimed at offsetting how far the ball now goes are commonplace.

Golfweek's Bradley Klein says "we're facing a crisis in green speeds" and explains how it's not surprising to see a ball like Dustin Johnson's move given the low cutting heights. Noting that the Oakmont crew, which had the course in perfect condition, was merely following orders, Klein writes:

At those speeds, we have approached an end point in what is humanly controllable.

At most courses, players who demand faster green speeds are not playing by the Rules of Golf. Most golfers cannot handle speeds of 11 or more.

What the USGA confronted cannot be understood simply as a rules violation. It’s an asymptotic moment in the evolution of green speeds. We have reached the end of the green-speeds arms race.

Friday
Jun242016

"Sorry, USGA, Apology Not Accepted"

The furor refuses to subside...

Gary Van Sickle says "the eyeball test and the weight of the evidence says" the still "got it wrong, wrong, wrong" in his at golf.com column summing up the continued furor over Dustin Johnson penalty.

Johnson was sure he did not cause the ball to move. In golf, that’s the end of it. But a couple of guys in a TV booth decided he should be penalized.

Hall and Pagel called Johnson a liar. They didn’t use those words but by assessing a one-shot penalty, they branded him a liar. And Westwood. And the walking rules official.

I don’t believe any of those three are liars. And I don’t see what evidence there was to levy the penalty. Pagel said that if it there was even a 51 percent chance that Johnson might have caused the movement, then a penalty must be assessed.

Fifty-one percent? There is no such thing. That’s like being 51 percent pregnant. You either are or you aren’t.

Thursday
Jun232016

Irish Olympians Criticize McIlroy Over Olympic WD

Luke Byrne reports for the Independent on Irish athletes criticizing Rory McIlroy in a variety of tones for passing up his Olympic opportunity over the Zika virus.

Irish Olympic sailor Annalise Murphy said making it to the games to represent her country was her dream and she was unconcerned about the Zika virus.

Murphy, who will represent Ireland in the laser radial event, pointed out the Olympics are taking place in the middle of winter in Rio - when there will be fewer mosquitoes.

"I've been in Rio four times in the last seven months. There are not that many mosquitoes in the city.

"The Olympics are in August, which is the middle of winter for Rio. The Zika virus is not really a concern for me," she said.

"The Olympics are my dream, I've been working the last few years of my life for this. Most athletes would be the same," she said.

Boxer Darren O'Neill, who just lost out on a team berth, was even more brutal in his assessment.

We discussed the news on Golf Central and as I noted, McIlroy's interest in being a world ambassador had to make his decision more difficult.

Thursday
Jun232016

Scottish Golf Time! Pound Falls Against The Dollar

Since Scotland overwhelmingly supported remaining in the EU and now are suffering a 10% (at least) decline in the value of the pound against the dollar, I can think of only one way to support the Scots: book a golf trip!

The Scotland Golf Travel page and podcast run by Ru Macdonald is a fine place to start, as are Graylyn Loomis' itinerary suggestions.

Thursday
Jun232016

Terrible Flooding At The Greenbrier

Ryan Ballengee at GolfNewsNet with the details of terrible flooding at The Greenbrier resort, where the PGA Tour is headed in less than two weeks for its ow-annual stop.

The resort's owner is not concerned with the status of the resort as West Virginian's battle with life-threatening matters caused by the rains.

“It’s like nothing I’ve seen,” said Greenbrier owner Jim Justice in a Thursday statement. “But our focus right now isn’t on the property, the golf course or anything else. We’re praying for the people and doing everything we can to get them the help they need.”

Greenbrier resident Bubba Watson Tweeted this video:

Thursday
Jun232016

Dottie: USGA, Stop Messing With U.S. Open Courses

Of course we all know the reason the USGA has to meddle, massage, tinker and push its U.S. Open venues to the brink. But it's enjoyable to see so many people becoming aware of why it's happening: they've lost control of distance and it's the last resort.

Dottie Pepper at ESPN.com lays out the various steps the organization has taken in recent years to emasculate venues, and she's seen enough.

If the new mantra is being "innovative," why not be truly innovative and stop messing with these courses? Move the tees back to the tips, let mother nature dictate the condition of play (we don't play golf in a dome after all) and let a four-day slugfest produce a winner.

People aren't glued to the World Series, NBA Finals or Super Bowl to watch the referees or hear the messaging about changes to the field of play and its sustainability. What's not sustainable is 150 plus superintendents keeping Oakmont in form for U.S. Open week.

What is the harm in checking our egos and messaging at the front door and simply letting the best players in the world showcase their talent to identify the champion?

Absolutely nothing.