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

The object of golf architecture is to give an intelligent purpose to the striking of a golf ball. To be worthwhile, this purpose must excite and hold interest. If it fails in this, the character of the architecture is at fault.




In Living Color

BandonTrails17.jpgMy latest column on "color" in architecture is now posted.

You'll notice that the latest Michael Miller masterwork is included with the column. It's titled "Approaching Weather at Bandon Trails, #17."

For you Bandon Trails fans, Mike can produce beautiful Giclee prints of the painting, with the cost ranging from $100 to $350 in price depending on size. Or he can do prints of his other works, which can be seen here. You can email him at



E. Michael Johnson at Golf World breaks the news that the USGA is getting serious about driver moment of inertia (MOI).

"Research conducted by the USGA has shown that the clubhead size limitations already in place will not effectively prevent increases in clubhead MOI beyond the levels achieved by clubs which were submitted to the USGA prior to March 2005," the notice said. "The USGA has allowed substantial increases in MOI, but it now believes that a limit is appropriate."

In March the USGA said it was "concerned that any further increases in clubhead moment of inertia may reduce the challenge of the game." The primary concern is the potential development of a strong, lightweight material that would allow for 460cc drivers with an incredible amount of free weight to move around, providing a super-high MOI.

"We had thought maybe clubs had reached a natural limit on MOI with the head size of 460cc, but with further research and analysis we came to a different conclusion," said USGA senior technical director Dick Rugge.
And I wouldn't want you to miss this quote in the Johnson article from John Solheim of Ping. 
"They are eliminating the things we can do and I'm worried about the long-term effect on the game and the industry," said Solheim. "It scares me. It could have a huge effect on the health of the game. Our kids are not going to be able to get significantly better clubs a few years from now."

Ah, the poor children. What will we deprive them of next? 

Let's have a moment silence for this sad moment in the history of the future of the game.


If PGA Tour Players Could Rewrite The Rule Book

Jim McCabe talks to Tour players about what rules in golf they'd change. Naturally, intense self-interest come roaring to the top of their lists. Shorts, sand filled divots, etc...


They're Better Athletes...

How do you hurt youself playing Ping Pong? Vijay did.


Ferguson on the U.S. Amateur's Lost Luster

usga banner.jpgAP’s Doug Ferguson writes, “Somewhere along the way, the U.S. Amateur seems to have lost its status, if not some luster.”

He tries to determine “when the U.S. Amateur lost its status as a major is as unclear as when the Masters and PGA Championship took over.”

And he concludes, “Golf at the highest level is now about professionals. So are the majors.”

But well beyond record book quibbling, it seems that now is a good time to ask what is causing the Amateur’s recent slide in stature, separate of the pro vs. amateur major debate? 

  • Date played. It's played the first week of school for many college golfers after a summer of competitive play. Not an ideal time to bring out the best in players. But the other options have problems too.
  • Qualification standard. Reader Blue Blazer came out of hibernation to point out that the Amateur could give quite a few exemptions to say, the Western Amateur final 16 (since qualifying is usually held right after the Western). And of course, winners of other prestigious events like the Pacific Coast, Northeastern, Porter Cup, etc... A reasonable group of exemptions from the summer's best events would still barely put a dent in the 312-player field.

  • Amateur Status. This is the most difficult area to measure, but at some point the virtual end of amateur status seems to have taken some of the life out of the U.S. Amateur. Whether it’s players (especially from big Division I programs) getting free equipment, or a significant number of former pros in the amateur ranks, the concept of an amateur has lost its luster a bit. Perhaps that's also hurting the USGA's premier amateur event?

  • Big Money. Consider Michael Putnam’s decision to take a sponsor’s exemption instead of playing the Amateur at Merion (where he would have been one of the favorites). What’s the point when his career can be kick started? Granted most players don't do what he did. But after his performance, the minor gamble has turned into a potentially enormous career boost and one that many more players will look to as an excuse to turn pro ASAP.


White On Flogging

FlogGolf2.jpgGeorge White at The Golf Channel isn't a big fan of flogging and looks at some of Michael Campbell's recent comments on the deregulated power game and the impact it's having.

"It's no fun there. It's just a smash, just a slog. It's a power game. There's no finesse in the game,” [Campbell] says.

Campbell says he isn’t going to be playing professional golf much longer. So, to him personally, it’s really almost a moot point.

“I could retire by seven years' time - so 2012,” he declares. “After that, I don't really care, to be honest.”

That isn’t entirely truthful, to be honest. He cares a lot. But the people who matter don’t. And those people hold the game’s future in their hands.

The Ever Evolving Customer

garrisjpg.jpgAdam Barr at The Golf Channel reprints emails about "tailoring the game of golf to the ever-evolving customer."

The responses ranged from thoughtful to downright scary.

Here is his original column that prompted the responses.


Tour Driving Distance Watch

pgatour.jpg17 PGA Tour players are now averaging over 300 yards off the tee this season.  Looking at all of the guys at 299, the total may reach 25 by the end of the year, barring heavy rains.

In 2004, 14 players averaged over 300 yards.

9 players averaged over 300 yards in 2003.

John Daly was the only player averaging over 300 yards for the 1997, 1999, 2000, 2001 and 2002 seasons.



fazio and trump.jpgSI's Gary Van Sickle writes about "Trumpminster," a.k.a. Trump National Bedminster. The Donald had the media out during PGA week.
Trump insisted on about a dozen killer-A pin positions to show off the course to the media, apparently unaware that a majority of golf writers have double-digit handicaps and low pain thresholds.
Van Sickle basically says The Donald's best bet is a PGA, and even that is doubtful after Baltusrol'$ performance.


How Did It Get This Way?

That's what Travelgolf's Tim McDonald asks about the cost of a round.


Putnam Story

A nice story on Michael Putnam's impressive debut in Hartford.


More Merion Reviews

Here's the New York Times story...wait, they didn't cover the Amateur. They did pick up an AP story.

Mike Kern in the Philadelphia Daily News writes about Merion's Open chances, and he's lukewarm. He notes that some of the players were "hitting wedges into No. 18, a hole Ben Hogan made famous in 1950 with a 1-iron approach. Just thought it was worth mentioning."

Kern obviously missed the moment on The Golf Channel when David Fay brought Hogan's 1-iron and noted that Hogan was very tired in the afternoon round of 36, which is why he needed to hit 1-iron into the green.

And Joe Logan, who has been pretty high on Merion's Open worthiness, seems to have been influenced by Edoardo Molinari's play on Sunday. He hopes Merion sets its sights on more Amateurs:

I hope Merion celebrates the success of the Amateur and the strength of its golf course.

And then, I hope somebody at Merion with a lot of sense and a lot of influence pipes up and says, "What more do we need to prove? Forget the Open. Let's do an Amateur every 10 years."


Merion Finale

merion logo.gifWhat's the Farmer's Almanac saying about Ardmore in June of 2013? Hope it's not rain! Seven birdies in 15 holes for U.S. Amateur champion Edoardo Molinari in the afternoon? Perhaps some of those Merion hasn't become outdated by the USGAS's inept handling of equipment stories were filed just a wee bit soon?

Either way, Merion put on a great show and deserves to be the host of as many USGA championships as they want. Besides making less money in 2013, who cares if it rains a bit and the winner is 18 under? Oh wait...I forgot who I was dealing with for a second.

Anyway, the USGA game story is here. And here are Ken Klavon's notes, looking at how Molinari made 7 birdies in the final 15 holes. Impressive stuff.

Here's the story on the Dougherty's, truly one of the more impressive performances in a long time. It was pretty hard to imagine the emotions they were experiencing and pretty much impossible not to root for Dougherty to win after the unfortunate passing of his golfing grandfather.

Here's Molinari's transcript and Dougherty's. And here's the match scorecard.


The Sky Is Sad For Tom

usga had such a good week. And then there was Sunday morning.
Ardmore, Pa. – As Craig Smith, USGA director of media relations, drove through a pelting rain toward Merion Golf Club Sunday morning, he had an intuitive grasp of the moment.

"It’s raining because the sky is sad for Tom," said Smith, making the transposable statement that very well could reflect many feelings in the golf world. The Tom would be precursor for the surname Meeks. As in Tom Meeks. Sunday’s U.S. Amateur championship match represented Meeks’ last official course setup for the USGA’s senior director of rules and competitions.
Or maybe God opened up the sky because he thought the greens at Merion were looking a bit tired?


Union Tribune On Callaway

Jennifer Davies and Shannon McMahon in the San Diego Union Tribune look at new Callaway CEO George Fellows and the task before him.

But it's not just waning participation that's squeezing golf equipment companies like Callaway. Improved club technology, which helps players hit balls farther, doesn't drive sales the way it once did. Callaway, a technological innovator, thought it could set itself apart by continually offering new and better clubs and balls while charging premium prices.

The United States Golf Association, however, has strict restrictions on what equipment players may use in order to qualify for a handicap. And Callaway has been stung by those rules: The USGA essentially banned the company's ERC driver when it came out in 2000.
They introduced a product knowing it was illegal in North America, marketed it as non-conforming around the world, but it was "essentially banned?"  Hmmm...
While Drapeau, the company's former CEO, often complained about the USGA rules, saying "it was the biggest challenge" facing Callaway, Fellows has a different take.

"They are parameters. They are not a jail," he said of the USGA rules. "Let's find a way to be smarter than the next guy within those limits."
Give Fellows a few quarters of lackluster sales, and we'll check back to see how forgiving he is.

Meanwhile, we must not forget that life and commerce are only about one thing, and one thing only. No matter what you're selling or useless the widgets may be, it's all about...the brand.
With specialty consumer products like cosmetics and golf equipment, which are susceptible to trends, creating and marketing a strong brand is especially important, said Alexander Paris Sr., analyst with Barrington Research. Fellows' experience at Revlon and other consumer-oriented companies like Playtex and Mennen made him an especially strong candidate.

"This is a time that you want to get someone who knows how to sell branded products," Paris said.


Merion Day 6

merion logo.gifSo how far into Sunday's telecast will Dan Hicks go before mentioning that U.S. Amateur finalist Edoardo Molinari's parents have a home in Torino, Italy, where in just 165 days the 2006 Winter Olympics start...on NBC?! I say he doesn't make it past the first 20 minutes without a plug.

Here's the game story and Alex Miceli on Dillon Dougherty's epic finish that included a big assist from the NBC broadcast tower on 18. 

Golfweek editor Dave Seanor writes a lengthy column about how the USGA should take the U.S. Open to Merion even if it takes a financial hit. But space remains the issue. He cites the many hurdles facing the course. Not having enough grandstand space or even walking room around the clubhouse may be the biggest problem for Merion.

After what we say today, it appears there's not even enough space to get the TV towers out of play.


Million Dollar Baby?

Thomas Bonk writes that Michelle Wie is close to signing with the William Morris Agency.


If He Just Called It Bedminster...

Here's a story on Donald Trump wanting to add another course to his Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey. It seems he's doing everything right to lure the USGA event he so badly wants (after all, the second course is ultimately for parking cars and corporate tents).

But does the place ever have a chance as long as it's called Trump National? Hard to imagine that being sandwiched in between an Oakmont and a Pebble Beach?


Merion Day 5

merion logo.gifBoy, glad they took those trees out on the right of 16 approach so the guys could drive it on the strip up to 15 tee! Options galore!

Seriously, nice coverage from NBC. But Jennifer Mills could be the worst post round interviewer of all time. Anyway Joe Logan pens a must read on one of Merion's caddies who looped for George Zahringer this week.l

Ken Klavon at writes about the all Canada quarterfinal match between Deacon and the easy-to-root-against Leon. And Klavon sums up the other matches. Saturday TV Time is 4 EST on NBC.


Merion 14 Redux**

Courtesy of reader Richard:


The 14th hole in 1930 (left) and an aerial of today's hole, with an overlay in green showing the 1930 fairway width over today's setup (minus the wood chip nursery left, or whatever that gray area visible on TV is). Note how the risk/reward element of flirting with the road left is eliminated in an attempt to put a longer approach iron in the player's hands.

**On closer inspection, and with the help of TiVo, the block of stuff between the road and left rough appears to be a dead fescue farm. Or maybe it's Featherbed Bent? Either way, it used to be fairway in the old days before the guys started working out so much, forcing people to create strange fairway contouring.