Twitter: GeoffShac
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Ah, Pebble! Murder in your heart, dagger in your teeth. Refugee from a King's noose. Heartless wretch. Scourge of the coasts of golf.  Robert Louis Stevenson would love you. You should wear a cocked hat, a peg leg, a parrot on your shoulder and be wanted by every captain of a golf club in the world. You are 7,000 yards of malice. I love every tuft of unnavigable rough, sand trap, par-three with the ocean on the left and rear. I love every rotten ocean carry you put up.
JIM MURRAY

 

    

Sunday
Feb142016

Flashback: Scalia's Dissenting Opinion In PGA Tour v. Martin

The late Supreme Court Justice, who died in his sleep while on a Texas hunting trip, dissented along with Clarence Thomas against Casey Martin in his battle with the PGA Tour over cart usage. The rest of the court voted for Martin.

That's right millennials, the PGA Tour sued a handicapped-at-birth guy to stop him from taking a cart, even though he could barely walk. Charity is not always at the heart of Tim Finchem.

Anyway, Justice Antonin Scalia's dissent was an entertaingly crafted piece of writing, even if it was the questionable view at the time or in hindsight:

Having concluded that dispensing with the walking rule would not violate federal-Platonic "golf" (and, implicitly, that it is federal-Platonic golf, and no other, that the PGA TOUR can insist upon) the Court moves on to the second part of its test: the competitive effects of waiving this nonessential rule. In this part of its analysis, the Court first finds that the effects of the change are "mitigated" by the fact that in the game of golf weather, a "lucky bounce," and "pure chance" provide different conditions for each competitor and individual ability may not "be the sole determinant of the outcome." Ante, at 25. I guess that is why those who follow professional golfing consider Jack Nicklaus the luckiest golfer of all time, only to be challenged of late by the phenomenal luck of Tiger Woods. The Court's empiricism is unpersuasive. "Pure chance" is randomly distributed among the players, but allowing respondent to use a cart gives him a "lucky" break every time he plays. Pure chance also only matters at the margin--a stroke here or there; the cart substantially improves this respondent's competitive prospects beyond a couple of strokes. But even granting that there are significant nonhuman variables affecting competition, that fact does not justify adding another variable that always favors one player.

Saturday
Feb132016

Trump: We're Still In The Rota!

I'm not sure what's more impressive: Donald Trump declaring that he's still in The Open Championship rota, or Alex Miceli getting The Donald on the phone in the midst of a presidential campaign.

Either way, Trump sees Turnberry still very much in the rota despite reports of the R&A cooling to the idea.

“I haven't been told that at an all, no,” Trump said Friday by phone about Turnberry being taken off the British Open rota, which first was reported by London’s Independent. “We're working together with the R&A on the design. We have redesigned it, and it's almost completed. It will be opened in July and, no, I haven't heard that at all.”

At all?

Saturday
Feb132016

Golf Industry Show Wrap: More Affordable Sustainability?

The annual Golf Industry Show wrapped in San Diego and the mood certainly seemed positive. Perhaps it was the location--not Orlando--because I sensed the good vibes ran deeper than normal.

So many of the products and folks we talked to for Golf Channel's Morning Drive gave the impression that forward-thinking ways are finally leading to affordable sustainability solutions.

There were also a few first world solution solvers, like grass on top of irrigation heads and drones to detect turf health.

Here are the four GIS pieces shot and produced by Donald Goertz and hosted by yours truly.

Offbeat tech.

New tech.

Overview and Rhett Evans interview.

Electric Avenue (electric only products):

Saturday
Feb132016

Perth: World's First "Recognizeable" Course Is Spared

Jamie Buchan reports the various cuts that were decided on in Perth, where the golf course operational deficit was a mere drop in the bucket. Councillors agreed and spared the historic North Inch, which was facing closer over a fairly small amount of money.

However, proposals to axe the historic North Inch golf course – to save about £100,000 a year – and a reduction in public transport costs were rejected.

GolfPunkHQ also has this story on sparing the course, accompanied by a splendid aerial of the course where golf was played five hundred years ago.

Dale Concannon Tweeted this image depicting the early golf scenes at North Inch:

Friday
Feb122016

AT&T Saturday Preview: Hide Your Cell Phones From Bill Murray

Another brutal CBS-produced Golf Channel telecast aired Friday from the otherwise-glorious-looking Pebble Beach. The whole mess reminded us that no plug is off-limits to producer Lance Barrow. (We even got a FedEx VP briefcase going for 3 minutes on the greatness of the FedExCup. In February.)

And I won't even get into all of the other B-listers and missed great rounds from Phil Mickelson (Jason Sobel report here) and Sung Kang (Mike McCallister's PGATour.com report here).

However...there could be drama at AT&T Saturday in between shots of the PNC Chairman and favored CBS Pacific Grove eateries when Bill Murray returns, except with apparent issues (at times) with fans wanting selfies.

A few of you up at the tournament sent in reports, and Gossip Cop was brave enough to report on Murray heaving some cell phones off a restaurant balcony Thursday night.

On Thursday night, Murray was at the restaurant Vesuvio, where Justin Timberlake was throwing a party for his 901 tequila, when a number of fans bombarded the comedic actor and started repeatedly taking flash photos of him. Murray, who’s usually very accommodating, became annoyed with the too-close-for-comfort fans, and grabbed some of their phones and tossed them over the restaurant’s second floor rooftop

Friday
Feb122016

Oy Vey: Ryder Cup Team Dinners, Tiger Wants A Fishing Trip

Since this was revealed earlier in the week, I've been trying to ponder how this is not embarrassing overkill and failing.

It was Nick Faldo's sigh at the topic during today's telecast that didn't help matters. Granted, he's not the Winston Churchill of captains, but still, here goes: Davis Love is planning a Ryder Cup team bonding dinner at the Honda Classic. Oh, and assistant captain Tiger Woods, who wouldn't have been caught dead at any kind of Ryder Cup bonding exercise in his prime, is suggesting a...fishing trip?

Go Europe!

From Doug Ferguson's AP notes column:

"We're going to have a dinner during the week of Honda, and then we'll probably have two or three more," Love said Wednesday. "So I'm going to be a little bit more focused this time on the start, work my way through the points list and make sure that we've got everybody covered — not wait until the Memorial Tournament when we have a clothes fitting to talk to the guys for the first time."

USA, USA!

And this is just nauseating...

Love also said another vice captain, Tiger Woods, suggested getting together away from the golf course, perhaps a fishing trip to hang out and talk shop.

"I think if we all get to know each other a little bit better in March and April and May, rather than waiting until August and September, we're going to be better off," he said.

Or not.

Thursday
Feb112016

Austin City Council Backs Lions Muny, UT Wants Its Shops

Even though it's American-university leading endowment of $25 billion is ahead of Yale's resource stash, University of Texas wants to develop the Lions Municipal course that was home to integration and the school's two greatest golfers.

That didn't stop the Austin City Council from taking a stand, as Mary Huber reports for the Austin-American Statesman (thanks Digsouth for sending).

The council’s unanimous show of support Thursday came after Council Member Sheri Gallo described the “changes in hearts and minds” the course has represented since the 1950s, when two black golfers walked onto the West Austin course to play a round of golf. City officials then agreed to let them play, leading many to describe the course, nicknamed “Muny,” as the first integrated golf course in the South.

 

Gallo also made a case for the course’s future. “We are sending a very strong statement that we would like this property to remain as open green space,” said Gallo, whose District 10 includes the course.

The city leases the 141-acre course from the University of Texas System, which has crafted plans to develop the course and the rest of the Brackenridge Tract into housing, shops and hotels. Several years ago, the university voted against renewing the city’s lease on the golf course, which expires in May 2019. A mixed-use development could garner the university system $5.5 million per year, as opposed to the few hundred thousand dollars in yearly rent it receives from the city of Austin.

They can get the endowment up to $25,005,000,000 in year one alone!

 

 

Thursday
Feb112016

The Worst Is Now Behind Us: Berman Day At AT&T Pro-Am

You were probably looking forward to seeing Pebble Beach in all of its glory, maybe even watching shots at the renovated par-3 17th, and all you seemingly got was Chris Berman mutilating the ball.

Mercifully, the ESPN anchor moves on to MPCC and Spyglass and (hopefully) out of the camera view. Before he disappears for another year, I would take in Deadspin's wrap, which includes their favorite (cruelly unflattering) Berman images. There was also his shot on 18 ricocheting off of an endless collection of rocks.

The round one highlights consist of mostly putts going in...

At least the otters were making themselves visible.

Thursday
Feb112016

Whoa! European Tour Naming Slow Play Names

In a press release, no less!

Golf's slowpokes have always enjoyed protection from the authorities, except when a penalty has been issued. And that happens, generally...never.

So wasn't it fascinating when the European Tour issued a press release touting the early "positive start" to their monitoring efforts. The program started in Abu Dhabi, where Jordan Spieth was monitored in high profile fashion. The policy arrived quickly after new Chief Executive Keith Pelley vowed to crack down on slow play and to publish fines.

Chief Executive Elton is a man of his word!

From the press release:

A total of 95 groups were ‘monitored’ in the Middle East (36 in Abu Dhabi, 20 in Qatar and 39 in Dubai), while five players were given monitoring penalties. They were Jordan Spieth (Abu Dhabi, round one); Daniel Brooks (Abu Dhabi, round two); Benjamin Hebert (Abu Dhabi, round four); Eddie Pepperell (Dubai, round one); Gavin Green (Dubai, round two). These players will be fined the next time they receive a monitoring penalty during the 2016 season, with the fines increasing for each subsequent monitoring penalty thereafter.
 
However, an encouraging factor to emerge from the early implementation of this new policy was the fact that no players in the first three weeks were given a monitoring penalty when their group was in position, a situation which illustrates well that the players are embracing the new guidelines.

More interesting was the reduction in round time, particularly on the back end.

In Abu Dhabi, the new policy helped reduce the average round time by five minutes for rounds one and two compared to the same tournament in 2015.
 
A similar effect was observed in Qatar, where 2016 figures for average times for rounds one and two were ten and four minutes quicker respectively when compared with the event in 2012, the last time the opening two rounds were played in comparably windy conditions.
 
Perhaps more notably, the last group times for rounds one and two were 19 minutes and 14 minutes quicker respectively compared to four years ago, meaning an earlier finish time for the tournament, and a significant step towards Chief Executive Keith Pelley’s pledge to try and reduce round times by 15 minutes.
 
Finally, in Dubai, there was a reduction of two minutes on average round two times compared to 2015, but more significantly the last match timings were considerably quicker than last year, with an average reduction of 13 minutes across the opening two rounds.

The Chief Executive is suggesting this faster play could lead to larger fields, which makes absolutely no sense if he's serious about speeding up play for the betterment of the product. But, we'll let him keep the rank and file happy saying this...

 Such savings could conceivably mean larger field sizes in the long term, meeting another of The European Tour’s key priorities of increasing playing opportunities.
 
Pelley said: “We said before our new measures were introduced in Abu Dhabi that we wanted to take the lead on pace of play and it is terrific to see the policy has had an immediate effect, even though we are still in the early stages of its implementation. I am also pleased that our members have reacted positively to this change.
 
“We are continually striving to make our product even more appealing and entertaining for our fans and this is a good starting point. There is no quick fix for slow play, but this new policy is aimed at empowering our referees to more effectively target the problem and I believe we will see even more inroads made over the coming weeks and months.
 
“It is important to note that our referees now have the ability to apply monitoring penalties if they see a player take an excessive amount of time over a shot, even if their group is in position on the course, so our players are now more aware than ever that slow play is unacceptable.”

Thursday
Feb112016

Judge To Tour Caddies: Bibs Are Your Uniforms

That's what Judge Vince Chhabria wrote in dismissing the federal lawsuit filed by 168 tour caddies.

You may recall that caddies were suing over a host of issues, but the primary issue was with having to wear caddie bibs with tournament or other sponsor branding, free of compensation.

Rex Hoggard reports:

“Even if this contract language might appear susceptible to two different interpretations when considered in isolation, there is only one reasonable interpretation when the language is considered in the context of this case,” Chhabria wrote. “The bib has been the primary part of the ‘uniform’ that the Tour requires caddies to wear.”

Wednesday
Feb102016

Jordan Spieth Rested And Has His Speeds Back

With a week off following his trips to Abu Dhabi and Singapore where he complained of fatigue, Jordan Spieth says a week off has him refreshed and ready for Pebble Beach.

Will Gray reports for GolfChannel.com:

“I feel great. I feel very rested now,” Spieth said Wednesday. “It’s amazing what a solid week back here of kind of rest and regeneration will do. My speeds are where they need to be, my rest is back, everything feels good.”

Speeds? Could a Spieth linguistics slideshow be looming somewhere down the line?

Spieth and Jake Owen tee off at 11:55 Thursday with Dustin Johnson and Wayne Gretzky. Gray previews that and other notable celebrity/pro groupings.

Wednesday
Feb102016

Lydia Ko: Olympics Are Priority No. 1

I'm fairly certain world No. 1 Lydia Ko has always been excited about the Olympics, as have all of the women getting their first chance at a gold medal. But it's still fun to see players sounding more and more excited about golf's return to the Olympiad.

From an unbylined AP story:

Ko, who will defend her New Zealand Open title from Friday, said there was ''so much excitement and vibe'' around the Olympic tournament, ''especially as it's the first time women will play at the Olympics in golf.''

The 18-year-old New Zealander said ''ever since they announced that golf will be in the Olympics I said, 'Hey, I want to get myself on that team.' For any athlete to say you're an Olympian is a whole new proud feeling, and to represent your country on such an international stage it's going to be a pretty special week.''

Wednesday
Feb102016

Parsons: Players Pursued Us, Not The Other Way Around

ESPN.com's Bob Harig files a nice profile of Bob Parson's, founder of Parsons Extreme Golf, which has signed a dozen tour players. The piece also features a Michael Collins video interview with Parsons.

Parsons is selling very expensive club with sophisticated milling and metals, which adds a high-end approach to golf club manufacturing.

His claims about the tour player staff all coming to Parsons, however, doesn't seem entirely believable.

Ryan Moore was the first player to sign on with PXG early in 2015, and his clubs became a bit of curiosity on driving ranges throughout the PGA Tour.

But getting a group of players to join the company has given it a big push. In addition to Johnson, Horschel and Hahn, PXG also signed the likes of Chris Kirk and Charles Howell III. LPGA Tour players Cristie Kerr, Gerina Piller, Alison Lee, Beatriz Recari and Sadena Parks as well as Anna Rawson are also on the payroll. So is Champions Tour player Rocco Mediate.

"I was happy to see it,'' Parsons said. "It did increase our momentum. I did not go after any of them. Every one of them came to us. We eventually put a deal together with them. After the last one we signed, Mr. Kirk, we decided that 12 is enough. Thirteen ain't going to help us more.''

Wednesday
Feb102016

What's Going On With The World Amateur Golf Ranking?

On the list of issues facing the sport how amateurs are ranked by the R&A's World Amateur Golf Ranking probably doesn't leap off the page as prime click bait.

Which is even more reason to check out Golf Bible's analysis of a lightly viewed press release announcing changes to how the rankings are tabulated. Namely, a two-year window is now considered to tabulate an amateur golfer's ranking, which can impact if the player is eligible for something like the Asia Pacific Amateur.

There has long been great discord within amateur golf ranks over the ranking, including at the moment when the current NCAA and U.S. Amateur champion, Bryson DeChambeau, is ranked third, yet lands a more logical first in the Scratch Players World Amateur Ranking.

I'm guessing this would be example A as to why it has less credibility than it should, as Golf Bible writes:

Prior to last week’s announcement Jon Rahm was due this week to drop a huge number of points that he won for finishing tied 5th at the 2015 Waste Management Phoenix Open. Now he will stay at No. 1 I guess. Oppositely the SPWAR has more smooth and gradual changes because it applies points ageing.

[Somehow Rahm was awarded more points (30.250) by the WAGR for this high pro finish than DeChambeau got for winning either the US Amateur (19.875) or the NCAA Division 1 Championship (22.000) which explains why he is No. 1 if you were wondering].

Wednesday
Feb102016

Players To Root For Files: 2016 PGA Tour's Oldest Rookie

As the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am gets ready to kick off, Steve DiMeglio profiles the PGA Tour's oldest rookie, Rob Oppenheim.

Oppenheim played well in San Diego and while not under the age of 25, is worth rooting for after years of toiling on mini-tours. You've probably heard the story of how he found out he'd secured a tour card, but just in case you didn't...

As he pumped gas 30 miles down the road from the Web.com Tour Championship in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., where more cards were up for grabs, the journeyman who has played hundreds of mini-tour events and on pro tours named Canadian, Hooters, New England Pro, Nationwide and Cleveland, thought he had missed heading to the PGA Tour by one stroke.

Then his phone started blowing up with text messages.

He was going to be the oldest rookie on the PGA Tour.

When Lucas Glover made bogey on the 72nd hole, Oppenheim moved into a six-way tie for 12th and the extra money earned him his Tour card. By $101.

“People must have been wondering what was going on because we were all hugging and crying at that gas station,” Oppenheim, 36, said Tuesday as he played a practice round at sun-drenched Pebble Beach ahead of Thursday’s start of the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am.

Tuesday
Feb092016

World Golf Foundation CEO: Millennials Will Be The "Core"

In today's what golf will do to be loved by the 18-to-34 year olds, World Golf Foundation CEO Steve Mona says they're coming and the game should adjust to their every need.

Tod Leonard reports for the San Diego Union Tribune on the bullish tone Mona has for the state of the game.

They key segments to all of golf are youth and the millennials, which the NGF deems as those between 18 and 34 years old. The NGF did a comprehensive study of millennials and found that six million are currently playing and contributing about $5 billion annually to the golf industry. Another 12 million millennials expressed interest in taking up the game at some point.

"This kind of sky-is-falling talk that millennials aren’t playing the game, the facts belie that," Mona said. "It would be disingenuous of me to say, though, that there aren’t issues to address."

The NGF study reported that millennials value the tenets of the game as much as their older peers, but are turned off by perceptions of stodginess or lack of acceptance. Among the areas that need to be addressed, Mona said, are dress codes, use of technology on the course and even the use of music while playing.

"There are courses that already are reshaping their whole experience to be extremely millennial-friendly," Mona said. "There are others who haven’t so much. But if you talk to any operator who is paying attention to the business, most of them will tell you they are making adjustments to appeal to the millennial audience.

"They’re the next group coming along, and they’re going to be the core."

Yes, in about 20 years! In the mean time...

Tuesday
Feb092016

Feds File Suit Against The Bear's Club Over Wetlands

Andy Reid reports that the Department of Justice has filed suit against Jack Nicklaus' exclusive Jupiter golf course, The Bear's Club, for filling in wetlands to make more room for tees and fairways.

Reid writes:

The U.S. Department of Justice in October filed a lawsuit arguing that golf course builders filled in wetlands near the 15th hole that were meant to be protected.

Now The Bear's Club, in a motion to dismiss the case, counters that it had the state's OK to ch

ange the property and that it already paid $140,000 to protect wetlands elsewhere as compensation.
"These are two minor alterations to the golf course," said Eugene Sterns, attorney for The Bear's Club. "The federal government should have better things to do than fool around with this nonsense."

 And there was this...

That enabled moving a tee box and expanding the fairway near the 15th hole, according to court filings.

The federal government in 2010 learned about the additional filled-in land. The filing of the lawsuit comes as the statute of limitations was due to expire, Sterns said.

The motion to dismiss the lawsuit argues that the land involved was under state jurisdiction and that "the appropriate State agency authorized the very work the (Army Corps of Engineers) alleges was unlawfully undertaken."

Let's hope this change was prompted by the ball going too far. Mr. Nicklaus can make a federal case out of it.

Tuesday
Feb092016

Video: Bubba The Happy Trick Shotster Is Back!

He's happy, he's trying trick shots, he's playing the Pebble Beach Pro-Am for himself, not his sponsors. Woohoo!

Working on my short game #HoopedIt #MarkWahlbergIsPretty #ATTProAm

A video posted by Bubba Watson (@bubbawatson) on

Tuesday
Feb092016

Can Golf Be Blamed For The Slight Dip In Super Bowl Ratings?

Oh the irony?

The NFL regularly slaughters PGA Tour golf in the Nielsen world, but with Super Bowl 50 down for only the second time ever, could the 1.9 golf drew from 6:30-7 pm ET get some of the blame?

SportsMediaWatch.com's analysis off of SBJ's published numbers focused on the first four network broadcasts of 2016 being down and didn't dare suggest that the Rickie Fowler-Hideki Matsuyama playoff might have eaten into the early Super Bowl audience dropping by three million or so viewers.

Don't worry for Roger Goodell, CBS and friends: Super Bowl 50 was still the third most-watched show in American television history.

Tuesday
Feb092016

Torrey North Closes For Renovation, Public Still Wants Details

Tod Leonard covers the closing day of Torrey Pines North, where Tom Weiskopf was present to watch play before renovating the beloved layout.

Amazingly, the City Golf Advisory Committee that supported Phil Mickelson's vision before things fell through, still has not had a chance to hear from Weiskopf, who was brought in by contractor Wadsworth.

“From what I know about Tom Weiskopf and his approach, it sounds like he’s got the right frame of mind,” Zucchet said. “But even someone in the right frame of mind is going to change the golf course, and that’s scary for the old-timers, and I guess I’m one now.”

Weiskopf was at Torrey Pines on Monday afternoon, watching golfers at the 10th tee and taking one last look before work begins on Tuesday morning.

“I’m excited to get started,” he said.

Zucchet and the City Golf Advisory Committee requested that Weiskopf attend their January meeting, but that didn’t happen. Zucchet said he has put in another request and is hopeful the group can hear more details about the design plans.

”It would allay a lot of concerns if he would just tell people what is going on,” said Paul Spiegelman, a longtime city golf watchdog who also was playing his farewell round on the North on Monday. “Phil (Mickelson) did such a wonderful job of facilitating and listening.”

The story features a nice photo gallery from the Union-Tribune's K.C. Alfred.

Weiskopf's plan can be viewed here.