Twitter: GeoffShac
Writing And Videos
  • 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

It is a wonderful tribute to the game or to the dottiness of the people who play it that for some people somewhere there is no such thing as an insurmountable obstacle, an unplayable course, the wrong time of the day or year.



Entries by Geoff (19639)


Another Sign The PGA Tour Is Warming To Daily Fantasy?

Given the role that fantasy leagues and daily fantasy (gambling) have played in strengthening fan ties to other sports, new PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan has expressed an open mind toward the possibilities. The daily fantasy world is seeing golf as a growth industry. Television networks would not be opposed to more eyeballs.

So it was intriguing to see the Tour bless Willy Wilcox signing an appearance deal with DraftKings. As Brian Wacker reports for, the deal would seem to violate rules against players endorsing gaming companies.

For Wilcox’s part, he won’t have a DraftKings logo on his bag or apparel, and is in no way “endorsing” the company, says his agent Drew Carr -- though Wilcox did excitedly tweet about the new relationship, saying, “So pumped to announce I am officially paired up with @DraftKings! Helping them with some epic events..dream come true see y'all at Pinehurst.”

If that’s not an endorsement, where exactly is the line? It’s a blurry one at best.

“This is an opportunity that we have carefully navigated for the better part of a year, while keeping in close communication with the Tour,” Carr said. “This is not an endorsement of DraftKings, and it is not an endorsement agreement.


Pat Perez And Tiger Hash Things Out Via Text, Sort Of

Pat Perez went on SiriusXM PGA Tour radio with “Katrek & Maginnes on Tap” to clarify his comments on SiriusXM's Out of Bounds co-hosted by Pat Perez!

If you really have a lot of spare time, Golfweek's Kevin Casey links to the Perez effort to dig himself out of a hole created by the harsh tone of his Tiger assessment.

Perez also talked to's Brian Wacker and said he and Tiger texted things out.

“I wasn’t talking about his career, I was talking about this point in time and we don’t know what we’re going to get from him. I’m not the only one thinking this. It’s common sense. Everybody wants to talk about Tiger. It’s like ‘Where’s Waldo?’”

Perez sent a text message to Woods on Thursday expressing that same sentiment to the 14-time major winner, and the two exchanged multiple texts about the comments.

Woods was not pleased, according to Perez, but in essence told him he understood and that Perez is entitled to his opinion.

I've managed to obtain the text exchange exclusively because I look out for my readers! ;)

Here goes:


Poulter On Borrowed Time: Six Starts To Keep Card

Ian Poulter may be the most intriguing player to watch as this week's Honda Classic develops. The tournament is one of six remaining starts on a major medical exemption and the former world no. 5 needs $220k or so to retain PGA Tour status.

Doug Ferguson with Poulter's story.

When he returned in the fall, he had 10 events on a major medical extension to keep his card. He played four times on the PGA Tour and missed two cuts. Going into the Honda Classic, he has six tournaments remaining to earn either $220,301 or 154 FedEx Cup points.

That's in the neighborhood of a fifth-place finish.

"I'm on borrowed time," Poulter said. "Yeah, I need to perform well. ... A win would be nice. I have to think that I've got a chance, I really do. The situation I'm in, I have to be aggressive, but I've got to be careful. I can't make many mistakes."


Video: Tommy Morrissey On CBS This Morning 

The lad took the Honda Classic by storm this week (Steve DiMeglio reports) but if you follow him on Instagram (or Twitter) you know Tommy Morrissey is a daily inspiration.

Still, it was great to see Norah O'Donnell profile Morrissey on CBS This Morning as well as their podcast.


Fox! Value Of TV Deal Has Players Wanting More U.S. Open Say

The USGA's recent U.S. Open purse bump sounds as it was influenced by PGA Tour player talk at recent player meetings, reports Rex Hoggard for

Players feel they are still underpaid based on TV deals, with the Fox-USGA's known price tag making it easy for them to do some math and realize they are not paid proportionally with revenues. However, a $25 million purse would make a mess of things. So...

Instead, the players at the meeting focused on how the additional revenue could possibly be used, from additional funding for Tour purses, to rookie stipends or even a caddie retirement plan, which is currently a hot-button topic because of an ongoing lawsuit between the circuit and a group of caddies.

According to the USGA’s financial statement for 2016 about half (49 percent) of its revenues ($98.7 million) came from broadcast rights fees, while about half (46 percent or $91.5 million) of its operating expenses were related to its “open championships.”

And if it's not bad enough for the Executive Committee to possibly have to face giving up some of their profits, it gets more intriguing:

One player who spoke at the meeting and requested anonymity because of the potential for future negotiations said the concern goes deeper than simply a fair share of the TV rights, and that players want a say in future venues and how the championship is run, pointing out last year’s rules snafus at both the U.S. Open and Women’s Open.

It’s unclear how far the players would be willing to take a potential negotiation with the USGA or any of the game’s other ruling bodies.

“Let’s be honest, we’re not going to boycott a major,” one player said.


“If it was Barack Obama, I would have played. If it was Hillary Clinton, I would have played.”

Based on various social media posts and stories, Rory McIlroy's acceptance of a last-minute invitation to play golf with president Donald Trump has not been universally well received. Even though McIlroy merely answered a late Saturday call for a Sunday game, he has been questioned for accepting. I do not understand the outcry.

Pro golfers have not had a great recent history on this front--think Azinger and Pavin insisting they were not offended by going to the Clinton White House. With this topic in mind--one that won't go away as President Trump's regular golfing is highlighted--Karen Crouse of the New York Times anonymously polled pros about playing a round with the president. Fifty of 56 polled said they would accept an invite from President Trump.

Ernie Els, who teed up with Trump recently, gave the answer you'd hope to hear:

“If it was Barack Obama, I would have played. If it was Hillary Clinton, I would have played.”

And because he's on such a diplomacy roll, Pat Perez took an opposite approach.

Perez said he would play with Trump “in a heartbeat,” but would have turned down an invitation from Mrs. Clinton if she had won. (It should be noted that she is not known to golf.)

Ultimately all of this golf talk--which has become prime late night fodder--is pretty minor unless golf triggers global conflict of some kind. That seems unlikely.

However, I'd argue today's banter between President Trump and GE CEO Jeffrey Immelt, while understandable to golfers given the story, reinforces way too many stereotypes:




Pat Perez Joins The Tiger Enemy List In Grand Fashion!

Pat Perez, talking on Sirius/XM with Michael Collins on their monthly radio show Out of Bounds, is certainly blunt when talking about Tiger's future after establishing that Woods "is the needle." But given that Perez has played 18 majors in his career to Tiger's 14 major wins, a touch more empathy might have been in order even after establishing his respect for Woods.

But the show is called Out of Bounds and he's swinging for the fences here in his once-a-month opportunity.

Michael Shamberger at The Big Lead has the audio posted by Sirius/XM.

“He knows he can’t beat anybody. He’s got this new corporation he started so he has to keep his name relevant to keep the corporation going. So he’s going to show up to a few events, he’s going to try to play, he’s going to show the Monster bag, he’s going to show the TaylorMade driver, he’s gonna get on TV. He’s got the Nike clothes, he’s gotta keep that stuff relevant.

“But the bottom line is he knows he can’t beat anybody. He knows it. He shot 77! That guy can’t shoot 77. What does he do the next day? ‘Aw my backs gone.’ He knows he can’t beat anybody!”

“Personally, I don’t think you’ll see him again this year. The guy can’t show up to an interview!"

Tiger might normally have tolerated this as Pat being Pat except for the suggestion that Woods has been playing just to give sponsors some appearances. While that may be somewhat true, I'm fairly certainly suggesting that the tone Perez chose will move him to some place between Stevie and Brandel on the Tiger Enemy list.

Though the quotes were reported in many places and Sirius/XM clipped the audio to only feature the negative comments, Perez took to Instagram to suggest Golf Digest took the comments out of context.



"It may go unsaid, but Donald Trump wants something from the PGA of America." 

Michael Bamberger profiles PGA Of America CEO Pete Bevacqua but as a lot of things go these days, the story has to consider the relationship between President Trump and the PGA of America.

Writing for

Bevacqua, with his staff and board, is considering moving the PGA Championship from its customary August date to May, which would give the golf calendar a different rhythm. Oh, and Donald Trump has Bevacqua on his contact list, as he has for some years—and he's been in touch.

The two met at Trump Tower in New York City shortly after the election. They played golf in late December at Trump International. More recently, Bevacqua received a call from Trump—that is, President Trump—while ferrying his young children around Palm Beach Gardens.

"It was kind of a strange situation," Bevacqua said recently. "Three kids in the car and then there's a call, 'Please hold for President Trump.' The kids just kept doing their thing. They're singing, oblivious. But at the end of the call, my daughter says, 'Was that the president?'"

So where does this all head? Bamberger opines:

The PGA of America has two of its events scheduled for Trump courses, the Senior PGA Championship in May and the PGA Championship in 2022. Trump and the Trump Organization would gladly welcome more PGA of America events. A great golf prize for the Trump family would be a Ryder Cup on one of its courses on either side of the Atlantic. (Venues have been selected through 2024. The '26 Ryder Cup appears to be headed to Ireland. Trump has two Scottish courses, in Turnberry and Aberdeen.) Eric Trump—now in charge of running his family's golf business in conjunction with Larry Glick, a Trump Organization executive—would naturally love a U.S. Open, a British Open or a PGA Tour event at any course bearing the Trump name. Long before Trump was elected, the USGA awarded Trump National Bedminster with the 2017 U.S. Women's Open. But given some of the extreme language used by Trump as a candidate and some of the positions he has taken as president, it seems unlikely that the PGA Tour, the USGA or the R&A, administrators of the British Open, will be eager to choose another Trump venue anytime soon.

I disagree. Should the PGA Championship move to May, Trump Doral is a no-brainer as either a future venue or replacement for one of the northern venues currently on the PGA Championship schedule.


6,000 Cycle Through Safeco Field Topgolf's Pop-Up

Callaway and the Padres pioneered (Actual) Stadium Golf but it was great fun to see Topgolf take the idea and incorporate their concept at Safeco Field.

Sean Quinton reports for the Seattle Times. I could have done without this quote from CEO Erik Anderson, who sounds desperate invoking the M word.

“We are the place where millennials hit golf balls,” said Erik Anderson, Topgolf’s Co-Chairman and CEO. “You get to play the game, you can compete and trash talk with your friends, flirt with your girlfriend.”

Music blaring on the loudspeakers, the next shot lands squarely in the middle of a yellow target. The screen tracks the ball in realtime, adding 40 points to the score. This is not your grandpa’s version of golf.


Ready Golf Makes A Difference? The R&A Says So And Plans To Show How

Major League Baseball is threatening to fundamentally change a small but occasionally comical element of its sport in lieu of telling batters to stay in the box, which makes the R&A's gentler push for a speed-up tactic more appealing.

Martin Dempster reports that "ready golf" is going to be implemented at The Amateur's stroke play proceedings this year after other trial runs.

He quotes R&A Chief at Martin Slumbers at length, who also scolds players for not yelling fore in response to Pat Perez beaning a spectator Sunday at Riviera after not yelling fore (the landing area on that hole can't hear or see the tee, but I digress...)

On the topic of ready golf...

“When you get to the professional level, there’s no doubt in my mind that the professionals are role models, and they are fantastic role models for young people. They’re healthy, they’re fit, they’re strong 
and they’ve got unbelievable skill. “But part of that role model is pace of play, and there is no doubt that younger generations take a steer from them. So I think I would just encourage the Tour pros to realise that pace of play is part of them being that role model, and it’s not helpful to growing the amateur game when the youngsters are slowing down.

Interestingly, the R&A has guidelines for proper ready golf.

And at the Irish Close Championship last year, they reported a 45-minute round improvement when ready golf was implemented.

While this doesn't address distance, green speed and the refusal to penalize (where hath you gone Keith Pelley?), ready golf is at least something and the R&A is going to earn huge points for being at the forefront of the slow play issue.


When It's Okay To Be Slow vs. Just Plain Rude

After getting to see some solid PGA Tour action and some not-so-solid pace of play, I have read with interest Karen Crouse's New York Times story from Riviera on the topic. Leadership in golf has generally--with exceptions--signalled a desire not to act. 

Going forward I believe we need to separate the issue a few ways so as to not allow the issue to be clouded by excuses.

1.Length of round for the everyday game.

WSJ's Jason Gay included golf in this humorous roundup of what sports are doing to speed things up for an increasingly distracted younger generation.

It isn’t just the big leagues that are worried. It’s every sport. And it isn’t only the sports we watch on TV—it’s the sports we all play, too. Every game needs to be fast. Golf, in particular, is in a high panic that asking anyone under 80 years old to play 18 holes is like asking them to take a month-long canoe trip down the Amazon.

Are you kidding me? Eighteen holes of golf? What do you think I am, dead?

Speed is the rage, we’re all constantly told. People want experiences that are quick and effective and capable of being packed into a torrent of life events. My Journal columns, for example, are now mostly read on mobile phones by readers who are parachuting out of airplanes while using Instagram, fighting robot dinosaurs and making lunches for their kids.

2. Consistently slow golfers who disregard the 45 second rule and fail to play ready golf. There are some--like Ben Crane--who has spent over a decade taking too long to play even a basic shot. Because they're "nice guys" or they make light of their pace in lame videos, they get a pass. When their play is so disproportionately slow compared to their peers, the behavior is unbecoming of a professional golfer. From an in-person spectator view, such play will make people stay at home instead of coming to pro golf tournaments. And its rude to a player's peers.

John Feinstein and I tackled this question on Golf Central today. While I agree with those who say penalty shots are the only solution, I'm increasingly of the view that the only way to make people speed up is to shame in the form of huge (published) fines, reporting each week's bad times and/or having a bonus pool that rewards faster golfers based on ShotLink data.

3. Golfers taking their sweet time in a high-pressure situation. This is the issue Crouse considers in her piece, with Jason Day as the centerpiece. While he is perpetually slow, I think we all understand his view that he should not rush a key shot down the stretch. He even cites the support of Tiger Woods.

However, Day's argument falls flat because he is slow all of the time. Tiger plays at a normal clip, buying some political capital when he has set up shop over a key shot. Same deal with Phil Mickelson. And from what I saw of Jordan Spieth last week when paired with rabbits Bubba Watson and Bill Haas, he's moved into the same category as Tiger and Phil.

Crouse writes:

The movement to speed up the game is driven by the fear that it will not appeal to today’s youth with their increasingly short attention spans or older golfers with limited free time for recreational pursuits. “Is there a way to take 25 minutes off the average round, and is that necessarily going to make for a better product or presentation?” Monahan asked. “It’s not apparent.”

It's also not apparent what the bonus is of watching any round of golf take 25 minutes longer than is necessary.

He noted that events not affected by weather delays or extra holes were being completed within the telecast window, which, like airline flight schedules, is padded to allow for lag time.

“So much of the beauty of what you see week in and week out is what a player faces and how they deal with that,” Monahan added. “Do they change their mannerisms? Do they change their preshot routine? How are they handling that situation?”

Which speaks to the last point: such slow play is interesting when it's a leader down the stretch. But on Thursday to Saturday, the sport is turning people off who come to golf tournaments and watch people stand around.


Bonallack: USGA And R&A Ignoring Legends On Distance

John Huggan reports that in comments related to Royal St. George's getting the 2020 Open Championship, R&A Chief Martin Slumbers said he has worked "very carefully" with high-profile critics of the distance explosion that isn't happening.

Except that in a disturbing but not shocking twist, former head R&A man Sir Michael Bonallack says he and other longtime players and leaders with Jack Nicklaus' Captain's Club a

“I am on Jack Nicklaus’ ‘Captains Club,’” said the five-time British Amateur champion. “We meet at Muirfield Village every year. At one of those we had Jack, Arnold Palmer, Gary Player, Bill Campbell, myself, Charlie Mechem from the LPGA, all with huge experience in golf. Jack was talking about the ball. We all agreed it was out of control and going too far. It had to be pegged back. So a letter was composed and sent off to the R&A and the USGA, signed by all of us.

“The only reaction we got was an acknowledgement. But I happened to see a copy of the memo that was passed from David Fay to Peter Dawson. “Have you got this?” it asked. “Please note the average age of those who signed it!” And that was the end of it.

While that was a few years ago and Slumbers may have a different view than his predecessors, no evidence suggests that the wise old guard will be listened to.

Bonallack goes on to recount a conversation with a golf dignitary defending the governing bodies in which he is told that all distance gains are from fitness. Apparently this person isn't watching much PGA Tour Champions golf, where the gains have been largest both off the tee and around waistlines.


Unauthorized And Harmless Genesis Videos Emerge! Pieters Tee Shot Clips His GF And Spieth's Unusual Club Flick

I've been enjoying Golfballed's video posts from the Genesis Open. All of this was against the tournament rules (for spectators too), though enforcement was non-existent due to the marshal force being severely depleted (weather and the amazing idea that a new sponsor means volunteers must buy a new uniform).

Anyway, Golfballed has 85.4k followers who got to see some nice shots from Riviera not shown on television to the best of my knowledge.


Note to Ponte Vedra Police: I just copy and paste...twelve years running. I do not condone this egregious violation of the fine print.


SI Roundtable On The Distance Report: "Nothing about this study rings true."

I'm continuing to savor the skepticism aimed at the USGA and R&A's latest distance report suggesting all is stable. A growing group of "truthers"--probably a majority of golf observers--are struggling to believe insignificant changes have occurred since 2003.  Especially when the non-flatbellies are seeing big gains.

This week's SI roundtable includes rebuttals from Ritter, Shipnuck, Bamberger, Sens and Passov, but it's the lengthy answer from longtime tour caddie John Wood that is worth diving into.

Here's a snippet related the role Trackman has played in recent years:

Then, there’s Trackman. The launch monitor leaves nothing to chance. Every driver built for these guys won’t make the lineup unless it shows optimal launch conditions. Launch angle and spin rate and landing angle and ball speed aren’t left to chance or feel anymore, but achieved and optimized scientifically. I could go on and on but, mercifully I won’t. The bottom line is that "study" isn’t worth the paper it’s written on. Maximum drives are significantly longer than they were 10-15 years ago. That’s obvious. And in my opinion, while the R&A, the USGA and the PGA Tour may say they’re keeping a close watch and controlling the distance professionals drive it (and providing statistics and studies to back up their claim), I think they’re probably doing so with a wink and a nod.

Not to always slip back into a baseball analogy, but in the midst of the home run binges of Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, Jose Canseco, Barry Bonds, etc. it’s well known that other players, managers, GM’s and owners had an inkling of what was going on, but it was in their best interest to let things proceed as they were. Why? Because fans loved it. Attendance and ratings soared. So, why would the golf establishment want to restrict or roll back the golf ball? As Greg Maddux once told us, "Chicks" (and fans) "dig the long ball." Simply put, more people will pay to watch DJ power his way around a golf course hitting 360 yard drives than would pay to watch another player plot and strategize their way around shooting the same score.

It's fascinating that with something like Trackman, which has become mainstream well after the Statement, offers an opening to admit a discussion must be had. And yet, they pass...


What Tiger Missed At The Genesis Open

Of course Tiger was missed. But the genesis of the Genesis turned out just fine.

While the Genesis Open’s “tournament host” was mostly holed-up somewhere in Santa Monica staying “horizontal” (according to his agent), the ailing Tiger Woods could have seen how happy the LA market was to welcome back the one-of-kind buzz only his cache delivers. But he stayed away. Except for a site visit to Hillcrest Country Club early in the week.

Horizontally speaking, the Genesis Open feels like it is headed for a bright future even after the host withdrew from the field and could not fulfill the same duties he has admirably carried out at other tournaments benefiting The Tiger Woods Foundation.

Unlike when he crashed his car in 2009 and cast a pall over his Foundation’s World Challenge at Sherwood Country Club, the Genesis Open went on with no shortage of intrigue. While a brutal storm halted play Friday and led to a discombobulated weekend, 72-holes were completed and a new lower-maintenance superstar ascended to World No. 1 status. The 91-year-old tournament played on a masterful design maintained its place as an elite PGA Tour stop without Tiger's presence.

Had Woods played the role of host, however, it would have helped.

Had Woods come to Riviera for a few hours and just sat in the locker room, he would have seen how many players were here this week to support him and all he’s done for the game. A few qualifiers and exemptees would have reminded him that he is a hero to them.

Had Tiger been here Friday and Saturday, he would have been astounded at the job superintendent Matt Morton’s volunteer army did getting the course playable for that weekend finish adding to the Foundation’s coffers. Tiger also passed on Sunday’s trophy ceremony and missed Sunday crowds overwhelming the course vendors with long lines in spite of the so-so weather.

Tiger’s dented psyche and strained back certainly would have benefited from a few minutes around the infectious joy of Kevin Hall, the 34-year-old former Big 10 Champion. Deaf since age 2, the inspirational Hall raised the bar to possibly insurmountable heights for future invitee’s receiving the tournament’s Charlie Sifford Exemption.

Fond memories from Tiger's famous L.A. Open debut twenty-five years ago might have been conjured up watching the impressive PGA Tour debut of Pepperdine’s Shahith Theegala, who qualified in Monday’s Collegiate Showcase and rewarded the tournament by attracting a boisterous local following. Making the cut made for an ever better story, as Mike James noted in the LA Times. Tiger might have even observed that the Showcase needs to get more attention going forward. Maybe he'll read the press accounts.

Of course, Tiger’s ego might have taken a bruising given that his TGR Ventures showed they didn’t need him. The business side operation of the Woods empire has plenty of experience running events like this one and the operation got through the week despite a late start cooking up tournament plans. They incorporated elements for kids and probably underestimated how much the 15-year-old and-unders here thanks to free entry also enjoyed the minuscule Learning Lab set up on site.

Even without Woods, the marketing effort in the finicky LA market improved in year one. But compared to other PGA Tour events, the overall experience has a long way to go. Merely relying on Riviera as a draw for players and fans will not be enough.

The second-year of an Uber operation helped get fans to a tournament location so cumbersome that this three-time major site has not hope of hosting future majors because of its small scale. Once on site, the event needs to get with the times. This is a city with all but its NFL team playing in a state-of-the-art facility. Standards have been elevated. Opening an outlet of Woods Jupiter on the 10th hole was a nice start, but given where modern tournaments are going with concerts and other fun events, TGR Ventures will have to be more aggressive going forward.

Woods should be pleased that few will remember his absence thanks to new World No. 1 and LA fan-favorite Dustin Johnson overpowering Riviera.  Having Johnson already locked in for next year and a likely spot on the 2018 schedule before the WGC Mexico City, will only continue the strong-field trend that had eight of the world top 10 at Riviera.

While DJ’s play over the final holes was a little loose, reaching 20-under-par and opening up a nine-stroke lead made him a worthy addition to Riviera’s legendary list of champions. It’s a list that likely will never include Woods based on his current trajectory. But Tiger’s legacy in southern California has already been solidified with his Foundation’s two decades of work.

Taking the Genesis Open to another level as a premier PGA Tour stop—a status it long enjoyed as a foundational tour event won by legends—would be something Woods will savor for his business future and community legacy.  That legacy starts with showing up. Because first and foremost, he would have learned that he was missed in whatever capacity he could serve.


Sigh: Royal St. George's Lands 2020 Open Championship

The Open venue most desperately in need of some restoration after some dodgy changes through the years, lands the 2020 championship. While the southeast English links sports plenty of fine holes and is a beautifully maintained club, the course once revered decades ago for its uber-natural features has lost some appeal due to a bit too much man-made quirk.

That said, they may surprise us, and for fans of next door neighbor Royal Cinque Ports, it gives reason to return to one of the most underrated links on the planet.

Meanwhile Trump Turnberry is still on the R&A radar, reports John Huggan, but reading Alistair Tait's item on Muirfield's upcoming vote, Martin Slumbers makes it sound like they will be penciled-in ahead of Turnberry.

Fun times!

Oh and The Old Course will inevitably host in 2021.

For Immediate Release:


20 February 2017, St Andrews, Scotland: One of the world’s great sporting events will return to the south east of England in 2020 when The 149th Open is played at Royal St George’s.

The Open will return to the historic Kent links for the 15th time. It was last played at Royal St George’s in 2011 when Darren Clarke showed his mastery of links golf in challenging weather conditions to hold off Americans Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson to become Champion Golfer of the Year.

“It was an unbelievable feeling to lift the Claret Jug and know that my name was displayed on the trophy alongside so many of the greatest players ever to play the game,” said Clarke.

“The Open is what it is all about for me as a golfer and it is the championship I always dreamt of winning from when I first took up the game as a kid. I have so many wonderful memories from that week at Sandwich and I will be thrilled to go back there for The Open in three years’ time.”

Martin Slumbers, Chief Executive of The R&A, said, “We are very much looking forward to the return of The Open to Royal St George’s in 2020. The Open is a true celebration of sport and the global spotlight will fall once again on Sandwich.

“Royal St George’s has produced a series of outstanding Champion Golfers over the last 120 years and it is a thrilling prospect for golf fans to see the greatest players competing on one of the world’s finest links courses.”

James Furber, the Captain of Royal St George’s, said, “We are delighted and honoured to be invited to host The Open in 2020. This is tremendous news for the Club and a wonderful commercial opportunity for Sandwich, Thanet and Kent.

“The Club is most grateful to all those in the local authorities and the local MP’s who have worked so hard with us over the last few years to bring this about.  We look forward to working with The R&A and others over the next three years to deliver one of the world’s most prestigious championships in 2020.”

Royal St George’s first hosted The Open in 1894 and it was the first occasion on which the Championship was played outside of Scotland. The 35th Open was won by JH Taylor, who became the first English professional to win the Championship.

Over the years, the historic links at Sandwich has seen some of golf’s greatest players lift the Claret Jug including Harry Vardon, Walter Hagen, Henry Cotton, Bobby Locke, Sandy Lyle and Greg Norman, who secured a two-shot victory over Sir Nick Faldo in 1993.

Paul Carter CBE, Leader of Kent County Council, said, “We are absolutely delighted that we have secured The Open in 2020 at Royal St George’s. In 2011 there were over 180,000 visitors to The Open, and an extra 37,000 passengers travelled on the special High Speed train service from London St Pancras.

“The benefits to the tourist economy was massive, amounting to over £64 million.  Significant transport improvements were needed to improve spectator flows in and out of Royal St George’s and KCC has played a leading role in facilitating partnership funding with the Local Enterprise Partnership and District Councils.”

Cllr Paul Watkins, Leader of Dover District Council, said, “We are delighted to be welcoming The Open back to Sandwich in 2020.  It’s the biggest sporting event to come to the region and provides the perfect showcase for Dover and the wider East Kent area.  

“We’re proud to have some of the world’s finest links courses and The Open always provides a huge boost to the local economy.  We look forward to working with The R&A and partners to deliver another outstanding event in 2020.”

Christian Brodie, Chairman of the South East Local Enterprise Partnership, added, “The Open is one of the country’s iconic sporting events and it’s fantastic news that Royal St George’s will host it again.

“The Open in 2016 was worth an estimated £110 million to Troon and Scotland and in 2020 it will present us with an opportunity to highlight the economic opportunities for business to invest in East Kent to a global audience.”

The 149th Open will be played from 12-19 July 2020.


Rory Answers The President's Call!

No Laying Up podcast co-host Rory McIlroy reports to NLU that he teed up with President Donald Trump Sunday.

McIlroy expedited his return to play a week early for the Trump International round that also included ISM agent Nick Mullen and Trump friend Rich Levine. More intriguing than the President is the golf with Mullen, who works for the agency that first represented McIlroy (photo on right is not the full foursome).

Score was not kept but McIlroy said the President played well:

“He probably shot around 80. He’s a decent player for a guy in his 70’s!”

The White House initially said the President only played a few holes, then clarified that it turned into a full round, reports the AP's Catherine Lucey.


Increasing Athleticism! Then How Are Geezers Picking Up Yards?

With the tour in town I haven't had a chance to read the USGA/R&A distance report, so I'm relying on Mike Stachura's take at It's fascinating to see that those suggesting distances are changing were labeled distance "truthers", implying a conspiratorial element.

That description is even more peculiar given this:

To clarify, the PGA Tour driving distance average has grown by 2.8 yards from 2013-’16, or 0.7 yards per year. In that same time frame, the PGA Tour Champions has seen a 5.7-yard increase, or nearly 1.5 yards per year, while the Tour is up 2.1 yards since 2013, or better than half-a-yard per year.

So the not-flatbellies of the PGA Tour Champions have picked up five yards in four seasons--once an eye-opening number--yet we are to believe athleticism is driving many increases as opposed to the manufacturers and Trackman out-maneuvering the governing bodies?

The Distance Report specifically breaks down distance into several groups, including the percentage of 300-yard drives as tracked by the European Tour and PGA Tour. Most notable is how the PGA Tour with 31.2 percent of its drives longer than 300 yards in 2016 shows nearly a 17-percent increase since 2003.

When the 2003 Joint Statement of Principles was issued by the organizations it discussed the skill word, the significant word and the statement did not care what caused increases. A 17 percent increase is, apparently, not significant.

As well, the number of players averaging more than 300 yards for the season has increased. In 2003, that number was nine. That figure was 13 in 2008, 21 in 2011 and 25 in 2014. By 2016, it had tripled to 27. This year’s number (38) is actually about 20 percent fewer than a year ago (47).

But back to increasing athleticism. From the USGA's John Spitzer:

“We do not have a trigger and there’s no contemplation of one, but clearly even if you look at this slow creep of one foot a year and attributed that to athleticism, in 20 years you’re going to have a seven-yard increase,” he said. “Athleticism is still going to increase and at some point it may need to be addressed, just not as an equipment issue but as a pure distance issue long term.”

How did the Joint Statement of Principles fail to address the long term?


Genesis Open Second/Third Round This And That

It'll be a 36 or so hole grind on Sunday at Riviera, with Dustin Johnson leading Pat Perez and Cameron Tringale by one.

Riviera drained beautifully after three inches of rain, but given the pristine conditioning and benign weather forecast for Sunday, the 72-hole record could be in jeopardy. Players will be playing the ball down for the final 36 holes, speaking to just how well Riviera has drained.

Still, it seems like the early/late side of the draw got a huge advantage weather-wise, Rex Hoggard writes.

The early wave scoring average for Round 2, those who played through the worst of Friday’s tempest, was 72.86 (including just 29 of 72 rounds in the 60s), while the afternoon draw was more than two strokes better with a 70.47 average.

There were several WD's, including Bubba Watson (two holes to go after morning restart), and Bryson DeChambeau (injury). Hoggard reports.

Sahith Theegala has made the cut and the Pepperdine sophmore is getting to play with Phil Mickelson for the final 36 holes. My story on Theegala.

For leader Johnson, it's another chance to win at Riviera.

From the ShotLink team:

Cameron Tringale with the shot of the day:



Phil Mickelson with the recovery of the week, by far:




Monty's Back! Wouldn't Trade His Career For Tiger's And How Technology Deprived Tiger Of Majors

It wasn't all about Monty. In fact, he said some pretty interesting stuff about the de-skilling of elite level golf due to technology, which was once a concern of the governing bodies (they even put it in writing!).

Speaking to's Michael Bamberger, who wisely just turned on his tape recorder and let Colin Montgomerie talk. After reminding us repeatedly that he predicted Tiger's success at the 1997 Masters--he was villified!--Monty offered this assessment of technology and Woods.

“What might Woods have done had the game never moved off the balata ball and the wooden wood? Many golf fans would say he would have won less. I believe he would have won far more. He has the 14 majors. Without the equipment changes, I believe he’d have well into his 20s now. Because now everybody has clubs where they can do what he could do.

“Two others lost out hugely to technology. Greg Norman was one. He was the best driver of the ball with the wooden club ever. He lost out when drivers went to metal and suddenly we could do what he did. He lost his asset. And the other was Seve. When Ping developed its L-wedge, with box grooves, we could suddenly do what Seve could do with a 52° club. He lost his asset too. Tiger had all that, in spades. And then we were given equipment that allowed us to do what he could do."

But driving distances are steady, so all is well.

The line that is getting all the attention.

“I never won a major. Tiger won 14. But would I trade my career for Tiger’s? No. I started out this game a pretty good golfer and finished in the Hall of Fame. I feel I have overachieved. So how could I say I wish it were better? People will say, `Well, he didn’t win a major.’ And, yes, I would have liked to shut them up by winning one. But that’s my only regret, really. Great that I have won senior majors, which has quieted the odd person.

Odd, indeed.