Latest From
Writing And Videos
Twitter: GeoffShac

Golf requires only a few simple Rules and Regulations to guide the players in the true nature of its sporting appeal. The spirit of the game is its own referee.



"Brighter days await MacKenzie-designed Sharp Park Golf Course"

Brad Klein says better days are ahead for Alister MacKenzie's Sharp Park, a much-needed municipal course in a grand setting that is now essentially the target of one environmentalist.

Multiple court decisions have gone against that figure, setting the stage for property and golf improvements to take place that will not only make Sharp Park critter-friendly but also golfer-friendly.

Klein provides this update on the design component:

Richard Harris, who with fellow attorney Bo Links is co-founder of the S.F. Public Golf Alliance, reports that architecturally detailed restoration plans “are now being developed by Tom Doak, in collaboration with Jay Blasi.” Preliminary construction estimates for the work, involving greens, tees and bunkers, are in the $8 million range, plus soft costs for permitting, and likely would take 3-4 years to complete. Work on the project is being funded through a partnership of the S.F. Public Golf Alliance and the privately funded Alister MacKenzie Foundation.


Spieth Arrives To Defend Down Under, Takes In Sandbelt's Finest

Just when you think the year is slowing down, there's Jordan Spieth arriving in Australia early to hang out at the Sandbelt courses, work with his instructor and caddie and in general, prepare for 2016. As we discussed on Golf Central, the sense of urgency is impressive.

Mark Hayes with the details of Spieth's early Australian Open prep, and Martin Blake with the best from Spieth's press conference including where he's displayed the Stonehaven Cup.

The relaxed tone of his press conference suggests the 22-year-old is refreshed and rejuvenated from the mini-combine of the last week where he played "bucket list" courses Kingston Heath and Royal Melbourne. Also noteworthy is a new look from Under Armour. Multiple colors! Woohoo!

The full press conference (he talks Sandbelt golf at the 7:30 mark, the importance of the Olympics at 17:30):


Poll: USGA Takes On Rogue Loner Score Posters! 

There are a number of ways to read the USGA's announced changes to the handicap system. While some are rejoicing at the end of vanity handicappers existence (well, the lone poster type), others feel this will result in even fewer golfers carrying a handicap.

Before a poll, the full release:


FAR HILLS, N.J. (Nov. 23, 2015) – In tandem with the 2016 updates to the Rules of Golf, the United States Golf Association has announced revisions to the USGA Handicap System™, effective Jan. 1, 2016.

“The USGA Handicap System is constantly evolving to ensure that the System works for the game today and tomorrow,” said Steven Edmondson, the USGA’s managing director of Handicapping & Course Rating. “As we examine the game domestically and globally, these revisions support the integrity and reliability that millions of players around the world expect of this System. We continue to explore substantive changes as we work toward a World Handicap System in the years ahead.”

Six significant changes are among those noted in the upcoming edition, which will impact approximately 10 million golfers who hold a Handicap Index® issued throughout the U.S. and 32 licensed associations, federations and unions around the world. Those highlighted changes include:

    •    Definition of a tournament score: Additional guidance is provided to Committees conducting competitions regarding the definition of a tournament score, placing greater emphasis on “significant events.” The definition excludes fundraising events and regular league play, in favor of designated competitions such as a member/guest or club championship, local amateur tournament or national qualifying and competition. (Section 2: Definitions)

    •    Adjusting hole scores: A revised decision provides clarity for acceptable scores in limited situations where the player has not played a hole(s) under the Rules of Golf, but his or her score would be sufficiently accurate for handicap posting purposes. Three areas covered under the examples include: 1) where the Local Rule is not in effect, but a player chooses to use a Distance Measuring Device or preferred lies; 2) where a player does not wish to cause undue delay; or 3) where the situation is outside of the player’s control, such as an incorrectly marked golf course.  (Section 4: Adjusting Hole Scores)

    •    Posting scores when a player is disqualified: To improve alignment with the Rules of Golf, the revised Handicap System is clearer about what scores are acceptable when a player is disqualified. In general, a score is acceptable for handicap purposes even when a player fails to hole out, or apply a Rule that affects the rights of another player. If the disqualification breach is determined to provide an advantage for the player, the score is deemed unacceptable for handicap purposes. (Section 5-1: Acceptability of Scores)

    •    Anchoring and posting: A new reference concerns a player who anchors the club while making a stroke during a round and fails to apply the appropriate penalty or an adjusted hole score (Section 4-2). Since the score would not be reflected as playing under the Rules of Golf, it would be unacceptable for handicap purposes. (Section 5-1: Acceptability of Scores)

    •    Playing alone and necessary peer review: To further support the key System premise of peer review, scores made while playing alone will no longer be acceptable for handicap purposes. This change underscores the importance of providing full and accurate information regarding a player’s potential scoring ability, and the ability of other players to form a reasonable basis for supporting or disputing a posted score. (Section 5-1: Acceptability of Scores)

    •    Committee responsibilities: In an effort to assist the Handicap Committee with its responsibilities, this revision addresses a player with a temporary disability or permanent disability who has a Handicap Index that is no longer reflective of his/her current potential ability. In the particular instance cited, the Committee will no longer assign a local handicap (denoted with the letter “L” for local use only), but instead will issue a (temporary) modified Handicap Index (denoted by the letter “M”). This change supports the portability of a disabled player’s handicap, so that it can be used outside the player’s home club. (Section 8-4c: Handicap Index Adjustment by Handicap Committee)

An overview of these changes with more detailed information will be provided at before the end of 2015. The complete USGA Handicap System Manual will be posted to the same site, and it will be available for purchase at, on Jan. 1, 2016

As promised, a poll. Was it reasonable to allow solo score postings as part of maintaining a USGA handicap?

Was it reasonable to allow solo score postings as part of maintaining a USGA handicap? free polls


DeChambeau Looking Like An Amateur In Dress Only

And that's a great thing!

As U.S. Amateur champion Bryson DeChambeau prepares for his second week of pro golf in Australia, the second place finisher at the Australian Masters is pulling on the heartstrings of longtime golf fans by actually dressing like the way amateurs playing in pro events used to dress.

Instead of wearing corporate-logoed and scripted clothing, DeChambeau is sporting his Walker Cup team uniforms and maintaining a trend of golf-appropriate clothing.

Before he slipped into contention Sunday, DeChambeau grinded out a 72 Saturday and spoke to Ian Ransom of Reuters after his round. Not much new ground was covered for those fascinated by DeChambeau's uniform-length clubs and interest in The Golfing Machine, but it's still a good read.

Golf Channel has added an encore presentation of the 2015 Australian Masters won by 56-year-old Peter Senior, Tuesday at 2 pm ET.


Forward Press: No Shortage Of Spieth & An Apology To Readers!

This week's Forward Press previews the unofficial Jordan Spieth week, as the 22-year-old Texan shows up Down Under all week and on Fox Thankgiving day.

That, plus news of a Australian Masters replay and my deepest apology for a huge oversight last week. Huge! I hope I can win back your trust.


Lydia Joins The Likes Of Beth, Annika and Nancy

She's moving to first name status with a player of the year award after winning Rookie Of The Year in 2014, and while she held off an admittedly nervous Inbee Park who was playing to clinch HOF status (and did), it's still easy to root for Lydia Ko.

Bill Fields captures the scene and the affection for Ko at the CME finale in Naples.

The Player of the Year honor burnishes Ko's stunning career. Already the youngest winner of an LPGA event (2012 CN Canadian Women's Open) and a women's professional major championship (2015 Evian Championship), Ko becomes the youngest to be named POY.

She is only the fourth LPGA golfer to be top player the year after being top rookie, joining Nancy Lopez (1978-79), Beth Daniel (1979-80) and Annika Sorenstam (1994-95.) Lopez stands alone in winning both awards in the same year, 1978. On the PGA Tour, which has given a rookie award since 1990, Tiger Woods (1996-97) is the only person to pull off the back-to-back achievement.

"Awesome," Ko said of the select company she joined. "Beth, Annika, Nancy, they are legendary players. Their legacies are here with us. What they have done for the women's golf and LPGA, what they are still doing, they are an inspiration. To put my name along with those three amazing players, it's a huge honor. In a way, I'm still thinking, 'Hey, am I deserving to be along those names?' "


CEO Of Rory McIlroy: No More Mistakes, Next Decade Mine

Rory McIlroy, CEO and Chairman of Rory McIlroy, Inc, reiterated after winning the Race To Dubai that he won't be making the same mistake with his empire going forward.

The fighting words have to be music to the ears of tour commissioners and fans who have suspected the CEO wasn't taking the job as seriously as he should have been. But a focused, no-more-kickabouterering McIlroy should put fear in his opponents.

Iain Carter reporting after McIlroy's win Sunday capped off a strange year marred ultimately by his soccer-injury prior to The Open.

"I had a big lead in the world rankings and you see Jordan and Jason play the way they did. Fields are so deep, you can't let up at all.

"Tagging along with that, you know, this is my time to capitalise on my career. The next 10, 15 years is my time.

"I really can't be doing silly things like playing football in the middle of the season to jeopardise even six months of my career. It's a big chunk where I could make some hay and win a major or two.

"I won't be making those mistakes again next year."

Someone learned his lesson! Look out world...

The European Tour posted this video from the week of Rory's pre-round approach.


Video: Okay, We'll Let You Go Ivor Robson

Easily the most famous first tee announcer the game has ever known is hanging up his mic and can drink the tallest glasses of water he likes, as Ivor Robson worked his final event Sunday in Dubai.

The European Tour did a swell job saying goodbye to the distinctive voice. But is there any greater compliment than the spot-on impersonations by players who aren't exactly supposed to be taking notes at the time Robson was usually clearing his throat, saying "I'll let you go" and then announcing their names

These all kind of speak for themselves...


And this August feature from Michael Collins was excellent too, particularly Adam Scott's impersonation.


Conduct Unbecoming: PGA Tour Players Playing Daily Fantasy

SI/'s Pete Madden reports that PGA Tour players were advised way back on September 24th that daily fantasy sports sites were illegal in some states and any use of them would fall under the conduct unbecoming category.

Madden writes:

The Tour’s memo, however, raises questions about its own relationship with daily fantasy sports. In March, the Tiger Woods Foundation announced a partnership with DraftKings in which the company would be designated the “Official Daily Fantasy Sports Partner” of the Quicken Loans National and the Deutsche Bank Championship.

“DraftKings will bring the action to the next level,” said Rick Singer, Tiger Woods Foundation president and CEO, at the time.

When reached for comment, Tour spokesman Ty Votaw said there are no plans to further review that relationship.

"We did not find any issue with DraftKings’ sponsorship of those events that conflicts with the ban on sponsorships of our players," Votaw said. "That sponsorship does not give DraftKings any rights over what Tiger Woods can wear on his body or on his bag."

While I'm no fan of Commissioner Finchem's aversion to gambling, which has put the PGA Tour behind in the fantasy sports world, it's pretty clear that the efforts of the current daily fantasy sites is almost entirely rigged against the customer and a scam.

John Oliver's Last Week Tonight segment on them does a nice job of pointing that out:


Wentworth Members Pondering Court Challenge To New Owner?

CNN Money's Jim Boulden says the Wentworth membership met Friday to discuss how to battle their new owner, who wants to run most of them off and just days after European Tour Chief Keith Pelley suggested the BMW there is not necessarily the tour's flagship event.

Fun times at Wentworth!

Boulden writes:

Wentworth residents are meeting Friday to discuss how to proceed, and they could go to court.

"There are distinct legal implications in their actions. Failure to listen will bring Reignwood into disrepute and be a terrible case study for China-UK relations," local resident Nigel Moss said in a statement.

Wentworth club told CNNMoney that as a private member's club it won't discuss its new demands.


Rio Olympic Course Handed Over; AP Still Mocks Golf In Rio

You'd think that finding out Olympic athletes might get sick because of the disgusting waters would have quieted the assault on golf in Rio. But AP's Stephen Wade continues to mock the idea of a course in the Brazilian host city even as it marches ahead toward an actual opening.

A hand-off ceremony of the golf course from the developer to the organizing committee was as ceremonial as you can get, but that didn't stop the AP from covering it with its decided attitude that golf doesn't belong in Rio (neither do events in natural bodies of water so contaminated that athletes may get ill).

AP's Wade twice tweeted his story with (two!) attempts to liken golf in Rio to building a bullring in Finland. I'll give you a moment to absorb that metaphorical mastery. Oh wait, it made the story too.

The legacy for the sport is unclear.

Few people play golf in Brazil, and Paes has acknowledged the game probably has little future in the South American country. Some have compared building a golf course in Brazil to setting up a bullring in Finland.


"In Brazil I don't think there's much legacy for a golf course," Paes said. "I've always said that. I don't think this is something Brazil is very famous for, delivering courses. It's not a popular sport in Brazil. But there are some things you need to do when you deliver the Olympics."

Carlos Nuzman, the head of the Rio de Janeiro Olympics, contradicted the mayor just minutes later.

"It's a big legacy," Nuzman said. "It's a public golf course. There are a lot of young kids — boys and girls — who want to participate to develop golf. It's a chance for golf in a new region of the world to be developed."

The sure winner is probably the developer Mauro, who is building the course with private money. It follows the pattern of other Olympic projects in Rio, where large real estate interests have moved in. Another is the nearby Athletes Village — 3,600 high-end apartment units — that will be sold off after the games.

Mercifully, AP's Doug Ferguson will be covering Olympic golf and he won't muddle his lede with some bizarro agenda.

I'm sensing if Stephen Wade covered the final round of the men's golf, his lede would look something like this:

Golf's future in Rio remains uncertain, but that didn't stop Jordan Spieth from holding off Rory McIlroy, Jason Day, Vijay Singh, Adam Scott and Rickie Fowler in sudden death to capture the first Olympic gold medal in golf since 1904.

Anyway, looks like a nice casual handoff ceremony...


Old Guys Rule Files: Peter Senior (56) Wins Aussie Masters

When Peter Senior last won the Australian Masters the Internet, largely an unknown U.S. government-owned system, was accessed by new dial-up services America Online and Prodigy. They mailed CD's to let us gain access. Oh, and Jordan Spieth was two.

Twenty years later and with wins in five decades, including the Australian Senior Open, Senior is again the Australian Masters champion, holding off the likes of Andrew Evans, Bryson DeChambeau, John Senden and Adam Scott with a clutch 8-foot par putt on his final hole.

Matt Murnane with the first report for the Sydney Morning Herald, though I suspect we'll get some fun reads putting his incredible win into perspective.


Video: Most Interesting Man's Warm-Up With A GoPro

I'm sure when the grade school teachers of the European Tour's social media expert Jamie Kennedy see him strapping a GoPro to Miguel Angel Jimenez, they will gush with pride. All so that we can see the most interesting man warm up! The subtitles were a nice touch, too.



Reminder: Day 2 Of Bones And Woody From St. Simons Island!

As mentioned this week in the Forward Press, this was an opportunity for fresh voices. And a new energy they brought!

Jim "Bones" MacKay and John "Woody" Wood immediately delivered a different vibe than the usual former golfer-turned on-course reporter. Day two starts at 1 pm ET on Golf Channel as the two loopers hit the course for RSM third round coverage.

Bones and Woody assessed day one with Steve Sands.

There was also a fun bit set up in advance where Bones told a story from the 1993 Ryder Cup involving Davis Love.


Casey Shuns European Ryder Cup Chances For America, Family

He'll be blasted and no doubt treated like a leper by some on the European side, but Paul Casey has been fairly consistent throughout the saga about his desire to stay closer to his new home, new family and to protect a career that has gone sideways once before.

Still, the decision to stick with the PGA Tour and not play enough European Tour events to be eligible to play at the 2016 Ryder Cup is clearly not sitting well with Captain Darren Clarke.

From Ewan Murray's Guardian report:

“It is obvious that representing Europe in the Ryder Cup is not on Paul’s priority list, which is disappointing, but I wish him all the best for the future,” Clarke said.

“For me the focus is firmly on the players who are committed to the European cause as we move towards Hazeltine and I look forward to working with these players over the next 10 months.”

Brrrr...who says the planet is getting warmer?


Double Standard When It Comes To Female Competitiveness?

Now that we've had some time to digest the Suzann Pettersen-Alison Lee Solheim Cup incident, Karen Crouse raises an intriguing point fueled in part by comments from Butch Harmon.

You may recall Pettersen was well off the 17th green of a match when Lee picked up her ball without a concession. I've always felt Suzann knew that Lee was a little loose with the match play dynamics and etiquette and was lying in wait. Her mistake, in my view, was that she was too far from the action. Had she been standing on the green, arms folded (the international signal for putting out), she is considered a Seve-like competitor. But standing off the green, almost to the next tee?  She was rightly criticized.

Yes, golf is a crazy-strange sport.

But Crouse makes the case that female athletes play under different standards when it comes to competitiveness and that Pettersen may always be remembered in a negative light, perhaps due in part to her gender.

To be a female athlete is to be ever mindful that appearances matter. Prettiness is next to godliness, which is why many of the players wear makeup during tournaments and treat their competitiveness as an imperfection that needs to be covered up with hugs and smiles. The same icy stare that identifies Tiger Woods as a fierce competitor is off-putting when it freezes Pettersen’s opponents.

“Absolutely, there is a double standard,” said Pettersen’s swing instructor, Butch Harmon, whose past clients include Mickelson and Woods. “It’s not right. One of the things I love about Suzann is what a great competitor she is. She prepares, and she plays, to win.”

Speaking by telephone, Harmon added: “If you look at Serena Williams, she gets put in the same category. People say Serena Williams is overaggressive. No, what she is is very, very good and very, very competitive.”

I really don't think of Pettersen in a negative light because she missed a nuanced element of gamesmanship and it didn't hurt that she apologized (even though she isn't the one who made the initial mistake). 

But a few months later, how do you view Suzann and the incident? Are females held to a different standard when it comes to competitiveness?


McGinley Also Baffled By Team USA's Early Vice Captain Picks

In an appearance with Sky during the Race to Dubai final, winning 2014 Ryder Cup Captain Paul McGinley was understandably baffled by the baffling Team USA decision to announce three active(ish) players as Vice Captains for the 2016 Ryder Cup to go with Tom Lehman (previously announced).

Ryan Lavner at transcribes McGinley's comments that included an assumption that this was a task force-related move, but it oddly establishes Woods as a ceremonial golfer for the time being and announces Jim Furyk as a maybe, even though he is one of America's best players.

“But I’m surprised that they’ve done it so early. Normally, in Europe, we might announce one or two vice captains well in advance, but we don’t really until the 11th hour. We give everyone the best chance they have of making the team.”

McGinley pointed to Jim Furyk, who turns 46 in May but is still one of the Americans’ best players. Furyk won his first tournament since 2010 at the RBC Heritage, was one of the top contenders for the FedEx Cup before a wrist injury, and currently sits 10th in the Ryder Cup points standings. He has a 10-20-4 record in nine appearances in the biennial event.

“Is his mind going to be swayed by the fact that he was announced early as a vice captain?” McGinley said. “We’re going to have to wait and see. But it is a bit strange.”

Love said the move was made because the captain and his team have to "get to work."

You know, fitting each Vice Captain for a cart, an IFB so that they can hear all back channel chats and, of course, learning how to drive a cart carrying four instead of the usual two.


Rory Says What Most Are Thinking About Tiger Shifting To A Ryder Cup Driving Role

Talking after his opening round in the Race To Dubai finale, Rory McIlroy naturally wonders about Tiger's physical well-being if the legendary golfer is already committing himself to cart shuttling duties instead of leaving open the possibility that the 40-year-old-to-be could make the team.

From an unbylined Belfast Telegraph wire story:

Told of the news after his opening round in the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai, a visibly surprised McIlroy said: " I don't know what to think about that, I really don't.

"It's great that he wants to help the US team in any way that he can, and if that's not in a playing capacity, then as a vice-captain. Just sort of makes me think what really his health is like and how he feels like he's going to come back from that.

" I'd rather see him on the course at Hazeltine but if not, at least he'll be there and it will be a good addition for them."



This Week Is Ivor Robson's Finale As A First Tee Starter

Oh sure, he'll probably be enlisted to record voice mail messages for charity and whatever else someone lures him into, but the legendary first tee announcer Ivor Robson is calling it a career after this week's European Tour event.

While Dubai isn't quite St. Andrews (where Robson called his final Open Championship last summer), this will be your final chance to hear a grown man sounding like he's been goosed everytime he announces a golfer on the first tee.

From the European Tour's Instagram account:




Despite His Driving Record, Tiger Lands Assistant Ryder Cup Gig

Shady insider politics were no doubt in play as a member of the two-time-convening Ryder Cup Task Force, Tiger Woods, was named as part of Davis Love’s first wave of 2016 assistant Cup Captains.

Bob Harig says this shows Tiger cares, which is probably true. Though I’d lean more towards the “cares about still getting checks from Nike” division. Whereas Harig believes this is a statement about Woods’ feelings for the Ryder Cup.

That Woods is willing to take a subservient role at this point sends a message of allegiance. Taking drink orders and offering tidbits of wisdom might not seem like Woods' style, but that is what he has signed up to do.

And shuttling WAGs to the 17th tee...

Though I’m not sure I’d jump in a four-seat cart with a man who crashed an Escalade.

Captain Love also handed cart keys to Jim Furyk, Steve Stricker who join already-named asst. Captain Tom Lehman. It’s unclear whether he intends to have any more assistant captains in the inevitable push toward every Ryder Cupper having their own cart driver masquerading as an assistant captain.

Speaking of the swelling list of cart drivers, Doug Ferguson explains the thinking this way:

The five vice captains would allow one of them to be with each match during the team sessions, with another that Love described as a ”floater.” Last year at Gleneagles, European captain Paul McGinley had one of his assistants with the players who sat out some of the team sessions.

None of this really matters as Forbes says Tiger is worth $700 million and narrowly made the magazines’ 40 Richest Entrepreneurs Under 40 list.