Latest From GolfDigest.com
Latest From The Loop
Twitter
Feedblitz
To Get GeoffShackelford.com Posts Delivered To Your Inbox Enter Email Address Below:


Powered by FeedBlitz
Books
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • The Good Doctor Returns: A Novel
    The Good Doctor Returns: A Novel
    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
  • The Captain: George C. Thomas Jr. and His Golf Architecture
    The Captain: George C. Thomas Jr. and His Golf Architecture
    by Geoff Shackelford
Current Reading
  • The Golf Book: Twenty Years of the Players, Shots, and Moments That Changed the Game
    The Golf Book: Twenty Years of the Players, Shots, and Moments That Changed the Game
    by Chris Millard
  • The Forbidden Game: Golf and the Chinese Dream
    The Forbidden Game: Golf and the Chinese Dream
    by Dan Washburn
  • The Early Days of Pinehurst
    The Early Days of Pinehurst
    by Chris Buie
  • Arnie, Seve, and a Fleck of Golf History: Heroes, Underdogs, Courses, and Championships
    Arnie, Seve, and a Fleck of Golf History: Heroes, Underdogs, Courses, and Championships
    by Bill Fields
  • The Magnificent Masters: Jack Nicklaus, Johnny Miller, Tom Weiskopf, and the 1975 Cliffhanger at Augusta
    The Magnificent Masters: Jack Nicklaus, Johnny Miller, Tom Weiskopf, and the 1975 Cliffhanger at Augusta
    by Gil Capps
  • His Ownself: A Semi-Memoir
    His Ownself: A Semi-Memoir
    by Dan Jenkins
Classics
  • Golf Architecture in America: Its Strategy and Construction
    Golf Architecture in America: Its Strategy and Construction
    by Geo. C. Thomas
  • The Course Beautiful : A Collection of Original Articles and Photographs on Golf Course Design
    The Course Beautiful : A Collection of Original Articles and Photographs on Golf Course Design
    Treewolf Prod
  • Reminiscences Of The Links
    Reminiscences Of The Links
    by Albert Warren Tillinghast, Richard C. Wolffe, Robert S. Trebus, Stuart F. Wolffe
  • Gleanings from the Wayside
    Gleanings from the Wayside
    by Albert Warren Tillinghast
  • Planet Golf USA: The Definitive Reference to Great Golf Courses in America
    Planet Golf USA: The Definitive Reference to Great Golf Courses in America
    by Darius Oliver
  • Planet Golf: The Definitive Reference to Great Golf Courses Outside the United States of America
    Planet Golf: The Definitive Reference to Great Golf Courses Outside the United States of America
    by Darius Oliver
Writing And Videos

Good players have the power to think while they are competing. Most golfers are not thinking even when they believe they are. They are only worrying. HARVEY PENICK

 

    

Sunday
Dec072014

Move Over Tiger's Mom Jeans, Rory's Got A Coat For The Ages!

The Twittersphere is having a blast already with Rory McIlroy's winter, uh, coat (Did he lose a bet? Steal it from mom? Is Diane von Furstenberg dressing him? Channeling Joe Namath?)

Here's my post at the Loop on Rory's Eagles game appearance and sizeable, heavily buttoned coat.

And the tweet:

 

Saturday
Dec062014

Saturday's Tiger (69) Drama: Chunks Of Two Kinds

The Twittersphere barely lit up Saturday as more Tiger Woods drama overshadowed the early Hero World Challenge coverage and the stellar play of Jordan Spieth (and that was before the 21-year-old posted 63 and a seven shot lead, Steve DiMeglio reports).

While Twitter was fairly quiet (or golf writers were out...golfing), Golf Channel's Tiger Tracker was all over Tiger's temperature and vomiting drama. And after he gutted out a 69 with two more flubbed wedge shots, Woods explained why he played on.

From Bob Harig's ESPN.com report:

"I like to compete,'' said Woods, who is at 216, even par. "If I can go, I can go. I'll give it everything I have. This is different. I wasn't in pain. Just was a bit under the weather.''

Woods had a 102-degree fever on Friday but thought he might be past the problems. Instead, they got worse. Woods looked terrible on the driving range, and several times stopped and bent over as if to vomit. He nonetheless birdied the first hole then added a bogey and birdie on the front side to turn in 35.

Adam Schupak of Golfweek describes Saturday's two chunked wedges and says they overshadow what has been the more glaring issue: putting.

Who would’ve thought his driver would look like the least rusty club in his bag in Woods' first competitive rounds since missing the cut at the PGA Championship in August? The chipping woes that plagued his first two rounds continued. He chunked a chip a few feet from the Bermuda rough on the sixth hole and made bogey and then repeated Thursday’s blunder at 13 by lifting his head and stubbing it from a collection area. The ball returned to his feet and led to bogey. How bad has the chipping been? Well, fans were placing bets on Twitter if he’d do it again and someone created a parody account named “@DidTigerChunk.”


While his chipping shortcomings make for easy fodder, they have disguised how poorly he has putted so far. Woods hasn’t made a putt outside of 12 feet in three rounds.

Golf Central's report on the Woods drama and post-round comments.

Tiger also revealed after the round that his early year schedule will be different, getting the hopes up of tournament directors in Phoenix, Pebble Beach and Los Angeles that he may add one of the events he used to play regularly. My money is on Phoenix.

Jason Sobel
reports for GolfChannel.com.

Friday
Dec052014

R.I.P. Ian Player

The older brother of Gary led a fascinating life until his passing this week at 87, most notably credited with helping to save the rhino population of South Africa from almost certain extinction. Less significant to the world but more interesting for golf was his role in convincing brother Gary to exercise.

From Douglas Martin's excellent New York Times obituary.

Ian Cedric Player, the son of a gold miner, was born in Johannesburg on March 15, 1927. He laid the foundation for the famed physical fitness of his brother, Gary, who was eight years younger, by making him climb a rope and lift weights. “He made me promise I would exercise for the rest of my life,” Gary Player told Golf World magazine in 2013.

Friday
Dec052014

Do Long Game Swing Issues Impact Short Game Technique?

A fascinating debate is in the offing over the coming months if Tiger Woods continues to chunk (and now blade) wedge shots as he did again Friday in the Hero World Challenge.

From Bob Harig's ESPN.com story on Tiger's 2-under-par 70 in the company of Patrick Reed, who posted 63.

The work in progress remains his short game, a good example occurring at the par-4 eighth hole Friday. It was his only bogey on the front side, but it was an ugly one, with a wedge-shot approach to the green coming up several yards short, followed by a bladed chip shot that went 40 feet past the pin. A day earlier, Woods chunked chip shots four times, so a natural compensation might be what occurred on the eighth hole.

Tiger later presented the 18th green surrounds with a huge divot similar to those of Thursday's round and again, on a shot where there was plenty of green to work with and no real fine line situation that might explain the kind of heavy shot he's hitting.

Woods said after the round that the long swing changes he's making are tied to the short game struggles. Will Gray reporting for GolfChannel.com:

“A chip shot is a smaller version (of the swing),” he said. “So this is a different path than I have been using, and it’s showing up. It’s not quite ready yet. Just going to take more time, more practice.”

Adam Schupak explored the topic of Tiger's swing changes, with complimentary remarks from Hank Haney on Twitter (“Clearly better, back on track. He wasted five years.”) and David Leadbetter, who is not seeing the direct correlation Woods and others see between swing mechanics and short game mechanics.

“Sure there is some correlation between the long game and the short game but basically it’s a pretty different approach,” Leadbetter said. “As good as a short game as he’s had during his career, why would he ever want to change that? I think he made a big mistake.”

Woods critic Brandel Chamblee on Golf Central has actually been endorsing the idea of a direct tie between Woods' swing and the embarrassing shots around the greens, saying a combination of the dip in Woods' swing, the changed release point and the setup/takeaway changes are all impacting Tiger's wedge shots around the green.

Maybe I haven't been paying enough attention to instruction over the last ten years, because I'm totally flummoxed by this notion. Though perhaps this explains why a shocking number of modern professionals are so mediocre around the greens compared to previous generations due to employing swing fundamentals for what are largely short feel shots around greens?

Here is Chamblee talking about these really difficult shots around Isleworth's greens where he says there is "nothing harder than chipping off of a tight light into the grain."

Friday
Dec052014

In A Baboon Barfight, Take Luke Donald's Caddie

Nedbank Challenge leader Luke Donald's 63 included running from a baboon out for a stroll the course.

Note who is the calm, cool collected one in the clip:


Even Donald had to recognize his looper's more, uh, courageous response.


But nice use of clip art from Donald in his first Tweet:

 

Thursday
Dec042014

Waste Management Locks Up Phoenix Stop Through 2025

Excellent news for the Scottsdale tour stop and one of the most effective sponsors on the PGA Tour, especially after the rumor mill had Waste Management possibly pulling out after this year's event is played Super Bowl weekend.

Maybe it was a just a negotiating ploy, because the company announced a 10-year extension.

For Immediate Release:

Waste Management Extends Sponsorship with PGA TOUR by 10 Years

PHOENIX, Ariz.  (December 4, 2014) – The PGA TOUR, Waste Management (NYSE: WM) and tournament host The Thunderbirds announced today a 10-year sponsorship extension, which becomes effective once Waste Management’s original agreement expires upon completion of the 2015 Waste Management Phoenix Open.

Waste Management has sponsored the tournament since 2010.

“The Waste Management Phoenix Open has been a very successful partnership and we set the bar high for sustainability in sports,” said David Steiner, Waste Management president and CEO. “This title sponsorship has engaged our customers, elevated our brand, told our transformation story, and afforded us the real privilege of educating hundreds of thousands of individuals on ways to lead a more sustainable lifestyle at home, in our communities and at our workplaces. We look forward to continuing our relationship with the PGA TOUR and The Thunderbirds and keeping the Waste Management Phoenix Open the greatest – and greenest – show on grass.”

In addition to being the PGA TOUR’s most highly attended tournament, annually drawing more than 500,000 spectators, the Waste Management Phoenix Open is also recognized for the sustainability initiatives implemented by its title sponsor and host organization, including the award-winning Zero Waste Challenge.

“We are absolutely delighted that Waste Management will continue as a valued partner of the PGA TOUR and The Thunderbirds,” said PGA TOUR Commissioner Tim Finchem. “Since becoming title sponsor, Waste Management has done a wonderful job of applying its environmental initiatives to the Waste Management Phoenix Open to make it a truly green week, a particularly impressive achievement with more than a half-million fans attending each year.” 

“We are very excited to be continuing our relationship with Waste Management,” said Tom King, Big Chief of The Thunderbirds.  “While not unprecedented, a 10-year extension is a true sign of Waste Management’s commitment to the game of golf, their ongoing sustainability efforts and The Thunderbirds’ ability to continue to enhance the lives of those in need through charitable giving.”

Deleting the part about winning awards to the part where they are the standard bearer not only on the PGA Tour, but all sporting events:

The Zero Waste Challenge saw zero waste from the tournament being sent to a landfill for the first time in 2013 and completed a repeat performance in 2014 with 100 percent of waste diverted to recycling, composting and waste-to-energy facilities. To help achieve this, Waste Management replaced every trash can with 6,000 recycling and compost bins. The company also established three Zero Waste Stations – repurposed from Waste Management dumpsters – that are staffed with experts to help fans put materials in their proper place.

The Zero Waste success was validated by the Council for Responsible Sport (receiving Gold Certification, the first awarded to a PGA TOUR event) and UL Environment (Zero Waste to Landfill validation, the highest designation possible).

Other “green” initiatives include: 100 percent of the electricity to power the tournament being purchased from renewable energy; Waste Management trucks on site running on clean-burning natural gas to transport materials from the course; and substantial water savings achieved by using “greywater” from concession kitchens in the onsite portable bathrooms.

Thursday
Dec042014

Not Everyone Loves Topgolf Files: Gilbert Lights Edition 

Fox10News' Jessica Flores reports that on opening eve of Topgolf's second Phoenix-area facility and the unhappiness of neighbors who didn't expect to have lights shining into their homes until 2 am some nights.

From the Flores story (full video below) on the effort to see if Topgolf is up to Gilbert city code:

You can see the lights from Top Golf in the distance; it's about 1/2 a mile away from homes in the neighboring communities.

Neighbors say that the light is becoming a nuisance.

Stacy Phillips had made it a mission to get rid of the bright lights coming from a brand new driving range near the 202 and Ray Road.

"We were excited there was a golf club coming to our neighborhood, but we had no idea they were going to put on those lights and shining them directly out at all the communities," said Phillips.

Phillips says when the lights are on at Top Golf at night the glare hits her home. It's a public nuisance, and she doesn't believe it meets city code.

"We get the lights in the room and it illuminates the room until midnight five days a week, and till 2 a.m. the other two," she said.

The full feature:

FOX 10 News | fox10phoenix.com

Thursday
Dec042014

Roundup: Don't Let Tiger's Chunked-Wedge Strewn 77 Ruin Memories Of Tuesday's Magnificent Press Conference

Okay, so he still a ways to go recovering the short game he mysteriously changed to match the Foley swing years and he was the worst player by a lot in round one of the Hero World Challenge, but at least Tiger has (A) his back intact, and (B) his upbeat press conference from Tuesday where he weaved through rallykillers and stuck the landing. 

As for a 77 that was four strokes worse than anyone else in the field, Dave Shedloski says the lone positive came in the form of new re-injury. Maybe. There was the explosiveness too.

Oh, sure, there was more. “Shot patterns were fantastic. And as I think all of you saw, I got my power back and I got my speed back. It’s nice to be able to start launching it again. That’s a very good sign.”

That said, his new-old swing didn’t do him many favors on his former home course, and his short game came up, well, considerably short of the standards of your average 20-handicapper, let alone the No. 24 player in the world.

“It’s weird,” said Woods, who mis-hit four chips and a bunker shot. “I didn’t think I hit it that bad. My short game was awful. It was just one of those days where really nothing went my way.”

The explosive chunk wedges were "shocking" (Steve DiMeglio in USA Today) and according to Doug Ferguson of the AP:

It was the 10th time in 12 rounds that he failed to break par since his first return in June.
Even so, some of the shots were shocking, especially around the green.

On the par-5 17th, he hit his second shot just left of the green, pin-high in a deep collection area. Woods no sooner hit his chip that he angrily swung back-handed toward his divot, knowing what was coming next. The ball didn’t come close to reaching the green, and Woods turned his back as the ball rolled back toward his feet.

Jason Sobel of GolfChannel.com noted that the ball striking wasn't so bad.

All told, he left five greenside wedge shots short of the actual greens, chunking four of them and leaving a bunker shot in the sand. If his ball-striking – which included 8-of-14 fairways and 11-of-18 greens in regulation – was a newfound bright spot during this latest comeback attempt, his short game was a dark crater of unfulfilled intentions.

Cameron Morfit of golf.com wondered about the chunks this way and called the start to Tiger 4.0 "inauspicious."

By this time people were starting to talk. Did he have vertigo? Had an optometrist botched his prescription? Watching Woods mangle all these chip shots was like watching Bobby Flay burn all the grilled cheese sandwiches.

After blistering a drive down the fairway at the par-5 17th, and getting up around the green with his second shot, Woods chunked his fourth chip of the day, this time recovering to save par. “It certainly is surprising that I could hit chip shots that poorly,” he said afterward. “I just flubbed ’em.”

Most disturbing of all the observations came from Jason Day, who saw none of the chunked shots in Monday's practice round, as reported by Golfweek's Adam Schupak.

“Monday, he was chipping fine. It was on point,” Day said. “It was surprising today to see him stub a lot of chip shots. Uphill and into the grain is very difficult, but to see that many out of Tiger Woods is very surprising.”

Robert Lusetich was the least forgiving after hearing Day's remarks, noting that Tiger "used to be able to score better than anyone who ever played this game" and "now Woods turns 72s into 77."

Why? He can't chip and he can't putt.

Chips into the grain are virtually guaranteed chunks. Woods hit four fat chips on Thursday, and not the PGA Tour-caliber chunks. These were like the handiwork of 20-handicapper Sunday hackers, laying-the-sod over chips that went a few feet and rolled back to his feet.

They were embarrassing.

Former instructor Hank Haney Tweeted a couple of interesting thoughts as the chunks unfolded...


No Laying Up Vined the chunked shots. Hat tip to Alex Myers for sharing at The Loop.

 

ESPN.com's Bob Harig predicted the reaction would look past health and to the wedge performance.

Woods actually was pleased, for the most part, with the way he hit the ball -- he didn't miss a fairway on the back nine after hitting just one on the front. And at this point -- four months removed from his last competitive round, at least a month prior to his next tournament -- that's a positive development.

Even more so was the smile Woods flashed when asked if he was in any pain.

"I have absolutely no pain," Woods said. "I haven't said that in a long time. It's very exciting to stand up there and hit some of the drives, especially on the back nine. It was nice to start launching it."

It should be noted Woods displayed similar wedge game issues at times in 2014, especially at Torrey Pines. It's an issue that's not going away, sadly. We've all been there in some way, but we were also never one of the greatest to play the game.

Wednesday
Dec032014

Steiny! Tiger's (Extra Sweet) Hero Deal

Bob Harig of ESPN.com reports that Tiger ten-percenter Mark Steinberg confirms his client's four-year deal to endorse Hero motorscooters is in "the ballpark" of the $8 million reported by media reports in India.

Even better (for Tiger)...

Steinberg said the deal is for four years and does not include a stipulation that Woods play in the India Open. Woods also will not have the company's logo on his golf bag or his shirt.

Hero sponsors the India Open, but Woods didn't know the date of the event when asked during Tuesday's press conference.

According to Doug Ferguson's AP report on the first substantial deal for Tiger in some time (I know a lot of you were losing sleep over whether he'd be able to pay the electric bill), it's all about the branding...

Munjal said Woods will be used in television commercials and other advertising in various markets, though still to be determined is whether Woods actually rides one of the Hero motorcycles in a commercial. He still hasn't ridden one.

"I'm not sure if he necessarily has to be on a motorbike," Munjal said, adding that Woods sat on a motorcycle Tuesday for a still photo to be used in advertising.

While Woods announced the event would move on to the Bahamas for the next three years, less clear is whether Hero is going with them. The World Challenge sponsorship announcement in September only mentioned this year.

**The Woods Foundation says the Hero name will be on the event for four years, starting this year.

As for Tiger's pro-am round--arguably the most scrutinized in years, and by that I mean, golf writers watched him play--it was all systems go.

Dave Shedloski of GolfDigest.com even said it was pretty boring, which is actually a good thing. And this:

Several times Woods conferred with his new swing consultant, Chris Como, who occasionally captured video of Tiger's swing on his mobile phone.

From Steve DiMeglio's USA Today report:

On Wednesday, Woods played in the pro-am, walking 18 holes, he joked, for the first time since the PGA Championship. He hit just a couple loose shots, made three birdies and went full-bore on two drives – on the 8th and 18th holes – and was not the worse for wear.

"Yeah, that is where I've been," Woods said when asked if the two swings were confirmation of his restored back. "That's the neat thing. I took that much time off right after the PGA and built up my body and made a few adjustments on my swing and hit some good shots today."

Rex Hoggard reported at GolfChannel.com that Woods was 2 under and it was if nothing had been amiss.

On Wednesday, Woods looked relaxed and on more than one occasion, like at the par-4 18th hole, he aggressively hit driver. There were no awkward moments, no painful grimaces, no cause for concern, only a scorecard that added up to 2 under par following three birdies and one bogey.

Woods tees off at 12:15 pm ET Thursday with Jason Day. Golf Channel picks up Hero World Challenge coverage at 2 p.m. ET.

Wednesday
Dec032014

Has Golf Shifted From Status Symbol To Entertainment Vehicle?

And is that a bad thing necessarily?

I ask because Tim Grant of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette looks at the state of golf and also of private golf clubs in the Pittsburgh area and features an interesting quote from Megan Hawk, internal auditor at 3 Lakes GC, who sees a change in perception after 9/11. (Thanks reader Big K for this story.)

Some private clubs in this area that continue to thrive on the old model where new members are handpicked by current members include Oakmont Country Club in Oakmont; Allegheny Country Club in Sewickley; and the Pittsburgh Field Club in Fox Chapel.

But for the most part, private clubs that insist on doing business as usual are finding it difficult.

“The game of golf was part of the success culture,” Ms. Hawk said. “It made people feel successful, especially if they belonged to a private club. They felt they had made it. Now it’s not as closely linked to prosperity. Now it’s more a form of entertainment than a status symbol.”

A lot of modern golf players “want to collect experiences,” Ms. Hawk said. “They want to play six courses in one summer rather than the same one with the same people.”

What do you think?

Wednesday
Dec032014

The Kidd Is Back! Keiser Names Architect For Sand Valley Course

Matt Ginella reports that developer Mike Keiser and friends selected David McLay Kidd to design the second course at Sand Valley, his Wisconsin minimalist resort with a 2017 scheduled for the first course.

The Kidd design will open in 2018.

The decision came after a "bake-off" of sorts between Kidd, Tom Doak and the Rod Whitman/Dave Axland duo, though it sounds like the number of folks with input into the decision was not as extensive as originally thought. Perhaps related to the early winter arrival?

After Keiser had three submissions, he removed the names from the plans and solicited feedback from several founding members of Sand Valley, which included Mike Davis, executive director of the USGA, and Josh Lesnik, president of Kemper Sports, which manages more than 100 courses and resorts in America, including Bandon Dunes, Streamsong and Chambers Bay.

"What's amazing is that all three architects gravitated to three different parts of the property," says Lesnik, who was also 28 when Keiser named him the original general manager of Bandon Dunes in 1999. "Mike really likes all three routings, and with almost no overlap, chances are, he'll eventually build all three."

But for now, Kidd and Keiser are together again. The prodigal son has come back with lessons learned and an appreciation for the past. Kidd will break ground in the spring, with the plan to open the second course at Sand Valley in summer 2018. (Coore and Crenshaw's course will open in summer 2017.)

Doak, who recently graded Kidd's work at the Castle Course at St. Andrews a "zero," will be busy building a second course at Forest Dunes in Roscommon, Mich. Whitman and his partner, Dave Axland, will most likely be hired by Coore and Crenshaw to help shape the first course at Sand Valley.

Tuesday
Dec022014

Roundup: Tiger Looks Rested, Ready, Slimmer, Better...

After a year of painful press conferences denying the obvious, Tiger Woods appears to have either (A) had an intervention from Notah Begay (B) listened to his critics (C) listened to his mother (C) had a moment of honest introspection, or (D) a combination of the above. Because not only did he manage to make some major admissions for his ownself, but Woods just looked younger, refreshed and less burdened.

He may still stink it up this week due to rust, but it was hard not to watch him talk or hit balls and see that he's made positive changes in his game. So much so that it appeared to have unburdened him of the defensiveness that plagued most of these sessions in the last year.

Of course, getting to the choice words was tough, as his Tuesday Hero World Challenge press conference was nearly upstaged by some of the finest rally killers the modern game has ever seen. The Guinness World Records people are looking into whether a record was set for rally killers and also into "brand value" references by Hero CEO Pawan Mujal, whose presence also added to the rally kills.

You can read the full transcript here.

Dave Shedloski at GolfDigest.com was there and noted the new kid vibe.

Looking 10-15 pounds lighter but still just as muscular in the arms and shoulders, Woods said he had no interest in reprising the golf game from his youth until he suffered a lower back injury earlier this year that scuttled most of his 2014 season. Woods made just seven starts that included two missed cuts and two withdrawals. He failed to post a top-10 finish for the first time in his career.

Steve DiMeglio asked Woods about his back in between questions about the Hero brand nonsense and got this answer, reported on his roundup.

"The body is good. I've gotten stronger. I've gotten more explosive. I've gotten faster," Woods said Tuesday.

"I just now need to hit more balls, but the body is good. I don't have the sharp pain like I used to at the beginning of the year. I still have some aches and pains, just like anybody else who is my age and older. …

"But I'm past the rehab portion of it, and now I'm in the strength development of it, and I don't have to do those tedious little rehab exercises. I can basically play with my kids and do whatever I want. We've been playing a ton of soccer in the backyard just about every day."

He's also been hitting a bunch of golf balls in the backyard of his Florida compound.

Bob Harig addressed the Chris Como part of the equation, among other topics.

Saying it is "new, but it's old,'' Woods said he reviewed video going back to his junior golf days that preceded a 79-victory career on the PGA Tour that includes 14 major championships.

"It was quite interesting to see where my swing was then and how much force I could generate with a very skinny frame,'' Woods said Tuesday during a pre-tournament news conference. "How did I do that? How do I generate that much power? That's kind of what we are getting back into.''

Michael Collins noted Tiger's unusually forthright answers, including a rare "I don't know" uttered on many occasions, suggest a new, more humble and self-aware man.

Tiger Woods was at his most honest and vulnerable as I have ever seen him saying those three words Tuesday prior to the Hero World Challenge he is hosting this week.

That's a phrase athletes, especially ones who are considered by some to be greatest of all time in their sport, rarely use when talking about themselves and their game.

Tiger said "I don't know" more than I've ever heard him utter it in his career.

The man who appears to be behind Woods' self-realization movement, Notah Begay, talked to Golf Channel's Ryan Burr on Golf Central. Video here.

"[Tiger] called me a day or two after the PGA Championship. I could tell he was a little dejected and a little bit disappointed in how the season had gone... But mostly it was an athlete and a friend who was in pain physically… So it was time to have a candid conversation.”

And this was revealing:

“He had to take ownership over his own golf swing… My job was not necessarily to provide answers, but to ask more informed questions. ‘What did he want his swing to look like? What was most important to him?... How do we get rid of this [back] pain?’... He really started to formulate ideas on what he felt needed to happen.”

Jason Sobel said the vibe Tuesday at Isleworth was one of golf returning to normal, which could also speak to Woods' newfound comfort level with where he's at physically and mentally.

Now that Woods is returning to action once again, it feels like the golf world is getting back to some normalcy. That world doesn’t revolve around him, but he at least helps place it back on the proper axis.

Matthew Rudy talked to Hank Haney and the former Tiger instructor also sees mostly positives, even predicting a Woods run at the '14 World Challenge title.

"It's going to be an interesting week to watch," says Haney, who had his own public debut as Woods' coach at Bay Hill in March 2004. "His body looks different, and he says he's able to practice his normal amount now.

That means at least his short game should be different. Does he try to shape shots? Will he play some draws? We could see a lot of different things, and there will probably be more to come."

Brian Wacker seized on the retro effort by Woods to reclaim past elements of his swing.

Added Woods: “I think that physically, I just wasn't able to do some of the things that we wanted to do in the golf swing.”

Ultimately, that’s what prompted Woods to change coaches and go in a new, old direction.

Brendan Mohler at golf.com pulls up some old swing video and notes this about the changes.

When asked about what went wrong with Sean Foley, Woods said, “Physically I just wasn’t able to do some of the things that we wanted to do in the golf swing.” Tiger also noted that the two remain friends and often needle each other via text message.

While Woods said that he does not yet feel entirely game ready, he did note that he is pleased with the progress he’s made thus far.

“It hasn’t taken me that long to implement it. I haven’t done it in a long time but my body’s remembering it. I’m very pleased with my speed and the freedom I have, and what I’m doing with the golf ball.

“I don’t feel like I’m hitting it very hard, but it’s coming off the face faster. That part was exciting.”

Here is Woods talking about the switch from Golf Central's coverage.

And the transcript component of the day's most interesting answer related to balancing technology, technique and swing thoughts.

Q.  Is it fair to say or would you say that maybe in the last couple years, you had gotten too technical and away from some of the naturalness that you had once enjoyed in your game and your swing?

TIGER WOODS:  Well, I think that I got into‑‑ just like I think a lot of people in this generation, the new information of TrakMan, and trying to get the numbers to jive and trying to get the motions to match.  And I think that that's been extremely informative because it's helped me during this process, but it's not the only thing I'm going to do.

Still retain the feel in my hands and how I hit golf shots; but also I have an understanding that if I do something, these numbers should be like this.  Because I didn't have that understanding and I didn't have that basis when I worked‑‑ when I was going into working with Sean.

So that was very new.  That's something that I think that is very helpful but can't be the end of all things.

As for the event benefiting his foundation, in one of the worst kept secrets in golf, Woods confirmed the stop at Isleworth is a one-off move for the Hero World Challenge before going to the Bahamas starting in 2015. Rex Hoggard reports. And just think volunteers who spent over $100 for a uniform you'll wear six times…it’s a collectible!

Who is Hero and why did they mess up a perfectly interesting press conference? Bob Harig says they want to sell Americans motorcyles and motor scooters starting in 2016 and that Tiger, mercifully, has no intention of trying out the product.

But Woods admitted he has never ridden one.

"And even with Hero's valuable sponsorship this year and for the next three years, there's no way I'm about to start,'' Woods said, smiling.

Woods makes his return to competitive golf at the Hero World Challenge after a four-month absence due to injuries. The annual tournament benefits the Tiger Woods Foundation.

Michael Buteau also reported on the Hero deal that is both a personal endorsement deal and a World Challenge sponsorship, despite Tiger's best efforts to only play up the foundation portion.

Neither Hero nor Woods’s agent, Mark Steinberg, would disclose financial terms of the agreement.
In a statement, Munjal said Woods is “not just a golfing champion and an icon for millions around the world; he is indeed a phenomenon -– a symbol of humility in victory and grace in adversity.”

If you have a few extra minutes, GolfDigest.com has this Jaime Diaz reported look at Tiger's swing changes through the years.

Tuesday
Dec022014

Golf In America Even Older Than First Thought

A hat tip to Luke Kerr-Dineen for a fun Tommy Braswell story in the Post and Courier of Charleston on a University of Edinburgh find suggesting the first golf clubs and balls were shipped to America in 1739, not 1743 as first thought.

To put that date in perspective, Kerr-Dineen points out:

The first train was nearly 100 years away from being conceived, the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews was 15 years away from being founded and George Washington was just 7 years old.

The "First Shipment of Golf Clubs to America" inspired this print in 1990.

They don't ship 'em like they used to!

Tuesday
Dec022014

Zhang Earns Web.com Tour Card, But Will He Be Able To Use It?

The PGA Tour has issued a press release congratulating (among others) Xin Jun Zhang as one of the historic five to earn a Web.com Tour card from the new PGA Tour China Series.

When contacted by this website to find out of Zhang's six-month suspension by the China Golf Association for signing incorrect scorecards would be recognized when Zhang is eligible for his first Web.com event in late January, PGA Tour Executive Vice President Ty Votaw said the Tour would have no comment.

So to review: a player may be suspended for issues related to his behavior in competition, behavior which may have impacted his fellow competitors, and the PGA Tour still will not comment on possible discipline even after a partnering golf association (in that home of transparency, China!) released a letter announcing the suspension.

Amazing.

Tuesday
Dec022014

Moving Images: Sean Foley Blesses Chris Como

Nice work by the Golf Channel cameras to be on the back of Isleworth's driving range and to get a camera in place in between all of the carts parked on the tee (classy!) for the kumbaya moment of former Tiger instructor Sean Foley blessing new Tiger swing "consultant" Chris Como as he embarks on his journey.

Love the hand to the face, nice touch. Reminiscent of Michael and Fredo on New Year's Eve in Cuba.

Tuesday
Dec022014

Video: Save Järva DiscGolfPark 

With so many courses closing and battles to save them taking on various types of campaigns, this feature by The Spin TV makes a great case for saving Stockholm's Järva DiscGolfPark, the home of the European Masters (of disc golf) and property pegged as a future cemetery.

James Thomas reports on the effort to defend a place obviously treasured by those who've played it. Thanks to reader JohnnyCZ for spotting this.

Monday
Dec012014

Video Surfaces Showing Tiger Swinging Golf Club, World Reacts

Since the source was the Tiger Woods Foundation Twitter account and Monday of World Challenge week usually means Tiger wobbles out to the range after a day of thrilling foundation board meetings, I'm going to assume it's real.

However, the golfer depicted has a noticeably wider stance and longer backswing, not to mention appears to no longer be a bench press addict, so I'll reserve full judgement until more definitive video surfaces.

Here is the Vine:


Much to Tiger's relief, Brandel Chamblee tweeted that he liked what he saw in the clip.



Chamblee went into further depth at GolfChannel.com where he considered the possibilities for instructor Chris Como.

What one will learn in studying the biomechanics of great ball-strikers is that there must be a lateral shift off of the ball in the backswing and a corresponding lateral shift into the ball on the downswing. This is imperative and very much what Tiger was doing until 2010. 

Staying centered or hanging left at address causes the club to want to go inside abruptly off of the ball and it takes great effort to avoid it. Hanging left robs a player of width in the backswing and flow and rhythm in the downswing. With Woods’ phenomenal hip rotation speed, hanging left caused him to get stuck - coming too much on an inside path - on the downswing and hence his sometimes overexaggerated over-the-top move to counter this tendency. With the driver, more often than not his clubhead path was way out to the right with excessive forward shaft lean, and to offset this his spine tilted away from the target to the point of pain.

If Como understands the way the bodies of the best players of all time moved and applies those principles to Woods, then his pupil has a very good chance of playing uninjured for the rest of his career and a very good chance of achieving his career goals.

Mercifully I missed Tiger's interview with SiriusXM PGA Tour Radio and Fan Club Southeastern Division co-chairs Brian Katrek and John Maginnes, but there was at least this insight into Como from Tiger in between the excessive giggling, massaging and general ego stroking:

Woods:  “It all started with Notah [Begay].  Notah has been a longtime friend of mine, ever since I was probably 11 years old.  We’ve been great buddies and I really respect his view and his opinion.  He knows my game inside and out.  He’d done some research, some stats and some other varying things about my game.  And he’s known Chris for quite a while.  They are both Dallas-based and he’s gotten to know him and he thought he’d be a pretty good fit for me.  I met with Chris and talked about some of his viewpoints.  I know I had a vision of my golf swing, where I wanted to take it and he was very in line with that which was fantastic.  And he’s been a really nice sounding board.  As I said it all started with Notah and his feedback.  He just didn’t want to see me get hurt anymore.  And he’s been through a bad back, he’s no longer playing the Tour because of it, and he knows exactly how I was feeling at the time and how difficult that was.”

Monday
Dec012014

The Prestigious Ryder Cup Task Force Still Hasn’t Met  

Gary Williams asked new PGA of America President Derek Sprague on Morning Drive about conversations with Ryder Cup task force members and he confirmed--brace for impact--that the Task Force has yet to meet ("getting that group together is a challenge").

Sprague noted that no announcement is coming on the Captaincy until the Task Force meets.

They were originally thought to be meeting at this week’s Hero World Challenge but that appears to be off the table, with January's Farmers Insurance Open the next possibility.

Meanwhile Sprague's predecessor Ted Bishop has returned to blogging and lays out the thinking behind the task force Task Force "Task Force" and notes the U.S. "could have concocted Azinger, Vince Lombardi, Joe Torre and Red Auerbach into a Ryder Captain and the results would not have changed." Still he endorses Fred Couples for 2016 Captain and offers other thoughts on tweaks. Including...

1. Develop a system where an individual should be a Vice Captain before they are named as a Ryder Cup Captain. Since 1990, only Love was a Vice Captain before being Captain. Paul McGinley was a Vice Captain four times before being picked to lead the Euros in 2014. 

As the President’s Cup Captain, Fred Couples never lost a match. He was a Ryder Cup staple as a player. Why not name Couples as the 2016 Ryder Cup Captain? He will need administrative help from his Vice Captains and that could come in the form of people such as David Toms, Jim Furyk and Steve Stricker. This trio could focus on what Couples won’t administratively. All are likely to be Captains someday.

Monday
Dec012014

College Golf Coach Wants To Introduce "Coaching Opportunities"

For the "What College Coaches With Too Much Time And Money On Their Hands Files"...

Ryan Herrington
reports that Oklahoma men's coach Ryan Hybl, not content enough with taking five players out of class to post the four best scores possible in the name of Division I college golf, wants to bring another player along to justify his existence.

Hybl, however, believes any discussion of a substitution rule should not be limited to just replacing injured players. It should also explore allowing coaches to make changes in their starting lineups based on performance. Again, like a basketball coach who pulls a guard who is having a poor shooting night, why shouldn't a college golf coach be able to make a change in an effort to improve his team's chances of success?

Allowing subs could potentially create more playing opportunities for the golfers, and players who wouldn't be competing could follow their teammates along with the coach and learn from watching while also becoming more invested in the team dynamic.

"Are they really getting any better by being left at home?" Hybl wonders. "How is that helping our programs?"

Uh, they could be at class instead of learning how to watch coaches drive carts around the course?

Oh right, this just confirms that at the likes of Oklahoma that college stuff is just an accessory to the golf.

Monday
Dec012014

Sean Foley On The Tiger Breakup, Tiger As A Tipper, Firer

Rick Young of ScoreGolf.com caught up with instructor Sean Foley at La Guardia where all the great interviews happen these days.

As always the former Tiger Woods teacher offered candid views on a variety of topics, including how Tiger broke up with him, Tiger as a tipper and firer (in response to Dan Jenkins) and where he sees his career going post-Woods.

As always, I urge you to hit the link, but for archiving and discussion purposes some highlights...

“Tiger called me and we had this very heartfelt discussion. We know what we went through together. I know the state I found him in and so does he,” Foley said. “We came to a point where we weren’t communicating as well as we needed to anymore and we didn’t want to jeopardize our friendship. I love TW. We still talk back and forth. That’s one thing I’m very proud of. We handled the situation in a very classy way. That’s the only way we would.”

Easy there, Tiger has a sore back, we can't be patting it too hard.

As for Tiger's play over the Foley years and Woods' contributions to the game.

“He’s done so much for the game of golf and yet he continues to get torn down by all this bullshit. Let’s hope 20 years from now they’re talking about all the kids he’s helped, about him raising millions and millions of dollars through his foundation and sending kids to college instead of how doesn’t tip –  which by the way is more bullshit.”

Uh, swearing alert! There's more...

“They can talk about how he doesn’t tip or whatever but it’s just more bullshit. I’ve seen him tip caddies at local clubs $400 so I don’t know where that comes from,” he said. “Seriously, saying he doesn’t tip? How come he (Jenkins) doesn’t mention Tiger raising $300 million for kids? Tiger is the epitome of the double-edged sword. Anything he does great doesn’t get mentioned. Anything he doesn’t it’s all over the place. Can you even imagine what the fallout would be if it was him and not Mickelson who called out Tom Watson at the Ryder Cup?”

Foley also makes a decent case for Tiger as a firer of those around him. Check it out.