Twitter: GeoffShac
  • Playing Through: Modern Golf's Most Iconic Players and Moments
    Playing Through: Modern Golf's Most Iconic Players and Moments
    by Jim Moriarty
  • 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
  • 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
  • A Life Well Played: My Stories
    A Life Well Played: My Stories
    by Arnold Palmer
  • 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
  • Teeing Off: Players, Techniques, Characters, and Reflections from a Lifetime Inside the Game
    Teeing Off: Players, Techniques, Characters, and Reflections from a Lifetime Inside the Game
    by Ken Bowden

On two-shot holes it is highly desirable in many cases to compel the player to place his tee shot so that his shot to the green may be clear, and if not properly placed, the shot to the green may to some extent be blind. DONALD ROSS

 

  

Tuesday
Sep052017

Video: Eye On Design, The Walker Cup Explained

The 2017 Walker Cup is here and Los Angeles is sensing the buzz! The motorcades have stifled traffic and the paparazzi have staked out the team hotel and...ok that's a stretch. But as we discussed on Morning Drive today, this is one we Angelenos have been anticipating for some time.

But while the teams enjoy some sightseeing golf, as Ryan Lavner noted for GolfChannel.com, this site is going to be all in on this event. So my apologies in advance for those still hurting from the lack of Solheim Cup coverage during U.S. Amateur week, but this is just the third Walker Cup to visit the west coast, the first in Southern California and Los Angeles Country Club's first national television appearance. (Clubhouse and pub sign on right depicted by Lee Wybranski.)

Full and only disclosure here for the week: I worked on the restoration of LACC's North Course since 2007 with Gil Hanse, Jim Wagner and many fine shapers, contractors, club officials and fine committees. The Walker Cup will be a celebration of all that went into restoring George Thomas and Billy Bell's 1927-28 redesign. More details on that later in the week, but if you must jump ahead, Ran Morrissett's 2014 review should tell you plenty about the architecture.

This latest Eye On Design is for those who aren't aware of what the Walker Cup is all about or if they should fork over the $75 to come out and watch. (Tickets here, and parking on the adjoining South Course is free! There is also an Uber dropoff at Comstock Avenue near the club driving range.)

In the video I explain the format and general superiority of this event over just about all others in golf based on the experiences had by all at the 2013 Walker Cup. You'll see many of my images from that event in the Eye On Design embedded below.

Monday
Sep042017

As If UT Needed More Recruiting Tools: The Spieth Lower 40

You just feel for the men and women of UT, having to deal with yet another world class addition to their facilities, this time a par-3 course designed in conjunction with Jordan Spieth.

Beth Ann Nichols
explains how it all works for Golfweek.

The UT Golf Club flyover:

Sunday
Sep032017

Video: The Golf Side Of Jake Olson's Amazing Life Story

If you didn't hear about Jake Olson snapping the ball for his USC Trojans Saturday, you'll want to check out Bill Plaschke's LA Times take on the blind athlete who lost his sight due to cancer.

ESPN's Kyle Bonagura also included this piece and some great post game interview embeds.

And if that's not enough inspiration, this piece from not long ago by Shelley Smith catching up with the young cancer patient she covered before learning she had cancer, is a definite must.

But Olson is also a golfer and this Travis Matthew ambassador piece tells you about that side of his courageous life...

Sunday
Sep032017

Stacy Lewis Wins For Houston, KPMG Matches

What a story seeing Stacy Lewis pledge her winnings to the relief effort in her hometown following hurricane Harvey.

From Beth Ann Baldry's Golfweek story on the win and match by her sponsor:

The now 12-time winner played for a cause bigger than herself, pledging early in the week to donate all her winnings to Hurricane Harvey relief efforts. Lewis’ first-place check at the Cambia Portland Classic meant $195,000 would go toward helping people in her hometown rebuild their lives. Her sponsor, KPMG, surprised Lewis on Sunday by announcing that the company would match that number, bringing the total to $390,000. Lewis also collected shoes from fellow players to ship back to Houston.

Sunday
Sep032017

Technophobic Media Is Getting Younger: Millennials Not Buying!

It's a wonderful thing, how these "technophobic" times have changed. The kids are increasingly on board!

As distances have spiked again and rumors of a bifurcation movement looming that might introduce a variable distance ball, our friends in Fairhaven have updated a talking points "stack" they've peddled for years with a summer 2017 update to their case against any kind of golf ball regulation.

(Note: in 50+ pages they never mention the millions spent to change golf courses or to pay for the issues arising from golf balls flying to places never before reached.)

But I can sit back, nurse a cold beverage and watch others do the heavy lifting on an issue that will keep coming up as long as folks keep telling us nothing's happening. Couple this with and increasingly sustainability-focused generation not buying the arguments for sitting still, and there is an air of inevitability to some sort of regulatory action.

Alex Myers at GolfDigest.com considered the driving distances of Champions Tour players this year compared to their PGA Tour averages at age 30 and of course, everyone has gotten longer as their waistlines have expanded, their backs tightened and their clubs have grown more powerful.

Kenny Perry ranks fourth on the PGA Tour Champions in 2017 at 295 yards per poke. In 1990, he had a driving-distance average of just 270.8 yards. That's not bad considering Tom Purtzer led the PGA Tour that season at 279.6 yards (for comparison, Rory McIlroy's 316.4 yards leads this season) but that equates to nearly a 9-percent increase in driving distance from the time Perry was 30 to his current average as a 57-year-old.

The increase is even bigger for Fred Couples, if we use his driving-distance average (a whopping 300.4 yards) from 2015, the last time he played enough rounds on the PGA Tour Champions to have official stats. In 1990, two years before Freddie won the Masters and ascended to No. 1 in the Official World Golf Ranking, he averaged a measly 272.6 yards on his tee shots. Of the players we looked at, Couples' 10.2-percent increase led the way. (It should be noted that the Callaway Big Bertha was launched in 1991, ushering in a new era where driver heads grew to the size of small microwaves, giving a boost to driving distance stats.)

But Alex, don't discount the two-a-day yoga sessions and bicep curls Fred has been doing following his 9 minute planks!

In the wake of last week's 341-yard clutch drive by Dustin Johnson, many revisited the question of distance and whether the sport is better when a top player can drive that far.  I support the long hitter right to his advantage but as we all know, the sport can't keep expanding venues to accommodate distance gains that are going to keep coming as we replace pre-Trackman, pre-watermelon-sized driver heads with those who have never known anything else but swinging hard.

Tron Carter, another young influencer from the only generation that matters, had some fun exchanges with Twitterers about distance. You can read those by clicking on the tweets at his profile or these two (here and here), which no doubt have earned ihs Twitter account top status on some sort of watch screen in Fairhaven.

Sunday
Sep032017

Anything To Play Faster Files: Even Higher-Profile Backstopping

Here's the fun thing about this bizarro trend of men's professional golfers leaving their chip shots around the hole, all in the name of slow play: they are getting more brazen. Even better, this is going to help us bring back the stymie!

The backstopping/sideboarding practice of leaving your ball down--in the name of speeding up play of course--used to be something that only happened in lower profile situations. Increasingly though big name players in big name pairings have been so eager to speed up play, they are willing to not protect the field by leaving their ball in a place that might help their fellow PGA Tour brother competitor. Of course to do so knowingly results in disqualification under the Rules.

And for those who say it doesn't happen, may I refresh your memories here.

This was Saturday with the Spieth-DJ pairing at the 2017 Dell Technologies (link here if the embed doesn't work):

The practice, which only seems to be happening in men's pro golf, is also continuing in Europe. This was Saturday and an all timer given the proximity of the playing partners who just couldn't take that extra 7 seconds to mark their ball.

Here's the bad news: as this strange, buddy-buddy, backscratching practice picks up steam, someone will stand fifteen feet from his ball, watch his ball get hit by another player who then makes par instead of bogey. That player will ends up winning a tournament by a shot or costing someone his card and will be publicly shamed. His reputation might even be ruined. And all for just doing what everyone does every day on the tour because that's how they play the game out there.

And play will still be slow. This practice might be cutting 20-30 seconds a round.

Yet guys will still mark 18 inchers to not step in a through line, but they'll leave their ball down 18 inches from the hole to help out a buddy who might help them later in the round.

I know shining a light on suspect behavior is upsetting for many in a sport where the players are generally the most honest and upstanding in all of sports. But as a clubby sport by nature that values protecting those who have joined the gang, suggests image of those who stick together over good, old-fashioned competition. As a sport, if fans sense the players are just playing week to week hoping for their shot and helping their buddies out at other times, pro golf will ultimately lose a certain edge and purity if a practice like this continues.

Oh, and there is also the "what other rules are they bending" question that is so dangerous to a sport's reputation.

Brandel Chamblee engaged with readers on the topic Saturday after the above incident. The original questioner deleted his question, but it's a nice mix of those who see this for what it is (some bizarre tacit agreement that has festered) and those who believe the guys just are trying to speed things up.

Sunday
Sep032017

PGA Tour Makes The Right Call To Stick With The Current Network TV Deal Through 2021

We all want to see golf on television adapt to the times and improve. While Friday’s network opt-out deadline came and went as an opportunity for the PGA Tour to shake things up, they chose not to do so.

Very shrewd move, Commissioner Jay Monahan.

For fans, the only intrigue in a possible opt-out would have centered around Monahan’s desire to move the look and feel of golf into the future. But the cost of risking partnerships and jumping in with new partners was too great, with no clear sign of a positive outcome for such a move at a time ratings are down.

Besides, significant progress has come with various tracer technologies, HD, employing Trackman, super slow motion replays, Playing Through, live look-ins on breaking events and alternate viewing options like Amen Corner Live.

Despite the views of some at PGA Tour headquarters reportedly pushing for change, Monahan made the right call to put off any shake-up for a few years while the PGA Tour revamps its schedule. (Golf Channel’s current deal to televise also expires in 2021, with no opt-out). This also allows them to get a better sense of how the cable vs. streaming wars play out and strike a better deal going forward.

Consider just some of the reasons Monahan made the right call (The PGA Tour confirmed the contract is going forward and may be addressed at the Tour Championship):

—Schedule madness. The upcoming schedule revamp has way too many open-ended questions and uncertainties to have renegotiated deal terms or welcomed-in other networks. It’s going to be tricky enough to work out the changes with current network partners, sponsors and players, why add more headache?

—Our Future Is Not Quite Here Yet. Many believe streaming is the future and cord cutting will collapse the cable model, but has any major sports property said goodbye to guaranteed network or cable money to take their chances with disruptive mediums? Golf should be about the last sport to do so because…

—The Audience Is Not Ready. While many younger fans are prepared to watch golf via streaming, a majority of golf’s demographic still watches via cable. That demographic hurdle is not changing fast enough to justify taking a tour event away from a network and putting it on Amazon or YouTube or Twitter.  Unless the tour is in the business of setting precedent over making money for its players.

—Sponsors Are Not Ready. You might get a more engaged audience of 180,000 watching the final round of the Dell Technologies on Apple and Amazon TV’s. You might even get one that directly taps that sponsor’s audience, but nearly all tournaments would still rather take their chances reaching a larger number of eyeballs. The blue-chip brands the PGA Tour loves (and who like golf) want to see their logos on big screens in bars and golf courses. They still want to invest in something reaching more than a very targeted audience. The current deal accomplishes this for the people who fund the product.

—Opportunity To Change The Tone. I’ve heard no shortage of players and PGA Tour brass suggest angrily they could be doing way better. Now, this ignores that things are pretty incredible right now, and definitely ignores the post-Tiger ratings decline. But this attitude also mystifies countless network types and marketing world figures who cannot fathom how the PGA Tour believes they hold the stronger hand in the post-sports rights fee bubble. With a good deal for all sides in place through 2021, Monahan can use his personality to repair relationships and create a dialogue amongst his media partners that satisfies their needs and the desires of the Tour’s fanbase.

—Alignment Possibilities. There is a lingering bitterness over the sense that the PGA Tour left money on the table by locking into Golf Channel through 2021—a deal many saw as just as big of a risk for Golf Channel at the time. This rage clouds the thinking of many who disregard how simple it is for fans, bartenders and anyone with a cable package to find PGA Tour golf on a Thursday, Friday or weekend morning. But as the media world changes, not opting out allows the PGA Tour to gain a few more years of perspective and data. In two years they can better align possible weekday partners with weekend partners in a new deal or spend hundreds of millions starting their own channel. Or, pursue different terms with Golf Channel that can serve as an anger-management soother for Ponte Vedra’s disillusioned Vice Presidential core. Win-win!

Friday
Sep012017

Status Of TPC Boston Stop Still In Limbo As Opt-Out Day Arrives

It's opt-out day!

That's right, the September 1 deadline has arrived and we'll find out if the PGA Tour is going to continue with its current CBS/NBC network deal until 2021 or exercise an option to get out of the contract to renegotiate different terms.

In the meantime, Bill Doyle explains the issues facing the PGA Tour's Boston stop, currently sponsored by Dell Technologies through 2018, and it sounds like it may be transitioning to a spot in someone's tournament rota. Who what someone is, we're not sure.

Jordan Spieth said he’s been involved in discussions about revamping the PGA Tour schedule.

“There’s still a chance,” he said Thursday after playing in the pro-am at TPC Boston, “that we would still move up here every other year or something. So there’s still a lot of options available. There’s not much set in stone right now.”

Spieth went on to say that the PGA Tour might even come to TPC Boston only every third year.

There were also these two interesting quotes...

“I don’t blame them for watching football,” Dustin Johnson said, “because I probably would be too.”

“If we can make it,” Rickie Fowler said, “to where we’re ‘the’ thing to watch on TV at the end of our season, I think that’s the main goal.”

Thursday
Aug312017

Week After Anti-Bombing Gripes, TPC's Anti-Bombing Change Causes Gripes

Last week some players were mad that Glen Oaks' 18th favored Dustin Johnson's ability to hit a super-human length drive under pressure and be rewarded. This week at TPC Boston, the newly updated 12th is causing consternation because it's forcing players to consider possible routes interrupted by bunkering, some a play down the 13th hole possible according to AP's Doug Ferguson who predicts many players will go all Lon Hinkle on us.

Brian Wacker at GolfDigest.com has some of the player reaction, including Paul Casey calling the hole awful. That's an eye-opener given his general astuteness, appreciation of centerline hazards and understanding that you can't judge a hole by one practice round.

However, architect Gil Hanse, who oversaw the changes along with Jim Wagner, is preaching patience and is not shy in suggesting that hazards were placed to prevent the bombs away approach found to be so upsetting last week.

Rex Hoggard at GolfChannel.com allows Hanse to explain the thinking behind the hole and need to consider it after more than just one impression.

“The expectation was it would take several rounds for these guys to learn how to play it and how they wanted to tackle it,” he said. “Unfortunately, some of the early reaction came after one practice round.

“The conversation we’ve had with three or four players is, 'Listen, just give it three or four rounds. Try to figure it out.' If we build a golf hole that the players can figure out after one round, then we probably haven’t done our job challenging them.”

And on preventing the new 12th from giving long hitters a distinct advantage:

“This golf course, rightfully or wrongly, has always been characterized as a bomber’s golf course,” said Hanse, who lengthened the 12th by 50 yards. “So when you’re making alterations, you have that in the back of your mind, and you don’t want to be seen increasing that advantage. We felt like the positioning of these hazards gives the average guy room to hit the ball. But as you want to push around 330, it gets more narrow.”

Thursday
Aug312017

Hunter Mahan Starts Effort To Kickstart Career With 68

On the list of questions I get from readers, Hunter Mahan has recently pushed aside Nick Watney and Anthony Kim atop the list of "where has he gone?"

Thankfully Tim Rosaforte at Golf World answers what has happened to Mahan's game, what he's doing to repair his confidence and what the prospects are for the one-time 4th ranked player in the world and 2014 Ryder Cupper.

Most prominently, Mahan's switched to instructor Chris O'Connell.

Mahan and O’Connell were connected through Tom Dundon, a mutual friend and developer whose golf interests include Trinity Forest in Dallas and Topgolf. O’Connell had been following Mahan’s career since he finished second in the 2002 U.S. Amateur and won the Haskins and Hogan Awards before wrapping up his college career at Oklahoma State in 2003. Seeing Mahan struggle, Dundon was persistent that O’Connell was the correct fit.

“I don’t expect Hunter and Kuch to look alike, but they both do specific things critical in the area of delivering the club into the ball,” O’Connell said. “I told [Mahan] at first, 'I don’t want to teach you anything you didn’t know or do. I simply want to put back what you were doing when you were highly regarded as one of best hitters out there.' I would not want to do anything else but just restore him.”

The restoration process involves rebuilding confidence. Mahan missed seven straight cuts in the early stages of the transition, but he's coming off a T-16 at the Wyndham Championship that included back-to-back 65s. He jumped from 791st to 731st in the world at the Wyndham, and goes into the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Championship ranked 748th.

Mahan opened with a 68 in round one of the Nationwide Children's Hospital Classic.

Thursday
Aug312017

Knapp Wins Senior Am On First Try...In His 43rd USGA Event

Dave Shedloski files a superb Golf World game story from the U.S. Senior Amateur at Minikahda Club where Sean Knapp won the U.S. Senior Amateur in his first year of eligibility.

For a player who has had his share of moments in amateur golf, it's a great story. But winning after 43 USGA events, for someone who started the game at age 19, is something to behold in the era of short amateur careers.

When you add the emotions of winning one with Knapp's late father very much on his mind, it's an incredible story you'll want to take in.

An accomplished player in Western Pennsylvania, Knapp has been a fixture in USGA championships, twice advancing as far as the semifinals of the U.S. Mid-Amateur. In the 1995 U.S. Amateur at Newport Country Club, he defeated Notah Begay in a second-round match only to be stopped in the Round of 16 by eventual winner Tiger Woods. In 1998, he got to the quarterfinals at Oak Hill C.C.

But it had been more than three years since he had qualified for a USGA championship, and that one, the U.S. Amateur at Atlanta Athletic Club, ended before it began when Knapp received a call from his sister. Their father, Roger, stricken with cancer, had taken a turn for the worse. Knapp marched to his car and drove 11 hours straight home to Oakmont. On the way he phoned his dad. Said Knapp, “He could barely speak, but I told him this selfishly, ‘Dad, stay alive. We’re coming home for you.’ ”

When he arrived, Sean put his hand on his father’s chest and told his father, “I’m so proud of you.” His dad replied, “Sean, just in time.”

Wednesday
Aug302017

Hanse On Architecture's Future & TPC Boston's 12th And 13th 

Golf.com's Dylan Dethier looks at Gil Hanse's rise (thanks for the link PG), which started in large part at the TPC Boston. Host of this week's Dell Technologies playoff event again, the course has been a long-term redesign effort with the PGA Tour and superintendent Tom Brodeur's team.

The transformation of the course into a New England-vibe course, rock walls and quirk included, has helped give this event much character. Hanse offered this on the future of design, inspired in part by the example he hopes to have set at TPC Boston.

"The future of golf is fun," he said, noting the accessibility of the short course he just completed at Pinehurst as an example. "Golf is such a difficult game that whatever we can do to make someone's first interaction with the game fun and positive is going to be a win. Of any sport, golf has the best field and the best landscapes, and those selling points will always resonate with people. The allure of being outside and spending time with people is huge and you can't match it anywhere else."

Dethier talks to Hanse about the latest changes to the 12th and 13th holes.

Golfweek's Bradley Klein offered his assessment of the remodeled holes in his 18 hole-by-hole description, including this on No. 12:

What used to be the only unbunkered hole on the course has been stretched by 49 yards and given centerline fairway bunkering in the form of  Principal’s Nose 305 yards off the tee. There’s also a new green position farther back. Hanse and Wagner also created more of a tie-in to the next hole by opening up the tree line and extending an existing ridge line into the 12th fairway, creating more of a drop-shot feel to the second shot. The shared space is a classical New England element that gets away from the older, isolated hole corridors that prevailed here. The putting surface also has been been moved away from its rocky ledge over a wetlands hazard. It now sits closer to the next tee, making for a better connect-the-dots feel. The hole requires a commitment off the tee between two alternative paths, the low road (to the right) shorter but a bit riskier; the high road to the left safer but longer.

Wednesday
Aug302017

GB&I Captain Watson "Stands Down" Due To Family Illness

A great shame for GB&I Captain Craig Watson after nearly two years of preparation. He will be replaced at next week's Los Angeles Country Club matches by Andrew Ingram.

For Immediate Release:

THE GREAT BRITAIN AND IRELAND WALKER CUP CAPTAIN STANDS DOWN

30 August 2017, St Andrews, Scotland: The Great Britain and Ireland Walker Cup Captain Craig Watson is standing down from next week’s match at Los Angeles Country Club in the USA due to a serious illness in his immediate family.

In his absence Andrew Ingram, Chairman of the GB&I men’s selectors, will take over as Acting Captain.

Ingram, 57, represented Wales at junior and youth level before going on to captain the Welsh men’s Home Internationals team on five occasions, including their victory in 2002. He became Chairman of the R&A Men’s Selection Committee in 2014 and has been Chairman of the Teams and Performance Committee at the Golf Union of Wales for more than ten years. Ingram captained the winning European Junior Ryder Cup Team in the USA in 2004 and also at Celtic Manor in 2006 where Europe retained the trophy. He currently plays to a handicap of two and is a member at Royal Porthcawl.

Wednesday
Aug302017

Parsing The Issues Raised By DJ's 341-Yard Playoff Drive

I'm both disappointed and elated at the reaction to Dustin Johnson's heroic tee shot in the Northern Trust playoff win over Jordan Spieth.

Elated, because something about it has people thinking about the role of distance in the game and not feeling satisfied even when a player uses his skill to take such a risk and reap a reward.

Disappointed, because the reaction has been to blame the hole or the organizers or so even people who rail against the distance jump in golf.

Michael Bamberger filed a nice account of the day and excitement of having two top players going at it. Their contrasting styles added to the magic. Until, we saw the reaction!

Kyle Porter at CBSSports.com considered all of the issues and posted many of the outraged Tweets for those who want to catch up on the "controversy" here.

Spieth hit a six-iron into 18. Johnson had a 60-degree wedge. It was not a fair fight. Spieth made a 4. Johnson hit the most beautiful spinning, all-grace lob wedge you could imagine and it was nearly a kick-in 3. Set-up by that extra gear. Covering 300 hundred, no problem. The tee shot went 341. Ho-hum.

Spieth was more animated in defeat than Johnson was in victory. Just two totally different people. A reporter asked Johnson if he knew how wild it sounded to the ordinary golfer, that 300 yards was no problem to carry.

The winner kind of tilted his head, did a mini-shrug and said, "No. I mean, I'm used to it."

How nice, for him.

Alan Shipnuck answered reader emails and Tweets that were pretty consumed with the tee shot, though most were more receptive than some of the PGA Tour players who took to Twitter.

The key to understanding the beauty of the play, in my view, is to separate the tee shot number of 341 yards from the line taken, the shocking tracer lines and the huge advantage gained over Spieth. If you just see this as a long hitter taking a risk under pressure and reaping a reward, it's a beautiful thing. Even better is that the hole was part of the playoff and in a mini-match play situation allowed for this risk-taking.

I'm concerned how many players were suggesting a playoff hole should be chosen based on some sort of arbitrary design characteristics. No matter how you feel about the impact of distance gains, I would hope that when the day comes, we all agree that long drivers like Johnson get to continue to enjoy an advantage as long as their drives are accurately placed.

But obviously the 341 number is alarming and has been for some time. If you cut 10% off the drives of Johnson and Spieth, the options would have been different. In the case of many holes, things would be more interesting. It just so happens that in this case, the advantage gained was more significant than we're used to seeing in an era when there are few short hitters. That's an issue to take up with your governing bodies.

Tuesday
Aug292017

NY Times On Sweetens Cove: "The Little Golf Course That Could"

Thanks to reader Jim who sent this wonderful Dylan Dethier New York Times piece a few days ago and I finally got around to reading.

Sweetens Cove is profiled, the low-cost, great fun, model-the-future risk taken by golf architect Rob Collins. It recently cracked Golfweek's Top 100 Modern Courses list and is just the kind of thing we need more of.

You can hear Collins on the latest Shipshow with Harry Arnett and Jeff Neubarth.

Dethier writes:

Collins worked with a skeleton crew for long hours and low pay on an accelerated timeline. Other architects and prospective owners circled like vultures, ready to buy up the property. In sheer desperation, Collins mortgaged everything and took over the lease himself.

The course cost about $1 million to build, while a top design firm would have charged $8 million to $10 million for such a project, Collins said.

“The whole thing just got bootstrapped together; it was a labor of love,” he said. “I had a thousand opportunities to walk away, but, damn it, I believed so much in the project, and I honestly had nowhere to walk away to.”

Tuesday
Aug292017

ShackHouse 47: Playoff Mania, Things We Won't Talk About And Gladwell!

Apologies for me calling in but it was a tech disaster day on multiple fronts, but we ended having what I think is a lively chat before Malcolm Gladwell and Joe House finally faced off on golf. (You may recall House was a tad chippy about Gladwell's take on golf). Gladwell was also on last week's House of Carbs taking on a very important crusade.

As always, you can subscribe on iTunes and or just refresh your device's podcast subscription page.

Here is The Ringer's show page.

Same deal with Soundcloud for the show, and Episode 46 is here to listen to right now. Or this new platform or wherever podcasts are streamed.

ShackHouse is brought to you by Callaway, and of course, the new Steelhead fairway woods along with the new O-Works from Odyssey as well. Oh and red and black putter winner results announced on the show too!

Tuesday
Aug292017

Analysis: NCAA, Golf Channel Extend Through 2029

I'm a little surprised there has not been more sports media world reaction to the NCAA locking in the golf championships with Golf Channel through 2029.

Given the constant chatter about the demise of pay cable and possibilties of streaming, the NCAA chose not to go down that latter path (there had been rumblings!).

Granted, this is not the NBA or NFL, but most rights deals are very closely watched and at least in the golf world, this was a potential content for CBS Sports Network or the PGA Tour's possible entry into the space. The length of the deal is also eye-opening given the supposed uncertainty of rights deals and the difficulty in trying to get the NCAA back on television (where it has since thrived).

From Brentley Romine's Golfweek report:

“This is an important day for NCAA golf, our student-athletes, coaches and fans,” said Joni Comstock, NCAA senior vice president of championships. “The partnership with Golf Channel has resulted in live broadcast of several milestone moments in both the men’s and women’s championships over the last several years, and we anticipate more exciting moments in the years ahead. Providing access and a media platform that gives our golf student-athletes more visibility and news coverage shows unified support for the game. This also allows others the opportunity to see the outstanding play of our student-athletes who excel in the classroom and on the course.”

Given the expenditure by Golf Channel on the production side, I'd also note this deal is another huge victory for team match play as a format. Not that a boost was given, but since the NCAA switched to this format and memorable finishes have ensued, it's another hint that television has fully embraced a format beyond stroke play.

Tuesday
Aug292017

Rio, It Never Ends Files: Degraded Golf Just Isn't Catching On...

While it pales compared to the suffering going on in Houston, the sight of Rio venues a year later is no doubt newsworthy and an important reminder about forcing the Olympics where they just don't fit. Knowing the joyful expressions of athleticism that took place there a year ago and seeing those places now is an eye-opener.

But as chronicled here many times, the continued inclusion of the Olympic Golf Course in slideshows certainly is a continued reminder that rustic, "degraded" golf (essentially dry links-style conditions) just doesn't quite make sense to non-golf media outlets.

Two recent examples of golf's inclusion in the discussion of venues here and here, though there are many more. Meanwhile, the course's Instagram postings tells a much different story than various press outlets wish to tell.

Gil Hanse, architect of the course, had this to say to Golf.com's Joe Passov:

"I'm hearing good things from locals," Hanse said. "Back in March, one of the international news agencies put out something about the state of the Rio facilities—the terrible state the pools are in, the Olympic Park with a chain link fence around it. And they ran an aerial photo of the 'degraded' Olympic golf course. I looked at it and I'm like, 'You can see the mower stripes on the greens. You can see all the bunkers are raked. You can see the fairways are mowed. How is that degraded?' It was definitely a fake news story. Very frustrating."

This was three days ago:

Monday
Aug282017

Playoffs Need Emergency Tweaks (Or Lose The Playoff Word!)

The 2017 Northern Trust had the best 36-hole  leaderboard of the PGA Tour season, an immaculately groomed venue on Long Island and the perk of opening the FedExCup playoffs in a market where major events will be common place through 2024. 

Dustin Johnson won in a playoff over Jordan Spieth, and while the August timing is tough when the weather screams "family-day-at-the-beach,"  the event fell flat for another reason: the "playoff" word.

We connote playoffs with excitement in sports.

With do or die.

With drama.

With upsets.

With play well or go home.

None of those things happen in the FedExCup because the entire "playoff" is built around keeping season points leaders around until the end. From day one this lack of urgency has plagued the PGA Tour playoffs, especially since we are a sport once family with the ultimate playoff: the event still known as Q-School but bearing none of the importance it once held.

Instead of something where top players are able to build on their season-long success or lose it based on some poor early play, we have something in between--with two points resets--that has left us with a flat playoff concept.

FedEx has renewed through 2027, and Commissioner Jay Monahan is working hard to envision a better playoffs with (perhaps) only three events and (perhaps) more playing-off that introduces some drama.

As we discussed on Morning Drive Saturday, the most immediate need for the first playoff event is some sort of points penalty for a non-start or missed cut. The thinking goes like this: if someone doesn't want to be here or doesn't come to the playoffs ready to go, there must be some penalty in the quest for $10 million.

Hideki Matsuyama points leader who missed the Northern Trust cut? 500 points deducted.

Beyond this first stage event, however, there must be eliminations along the way and even once the event reached East Lake.

As the 2016 Rio golf proved, even with star defections there will be other stars and storylines that step in. There will be people in contention who want to be there and deserve to be there. Like any playoff, some will go home, maybe even stars. The sun will set in the west and most of all, the PGA Tour playoffs will be real playoffs.

Otherwise, if it's just too hard to cut the cord and penalize players for poor play, then maybe we need to lose the playoffs word?

Sunday
Aug272017

Deadlines! Tour TV Opt Out, Proposed Rules Of Golf Changes

Just a reminder to the folks down in Ponte Vedra, you have until September 1 to get out of your current network deal and imagine a new television future! Oh, right, you know this.

Of more interest to the majority of golfers is this week's deadline, also September 1, to submit suggestions for the upcoming Rules of Golf re-thinking.

I'm still not a fan of dropping the ball one inch from the ground or tapping spike marks, and we'll see if the governing bodies heard from many on those topics.

The SI/Golf.com gang had a good (and perhaps motivational exchange) on this and many other topics in golf:

Ritter: We're getting there, USGA! I like the proposed changes, but we still need to do more to address the one true scourge of golf: slow play. How about a shot clock on Tour—just for a trial period to see how it goes?

Sens: Hate to sound like Ritter's pet parrot, but I'll agree with him again here. I just played a weekend round that took five hours and 50 minutes. Inexcusable. And clearly the result of too many people emulating Tour pros in all the wrong ways. Put the pros on a tighter shot clock and enforce it. Playing quicker just becomes a necessary skill to be successful, like a QB who gets his passes off before the rush hits. In the meantime, that pesky stroke-and-distance matter could still use some addressing.

Shipnuck: Yeah, ditching O.B. and making all of it red stakes would be a great start. While we're at it, how about a free drop from sand-filled divot holes in the fairway, too?

Bamberger: The rule changes are so minor they will make no impact on the game as we play it and only a slight impact on the elite game. Getting out some red paint would have been a real change and I think an improvement.