Twitter: GeoffShac
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For what Hogan meant, it's the old story. For those who know golf, no explanation is necessary. For those who don't, no explanation is possible.
JIM MURRAY


    

Thursday
May122016

Officially A Trend? Rory Dons The Joggers!

This is the vital question I pose to Mr. Style Marty Hackel after Rory McIlroy unfurled the furled jogger pants during Players round one.

Are we about to start seeing joggers everywhere? I get Marty to say where he sees things heading and to issue an important warning to those pondering a jogger pant round.

The reaction on social media appeared to lean negative, but not entirely:

 

Wednesday
May112016

Did The Tour Leave As Much As A Billion Dollars On The Table?

As we get ready to kick off another unpredictable Players Championship (Sean Martin on the amazingly wild track records at TPC for top players even those who have played well here), Cameron Morfit talks to a few folks about the challenges facing likely incoming Commissioner Jay Monahan.

In the short term, Morfit outlines how Miami, Trump and the WGC figure to be a huge matter, as will FedEx in 2017 if Commissioner Reset isn't able to secure a new deal before he hands over his NetJets card.

But as I've outlined in a few posts, the tour seems to be building some leverage with television networks for the next deal with various media ventures. Morfit's reporting suggests what I suspected: the tour is operating with a bit of a chip on its shoulder for having been out negotiated by Comcast when signing for 15 years to be on Golf Channel exclusivity with no out clause, even as the network takes on the money losing leftovers like the Web.com and Champions Tours.

Ogilvie, who was on the policy board when the Tour's 15-year deal with Golf Channel was announced in 2006, says Monahan will have to shore up the main TV deal, which he says is costing players money. Ogilvie's assessment is based on recent sports-television deals, specifically the 12-year Fox-USGA pact, which was said to be worth around $100 million a year when it was announced in '13.

"The Tour left $700 million to $1 billion on the table when it did the deal with Golf Channel," Ogilvie says. "There's been astronomical growth since then, and with 20/20 hindsight Comcast got a sweetheart deal. Tim went for what was safe, and you can't fault him for that."

Pre-20/20 hindsight, the deal got all early rounds on TV, which as I recall, was a pretty big deal and has been sensational for the players. No one could have seen rights fees going the way they did, so the tour has nothing to be bitter about. Except that the rights craze may be subsiding and nets like ESPN and Fox are likely not going to be bidding on any golf.

Wednesday
May112016

Topgolf "Strategic Alliance" With PGA Tour And LPGA Tour: Five Ways This Could Be Fun

A newly announced PGA Tour/LPGA Tour/Topgolf "strategic alliance" was announced yesterday and while LPGA Commish Mike Whan appeared to have thought about the possibilities, Commissioner Ben Carson was alarmingly disengaged about possible fun ideas.

Therefore, my suggestions for the alliance at GolfDigest.com for scaling, leveraging, baking and of course, platforming the fast-growing Topgolf brand on the C-level. (That's C as in championship level).

The full press release from the groups.

Wednesday
May112016

Video: Golf.com's Debut Film On Golf And Life In Rio

Golf.com is getting into the short documentary world and debuts with a film on golf and life in Rio called, "A Beautiful Game."

Part of the pitch:

Brazil does not have deep golfing roots, but it does have Breno Domingos, a 19-year-old from the humble village of Japeri who has overcome long odds to ascend to the top of Brazil’s amateur ranks. The film tells the tale of Breno’s unlikely rise while also exploring the rest of Brazil’s golfing landscape.

Ritter also files this accompanying story. The film is about 17 minutes...

Wednesday
May112016

2016 U.S. Open: Tickets For All But Saturday Still Available

As I recall, Thursday was the last day to sell out last year, but it seems late in the game for the weekend to have been (and be) available.

For Immediate Release:

SATURDAY SELLOUT:
LIMITED TICKETS REMAIN FOR U.S. OPEN CHAMPIONSHIP
AT OAKMONT COUNTRY CLUB

FAR HILLS, N.J. (May 11, 2016) – The United States Golf Association has announced that all Saturday daily ticket options for the 116th U.S. Open Championship at Oakmont (Pa.) Country Club have sold out, including gallery and upgraded Trophy Club tickets.

The 2016 U.S. Open Championship, conducted annually by the USGA and considered golf’s ultimate test, will be staged at the historic Pittsburgh-area course from June 16-19. An international field of the world’s top golfers will begin formal practice rounds at Oakmont starting on Monday, June 13.

Tickets for Thursday, Friday and Sunday championship rounds remain, but are expected to sell out quickly. The full list of purchasing options, starting with $50 practice-round tickets Monday through Wednesday, can be viewed exclusively at usopen.com or usga.org/tickets.

Each buyer can purchase up to four tickets for each day. All tickets include access to complimentary parking and shuttle transportation to and from the championship entrance.

Juniors age 12 and younger will be admitted free of charge any day when accompanied by an adult ticket holder. Gallery tickets for juniors ages 13 to 17 will be available for purchase on-site at a reduced rate of $20 for practice rounds and $40 for championship-round days. See usopen.com for complete details and restrictions.

Active military personnel receive complimentary gallery tickets for Monday-Wednesday practice rounds; retired military and their family members can purchase tickets at a reduced rate on-site. Military tickets cannot be purchased in advance.

The U.S. Open has sold out for 29 consecutive years, and the 2016 U.S. Open, the record ninth to be conducted at Oakmont Country Club, promises to be no exception.

Wednesday
May112016

Today In Zika Virus: It's Rio Bound!

Cameron Morfit of golf.com wrote about yesterday's uneventful Olympic press conference involving Commissioner's Tim Finchem and Mike Whan, along with Caroline Masson of Germany and Leo DiCaprio of The Revenant Graham DeLaet of Canada.

Finchem did not downplay the growing issue of the Zika virus and schedule compaction, nor did the players who said it definitely on the minds of players.

Morfit points out, however, that the situation is not getting positive reviews.

"Brazil's Zika problem is inconveniently not ending," wrote Amir Attaran, a professor at the School of Epidemiology, Public Health and Preventive Medicine at the University of Ottawa, in TIME. "The outbreak that began in the country's northeast has reached Rio de Janeiro, where it is flourishing. Clinical studies are also mounting that Zika infection is associated not just with pediatric microcephaly and brain damage, but also adult conditions such as Guillain-Barre syndrome and acute disseminated encephalomyelitis, which are debilitating and sometimes fatal. Simply put, Zika infection is more dangerous, and Brazil's outbreak more extensive, than scientists reckoned a short time ago."

The article questions the wisdom of enabling a mass migration of some 500,000 foreign tourists into the heart of an epidemic in Rio.

And back out into the rest of the world! I hear LA is fabulous in August for an Olympic Games.

Wednesday
May112016

Video: Tiger's 16th Hole Masters Chip-In, Lego Edition

Lords of Augusta knows how many media violations this encompasses, but how could anyone not love this (well, except Chris DiMarco).

In your life have you seen anything like that? #TigerWoods #VerneLundquist #PGA

A video posted by Jared Jacobs (@goldyeller) on

Wednesday
May112016

ShackHouse Episode 6: The Players Preview!

Joe House joins me to discuss the state of The Players, "The Selling of Jordan Spieth", the SI Players poll, our picks for the week, House's Draft Kings six, and more!

As always, you can subscribe on iTunes and find Episode 6 there.

Same deal with Soundcloud for the show, and Episode 6 is here.

And the Stitcher page.

Special thank you to our sponsor Callaway, currently offering a 50% discount on iron trade-ins.

Thanks to DraftKings for continued support and Helix, offering a nice discount to ShackHouse listeners on a new mattress!

Wednesday
May112016

Fighting Words! “We’re Berckmans only better."

Adam Schupak reports that the PGA Tour has turned the TPC Sawgrass' 777,000 square foot Farquaad Castle and Outlet Mall into a high-end hospitality chalet with the goal of match the Masters' three-year-old super-discreet Berckman's Place.

Oh wait, I'm sorry, the PGA Tour says it's already better than Billy Payne's believe-it-only-when-you-see it high-end hospitality.

Or so The Players' tournament director Matt Rapp says.

When told that some have called the TPC’s version Berckmans Lite, Rapp replied, “We’re Berckmans only better. You can actually see golf from our venues.”

The concept was a few years in the works in recognition of a lack of a premium experience. And by premium they mean pricy – tickets cost $5,000 per person and are purchased on a per weekly ticket basis with individually issued tickets Tuesday-Sunday that can be transferred each day to another individual. The fact is ticketholders get an awful lot for their money. The finest in modern amenities include everything from valet parking to food and beverage to exclusive on-course viewing areas. Ladies can get a manicure, blowout and makeup makeover; there are hot shaves and haircuts for the men. Throw in a $500 gift card to the clubhouse golf shop or two other merchandise locations on course and access to a personal shopper, and it starts to look like a downright bargain.

Easy there, big guy. How about high-powered binoculars to see the players on the range, about the only golf you can actually see from the clubhouse?

Attendance has been guess-timated and guessti-firmed at 500, which generally means more like 250.

“You’re not far off,” Rapp said of the 500 figure. “We deliberately wanted to keep it low. You only get one chance to make a first impression and we want to wow people with the experience.”

In 2014, 22,000 spectators trudged through the clubhouse during the course of the week. Last year, in advance of The Players Club, clubhouse passes were reduced by 70 percent by transitioning them to other venues.

“The old clubhouse experience was a circus,” Rapp said. “Honestly, it smelled in there.”

Now it just smells like money!

Wednesday
May112016

Vijay Vs. PGA Tour Heating Up!

Pete Madden at golf.com has the lowdown on some sensational courtroom drama in Vijay's lawsuit vs. the PGA Tour, including Vijay's push to expose player names.

The judge is listening...

"I basically think that everything should be public," Bransten said. "If you’re saying that this was a habit on the part of the Tour to do it this way, I have to be able to bring in results."

She suggested that instead of identifying an offender by name, an anonymous golfer could be referred to as "Person A."

Whew, said the offenders.

This sounded fun...

Bransten's opinion ended a terse exchange between Ginsberg and Dreyer that turned into a profanity-laced confrontation in the hall outside the courtroom after the conference was adjourned. The two lawyers stood toe-to-toe trading barbs for several minutes until Dreyer stalked away.

Tuesday
May102016

Video: PGA Tour Pros Save Baby Birds, Too

Tony Ziegler was working with Greg Owen during his practice round at TPC Sawgrass today for the Players Championship and posted this:


Walking off the 16 th tee with Greg and Brandt Snedeker when a baby blue jay falls out of a tree, tries to fly across a pond only to make it half way across. What does the 6'5 210 lb big man do? Jump in and save the bird of course!! ‪#‎bigheart‬ ‪#‎animallover‬

Monday
May092016

Forward Press: Players Better Than Most! Better Than Most!

The 15th anniversary of Gary Koch's memorable call arrives and the phrase carries a little more meaning as The Players continues to aim high as a tournament.

No, not the fifth major nonsense, but as a 21st century tournament taking golf spectating to a new level. As I lay out in this week's Forward Press (with TV times! Joel Beall has the key tee times here), there are several interesting endeavors we'll learn more about in Commissioner Czervik's final Players before handing the keys to the Taj Tim to Jay Monahan.

Other than the silly price to park, the innovations are very fan friendly and exciting. Plus, there are all sorts of leveraging plays if you're into the First World's negotiating ploys.

Speaking of the famous call, Sean Martin at PGATour.com talks to Koch about the call and the various ways he hears it from fans.

PGATOUR.COM: How often do you hear about that call?

GARY KOCH: “I hear about it, surprisingly, quite a bit. Even yesterday, I’m down getting coffee in the hotel lobby at 6:45 in the morning. I’m wearing a pair of shorts and a T-shirt. A guy comes up to me and says, ‘Better than most! Better than most!’ And I said, ‘Yes sir, thank you.’ He goes, ‘I use it as the motto for my pee-wee baseball team that I coach every year.’ You know, that’s kind of cool. That’s kind of nice that people remember it and appreciate it.”

Monday
May092016

Willett! The Masters Champ Is (Finally) Back

We've been spoiled in recent times by Masters winners hitting the talk show circuit, showing up at drive-thru sporting the jacket and in general, living up their win.

Danny Willett went home to Yorkshire and played very little golf, and as Gary Williams and I discussed, his upcoming schedule should get him some nice starts before the U.S. Open. Still, it's been odd to have a quiet Masters winner and it's nice to get him back at The Players.

Monday
May092016

Golden State Warriors: "Golf is a big part of the team culture"

We know the head coach, the star and two key players love golf, so it's nice to see SI's Alan Shipnuck round out the story of the Golden State Warriors and how golf is an important part of the team culture.

Shipnuck writes...

"Golf is a big part of the team culture," Iguodala told me at the team's practice facility in Oakland. He's only been playing for about two years, but is a self-described "junkie." He can rattle off the top five players in the world—female players. He hits the range every non-game day, and routinely shows up at practice in his golf togs. A fast learner, he shot a nifty 86 at Augusta, but he's quick to add, "I've got a long ways to go to catch up to that guy."

"That guy" is Curry. On this day, he was engaged in a putting contest on the hardwood with Lydia Ko, who had dropped by a Warriors shoot-around as part of an LPGA publicity tour. "I haven't seen Steph that excited in a while," said a Golden State front-office official. "And if he's excited, then all of us get excited."

Curry grilled Ko on everything from the degrees of loft on her wedges to the tenets of the "A Swing," the method promulgated by her teacher, David Leadbetter. Little wonder the NBA's reigning MVP calls himself "a golf nerd."

Monday
May092016

30 Years For 30 Years Of Water: Pasatiempo

Jason Scott Deegan at GolfAdvisor.com with splendid news from Santa Cruz: after 30 years of trying to secure a long term water source, Alister MacKenzie's Pasatiempo Golf Club has a 30-year agreement to use recycled city water that was otherwise headed to the sea.

He writes that it won't be cheap to secure the future of a MacKenzie masterpiece:

Hoyt says the financial implications of the deal will be difficult on the club in the short term. He says Pasatiempo will pay for the entire cost of the water up front -- $1.6 million spread over the next five years -- leaving no payments the final 25 years of the agreement. The club has also taken out a loan to pay for an $8-million project to build a 500,000-gallon storage tank and its own pumping and filtration station. Ground will be broken May 17 with scheduled completion in May 2017.

Monday
May092016

Rickie Week At The Players Means...Long Form Stories!?

The lone negative of Rickie Fowler winning the 2015 Players in unbelievable fashion?

The youth-obsessed PGA Tour has bequeathed second-coming-of-Christ status on the week, riding Rickie like Kent Desormeaux on Exaggerator trying to catch Nyquist. Promos, more promos and undoubtedly on site "activation" that'll have his face plastered everywhere but on the ice sculpture in the Commissioner's buffet.

However, the win also allowed for a fascinating move into long form journalism, with D.J. Piehowski filing a lengthy profile and interactive piece for PGATour.com that's well worth a look. Just one highlight from the bio portion of the project that also includes graphics, embedded video and other goodies:

Rickie started to practice and play tournaments regularly, but on Wednesdays, he’d hit balls with his grandfather and hear stories about Taka's childhood, during which he was forced into a World War II internment camp for people of Japanese heritage.

Those moments with the man who introduced him to golf are the reason Rickie (whose middle name is Yutaka) cried after losing the Waste Management Phoenix Open in a playoff in February. It wasn’t because he missed out on a PGA TOUR victory; golfers lose far more tournaments than they win. It was because his grandfather, one of the 618,000 fans at TPC Scottsdale, had never seen him win in person.

Those moments led to Rickie getting his grandfather’s name tattooed in Japanese on the inside of his left bicep last year. They led to school projects and reports about Yutaka’s experience in the internment camp.

“I’ve never heard my dad talk about it and I’ve never heard Rickie talk about it,” Lynn says. “I think it’s possible Rickie could be the first person my dad gave those stories to.”

The epic Sunday finish also opened the door for Garry Smits to get more than a few inches of space in the Florida Times-Union to focus on Fowler's three times around the 17th hole.

On a day of extraordinary shot-making and putting from multiple contenders, Fowler’s three turns at No. 17 made the difference in his playoff victory over Kevin Kisner and Sergio Garcia to win the Players — and will be the defining moments in his victory, and to date, the most scintillating final round in tournament history.

A couple of nice meaty long-form stories got me to wondering where you feel we are with stories over say, 2000 words? With the reduction in print subscriptions and consumption, it was thought that long form could survive because the Internet was not worried about space. But then we realized that it's hard to hold attention spans online or on mobile devices.

Yet it seems to me that of late, more publications have been trying to bring back the long read, often with a dedicated sponsor. A few informal questions if you feel compelled...

A) Do you long for long form reads about golf related topics?

B) Do you reward a publication that publishes them with some clicks or a subscription? Or not think much about that?

C) Do you notice a sponsor if a story is brought to you by one advertiser?

D) Do any recent long form reads stand out as memorable?

Thanks class, happy Monday!

 

Sunday
May082016

Kisner v. Palmetto Resolved: Players Runner-up Welcome Back

Maybe it was the site of half-naked millennials climbing on carts in between tequila shots that softened the blow, or maybe it was just the negative publicity, but either way, Kevin Kisner is back at his beloved Palmetto Golf Club. After a suspension for cart racing, Kisner and friends were given some time off, but Alan Blondin reports that Kisner has been welcomed back now, just in time for the defense of his outstanding runner-up 2015 Players finish.

Blondin writes:

He said he has been playing and practicing at the club since he was a child and is building a house on a fairway.

“I’m back in,” he said. “It was short-lived after we had a few discussions and cooler heads prevailed, I think. I haven’t been there, but I’m allowed in. It was super odd. I was totally blindsided by it. I think we’ve learned and we’ll move past it.”

Sunday
May082016

New Wentworth Row Surfaces! Residents Vs. European Tour 

The world's top first world dispute continues in a new form, with residents of Wentworth battling BMW PGA Championship organizers over feels paid for use of land around the course now owned by a wealthy third party.

Robert Mendick of The Telegraph reports on the latest row involving the home of the European Tour's flagship event.

Currently, the European Tour, which organises the tournament, pays just £14,000 a year for the right to use the land for the golf tournament.

But the Wentworth Estate Roads Committee (WERC), which runs the private estate on behalf of residents through an act of parliament, wants in the region of £300,000 a year.

It made clear that the Wentworth Club membership dispute had soured relations and prompted the new wrangle.

This sounds fun...

The WERC has deployed security teams who have blocked the bridges from being built. The refusal to allow the bridges could make broadcasting the event impossible.

The residents’ committee has also officially complained that advertising and sponsorship hoardings are being put up without the necessary permission and that the event has become too big and causes too much disruption.

Sunday
May082016

Video Reminder: They’re Called Snapping Turtles For A Reason

Just a shame God's tortured creature here didn't land a nice, bruising, bleeding bite...

 

Sunday
May082016

Danny Willett Says He Hasn't Heard From "Old Queenie"

Michael Vaughn talks to Masters Champion Danny Willett, who has been off the golfing world's radar for nearly a month since winning Green Jacket.

Besides adding a little more perspective since the win, Willett tells The Telegraph about not wanting others to try on the jacket and who he's heard from. This might have dented his short term knighthood prospects...

“But there’s been lots of nice stuff. The Prime Minister sent me a letter which was cool. Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer sent me letters and so did John Jacobs.”

Have you had one from Barack Obama? “No, I've not heard from the President of America yet - nor old Queenie. Still waiting for that one, bless her.”

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