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

Whenever there is a carry offered, two things are essential. First there must be a way around for those who are unwilling to accept the risk, and there must be a definite reward awaiting the man who takes the chance successfully. Without the alternative route, the situation is unfair; without reward, it is meaningless.



Wie Turns Pro

A story on Michelle Wie's press conference:

Michelle Wie, the teen golf phenom, announced today that she would turn professional at a press conference at the Kahala Mandarin Oriental Hotel. Wie, who will turn 16 on October 11, also pledged to donate $500,000 to the U.S. Golf Hurricane Katrina Relief Fund.

"I am grateful to be in a position to be able to lend a hand to the victims of Hurricane Katrina," Wie continued. "Turning professional affords me the ability to give back to those in need. Watching other Americans suffer the indignities that this storm has caused really drove home my desire to reach out."

And besides charity, turning pro finally allows her to take the latest equipment that she was deprived of as an amateur:

Wie will tee off at the Samsung World Championship next week in Palm Desert, Calif. playing Nike Golf’s new Sasquatch driver and fairway woods, joining Justin Leonard and K.J. Choi as some of the first to put golf’s latest advancements in club technology into play. Her affinity toward Nike Golf’s equipment, including the new Nike One Platinum golf ball, extends to Nike’s innovative performance apparel and footwear, which she will wear exclusively on Tour.

 As she has been, for the last two years.


Rangefinder Counterpoint

Vartan Kupelian punches holes in the theory that distance measuring devices will slow up (err speed up!) play, as their makers and the USGA's David Fay have insisted.

 One point continues to be left out in these counterpoint arguments. Well, two actually.

One, the speed of play increase theory assumes that a majority of golfers would actually purchase the devices. They won't. Not at $200 plus.

Also, there are not studies I'm aware of proving (or even hinting) that pace of play increased when all golfers in a tournament round had access too these devices (compared to a day without them).


7,086: Short

Ron Kroichik offers a hole-by-hole preview of Harding Park. The headline for the story: "Harding might be short but it's big on challenge." That's right, 7,086 yards in heavy air has become short. Damn those workout programs!

PGA Tour officials hope rail-thin fairways, thick rough, slick greens and rows of cypress trees will present a suitable challenge. It's entirely possible the players will overpower Harding and post low, low, low numbers. Or maybe the refurbished 80-year-old layout will quiet skeptics and produce a winner at, say, 10-under-par.

Because, after all, resistance to scoring is the mark of a great design.

Seve's joke about fairways eventually disappearing is looking more prophetic every day. 


Line 'Em Up

Jim Achenbach says the caddie alignment rule has to go.


Wie Announcement...Preview Stories

Damon Hack in the NY Times and Lawrence Donegan in The Guardian preview Michelle Wie's big announcement.

I bet she's emotional tonight, her final as a semi-professional. No more having to wear miscellaneous brands to pretend to be an amateur pretending to respect USGA rules. I'm getting choked up just thinking about it. 


Need To Be A Goat To Walk This Course

Thanks to reader Steve for this gem to welcome me back to civilization. Just when I had given up hope that Tour players would ever criticize a lousy venue again. Annika, via Robyn Norwood in the LA Times.

"I think logistically this course does not set up for a competition like this," Annika Sorenstam said after finishing tied for ninth with a final-round 70.

With its tight fairways, multi-tiered layout, narrow cart paths and few shortcuts between holes, the Trump course in Rancho Palos Verdes proved difficult to navigate despite its lavishness.

Players searching for balls in the thick brush or waiting for officials to arrive to make rulings contributed to rounds lasting as long as six hours.

That, plus a 3 1/2 -hour fog delay Saturday, produced the first non-playoff Monday finish on the tour since 1999, though players said ocean views made the waits more bearable.

Sorenstam said not only rules officials, but fans as well, found it difficult to move from hole to hole.

"You pretty much have to be a goat to walk this course," she said.

And after her thanks for the community support:

"Maybe we need to find a flat course in the neighborhood."

Harding Park Scoring Watch

hardingpark18.jpgLet the number crunching begin! Alan Shipnuck in SI (subscription req.) talks to Sandy Tatum about this week's World Championship at Harding Park.  The focus is on the winning score and how the course will be perceived for a possible USGA event (even though we know they don't care about winning scores, nope).

Here's the key portion of Shipnuck's story:

"It's a nice old-style course," says PGA Tour vet Joe Ogilvie, who shot even par during a recent corporate outing at Harding. "It has a good routing. I like the big, old cypress trees. It's nice to be able to think your way around a course."

Glad you enjoyed it, Joe, but cut to the chase -- is this little muni good enough to host a $7.5 million World Golf Championship extravaganza? "Well, I think it ought to be fine," says Ogilvie.

Hmmmm, not exactly a ringing endorsement. Ogilvie's Tour colleague Kevin Sutherland played Harding about a year ago, shooting one under par in a casual round with friends. Sutherland's assessment? "It's a beautiful course," he says. "I thought it was very fair."

Uh-oh. In Tour parlance fair is a code word for easy. Mount Juliet, in Kilkenny, Ireland, is considered exceptionally fair. That's where Tiger Woods went 25 under on his way to winning the 2002 AmEx and where a victorious Ernie Els shot 18 under last year. Scores like that will do nothing to enhance the stature of the new Harding Park, and everyone associated with the course hopes to avoid a birdie bonanza.

"I think eight under is a realistic winning score," says Tatum, who while president of the USGA oversaw the Massacre at Winged Foot in 1974, when seven over par won the U.S. Open. "I would hope it's not more than 10."

This is not about vanity but viability. Going forward, Harding is slated to host the AmEx every three years, but there is an understanding that the Tour will cut and run if Harding's playability or conditioning is deemed subpar. San Francisco officials also have their sights set on a USGA championship. Last year Mayor Gavin Newsom wrote to USGA headquarters in Far Hills, N.J., formally requesting that Harding host the 2009 U.S. Women's Open. Newsom was rebuffed -- the '09 Women's Open was instead awarded to Saucon Valley Country Club in Bethlehem, Pa. -- but discussions are ongoing about future Opens at Harding. Tatum's ultimate dream is to land not only the Women's Open but also the big enchilada, the men's Open. These grand ambitions add even more frisson to how Harding will be received this week. "You bet it's an audition," says Tatum, "not only for more WGCs but also for the USGA."



More Greatest Reviews

A couple of more conflicting takes on The Greatest Game Ever Played: Mike Clark in USA Today and Roger Ebert.


6 Hours In Perfect Weather!?

Hardly any breeze, temperature in the low 80s and a course barely over 6,000 yards. It was a tad smoky, but in game stories looking at first round play in the LPGA event at Trump National, no one says what caused it to take so long. 25 players did not finish the round.

They all said the views were great. No mention of the beautiful waterfalls helping to pass the time. 


Wie Update

John Hawkins has the latest on Michelle Wie's transition from unofficial professional, to actual professional. Based on what Hawkins writes, it sounds like a real fun negotiation!


Rangefinders on Tour?

Gary Van Sickle looks at the general wonderfulness that rangefinders will bring to the game, namely improved speed of play and world peace. He also looks at whether the Tour will allow them to help deal with their speed of play problem.

With all of the strides the Tour has made to improve the look of the uh, "product?" Are you kidding? Even the Laser Link head man knows the answer to this one:

"Commissioner Finchem is concerned with how it looks," Rob O'Loughlin said. "He's in the entertainment business. Having Tiger Woods looking over Stevie Williams' shoulder at a yardage book, that's a traditional look, that's part of the chemistry. I'm not sure they're interested in Tiger and Steve pulling out a laser gun and firing it.

 "But over time, they'll get comfortable with it."

Right! Uh, the Tour's pace of play problem starts on the greens, with major headaches at all of the driveable par-4s and reachable par-5s that the guys stand around and wait on for an hour a round.



greatestgameeverplayedthe.jpgFrom Jeff Silverman in this weeks SI Golf Plus (subscription req.): "The high point of the movie adaptation of The Greatest Game Ever Played comes early -- before the opening credits." Ouch. And: "If the movie couldn't fully uphold its oath, it should have at least improved its lies."

Most of the newspaper and trade reviews are quite good though. Here are some: Arizona Republic, AP, Seattle Press Intell whatever, New York Times, Variety and the lukewarms from MSNBC and the Chicago Tribune.

Here's the IMDB page with the full cast and crew listing and other information. 


Trump National L.A. Review

1 green low.jpgNow posted is my latest column reviewing Trump National Los Angeles.


New Balls Please

The Guardian's Lawrence Donegan looks at the Pro-V1's fifth birthday and the "battle for the future of golf."

Warning, I'm quoted.

If you'd like some elaboration on my comments regarding Titleist, here goes. First, here's what Donegan quotes me as saying:

"Given the company's past record, I don't see what they are so worried about. They have enormous customer loyalty and an enormously powerful brand name. That will not suddenly disappear if there was a new ball. If they continue to make a quality product, they will continue to dominate," says Shackelford. "More to the point, they would be credited for having done their bit to preserve the game of golf as we know it."

Consider this scenario. The USGA and R&A decide to admit they blew it when they scrapped a test that would have restricted the optimization-led jumps in driving distance we've seen for top players.

They've come to their senses, admitted their mistakes and order a rollback that only effects players with higher clubhead speeds.

The manufacturers then comply with whatever ball spec changes the USGA mandates. Increased spin, dimple design change, etc...  I don't know what it is, and don't really care how the tech wizards solve the problem. Whatever it takes to eliminate the optimization situation that is allowing players to exceed the Overall Distance Standard without setting off an alarm.

So here come new rules, new ball requirements.

Which ball are people going to pick up first? Why, the one they've been playing (unless their preferred brand refuses to make balls to the new spec).

So for most they will buy a box of Titleist's because they've made great products for years and built strong brand loyalty (Forgive me God for sounding like an MBA). And golfers will continue to buy their preferred brands new rolled back ball (assuming it's well made).

And there is no reason to believe that Titleist will continue to make anything but a superior product.

Finally, remember, this rollback will only impact a very small number of golfers if handled properly. Those with clubhead speeds over 110 or so mph would be impacted. Everyone else would not be. Again, assuming a rollback is handled properly.  


Greensboro's Status

This AP story looks at the Greater Greensboro event's potential to remain on the Tour schedule and includes this how-did-he-keep-a-straight-face quote from Sergio Garcia.

"The Fall Finish, it is important to all of us, there's no doubt about it," Garcia said.  No doubt.


Dunhill Decline

Lawrence Donegan looks at what a non-event the Dunhill Cup has become. 


Wie Mistake

Steve Elling shares an interesting Michelle Wie anecdote related to her appearance in this summer's John Deere Classic.


Want Cheap Golf?

Chris Baldwin at Travelgolf with another excellent story on affordable golf and course developer Tim McNulty.

"I read a quote in one magazine where Arnold Palmer said we had to look at ways to make golf more affordable," McNulty said. "It was sort of funny to me, because have you seen what they charge at a lot of Arnold Palmer designs? I don't think there's a lot of people in the golf business who even know what affordable is to the average family in America."

It's sort of hard to get down with the people when you're flying in your personal Lear jet from ceremonial course opening to ceremonial course opening. When you're cutting the cornstalks yourself along the 606-yard, par-5 12th as McNulty is on Strawberry Ridge, it's a little different.



Still Giddy After All These Weeks

Golfweek's Jim Achenbach is still elated about the USGA/R&A rules change on distance measuring devices.

The primary argument in favor of rangefinders and GPS systems is straightforward: They help speed play by allowing players to know yardages without hunting for distance plates or marked sprinkler heads.

Still waiting on someone to actually document this one.

Either way, the tours will likely never accept these because, well, they're vain and they don't want their players to look silly. For all of the talk of better athletes, there is something rather unseemly about these uh, jocks, pulling out a device and looking through it, then putting it back in their pur...err...I mean bag, before hitting a shot.  



Tour GCX

Thanks to reader Tuco for this fascinating Michael Buteau story from Bloomberg on a new club membership concept called Tour GCX. A few highlights:

Tour GCX has prospered by introducing fractional -- or time- share -- memberships at top clubs. Some could use the cash. Private U.S. golf courses, with $14 billion in annual revenue, are mired in a bunker of declining members and flat earnings, according to club officials and resort companies such as Dallas- based ClubCorp Inc. Tour GCX pays clubs a fee to discreetly schedule golfers and their guests into vacant tee times, usually at off-peak hours.


"If some members knew about this, they wouldn't be happy,'' says Gary Rosenberg, Tour GCX's marketing chief.

And this:

"The wives control the men,'' says Gold, 53. "A guy can join Tour GCX and not get the aggravation from his wife saying `Honey, we could have gone to Europe with that money.' He doesn't really want to go to Europe.''


When Tour GCX golfers arrive at a club, they'll often find a locker has been prepared with an engraved nameplate like the ones given members.