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

This is a shameless little harlot that just sits there at the end of the bar in her mesh stockings and miniskirt and winks at you. It's only a little over 300 yards long and looks as driveable as the 405 Freeway. Don't go for it. Take your four-iron and hit it safely--and sensibly--left. The peninsula green will open up from there. If you try to drive it, you will find that green as narrow as a burlesque runway and guarded by traps front and back. I saw Lew Worsham, who was defending champion at the time, take a 10 there in the U.S. Open. Went from trap to trap. Tell your caddie not to hand you your driver even if you threaten to kill him if he doesn't. JIM MURRAY



Golfweek On New Schedule

Jeff Rude and Rex Hoggard pen an exhaustive look at the likely new PGA Tour schedule, and all of Tim Finchem's brilliant "marketing platform" concepts borrowed from the NFL and NASCAR.

I came away sensing that:

  • Not that much is changing, which is good with the successful early portion of the season, not particularly exciting for the lackluster mid-portion of the schedule, but potentially good with the "Fall Chase" concept
  • As reader Blue Blazer points out, it's hard to imagine the top players playing every week from the PGA until the Ryder Cup/Presidents Cup. So how that will work, or why we'll get excited about what amounts to a series of events where the rich get richer, remains to be seen.
  • Coming off the success of the AmEx at Harding Park, thereported move to Tampa in March looks like a huge setback compared to what we just witnessed or could see if the event went to exotic courses and cities around the world. Isn't the Florida swing long enough already?
  • There appear to be no plans to offer a couple of new formats or something to rejuvenate lackluster events. Maybe it's just me thinking of the dreary courses played in certain cities, but moving the Valero Open to May or the Match Play to Tucson (where there aren't too many interesting designs) may be exciting for the sponsors, but why should fans be excited? 

  • The rich get richer. Rude and Hoggard note that Tour school graduates and Nationwide Tour alum from the previous year will be lucky to get in 25 events this year because of medical exemptions, and that number only figures to go do. But since Jason Gore was the best story on the PGA Tour this year (sorry Tiger), and Sean O'Hair wasn't far behind, this is a concern. Unheralded success stories are one of the most compelling things about pro golf, and by discouraging new blood in favor of the marketing-safe star system, the Tour could be doing long term hard to the uh, product. (See Champions Tour.)



Wie Begins

Doug Ferguson does a nice job setting the stage for Michelle Wie's debut.

He also included this:

B.J. Wie has said his daughter will not challenge the LPGA requirement that members be 18 years old. And while he says her focus will initially be on the LPGA Tour, the ultimate dream is to get her PGA Tour card.

Wie is trying to add 10 percent to her length, so the distance she carries her tee shot increases from 260 yards to 285 yards, which the father believes will allow her to compete against the men.

So does how she go about adding that length? Time in the gym, or time on the launch monitor working with the hot new Nike Sasquatch driver?


Donegan On Tiger's Rivals

The Guardian's Lawrence Donegan offers a stinging appraisal of Tiger's rivals. He's really looking forward to the battle for the top spot in women's golf.


Wie's a Rich Pro Now

That means I can poke fun, right? From AP:

Michelle Wie didn't have to wait until she tees off Thursday at the Samsung World Championship to realize she was playing as a pro.

"Just the other day I got my first tax form," she said Tuesday. "I was excited about that. It's not something you should be excited about, but it's pretty cool for me."

She also just got her first check minus the cut from William Morris. That probably wasn't as exciting.

The other sign Wie was now a pro was her bag, with the Sony logo and her name.

"I was so excited when I got my name on my bag," she said. "Usually when you're an amateur, you can't have your name on your bag."

No, just the names of corporations on your clothes, hat and glove. Oh I know, she just turned 16. I'll stop.



TPC Sawgrass Redo

I'm not clear why this story on the TPC Sawgrass's $25 million renovation is making the rounds now, but it is.

Even if golf's fifth major remains in March, the PGA Tour has drawn up plans to make it the premier tournament by weatherproofing the TPC at Sawgrass, moving 65,000 tons of dirt to allow spectators better views and installing technology so fans can know what's going on no matter where they are

Still the fifth of four majors. Sorry, continue. 

The cost for the ambitious project, including a Grand Mediterranean style clubhouse, is estimated at $25 million. Work is expected to begin after The Players Championships is held in March in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.

The larger locker area will create more space for the annual locker room rain-delay interviews.

The most dramatic renovation is sub-air pumps beneath each green that can remove 42,000 gallons per hour, allowing the putting surface to drain in minutes. Dirt beneath the fairways will be replaced with sand that drains faster, and the fairways then will be sod anew with high-quality Bermuda grass.

That will allow the course to all but guarantee firm, fast conditions even on rainy days.

No mention if the $25 million includes a switch to copper irrigation piping.



What's Happened Since April?

Going through some files today, I stumbled across this from Thomas Bonk's excellent story on the golf ball that appeared in an April L.A. Times article:

However, there are indications that the golf ball technology — and probably the same advancements associated with large-headed, thin-faced drivers — have actually peaked. Only four players are averaging more than 300 yards in driving distance this year — Scott Hend, Brett Wetterich, Tiger Woods and Hank Kuehne, though it is conceivable with warmer, drier weather and firmer fairways as summer approaches, that number will grow.

Definitely conceivable. Since late April, the Tour average is up 6 yards and 24 players are now averaging over 300.  


For Immediate Release

This popped in my email box today. Keep in mind, Laser Link sponsors the Florida Open.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                           October 11,  2005

The Florida Open Tests the Laser Link Quickshot Rangefinder

MADISON, WI – In an effort to keep up with the times and make golf more enjoyable for all players, the USGA and R&A reversed a long standing rule last week that now allows distance measuring devices during all play.

The Florida Open, with a few days to spare between their event and the rule reversal, quickly acted to give the Laser Link Quickshot a try in their yearly event last week in Hobe Sound, Florida at the Loblolly Pines Golf Course.  All players were provided with a Laser Link QuickShot rangefinder to get precise yardage readings.

The leaders finished their rounds in four hours and fifteen minutes.  In previous years it took five hours and five minutes on average for the professional threesome to finish play.

“We are thrilled to see the results come in from this professional golf event.  The simple fact is, faster is better for everyone, the course owners, the players and even our non-golfing spouses.  Everyone wants the game to move more quickly.  If players can get fast and accurate yardage readings in two seconds, rather than forty seconds of ‘huntin and figurin’, the game of golf benefits,” said Rob O’ Loughlin, President of Laser Link Golf.

Colby Beckstrom took first place in the tournament which was shortened to 54 holes by rain with a score of 202.  “The Laser Link rangefinder was just a great tool.  I used it on every shot to the pin.  It helped my game.  It allowed me to concentrate on the shot and I didn’t have to worry about the yardage,” said Beckstrom.

Well I don't know about you, but I'm sold!

Seriously, it's great that Laser Link is willing to donate the "Quickshot" for free for all of the tournament players, and since they are determined to speed up play and their product works, why, I can only hope they'll continue to donate these $300 devices.


More Munis, and How 'Bout Them Scores

golfobserver copy.jpgGolfobserver features Art Spander's take on Harding Park (scores weren't too low, it's passed the test!). I can't wait to heckle Art about this, since he knows there is much more to the game and to courses than birdie prevention. And I just wonder, if 16 under had won, and everything else was the same (leaderboard, crowd buzz/turnout, etc...), would the reaction really be different?  Hope not.

There is also my take on Harding and the Tour's dire need to fine more mid-city munis like it if they want to generate the kind of buzz that their events so rarely have.


Finchem on Harding

Ron Kroichik talks to Tim Finchem about the AmEx and Harding. Finchem realizes that the U$GA will be interested in a Women's or Senior Open after the success of the AmEx. (Uh, for those dreaming of a US Open, remember that is across the lake in 2012, so the earliest they could talk is 2020. And you can probably guess who will be in line to host that year).

But this quote from Finchem says a lot about how the game has changed since the Harding project commenced just a few years ago:  "We thought it would be reasonably good, but it's really been off the charts. I don't think we could have predicted that a course of this length would give the players the kind of challenge it has."

At least he acknowledges that 7,000 yards has become yesterday's 6,300 yards. But one has to wonder if Harding at 7,000 yards could get selected for a $16 million renovation with the driving distance spike making 7,500 the new "championship" standard?



Tait on WGC's

Alistair Tait of Golfweek says the WGC's have failed to live up to their promise and that the other tours are getting shortchanged because most of the events are played in the U.S.


Golf Magazine Ranking Shake-Up?

Looks like new Golf Magazine editor David Clarke is shaking up their Top 100 ranking process, reportedly naming former Links editor Joe Passov to supervise an overhaul.

Here's a GolfClubAtlas thread on the topic, including a confirmation from former contributing editor and ranking coordinator Tom Doak, who didn't waste much time lavishing praise on the new guy. I wonder why!? :)

What caused the shakeup?  Perhaps Nine Bridges making the list raised a red flag. Perhaps the panelist conflicts of interest that were undermining the credibility of the magazine. Possibly the excessive number of U.S. courses on the world list? Or all of the above and much more?

Either way, it's a bold and wise move by Clarke.


Greatest Game Ever Played At The Box Office

The bad news about The Greatest Game Ever Played's poor box office showing is that it will probably make it that much tougher for golf films to be green lit.

The good news is that in Hollywood's new quick turnaround model, we may get it on DVD by Christmas!


Disney's golf drama The Greatest Game Ever Played held up well in its second swing dipping only 29% to an estimated $2.6M thanks to an additional 796 theaters. With the per-theater average falling 60% and the ten-day total sitting at $7.4M, look for a weak $12-13M final.

Faldo, Azinger Exchange

From Sunday's AmEx WGC telecast, as the leaders were on the short par-4 7th:

PAUL AZINGER: Nick, you mentioned in the break about strategy and the way these guys are just banging the ball up by the green. But [Henrik] Stenson left himself right there by the front of the green. Tiger missed left and had to play a miraculous shot and Stuart Appleby, the same thing. It's different than when you were dominating.

NICK FALDO: Well holes of this length, yeah, we really looked at the pin position. You always determined your strategy from the pin position. This one is tucked in the lefthand corner. It really makes sense to hit your 2-iron down the fairway, hit that 9-iron in to get that maximum spin. It's amazing how the guys now just blast away, you know, chance their luck with a lie. And they're able to produce some sheer magic around the greens.

Sergio Garcia soon holed out his approach, to which Faldo declared a wee bit sarcastically, "Strategy wins!" 


Woods and Daly Post AmEx Final Round

Tiger Woods talks about the final round. And here's John Daly's post round press conference.


Harding Buzz

One can only hope that Sunday's incredible buzz at Harding will lead to more public course a more reasonable cost. Though key holes played a role, it was the combination of personalities like Daly/Woods/Garcia and the enthusiastic crowds that made Harding special.

Gary Van Sickle wrote about the buzz after Saturday, while Doug Ferguson's AP notebook has some interesting quotes from Tim Finchem, who can already $mell the governing bodie$  moving in for a piece of the action...err, excuse me, the opportunity to position themselves in the the northern California marketplace.

"We know the USGA was already interested in Harding after we got it rebuilt,'' PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem said Sunday. "Looking at some of their different championships, I've got to believe the PGA of America would have some interest after this week. We want to sit down with all the interested parties and talk about the best possible schedule.''

Finchem said the key was to stage tournaments that would raise money for The First Tee and to continue repaying the city for the $16 million renovation. [That'll take a while!] A steady diet of championships would mean Harding Park stays in pristine shape, although residents would not be able to play as much in the weeks leading up to a tournament.

"If I owned this place -- if this is my baby, but it was not for profit -- I would want some texture to the communication of this place,'' Finchem said. "That would be being interested in having the best women play, the best seniors, and being interested in getting these guys back. That would round out the field.''

Texture to the communication of this place?


Nationwide Distance Watch

nationwide logo.jpgArchitects mark the "turning point" of a hole during planning and construction to help them get a sense of scale and tee placement. Over the years the typical turning point has gone from 250 yards to 270 to 300 these days. Looks like 320 isn't out of the question if you are designing to host the next generation. Or

Check out these Nationwide Tour distance increases:

  • 2005: 100 players averaging over 290 yards, 43 averaging players over 300 yards
  • 200474 players averaging over 290 yards, 24 players averaging over 300 yards
  • 2002: 63 players averaging over 290 yards, 15 players averaging over 300 yards
  • 1998: 7 players averaging over 290 yards, 2 players averaging over 300 yards

#1 in 2005 is Bubba Watson. He's picked up 13 yards from last year, to average, yes average, 336.4 yards this year. And that's on 78 drives, versus 61 last year.


Distance Devices and The Tour

During Sunday's AmEx WGC telecast from Harding Park, Mike Tirico was surprised when colleagues Nick Faldo and Paul Azinger said they were in favor of using distance measuring devices on the Tour. Faldo noted that he was curious if they would speed up play and liked the idea of not having to play practice rounds, while Azinger said he doesn't know how to play without his device when golfing at home.

So let's say they make them legal for Tour play. And the players are tackling a course like Harding Park, where the greens are relatively firm.  The players thus are not that just interested in the distance to the flagstick.

Yes, they want to know it, but yardages to the front of the green, left or right of the hole, over a bunker, etc... are just as important in the process of determining what shot to play if the ground is at all firm.

Anyone who has used a binocular style rangefinder knows that they are not reliable enough to gauge distances over bunkers or to specific areas of turf.

The Laserlink device only provides a yardage to the flagstick containing a prism.

So if the ground is at all firm, the caddy will still use a yardage book to provide the player with the yardages to the front, over hazards and to areas away from the flagstick.

How does that speed up play on the PGA Tour? 


Huggan and Torrance

John Huggan catches up with Sam Torrance and of course it provides a fun read.



Did anyone hear a decent explanation as to why the AmEx WGC is playing threesomes with a field of 70?


Daly For President

He hits as soon as Monty plays. His caddy talks to him as he stands over the ball. How can you not love the guy!?

Here's the AP story on Daly taking the 3rd round lead at Harding Park, including the details of his 378-yard drive (no doubt thanks to the stairmaster and weight work John has been doing). Here's his post round press conference.

Q. Everybody has been incredibly enthusiastic, you, Tiger, Sergio, Colin, about this golf course and the city. Did you guys have any idea of what you were getting into? Did anybody play this before? Did anybody talk about it and say, hey, it's good, or was this completely blind walking in?

JOHN DALY: This is a hidden secret. We were at Olympic Club at the Open and I had never heard of Harding Park, I really hadn't until I got here. It's just amazing. What I was telling some other guys, you know, there's so many great public golf courses that we need to find. The older, the better, because they just seem to be more friendly towards driving and anyway you want to play a shot. Torrey Pines is well noted one of the greatest golf courses in the world and it's public. St. Andrews. I mean, I think every player that's playing in this field this week loves this golf course.

Q. What would you say if they told you this course was a parking lot for the 1998 U.S. Open, which it was? They used it to park cars?

JOHN DALY: Well, they need to park cars at Olympic Club and play here (laughter).