Twitter: GeoffShac
Writing And Videos
  • 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 โ€“ A Complete History
    The Ryder Cup: Golf's Grandest Event โ€“ A Complete History
    by Martin Davis
  • A Life Well Played: My Stories
    A Life Well Played: My Stories
    by Arnold Palmer

I'd give up golf if I didn't have so many sweaters.  BOB HOPE


   

Wednesday
Jan042017

PGA Tour Clarifies: We Really, Really Love You May!

Perhaps the month of May phoned in a suicide threat, because the PGA Tour has sought to clarify that it still loves The Players Championship in any month, including May. At least, until it can move to March in 2019 at the earliest.

Garry Smits reports the clarification for the Florida Times-Union and also goes on to talk to locals/Players champs David Duval and Mark McCumber about their thoughts on a move back to March. Both are in favor.

“Regardless of when it’s played, we’re really proud of the showcase of excellence that The Players represents — from the field to the course, to the incredible history and fan experience,” the statement said. “With that said, the Tour is always looking to not only make the tournament better, but also the PGA Tour schedule as a whole. The possibility of The Players moving to March is part of a bigger, ongoing discussion about the flow of our season. Nothing specific about The Players changing dates has been decided.”

So please May, don't jump off that bridge on 295 that gives us all The Willies. Because if the PGA of America balks, we may need you to keep hosting The Players. Even if it's hot, it's Mother's Day and the TPC just isn't as vibrant looking in Bermuda grass as it is in March's overseeded rye.

Wednesday
Jan042017

Tiger Sets Early 2017 Schedule, Wagerers Loving Him In Vegas

Steve DiMeglio of USA Today reports Tiger's double commitment to the Farmers Insurance Open and Honda Classic, on top of his return to Riviera for the 2017 Genesis Open.

This would seemingly rule out a trip the week after Torrey Pines to Dubai and the Omega Desert Classic, but given the good health on display last December, it can't be ruled out. (Bob Harig's ESPN.com assessment quotes Mark Steinberg suggesting this scenario.)

Meanwhile having fallen from 50-1 to 20-1, the sports books are confirming that indeed, bettors are flocking to Tiger for Masters futures wagering.

Erik Matuszewski of Forbes reports that 11% of the money wagered has been on Woods, easily more than any other player.

Tiger came up early in Wednesday's Golf Channel conference call involving David Duval, Johnny Miller and Mark Rolfing, and the chat was informative, especially Johnny on Tiger's tempo:

 Q. I was hoping that all three of you would answer:

What did you like most and what concerned you most about what you saw with Tiger at the Bahamas? And going into '17, can he win again?

MARK ROLFING: The things I liked most were the 24 birdies. I liked the way he looked physically, a little bit leaner, a little bit thinner up on top, and I liked his feel.

The moment I remember is when he hit the iron shot on the par-3, I think the 5th or 6th hole, and I knew it was on line, and he just said, go another yard, be another yard farther, which is the way you used to play, both you guys, David and Johnny.

When he's got that kind of feel and knows where his shots are going and can be within a yard of the right distance, that says a lot to me.

Can he win? I think it'll be difficult, but I would say yes.

All the stars are going to have to align, and I think it's going to have to be the kind of a golf course where he really isn't trying to overpower it.

DAVID DUVAL: Yeah, I like that he seemed to have a successful week health-wise. That was, I thought, as much of a question as anything. Making a lot of birdies speaks to quality golf shots and quality putting. A couple of things you really need to have. And talking about hitting it decently close, too; you're not going to make 24 birdies by making 24- or 25-footers. You're going to hit some quality golf shots.

Golf swing-wise, I really liked the iron swings, kind of the knock-downs again, the controlling of the club face.

Even with some of the like kind of punch 3-woods I saw him hit, I remember one on the par-5 particularly he laid up with. Beautiful motion, controlling the rotation of the club face, limiting it.

The driver I think is going to be a question mark. You know, was not ever the straightest but certainly seemed to always hit them that way when he needed to, and it's a little bit different golf swing. The hand is a little bit higher as he swings the driver going into impact, which lowers the club face and opens it, and that means you have to have a lot of timing going into the golf ball to have a square, consistent hit and not have it going left or right. If he could work on that a little bit, I wouldn't be shocked at all to see him win in 2017.

I think in today's game with these players that are so overpowering, he's going to have to gain some accuracy and consistency off the tee to compete week in and week out like he wants to.

JOHNNY MILLER: The hardest thing for Tiger is just the attention that he draws and the media coverage and the pressure that his unbelievable career has created. Let's say he's tied for the lead going into Sunday. It gets so amped up, what people expect, and it's just hard. He's got to break that ice. He's got that ice he's got to break somehow, and he's got two areas.

I was really impressed with his putting. I was impressed with his irons. I was impressed with his
slower tempo.

When you swing slower, it's much easier to deliver the face where you want to at impact. The one thing he had, he had that blazing first move coming down when he was younger, but it was much easier to control with an iron than it was with his driver.

But I like that he's swinging a little slower, but the two areas that -- if he wants to win, he's got to get a dependable shot off the tee like Dustin Johnson has gone to a cut or whatever he wants to hit that he can do in his sleep, and number two, he's got to somehow -- I still think he's got the heebie-geebies chipping around the green, little pitch shots, and I'm not sure if he has a lot of confidence or not. I saw a couple of mediocre shots in the Bahamas in that area.  Those are the two areas, the driver, the expectation, and one
other thing obviously is the chipping.

You've got to be happy with 24 birdies, though. You know, he's going to be a lot of fun to watch. He's going to really help the TV ratings.

Tuesday
Jan032017

Pros And Cons Of A PGA Tour Schedule Shake-Up

We've heard hints and now we know the plan is serious: new PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan would like to move The Players back to March. This opens up May for the PGA of America to host the second major of the year, the PGA Championship, all while freeing up August for the PGA Tour playoffs. Then, America can turn to football.

Once every four years this would allow for Olympic golf to not be played so close to a major championship. This will not, however, end the wraparound silliness, Rex Hoggard reminded us.

John Feinstein and I debated this on Golf Central Tuesday (13:00 mark), with Feinstein saying the new schedule is a done deal.

I can't see enough compelling reasons for the PGA of America to give up their August date, particularly as they prepare to cash in on a new TV deal starting in 2020, making it an uncertainty this actually happens.

So let's make lists!

Pros

- Main PGA Tour season finishes prior to NFL and college football starting
- Clears a major out of the Olympic path every four years
- Strengthens PGA Tour playoffs by killing primary storylines of fatigue or whether will players skip a week
- Puts strongest possible tournament on the schedule two weeks prior to the Masters
- Creates new possibilities for PGA Championship venues in places like Texas, Arizona, Florida
- Ends "glory's last hope" sensibility that taints PGA Championship

Cons

- Agronomically eliminates Northernmost venues that have been PGA Championship venues (Hazeltine, Whistling Straits, Oak Hill)
- Places greater agronomic and infrastructure-construction pressure on northern venues still able to host
- Ends PGA of America's hold on sports-light August, weakening their position for next TV contract
- Likely ensures permanently smaller audience watching the PGA (sports-busy May vs. sports light August)
- Condensces majors schedule between second week of April to second week of July
- Introduces new weather issues for PGA Championship venues in places like Texas, Arizona, Florida
- Ends traditional Masters-U.S. Open start to major season
- Endorses the PGA Tour playoffs as a competition worthy of bumping a major to May

What else?

Tuesday
Jan032017

Jason Day Intends To Get Back To The Painfully Slow Play That Made Him Great

It's comforting that no matter how much you question any petty self-indulgences you can look to Jason Day for reassurance. Because whatever narcissistic traits you think you might have, Day's going to outdo them!

A man who has held up play both with his painful form of self-indulgent slow play and regular injury situations has declared he intends to indulge us in more slow play.

Ben Everill at PGATour.com shares the warped logic that the world No. 1 shared during his first press session post Nike-$igning.

“I think there were a couple things that I didn't do as well the second half in the season. I wasn't as deliberate going into a golf shot. Gathering the information, I wasn't as deliberate,” Day said as he looks to make his 2017 FedExCup debut at the SBS Tournament of Champions.

Yes, the world watched you and thought, he's rushing!

“Obviously, everyone wants to speed up the game. Obviously, that's a big subject in golf, to speed up the game. But in my opinion, I don't care so much about speeding up my game. I've got to get back to what makes me good.”

And unlikable!

This is also a first, a player bragging about no getting "overly timed." Nice way to free up the John Paramor's of golf to penalize you...

“I didn’t care what people thought and I played better. But I still played fast enough, I wasn’t overly timed, and I played some good golf. I hit a lot more fairways and greens because of it.

"I just have to make sure I am deliberate but still respect other players."

Just do it (slower)!

Oh, and if you're interested in an update on his ailments, Jeff Babineau covers that and other comments from Day as he prepares to start the season in Maui.

Tuesday
Jan032017

New PGA Tour Commish Opens Door To Big Schedule Change, Seeking Partial Network Ownership 

New PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan has started giving interviews and telegraphing a post-Finchem strategy that involves a big schedule change concept and a desire for golf network ownership stake.

Speaking to WSJ's Brian Costa, Monahan confirmed a desire to move The Players back to March and wrap up the "playoffs" before NFL opening weekend:

“That’s certainly something that we would like to see happen,” Monahan said. “Having big events every month, culminating in the FedEx Cup playoffs in August prior to the NFL season, that would be a very powerful schedule.”

Such a change would require the cooperation of the PGA of America, a separate organization that runs the PGA Championship but also has a seat on the policy board that oversees the PGA Tour. Monahan said it is unlikely to happen in 2018.

You will recall that PGA of America CEO Pete Bevacqua has dangled this idea as well, but as I laid out in this post, such a move will, at least agronomically, likely mean the end of visits to beloved PGA of America markets in Minneapolis, Rochester and Milwaukee/Sheboygan. The greater New York City area even becomes dicey in years that have rough Springs.

While the concept is largely brilliant in concentrating golf to a tighter, more fan-friendly season, the central question remains: will the PGA of America take this risk that also could mean a smaller TV audience than they usually get in sports-light August, all so that the low-rated FedExCup playoffs can be finished prior to the NFL and college football seasons?

To put it another way, all of the risk taken here is taken on by the PGA of America to essentially save the FedExCup playoffs. What is their reward?

In regards to a network opt-out that would be almost require a new network schedule, Monahan was asked by Costa if the long term, post-2021 goal might be to start a new PGA Tour network.

“That’s not a core goal,” he said. “Could it happen?” He remained silent for several seconds, leaving the question unanswered.

At the very least, Monahan said it would make sense for the Tour to gain partial ownership of a network as part of its next broadcast rights agreements, rather than simply selling those rights for cash. “That would be a great result,” he said. Golf Channel is owned by NBCUniversal.

I'm always fascinated by the desire for ownership over having someone pay you for the privilege. Given the state of the other sports league channels, I'd take the checks.

Monahan also gave a lengthy interview to PGATour.com's Mike McAllister, who covers virtually every big topic on the table except the state of renewal talks with FedEx.

You can head there to read the explanation of a global tour and many other topics.

A few highlights from Monahan talking to McAllister...

“I really don't hear that much about the wraparound schedule. I hear a lot of positives about the wraparound schedule, but I don't get a lot of questions about why or whether it's working. I think the reality is that, again, going back to demand, there's such demand for the PGA TOUR and for professional golf that obviously if you can put 47 events on the calendar, you're doing something right. And if you were to make changes, and I'm not suggesting what those changes would be, but if those changes resulted in fewer events, that creates openings on your schedule that the demand will fill.

“I think we're in a position now where we feel like we're doing the right thing for our membership and for our fans because they're clearly responding.”

The fans have responded by not tuning in to watch the fall events since joining the FedExCup umbrella. That is indeed clear!

On new formats like the two-man event coming to the Zurich Classic, Monahan leaves the door wide open, especially if it delivers "non-core" fans.

“So you've got to look at formats. You've got to look at the way you present your product through the media. You've got to look at the way our players engage through their own social media platforms. You've really got to look at every facet of what you're doing and be intensely focused on trying to reach that audience, and I think we have.

“I know we all as an organization are giving a lot of thought to perhaps being far more aggressive in marketing to that audience to bring them in, and I think you'll see us be testing, innovating, and perhaps getting our message to audiences in areas that we haven't done in the past.”

He calls pace of play "complicated". Still, it was bold for McCallister to bring up a topic that would have had Tim Finchem asking the writer for a resignation letter upon the interview's completion.

“What we're trying to do, like every other part of our business, is be as close to and intimate with the data so that in working with everybody, we're doing everything we can to address pace of play. But I would tell you that we feel like we've taken a lot of positive steps in the last couple of years.

“You always have to look at the fact that everybody that's living today is trying to do what they did yesterday faster. And so it's no different for our game, and I think that's something we've got to continue to take very seriously. There's no easy solution, though.”

Never know until you try a penalty stroke!

Perhaps most fascinating was the reveal of a Silicon Valley trip.

In June, several key TOUR executives and digital officers made a West Coast visit to companies such as Amazon, Google, YouTube, Facebook and Apple. With each visit, the TOUR team gained insight and knowledge as to how the TOUR was viewed through the prism of digital users. The visit to Facebook was especially eye-opening in terms of how much work the TOUR needed to do in order to increase its brand exposure, especially among millennial consumers.

I thought millennials don't like Facebook? Go on...

Says Monahan: “The No. 1 takeaway that we all had and something we talked about as we were all coming back is as much video content as we're creating, we probably need to create somewhere in the magnitude of three to five times more as we go forward. We have a significant investment in our digital media across all of our platforms (but) I think you could expect that we're still fairly embryonic in the way we're approaching that in terms of investment level.

Embryonic. Someone's been spending too much time around Commissioner Coterminous!

“Producing more content, perhaps looking at some of the ways โ€‘โ€‘ some of the guidelines that we have in place and making certain that we're welcoming content creation where appropriate, and we're starting to use the power of our players and their own networks to help build not only their profiles but the profile of the TOUR and the game. So I think that's a big opportunity.

“We also learned how much they knew about us, which was pretty remarkable, and I think one of the things that we took away was we know a lot about our fans. We know a lot about our spectators. But we really need to have a concerted approach to be as knowledgeable as we possibly can about our fans and their interests and their needs, and I think we're on a really good path there, and that's something that you'll see develop in '17.”

Even with all of the digital talk, Monahan wisely reiterated that they are not taking their eye off the ball, with television as the primary product, suggesting the idea of streaming the PGA Tour on alternate networks may not be ready for prime time.

“I strongly believe that the most valuable product is going to be our linear product, our television product, because that allows us to reach the masses and for the masses to experience the PGA TOUR and our players playing at the highest level.

“Social media, mobile, all of that augments what we're doing and improves the experience that the fan can have. So whether it's continuing to improve and enhance ShotLink, whether it's allowing players to shoot video earlier in the week from the tournament to create greater awareness of that tournament and help them build their profiles, that ability to be talking all the time is a great opportunity for us to grow our audience and grow interest in our tournaments and our players.

“But it has to augment and support what we're doing from a television standpoint, and we feel like we're doing a really good job on that front. But what we think of that world today, mobile and digital and now 80 percent of our fans are consuming their content via mobile, that will look very different in a year or two from now. Having the ability to adapt and being flexible about content and rights is something that is and will continue to be very important for us and our media partners.”

That seems like a pretty wise approach given the age of the golf audience and its willingness to search for the PGA Tour on something besides a television. Furthermore, the discussion of seeing social media and online video as a way to augment the "product" instead of a replacement will assure those concerned that the tour might move too quickly into unproven mediums.

Tuesday
Jan032017

R.I.P.? The (New) Ben Hogan Equipment Company

MyGolfSpy.com is reporting exclusively that the entire workforce at the Ft. Worth company has been laid off.

They conclude:

Sources tell MyGolfSpy that personnel reductions were discussed at a recent Board of Directors meeting, but nothing to this extent.

Other sources also tell MyGolfSpy that Hogan owes money to several media outlets and vendors, and has so for a while, which is always an indication of a struggling operation. Other sources report that Perry Ellis, the owner of the Hogan brand who licensed the name to the Ben Hogan Company, has had concerns over the current status of the golf equipment company.

Besides the obvious job losses, this is a huge downer for those who loved the idea of a restored brand and the irons that had been brought back in grand fashion.

Tuesday
Jan032017

More Splashy Signings: Bubba To Volvik Ball, Lydia To PXG For $10 Million Over Five Years 

The high profile switches continue, and while we know Bubba Watson has moved the equipment needle before, can he make golf ball buyers go pink?

Golf.com's Michael Chawra says that's the color Bubba hopes to play even though the model he's selected is not sold in pink.

Bubba says it was his idea to play the Volvik ball after watching the World Long Drive. Jeff Babineau reports from Maui for Golfweek.com on Bubba's claim and notes this about world top ten golf ball usage:

With Watson playing a Volvik ball, five companies now are represented among the top 10 players in the world. With Rory McIlroy expected to return to Titleist (Pro V1x) when he competes in South Africa this month, Titleist will have four of the top 10 (two playing Pro V1, two playing Pro V1x). Also represented are TaylorMade (two), Callaway (two), Srixon (one) and now Volvik.

Continuing its high profile splash into the equipment business, my sources say PXG's Bob Parsons has signed Lydia Ko for a whopping $10 million over five years, while also adding Brittany Lang, Christina Kim and Ryan O’Toole as new members of the staff.

Beth Ann Baldry, reporting for Golfweek.com says Parsons is going after LPGA players in search of international sales:

“In 2016 we saw remarkable growth in international sales,” PXG founder Bob Parsons said in a news release, “but we recognize that we have only scratched the surface. Tour validation is important, and the ladies tour is wildly popular in many countries.”

Here is Lydia discussing her switch on Morning Drive, which will also include a PXG putter:

Ko also did a nice demo on Aimpoint Express, using Golf Channel's new virtual putting green.

The full PXG press release:

PXG Adds #1 Ranked Golfer Lydia Ko to Its Roster of Champions
2017 Tour Lineup Supports PXG’s International Growth Strategy
 
Scottsdale, AZ (January 3, 2017) – Today, PXG (Parsons Xtreme Golf) revealed a tour strategy designed to help accelerate and capitalize on global excitement surrounding the company’s brand and revolutionary equipment. In a bold move, PXG has focused solely on signing LPGA Tour talent for the 2017 season. At the top of the list is world number one, Lydia Ko.

“This year PXG is looking at golf and the tour from a global perspective,” said PXG founder and American entrepreneur Bob Parsons. “In 2016 we saw remarkable growth in international sales, but we recognize that we have only scratched the surface. Tour validation is important, and the ladies tour is wildly popular in many countries. We had five exceptional ladies on staff in 2016 and this year that number has grown to nine. These players, as well as our top-notch PGA TOUR pros, will help us bring PXG’s unmatched technology to passionate golfers around the globe.”

New #PXGTroops include:
    •    Lydia Ko, 14 time LPGA Tour Winner
    •    Brittany Lang, Reigning U.S. Women’s Open Champion
    •    Christina Kim, 3 time LPGA Tour Winner
    •    Ryan O’Toole, 2011 Solheim Cup Team Member

“It was always my dream goal to become world number one,” Lydia Ko shared. “Now that I have reached that benchmark in my career, I am focused on consistently playing the best golf I can. When I first hit PXG’s clubs I was extremely impressed by how they felt. They felt solid and the performance was – wow!”

Known for developing leading technology that delivers indisputable performance. The company invests heavily in research and development, and does not prescribe to traditional product cycles.

“I’ve had PXG clubs in my bag for several months and all I can say is they are the real deal,” said Christina Kim. “The wedges have got to be the best I’ve ever played and the rest of the clubs are simply excellent. I couldn’t be more excited about being part of a company that is disrupting norms and taking risks in the name of innovation and performance.”

PXG’s professionals represent some of the very best talent on the PGA TOUR and LPGA Tour. The new players will join current #PXGTroops James Hahn, Billy Horschel, Charles Howell III, Zach Johnson, Chris Kirk, Ryan Moore, Charl Schwartzel, Cristie Kerr, Alison Lee, Sadena Parks, Gerina Piller and Beatriz Recari.

“I have so much respect for PXG and Bob Parsons,” Brittany Lang said. “Being on staff is really a special opportunity.”

“From founder to fitter, every representative of PXG is passionate about golf and dedicated to making sure golfers are able to experience incredible results on the course. I have never been so impressed by a company,” Ryann O’Toole added. 

Sunday
Jan012017

Public Service Reminder: The DJ Local Rule Is Now Available

There have been many victims but none more famous than Dustin Johnson, therefore it's as much his local rule as anyone elses. Happy New Year DJ!

The full text of ball-accidentally-moves-on-putting-green rule. The USGA is also offering a video explanation and infographic on the rule and available for North American courses.

Granted, the accidental movement problem is generally only a regular issue at greens Stimping over 12 or where HD cameras are watching play.

Still, invoke the local rule, please...

Sunday
Jan012017

Did Writer Trump-Up Account Of Trump Encounter?

Politico's Kenneth Vogel does a nice job trying to figure out if President-elect Donald Trump had a former unauthorized biographer (understandable) and Koch brother/club member (not so understandable) removed from Trump International in West Palm Beach before they could tee off.

It seems writer Harry Hurt III, who took to Facebook to post details--in the third person--and gave the impression Trump had one of his members, David Koch, escorted off the property, actually did no such thing. That notion seemed unbelievable given Koch's status as a Trump club member and as an influential figure in American business and politics, albeit one that Trump has neutralized.

Here is the initial post:

 

 

Here is what Vogel concluded about the Koch portion of the story, which is the most incredible. If it had been true:

Another member of the Hurt-Koch foursome, fellow GOP donor John M. Damgard, told POLITICO that neither he nor Koch were privy to Hurt’s exchange with Trump, and that Hurt didn’t recount it to them in any detail.

“Harry just said he had been asked to leave,” said Damgard, a former president of the Futures Industry Association who has a house in Palm Beach. “I thought he was kidding. And then I learned that there had been some previous bad blood between them from back in the ‘90s apparently,” Damgard said, adding, “Unbeknownst to us, he had written a book or an article that was critical of Trump.”

So, Damgard continued, “rather than exacerbate something that wasn’t going to go very well, we just decided to get into the car and leave.”

Sunday
Jan012017

January 1: First Big Player Switches Become Apparent

This year should be a little more chaotic in the player-endorsement turnover game, especially with players seemingly more comfortable playing mixed bags (perhaps not by choice either).

Throw in Nike's equipment exit, PXG entering the equation and Callaway adding its biggest name since Phil Mickelson, it should be fun to hear the stock quotes, spin and speculation.

Jason Day took to Instragram to confirm the expected (and lucrative) move to Nike apparel with a thank you to all of his sponsors:

 

Don't make a New Years resolution. #Justdoit @nike @swingoilofficial @lexususa @rolex @taylormadegolf @netjets

A photo posted by Jason Day (@jasondayofficial) on Dec 31, 2016 at 9:00pm PST

 

Nike was more transparent, with their first image accompanied by his "narrative." Melodramatic...

 

 

Jonathan Wall at PGATour.com with a few more details on a dream-come-true moment for Day.

Rory McIlroy's move to a Callaway-Odyssey-Titleist setup was most eye-opening in the irons and putter department. First reported by No Laying Up, McIlroy had been rumored for weeks to be leaning toward Callaway's forthcoming Epic driver, but adding their irons and replacing the Scotty Cameron he put back in the bag with an Odyssey putter appears to be a big change. Meanwhile Titleist, battling off Costco's foray into their territory, brings McIlroy back into the ball family.

Thursday
Dec292016

Roundup 2016: Year In Review Stories And A Few Thoughts

I've been taking in and enjoying the year-end golf summaries, mostly to shield myself from news that makes me want to have John Oliver's '16 tribute on a running loop. As is always the golf media custom, various writers emptied their notebooks and recalled moments that resonated long after they packed up their laptops. While taking in their thoughts I drew a few conclusions, which, if you'll indulge, I'll share before throwing a few good year-end links your way.

2016 lived up to its billing: a stellar-but-bloated schedule, plenty of sensational tournament venues and a continued refinement of course architectural tastes skewing toward the natural. But the sadness of Arnold Palmer's passing, which I'm not sure we got to completely take in quietly, just reinforced the sense that there is too much golf and it all went on way too long.

In spite of the pitiful WD's by Spieth, McIlroy and friends, The Olympics exceeded expectations while The Open Championship will go down as a classic (John Huggan and Dave Shedloski have put together a truncated oral history of Troon 2016).

For Golfweek's Alistair Tait, those were the two biggest takeaways in his eyes and he offers two anecdotes from each.

The women's side keeps producing young talent but now even Lydia Ko is showing signs of impatience that either could propel her to another level, or rapidly add her to a list of almost-legend status. This overall impatience by and for the youth to take center stage should be a more disconcerting sign for golf given how much damage it's done in tennis, but the desperation to ride some under 25-year-old coattails ignores that the average age of the men's major winners in 2016 was..34.

On a grander entertainment scale, fewer players and even fewer fans are clamoring for tournament officials to humiliate players via course setup to compensate for inadequacies in their own golf games. Woohoo! Yes, we still have too many green speed fiascos to mask the distance issue, but we also have fewer four-inch rough weeks and grind-it-out bogey-fests.

This increased clamoring for player-produced drama leads to a more positive energy when we tune in to watch golf. The effect has to seep down to the everyday game, no? 

Consider the incredible outrage over the USGA's difficult-to-rationalize handling of Dustin Johnson and how quickly the public response produced a local rule introduction that will restore some sanity (though it still won't slow down greens). A less cynical, more sensible golfing public should take a bow.

The sport saw minor inroads on the pace-of-play plague and with the greatest single roadblock to progress just a few hours from retirement (woohoo 2!), we may see real reform in 2017. I sense an overall shift in values for the sport: golf is no longer seen by its followers as a sport of inevitable punishment separated by bursts of fun.  It is now expected to be one that aspires to be a lifestyle activity that is fun, sensible and responsible to be part of. Progress!

Obviously this is generational and the infusion of many "millennial" values has meshed nicely with the "artisanal" trends that had already begun to reimagine design and experiential elements that inspire our passion for the sport. However, I can't help but think of 2016 without thinking of the incessant desperation the sport has shown in trying to appeal to a new generation while ignoring an aging demographic that loves the sport. In trying so pathetically to be cool to the kids the sport so often comes off as pathetic to the kids. If there's one thing we know about millennials, it's that we don't know what they really like. But they have shown a love for pursuits with soul, timelessness and some backbone. Golf should act more comfortable in its shoes.

Ultimately the genius of golf is that it can be played and loved by people of all generations. Probably never a huge audience, but one that spans generations. So perhaps the potential for Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson to duel one more time with a nice mix of young guns and veteran sticks joining the fight, a microcosm of this cross-generational meeting of minds will calm some of this desperation to get younger or die.

On that note...

If you need your memory refreshed, here are GolfChannel.com's newsmakers, with of course, that passing of Arnold Palmer in the top spot. We lost many others in '16 as Cliff Schrock notes at GolfDigest.com, but it was Palmer's death that will forever define the year.

Randall Mell steps back from the raw emotion of the initial coverage to consider what Palmer's passing means to the game. Brandel Chamblee also weighed in with this piece.

Jeff Babineau covered many topics in his year-end Golfweek.com thoughts, including Palmer's funeral. And GolfChannel.com's Mercer Baggs left the service feeling upbeat, thanks in part to the eulogy by Sam Saunders.

Doug Ferguson uses up his notes that weren't technically newsworthy, just entertaining. And while this Wayne Gretzky item is the best, the theme here is Palmer and he included this one:

The day after the U.S. Open, Arnold Palmer drove his cart to the back entrance of his office in Latrobe, Pennsylvania.

It had been a rough year. Palmer declined to a do his news conference or a TV interview at Bay Hill, instead taping an interview for the NBC telecast. For the first time, he did not hit a ceremonial tee shot at the start of the Masters the following month.

But he was sharp on this day. Dustin Johnson had won the U.S. Open, but only after playing the final seven holes not knowing if the USGA was going to penalize him one shot for his ball moving on the fifth green.

"What did you think of the Open?" Palmer said.

"Interesting," came the fence-sitting reply.

Palmer grinned and, as always, got straight to the point.

"The USGA really (messed) this one up, didn't they?" he said.

Beth Ann Baldry filed her favorite memories from a year on the road covering amateur and women's golf, with the NCAA's in Eugene still resonating strongly. For Mell, Se Ri Pak's emotional retirement cameo was the memory he won't soon forget.

Off the course, the equipment and business side proved fascinating, with more news soon on the way for 2017. David Dusek at Golfweek.com summed it up this way:

Where would you start in a year that included Jordan Spieth cracking the face of his driver on the eve of the Masters, Adidas announcing that it wants to sell TaylorMade, Adams and Ashworth and the USGA and R&A reporting that they don’t feel driving distance is a problem in professional golf?

Which brings us back to the proverbial question that inspired the start of this website 13 years ago and saw it morph into a blog 11 years ago. Will 2017 be the year anything is done? Probably not. But I'm encouraged enough by too many other big picture trends to never rule out some action. Shoot, we might even see a slow play penalty on the West Coast swing. Strap, it's going to be a wild year ahead.

Until then, Happy New Year,
Geoff

Wednesday
Dec282016

Lions Muny: What Would Colonel Brackenridge Do?

Given that UT's karma issues aren't exactly looking like they'll be turning around anytime soon after firing another football coach, you'd think they'd be celebrating their $25 billion endowment, tipping their cap to the  Save Muny movement, and leaving Austin's historic gem of a green space alone. Or even thinking of ways to make it better?

But the university has not backed down on plans to end the golf course lease in 2019 to build a mixed-use development.

So filmmaker Michael Hovis, in a guest commentator to the Austin-American Statesman, considers the lineage of a property gifted to the university. Shockingly, he doesn't believe Colonel George Washington Brackenridge was thinking mixed retail on the ground level and condos above starting in the low 500s.

Made wealthy by cotton and banking, he brought financial acumen to his 26 year tenure as a UT regent. Yet, he was equally concerned with social issues. Brackenridge supported women’s rights and provided loan funds for women studying medicine, law and architecture. He also fought for the rights of minorities and funded a list of African-American and Mexican-American schools and colleges.

Brackenridge was also a supporter of public golf courses. He donated the property for another historic golf course to the city of San Antonio. Built a few years before Muny, Brackenridge Golf Course remains the centerpiece of public golf in central San Antonio today. The similarities to Muny are hard to ignore.

Oh I'm sure they'll keep trying. Still, if nothing else it's a neat read on a fascinating historical figure in Texas.

Wednesday
Dec282016

The Scores Is Scotland's Most Expensive Residential Street

Granted it hasn't been golf course frontage real estate in over 300 years, but the views are spectacular and it ends at the Old Course first tee, so we know this is mostly golf's doing. Still, even knowing The Scores lacks  the errant ball issue, it was still fascinating to read that The Scores in St. Andrews is Scotland's priciest neighborhood. Average property price: nearly £2.1 million.

From a Sunday Herald story:

Researchers from the Bank of Scotland say the cliff top street The Scores, which starts at the first tee of the Old Course, has knocked addresses in Edinburgh off the top spot for the first time in their annual survey.

Lined with Victorian detached and terraced houses, the street has unrivalled views of St Andrews Bay and the North Sea.

It is named after scratches on the basalt cliff face which it overlooks.

Tuesday
Dec272016

Forbes: Tiger's Net Worth At $740 Million, Phil $375 Million

 Kurt Badenhausen explains that Tiger Woods is the youngest on their list of America's Wealthiest Celebrities and the second highest ranked athlete after Michael Jordan. Tiger sits on the list between Diddy and Dr. Dre.

Phil Mickelson is the only other athlete on the list of twenty at $375 million.

Forbes says on Woods:

Woods has earned $1.4 billion from prize money, endorsements and fees from appearances and golf course designs since turning pro in 1996. It is more than any athlete in the history of sports (Jordan earned more when adjusted for inflation). Less than 10% of Woods’ tally is from prize money with sponsorships his main source of revenue.

We know these dollar figures are a bit silly and likely bloated given that they may not take divorce settlements into full account. Still, even if cut in half, the numbers and success of two golfers over all other modern athletes, is noteworthy.

Tuesday
Dec272016

Video: Flipped (Over) Trick Shot

What else is there to say but brilliantly conceived and executed by Ryan Rustand of the Virginia Golf Center with help from Pat Graves, gymnast and flip expert!

Tuesday
Dec272016

Video: Poe's TD Pass, Harris' Made-Putt Celebration

Thanks to reader ML for sending Dontari Poe's stellar jump lob pass--backed by 365 pounds--to Demetrius Harris in garbage time of Sunday's Chiefs-Broncos game.

But it's Harris' golf putt/almost Tiger-homage of a celebration that is noteworthy to linksters.

 

Saturday
Dec242016

Merry Christmas 2016!

Thursday
Dec222016

Nine Days Of Christmas: Seamus Tartan Ties And Special 20% Off Discount Code

As we near Christmas day the gift recommendations are now strictly about buying yourself something Rusty the dog, who drew you in the family pool, would never buy.

Last year the craftsmen and women of Seamus Golf kindly offered a Christmas discount to readers of this site. And after noticing their dapper new ties I reached out to company co-founder Akbar Christi who kindly offered a holiday discount for all purchases. Enter code RUSTICCANYON to get 20% off.

Everything by Seamus is made with care, thought and class, but I'm digging their new ties in fabrics sourced from the best (Loch Caron, House of Edgar). They come in both skinny and regular sizes and the website notes the lineage of the patterns so that you can do your best Smails impersonation at your next cocktail party.

Personally, I love a good tartan tie because nearly all look good with a navy blazer, they are guaranteed to liven up an otherwise cookie-cutter outfit, all while giving you a fun story to tell about the tie's inspiration.

Pictured to the right is the granite, cream and black Dornoch Tweed Tie that harkens to the ancient days of the Scottish Highlands, home of the great Royal Dornoch (whose club tartan is a colorful design invoking all colors of the course in its gorse-blooming days).

So head to Seamus and scoop up a few ties or headcovers at 20% off (code: RUSTICCANYON) and encourage them to keep making cool stuff.

Also, this way I can lobby for a much-needed Musselburgh tie!

Thursday
Dec222016

Roundup: Tiger's Mac Daddy Pic Spawns No Shortage Of Glorious Mocking

I'm picturing agent Mark Steinberg, staring out the window at Excel headquarters listening to a pitch for Tiger, when a nervous assistant barges in and points at a cell phone, only to remember the boss is a Blackberry man. Just as Steiny had pushed back on the price to get Tiger into a new blue chip product endorsement deal, the assistant swipes off the dust on Steiny's desktop and brings up Tiger's Twitter account.

"Uh, I need to call you back, whoever I was just talking to," says Steiny.

There the image sits. For no rational reason, a stern, shirtless Tiger Woods is wearing a Santa cap, invoking his children and referencing Mac Daddy, a phrase Merriam-Websters defines as "a conspicuously successful pimp." Or option two, "a slick womanizer." The Urban Dictionary also weighs in (gloriously).

Steiny sighs nervously.

"At least it's the Thursday before Christmas, the Internet is on vacation, right?" he asks as the young assistant mumbles something about Grayson Allen just texted to tell Tiger thank you.

So in the interest of sparing that poor Excel intern the pain of presenting a roundup of Tiger's bizarre attempt at humor/coolness/something, here is the Busted Coverage roundup/slideshow, Des Bieler's take at the WaPo, and the GeoffShackelford.com favorites:

 


 

Thursday
Dec222016

Tiger Rolls Out "The Look" On Eve Of Golf With Trump?

Maybe he heard that President-elect Trump is favoring a certain aesthetic for his cabinet appointees, as the Washington Post reported (poor John Bolton!), and wanted to lay the groundwork for a gig before he reportedly tees up with  Donald Trump Friday (NLU's Mattie Lou Chandler had it first)?

Or maybe he's just trying to keep up with the Shirtless Shark.

Either way...in case you were hiding from social media Thursday afternoon...

 

Not sure if this is what the branding experts had in mind when relaunching Tiger 2.0...

Efforts have already been made to identify the poor soul who had to take this photo...