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

It seems to be the more loft there is on a club, the harder it is to play. Why, I don't know.





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.


Amateur Status Changes

ra_header_title.jpgFrom their press release:
The R&A, golf’s world governing body and organiser of The Open Championship, today announced revisions to the Rules of Amateur Status that provide amateur golfers with the opportunity to receive payment for giving golf instruction and reduce the waiting time of those who have breached the Rules, but who wish to return to amateur status. The changes to the Rules and their interpretations come into effect from 1 January 2006.

A new Instruction Rule provides that an amateur golfer may be paid for coaching golf for the first time as part of an "approved programme". Under the new Rules on reinstatement, the time amateur golfers in breach of the Rules have to wait before they regain their amateur status is reduced. The new guideline of 1-2 years brings these waiting periods in line with those for professional golfers returning to the amateur game.
Seems they decided that after the gender reassignment rule change (requiring just two years between sex change surger to be Women's Open I'm not joking) the three year wait on amateur status statement seemed a bit much. The release says the governing bodies of golf are closer than ever on their amateur "code." Except...
The two codes diverge on only one matter – hole-in-one prizes. In the new R&A Code acceptance of an excessive prize remains a breach of the Rules but carries a much reduced period awaiting reinstatement. The new USGA Code will allow amateur golfers to accept hole-in-one prizes of any value.
We'll call this the Mike Freeman rule, which if you have read The Future of Golf (p. 106-107), you know is a product of the excessive penalty paid by an Orlando amateur after spontaneously participating in the Tiger pops out of the Woods ad.

usga logo.gifDave Seanor at Golfweek details the USGA side of these changes. The expenses issue for amateurs will become official, and he explains how the rules will work for golfers who seemk expense reimbursement.


Merion Fairway Contours

merion14.jpgmerion16.jpgSo with all of this talk about Merion's meticulous restoration work to get the course resembling 1930, no one seems to mention the chintzy fairway gerrymandering to mask how short some of the holes would play if they had 1930 fairway contours.

For starters, what is this year's wood chip nursery running up the left side of 14 to force the players to play way out to the right?  Note in this 1930 aerial photo (left) how the 14th fairway hugs the road on the left.  Today there appears to be 10 yards of wood chips (or whatever that is) and another five or six yards of rough between chip nursery and fairway.

Also check out the photo of #16 (right) and how the fairway hugs the left fairway bunker. There looks to be 10-15 yards of rough to the right of that same bunker this week. As with #14, someone is trying to force the players out right to make the hole play longer because, well...the kids are just really working out a lot!

FYI: The lines indicate how Bobby Jones played the holes in his 1930 U.S. Amateur qualifying rounds.

And FYI II: The 14th green played today is not in the same location as the green site used in 1930. The green was shifted for the 1934 U.S. Open, and never restored to its original location. Same deal with the second green.


Golf Magazine Top 100 Question 3

No listing of panelists, no explanation of criteria. There is a comment in the September issue that a visit to will allow someone to see "how we select the Top 100 in the World and the U.S."  But not yet.

Still posted is the 2003 list of panelists. And it's still a woefully low 86 voters. Perhaps they'll post the 2005 panel this year (though it should appear in print).

Hopefully the panel will top 100 voters this time around so that we can see who is so infatuated with Rees Jones. And so that some courses get, oh, I don't know at least five votes every two years.


Merion Day 4 Vol. 2

usga has a nice summary of the quarterfinalists at Merion, maintaining the fine job the web site has done covering the event.

Here are the Thursday interviews from the U.S. Amateur.  And at the Buick (Hartford edition), Pepperdine's Michael Putnam explains how and why he turned pro, after playing a practice round at Marion (yes, that's the ASAP transcript spelling...just like the Thomas course in Massachusetts).


Merion's Open Dream**

merion logo.gifWilliam Gildea in the Washington Post offers a lengthy overview of Merion's quest to get a U.S. Open.

"Is the course long enough? I believe it is," David Fay asked and answered himself. "They have lengthened their traditional long holes to the point they are really long. It's a lot closer to 7,000 yards than one thinks. And they have sexy short holes, [par] 4s and some 3s."

And regarding judgements about whether the course is suitable for an Open, look to the scores. What else is there?

"Stroke play is a factor," said Bill Iredale, Merion's general chairman. "If many of the young players come in with 65s, then maybe the course is not difficult enough for the pros."

You know, why don't they just stop this silliness and award the 2013 Open to Merion? So the USGA make $15 million less one year?  Is the money that important to them?

Wait, I'm asking rhetorical questions now just like the Executive Director. Oh no!

** Did you catch the Walter Driver interview during Thursday's coverage? Spellbinding as always. Despite attempts by Dan Hicks to setup him up for a "Merion is back" home run, Driver took the pitch and focused on the lack of space to provide the experience for all of the people who want to see the Open. In other words, not enough gallery and corporate tent space. And it sounds like a no-vote from Driver.


Another Flogging Article

FlogGolflow.jpgBill Livingston in The Plain Dealer of Cleveland writes about flogging and the impact of power in golf.


Golf Magazine Top 100 Question, Vol. 2

Looking at the architect credits next to the current Golf Magazine Top 100 lists, it's surprising how many of the listings are inaccurate or missing key original design contributions.

It'd be nice if, say, William Flynn got some credit for his extensive to shape Merion into the course we know today.

Same for Press Maxwell, who did 9 holes at Prairie Dunes. How about a little something, you know, for the effort? The Prairie Dunes listing simply says "Maxwell, 1935-56" (meaning dad, Perry, who did the first nine holes that opened in 1937). Perry died in 1952, five years before the second nine opened in 1957.

Mike Clayton is not included in the credits for the newly opened Barnbougle Dunes. (Actually, it's listed as Barnbougle, which definitely is not its full name.)  That's like listing Sand for Sand Hills.sandhills18 low.jpg

Then there are the incorrect years. (Torrey Pines, Bell, 1926? Try William F. Bell, 1957). Hey, they were related.

And one of these days, some magazine will get the Riviera opening year right (1927) or that L.A. Country Club-North was Fowler in 1921, Thomas/Bell 1928.

Why isn't Fazio listed at Augusta National (along with about 40 other people)? Or what about the parade of stars that have been through Bel-Air and Quaker Ridge? Only Trent Jones is listed next to Tillinghast for Quaker Ridge.

Again, no big deal except to the courses themselves or whoever it is that put the listing together (the magazine doesn't say).

Yet if either Rees Jones or Robert Trent Jones did restorative or non-restorative work at your course, they are likely listed. (Well, except Baltusrol Lower, where Rees is mysteriously left off, but he is included on the Upper listing!)

If an architect mangled a classic badly enough, he gets credit. Ex: Fazio at Oak Hill and Inverness even though no one likes his additions.

But then folks who do restoration work are only mentioned a handful of times for no apparent reason other than someone thought to include them (Doak at Yeaman's Hall, Silva at Baltimore CC). Why not Doak at Valley Club or San Francisco, or Silva at Seminole, or Hanse at Plainfield, or Coore/Crenshaw at Riviera, etc...

18greenbethblack low.jpg Meanwhile Rees Jones is listed at Bethpage and The Country Club, which were sold to us as restorations (or were they?). Robert Trent Jones is listed at say, Olympic Club, while original contributors Willie Watson and Max Behr are not included. And Trent pops up at Baltusrol, Congressional, Interlachen, Oak Hill and Oakland Hills, but not Augusta National where he added a pivotal hole?

Not only is the listing inconsistent and confusing, there is a troublesome aspect to it as well. It could (or maybe already has) sent the message to architects that the only way to get your name on a ranking list is to make changes.

Just restoration? That won't get you listed. Changes? There's always hope.

Most of the courses on this list do not need to be changed. Restoring a few features? Sure. Major changes, no way.

After all, they're the best courses in the world. Right?


Sampson on Jones

Curt Sampson in the new Golf World writes about the toll the Grand Slam took on Bobby Jones. I'm currently reading Sampson's The Slam, from which I believe this article is excerpted. The book is quite good.