Twitter: GeoffShac
  • The 1997 Masters: My Story
    The 1997 Masters: My Story
    by Tiger Woods
  • The First Major: The Inside Story of the 2016 Ryder Cup
    The First Major: The Inside Story of the 2016 Ryder Cup
    by John Feinstein
  • 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
  • Playing Through: Modern Golf's Most Iconic Players and Moments
    Playing Through: Modern Golf's Most Iconic Players and Moments
    by Jim Moriarty
  • 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
  • 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
  • Grounds for Golf: The History and Fundamentals of Golf Course Design
    Grounds for Golf: The History and Fundamentals of Golf Course Design
    by Geoff Shackelford
  • The Art of Golf Design
    The Art of Golf Design
    by Michael Miller, Geoff Shackelford
  • The Future of Golf: How Golf Lost Its Way and How to Get It Back
    The Future of Golf: How Golf Lost Its Way and How to Get It Back
    by Geoff Shackelford
  • Lines of Charm: Brilliant and Irreverent Quotes, Notes, and Anecdotes from Golf's Golden Age Architects
    Lines of Charm: Brilliant and Irreverent Quotes, Notes, and Anecdotes from Golf's Golden Age Architects
    Sports Media Group
  • Alister MacKenzie's Cypress Point Club
    Alister MacKenzie's Cypress Point Club
    by Geoff Shackelford
  • The Golden Age of Golf Design
    The Golden Age of Golf Design
    by Geoff Shackelford
  • Masters of the Links: Essays on the Art of Golf and Course Design
    Masters of the Links: Essays on the Art of Golf and Course Design
    Sleeping Bear Press
  • The Good Doctor Returns: A Novel
    The Good Doctor Returns: A Novel
    by Geoff Shackelford
  • The Captain: George C. Thomas Jr. and His Golf Architecture
    The Captain: George C. Thomas Jr. and His Golf Architecture
    by Geoff Shackelford
Posts from December 2004 to January 2005
Observations by Geoff Shackelford

Apocalypse Now: Trump Edition

In his final contribution to Golf Magazine, former editor Kevin Cook interviews the ubiquitous Donald Trump. And it's all about money.

“The state's spending $400 million on a highway (Widening and improving interstate 95), but didn't build me an exit, and I put up quite a fuss about that. They ended up building a $30 million exit (Florida Department of Transportation says the exit cost even more, $40 million) that goes to my $45 million course.”

Other gems:

Q: You love water features. The signature hole at your Westchester course is a par 3 with a 100-foot waterfall. What do you say to people who call it a big gimmick?

A: I say they're people who can't afford to build a $7 million waterfall.

Q: How's your relationship with Tom Fazio, who built your course in Bedminster?

A: He had already designed a wonderful course there before I bought it. My organization made it bigger, better, more beautiful. There's a new lake on the fourth hole and another one on the 11th--I wanted those there. They had 1,200 sprinklers before. Now we have more than 2,000. Tom Fazio is a great architect, and I'm a pretty good golfer who understands the game. We have a great relationship. He tells me, "You know, Donald, I have owners who'll send their G5 to pick me up and fly me to Texas or California to plant a small tree. But Donald, you don't call me--I just get here and there's more lakes than we planned on!



John Huggan laments the state of golf in Scotland, while the AP's Doug Ferguson says the buzz surrounding the PGA Tour’s World Championship events is gone.

I didn’t know there ever was any buzz. Well don’t worry, Commissioner Finchem is on top of the situation. He says they need to go to better cities and courses. So guess where he can’t wait to return? Bellerive. That thrilling RTJ Sr. course that had legions tuning for the 2004 U.S. Senior Open. Goose bumps here just typing about it.


Garl: Embracing Technology

Architect Ron Garl notes that the game isn’t growing despite recent technological advances. So what does he say we should do?

“I say, embrace it! If the new technology keeps people playing the game, as golf course architects, we should keep the challenge alive.”

Okay. And how do they do it? Some people want to protect the sanctity of marriage, some have other things in mind.

“My goal is to protect the sanctity of the second shot.”


Duncan 's Wish List


Shotlink Summary

The always interesting Steve Elling of the Orlando Sentinel looks at Shotlink and the data it is producing. Included are quotes from Steve Flesch on the year end packets given to players telling them far more than they ever wanted to know.


Did Driver Testing Work?

In the final Golf World of 2004, Ron Sirak writes, “Although there is absolutely no way of knowing whether it was a result of driver testing - just as there is no way to verify if Barry Bonds knowingly took steroids unless he says so - there was a curious drop in driving distance by big boppers from 2003 to 2004.”

Sirak writes that while the Tour driving distance average went up one yard in 2004, there was a noticeable fall off in the top 10 this season. Was it the driver testing ridding the Tour of illegal drivers? Or if the athleticism theory holds, did the top 10 just go to the gym a little less often?

On this topic, Sports Illustrated recently published faux emails between writers Chris Lewis and Jim Gorant, where they revealed attempts to get the actual number of drivers tested (and those ruled illegal), resulted in a response seemingly straight out of All The President’s Men, with the Tour official making contradictory claims and fudging numbers clearly after some form of internal discussion. Ultimately, SI could not get a straight answer on the subject.


Vijay Roundtable…

After watching a reporter shed a fake tear in Broadcast News, sweat-prone reporter Aaron Altman reminded the newsroom, “Let's never forget, we're the real story, not them.”

Only if you’ve had several glasses of a strong merlot would I recommend reading this 3,500 word Golf World round table on Vijay Singh. The key exchange to remind us who the real story is all about?

  • GW: Is Singh's problem specific to the media or is it a broader issue?
  • Sheeley: Some of it is shyness, some of it pertains to the cultural differences Jaime spoke of, and some of it lingers from the [scorecard] episode--I think he feels it's in everybody's mind all the time.
  • Hawkins: I'm not sure Singh, being from Fiji, understands the tenets of American journalism--the freedom of the press as defined by the U.S. Constitution.
  • Diaz: I agree.
  • Hawkins: We're talking about a guy who didn't grow up in a culture where democracy and objectivity were crucial to the balance of society.
  • Other important issues addressed:
    GW: Does Vijay have close friends on tour?
  • GW: Is there anything Vijay likes to do besides play golf? I know Tim asked him the question 11 years ago. Have you guys come up with an answer?
  • GW: What kind of food does he serve at his party?
  • GW: If you got on the same elevator as Singh and were both taking it to the 50th floor, what would you say to him on the ride up?


Golfdom Year In Review/Column has posted my year end review story and column on the role of local knowledge in the game as it relates to the rangefinder issue.

The Next Trend?

First you had to have a player-architect. Now two for one course?

“Two of golf’s greatest golfers are teaming up to create a world-class layout at Waterberg, one of the fastest-growing areas in South Africa,” says a press release touting a new Ernie Els-Jack Nicklaus design in South Africa.

The duo was brought together by the “lure of big game and a love for championship golf .” Yes, the course will be playing through a big game preserve.

“Occupying over 6,900 acres of bushveld, Waterberg boasts an abundance of water in a malaria-free area. Residents will be able to view almost all of the major species of game on the property, including four of the Big 5.”

What does that mean? Well, at least it's good to know that the Waterberg is malaria-free.


Ball of the future (and what a bargain!)

First there was the much ballyhooed announcement about the “revolutionary” new NanoDynamics golf ball “whose rotational speed is reduced, the potential for hooking and slicing is diminished.”

"In addition to straighter drives, the NDMX technology is expected to improve roll characteristics of the ball on the green resulting in truer putts.” Is expected?

As “an extra benefit, the core of the NDMX golf ball is completely recyclable.” Oh great. I'm sure golfers across the land will peel off the cover and drop the core in their neighborhood recycling bins.

Now comes the news that the company has signed up former USGA Technical Director Frank Thomas to get him to proclaim this to be the greatest product ever.

"I look forward to working with NanoDynamics on the NDMX concept, which has the potential to revolutionize and revitalize the golf ball industry," Thomas said. "The NDMX technology will provide a more efficient projectile for a wide range of golfer skill levels and I believe it will enhance the game of golf."

This is quite an about face for one of the leading voices against over-commercialization of the sport. Why? How about the price for this revolutionary ball. Seated?

They’re taking pre-orders for sleeves starting at just $24.99. A dozen balls will set you back $89.99. But don’t forget, those cores are recyclable!

Yep, herein lies golf’s salvation.


PGA Tour's Toughest Holes/Courses

The PGA Tour released its annual list of the toughest holes on the Tour. Not much in the way of interesting architecture in this 18-hole set. And they feature the 2004 ranking of courses from toughest to easiest.


Book Reviews

The Scotsman's John Huggan reviews the new Faldo and Alliss biographies, as well as a series of new golf course guides written by Greg Turner that sound quite interesting. And my column reviewing various 2004 books is now posted.

Dec102004 Has A Pulse…Barely 

The new and unimproved isn’t exactly a must visit web site even though it was supposed to replace Golf Journal as a source for stories and other golf information. For December, the site offers a David Shefter story on noble efforts by Long Island superintendents to pursue environmentally friendly maintenance programs. Granted, the LA Times ran a more comprehensive story and didn’t do it in's unreadable gray font, but at least the USGA is offering some content.

Other site is news: NBC will air the USGA year in review this Sunday, December 12, at 1 p.m. Eastern (is there any other time zone?). If nothing else, it’s worth watching to see how NBC handles the Shinnecock Hills fiasco. And will David Fay find a way to get in a plug for his favorite rangefinders to get dad for Christmas. After all, they are golf's $300 slow play remedy.

Finally, the submittal deadline for the annual USGA Book Drive, err, Book Award, is January 15, 2005. Shockingly, The Future of Golf in America will not be nominated this year.


Golf Digest Best New 2004

The magazine's annual listing of best new and worst named golf courses is now online. Some real name doozies this year: Circling Raven, The Bull at Pinehurst Farms, Lake Winnipesaukee, Dale Hollow Lake State Resort Park and Sleepy Hole. Yes, Sleepy Hole.

Ron Whitten writes that the best new affordable, Copper Mill, features a "satanic" routing. The best new private is Sutton Bay, the best new upscale public is The Quarry at Giants Ridge and best new Canadian is The Rock.


Aussie Players Bite Back...Not Really

In response to the news of horrible ratings and implications that pro golfers are boring and self centered, the Herald Sun followed up with player feedback on the article.

"I know where they are coming from," Adam Scott said of the Aussie TV executives. "Sometimes I'm bored watching golf on television, no question about it."

Of course, if the players were forced to make interesting decisions by playing compelling courses, this might just produce plenty of emotion and drama. But with today's equipment on yesterday's courses, the drama just isn't going to happen very often.

Business Insider on Distance

Steve Pike at offers his "Business Insider" take on the distance discussion. He says the USGA and R&A should consider the impact of launch monitors when pondering the future. Uh they have...the USGA kinda helped create the technology and then handed it to the manufacturers on a big silver platter. And the story perpetuates the ridiculous notion that improved athleticism will be at the heart of distance increases.

Pike also has news on Pronghorn in Oregon, Cape Kidnappers in New Zealand and a course closing in Hawaii.


Walker Cup on PGA Weekend

The USGA's David Fay is dissapointed that more people aren't upset about the news that the Walker Cup at Chicago Golf Club will played the same weekend as the 2005 PGA at Baltusrol.

"I wish more people were complaining about it," Fay said. "That would mean its stature is elevated."

The story reports that the USGA "never bothered" to check when the PGA was being played.


Belated Thanks Column's Tim McDonald gives thanks and no thanks for various things in golf, with several fun and provocative one liners. However, his Paul Casey bashing seems a tad out of line considering what Casey actually said.


Another Ratings Wake-Up Call?

An Australian reader forwarded this Herald Sun story on “disastrous” television ratings in Australia for golf. It’s yet another eye opener, especially considering that Australian golf is producing so many world class players.

“As Peter Lonard marched to victory at Coolum in the PGA on Sunday, the audience peaked at 142,000 in Melbourne and 123,000 in Sydney,” the story says.

“A comparison with the 1997 Australian Open, when Englishman Lee Westwood defeated Greg Norman in a playoff, indicates hundreds of thousands of lounge room fans have deserted golf. That year, Seven achieved the Australian tour's highest-ever rating of between 500,000-600,000 in Melbourne.”

Meanwhile this Arizona Republic story includes the flat and barely reported Skins Game ratings. The numbers were barely boosted by Tiger. The story also has some interesting quotes from a fan who attended the event.


Q-School Wrap-Up

The AP's Doug Ferguson highlights the best and worst of the Q-School finale, always one of golf's most emotional days.