Twitter: GeoffShac
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The Monterey Peninsula was designed by nature as a great golfing center. The ocean had eaten its way into the coast and made innumerable little bays and arms of the sea. There are sandy beaches, headlands and capes covered with good turf and grass. The setting offered a wonderful opportunity for the genius of the architect.
SAMUEL MORSE

    

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.

Monday
Feb082016

Mrs. Forman's Update: Images, History, Where To Write

The shock of potentially losing the historic Mrs. Forman's has taken a few days to wear off, but the forces are aligning to preserve golf's most historic social gathering spot as a structure. But why stop there? Conversion to a residence when it hasn't been one for nearly 200 years seems shortsighted.

After the last fight over Musselburgh Links, I've given up trying to understand the inability to grasp the lack of appreciation for Edinburgh historical sites like Musselburgh and Mrs. Forman's. Perhaps it's a matter of branding and marketing, or maybe this traces to the longtime rivalry between St. Andrews and Edinburgh. At this point, nothing should matter but protecting the game's most vital sites of importance.

Enough people know how vital this area was to the shaping of the sport as we know it today. Therefore, preserving golf's first mid-round snack bar and a historic post-round "19th hole" should supersede any rivalries.

For a nice, succinct bit of background on how the demolition plans were discovered, check out Ru Macdonald's discussion with Neil Laird on the Scottish Golf Travel podcast. Laird's excellent Scottish Golf History website is worth a look for background on this saga and for future trip planning.

Our discussion today from Morning Drive:

My photos from inside the now-shuttered eatery, including the view from Mrs. Forman's window, which she opened to serve golfers during their rounds.

Here is the history of the place and more on Mrs. Forman:


And finally, courtesy of building architect Mungo Park, relative of Musselburgh's legendary Park clan, here is where you can write to influence the future of "The Cradle of Golf."

His comments are on a fantastic GolfClubAtlas.com thread about the closing.

Anyone that wants to do the same, or your own version, should do so by e-mail before the 17th February.

You can e-mail direct to,
environment@eastlothian.gov.uk 
but you must quote the Application number 15/01035/P, 2 Ravensheugh Road, Musselburgh and state whether you are supporting or opposing or just commenting.

You can also write to,
 
Planning Department, John Muir House
 Brewery Park
 Haddington
 East Lothian
 EH41 3HA.

Again quote reference number '15/01035/P - 2 Ravensheugh Road, Musselburgh'.

You can also comment on line, but will need to register on the web-site before doing so - not onerous but a bit tedious.

I think it is worth putting a marker down at this stage, so that East Lothian at least knows that Mrs Forman's has a significance to the history of golf, and that people care about it. There is a good level of concern nationally and internationally, and the more comments they receive the more  notice will be taken now and in the future. I shall keep an eye out for future applications.

Monday
Feb082016

It Never Ends! Scotland's First Recognizable Golf Course Facing Fatal Cost-Cutting Threat

An unbylined and wonderfully-biased Scotsman reports says Perth's North Inch Golf Course, the first recognized place where golf was played in the 1500s (thanks to some royal family visits), is under threat.

Get this: the annual maintenance shortfall amounts to a couple of days of Open Championship merchandise sales (how's that for a less-than-subtle-hint?).

Though the amount to keep this vital locale maintained could easily be made up for by the local council if it would just slash street sweeping a bit:

The proposal - which would save cash-strapped Perth and Kinross Council some £100,000 a year and was condemned today as “sacrilege” - will be discussed on Thursday when councillors decide which services will survive a need to make cuts.

Here is Neil Laird's list of the oldest early golf sites with Perth right at the top, and specifically, his brief history of North Inch.

Monday
Feb082016

The Zika Virus And Olympic Golf...

While most of the various grave threats posed by Rio's Olympic golf course have passed or been overblown, the Zika virus would seem the most problematic since it is transmitted through mosquito bites.

On the news that PGA Tour LatinoAmerica is briefly postponing two events to let the mosquitoes pass (per Golf.com's report by Marika Washchyshyn), UPI's Tom LaMarre says all inquiries are being made.

"We're having discussions about the precautionary steps we feel need to be taken in and around the golf competition, and making plans to implement them to the maximum degree," said Ty Votaw, vice president of the International Golf Federation.

Votaw said special mosquito repellant might be distributed to fans, and officials plan to create movement in the ponds to eliminate standing water.

Monday
Feb082016

The Donald: Tour Won’t Pull Doral Event From My Course

On the eve of his expected triumph in the New Hampshire Republican Presidential primary--there's something I didn't expect to type--Donald Trump suggested to Golf.com's Peter Bukowski that he's fine with the PGA Tour leaving Trump Doral. Why? Because he'll make more money without the annual stop.

But he doesn't see them ending the longest continuously running tour site.

"They do not want to do that,” Trump said. “There’s no site like Doral in Florida. I have the greatest site in all of Florida."

A higher power may take the decision out of the PGA Tour's hands: the lack of sponsorship going forward that would result from Cadillac not renewing, which appears to be the case.

Monday
Feb082016

Forward Press: Pebble Beach, Calling All '86 Masters Stories

This week in the Forward Press I look at Pebble Beach getting the opportunity to shine with a great field and what appears to be even better weather. Oh, and a real, playable 17th hole!

Also, some of you who posted 1986 Masters stories here five years ago have already been contacted, but Golf Channel has put out a casting call for your 86 stories.

Details in the link.

Monday
Feb082016

Golf Really Bothers People Files: Rio Golf Course Vol. 39,301

I get that there is a lot to dislike about golf in the Olympics, or the Rio Games or rich people building a public course to make money from condo sales.

Yet to show just how angry golf makes some people, check out the Financial Times' Jules Boycoff citing the building of the Olympic course as a brazen act of transferring public wealth into private hands. Meanwhile, poor people are being evicted, the waters are so polluted that athletes may get sick, and yet the golf course is example A of all things wrong with these games?

Golf makes people do strange things!

From Boycoff's piece:

Nowhere has the transfer of public wealth into private hands been more brazen than in the construction of the Rio 2016 golf course. The Rio Olympics mark the return of golf to the Games after a 112-year hiatus. As was touted in Rio’s original Olympic bid, the metropolis already has two elite golf courses that have staged major tournaments. One of these could have been renovated to meet Olympic standards.

The ball would need to be going thirty yards shorter and the crowds limited, not to mention mountain climbers in one case, if this were true. Anyway, go on...

But in an audacious maneuver Mayor Paes decided to locate the golf closer to the Olympic complex in Barra da Tijuca, a wealthy western suburb, even if that meant plunking the course inside the Marapendi Nature Reserve, home to numerous threatened species.

In doing so, Paes teed up a staggering deal for billionaire developer Pasquale Mauro. As long as Mauro paid the bill for the golf course — between $20 and $30 million — he’d also win a contract to build 140 luxury apartments around it.

While the mayor’s office has pointed out the benefits of no public money being used in the construction of the site, these units start at $2 million, with penthouse condominiums pushing upwards of $6 million. It doesn’t take a math whiz to calculate the value of this multi-million dollar sweetheart deal, gift-wrapped by City Hall.

While the Mayor and Mr. Mauro will not be winning any Nobel Peace prizes anytime soon, to suggest that the course was built at public expense seems a huge stretch. However, the anger the sport evokes will be part of the (neverending?) battle for golf to overcome this August.

Sunday
Feb072016

Wasted: Big Four Coronation Still On Hold

With a two-stroke lead and two to go, social mediasphere was celebrating the Big Four's official arrival.

One hole at a time, millennials. It's an old saying.

Rickie Fowler's adrenaline-fueled power added to the legend when he hit a perfect cut right through the par-4 17th green and into the hazard. For a change, Rickie's ability to drive 360 yards under pressure proved less-than-handy, and the Waste Management Open title was up for grabs. The huge crowds got the drama they craved, just not the dream winner, as John Strege notes.

Slow poke Hideki Matsuyama eventually won a three-hole playoff, but it'll be the Big Four deprivation and 17th hole that are this week's big takeaways.

First, the shocking tee shot (shocking in club selection and power):

Fowler was shocked by the distance of the shot, not but the club selection. From Brian Wacker's game story:

“Usually don't expect it to hit on the downslope and then go 360,” he said. “So that was a bit unfortunate. I hit it right on line, hit it exactly where I was looking. That's kind of the unfortunate part, to hit the shots that I did and to pull them off, and then it kind of backfired there.”

Rickie got emotional about losing the lead:

The official highlights:

Sunday
Feb072016

Putting Looks As Hard As Ever, As Pros Proved This Week

Today's players are fitter, faster, smarter, prettier, sexier, leaner, etc., etc. But as with their predecessors, they still can look human on the greens.

To review...

Lexi Thompson is putting with her eyes closed.

Ernie Els struggled but was less yippy in Dubai, though he admitted the yips he's been dealing with the last few months amounted to "end of career" issues on the greens.

Bernhard Langer is carrying two putters in the bag according to Golf Channel's announce team. And he was seen warming up before his opening Allianz round trying two styles of putting.

Ian Poulter, one of the world's best putters over the last decade, started putting with one hand in Phoenix.

Easy game!

Any others I missed?