Twitter: GeoffShac
Writing And Videos
  • 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
  • Players: The Story of Sports and Money, and the Visionaries Who Fought to Create a Revolution
    Players: The Story of Sports and Money, and the Visionaries Who Fought to Create a Revolution
    by Matthew Futterman

Almost without exception the old seaside rabbitty turf has disappeared and been replaced by grasses entirely unsuitable for golf. The turf near the clubhouse is usually worse than that farther away as on most seaside links there still remain a few rabbits on the outskirts of the course.
ALISTER MACKENZIE


    

Tuesday
Jul052016

Brexit! Open Championship Purse Up, Value Way Down

As Joel Beall explains at GolfDigest.com, a small bump in The Open Championship purse is offset and then some by the plummeting pound, which hit a new low Tuesday.

Beal writes of what the drop means to first place money:

Meaning that, while Johnson took home a $1.8 million payday for winning the British Open, this year's champ will receive close to $1.54 million, a significant cut in earnings.

The full purse announced Tuesday by the R&A:

Prize money

Place    £                                             Place    £

1          £1,175,000                             36        £34,000

2          £675,000                                37        £32,500

3          £433,000                                38        £31,000

4          £337,000                                39        £30,000

5          £271,000                                40        £28,750

6          £235,000                                41        £27,500

7          £201,000                                42        £26,250

8          £170,000                                43        £25,000

9          £149,000                                44        £23,750

10        £135,000                                45        £22,500

11        £122,000                                46        £21,500

12        £108,750                                47        £20,500

13        £102,000                                48        £19,500

14        £95,500                                  49        £18,700

15        £89,500                                  50        £18,300

16        £82,000                                  51        £17,900

17        £78,000                                  52        £17,500

18        £74,000                                  53        £17,250

19        £71,000                                  54        £17,000

20        £68,000                                  55        £16,750

21        £64,500                                  56        £16,500

22        £61,500                                  57        £16,300

23        £58,250                                  58        £16,200

24        £55,000                                  59        £16,100

25        £53,000                                  60        £16,000

26        £50,750                                  61        £15,900

27        £48,750                                  62        £15,800

28        £47,000                                  63        £15,700

29        £45,000                                  64        £15,600

30        £43,250                                  65        £15,500

31        £41,500                                  66        £15,400

32        £39,250                                  67        £15,300

33        £38,000                                  68        £15,200

34        £36,750                                  69        £15,100

35        £35,500                                  70        £15,000

Sunday
Jul032016

Flashback: "Can The USGA Survive Walter Driver?"

As the dust finally settles on Oakmont and the 2016 U.S. Open, Dustin Johnson's follow-up win at the WGC Bridgestone helps shift a little more focus on the winner and away from the rules issue that arose.

While golfers still discuss the rule and decision that prompted the officials to intervene, it is important to better understand the culture that led to a moment which, had Johnson lost the U.S. Open over the ball moving on marble-like greens, might have done permanent damage to the reputation of the U.S. Open and golf.

Why did the USGA feel so compelled to intervene in a situation that few outside the rules community saw as requiring definitive action? Especially given that so many golfers recognized the issue was caused by excessive green speed. For those of us who've been frustrated with the use of green speed to offset regulatory malfeasance on the distance issue, the number of golfers making the connection between the issues is heartening.

Still, we would like to better understand the culture that focuses so much effort on the high-risk business of running up Stimpmeter speeds or adding tees to U.S. Open courses or policing innocent pro golfers, better known as: ABTB (Anything But The Ball).

So I was advised to go back and read Chris Millard's 2007 Golf World cover story on USGA President Walter Driver,. Ironically, the story preceded the U.S. Open at Oakmont. The story resonates on many levels, from understanding the USGA's focus to how much behind the scenes debate occurs.

Sadly, we know Driver has continued to influence the organization via the nominating committee, with his crowning achievement the naming of pal Diana Murphy as president to continue the corporate prioritization of the USGA's approach.

It's well worth a re-read, but this was one of the more enlightening moments:


Proponents of Driver say he has single-handedly shaken the USGA out of a slumber induced by the influx of cash the USGA fell into when it reconfigured its television rights contracts in 1994. They say he has tried to inject into a bloated USGA some badly needed business principles (the title of Driver's speech at the USGA's annual meeting in San Francisco last February was "The USGA As An Organization And A Business"). Detractors, many of whom see the USGA as a charitable organization first, say Driver has imposed his will on its culture and that his administration has disenfranchised everyone from Golf House staffers (those who work at USGA headquarters in Far Hills, N.J.) to equipment manufacturers to the organization's once-revered past presidents.

"I would say his effort to instill a new level of business-like procedure at the USGA has been important," says Reg Murphy, USGA president in 1994-95 and the man who authored the association's lucrative TV move from long-time partner ABC to NBC in 1994. "He's tried to create a more business-like organization. There are people who resist that idea, by the way, that the USGA ought to operate like a business."


And nine years later, that business is operating in a way that has MILLIONS of golfers wondering what on earth it is up to.

Sunday
Jul032016

Custody Case Judge Bans 10-Year-Old Prodigy From Golf!?

Deadspin's Dave McKenna with the bizarre story of Judge Jeanette Irby, Circuit Court of Loudoun County, Va. declaring in a child custody case that the child “shall not be permitted to play competitive golf for one year.”

No one, including the 10-year-olds' instructor Kris Tschetter (the former LPGA player) or even legendary instructor Bob Toski, who enlisted Tim Finchem's help for legal referrals, can comprehend why a judge in a child custody case has made such a decree, other than the father being a bit of a nudge.

Robert Emery, a psychologist, author, and director of the Center for Children, Families, and the Law at the University of Virginia, has for years advised divorced and unmarried parents to settle custody conflicts through mediation and to avoid litigation. Once you give judges power to craft a child’s schedule, he argues, they’re going to wield it. “Judges,” Emery wrote in the New York Times in 2014, “routinely decide where the children of divorced parents will attend school, worship and receive medical care; judges may even decide whether they play soccer or take piano lessons.”

Emery has no involvement in Vechery v. Cottet-Moine. But when I describe the golf ban Judge Irby imposed on Vechery’s daughter, he doesn’t seem surprised. “When parents turn to courts to decide their dispute for them, they lose control, including over possible compromises,” says Emery. “They also expect vindication, but rarely find it. I cannot understand why our courts continue to entertain and thereby encourage these kinds of disputes.”


Toski says, ban notwithstanding, that he plans to invite Vechery’s daughter to this year’s national junior tournament.

“I’m going to have her come down and play in it,” Toski says. “I don’t give a goddamn what the judge says. Maybe we won’t keep score. But she can play in it. Common sense has gone out the fucking window!”

Sunday
Jul032016

Hideki Matsuyama Calls Olympic Golf WD "Heart Wrenching"

At least Japan's hope for a gold medalist in men's golf has an understandable excuse he's been telegraphing for a while: bad reactions to bug bites.

Doug Ferguson's report on Hideki Matsuyama pulling out of the Olympics says Matsuyama notified the Japanese press contingent after his final round in the WGC Bridgestone.

Golfweek has compiled a list of the WD's and their reasoning.

This is the last week of Olympic golf qualifying. Here is the men's field if it were held today, with the reserve list here.

Here is the women's field, with the reserve list here.

While I certainly understand some of the player concerns, as someone attending the games in Rio and not subject to some of the secure forms of transportation that players will enjoy, I can't find much faul at this point with Tommy Conlon's take in the Independent.

The rich men of world sport are saying no to the Olympics and withdrawing deeper into their air-conditioned ivory towers. The poor of world sport will be there, Zika or no Zika.

McIlroy, McDowell, Lowry; Adam Scott, Charl Schwartzel, Louis Oosthuizen, Branden Grace, Vijay Singh and Jason Day; male golfers are apparently susceptible to falling pregnant in tropical climes. So having sought the best advice available on these pressing family planning matters, they’ve decided to use the Billings method and abstain from Rio altogether.

What a shower of wusses. Thousands of athletes have visited Brazil over the last two years to compete in various test events and not one that we know of has contracted the Zika virus.

Sunday
Jul032016

Old Guys Rule: Thongchai Becomes Oldest French Open Winner

With Rory McIlroy branding his game fragile in his final start prior to The Open, punters will want to take note of Thongchai Jaidee's (250-1) Open de France win and another solid finish by Rafa Cabrera-Bello (100-1).

Jaidee picked up his eighth European Tour win and, at nearly 47, becomes the oldest winner of the Open de France since the event became part of the tour in 1972.

Granted, his major championship record doesn't suggest much, but a T13 in the 2009 Open at least suggests Jaidee may be worth a nice each/way wager, even if his number comes down.

Here are the current Open Championship odds from most of the betting houses.

Saturday
Jul022016

Troon: Members Vote On Women By Show Of Hands

Not that I'm questioning the tally, just fascinated that Royal Troon settled it's women-only issue with a vote by show of hands and no actual printed vote total. Given how the Brexit vote went, a good thing!

Christopher Clarey with that and other details from Troon's vote as it prepares to host the 145th Open, cincluding this from club captain Martin Cheyne.

But Cheyne said the club had reviewed more than the issue of women’s membership in recent months. “The focus was on all categories of membership and how we could become more involved in promoting golf, a sport which is currently declining: declining in male, female and junior membership,” he said. “What we did tonight was focus on the single issue of women’s members, but we need to focus on how we can encourage young people to play this game.”

“Our custom and practice in the golf club is a straight show of hands,” he said. “We don’t do a count. It was overwhelming.”

Royal Troon’s constitution mandates that only members who are present may take part in such votes, and Cheyne said 360 of the club’s 861 members had been in attendance on Friday night.

Anyone know what Troon's junior member program looks like? If it's an affordable one that appeals to aspiring players, get the word out. A lot of clubs around the world need to get or serious about such programs and need prominent examples.

Saturday
Jul022016

"Will speeding up bring scores down for Spieth?"

That's the question Jason Sobel's story poses after Jordan Spieth explain why he's trying to speed up. While he's earned a reputation as a slow poke, I would counter that television makes him look slow because he's been spending a lot of time over the ball. Whereas someone who is much slower like Zach Johnson, spends ages making a decision and when television comes to him, we rarely see that.

Anyway, Spieth has heard the criticism from fans and his instructor, Sobel says.

After the second round, Spieth didn't use playing quicker as an excuse. In fact, he credits the process for helping his game.

"The quicker part actually helps me, because then I just get up there and fire away," he explained Friday. "The more I can do that, actually I think the better off [I am with a] kind of gun-slinging mentality, just to go up and hit the way I always have played."

Saturday
Jul022016

The Perks Of Firestone: Seeing What Happens When Top Players Actually Get To Hit Driver

There isn't much to get excited about with this year's WGC Bridgestone, especially given that without it on the schedule in an Olympic year, the players would have a lot less to gripe about with excessive playing options.

But we march along so the boys can collect their easy $50k, world ranking points and--silver lining alert--huge driving distance numbers!

As Mike Stachura explains after seeing Justin Thomas hit a 413-yard drive, Firestone remains one of the few courses were players can hit driver on nearly every non-par-3. But with an earlier date on the schedule and less humidity, Stachura says the field's 317.3 yard average from last year should be down this year.

If it's not...

What’s the number to beat? Aside from last year’s 317.1-yard mark, the tournament with the highest driving-distance average in the last year was the Shriners Hospital Open in Las Vegas last fall at 305.4.

Now, is it fair to say that if the average this week surpasses last year’s number, there should be more concern about driving distance increasing? Statistically speaking, it’s merely one set of data that carries as much weight in determining trends as does the driving-distance average at Harbour Town for the RBC Heritage, which this year was 278.8 yards. That’s, in a nutshell, the point the USGA was making in its recent report about the relatively modest growth in driving distance over the last dozen years or so.

Thursday
Jun302016

Today In Zika: Rory, Barbados, A Female Defector And How Tennis Got Off To A Rough Olympic Start, Too

Rory McIlroy, who was once excited about Olympic golf until Zika and New Balance uniforms came along, admitted that his WD call to captain Paul McGinley was one of the toughest calls he's had to make, reports Phil Casey (who also reports that Martin Kaymer can't wait to get to Rio).

Casey writes:

“That was probably one of the toughest phone calls I’ve had to make, because we’ve talked about it so much,” said McIlroy. “We’ve done so much work, got accommodation, got security down there, got a chef in, got everything planned out. I got my jabs; I had two dead shoulders for about four days.

“But then at the end of the day, if I’m not 100% comfortable going down there, I just don’t want to put it at risk. There’s another Olympic Games in Tokyo in 2020 and I’m more than happy to wait until then to get that Olympic experience.”

It appears not many are buying the concerns about Zika, including the readers here. McIlroy has now been questioned by Bloomberg reporter Tariq Panja (here and here), who has asked the McIlroy camp for clarification as to why he vacationed in Barbados two months ago. Barbados is also a Level 2 Zika threat region, like Rio.

An unbylined AP story on Lee-Anne Pace of South Africa dropping out citing Zika keeps her consistent with everyone else from South Africa but Gary Player.

The 35-year-old said in a statement that she made the decision after discussing her options with her family and her team.

"I hope that everyone can understand that this was a very difficult decision to come to, however my health and my future family's health must come first," she said.

Matt Ginella talks to architect Gil Hanse about the Olympic dropouts and he's disappointed.

"The overall feeling is disappointment," said Hanse. "To have done what we’ve done, to have worked through so many challenges to complete the project, you’d obviously love to see the best players in the world compete on your golf course."

Hanse says he is contact with the team still on the ground in Rio, which includes the superintendent and the PGA Tour’s on-site agronomist, who are prepping the course for the Olympics.

"Morale is getting lower," said Hanse. “I’m disappointed for everyone involved."

Hey, but there is a morale boosting news! Camillo isn't out...yet, though keeping his card may end up the priority, reports Golfweek's Adam Schupak.

“Yeah, I actually heard Jordan Spieth said I wasn’t going to go play. I’ve been talking to Jordan and a lot of the guys. And I’ve got to be honest, Maria and I are trying to have kids right now. So the Zika is a concern,” Villegas said after the opening round of the Barracuda Championship.

Meanwhile the eligible American golfers were briefed and they're feeling better about things, but are waiting to hear on something else. Also a Schupak report.

“I’ve always wanted to go but I want to make sure me and my team feel safe on the health and security issues,” Rickie Fowler said. “There’s still some stuff ongoing, some logistics to work out.”

As all of this plays out, Christopher Clarey of the New York Times talks to Brad Gilbert and others about tennis returning to the 1988 games and the soft start that sport had due to various concerns similar to the 2016 issues golf faces.

“What’s happening with the golf is a lot like ’88,” Gilbert said. “A lot of the tennis players just weren’t quite sure, and there were some security worries in Seoul.”

No. 1 Mats Wilander, winner of three of the four Grand Slam singles titles, did not make the trip even though he had long relished playing for Sweden in the Davis Cup. Neither did No. 4 Andre Agassi, who would later win the singles gold medal at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta and discover that it was one of the most gratifying moments of his career.

Gilbert was coaching him at the time.

“When Andre asked me what was the biggest regret of my career, I said if I could change one thing, I would have changed that big penny I had into gold,” Gilbert said, referring to his bronze medal. “And Andre pretty much planned his whole year around the 1996 Olympics.”

On Golf Central, yours truly joined Lisa Cornwell, Matt Adams and Tim Rosaforte for an Olympic golf roundtable.

Thursday
Jun302016

"Professional Golf’s Continental Divide Is Growing"

Thanks to reader Steven T. for Brian Costa's WSJ column looking at this week's divided world of professional golf, with the PGA Tour at the WGC Bridgestone and the European Tour grabbing a few stars for the French Open.

It seems Chief Executive Elton and Commissioner Ben Carson have diverging visions. The Rocket Man wants his own growing world tour, while the sleepy candidate sees an inevitable merger if his counterpart would just give up the dream.

And we have our first shot fired in the Pelley v. Finchem manspat!

“It’s like doing business with a company and for whatever reason, the CEO retires,” Finchem said. “The new CEO wants to take a look at the organization and wants to go to bed at night thinking he’s moving the needle to make it better. That’s where Keith is.”

Zing...sort of, says the 68-year-old man who won't retire, but thinks everyone else should be put out to pasture at 60. But he can still bring the early 2000's B-speak!

And he said a global tour would have more value to current PGA Tour sponsors, many of which are multinational companies. “We’re not maximizing the interest that’s in the marketplace,” he said.

Scale is so much more 2016, Tim!

On a serious note, Pelley's talk of innovation, progressive thinking and his tour's established place all over the world map has him 1-up through five holes in this match. Sure, there is a long way to go, but Finchem's tired, stilted and power-first, entertainment-value approach figures to fade on the back nine. That is, unless he can substitute his Danny Noonan--Jay Monahan--at the turn.

Thursday
Jun302016

Rough Sales For Nike; Upbeat Talk From Dicks CEO

Brian Sozza at The Street reports on the 8% drop in business for Nike Golf, which accounts for about 3% of Nike's overall business.

He writes:

Sales for the Nike golf division fell 2% to $771 million for the fiscal year ended May 31, 2015. Excluding the impact of the strong U.S. dollar, sales were unchanged from the prior year. Nike golf didn't light up it up on the sales line the year before, either. Nike's golf division saw sales relatively unchanged at $792 million for the fiscal year ended May 31, 2014. Excluding the impact of the strong U.S. dollar, sales rose a meager 1%.

Adding insult to injury for Nike here? People are back out playing more rounds of golf, which is spurring sales of new drivers, shoes and irons.

Sozza noted the uptick for others and highlights this from last month, which I didn't see:

"Some brands came out with some really great product that captured the imagination of the golfer," said Dick's Sporting Goods (DKS) CEO Ed Stack on a May 19 call with analysts. Stack praised all of the big names in golf product manufacturing but Nike for their latest innovations. "Taylor Made with the M1 and the M2 [drivers and irons], Callaway with the Great Big Bertha [driver], and there has been some new shoe designs out from FootJoy -- so, there has been some good products out there."

Thursday
Jun302016

Diaz: What Really Happened At Oakmont

Now that Dustin Johnson has spoken and has not had his mind changed a bit about his actions at Oakmont (Will Gray reports), Jaime Diaz has filed an in-depth, definitive account for the September Golf Digest of the 2016 U.S. Open's Dustin Johnson penalty. While most of the facts will still be very familiar, Diaz brings in views of some notable rules figures and tries to figure out the options for changing the rule.

This from two noted USGA veterans stood out, starting with comments from David Eger:


Eger believes the right call was made based on the rule as written, but admits his experience writing, interpreting and administering the rules gives him an uncommon perspective. “All the rules officials I know think Dustin broke the rule, but none of my friends who I play golf with think he did. None of my friends have all the information. They use the wrong criteria to judge. But the rules are so fastidious, precise and often complicated.”

But David Fay, the USGA’s executive director for two decades, who served as the Fox telecast’s rules expert, contends the Johnson ruling was a close one even for officials. “You could get 10 rules experts and show them video evidence of Wattel and Johnson’s actions around the ball. I guarantee some would say Wattel deserved a penalty and Johnson didn’t, or that neither deserved a penalty, or that both did.”


Wonderful!

There was also this from Diaz:


In retrospect, executive director Mike Davis, didn’t take charge at a time when an accountable leader was desperately needed to speak for the organization. Hall and Pagel were too careful and scripted in their interviews on Fox and Golf Channel, clearly looking over their shoulder. At Oakmont, the buck had no place to stop.

I think this next part is where the average golfer differs from the rules expert, but nearly two weeks later I'm still not entirely sure why the experts are so sure of their stance.

But in trying to solve a problem, the new rule created new ones that are arguably worse. The main one? When it comes to determining what made a ball move short of the club hitting the ball, there is almost never anything close to “proof” that a player’s actions were the cause. “More likely than not” or “51 percent of the evidence” is a recipe for too many close calls that will leave a feeling of player victimization, especially if and when it costs someone a championship.

Thursday
Jun302016

"Golf Channel Posts Most Watched Second Quarter Ever"

Interesting bumps from NCAA golf and the KPMG, now the most watched women's major outside of the U.S. Women's Open.

For Immediate Release:

For 24-hour Total Day (6AM-6AM), 125,000 average viewers per minute were tuned in to Golf Channel during second quarter, a +1% increase vs. 2Q 2015. This growth was driven by the most-watched April and June ever, along with these year-over-year gains:

·       PGA TOUR: +5%
·       PGA TOUR Champions: +20%
·       European Tour: +8%
·       LPGA Tour: +6%
·       Millennials (P25-34): +29%
·       Prime viewership (8P-11P): +7%
·       Retained No. 1 ranking for quarter, delivering most-affluent audience in television in Total Day and Primetime

And...

NCAA Men’s and Women’s Golf Championships:
·       Live Coverage of the Men’s Championship (218,000 average viewers) is +70% vs. 2015.
·   Live coverage of the Men’s Wednesday night final match delivered 325,000 viewers per minute (+139% year over year).
·       Live Coverage of the Women’s Championship (152,000 average viewers) is +12% compared to 2015.
·     Live coverage of the Women’s Wednesday night final match delivered 249,000 viewers per minute (+25% from last year).

And...

KPMG Women’s PGA Championship: Second Most-Viewed Women’s Golf Event since June 2014:

·       The 2016 KMPG Women’s PGA Championship aired across Golf Channel and NBC for the 2nd year and was seen by 6.1 million unique viewers. That’s the second largest audience for a women’s golf event since NBC/ESPN’s coverage of the US Women’s Open in 2014 (9.8 mm) and the first time since 2010 that any LPGA Tour major other than US Women’s Open was seen by more than 6 million viewers.

Wednesday
Jun292016

Video: The Three-Putt One-Putt

Wednesday
Jun292016

The Case For Amateur Golfers In The Olympics...Isn't Strong

No offense to all who have written in the wake of star WD's from the Rio Games who have suggested that this would not be happening if we had amateur golfers instead of pros.

Zane Bojack is just one of many who have written this in recent days, suggesting many of the emerging new talents in golf would have remained amateurs for the Olympics.

I think he has a point with the amateur game farewelling stars like American Bryson DeChambeau, Englishman Matthew Fitzpatrick, Spain's John Rahm and Australia's Ryan Ruffels in the past 12 months.

If you don't know them yet, then you soon will as these athletes who've recently turned professional are the future of the game.

DeChambeau finished tied 15th in the recently completed US Open, Fitzpatrick took out the 2015 British Masters, John Rahm just finished third in a PGA TOUR event at Congressional and Ryan Ruffels turned pro at the ripe old age of 17.

These young guns should be the players competing for a gold in Rio, with the Olympics keeping them in the amateur game for longer.

Already there are fears Ruffels may have turned professional too early after missing the cut in seven events he has taken part in on the PGA Tour.

Unfortunately, the money to be made coming out of college is still there, as is the pressure to begin playing and earning status on various tours. I'm not seeing how an Olympic opportunity would change that or cause more to remain lifelong amateurs.

Here is the current World Amateur Golf Ranking top 20. All fine young golfers with immense talent but would anyone want to watch this field?

Wednesday
Jun292016

Poll: What is the main reason some male golfers are skipping Rio?

I know that Zika, the Olympics and scheduling debates do not make the most enjoyable golf reading, but longtime readers know I've been excited about Olympic golf's prospects in spite of the unimaginative format.

While I will not defend the selection of Rio, nor be hitting the streets there at night (or day!), I do think the Olympic golf course will send a great message to the world and become an iconic venue of the 2016 games. And once the competition starts, the intrigue will be there to see who wins, who surprises and who inspires. Then, we can go about finding a format that excites players, fans and the IOC, while maybe even peeking the interest of those who have not seen what kind of emotions are elicited by team match play.

In the meantime, however, a few things to consider before I ask your vote.

Jason Sobel nailed the entire male golfer/Zika/schedule/format mess in this ESPN.com column titled, "How Zika virus lets golfers off the hook for wanting to skip Rio Olympics."

Use the excuse that it's a crowded schedule and the Olympics are an unnecessary detour from their overall goals, and they'll be criticized for a me-first attitude. Explain that competing in another no-money event (in addition to the Ryder Cup or Presidents Cup) is an unfair ask, and they'll be ripped for greediness. Suggest that playing once per year for one's country should be enough, and they'll be castigated for a lack of patriotism. Contend that traveling to a country with an increasingly unstable government is a poor personal choice, and they'll be tsk-tsked for eschewing private resort accommodations.

And then along came the Zika virus.

It became the perfect get-out-of-jail-free card for professional golfers. Despite medical experts insisting there is minimal risk of contracting the virus in Rio de Janeiro during the Olympic fortnight, it's impossible to denounce a player's decision to skip the tournament based on the long-term welfare of his family.

I have been in touch with folks on the ground in Rio, and golf course superintendent Neil Cleverly confirms that not a single member of the maintenance crew has contracted Zika. Furthermore, testing done over the last few weeks by the City of Rio health department found after a week of capturing and testing mosquitos that there were no transmitter Mosquitos found in the traps. Meaning that it is unlikely that Zika is in the area. Also, remember, the course is by the salt water and there is almost always a breeze. Not exactly mosquito breeding grounds.

As of June 7th, according to 2016 Rio Olympics Chief Medical Officer Joao Grangeiro, there have been zero Zika infections reported among the 17,000 athletes, volunteers and staffers participating in test events over the last year.

Reuters' Julie Steenhuysen reported that researchers at the Sao Paulo School of Medicine project that the risk of tourists contracting Zika during the Olympics at 1.8 cases per million people. Numbers suggest 500,000 international visitors are expected in Rio for the 2016 games.

I suspect this information has been passed along to the golfers. Now, as reader Mike notes in this RuthlessGolf post, there is a plausible explanation for male athletes having a greater concern than female athletes, assuming they do not want to use a condom for six months.

Moving right along...

Since everyone has a theory on why some of the world's best male golfers want no part of Rio--there are still many others who are looking forward to the event--what would you vote as the top reason the likes of Day, Lowry, Oosthuizen, McIlroy and Schwartzel have dropped out?

What do you think is the primary reason some male golfers are skipping the Rio games?
 
pollcode.com free polls

Tuesday
Jun282016

Spieth Now Talking Down Golf's Future Olympic Prospects?!

And mentioning a possible John Deere Classic appearance over the chance to win and Olympic medal?

Sad.

Yes, there's a lot to chew on with all of the Olympic golf WD's by the male golfers.

There is little doubt that Rio is a dangerous, strange place that isn't high on many summer must-visit lists. The idea of the Olympics landing in the middle of a busy schedule stinks. But we've known that a while. And Zika virus is a scary thing if you want to start a family in the immediate future, though few in Brazil are as worried as male golfers who fancy themselves as possible sires for a future King.

Oh, and no one working at the Olympic golf course has contracted the virus.

But with so many male pro golfers withdawing from the 2016 games, there's no doubting now that most of the world has had their stereotypes of golfers reinforced. While athletes in all other sports, including women's golf, are set to go to Ri the male golfers saying they will not attend are increasingly seen as soft, non-athletes. Given how well compensated they are, many of them will laugh their way to the bank and ignore the comments of fans or fellow athletes.

That's all fine.

To read that Jordan Spieth, once all-in on Olympic golf and now waivering on his 2016 participation, doesn't even bother me.

What bothers: he has the gall to suggest golf's prospects as an Olympic sport have dimmed because of the recent WD's. Sure, he may have some inside info from his sponsors at Coca Cola, who he also posts Instagram ads for only to be reminded by his followers about the dangers of soft drinks.

But talking down 2020 and beyond to possibly lay the groundwork for a 2016 WD? Lame.

Will Gray with the roundup of Spieth's Firestone press conference in advance of, ironically, the utterly meaningless WGC Bridgestone which, unlike an Olympic gold medal, will never be mentioned in any player's obituary.

The only data that officials will have at their disposal will be what happened in Rio, a tournament that is likely to be defined as much by who wasn’t there as by who ultimately stood atop the medal podium.

“No matter what I do, it’s already – there’s already been enough players (withdrawing) that I think it’ll definitely have an impact,” Spieth said. “Pending some crazy, great finish or whatever, I think there’s a significantly lower likelihood now of it staying in the Olympics than there was six months ago.”

I have an idea for Jordan! Let's get to The Open early this time like you plan, and leave the IOC-politicking to the guys in suits.

Meanwhile, Jason Day, who obviously regrets having to pass on Rio, at least was trying to be positive about golf as an Olympic sport going forward:

Q. Jason, do you hope that the decision makers that choose the sports in the Olympics and whatnot can look past this situation and not let it affect golf's future in the games and hope that it's just a one-off?

JASON DAY: Yeah, I think it is a one-off. It depends. Certain things we just don't know. Like something could happen elsewhere down the road, and unfortunately that could make people pull out. I just hope they look past this and go, you know, we're looking at the bigger picture and trying to grow the game, and hopefully if they can do that, then the Olympics can stay -- the golf can stay in the Olympics and everyone can move on to hopefully Tokyo and try and play there.

Tuesday
Jun282016

ShackHouse Episode 12: Henrik Stenson

On ShackHouse Episode 12, I discuss with Joe House his hometown's full-field Quicken Loans National, won in thrilling fashion by Billy Hurley over a diverse leaderboard, as contrasted with the no-cut, world ranking points-grab that is this week's WGC Bridgestone. We also discuss the latest news on Olympic golf and the continued chatter over the Dustin Johnson episode.

But best of all we bring you a chat with world No. 5 Henrik Stenson, fresh off his BMW International win and a favorite for The Open Championship at Royal Troon. Stenson discusses the state of his game, playing two tours, managing his body at the age of 40, excitement for the Olympics (yes, he's all in), and Dustin Johnson's win at the U.S. Open.

We kept things pretty straightforward but if you want to enjoy Stenson's lighter side, check out this recent video where Stenson must use his favorite club to hit shots within a designated target area or be forced to answer uncomfortable questions.

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

Same deal with Soundcloud for the show, and Episode 12 is here.

And the ShackHouse Stitcher page.

Special thank you to our sponsor Callaway now offering a Community for fanboys, curiousity seekers, brilliant thinkers and brand loalists, and also makers of the XR driver used by last weekend's winners Lydia Ko (XR 16 Pro Driver (10.5*), Stenson (XR 16 Driver (9*) Oban Tour Kiyoshi 60x Shaft) and Ollie Schniederjans (XR 16 Driver (10.5*) - MRC Diamana Blue Board 70 TX Shaft).

As mentioned in the show, here is the Arnold Palmer piece mentioned from Callaway's Facebook page:

Thanks to OdysseyGolf.com who have new Milled RSX Putters to check out along with the White Hot flatsticks that were in the bags of various winners last week. 

Also also many, many thanks to this week's other sponsors whose products I love:

Ministry Of Supply, home to the best hi-tech, no sweat, super comfortable, NASA-engineered clothes you can buy. The Aviator suit and Apollo dress shirt have become musts for every trip I take, and the golf shirts put the Lulu's to shame! Get 15% off your order with code SHACKHOUSE15.

SeatGeek! I'm hooked. Twice already since downloading the app has helped me find great last-minute tickets with their fun (maybe a little addictive) seat selecting app. To get your $20 dollar rebate on tickets, download the FREE SeatGeek app, go to the Settings tab and click ‘Add a promo code’ where you enter promo code SHACK

Trunk Club. I visited the operation here in LA and believe they are going to be a very popular addition to the lives of discerning men (and women now too), who don't have time to shop for clothes but want to look good at work, golf or going out in the evening. Go to TrunkClub.com/HOUSE, type in your measurements, share your likes and dislikes, and you get your very own personal stylist. They’ll pick your clothes from over 80 top brands, and ship them right to your door. The real value is in your stylist’s one on one relationship with you, understanding your likes, dislikes, and preferences, so they can help you always look your best. They also welcome in-store visitors to their ultra-cool labs in LA, New York, Chicago, Washington DC and soon, Charleston. Also, and this is not something they asked us to say, but I just feel it: Trunk Club is tremendous gift idea for someone you love who needs to upgrade their wardrobe...but maybe isn't easy to suggest that to!

Thanks to all for subscribing, listening, offering your feedback and supporting our advertisers, including Bill Simmons and TheRinger.com, with Bill's episode 2 featuring Bill Hader, Malcolm Gladwell and Mark Cuban Wednesday, June 27 at 10 pm.

ShackHouse remains the #1 golf podcast on iTunes. Thanks all for your support.

Tuesday
Jun282016

Reminder: Golf's Greatest Rounds: 1989 Open Championship

The 118th Open saw Mark Calcavecchia capture his lone major, defeating Greg Norman (64 final round!) and Wayne Grady in the first aggregate playoff at Royal Troon.

Catch Golf Greatest Rounds: 1982 Open Championship, Tuesday at 8 p.m. ET on Golf Channel.

Cue me some more Jim McKay and Dave Marr!

Jimmy Roberts with a recap...


Tuesday
Jun282016

Day Out: Blame It On Rio? Is This A One-Off?

Dave Shedloski weighs the comments of Jason Day and the statement from Shane Lowry adding themselves to the list of Olympic WD's, and in the short term Rio is taking the blame.

He writes:

Both said they are still fully committed to attending the World Cup in December in Australia. Yes to the World Cup and no to Olympic gold.

Blame it on Rio. All of it.

Both men, in their 20s and intending to have children in the near future, cited the Zika virus in their decisions.

What remains to be seen: how the male golfers' view of Rio contrasts with athletes in all other sports. If the Games go off well and the virus is a non-story (big ifs), they will end up looking pretty bad. If it's a boondoggle and spreads the virus, then all of this will be forgotten.

This, however, may be wishful thinking if the above best case scenario plays out:

“Yeah, I think it is a one-off. It depends,” Day said. “Certain things we just don't know. Like something could happen elsewhere down the road, and unfortunately that could make people pull out. I just hope they look past this and go, ‘You know, we're looking at the bigger picture and trying to grow the game,’ and hopefully if they can do that, then the Olympics can stay -- the golf can stay in the Olympics and everyone can move on to hopefully Tokyo and try and play there.”

Jeff Babineau at Golfweek makes the point about other athletes grinning and bearing it only making golf look worse.

This may be a one-off situation and 2020 in Tokyo could be fine, but golf has no concrete place in the games beyond that. A decision on golf’s future rides on this year’s performance. Will the Olympic torch holders who make the big decisions give golf a pass? Or whisk golf away? Truthfully, if athletes in many other sports show up in Rio, you have to think golf’s future in the games has dimmed.

But as Luke Kerr-Dineen notes in calling the situation a disaster (I, the eternal optimist see silver linings galore), points out that lack of excitement over the format along with scheduling should not be discounted.

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