Twitter: GeoffShac
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The name Pebble Beach might suggest a seaside course in the manner of the links of Britain. But It is far from that. I can think of no approximate parallel.




One PGA Show Item I Already Want: SwingSnap

I'm still taking in all of the 2016 PGA Merchandise Show after day one and, barring a crazy day at Torrey, will post the best of.

That said, the crew nominated a few of their favorite things spotted on the floor, and without question the standout for me was this headcover that doubles as a camera holder.

Considering that I just watched an aspiring player trying to balance his camera phone on his bag yesterday with questionable results, I'm guessing there's at least one taker for the soon to be released SwingSnap.

As someone who used to lug a huge video camera and tripod to the range, I have no problem admitting that I'm envious of today's aspiring players.

Of course the SwingSnap also appears to be a discreet way to setup a camera to record when you tee off on one of the world's most famous golf holes.


Video: Phil Talks Torrey North And California Politics

Hearing what Phil Mickelson had to say about the Torrey North project and still struggling with the $12.6 million budget, the ethusiasm is mild at best for the upcoming renovation of this property. On site here the phrase "missed opportunity" has been thrown about a lot (and it's only Wednesday).

Though I think Mickelson mistakenly kept his plans pretty private, the more I hear about them, the more I fear Torrey Pines missed an opportunity to improve.

From Cameron Morfit's roundup of Mickelson's lively press conference:

"I don't understand the politics of it at all," Mickelson said of the impending redesign of Torrey Pines North, which Mickelson had hoped to direct but which instead will be overseen by Tom Weiskopf. "It makes no sense. I think it's terrible business practices, but it's what we live with here."

Mickelson was one of the first designers to consult with the City of San Diego about Torrey North, perched on the cliffs above the Pacific Ocean, and had said he would even waive his design fee. But because he was part of the preliminary talks, the California Fair Political Practices Commission forbid Mickelson's design group from submitting a formal bid.

"I'm not bitter about it," Mickelson said. "I just kind of learned to accept that as being one of the sacrifices of living in California. It is a personal place, it is a personal thing for me because of the memories, the history, the nostalgia that I feel every time I walk on the grounds here.

The Art Department has taken the Weiskopf plan, which is simple upgrade of the existing design, and placed it in an aerial for better study. Yes, it doesn't ruin what is a very nice course, but for $12.6 milllion, I'm not sure how many golfers will be thrilled with this or feeling like the character of the Bells was retained. Mickelson's plan was said to have been half the price and included a kids par-3 course:

Todd Lewis and I discussed what went wrong for the North Course project on Golf Central, and Phil's comments cited above can be heard. He offers his best stiff upper lip effort but can only hold on so long...


Johnny To USGA: Roll Back The Ball To Bring Back Cool

Billy Casper's son Byron stopped by the Farmers Insurance Open media center Wednesday and I had the privilege of having watched his dad play the Champions Tour. Byron kindly listened to me ask about how his dad went from a gentle fade in his prime, to the most amazingly well-controlled draw show in his Champions Tour.

Naturally, this got me thinking of the great shot shapers who moved the ball and how today's fans would be in awe watching these craftsman of yesteryear pursue their craft.

Translation millennials: they were artisanal, small-batch, locally-sourced ball strikers.

I bring this up because Jim Achenbach says Johnny Miller called out he USGA for not having better regulated the ball. Addressing members of the International Network of Golf at Orlando's PGA Show...

Then he asserted the USGA is "afraid to stand up for what they should be standing up (mandating a golf ball that goes shorter distances for touring pros).

"With that ball (more spin, less distance) you can hit all kinds of cool shots."


Ruffled! Phil Won't Be Teeing It Up With Ryan Anytime Soon

Well, unless the Australian lad making his pro debut at Torrey Pines Thursday is primed for a less-than-friendly game with Phil Mickelson. The same Mickelson who tried to recruit him to his alma mater and teed up at Torrey Pines last month in a friendly game.

Ruffels, you may recall if you followed this obscure little story, claimed to have birdied six of seven holes to take $5000 off of Mickelson, who gave the 17-year-old 2-1 odds. He shared the story, then had to downplay it. But that wasn't enough to appease Phil who spoke to the media on the North Course's 9th green following his pro-am round.

From Ryan Lavner's item at

“He’s young,” Mickelson said, “and he’s got some things to learn.

“One of them is you don’t discuss certain things. You don’t discuss specifics of what you play for. And you certainly don’t embellish and create a false amount just for your own benefit. So those things right there are – that’s high school stuff, and he’s going to have to stop doing that now that he’s out on the PGA Tour.”

Parents, let this be a learning lesson on the perils of golf course wagering!


Topgolf Makes A (Virtual) Acquisition

Ashley Mayo at reports on Topgolf's acquision of a gaming company to beef up the technology employed and maybe even give Topgolfers a chance to play some of the world's finest courses.

“Scale in terms of aggregating audience matters to all of our potential partners,” said Topgolf Co-Chairman Erik Anderson. “We can now engage golfers across worlds, both virtual and real.”

Mayo translates what that corporatespeak HOF quote means:

But Topgolf’s acquisition of WGT is about more than capturing a large audience -- the Topgolf experience will soon become enhanced with WGT’s technology. Right now, games are played in dartboard style, but with WGT’s resources, golfers will soon be able to “play” an array of golf courses from their favorite Topgolf venue. Bandon Dunes, Shadow Creek, Chambers Bay and other tracks could appear on the screens at each Topgolf bay, and instead of merely trying to hit targets, golfers could virtually feel what it’d be like to approach the 7th green at Pebble Beach.


Wounded Warrior Execs Spending Lavishly On...Themselves?

The Wounded Warrior Project is closely aligned with golf through programs, formerly with the PGA Tour's Birdies for the Brave and mostly through the efforts of many players to raise money for the group. Jordan Spieth made a major 2014 contribution to the group. (The PGA Tour has not given money to the project for three years according to a tour spokesman.)

And while I'm not entirely comfortable questioning lavish spending by those doing the difficult task of fundraising, a New York Times special report posted by Dave Phillipps raises troubling questions. Especially since the bulk of the Jacksonville, Florida non-profit's funds come--$372 million in 2015 alone--through small donations from people over 65, not through the corporate sector.

Besides mentioning instances of excess spending and targeting of employees who questioned the culture of spending, the story points out that as far as charities go, WWP's spending on overheard is excessive at best.

About 40 percent of the organization’s donations in 2014 were spent on its overhead, or about $124 million, according to the charity-rating group Charity Navigator. While that percentage, which includes administrative expenses and marketing costs, is not as much as for some groups, it is far more than for many veterans charities, including the Semper Fi Fund, a wounded-veterans group that spent about 8 percent of donations on overhead. As a result, some philanthropic watchdog groups have criticized the Wounded Warrior Project for spending too heavily on itself.

Some of its own employees have criticized it, too. During five years with the Wounded Warrior Project, William Chick, a former supervisor, said of the charity, “It slowly had less focus on veterans and more on raising money and protecting the organization.”


Fox Going With A Three-Man Booth: Azinger Joins Faxon On 18

The formula that proved successful for producer Mark Loomis at ABC will define year two of USGA golf on Fox. With the expected announced of Paul Azinger's hiring, Fox also mentioned in its press release that Brad Faxon has been promoted from 17th hole tower to the 18th hole broadcast booth, with Joe Buck playing traffic cop. The banter should be lively, funny and edgy between the three.

The full press release:

Major Champion to Team with Seven-Time Emmy Winner Joe Buck in 18th Tower
New York – Paul Azinger, winner of the 1993 PGA Championship and veteran broadcaster, has joined FOX Sports as lead analyst for its golf coverage, beginning in 2016. Azinger joins seven-time Emmy Award-winning announcer Joe Buck and analyst Brad Faxon in the 18th Tower for FOX Sports’ USGA Championship telecasts. The announcement was made today by John Entz, President, Production & Executive Producer, FOX Sports and Mark Loomis, Coordinating Producer, USGA Studio & Event Production.
"Paul is a respected and trusted voice in the golf community, and he has the credibility of being a major champion with a strong track record of experience in the broadcast booth,” Entz said. “He has been one of golf's most candid and thoughtful analysts and we are excited to add him to our team.”
A 30-year PGA Tour veteran, Azinger was a 12-time winner on the tour, highlighted by his triumph at the 1993 PGA Championship at Inverness Club. Azinger joined the tour in 1981 and hit his prime later in the decade, earning PGA Tour Player of the Year honors in 1987 and spending nearly 300 weeks in the top-10 of the Official World Golf Rankings between 1988 and 1994. He also represented the United States on five Ryder Cup teams, participating four times as a player and serving as captain of the victorious 2008 squad.
"I am honored to partner with FOX Sports and the USGA to provide analysis for the compelling slate of USGA Championships,” Azinger said. “It will especially be an honor to call our nations national championship, the U.S. Open, beginning in June at storied Oakmont Country Club."
Azinger began his broadcasting career serving as an analyst for ABC’s PGA Tour golf coverage for 2005 and 2006, quickly becoming one of the most well-respected voices in the industry. He remained at ESPN through 2015 and has called early round coverage of the U.S. Open Championship, anchored coverage of the British Open Championship and contributed to early rounds of Masters Tournament coverage.
In his new role at FOX Sports, Azinger is scheduled to broadcast the 116th U.S. Open Championship at Oakmont Country Club, the U.S. Women’s Open at Cordevalle and the U.S. Senior Open at Scioto Country Club. He will also broadcast the 116th U.S. Amateur at Oakland Hills Country Club and the 2017 Walker Cup Match at Los Angeles Country Club.


Pieters: PGA Tour Provides (Photoshop) Grooming Services

Jason Crook reports on Thomas Pieters going to Facebook to show how the PGA Tour altered his stock photo. Pieters, who finshed second to Rickie Fowler in last week's HSBC in Abu Dhabi, appears to have run into Commissioner Kiehl's and his army of Photoshopping barbers.

Look out Boo Weekley!


Generation Z Video: PGA Demo Day Stars

Nice post by Stephen Hennessey to note these two stars from Tuesday's PGA Demo Day at Orange County National outside Orlando, including one-handed golfer Tommy Morrissey.

At the Golphin junior golf-club pavilion, sampling the company's new clubs for children. Look at the clubhead speed from these young 'ems:

Tweeted by Golfinforkids:


Paul Azinger Taking Over For Greg Norman At Fox Sports

This should sharpen the announcing focus and also de-burden the Fox crew of Greg Norman's presence, despite the views of one that moving on without Norman will be tough.

Jaime Diaz at Golf World with the report citing sources who say Azinger will work the big events for Fox (the U.S. Amateur was not mentioned).

When news of Norman's firing was first reported by Links, it was reported here that Azinger was the likely and inevitable choice given his excellent analysis for ABC and ESPN over the years.


Weiskopf Talks Torrey North, Just Not With Phil (Yet Anyway)

Tom Weiskopf appeared at Torrey Pines to unveil plans for the upcoming North Course renovation project, which fell into his lap in a sense after Phil Mickelson's plan was shelved over obscure (arcane?) contractor/architect bidding rules.

was teamed with Wadsworth Construction and delivered the winning $12.6 million bid. John Strege reports on the 50-minute press conference.

Early reports suggest a fairly quiet renovation, with not many major changes. 

“We have to get these people through this golf course,” Weiskopf, on site on Tuesday, said. “We have to make them enjoy their experience. We want them to come back and play it again and again and again. Especially the locals.

A few highlights from the transcript:

Q. Having played the TOUR and having had great success, there's the great debate as it relates to the U.S. Open and your designing this for the average fan, but you're designing it also for the U.S. Open. Where do you draw the line between building a "obstacle course" versus a golf course to save the integrity of par for the U.S. Open? Is it a big debate?

TOM WEISKOPF: Well, no, that's a very good question. I think any good design -- it wouldn't be difficult to build the world's hardest golf course. It wouldn't be difficult for me to make that so hard at 7,100 yards. But you got to remember again, let's go back to the purpose of it. It's to make people come here, enjoy themselves with a round of golf where the pros play, and it is what it is. I'm not going to compare that to the South Course. I mean that has great length. That has, what is it? 7,600 from all the way back now. We don't have room to do that. That's not the purpose of this golf course.

But to your point, the USGA has always gotten -- par has always resonated as their goal. If we can test the world's greatest and par wins, then we have won. I really think that's their attitude. So how do you do that? They do it with extremely difficult pin placements. They do it with extremely firm and unbelievably fast greens and narrow fairways and rough that's for the average guy is unplayable. It's unplayable for them, too. This is a tough rough. This grass here is tough. When you get that stuff up like that, it doesn't have to get much higher than that and it's tough.

So, I don't know, I played in a lot of U.S. Opens. I had my chances. I finished second twice or once, sorry, third twice. But nobody remembers the score, do they? They always remember who won last year, right? Jordan Spieth.

1-over won at Merion at 6.930 yards. I worked on the telecast there. 6.930. Again, Merion. Not one guy broke that shot par. That was the English kid, Justin Rose, right? 1-over par. 6,900. You would think that -- I thought they were going to tear it apart. But when I got out there on-site and I'm walking around and the fairways are -- you walk single file down the fairways, the threesome, you know what I mean? It was so narrow. The rough was so tough. The greens were so firm and fast. And actually they weren't that firm because it rained a couple days.

But again, there's nothing wrong with that. That's the way they do it. All these guys know that. That it's going to be a tough week.

But you're part of history whenever you can win a Major, aren't you? So why not have it different.

You know, it wouldn't be very much fun to play, but if every week you set it up like a U.S. Open, they would all be better players at the end of the year, everyone of them. They would learn how to really respect the proper shot. Making the right choice. But you always remember who won, not the score. To me. But that's the USGA. They're different. They're doing pretty well right now because brown shoes are back in style.

I'm sure someone knows what that last line means. Right?

Regarding the previous architect...

Q. Did Phil Mickelson have any input in your redesign? That's the first question. And the second question is, did average-Joe golfers have any input along with pros in redesign?

TOM WEISKOPF: I didn't -- I was quite surprised that Phil wasn't, you know, chosen, to tell you the truth. It made all the sense in the world. I don't know why he wasn't. I haven't talked to Phil. I saw him at Christmas time up at the Yellowstone Club where I live, and he comes up with his family. But I didn't have a chance to talk to him. He was engaged with a bunch of family and I just left him alone. So I have no idea. No, he has not mentioned anything about the project to me. We have not talked.

I'm always open to suggestions. Nobody has all the answers. I can remember a lot of situations -- it always happens when you're involved in a golf course design. There's always a hole or two that you just don't feel comfortable with, you've done your best effort to strategize it correctly, and it just doesn't feel right or look right. Many a time I've always said to my guys or other, the owner or some other people, what do you think? Anybody got an idea? And somebody will come up with an idea and I say to myself, I've said it many a time, why didn't I think of that? That's where we have to go.

Like I said, nobody has all the ideas. You throw out ideas. There's just always a big -- there's a map of the routing and everything, you throw that dart all the time with your idea at the end of it. Sometimes it sticks. Sometimes it wiggles for awhile, and then you construct it and then it's obvious that the bunkers that you planned is on the left side, but it should be on the right side. You make that change. Sometimes your ideas, you say to yourself, why did I even say that? That was stupid. That doesn't make sense.

A plan was shared and I have a copy, posted below. It's not going to bowl you over in the sense that the course will remain very similar to what is there now, perhaps missing a few opportunities to better incorporate the sage scrub canyon edges. But it's very exciting in the sense that it is respectful of the existing layout, which is still a wonderful, playable, interesting course.  We'll see how the bunkers and greens are executed, but the bones are being respected.

The only bummer? The dreadful pond added post-William F. Bell is still in front of a new 17th green that will be built behind the current hole.

You can click on this to enlarge, though I can't guarantee clarity (working on that):


Rickie: Monday Clinic In Oceanside After Abu Dhabi Win

Tod Leonard has a nice game story of sorts from Rickie Fowler's youth clinic to kick off Farmers Insurance Open week.

Granted, a pro doing a Monday clinic is not news, except when he flies from halfway around the world to get there following a nice win in the HSBC.

Leonard writes:

The wheels of Fowler’s commercial jet left the ground at 2:30 a.m. in the United Arab Emirates, and when they touched down again nearly 17 hours later in San Francisco early on Monday morning, the buzz in the golf world already had turned to ditching the current “Big Three” by adding another member to the club.

"Fab Four?"

“It’s really cool,” Fowler, 27, said after the clinic he co-hosted with first-year PGA Tour pro Hunter Stewart. “It’s somewhere that I haven’t been before. To be inside that top five is pretty special.”

And he addressed the high-tops, which he wore to the clinic in shorts.

“The jinx is off,” Fowler told the kids.

“It’s amazing,” he later added, “about how much talk there is. Whether it’s good or bad, it doesn’t matter. As long as they’re talking about it.”


Forward Press: LPGA Kick-Off, PGA Show Coverage

In this week's edition I speak to LPGA Commissioner Mike Whan about the refreshingly status quo state of the LPGA Tour after years of new events, new lineups and too much sponsor turnover.

Things are so improved for the tour that its number one star is not playing the opener and no one seems to mind because Whan has arranged plenty of playing opportunities.

Also covered: the PGA Show, Farmers Insurance Open and the mysterious Singapore Open where Jordan Spieth is turning up to cash a big check and build on the fatigue that threatens to mess up his year if he isn't careful (we discussed this surprising and not-surprising revelation on Morning Drive).

I'll be curious where PGA Show coverage goes this year after years of secrecy before finally joining the modern world the last few years. In 2015, Callaway was very active online and will be again. Sirius radio will have Matt Adams on hand (with Hank Haney also doing his show from the Show floor). What remains to be seen: how much show coverage is provided by Titleist, Taylor Made and PING. I'll add links if they appear.

The full column here.


Glenn Frey The Golfer

Tim Rosaforte reviews the life of Eagles co-founder Glenn Frey, who passed away last week after a long bout with various cruel diseases.

Frey was very active in the west coast swing pro-ams and at several west coast clubs, including Bel-Air and The Madison Club.

Rosaforte writes:

Brad Faxon and Billy Andrade befriended Frey by playing in the singer’s pro-am in Aspen, Colo. As a return favor, Frey provided entertainment at their charity event every summer in Rhode Island. “Glenn would always say, ‘Ever see me at the piano, I’ve had too much to drink,’ ” Faxon said. “Inevitably he’d be at the piano singing with Joe Pesci.”

Above the desk in Faxon’s office is a photograph of Frey as his caddie in overalls at the Masters Par-3 Contest. Faxon remembers asking Frey why he didn’t start playing golf until the 1990s. “I had to wait,” Frey joked, “until the clothes got better.”

Rosaforte also reminds us that in 2002's Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, Frey "made enough net birdies to win the inaugural Jack Lemmon Award, given to the amateur that helped his pro the most, aiding Stadler 31 shots over 72 holes."

On the charitable side, Dale Strode writes about Frey's fondness for Aspen Junior Golf and his willingness to call in a favor with Tiger Woods.

At the height of his golfing glory, Tiger Woods made a pair of visits to Aspen to fulfill a promise he had made to Glenn Frey.

“Tiger was in his prime then. That was a major coup,” Rohrbaugh said. “Everyone wanted a piece of him. But for us, it was huge.”

Woods’ presence alone raised $400,000 in two years for the charities as benefactors bid to play a round with Tiger Woods in Aspen.


Nantz on Fox-Shark Split: "I am curious."

SI's Richard Deitsch talked to Jim Nantz about many topics, but left out this bit on the Greg Norman-Fox Sports breakup. However, Deitsch posted it in a notes piece.

Nantz explains how good Norman was in the booth whenever he'd finish after a round, making the parting a surprise to him.

So we don’t know what happened there. I am curious. It takes time for people to be together in any sport on the air, to be able to establish continuity and chemistry. When I interview coaches and players, sometimes you can see who is really gifted at rolling out a sound bite and saying it in a way that has never been heard before—interesting ways in making you think. I worked a lot with Greg over the years and I don’t know why they parted ways. I always had a lot of respect for what he offered when he came to his tower.

“I wish Fox well,” Nantz continued. “Unlike the NFL where everyone is broadcasting at the same time during the regular season, the golf season you hand it off. Yes, we [at CBS] have it for the most weeks but we truly want everyone to do well because when it is your week, you are in charge of trying to make the game sound interesting and advance the sport and document it. It is not the competitive craziness that people want to talk about it. I watch other people call golf events and cheer them on and text them and congratulate them when they do good work, which is all the time. It is a different vibe than you might think.”


Video: Student Sinks Full Court Putt Worth...$500!?

Surely the good folks at Franklin Pierce University could find a way to pay student Brandon Knight more than the $500 he won for draining a full court, halftime putt?

Nice job by Connor Foley to capture this and Sportscenter to post it:


Video: Golf Channel's Look At TPC Sawgrass vs. PGA West

There are two ways of looking at Golf Channel's analysis from Gary Koch comparing TPC Sawgrass and PGA West.

You could say that Pete Dye was merely rehashing a proven formula in the desert, or you could say he was cleverly importing his eastern concept, with a western spin for clients who wanted another version of Sawgrass.

Neither answer is wrong. But the look during Sunday's CareerBuilder final round was interesting:


Golfweek On The Growth Of Third Party Tee Time Providers

As the PGA Show gets ready to convene in Orlando and visitors intially regale themselves in discussing when they arrived and where they’re staying, the follow up chit-chat may end up discussing the growing prominence of third party tee time retailers. If they're lucky.

Adam Schupak of Golfweek looks at Golf Now, the Golf Channel-owned enterprise leading a segment of the industry with huge room for growth. The PGA Tour has joined the business and as with most things technological, golf’s consumer base is behind the rest of society. But the catching up is happening.

This was interesting:

Multiple industry observers with knowledge of Golf Channel operations say GolfNow has become the network’s profit center.

No one disputes that third party tee-time providers have created valuable tools, but the trend has become one of the most polarizing subjects in golf, a disruptive force blamed for negatively impacting the value proposition of a round of golf.


R&A: We'll Consider The Shorts Matter, If You Insist

Rex Hoggard got this priceless quote from the R&A on the possibility of shorts in The Open Championship.

Nice to see the folks in St. Andrews have a sense of humor mid-winter.

“While we already have our conditions of entry for the Open at Royal Troon, this is something the Championship Committee will consider in future. It would certainly be a pleasant dilemma to have if the weather here in mid-July is sufficiently warm for shorts to be desirable.”


Jim Nantz Eyes Retirement...At The 2036 Masters

This is assuming (presumptiously) that CBS/ABC/Viacom/ESPN/Google (CAVEG) will still hold the rights in 2036, having fought off a strong effort from NBC/Universal/Apple/GE (NUAG) after Chairman (Brian) Roberts decided it was no longer a conflict to have steered the rights to his former family company (until the Apple/GE takover).

Richard Deitsch talks to the CBS broadcaster as he prepares for another Super Bowl, followed by the NCAA Tournament and then his favorite gig, The Masters.

Oh, and 2036 because that's the 100th anniversary of the Masters...

“So Jack Whitaker if you will gave me a new goal, redefined what I want the back end of my career to look like,” Nantz said. “I know it sounds a little crazy. Here we are in 2016 talking like this. But there are great, iconic voices working in their 70s, churning out quality work. This is all subject to be reexamined but I really want to make it to 2036 health willing and CBS willing. I’d really like to do that for Jack Whitaker.

"I would be 76 years old, but there are broadcasters working at that age and even older. I love what I do. Every show is it’s own challenge and I love it. It will be a hard thing to let go of but that is one thing I would love to be able to achieve one day.”

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