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 March 2005
Observations by Geoff Shackelford

Norman: Golf Not Elitist 

GW's Tim Rosaforte reports on the Clinton-Bush-Norman fundraising event at Medalist in Florida. A local newscaster dared to ask if golf was an elitist sport. Norman tried an answer, then 41 tried and then Clinton (as only he can do) took the mike and plugged how much they’d raised for tsunami victims.


Nicklaus Decries FlogGolf

Tom Spousta in the USA Today writes that “Jack Nicklaus seldom watches golf on television but sat riveted Sunday as the last few holes played out in Tiger Woods' victory over Phil Mickelson.” Nicklaus disturbed by the way Doral was played.

"It's absurd," Nicklaus said.


The Golf Club at No. 6 

See if you can make it through this story on Pinehurst’s revamped “The Golf Club at No. 6,” without rolling your eyes.


I.M.G. Wants In On Mondays

They don't call 'em IM Greedy for nothing! Golf World obtained IMG’s letter to tournament directors offering to set up Monday outings similar to the recent Ford-Doral event. Naturally, IMG has been beaten at their own game (the backdoor appearance fee) and is simply trying to do what is best for the product, err, clients.

GW’s Ron Sirak notes that the Tour brass may have a hard time making its case against IMG since it so ignorantly tolerated the Ford outing, and because the Tour “runs an outing the day after the Players Championship at the TPC at Sawgrass, in which UBS, a sponsor of the tour's premier tournament, pays 11 players to participate.”

"That's apples to oranges," the Tour’s Bob Combs said of the UBS event. "That's much different than being paid before a tournament with the implication the player will stay on." It is? Actually, the Monday after sounds more enticing than the Monday of tournament week. Oh, this is going to be fun to watch!

If you want to read a great story on IMG pre-Fortsman purchase, check out John Huggan's Nov. 2003 piece for The Scotsman.

***Update 3-10: Golfweek's Jeff Rude has the Tour's response to IMG, while policy board man Davis Love says that appearance fees won't happen (even though they already are).


Another Equipment Battle?

Bridgestone sues and charges Acushnet/Titleist "with willful infringement of ten United States patents from Bridgestone Sports' extensive patent portfolio covering multi-piece solid core golf ball technology." The suit arose after negotiations broke down.


Hootie: An Option On The Table 

Bob Gillepsie in The State has several Masters notes, including the good news that Martha plans to stay away, and this quote from Hootie Johnson regarding a Masters ball: “That’s an option we would not want to take off the table,” Johnson said.

Also, in the excellent April issue of Golf Digest, 47% of online readers said they would be opposed to such a ball, while 41% were in favor of the idea and 12% were undecided. Rumors that Fred Ridley and Walter Driver accounted for most of 47% hits could not be confirmed.


Leaving La Costa*** 

Now posted, my column on an ideal replacement venue for dreary old La Costa.

***Update: Jim Achenbach talks to someone who has devised a different approach to the match play that would have players hanging around for a few days before any chance of elimination. It’s not perfect or even easy to understand, but it is refreshing to read about someone thinking outside the box.


And The Escena Envelope Goes To…

This press release states that "after months of speculation," some oddly-named new Jack Nicklaus design ("Escena Palm Springs") will soon be opening. Anyway, you'll be shocked to learn that the course will be "welcoming to golfers of all skill levels while challenging to lower handicapped players, the course includes subtle greens enhanced by strategically placed bunkers and framed by low-lying plants. The release also contains this preposterous suggestion from Ken Alperstein of Pinnacle Design Company:

The desert courses of the 1930s to the early 1960s all had something very important in common. They were designed to blend into the natural terrain so that the course, its trees and plants as well as the clubhouse and other facilities all looked like they had been there forever. It was the perfect balance of nature- and man-made landscapes.

Yep, El Dorado and Indian Wells and Bermuda Dunes really look like God's handiwork. All those eucalyptus imported from Australia and the fountain-adorned lakes sure resemble what the desert looked like before it turned into Orange County east.


Thin To Win***

And here I was thinking Tiger merely was benching a few more pounds. Or it was all that roll the guys are getting on today's super firm courses (that 363 yard drive on 8 must have rolled at least 15 yards!). Turns out, the new 3-wood helped him reach Doral's par-5 12th en route to a win.

Q. The second shot at 12, ShotLink said it carried 300 yards.

TIGER WOODS: It ended up rolling out that far. It was 277 to the front and I probably carried it, what, 280 and it rolled the rest of the way.

Q. But you thinned it?

TIGER WOODS: I did. If you watched my reaction I kind of, oh, great, because I up shot it. Luckily the wind was a little bit down off the left and it stayed in the air. It kind of floated a little bit. This 3-wood is a little bit longer than my older 3-wood but it was nice to get a great break like that. What's important is I capitalized on that break and made the putt.

Oh and Ford must be thrilled to read where their GT is going:

Q. And secondly who gets the keys to that car?


***Update: Reader Steve reports that Tiger hit 46.4 percent of his fairways for the week at Doral, which ties the seventh-worst driving effort of his career. He hit 44.6 percent at the Buick, which ranks as his fifth-worst week. Keep flogging. Oh and thanks to the many readers who emailed to tell me that flog is golf spelled backwards. Hard as it is to believe, I was aware of that, as well as the nice double meaning (golf backwards…get it)


Floggolf Watch, Vol. 1 

Floggers are those who hit it as far as they can without regard to fairway contour, hole location or any other discernable strategy other than to have the shortest iron into he green. See Johnny Miller’s comments below for more on flogging.

According to Tourcast, it was definitely a good week for floggers (no relation to bloggers) at Doral:1st Place: Tiger averages 312 yards off the tee, hits 45% of his fairways, finishes 70th in total driving. 2nd Place: Mickelson averages 301 yards, hits 46% of his fairways, finishes 80th in total driving.


Misc. Weekend Reads

The most appropriate way to commemorate Tiger’s exciting win at Doral: enjoy the image of a lefthanded Tiger hitting the first tee shot as you enter Phil Mickelson’s official web site (watch the multimedia opening, it’s quick but definitely not Phil!). Here’s the discussion on where they're having a few laughs at Phil’s expense. And don’t miss Phil’s column, “A few words from the King,” naming him The King because he won the West Coast Swing bonus (making him King of the Swing...see, you learn something new everyday here at!).

This AP story has the details of Paul Casey’s worst heckler to date. No doubt one of the thousands of fans who emailed Titleist last fall, begging them to drop Casey after his “properly hated” them comments.

TGC's George White figures out that the “Big Four” of Woods-Singh-Els-Mickelson played in the same event only 7 times last year, while 15 tournaments saw three of the big four enter. Why do I envision network television executives bringing this stat up after Tim Finchem mentions he’s looking for a $1 billion package?

Joe Gordon writes that the Deutsche Bank event is basically going to keep returning to the unpopular TPC Boston because it benefits Tiger’s charity, thus Tiger will play, and Tiger means TV. In suggesting a shorter season this week, Tiger probably wouldn’t propose that this relatively new and meaningless event go away.

John Huggan writes about the potential media-relations mess better known as Ian Woosnam’s Ryder Cup captaincy, while Larry Bohannon artfully dispels the notion that the Tour will ever shorten the season.


Johnny: Just Flog It Out There

After a 5-minute Ford-NBC synergy package taped at some race track, Dan Hicks and Johnny Miller had this exchange:

Hicks: You have to have sort of a race car driver mentality out here.

Miller: What’s happening in the game of golf, in the pro game today is to just flog it out there. Vijay did it last year. He didn’t care if he hit the fairway or not. If he hits the fairway, its’ a birdie hole. If he doesn’t, he can still make birdie half the time.

A few minutes later, Tiger carried the ball 330 yards onto the 16th green, making it one of the few moments where the power game actually translated well to television.

Though somehow I doubt everyone would feel very good if Tiger did the same thing in a major on say, #18 at Olympic Club in 2012.


CEO Norman

Lawrence Donegan quotes Greg Norman from Dubai, where the Shark alternates between CEOspeak and pro golferspeak.

"I said seven years ago that we as a company have to get involved in the development of Dubai, not from a golf-course design perspective but the point of view of building a need long-term vision ... patient money is the best money ... our residential development business is doing one and half billion dollars of retail value ... it is very difficult to develop a brand - there's 15 years before you get some good productivity ..."


USGA: Alice Dye…Update, Sort Of's home page had this teaser headline yesterday : “Keeping Up With Two-Time U.S. Senior Women's Amateur Champion Alice Dye.”

Considering that Dye recently underwent surgery and she always has something interesting to say, I was looking forward to the “story.” But clicking on the link, you find a whopping 220 word update with a brief quote about forward tees. Boy I feel caught up, don’t you? Maybe there’ll be more in the next Golf Journal.


Letting The Sun Go Down On Appearance Fees

The New York Post's Phil Mushnick goes where few sports writers have dared, complaining about Tiger's backdoor appearance fee deals while taking on the Ford-Doral, uh, "product" situation:

Money has a way of beating the hell out of ethics. And the dawn of the Tiger Woods era began to see the sun set on appearance-fee bans. Running through loopholes has become the new fitness regimen.

The PGA has thus far responded with a shrug. And, given that Team Tiger got this ball rolling, a shrug is likely the best the PGA can offer. Signing huge endorsement deals with American Express, Buick, Accenture and Disney, Woods became a virtual lock to appear in PGA tournaments carrying those corporations' titles. On the other hand, he became a longshot to play in events carrying the titles of sponsors that rival the corporations he endorses. Put it this way: That Woods, Buick guy, is playing this week in a Ford event is downright noteworthy.

In case you aren’t aware, Ford is basically offering appearance fees to 5 key products, err, players this week. Chris Lewis in SI offers insight into other perks Ford is offering, while Ryan Herrington has an interesting piece on the new Doral tournament chairman and everything he and his cohorts are doing to attract prod---players to their events.


These Guys Are Really Working Out! Vol. 45

The workout programs are really paying off. Phil Mickelson, one "animal style" Double-Double away from needing a man-ssiere, almost drove the 376 yard par-4 16th during first round play at Doral. Never considered a driveable two-shotter, Mickelson carried the ball 322 yards into the greenside bunker. According to Tourcast, his longest tee shot of the day was at #8: 334 yards. Must be the workout program. Oh, and don't forget all the roll he’s getting because you know golf courses have never played firmer or faster. (By the way, 97 players broke par on the Blue Monster during round 1!).

Over in the lovely Middle East, Ernie Els averaged 310.5 off the tee en route to a 66 at the Dubai event. Thanks to reader Tuco who noticed this observation about Els on the techies discussion group of choice, Bombsquad (reg. required): “His [Els] -6 score of 66 was accomplished as easily as any round I've witnessed lately. He was hitting his Titleist 905 forever, often 70 yards past his playing partner Nicholas Fasth, who is no slouch. His [Els] drive at the 18th left him 159 yards to the front of the green on a 540-yard hole into a 15-mph wind.”

Here’s how Els described his 381-yarder after the round: “I hit a really good tee shot on 18 and just had a middle iron into the green and that's always nice to hang in there with a middle iron. So I drove it well there.” You think?


Shrinking The "Product" Schedule

Doug Ferguson has plenty of interesting quotes about a developing battle between the richest and the merely wealthy PGA Tour players. The fight? Over shortening the PGA Tour season. Tiger (wisely) says end the schedule around Labor Day, but the second half of the money list says no way. Jeff Sluman's quote is most revealing:

"If you took two months off the schedule, overall the fields would be better," Jeff Sluman said. "But what is the commissioner's job? His first priority is how many tournaments we can play and how high can we get the purses. It's all about playing opportunities."

In other words, Tim Finchem's salary is most likely laced with "playing opportunity" incentives to get the most money and the most events on the schedule. Finchem of course, didn't miss an opportunity to unload some MBAspeak.

"I wouldn't want to mislead anybody into thinking that we are on a mission to significantly alter the schedule," he said. "But we are aggressively looking and challenging ourselves in how we are presenting the product."


Arnie’s Army Opens SilverRock

Arnold Palmer opened SilverRock (yes one word and the R is capitalized), his umpteenth Palm Springs-area design. Larry Bohannon has all the exciting details.

“With a Scottish piper playing in the background and a golf legend roaming the grounds, the city of La Quinta officially opened its first city-developed golf course Tuesday to an overflowing crowd.”

Bohannon writes that “the course was originally budgeted for $10.3 million dollars but is about $2 million over budget.”

Palmer said he was pleased with the design (and wait 'til he actually sees it!). He also said: "This golf course, SilverRock, is 7,600 yards from the tips. If we continue to build golf courses to satisfy the length that people are hitting the golf ball, in four or five years we'll have to build them 8,000 yards. Well, we're going to run out of real estate."

In another story, Bohannon reports that the loudest cheer of the day followed Arnie’s rumination that, shocking as this may seem, he’s thinking of playing in the Classic again.

"My tournament days are over, although I have given some thought, and I say some thought, to the possibility of coming back and playing one more Bob Hope Desert Classic. I don't know about that."


His First Middle East Design

So this is where Ernie was last week! Clad in shorts and tennis shoes, check out Els hitting the first tee shot into a lovely patch of Dubai tundra that will be transformed into a development called Victory Heights.

“The Dunes will be Ernie Els Design's first golf course in the Middle East consisting of a combination links golf course and traditional 'classical era' design.”

The press release says everyone is excited and honored to be part of this thrilling project. The highlight of their lives, really. And then there’s the design.

“Broad open fairways and exquisitely maintained playing surfaces will entice boldness and bravado while powerful 'Mackenzie' bunkering, subtle and veiled undulation and strong defensive greens will punish and betray incorrect stroke making.”

Somehow I have a hard time imagining the Good Doctor feeling good about his name being used in this vein. Then again, Augusta National never paid their tab, so maybe Arab sheiks would look good to the Doc.


Misc.Weekend Reads***

We are constantly reminded that today's players are far better than their predecessors. Fields are deeper than ever. So why does the crack golf media consider so many losses at the World Match Play to be upsets? Or imply that the Toms-DiMarco final lacks cache if "everyone in the field has a chance" every week? (At least, this is according to numerous articles written in recent years by our cheerleading corps who alternately proclaim the "big four" untouchable). The point is, golf is not tennis. The rankings are basically meaningless at this level. And so is most of the prognosticating.

Thankfully, The Scotsman's John Huggan is able to put the purity of match play into perspective , while Art Spander voices a similar tune, defending the finale (before Toms routed DiMarco). Art also has some interesting quotes from the combatants. E specially compared to this AP story that reader John pointed out, which includes this rivetting insight from DiMarco as its lead quote: "Obviously, there's only two of us left. And one of us has to win tomorrow."

Anyway...David Feherty's column on charity golf events has some funny one-liners and some shilling too. Warning, if you're suffering from George Lopez fatigue, stay away. If inane and pointless lists are your thing, Scott Wraight on follows up a thrilling column on the best swings by ranking the best college golf programs of all time. Try not to laugh when he lists U. of Washington as one of the programs that just missed the top 9. Lorne Rubenstein followed David Duval at the Nissan and offers his observations. And if you missed Richard Hack's outstanding story on Howard Hughes, here's the link again just in case. Oh and don't miss out on your PGA Tour "Drive to a Billion" limited edition pins, now on the ebay auction block.