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 November 2004 to December 2004
Observations by Geoff Shackelford

The Source of Els’ Injury?

This doozy of a press release on Ernie Els’ “first middle east” design reveals that the Big Easy “has spent countless hours crafting, reviewing and enhancing design and strategy to produce a technically flawless creation that will cater for and challenge the amateur, while simultaneously presenting a serious test for professionals.”

Perhaps it was all of those hours at the drawing board that caused that finger ailment to mysteriously act up for the Chrysler Championship?


Feherty Unplugged

David Feherty previews 2005 in his Golf Magazine column. Yes, it's funny. Read it.


Dawson Responds to Palmer 

The R&A's Peter Dawson spoke to The Scotsman's Mike Aiken about technology and Arnold Palmer's recent comments.


For Immediate Release- NGCOA Technology Position Statement

NGCOA Technology Position Statement

Charleston, SC--It is the mission of the National Golf Course Owners Association (NGCOA) to enhance the lives of golf course owners by making their businesses more profitable, more efficient, better managed and more stable.

We join the USGA, the R& A, the PGA TOUR and the American Society of Golf Course Architects in expressing concern about the impact of technology that, without any improvement in swing technique, enables golfers to hit the ball farther; and, the possible negative effect this may have.

We endorse the rules and regulations of the USGA and the R&A. Further, the NGCOA agrees that the purpose of the equipment rules is to protect golf's best traditions, to prevent over-reliance on technological advances rather than skill, and to ensure that skill is the dominant element of success throughout the game.

It is the belief of the NGCOA that any further significant increase in hitting distances is undesirable. Our concerns are the following:

Increased golf ball distance results in errant shots missing their intended target by greater distances than before. New golf courses are required to be built with more land in order accommodate the need for larger safety buffers to either side of the preferred line of play. The effect has been that golf courses take up more land, with subsequent increases in land acquisition, construction and maintenance costs. The consequential lengthening and widening of courses will also have a negative effect on increasingly important environmental and ecological issues.

Older courses, many of which have been brilliantly designed, are being rendered powerless to challenge the modern power hitter and no longer play as designed. Additionally, in most cases the older courses are faced with a concern due to their inability to expand the safety buffers required with the longer-hitting golf equipment. Owners and operators of older courses are burdened with increased liability costs as a result.

Off-line shots, due to the greater dispersion that is generated by increased distance, also contribute to slow play. Additionally, greater hitting distances subject longer hitters to increased waiting periods between many shots, further impacting the pace of play. The result is diminished enjoyment of the game and increased cost of play.

The NGCOA is in support of the efforts of the rule making bodies to limit the impact technology has on golf ball distance. We view this issue as a top priority for the industry; and, encourage both the rule making bodies and the manufacturers to develop a timely and credible set of parameters that restrict further technology-driven increases in hitting distances.

With more than 6,000 member courses worldwide and an audience of more than 18,000 through Golf Business magazine, NGCOA is the leading resource for golf course owners and operators looking for tools to assist them in making their businesses more profitable and successful, while promoting a high level of service to partners, customers and members.


More Setup Blues

Australian Richard Green questioned the setup of the Australia Open and is attempting to do something about it.

"Unfortunately, we still have that attitude in Australian golf where golf clubs have their egos and they don't want their course beaten by these pros."

Green’s extensive quotes reflect the continuing problem worldwide: in the face of incredible new technology, setups that allow for the aggressiveness that Green says would return excitement might result in record low scoring. Which, sources say, could end the sun’s long run of rising in the east and setting in the west.


The King Has Spoken

Arnold Palmer has long prefaced his comments on the distance "debate," indicating that slowing down the ball would be the easiest solution for a major problem.

But his comments took on an edgier tone while visiting Australia. Shockingly, he is not on the "better athletes" World Tour, instead offering these comments during a visit to the Australian Open. They were reported by Bernie McGuire in the Irish Independent (reg. required):

“You cannot stop R & D on golf equipment no matter what rules you put in place, but what we have to stop is the golf ball. That doesn't require a major change but we do need to slow the golf ball down.

"The golf courses that I am designing all over the world now are upwards of 7600 yards and if you hire me to do a golf course for you, you want a course that they won't tear apart. You'll say, 'Build it so they can't shoot the scores'.

"I'm not sure I can because they are hitting it so far. I have a grandson who carries the ball in the air with a driver 300 yards consistently. He is 17 years old.

"It is an ongoing thing. It is happening and it will continue to happen. The only way you are going to curb development is with the golf ball.

"We can make golf courses impossible to play without lengthening them but that is unlikely to happen. The one area where you can keep golf as we have all known it in our lifetime in proper perspective is the golf ball."

The article also included comments from Nick Faldo and Bob Charles who both reiterated Palmer’s message.

"The golf ball has changed the face of golf forever and it was left way too long before anything was done about it," Faldo said.

"The first big leap was 20 years ago when Titleist brought out their 384 model and that went 20 yards further than anything else at the time.

"Slowly since then the golf ball is being driven longer and longer and (Jack) Nicklaus has been beating the drum about the golf ball for two decades now and nothing's happened.

"It's all too late now and this is where we are now with the public, the players and the tour's all loving the fact that guys hit it now 350 yards.

"The whole issue with the golf ball is in the hands of the manufacturers and they have to come up with something that is really challenging for the pros but I can't see that happening in the foreseeable future."

Bob Charles said: "It's just that modern technology has taken a lot of skill away. The ball goes straighter and it's easier to control.

"It's ridiculous. It's not golf, and the sooner the powers-that-be put clamps on the performance of the ball, put restrictions on manufacturers on how far the ball goes, the better for everybody.

"A lot of courses are becoming obsolete with the ball being driven 300-350 yards. Courses should max out at 7000 yards. They're now playing 7200-7400 yards. It's not a level playing field any more.

"Everywhere you go people are looking for tees further back. It shouldn't be that way."


Shotlink Data

A benefit of the Tour’s $25 million (so they say) Shotlink is this article and separate list of year end stats on most three-putted greens, most heavily trafficked bunkers and other inane stats as reported by the USA Today. Surely they could come up with some more interesting ways to take advantage of Shotlink, which is fascinating to study when the architecture the interesting (ex: it’s great fun to look at say, how Riviera’s 10th is handled by the field depending on various hole locations).


Torrey Pines Going South, Vol. 2

Residents and the San Diego Union Tribune's Tod Leonard suspect that daily fee golfers are pretty darn low on the list of priorities when it comes to what’s best for Torrey Pines.

That is a problem considering it's a municipal, daily fee facility.

The article raises more questions about turning the North Course's fine soil-based greens into USGA greens to improve turf conditions, even as the North greens have been far better than the South's for three years now.

That destroying-the-village-to-save-it concept never does sit well, does it?

Amazingly, the debate and outcry centers around the need to update the course, which golfers don’t want to play or pay for if it'll turn out like the dreadful South Course redo.

The driving force behind the redo seems to be the Century Club and the folks running the pricey Lodge at Torrey Pines, which prematurely announced the renovation in its newsletter.


Farcical Skins? 

Peter Thomson introduces the Australian Open for The Age, sharing tournament lore and the architecturally beleaguered history of the host site.

He also isn’t too excited about the Skins Game being played the same week as the Australian Open and slams the American Thanksgiving golfing tradition as if it had made an unusual decision to select these dates for play (uh 21 years and running now on Thanksgiving weekend). Thomson chooses not to criticize Australian Adam Scott for opting to play at the picturesque Trilogy Golf Club active adult community instead of his home nation’s biggest event.

In the future, Scott shouldn't have to worry about the decision. As a now-former IMG client who dared to quit the agency, this is likely his first and last Skins appearance, barring a victory.

*** Note that Thomson wasn't upset about the Grand Slam of Golf being booked this week. Perhaps because like me, he forgot about it!


Misc. Reads ***

Tim McDonald on Travelgolf looks at the various golf publications in a largely positive overview. SI's Gary Van Sickle offers some funny info about Donald Trump selling "You're fired" merchandise at Trump International.

And if you don't receive Golfdom, my feature story on photography and disposable cameras is posted along with my photos from a fall trip to the Northeast in 2003. Also online is my November column, "In Praise of Surface Drainage."

*** My latest "Tradition Matters" column is now posted on the demise of the Skins Game.


Turner on Entourages

New Zealand golf professional Greg Turner offers yet another insightful, witty and original commentary. This time he addresses impact that entourages are having on pro golfers.

"Progressive" Golf Balls

The USA Today, longtime home to those ads designed to look like an article touting the new super long golf ball, offered a real story plugging a new material that purports to make balls fly straighter.

Meanwhile, Links Editor Dave Gould writes about balls embedded w ith tiny chips that emit a signal golfers can identify and track via hand-held scanners. , “A ll I can say to traditionalists is get out there and enjoy conventional golf while you can.”

Gould makes a strong case that this form of progress, while well-intentioned, will strip the game of a few more subtle character-building and bonding traditions.

Pretty soon, golfers will need to wear those Brian DePalma fishing vests, with pockets to store the Laser Link for yardages, another pocket for your ball scanner, and a big pocket to store a paperback to read when pace of play isn't helped by any of this nonsense.


Clarifying the Relationship ***

I now understand the appeal of Donald Trump. He's says "You're fired," and everyone knows where everyone stands. This, as opposed to this corporatespeak doozy of a press release from Titleist.


Fairhaven, MA (November 19, 2004) - In the wake of recent comments made by professional golfer Paul Casey, Acushnet Company, owner of the Titleist, FootJoy and Cobra golf equipment brands, today clarified its relationship with the 2004 European Ryder Cup Team member.

"First and foremost, we want people to understand that Mr. Casey's comments do not reflect the views of the Acushnet Company and were not made in his capacity as an endorser of our products," said Wally Uihlein, Chairman and CEO, Acushnet Company.

"In addition, Mr. Casey's contract with Acushnet Company expires on December 31, 2004, and both parties have mutually agreed that it will not be renewed or extended."

Acushnet Company will have no other comment regarding this matter. Titleist, FootJoy, Cobra and Pinnacle comprise the major golf brands of Acushnet Company, an operating company of Fortune Brands, Inc. (NYSE-FO). Titleist, FootJoy, Cobra and Pinnacle are trademarks owned or licensed by Acushnet Company.

He's clarified! Err, fired. This was an important move for Titleist to make, because when Casey made his remarks about hating the American Ryder Cup team, most people's first reaction was, wow, he's saying that as a Titleist man!

***Update: This UK Telegraph story sums up the mess well and clarifies what Casey actually said, versus what the tabloids pinned on him. And John Huggan does an even better job summarizing the matter, with a source telling him that Titleist had planned to let Casey go long before this incident.


20/20 Wrap

If you want to be annoyed, read this story summarizing the recent Golf 20/20 get together. Lots of MBAspeak about effective marketing strategies, growth initiatives and the need for yet more summits and meetings.

Not mentioned: affordability, cost, pace of play, value, accessibility, architecture, alternative facilities and every other factor that just might be worth discussing.


Architects Will Say Anything Vol. 302

Las Vegas Sun reporter Adam Candee sat down with Jack Nicklaus to plug the Coyote Springs development outside of Las Vegas (it’s being compared to Desert Mountain…in other words, it’s out in the middle of nowhere). Two of Nicklaus’s more interesting answers:

Sun: Since you first got into the design business, how has your design evolved?

JN: It just continually changes. It continually changes ideas as you learn to develop. I suppose when I first started, I could do golf courses one, maybe one and a half different kinds of ways. I say one and a half meaning I was trying to do something else and I wasn't sure I could do it. I can do golf courses now probably a dozen -- at least -- different ways.

Different ways to put things together, make everything look different -- that's something you learn and you do it.

Sun: Going back to Coyote Springs for a second, the majority of majors are played in the East. Is this the kind of facility that could bring, say, a PGA Championship out West?

JN: My guess is the answer would be very definitely yes. I would be very surprised if it didn't.

Oh yes, a PGA in Las Vegas in August. Definitely no!


As the 2006 Ryder Cup Turns ***

Should be a jovial team atmosphere in Ireland for the 2006 Ryder Cup! Tiger is now on the record now about Mark O’Meara not getting chosen as Ryder Cup Captain.

"I thought he should have been captain because of the heritage of where he's from," Woods noted redundantly from Japan. "He's Irish so it would have been a perfect fit for him to be Ryder Cup captain."

Mark O’Meara’s about as Irish as Shaquille O’Neal! Come on Tiger.

Meanwhile, Brit and former ASU star Paul Casey blasted Lehman's appointment and said it “could affect the atmosphere of the match. I don't think people on this side of the Atlantic want to see him as captain. We've had a very, very good rivalry since '99 and I think people are afraid that it might bring up a Brookline-type situation at the K Club. Tom's name will always be one of those mentioned when you talk to players who were at Brookline and they all thought the spirit there wasn't right."

Luke Donald defended Casey's remarks and the tension between the two sides: "I think people who are not Americans can get upset with Americans quite easily. They do seem to be very insular. They make rash comments that can really be quite upsetting at times."

Donald offered this rather sound example of just how clueless some American golfers can be these days: "I heard Ryan Palmer, a US amateur champion, say that the Nationwide Tour, the second tour in the US, is the second strongest in the world and that was days after Europe had thrashed the US 18-9 in the Ryder Cup. Those kind of comments force people like Paul to say what he says."

Regarding Casey, Scott Verplank replied: "I didn't know he was a member of our tour but if he's really that uncomfortable or annoyed or anything I don't think anyone would miss him if he went back to England."

These guys are good!

***Update: This story sums up more of Casey's comments in the Sunday Times. It's not pretty!


Secrets of a Tee Time Girl

We’ve seen no shortage of apocalyptic signs. The Golf Channel’s “Big Break 2.” The Ryder Cup Opening Ceremony.

But it may be time to add multiple points to the Rapture Index. As Matt Paulson reports on, the forthcoming “Secrets of a Tee Time Girl, is “perhaps the first golf book written from a beverage cart girl's perspective.”

Can’t imagine why.

Paulson says that author Nicole Kallis, a beverage cart girl at Mt. Woodson Golf Club in San Diego, “frequently moves from first person into second in a successful, flirtatious attempt to make the reader truly feel as if she is talking directly to him. She makes him feel individual, special, as good cart girls have the unique, albeit heart-breaking, ability to do.”

Paulson also writes that Kallis employs “a few satisfying regressions into tongue-in-cheek innuendo, which comes out, among other times, when she's talking about the oversized drivers in the pro shop: ‘In my opinion, of course, the 300 series is big enough, but then I prefer a smaller head size.’ This occasional employment of quick wit acts as a representative ‘callin'-you-out’ rebuttal to every chauvinistic good old boy that has ever spewed a lewd comment to the beverage cart girl. (Guilty). It provides a fine balance with the fun-loving, flirtatious mood prevalent in most of the chapters.”

However, Paulson writes, “experienced golfers may have with the book comes with Kallis' admitted working knowledge with the game, which is exemplified by her reference to Steve Ballesteros.”


Q&A with Peter Oosterhuis

Geoff’s question and answer session with CBS’s Peter Oosterhuis is now posted on


Pine Valley Meets Bighorn in the Vein of St. Andrews

Golf World repeats the Larry Bohannan Desert Sun story on Bill Gates becoming a founding member of the “ultra-exclusive” Stone Eagle Club under construction in the hills above Palm Desert. The article also quotes Tom Doak as saying the course has the potential of becoming "the Pine Valley of the West."

Doak was quick to point out that the members want something more playable than Pine Valley.

The current tendency of architects to characterize their work by invoking the names of famous courses reminds me of that epic opening scene in The Player, where writers pitch ideas and blend classic movies.

“Picture this: it’s a planet with two suns,” says one writer. “Who plays the sons?” asks studio exec Griffin Mill before hearing pitches for a Goldie Hawn vehicle that’s “Out of Africa meets Pretty Woman” and a Bruce Willis pitch that’s “Ghost meets Manchurian Candidate.”

Doak has a ways to go before sinking into the depths only scoured by Hollywood, so may I suggest that in the future, a much tighter description would be, “it’s Pine Valley meets Bighorn in the vein of St. Andrews.”


The John Morgan Story

For SI Golf Plus subscribers (code required to access), Farrell Evans delivers the fascinating (and somewhat shocking) story of John Morgan in the November 15 issue. At first glance, this looks like another of those puffed up pieces about the latest “hip” Tour player and next great white hope (with an accent).

You remember Morgan. He wears mock t’s, backward caps, listens to Eminem and acts like a wrestler. He almost qualified for the British Open by nearly winning the John Deere Classic.

But his recent travails make for an unbelievably compelling story, artfully told by Evans. The killer lead:

Flight attendants, please be seated for takeoff." Those were the last words John Morgan remembers hearing. He was aboard American Airlines Flight 769 to Reno, on the tarmac at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport; seated directly in front of him was Mike Mollet, who caddies for Jeff Brehaut on the PGA Tour. It was Sunday, Aug. 15, and both men were heading for the Reno-Tahoe Open, where Morgan was hoping to secure his Tour card for the 2005 season with a strong showing. He was also excited about seeing his parents, who had flown in from his hometown of Portishead, England, to watch him play.

"Don't be kicking my seat like a little kid," Mollet had said to the 26-year-old Morgan in the waiting area before they'd boarded the plane. After the Boeing 747 had been sitting on the tarmac for 15 minutes, the pilot moved the plane into position for takeoff and revved its engines. On cue, Morgan began kicking the back of Mollet's chair. "Stop playing," Mollet said. But the kicking did not stop, and when Mollet finally turned to look behind him, he knew that Morgan wasn't playing -- his eyes had rolled back in his head and his body was convulsing.

Although he was wearing a seat belt, his 6'2", 200-pound frame shot up, ramming his head into the overhead compartment, and then crashed down across the armrest. As flight attendants scurried to help, Mollet, Rick Goyette, another Tour caddie who happened to be on board, and several other passengers did what little they could to make Morgan comfortable. Minutes later, the pilot pulled the plane out of its takeoff position and cut across two active runways to get back to the gate.

An ambulance was on the way for John Morgan. Morgan bit off part of his tongue, cracked two ribs and lost consciousness on August 15. By the time he was out of the hospital and ready to play, his game wasn’t the same and Morgan went from looking like a solid bet to keep his card to a 145th place finish and conditional status.