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

The more you learn about games, the more you are apt to realize the number of things golf doesn't have. It doesn't have the effervescent excitement with which football is blessed. It hasn't the grand strategy from which baseball largely derives its popular appeal. It does not require the stamina of tennis, the self-confidence of bowling, the finesse of billiards, the concentration of bridge, the intuition of chess. Yet, at its best, golf commands all these things--and much more something which probably cannot be said about any other game.  CHARLES PRICE

 

  

Monday
Oct232017

Go Figure Files: China State School Teaching Golf Edition

It's tough to fully grasp the Chinese government's ratched-up war on golf, but as The Telegraph's Neil Connor writes, one state school in Shanghai is teaching golf as an important social skill developer. And now other state schools are following suit.

Jingwulu Primary School, in Jinan, in the eastern Shandong province, introduced the sport to “foster children's strong determination, self-discipline and manners,” headmistress Ji Yankun said.

“I don’t think I am being over dramatic in calling it a gentleman’s sport, as there is so much good etiquette involved,” she told The Telegraph.

The school has installed practice nets in its grounds and drafted in coaches from Shandong Gold Golf Club to provide compulsory training to nine-year-old pupils.

The golf club is also consulting with four other schools to roll out the training across the province.

“Many children have fallen in love with the sport, which has been called 'the green opium',” said Shandong Gold's Jiang Chunqiu, using a phrase which is often used in China to portray golf as highly enjoyable, but a dangerous foreign import.

Well it can be addictive.

Monday
Oct232017

This Will Actually Be A European Tour Event Title: The Shot Clock Masters

We knew next June's Austrian Open was going to take slow play seriously with shot clocks and penalties and referrees. But this? The Shot Clock Masters...near Vienna. Psychoanalysis free of charge.

Alistair Tait fleshes out some of the details for Golfweek.com but does not reveal what the winner's jacket might look like. A track suit jacket perhaps?

Every player will be timed on every shot in Austria. The other big difference from GolfSixes is that the event will use the Tour’s official timing policy. Each player in the 120-man field will have 50 seconds for the first player in a group, with 40 seconds for subsequent players. A one-shot penalty will be handed out to players going over the time limit, and a red card will appear beside their name on the leaderboard.

Monday
Oct232017

What Is Tiger Up To, Files: The Stinger And Now A Podcast?!

Ok a few swing videos and Mr. Stubborn is even forgetting all of the pleas to just hit the darned stinger and even putting that back in the repertoire. Someone is feeling it! Hashtagging Star Wars? Next thing you know he'll be rolling out emojis, GIFs and doing podcasts. (Paul Doyle with the details of Tiger's interview in the can with former UConn coach Geno Auriemma.)

And the responses were just as fun:

Monday
Oct232017

HatCam The Next Golf Television Innovation?

Fun stuff here from Golfweek.com's Martin Kaufmann on the recent PGA Tour trial of HatCam, a technology similar to one Golf Channel tried earlier this year.

While the current version looks way too big for today's players to safely feel comfortable wearing on the brim of their caps, a smaller one is in development and, at the very least, could be pretty cool on a caddie's cap.

HatCam weighs just 65 grams, and Greg Roberts of ActionStreamer said a smaller version “about the size of a money clip” is in the final stages of development. HatCam has a self-contained battery, is controlled remotely and has MEMS gyroscopes that minimize the bouncing effect in point-of-view transmissions.

Golf Channel tested a similar idea in January, attaching a tiny camera to the hat of Mark Zyons, Billy Andrade’s caddie. It was a worthy experiment, but the constant movement was disorienting. The HatCam seems much more promising, based on video it captured at the Web.com Tour Championship. Scott Gutterman, VP of digital operations for the PGA Tour, said HatCam could be used more in the future in pro-ams and practice rounds, though no decisions have been made.

A demo from the Web.com Tour Championship:

Monday
Oct232017

Top Aussies Chime In On Ways To Solve Golf's No. 1 Problem

Evin Priest does a nice job for Golf Digest Australia (thanks reader AM) talking to Adam Scott, Jason Day, Rod Pampling (Rampling in the online version) and Geoff Ogilvy about the best way to get kids into the game.

It's Junior Golf Week on Morning Drive so there are bound to be good ideas galore, but the four Aussies all have some great ideas. We'll just bite our tongues when Jason Day says the game takes too long. (He wants loops of holes designed into routings to foster shorter round options.)

Adam Scott on par-3 courses:

“I think growing up on a par-3 course was really beneficial. When you’re 5 or 6 years old and the holes are 80 or 100 yards, you can actually play them. It’s very hard to get a young kid, even 10 or 11, to play a 420-yard par 4 – it just seems like an unattainable goal to get it into a tiny hole at the end of that.

Day:

“Golf’s biggest challenge in the modern day is it just takes too long; young families with little kids don’t want to spend four, five or six hours on the golf course. They’d rather play a few holes and an hour is all they can possibly give up. Maybe if there were three-hole and four-hole loops on courses where they can go out for an hour and come back, they’d get on board. That’s how you can get introduced and fall in love with the game. And those who like it will transition into the 18-hole side."

Loved this from Ogilvy:

“I was so addicted when I was a kid because I had access. And is there a better place to drop your kids off in the morning and pick them up in the afternoon, considering the alternatives? Rather than the local shopping mall, terrorising the place. If they’re at the course, they’re hanging around generally respectable people learning how to behave around adults.”

Monday
Oct232017

Korean Press Greets Commissioner With Some Tough Questions

With the inaugural CJ Cup at Nine Bridges over and another nine playings on the docket, Commissioner Jay Monahan and tour EVP of Global Business Affairs Ty Votaw traveled to Korea. They kindly sat down with the assembled media before Sunday's final round and took some interesting questions.

Q: It’s great that we have got another event in Asia. From the next season, 2018-2019 season, you are going to make some big changes with possibly the playoffs coming soon  and the PGA Championship moving. It looks to me as though you are going to free up more dates in the fall, in the post-labor day area. Are you planning more tournaments in Asia? Japan or China?

Jay Monahan: I would answer that by confirming that we have what you just mentioned, which is we have the commitment to move the Players to March and PGA Championship to May. You were right in that it does freeze some time in the fall. The next step we are going to take in order affect change is to essentially complete other parts of our schedule the tournaments that exist in that pre-labor day window in the U.S.

But we are a global game. If you follow the logic trail of being here, you look at the fact that you’ve got 3.5 million participants and 36 million rounds of golf played, we love what we are seeing in terms of emergency screening technology, the fact that we’ve got such a rich number of players.

Wait what? Uh, I'm chalking "emergency screening technology" up to a translation gaffe. Go on...

As you look out into the future, the reason that we are putting so much resource into key international markets is so that we are prepared when an opportunity presents itself to expand to be in the right position. But to say something is imminent would be a miscalculation and a mistake at this point.

We'll put them down for no further Asian expansion at this time.

Q: Are you surprised to see only a few foreign press covering the event, given that this event is quite significant? Why do you think that there aren’t many global press covering this event here?
Ty Votaw: There is no question that we are very excited about the opportunity to be here, first time being an official event. The media landscape in all countries is changing and as you know, the golf media in the US is also changing with decreased budgets and decreased stabilities to cover even some domestic events in the US. We now have opportunities with other platforms and other areas.
Opportunities!
I know that our own platforms are here covering extensively for the US and for other countries around the world. I will say that, much like the reactions of our players, when they go home and talk to other players about their experience here, I think you will see over the next 10 years when we are coming to South Korea and to Jeju for this event that a broader swath of media coverage will follow.
Actually, probably not.
Q: The Korean fans are grateful that Sang-moon Bae and Seung-yul Noh were given exemptions, given their situation with the national service, and that PGA has shown a lot of respect for the Korean golf. However, given that is a Tier 1 tournament with a decent sum of prize money, don’t you think that we are missing a lot of the top-class players? For example, Hideki Matsuyama and Ernie Els pulling out and not many players from the top 20?
Ty Votaw:As I mentioned earlier, I think that the experiences of the players who are here this week, when they take those stories and those experiences back with them to the PGA tour it’s going to be very positive story that they are going to be telling. As any PGA tour event on our schedule, our players choose their schedules according to what fits their specific need and their specific goals and desires. Certainly, we have added a third event in Asia this year and there has been a significant support of all three events by the top players but, perhaps not all three events by the top players.
Uh, no way.
I think what you are going to see is, the ability for players to evaluate what their experience was this week and last week in CIMB and in HSBC, and they will set their schedules accordingly. I think we are very pleased with the feel that we have this week, as commissioner mentioned earlier, our ability to have our Fedex Cup champion, our rookie of the year, former number ones Jason Day and Adam Scott plus all the other great players who are on the field this week. It’s a great start to a long term commitment by CJ and I think we will continue to do everything we can to make sure that our players support these important sponsorships.
All fair points, but it's hard to read this and wonder about the impact on up to four sponsor-less U.S. stops and many other domestic events get poor fields because players may now skip those for $9.2 million purses in Asia.
Q: I think there are a few things that can be improved in the future. The tournament is over at 3pm and it seems to feel a bit loose and it’s difficult for the gallery. Would it be possible to increase the field?
Monahan: This is just the first of our ten-plus years here. One of the things we knew going into this week was that we're going to do our very best to execute a world-class THE CJ CUP @ NINE BRIDGES, but when we left at Sunday night there’ll be a number of things we could learn from over the course of the week, and our constant pursuit to improve and get better and do the best we can in South Korea.
That’s exactly what will happen. We’ll look at every facet of the tournament. We'll make significant improvements in any facet of this event. We're not done yet. This tournament will be finalized in the next several hours but I would say that at this point on Sunday, what has happened on the grounds here, the response that we received, the things we learned from the fans here, we’re really pleased with where we are.
First on tap, ordering extra satellite time!
Sunday
Oct222017

JT Wins The First CJ Cup In Playoff Interrupted By Expired Feed

First, the good news. Justin Thomas won the inaugural CJ Cup in a playoff over Marc Leishman to cap off a breakthrough season (Will Gray's report here). Wait, no, to kick off the new season. Either way, he's very pleased to be shutting down for a while to enjoy a well-earned vacation.

Also, wasn't it great to see CJ Group Chairman Lee Jay-Hyun on the 18th tee to help with the playoff draw? Still fresh off a pardon and a little time in the slammer, the Chairman seems to have recovered from a kidney transplant.

The highlights:

 

On the not so positive front, there was the collapse of Golf Channel's feed as players were headed to the second playoff hole and the announce team was reiterating the "big feel" of the event. Unfortunately, someone at the event forgot to extend the satellite window.

A statement from Golf Channel:

The satellite path of the television feed provided by tournament organizers stopped feeding at 2:30 a.m. ET. Golf Channel personnel immediately alerted the tournament production group to the problem. We apologize to our loyal viewers who stayed up late to watch coverage live. The CJ Cup at Nine Bridges playoff will be available shortly in its entirety via Golf Channel Digital and will be replayed on Golf Channel today from 6-10 p.m. ET.

Sunday
Oct222017

Video: Thornberry Hits Field Goal Shot In Front Of Full House

This is a remarkable shot on three levels:

A) Hitting a football (well) with a golf club is quite difficult without hurting yourself.

B) Doing so in front of a full stadium with your collegiate peers is no easy bargain.

C) Having the audacity to pull off a little Chi Chi sword-return-to-its-sheathing.

Nicely done NCAA men's individual champ and recent Walker Cupper Braden Thornberry pulling this off at halftime of the Ole Miss home loss to LSU (Kevin Casey with more details here at Golfweek.com):

 

Saturday
Oct212017

Video: McCarron's Drop Hits Club, Club Gets Hit

Ouch...

 

Thursday
Oct192017

Video: Thomas Shows How Today's Pros Can Handle Stymies

Every time we talk stymies in a pro match play so many of you are concerned about the agronomic impact, but as Justin Thomas demonstrated at the inaugural CJ Cup in Korea, a dreadful skeech mark was no obstacle!

@justinthomas34 can do it all.

A post shared by PGA TOUR (@pgatour) on

Thursday
Oct192017

Colonial Likely Searching For A Sponsor Again...

Mac Engel reports for the Star-Telegram on a likely early departure for Dean & DeLuca after two years sponsoring the historic Colonial. The food company has four years left on its contract.

Engel obtained a letter to members signed by club president Rob Doby.

“While certainly disappointing, it is not a situation that we as a Membership and Staff are unfamiliar with,” Doby wrote.

The board is scheduled to meet with Dean & DeLuca representatives as early as Thursday about potentially renegotiating the terms of the contract, but at this point the club is preparing to look elsewhere for a title sponsor.

A PGA Tour statement said the Dean & DeLuca is still the sponsor as far as they are concerned but that they are in conversations.

Engel shares several other interesting details, including this:

The PGA wants a little more than $11 million per year from a sponsor for this event, which, per multiple sources, effectively eliminates several companies from landing Colonial. The price tag is roughly $3 million too rich for many companies.

Losing a sponsorship here leaves two Texas stops searching for a sponsor as the 2017-18 schedule is already underway. The Houston Open has yet to secure a sponsor after Shell ended their long run.

Thursday
Oct192017

Video Roundup: Stymies Versus Backstopping

In this week's Golfweek digital and now posted online, Brentley Romine and I debate the men's pro golf backstopping practice.

On Twitter, I've gotten a very frequent reply that goes like this: you want the stymie back but you are offended when players leave a ball down (in a form of silent, possibly creepy collusion that does not protect the field.)

Yes. I am offended by backstopping and hope we return the stymie to match play.

Because in match play, golf would be faster and far more confrontational if players could clean their ball, then leave it down the rest of the way to the hole. Foursomes, four-balls, individual matches, you name it would all have occasional moments of social-media-friendly drama. Virality, baby!

But backstopping suggests an element of rule-bending and collusion that can only damage perceptions of a clubby sport that is generally very honest, but does strike some as too fraternal at times.

The stymie is only interesting in match play, where we never see backstopping occur. Furthermore, a ball stymied by a match play opponent is an overtly hostile gesture, while backstopping is a mysteriously complacent act of notifying the competition that you are willing to assist them, free of charge.

For those who are not familiar with the stymie's place in the game and not owners of Bobby Jones' Golf Is My Game (1960), I can at least steer you to some video thanks to the wonders of YouTube.

Graphic viewing warning: these clips are all in black and white while involving evidence of people playing the game (well) prior to the year 2000.

First up, check out Sam Snead beating Johnny Palmer in the 1949 PGA at Belmont. At the :28 second mark watch how Snead tries to stymie Palmer, to no avail. The complete opposite of backstopping. 


Next, check out Charles Coe vs Nick Chapman at the :20 mark for a fantastic stymie and one that would freak out today's backstoppers in the 1951 British Amateur final, one of the last played with stymies in effect:

Also in 1951, the USA retained the Walker Cup in spite of a delicious stymie situation viewable at the 1:22 mark. The sun has continued to rise in the east since. 

At the :15 second mark of this 1948 PGA Championship highlight reel--when the event was still contested at match play--Ben Hogan is stymied and you can just feel Hogan’s enthusiasm as he pulls out wedge on a green. But what great entertainment and competitive edge this brought to the proceedings!

And at the 1933 Ryder Cup highlights, go to the 1:28 mark for a delicious reminder that the stymie was once part of the Ryder Cup, and dream of the possibilities today before remembering that we live in a golf culture where the players seek to help their friends, not clash competitive with them.

Wednesday
Oct182017

Royal Birkdale Gets Jordan Spieth's Driving Iron

Because of course there is no club that better recalls Jordan Spieth's epic 2017 Open Championship win, even if he was not satisfied with his shot from Birkdale's range. It was the driving iron that took center stage and no one who watched the scene unfold will ever forget it.

Since it's the club he used to hit the recovery setting up an epic unplayable lie-bogey and eventual win over Matt Kuchar, Spieth admirably donated it to Royal Birkdale. They received the club today, to go with their incredible clubhouse collection of memorabilia from past champions.

(Todd Lewis took us on a rare tour during this year's Open and I can concur after a tour from former club champion Ethan Davies that it's as good a display of historic clubs as any in golf.)

The question remains, does Spieth's drop warrant a plaque? I say yes, even if only the driving range attendants will be the only ones who see it!

Wednesday
Oct182017

NPR Questions Trump National LA's $5 Million To Charity

National Public Radio reporter Tom Dreisbach and the "Embedded" team explained his inquiry into Trump National LA's website claim that it has given $5 million to charitable causes (thanks reader Carl).

Now, the $800,000 that NPR was able to account for is a pretty nice number compared to many golf courses and should be admired.

But, when your course namesake is President of the United States and the claim is highlighted in bright lights, with a link explaining how to request charitable contributions from the course, the scrutiny is understandable.

Apparently much of the discrepancy involves the claiming of Trump National LA's range as open space.

DREISBACH: What we were able to account for is about $800,000 in donations - far short of that $5 million number. Now, the Trump Organization did not make any contact with us. They refused to answer any phone calls, emails. And one possibility is that they are claiming a conservation easement, which is a sort of controversial tax break that you can take. Basically, The Trump Organization said that their driving range, they were going to preserve it as open space in perpetuity. It's sort of a way of preserving open space and habitat, but in fact, as one charity expert told me, the driving range is still a driving range, so it doesn't really pass the smell test in terms of a charitable gift.

Wednesday
Oct182017

They're Back...Sort Of, The Costco Kirkland Is Back In Some Form

Thanks to all who sent the GolfWRX post identifying the latest Costco "Kirkland" ball to be offered for sale, just as the CEO promised in January. The original drew great attention and reviews and after selling out, has become a much-demanded cult classic.

While they are billing it as the same ball with "Hot List" branding, the current iteration is only for sale to Costco members, with a 2-order-per-membership limit and no certainty the latest ball is the same as the last (given that it was likely a one-off production run of old Taylor Made cores).

Nonetheless, it spices up discussions about the ball, adds more intrigue to the lawsuits and whether this is a legitimate contender in the golf ball market, as some originals proved to be, or just an occasional stunt.

Here they are Costco members...

Wednesday
Oct182017

Firefighting Mid-Am Champ's Masters Dream: A Practice Round With Tiger Woods

Not that Tiger ever sets goals for injury return on such things, but the older, maybe more sentimental and "making progress" Woods might just relish the chance to fulfill the dream of U.S. Mid-Amateur Champion Matt Parziale. After all, it would mean Woods was even well enough to play The Masters.

From Doug Ferguson's story on the Massachusetts firefighter who won the U.S. Mid-Amateur last week, earning him berths into the Masters and U.S. Open:

Parziale was 9 when he watched the Masters for the first time and saw Woods break 20 records on his way to a 12-shot victory. He was 16 when Woods won a World Golf Championship at Capital City Club, the very place where Parziale realized so many of his golf dreams.

So when asked if he could play a practice round at the Masters with one person, Parziale didn’t hesitate.

“Tiger, and there’s not even a close second,” he said. “I play golf because of Tiger Woods. I was the perfect age to see him.”

Wednesday
Oct182017

Bones Will Eventually Work A Mickelson Grouping

Golf World's John Strege catches up with Jim "Bones" Mackay about his first summer working for NBC/Golf Channel and gets rave reviews from producer Tommy Roy.

Besides sharing some insights into surprises about the on-course reporting gig, Bones addresses Strege's question that many have asked: will Bones cover his old boss, Phil Mickelson?

Mackay has not yet been assigned a grouping with Mickelson in it, notwithstanding the fact that from a golf fan’s viewpoint, it would qualify as must-see TV, to resurrect an old NBC slogan. Roy has not ruled it out in the future. “I think the day will come when enough time has passed to do it,” Roy said.

His concern in the near term is the potential for a distraction caused by the vocal few in a crowd who consider “mashed potatoes” imperative to a tournament sound track and might be inspired to weigh in on the Mickelson-Mackay parting.

“One thing we want to be cognizant of is that we don’t want to put anybody in a bad spot,” Mackay said.

Wednesday
Oct182017

BFF As Caddies More Than A Trend Now

After seeing Tyrell Hatton win two European Tour events in a row with best friend forever Jonathan Bell, Tim Rosaforte says the BFF on the bag movement is "more of a trend." Hatton follows Tommy Fleetwood, Rory McIlroy and Jason Day as a top player moving to a BFF.

The players also have a consistent reply for questions about the move.

It’s more of a trend than a coincidence that three top-20 players, all in their 20s, parted ways with their caddies this year and put one of their BFFs on the bag. Rory McIlroy was the first, trading out J.P. Fitzgerald for childhood mate Harry Diamond at the WGC-Bridgestone in August, saying “sometimes to preserve a personal relationship you have to sacrifice a professional one.”

Remember, it's about being able to talk music...

That’s an understatement. As Hatton noted after winning the Dunhill, “It’s good fun having Jonathan on the bag.” Sometimes that’s all it takes, having somebody the same age who you can relate to, somebody that listens to the same music and somebody who simply represents a change."

Tuesday
Oct172017

Ridley: "We will take whatever action, whatever course of action is necessary to protect the integrity of Augusta National.”

Brentley Romine reports on a media call with new Masters chairman Fred Ridley was asked about the golf course in the face of most distance gains since the last round of changes.

After saying something vague about the Jones design philsophy ("strategy and skill were equal components in how the golf course should be played"), he issued this strong statement:

“We will take whatever action, whatever course of action is necessary to protect the integrity of Augusta National golf course,” Ridley said.

Now that could mean many things. Given that the club has planted trees, introduced longer fairway cuts pushed toward tees and added numerous back tees, more lengthening is about all the club can turn to without further damaging the Jones approach.

Jones and MacKenzie's very clearly stated design goals for Augusta National are already hanging by a thread, and with a consulting architect who doesn't practice strategic design or even the art of respecting those who practiced the art before him, it appears there is only one course of action that will work: restricting driving distance.

Restoring width and removing recently planted trees, as Michael Bamberger wrote in this suggestion list piece, would also be nice but they won't addres the simple fact that the strategy has been rendered less interesting by modern driving distances.

Tuesday
Oct172017

Drone Flyover Of The Horse Course At The Prairie Club

It's been a few years since Gil Hanse, Jim Wagner, myself and a fun cast of characters created the Horse Course at The Prairie Club, so it was nice to see the 10-hole par-3 course finally get the drone treatment its setting deserves. Especially now as the game opens its very closed mind to par-3 courses, the concept of H-O-R-S-E golf will hopefully get a little more attention.

And given the difficulty of maintaining prairie bunkers, it's especially neat to see how well they've evolved. Thanks Patrick Koenig for the great shots.