Twitter: GeoffShac
Writing And Videos

It doesn't seem as glamorous to me as the Crosby I used to watch on TV. A lot of the old movie stars and amateur regulars are no longer around. They've been replaced by briefcases, friends and neighbors of briefcases, and celebrities like Bumpy Weems, a popular comedian, who about as funny to me as a terrorist with a gun pointed at my head.
DAN JENKINS as Bobby Joe Grooves

 

    

Monday
Jan252016

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.”

Monday
Jan252016

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.”

Sunday
Jan242016

USGA Pace Of Play Study Moving Slowly But Surely

My GolfDigest.com report from the USGA Pace of Play Symposium also appears in Golf World. The takeaway: the USGA hasn't dialed in its numbers and presented a definitive white paper in nearly two years. How dare they?

Nope, it's darned exciting, is what it is!

Instead of another golf organization trying to "grow" the game or help operators maximize profits, the effort to study pace of play is morphing into other sustainability efforts with the hopes of a stronger end effort. So while the focus isn't crystal clear yet, the initial data, research and input from some great minds could ultimately make these efforts the best thing the USGA has ever done. Throw in the joint effort with the University of Minnesota to create a golf course lab and we may actually see some progress in the war on short-sighted course management.

Anyway, my overview, with more to come on this year's testing of the flagstick measuring device unveiled last week.

Sunday
Jan242016

Video: On The Rocks, Jason Dufner Wins In The Desert

If you were watching football instead of golf, you missed a great finish at PGA West aided by the fearsome finishing stretch masterminded by Pete Dye. The PGA Tour's final round highlight package can be viewered here.

In his game story for the Desert Sun, Larry Bohannan focuses on what was easily the highlight of the day, and almost became the greatest shot in Hope Classic CareerBuilder Challenge history.

Dufner survived a perilous pitch shot from a precarious spot on the island green at the 17th hole of TPC Stadium Course at PGA West, rolled in a tough-as-nails par putt to extend the playoff and then made a routine par on the second playoff hole to defeat Lingmerth for the title.
It was Dufner’s fourth PGA Tour win, but his first since taking the 2013 PGA Championship.

And it’s a win he knows was a bit fortunate.

“It was probably like one in like 50 million that that ball ends up there,” Dufner laughed over his good fortune that his tee shot on the 17th didn’t finish in the water or an unplayable lie. “But I'll take it. I'll take it. Some guy won the Powerball a couple weeks ago, he'll take it, right?”

The shot:

Sunday
Jan242016

Sources: Hall Of Fame Not Working On A Rickie Fowler Bust Yet

Going off of the social media reaction to Rickie Fowler's solid HSBC win, the number of Big Four references and other superlatives didn't really quite do justice to the lad, whose Players win last year was infinitely more significant.

But I get it, the Masters isn't far off, we have four millennials in the world top 4 and he's wearing Flashdance-era high tops. What's not to love. Well, maybe those hideous shoes. But if you play golf like he does, who cares.

Derek Lawrenson reminds us in his Daily Mail story from Abu Dhabi of what Rickie's peers thought of him a year ago: most overrated on the PGA Tour. Oops!

A more interesting development may be Fowler's deep-closer style. While Spieth and McIlroy have tended to be early speed horses, Fowler seems to be a little slower to get going like he was this week, but closes with a deep rush that makes his style pretty thrilling to consider (assuming it happens at a major, too).

Jason Sobel explored this side of Fowler's style.

Call it the clutch gene or a learned trait, but it's no coincidence. We can safely proclaim that he thrives under pressure.

None of which is to say that Jordan Spieth or Jason Day or Rory McIlroy -- the only three players in the world who will be ranked ahead of Fowler come Monday morning -- aren't similarly clutch. Each of them has won major championships, a fact which alone speaks volumes of their ability to close under pressure.

A related fact -- that Fowler hasn't yet won one -- is the usual cry from critics who still, somehow, doubt his talents.

While Fowler himself is the first to insist that he doesn't belong in a conversation with the so-called modernized "Big Three" because he doesn't have a major, it should be noted that he hasn't exactly flamed out in these tournaments, either. Prior to turning 27 last month, he posted a half-dozen top-10s at majors, including results of fifth or better at each of them two years ago.

In case you missed it, Alex Myers at GolfDigest.com has embeds of Rickie's two clutch final round hole-outs.

Sunday
Jan242016

Jordan Spieth: “I’m very tired."

At 22, many have scoffed that Jordan Spieth would ever get tired crossing the globe contending in golf tournaments. And while the weight of taking home massive checks in Abu Dhabi and Singapore is clearly a burden that all would like to have, no amount of money can soften the blow of time zone changes and chasing appearance fees. Especially when your cerebral, grinding playing style is, in large part, energy-based and easily compromised when you are not 100%.

But in refreshing Spieth-eque fashion, the fall and wintertime globetrotter made clear after his final round in Abu Dhabi that he's zonked despite a T5 finish. Alistair Tait reports for Golfweek.com:

“It won’t be something I’ll do in the future, to bounce back and forth from Asia as much as we did, or Australia,” Spieth said here Sunday. “I’m very tired. As a team we’re beat up mentally and physically. I’m not 100 percent right now. It shows in certain places.”

Spieth tied for fifth at 11-under 277, five shots behind countryman Rickie Fowler. Spieth probably would have put up a better fight if he’d had his A game with him.

“The first day I was here, I was striping it,” Spieth said. “Since then I have been a little weak, and my decision-making has been off.”

It's impressive that he recognizes how his game was compromised. Though I'm guessing his agent won't find Jordan's conclusion and decision to share it publicly quite so appealing.

Saturday
Jan232016

Gleneagles Kings To Get Braid Restorative Touches

Paul Reoch reports that the vaunted King's Course at Gleneagles, a 1919 James Braid design, will enjoy restoration efforts in advance of its 100th birthday.

I'm not sure it's a masterpiece, but it certainly should be hosting any events Gleneagles acquires (but isn't).

From Reoch's report:

They include re-aligning selected fairways to return them to Braid’s design, bringing several bunkers back into play, and reinstating heather stands around the course.

The installation of the latest bunker drainage and lining technology, as well as an extensive aeration and sanding programme, will be undertaken.

Scott Fenwick, Gleneagles golf courses and estate manager, said the aim was to return the King’s Course “closer” to Braid’s original vision.

He said: “We’ll widen the approaches to some of the green complexes to enable traditional pitch and run shots to be played, reintroduce tighter mown turf on green surrounds and reshape the bunkers and raise the sand lines."

Saturday
Jan232016

Shark Speaks: Fox Is Now In "Tough Position" Without Me

Alan Bastable gets Greg Norman on the line to discuss his firing as Fox Sports' lead golf analyst.

Norman says Fox will struggle without him and the great chemistry he helped build.

"I think Joe Buck is actually now in a tough position, because we became great friends and I believe we had a great foundation," Norman said. "The whole team really had a good chemistry, so I think it will be a challenge to recreate the formula. I am certain Fox has someone in mind already."

Saturday
Jan232016

Video: Motorcross Star And Friends Pull Of Fun Backyard Shot

Motorcrosser Taylor Robert says, "When your buddy casually tosses you a Red Bull and there is a random guy playing golf in the background 😳😳😳 Good times messing around with @pat_smage and @russellgrove777 in my backyard yesterday."

Okay, so it was a little more orchestrated than that. Big points for the creativity and execution of this, though I could think of easier ways to hit a ball and drink a Red Bull.

 

Saturday
Jan232016

Rory Quietly Tries Out Bryson's Clubs

Alistair Tait says Rory McIlroy gave amateur Bryson DeChambeau's clubs a try. McIlroy apparently tried the same-length irons in DeChambeau's bag before their third round pairing, surreptitiously.

From Tait's item:

“I was having a little go with his clubs this morning,” McIlroy said, before admitting he’d done it surreptitiously. “He doesn’t know that. It’s obviously a technique that’s all his own and he’s got a pretty interesting background. He’s obviously a great player, plays really, really well and playing well this week.

“Apart from that, I don’t really know much about him except that he’s much smarter than I am.”

Friday
Jan222016

Tom Watson Shoots One Below His Age With...A BB-8 Ball!?

Heading into Saturday's Mitsubishi Electric Saturday final round, Tom Watson is two back after posting a 7-under par 65, one better than his age. Watson hasn't won on the Champions Tour since 2011 and chases Duffy Waldorf, Davis Love, Tom Pernice and Tom Lehman.

Even better, he did it with what Mark Rolfing called a "FIFA ball" during round one when Watson dropped a long putt.


According to ClubUpGolf, it's Callaway's Truvis pattern technology which AJ Voepel explains "is specifically designed to maximize your view of the golf ball for better focus and visibility."

FIFA, Truvis, eh, I prefer the BB-8 vibe picked up by Stewart Armstrong:

Friday
Jan222016

Video: Chesson's Bounce Back Eagle For The Ages

In the second round of the 2016 CareerBuilder Challenge, Chesson Hadley’s second shot from the rocks goes into the water. He makes a 21-foot putt for double bogey on the par-3 island green 17th:

Ah but let this be a patience listen to you young Jedi's. The next hole:

Thursday
Jan212016

PGA Tour: No Plans To Cave On The Shorts Issue

And I say, you go Tim Finchem!

Alistair Tait quotes PGA Tour spokesman Ty Votaw on the issue of players wanting to wear shorts in tournaments:

"We are aware of the European Tour's change in policy that allows players to wear shorts at certain events during practice and pro-am rounds. The PGA Tour's policy remains unchanged. Players are required to wear long pants when playing practice, pro-am and official competition rounds."

With 773 of you voting, a resounding 64% said pro golfers should be allowed to wear shorts to 36% of you who I agree with.

Thursday
Jan212016

Zac Blair: "Eat, sleep, golf, repeat"

I'm catching up on some post-Sony reading and it was nice to see solid features from Sean Martin and Tim Rosaforte on Zac Blair, a real likeable chap who has gotten the golf architecture bug.

From Rosaforte's item, a strong endorsement from legendary looper Andy Martinez:

With no status, Blair played his way on the PGA Tour’s Latinoamérica and Canadian circuits, ultimately needing a second-place finish at the Web.com Tour Championship to lock down a tour card.

“It was a long 15 months, kind of always on the bubble, in that zone where you never know,” Jimmy said. “He just had to keep grinding through it.”

Having Andy Martinez, Miller’s former caddie, on the bag, helped Blair deal with the grind of being in the last group on Sunday with proven-winner Brandt Snedeker and FedEx Cup points leader Kevin Kisner in contention. While coming up a stroke shy of the playoff between winner Fabian Gomez and Brandt Snedeker, Blair’s best career finish on tour brought with it confidence.

“This won’t be the last time he’s in contention,” Martinez said. “I expect to be knocking on the door a lot of times with this guy.”

And from Martin, Blair's interest in golf and architecture:

Then there are the marathon days of golf. Zac is usually the one to call for an E9, or emergency nine, to extend the day's play. He hasn’t slowed much, even though his 34 starts were the second-most in the 2014-15 season. He also squeezed in recreational rounds at Pine Valley, Cypress Point, The Country Club of Brookline and Los Angeles Country Club during tournament weeks in 2015. That's a list that would make even the most privileged player envious.

Like his father, Zac wants to do more than play, though.

He's looking for land in Utah on which to build his dream course, a layout that will draw off the design principles of architecture’s golden age. He wants to build a course that's wide enough for high handicappers while challenging better players to make strategic decisions.

“I think Utah deserves a course that has those principles of the old architects,” Zac said, citing Mackenzie, MacDonald, Seth Raynor and Harry Colt as his inspirations. “You have to think your way around those courses.”

Thursday
Jan212016

Video: Trick Shot Proves Someone's Been Doing Core Work

Ok, just standing on one of those medicine balls is a nice feat.

The rest of Kevin Carpenter's trick shot is mighty impressive...(H/T to Golfweek's Kevin Casey):

 

Thursday
Jan212016

Jack At 76: Hitting The Sweet Spot

Jaime Diaz reflects on the state of birthday boy Jack Nicklaus.

Thirty years (!) after his last major and far removed from hiccups in his business career, Diaz admires the combination of business empire and aging gracefully that is the Golden Bear.

In light of Tiger's recent decline and the reduction of career longevity for today's pros, I found this particularly profound:

The magic, multi-tiered word at the heart of Nicklaus’ feats has always been “management” -- of the golf course, of his psyche, of his life. Through his prime and beyond, he was criticized for not playing enough tournaments. His devotion to family was the main reason, but he also trusted an intuitive sense for marshaling his energy. No one else has won major championships over a 24-year span.

Thursday
Jan212016

Bryson DeChambeau: "I'm a golfing scientist, so I don’t take it with any emotion."

Bryson DeChambeau's impressive 64 to open his first European Tour start has the current U.S. Amateur champion atop the HSBC leaderboard.

His accomplishment relegated DeChambeau to footnotes in the Telegraph and Guardian game stories, and DeChambeau came off nicely in his post round comments to Golf Channel.

John Huggan says DeChambeau went a bit far though in post round comments, though it's hard to fault the lad for having some confidence after beating some of the world's best. Oh, and golfing recently with two of the world's biggest celebrities (here and here).

Which is the point where he should have stopped. But DeChambeau did not. Oh no. Before he was done there was a hole to dig -- a big hole, comparing himself to first to a genuine genius, then America’s first president.

“You look at trends in humanity and most like following the norm,” he continued. “But you’ve also got people like Einstein and George Washington; they stood out and capitalized on their differences and showed the world a little different side.”

Round one video highlights here.

Thursday
Jan212016

Jordan Spieth Is Introduced To The "Monitoring" Penalty

I didn't even have a chance to study the European Tour's new slow play policy before the great John Paramor was not only implementing "monitoring", but going after the World No. 1.

Rex Hoggard on Morning Drive explained what happened during round one of the HSBC in Abu Dhabi. And the crew discussed it as well, deciding this is a positive step for golf.

In looking at the policy, the price for a "monitoring" penalty is pretty steep for your average European Tour player. For Spieth? The lost €2,600 probably isn't going to be noticed by Spieth after buying his second home in a year and receiving a nice appearance fee this week.

From John Huggan's report, Spieth took it in stride but also suggested there may be a bit of a loophole in the policy.

“I understand that, if we are being timed and I take too long I get a bad time. I understand the rule,” Spieth continued. “But it doesn’t make sense when we had caught up and were going off the clock. It had no effect on the round. It’s a bit of a grey area. John Paramor was very respectful though. My thing was not to fight it there and go about finishing my round. But I will be asking. I just don’t want to be worrying about it in future rounds.”

From the European Tour's website:

“Monitoring” by referees will take place as soon as a group has been seen to be out of position. All Players will be notified that they are to be “Monitored” but the “Monitoring” will not be part of a player’s record.

• However, any player exceeding the time permitted for a stroke (40 seconds with additional 10 seconds if first to play) while being “Monitored” will be assessed a “Monitoring Penalty”.

• Any player having a “Monitoring Penalty” will be “Timed” from the next tee unless the group has regained its position.

• If a “Monitored” group loses further time, the group or those players within the group who are deemed to be the cause of the delay will be timed.

• If a “Monitored” group fails to gain time, the official will decide whether to continue “Monitoring” or alternatively, commence timing. All players will be so informed.

A “Monitoring Penalty” will have the same status as a “Bad Time” except it will not count towards any golfing penalty.  A player having either two “Monitoring Penalties” or “Bad Times” or a combination, will be fined €2,600 (or the sterling equivalent of £2,000) rising by €2,600 (or the sterling equivalent of £2,000) for each successive “Monitoring Penalty” or “Bad Time”.

Additionally, any player who is seen to have taken twice the Time Permitted for a stroke (80 seconds or 100 seconds if first to play), will be assessed a “Monitoring Penalty” whether the player’s group was in position or not.

Got all of that?

I'm all for speeding things up, but on day one of your most watched event in some time, might be a bit overkill. Especially when the course is setup with absurd rough that does nothing to speed up play.

Wednesday
Jan202016

Tradition Unlike Any Other: Blaming Tradition

We've all done it: blamed tradition.

When the European Tour opened up the dreaded shorts vs. pants debate by granting waivers and allowing their members to wear shorts in pro-am play, I knew "tradition" would be a target.

Sure, the word gets overused and often is hidden behind by those up to no good. But the debate about pro golfers wearing shorts is not a tradition vs. progress topic.

James Corrigan disagrees.

Golf is never in a worse light than when it is cast in the smog caused by tradition being mixed with pomposity.

The tradition should be extolled; the pomposity excommunicated.

Just because golf did it once does not mean it should still be done today. This is a ball sport which has been affected by the advances in technology perhaps more than any other, but in terms of perception it has been depressingly rooted.

For so long the powers-that-be refused to recognise the necessity to go forwards and kidded themselves and their audience with all this "tradition" claptrap.

They summarily dismissed the opinion that children were being put off by the perception of the old man's pursuit and, as regards participation, woefully failed to capitalise on the gift that was Tiger Woods.

Pro golfers wearing pants has nothing to do with tradition and everything to do with aesthetics.

When you're at a pro golf event and you hear spikes, you will turn to find a well-dressed, pressed and fitted person probably clad in one-too-many logos. But you'll also have no doubt you are seeing a professional in his/her arena. A gladiator of sorts, in their arena. One that we have paid to come see perform.

Athletes should stand out and look impressive. They shouldn't dress look like the rest of us. Pants on a golfer, for whatever reason, add a certain gravitas. Golfers wearing shorts have no chance of standing out and, contrary to claims, do not appear to be more athletic by exposing their legs. Instead, they look like they're late for their 1:20 tee time at any old course, not The Old Course.

So while I certainly can respect the view that it's time to push aside the pant aesthetic, I can't agree that demands by administrators to wear them has anything to do with tradition. It is, as the kids say, what it is. We just know class when we see it. This isn't classy or particularly athletic:

Wednesday
Jan202016

And Now Hyundai Is Officially In At Riviera

Tod Leonard reports the expected news following yesterday's announcement of Northern Trust heading east for a playoff event, Hyundai is moving in on Riviera's annual February stop.

The length of the deal was not specified, though sources close to Hyundai say its a 10-year agreement. Having a local company invested for that long and one that is thriving should inject more life right off the bat. And as Nissan proved with its successful tenure here, LA is a car town. So the fit could not be better. Throw in the occasional hole-in-one at 16, and a Rich Beem reaction, and the partnership should be a home run.

Note in the press release that Hyundai's CEO mentions CBS in his engineered quote. For Immediate Release:

Hyundai Announces PGA TOUR Tournament Sponsorship in Los Angeles

FOUNTAIN VALLEY, Calif., and PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. (January 20, 2016) – The PGA TOUR and Hyundai announced today an agreement commencing in 2017 that will make Hyundai the new title sponsor of the TOUR’s longstanding tournament at Riviera Country Club in Los Angeles.

Hyundai, which has its U.S. headquarters in nearby Fountain Valley, Calif., will be shifting its previous sponsorship from the Tournament of Champions in Hawaii to what currently is the Northern Trust Open.

Yesterday, it was announced that Northern Trust will replace Barclays as title sponsor of the first FedExCup Playoff tournament held annually in the New York/New Jersey area, also beginning in 2017.

“Considering that Hyundai Motor America is headquartered and heavily invested in the greater Los Angeles area, this is a perfect fit for Hyundai’s long-term vision and goals as a tournament sponsor,” said PGA TOUR Commissioner Tim Finchem. “Hyundai is a terrific partner that has actively promoted the Hyundai Tournament of Champions since becoming title sponsor in 2011 and used the event to broaden awareness of its brand and products. We are very excited to continue our relationship with Hyundai and look forward to helping with the transition to Riviera Country Club for 2017.”

“The PGA TOUR’s Los Angeles tournament is the signature golf event in the country’s second-biggest market, is broadcast nationally on CBS and is located in the backyard of Hyundai’s headquarters in Orange County,” said Dave Zuchowski, president and CEO, Hyundai Motor America. “During the past six years, we’ve continued to expand our relationship with the game of golf and there is no better tournament for us to be associated with. We can’t wait to showcase Hyundai vehicles to the millions of Los Angeles golf fans and those watching on TV and, most importantly, continuing the event’s long history of charitable activities.”

“It’s worth adding that Hyundai had a tremendous six years as title sponsor of the Hyundai Tournament of Champions and helped elevate the stature of the tournament, while making a significant impact on numerous local organizations in Hawaii,” said Zuchowski. “The tournament is in a position of strength and we look forward to watching its continued success.”

An important aspect of Hyundai’s sponsorship of the Tournament of Champions has been its charitable work through Hyundai Hope On Wheels, a national independent 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization committed to helping kids fight cancer. The program is supported by Hyundai Motor America and its more than 830 dealers nationwide. In association with the Hyundai Tournament of Champions, more than $550,000 has been donated to the Kapi‘olani Medical Center for Women & Children.

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