Twitter: GeoffShac
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You might as well praise a man for not robbing a bank as to praise him for playing by the rules. BOBBY JONES


    

Saturday
Jun112016

Lydia Ko Is Going For Three Straight Majors, But Has Company

While she's far from having captured the KPMG Women's PGA Championship at Sahallee, it's already quite incredible that a 19-year-old has a chance to win a third straight major and to do it on a course/landscape/conditions so different than her other wins.

Beth Ann Nichols at Golfweek sets up what should be a wild finish to the LPGA's second major of the year. At least, given that 15 players are within four of Ko's lead. 

Among the chasers is Aryia Jutanugarn, the hottest player on tour following three straight victories and just two shots back.

Bill Fields filed this delightful look at Aryia's love of the extinct 2-iron and her overall shunning of the driver in recent weeks.

A 2-iron is to professional golf what the wolverine is to North America: There aren't many of them left, and it's remarkable when one is spotted.

There has been a rare sighting this week at the KPMG Women's PGA Championship.

Among the considerable talents of Ariya Jutanugarn, the 20-year-old from Thailand who is bidding to become the first LPGA player to win four straight tournaments since Lorena Ochoa in 2008, is her effective use of a 2-iron.

Saturday
Jun112016

Jason Day Says Oakmont Could Set Up For Runaway Victor

Gerry Dulac caught up with Jason Day after the World No. 1's first time around Oakmont and the Aussie is a fan. Day was accompanied by fellow Double Eagle Golf Club member John Kasich, former Ohio governor and presidential candidate.

After talking about how much he likes the course, Day offered this assessment.

Oakmont’s fairways are still receptive from a heavy rain Monday, and Day said that will be a key when the U.S. Open starts — keeping the ball out of the rough and away from the deep fairway bunkers. But, then, he offered a surprisingly different opinion on what could happen.

“If they have it set up like in the past with good [weather] conditions, it will be pretty tough,” Day said. “But you never know. This is the kind of course, there may be a chance where one person can run away with it. You get a guy hot with their longer stuff and hitting a lot of fairways and hitting the right spots on the greens and you give yourself an opportunity and got everything firing, they can kind of run away with it. I’m not saying that’s me but there could be an opportunity for someone to do that.”

Saturday
Jun112016

"There's nothing quite like Oakmont"

Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette sets the table for this week's Oakmont-hosted U.S. Open which benefits from a roster of legendary winners, a proven design, grand setting and a sharp contrast to last year's first-ever lunar national championship.

Dulac writes:

What makes Oakmont so darn difficult?

The simple answer is the greens, arguably the fastest and smoothest in the world. They pitch and tilt like a three-legged table, and stopping a ball on their surfaces is like stopping a marble on a car hood. Mr. Davis said he will keep the speed of the greens the same as 2007, when they registered between 14 and 14.5 on the Stimpmeter, a device that measures the speed of a green. A typical reading for PGA tour events might be about 10 or 11.

When told a week ago of the USGA’s plans, a flabbergasted Mr. Nicklaus said, “Then nobody will finish. It would be a really tough golf course at that speed.”

Andrew Erickson of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review files the necessary Johnny Miller-63 profile and shares some fun stuff, including this:

“I had to go through that little gauntlet of trying to put the hammer down again and finish real strongly,” Miller said. “It's sort of a little legacy. Jack sure had a bigger legacy than I ever dreamed of, but it's nice to have that one round that people remember.”

To Nicklaus, who finished tied for fourth in the 1973 U.S. Open with fellow legends Arnold Palmer and Lee Trevino three strokes back of Miller, it will be remembered as a rare Sunday at a major in which he had little chance to take control.

“He was done before I started, or close to it,” Nicklaus said. “I mean, I was in contention, but he blew right by all the contenders. He left us in the dark.”

In his introduction of his father last week at the Memorial, John Miller Jr. detailed his father's demeanor at the height of his career in the '70s. When the ball would go up after an iron shot, so would one of Miller's hands.

“And the reason why it did is because he knew that thing was stiff before it landed,” Miller Jr. said. “He really just had an ability to hit the ball so close.”

BTW you can follow Gerry's coverage for the hometown paper this week.

Also worth a follow is Erickson, who you can find here.

Friday
Jun102016

Video: Oakmont's 13th & 14th

A beautiful par-3 and shortish par-4 are probably the last chances to attack at Oakmont, but each has its defenses.

The 13th played as the easiest of the four par-3s last time around.


This is a fun drone shot flying up the hole at eye level to start, but I'd love to also see the drone pull up and wide with a bird's eye view of the 14th, which gave up as many birdies as the short par-4 17th in 2007.

Thursday
Jun092016

"Rio isn't ready for its Olympic closeup"

Not the most encouraging report from Golf Digest's Matthew Rudy, who has returned from Rio with...not good news.

Ehh...

It's dangerous to walk around. The water is essentially untreated sewage. The threat from Zika is small but real. Brazil is in the middle of its worst economic downturn in 30 years, and the people just impeached their president for corruption.

But, hey, the exchange rate is terrific. And the golf course? A work of art, transformed from a swampy waste pit by a hundred determined workers trained from scratch by superintendent Neil Cleverly.

It will look amazing on television. Stay home and watch.

Thursday
Jun092016

Buck: “Whatever we did in 2015 will be markedly better in 2016.”

I missed yesterday's Fox conference call and can only rely on what was shared, but it sounds like everyone was pretty positive and humble heading into the network's second U.S. Open. Except of course, Joe Buck!

“Going into last year’s U.S. Open and coming out of last year’s U.S. Open, I’ve never been more proud of an event that we’ve covered at FOX, period. I refuse to come on here and apologize for 2015, that’s ridiculous. The critics who were unkind, that’s not a newsflash, that’s kind of the way of the world and when you start, you’ve got to earn your position. And until you’ve done it, you’ve got no idea what it takes to do that."

That no idea part, I believe, was what Johnny Miller said and you mocked in your opening remarks of the telecast, to a critical lack of acclaim. That's if memory serves.

“What do I take out of it? Besides the satisfaction, I think where I failed most of the time last year was injecting the heart and soul into what these guys were trying to do. I was completely caught up in managing the scoreboard – going from one green to the next, back to a fairway, then to a tee and back to the green where we just saw somebody hit out of the fairway. There’s a lot of moving parts in golf and you make the mistake of thinking going in that it’s going to be slow. It’s actually the opposite. It’s by far the fastest event when you’re sitting in the chair.”

No Joe, don't you go neglecting heart and soul!

As for the actual telecast, it will inevitably improve without Greg Norman. Couple that with Azinger/Faxon/Buck being a much better fit personality wise and with a more manageable golf property for television, the story should be a positive one.

Martin Kaufmann has a preview from the call and what viewers can expect. Judging by the piece, and the news notes on upcoming tech plans, it should be a pretty visually stunning telecast.

As for Buck, The Ringer's Bryan Curtis has filed a terrific profile on Buck that explains why he approaches things the way he does and why he is underappreciated as an announcer.

Curtis will be on next week's ShackHouse to discuss the piece in advance of the U.S. Open.

Wednesday
Jun082016

Shell Ending Third Longest Sponsorship Run In Houston

Aaron Reiss of the Houston Chronicle with a report on Shell ending a 25-year run next April, with only AT&T and Honda having been sponsors of tour events longer.

Negotiations had been ongoing but appear to have broken down with the tough financial times for the oil industry. This leaves the Houston Golf Association and tournament director Steve Timms looking for a new tournament backer.

Timms said negotiations for a sponsorship extension with Shell began last fall. He said the HGA "remained optimistic through the process."

"We know that (the declining oil economy) has an effect locally," Timms said. "Today is the culmination of a lot of people working really hard to try to make it work. You do also kind of get to a point where there's a decision path that has to be culminated. That's where we are today."

The PGA Tour issued a press release that included this confident statement.

The PGA TOUR, working closely with the HGA, will begin the search for a new title sponsor immediately. The TOUR has a proven track record of securing replacement sponsors and is confident a new title sponsor will be identified, particularly with the advance notice Shell has provided and for a tournament that is so well established and has had such a positive impact on the community.

Unless the Salinas brothers come along and want to move the event to Cancun.

Wednesday
Jun082016

Forward Press: Two Majors Before The U.S. Open...

When the LPGA and PGA Tour Champions have ten majors between them--I think that's it--there are only so many weeks on the calendar they can go. They each have one this week as we gear up for Oakmont and I'm not sure it's a swell idea, but this is the healthy state of pro golf.

In this week's Forward Press you'll find all the TV times necessary, including the LPGA in east coast prime time on NBC, along with some nice drone embeds of the two major venues this week.

Naturally, if your time is limited, stick to the Tillinghast course flyovers over the Ted Robinson ones.

Also, by playing the first round at the KPMG, Ron Sirak says Inbee Park will qualify for the Hall of Fame. Not a sexy way to get in, but well earned nonetheless.

Wednesday
Jun082016

The 2016 U.S. Open Still Is Not A Sell Out...

I'm not sure if this is news or not, since the USGA could announce tomorrow it's sold out and we would not know either way.

Still, considering they were nearing a sell out back in March and you can still get tickets for Monday to Friday play, it begs the question: cost, experience, venue or some combination of all the above?

Oakmont is not quite a boutique venue, but they galleries were to be limited to 30,000 a day, which isn't Pinehurst scale.

Hanging the sold out sign has occurred alarmingly close to the event in recent years.

All but Thursday and a few practice round days were sold out by February, 2010 for Pebble Beach.

All but the first round had sold out at Congressional in May, 2011.

Olympic didn’t sell out until tournament week in 2012.

Merion sold out entirely by June 10th

Chambers Bay sold out except for practice rounds by February, 2015.

Pinehurst kept the streak intact for 28 years, but just barely (June 13).

I know in past threads some of you had noted the experience. I'm curious what you think is the most likely reason?

What is reason #1 the U.S. Open has not sold out?
 
pollcode.com free polls

Wednesday
Jun082016

Phil: Oakmont The Hardest We've Played

There go ED drug sales in Pittsburgh!

We do hear this a lot at majors, only to see players not so intimidated.

Rex Hoggard reports that Phil Mickelson is excited about Oakmont because after two days of scouting, he's determined he won't have to hit many drivers.

“I really think it is the hardest golf course we've ever played,” Mickelson said on Wednesday at the FedEx St. Jude Classic. “A lot of golf courses, when it challenges you tee to green the way Oakmont does, it usually has a little bit of a reprieve on the greens, and you really don't at Oakmont.”

Wednesday
Jun082016

Fox All In On Drones, Comprehensive VR At U.S. Open

A couple of exciting developments from Fox Sports for those hoping to see the golf tournament coverage bar raised, as the Sahil Patel reports for Digiday (h/t Awful Announcing) that drones are a big priority at the network hosting U.S. Open coverage.

Patel writes:

For instance, it’s trying to marry drone footage with augmented reality, which Fox Sports has previously used to create features such as the glowing puck in hockey and the yellow line for football. With drones, it wants to develop features such as “visualized wind” for golf.

It all falls under the Fox Sports Lab label, which is the umbrella term for all of the different experiments Fox Sports is doing with emerging technology. Its work with NextVR to develop virtual reality experiences falls under this banner. So does its golf range finder, which required five different technology companies working together to create.

“You spend a lot of money for the right to broadcast certain things,” said Davies. “To be able to differentiate yourself by showing people something new or different from what they’re normally used to, it’s worth the investment for us.”

And on the VR front, where the PGA Tour and Masters have shown a strong interest, Next VR will be assisting Fox's coverage for Samsung users with all of the right gear. Fox is taking things up several levels with roving coverage, a first in golf (I'm almost positive).

NextVR’s multi-camera broadcast of the tournament includes live four-hole multi-camera coverage and provides immersive views of the tee boxes and greens at Holes 9, 17 and 18, in addition to roving coverage between neighboring Holes 10 and 12. The broadcast also includes a video on demand lineup featuring a narrated behind the scenes look at Oakmont Country Club, live look-ins at Oakmont’s driving range, golf tips and features on each hole.

NextVR and FOX Sports – through its FOX Sports Lab initiative – will deliver live and expanded virtual reality offerings from the 116th U.S. Open Championship, airing June 16-19, 2016.

Wednesday
Jun082016

Golf's Heismen: Hossler, Law Take Top College Honors

I'm a little late on this but nice to see the recognition for Haskins winner Beau Hossler and Annika winner Bronte Law.

Hossler seems to be handling his shoulder injury well given that he is now delaying his pro debut. Ryan Lavner with the report on NCAA golf's two best players for 2015-16 and Hossler's health update shared with Steve Burkowski.

Wednesday
Jun082016

Ok So Not All U.S. Open Sectional Stories End Happily

Garry Smits with the bizarro tale of 17-year-old Won Jun Lee getting docked two strokes for fixing a ball mark off the green.

The story gets more awkward given that the playing partner who called the violation on Lee ended up tied with him for second, only to lose out on a berth because of the penalty.

Lee denied guilt but also repeatedly apologized, and as Smits notes, there was a witness to what was apparently a violation more than once.

Tommy Dudley, a Timuquana member and one of the on-site USGA rules officials, said it wouldn’t have mattered.

“There was enough outside evidence to support [Wilkinson’s] contention,” Dudley said.
Dudley said the “outside evidence” was Wilkinson’s wife, Mandy, who confirmed Lee’s actions. Wilkinson said he asked his wife to watch Lee on Tuesday after he said he said Lee flirted with the rule several times on Monday before a rain delay.

Wilkinson said he approached Lee during the delay to tell him that he was close to breaking the rules.

Fun times in Florida!

Wednesday
Jun082016

Different, Yet Consistent Olympic Golf Views

Dottie Pepper is an Olympic dreamer but at ESPN.com she defends players for skipping in light of format, disease and scheduling issues.

Pepper writes:

The return of golf as an Olympic sport was flawed from the start, not only because it is an individual event (players qualify based on nationality but do not play as a team) but also because of the 72-hole, stroke-play format that is all-too-commonplace in today's professional golf world. Using the group-play concept that has proven so successful in soccer, match-play based on world rankings or even a mixed male-female team format would have been an exciting alternative.

What's more, there should have been better cooperation among the organizations involved with the events most impacted by the Olympics, namely the PGA Tour, European Tour and PGA of America. The LPGA has yet to have a player say she won't participate, but I think this is in large part due to golfers' understanding that their organization will benefit from the TV and media exposure much more than the men's tours will.

Gary D'Amato feels the players are using the Zika virus as a "convenient excuse" to get out of the Olympics, but is in line with Pepper in agreeing that format and scheduling make the player view understandable.

For others, though, I suspect the virus has become a convenient excuse.

Some players simply don't want to be bothered with the Olympics. They don't want to travel to Brazil on the heels of two major championships in July (British Open and PGA) and a few weeks before the FedEx Cup playoffs and the Ryder Cup. It's too much golf packed into a couple months. Hardly anyone plays more than two straight weeks these days.

Plus, the Olympic format is unimaginative: 72 holes of stroke play, identical to the weekly PGA Tour grind. Sixty men and 60 women will qualify based on the respective men's and women's world rankings, with a maximum of four players representing any one country.

"The amount of golf the guys are playing, the bottom line is they play in a number of huge events — all the World Golf Championship events, all the majors," Stricker said. "It's a busy time of year. I'm not speaking for everybody, but I think that's what the concern is. There's a lot of golf being played."

So the narratives, as we head to the Olympics, remain...why (is golf in the Games), why (is the format do dull) and why (was the scheduling so bad).

Despite the issues of vision, greed and oversaturation of product that these points raise, there is great news: few are questioning golf's legitimacy as a sport, and instead questioning particulars like format and schedules.

Which speaks to the strength of the sport, but the need for more vision in trying to secure golf as an Olympic sport.

Tuesday
Jun072016

Jones: "The Unfairness Of Furrowed Bunkers"

It's a little scary to Google Bobby Jones' article on the unfairness of furrowed bunkers and find a ten-year-old post from this very site as the second result.

But in searching for one of my favorite Jones articles that's what happened, and while he wasn't quite as cranky as I remembered, Jones' take on Oakmont's penal bunker furrowing rakes remains a fun read. Especially if you're into the evolution of the place, and in particular, their bunkers.

Here is a Google news version of the story that Jones penned after the 1927 U.S. Open at Oakmont.

Tuesday
Jun072016

The Ultimate Club Pro Signs Off

Peter McCleery of Golf Digest files a nice read on longtime Oakmont head man Bob Ford watching his final U.S. Open as the club's pro and who has been around long enough to have once handled merchandise sales.

At 62, Ford still tried qualifying for this year's U.S. Open, something he has done before.

In 1983, as a competitor in the Open at Oakmont, Ford tied for 26th place, the best finish for a host pro since Claude Harmon at Winged Foot in 1959. No host pro has qualified, let alone made the cut, in a U.S. Open since Ford's 12-over-par showing. Thanks to a mail-order operation that the USGA later emulated, Ford cleared more that week than the champion, Larry Nelson. "Well, Larry made $72,000 for winning that Open, and I would say that we exceeded that," Ford says with a laugh.

Tuesday
Jun072016

ShackHouse Episode 9: Memorial, Doral & Guest Jim Furyk

Former U.S. Open winner and Pennsylvania native Jim Furyk joins us this week to discuss his return to the tour and to Oakmont, where he finished second in 2007. (For a lengthy and excellent Q&A read, Sean Martin also talked to Furyk pre-Oakmont.)

House and I also kick around the Trump/Doral topic, another rainy Memorial and some US Open sectional reaction.

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

Same deal with Soundcloud for the show, and Episode 9 is here.

And the ShackHouse Stitcher page.

Special thank you to our sponsor Callaway, who have a stellar Father's Day gift guide to make your life easier. They've also introduced a rewards program worth checking out immediately, and currently offering a 50% off iron trade-in deal. It's been extended to June 30th.

And make sure to check out the latest Odyssey Putters.

Also, special thank you to episode 9 sponsor Ministry of Supply, sporting the latest in hi-tech, MIT-engineered clothes. Use the ShackHouse15 code to get 15% off your first purchase or visit one of their stores in Boston, San Francisco and Washington DC (soon), mention you heard about them from the ShackHouse podcast and the offer stands! I've just started wearing their pants and dress shirt and if you're liking what people are doing with tech fabrics for comfort, function, dry cleaning elimination and incredible fit, you'll love 'em. Think Lulu only better. ShackHouse15!

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Thanks to all for subscribing, listening, offering your feedback and supporting our advertisers. ShackHouse remains the #1 golf podcast on iTunes and golf's only top 50 sports podcast!

Tuesday
Jun072016

Tiger's Tuesday News Dump And His Future

On the positive side, TigerWoods.com revealed that he's not playing the U.S. Open and Quicken Loans today, Tuesday June 7th, because the USGA is now making pairings off the Sectional results. They plan to release those Friday morning on Colin Cowherd's FS1 show.

Tiger and Steiny also waited until those sectionals played out as to not distract fans from a great day on the calendar for so many core golfers. Good for him.

But I heard from a few folks who weren't too pleased he upstaged the preview coverage of this week's events, the KPMG LPGA, Senior PGA at Philadelphia Cricket Club and the FedEx St. Jude Classic in Memphis, all because they don't believe he's even close to returning.

He can't win.

Except if he just concedes what is increasingly apparent: he's not close and only dangling the possibility of playing tournaments to either keep his spirits up or his name in the news.

After all, why is he still bothering to suggest The Open Championship as a possibility? Does he really think we believe he'll show up in Scotland having played (maybe) one tour event, in weather conditions that are generally not conducive to activating a back prone to issues?

Eventually, the continued carrot dangling followed by WD's will not get much attention. But as long as there are stories, ESPN crawls and social media outbursts, I suppose he'll keep us wondering. I can't fault him, as conceding that you are not able to do what you once did as well as anyone in the game's history, has to conjure up complex emotions. But there is also the danger that fans start to wonder if the last minute canceling of possible returns is merely a way to appease sponsors paying someone who isn't able to compete.

Tuesday
Jun072016

Video: Oakmont's 11th & 12th

A case could be made that the 11th is the least interesting hole at Oakmont, playing uphill to a landing area the golfer can't see and forcing a lay-up for most of today's players who have not managed to boost driving distance averages since 2003.

The green slopes from back left to front right but should give up plenty of birdies. A nice thing since there aren't many left after this.

The flyover:

The par-5 12th featured fairway contour issues last time around that let to the field's GIR finishing at only 44% according to the USGA. Those issues have hopefully been fixed. Tees will be moved around here to offer the look of a reachable five a legit three-shotter. The ingredients here are all pretty spectacular and hopefully the setup is better this time around.

Tuesday
Jun072016

Video: Brazilian Birds Still Don't Know A Golf Ball

Nice spot by golf.com of this Brazilian bird called a "Siriema" bouncing a golf ball off a path. Presumably, the bird thinks these are eggs.

After the second strike-out trying to crack the egg, it is properly freaked out.

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