Twitter: GeoffShac
Writing And Videos
  • Tommy's Honor: The Story of Old Tom Morris and Young Tom Morris, Golf's Founding Father and Son
    Tommy's Honor: The Story of Old Tom Morris and Young Tom Morris, Golf's Founding Father and Son
    by Kevin Cook
  • His Ownself: A Semi-Memoir (Anchor Sports)
    His Ownself: A Semi-Memoir (Anchor Sports)
    by Dan Jenkins
  • The Captain Myth: The Ryder Cup and Sport's Great Leadership Delusion
    The Captain Myth: The Ryder Cup and Sport's Great Leadership Delusion
    by Richard Gillis
  • The Ryder Cup: Golf's Grandest Event – A Complete History
    The Ryder Cup: Golf's Grandest Event – A Complete History
    by Martin Davis
  • A Life Well Played: My Stories
    A Life Well Played: My Stories
    by Arnold Palmer

Putting is the department of golf which...lends itself to experimentation and the exploitation of pet theories.  HARRY VARDON

 

   

Wednesday
May202009

“Guys bring in their instructors, mental coaches and practice 10 hours a day and he beats half the field hungover and tired"

Jeff Rude talks to Lance Ten Broeck and Jesper Parnevik about last week's impressive feat and adds several details, including this:

The odyssey this time in San Antonio began at Happy Hour at Kona Grill on Wednesday afternoon. The last thing on Ten Broeck’s mind was the thought of playing the next day. Rather, he was focused on this happy hour special: 22-ounce Sapporo beer plus a jug of saki for $6.50.

“You can’t turn that down,” he said.

He didn’t. Rather he lived up to his nickname. By his count, he had eight of those combination orders. That’s right, eight. Then he finished up with a “handful of vodkas.” After seven hours of sleep, he got to LaCantera to caddie for Parnevik in a 7:25 a.m. pairing.

Tuesday
May192009

"A player has to be obstinate and/or dumb to get a penalty for slow play."

Jerry Tarde shelves his traditional editor's column in favor of a Q&A with buddy David Fay. While I enjoyed the chat, it's disappointing that Fay did not use the slow play question to advocate the implementation of the USGA's more stringent pace of play policy that's in effect at all but the U.S. Open.

Who's to blame for slow play, and why don't you ever penalize anybody when a threesome takes five hours to play 18 holes in the Open?

No one and everyone, I guess. Just about all big-league sports, including baseball, football and hoops, are taking longer, and so is golf. And it's not the action itself -- throwing, hitting, shooting -- it's the routines and histrionics leading up that eat up time. Over the years, we've all increased the acceptable time to play a round. Which is a bit like dealing with a weight problem by buying larger-waist trousers. It's easy for slowpokes to beat the system. A player has to be obstinate and/or dumb to get a penalty for slow play.

The station concept requires that players have the flagstick in the hole at the fourth, ninth, 13th and 18th hole stations, otherwise a group’s first missed time results in a warning, the second results in a one-shot penalty for each golfer. The third missed time means a two-shot penalty and the fourth time, possible DQ. The USGA feels that it needs the PGA Tour to use a similar system before it springs the idea on players at the U.S. Open. Sigh...

Tuesday
May192009

"The question Nakheel executives will be asking: Why is the deal worth $170 million?"

Alistair Tait stays on the story of Nakheel, the construction arm of the government in Dubai, and the fine folks who brought the world the giant palm islands off the Dubai coast. They've inherited the Leisurecorp mess at Turnberry (at least they can sell that, says Tait), and the European Tour's Race to Dubai:

George O’Grady, the European Tour’s chief executive, is adamant that the sponsorship deal is secure. Aaron Richardson, a senior media-relations manager with Leisurecorp, said the money to back the Race to Dubai already is in the bank.

The question Nakheel executives will be asking: Why is the deal worth $170 million?

You can bet that the European Tour would have jumped for joy had Leisurecorp offered, say, $75 million.

Tuesday
May192009

"I don't know which one is right, but it's kind of hard for both to be right."

Very entertaining Bob Verdi interview with Phil Mickelson in the latest Golf Digest. A few of the highlights:

GD: You were criticized for taking driver out of your bag for the first two rounds.

PM: And I was criticized for using driver too much at Winged Foot. I don't know which one is right, but it's kind of hard for both to be right. At Winged Foot, I was able to contend and almost win by hitting it in the rough, but far down in the rough. At Torrey Pines, I wasn't able to contend by hitting it short in the rough. I probably would have started with driver last year if I had known I was going to miss so many fairways with the 3-wood.

But didn't Phil contend that he didn't need driver because he was thinking No. 13 would be played from the back tee, making it seemingly unreachable for four days? (Turned out it was even reachable from that tee!).

My point: seems the fluid tee concept played some role in making this turn out to be a poor decision, no?

GD: Do you ever see yourself in the broadcast booth? Could you be the next Johnny Miller or Nick Faldo?

PM: No. I don't want to be a commentator. I enjoy mental challenges. I enjoy starting things; I enjoy being creative. I really enjoy business. I started a business a couple years ago, in fact, that will be up and running soon.

Ouch! Take that players-turned-golf broadcasters!

He also goes into his concept for a revamped tour schedule. I like the creativity, but I can see why the Commish gave it about 20 seconds of deliberation.

Tuesday
May192009

Nancy Lopez Plotting Comeback; Still Undecided About Twittering Her Every Move

A lot has changed since Nancy Lopez dominated the women's game, but it sure would be fun to have her back.

Tuesday
May192009

"You want the tee boxes to be green and the greens kept up. As long as you do that, it's fine."

Interesting how in this Marc Figueroa piece about San Diego golf courses going brown and firm due to water shortages, how superintendents and golfers are resigned to the fact and no one seems to feel it's a bad thing for the game. Now if we could just get the Golf Digest panelists on board...

Tuesday
May192009

"It's a horrible success story"

Don't miss Max Adler's undercover Golf World cover story on the "grey" market for Bethpage Black Course tee times. And yes that's right, Golf Digest paid $850 for Adler to experience the Black's backdoor way to tee times.

Allegedly a man known only as "Phil" operates a large cadre of people who flood the telephone system each night by speed-dialing precisely at 7 p.m., the moment tee times seven days ahead become available. To book a time, a golfer's driver's license must be registered in the park reservation system. So for New York State clients, NY Golf Shuttle will register their driver's license (or if the client is already registered, simply use their pre-existing number) and book the time under the client's name. With so many people calling in a coordinated effort, the business model works: A few are bound to get through. For non-residents, who can only book times two days in advance, it's a little trickier, especially if it's a foursome that can't be spearheaded by a resident ID number. But Dave Catalano, operations manager at Bethpage State Park, knows how it is done. NY Golf Shuttle will book the time under a resident ID number, then cancel five days later and rebook it immediately under the out-of-state client's name.

Monday
May182009

World Golf Village And The Hall Of Fame

Upon arriving at the Players, I was consistently asked, "why are you here?"

Can't you feel the love from my fellow members of the working press?

After rambling on about how I'd always wanted to experience golf's fifth of four majors or experiencing Jacksonville in May, I'd casually mention, "Monday I am going down to the World Golf Village."

Invariably, the reply went something like this: "Oh, which course are you playing?"

Shockingly, I was taking in the World Golf Hall of Fame and the many historical treasures on display. While warned that I would be in for a treat by those who know better, I had no concept how good the collection was and how tastefully it has been put on display.

Since I'm occasionally inclined to expect the worst, the idea of a packaged resort, conference center and Hall of Fame off of 95 and well south of Jacksonville doesn't sound entirely romantic, but everything about the complex was impressive. From the oak-lined entrance drive to the elegant trophy room atop the defining tower, the architectural master plan conveys a sense of purpose, prestige and permanence.

Bob Hope memorabilia (click to enlarge)Thanks to the WGHOF's Jane Fader, I was fortunate enough to receive a tour from Mark Cubbedge, the Manager of Collections and Research. He is armed with the task of collecting artifacts, preserving or restoring them, and displaying them for the public to enjoy. Mark has a great story behind nearly every artifact in the Hall of Fame, tales which are often lovingly printed on nice placards with items on display. You could spend hours and still find new things on return visits thanks to Mark's efforts (and some impressive financial backing from several major golf organizations and corporations, not to mention help from a volunteer force that's 200 strong).

Currently on temporary display is Bob Hope: Shanks for the Memory, an exhaustive and peppy look at Hope's life and ties to golf. There's an amazing film in the special exhibit area theater, and every imaginable artifact from a life so closely tied to the game. (Did you know Bob qualified for a British Amateur?). They even have his Honorary Oscar on display.

Rembrandt at the Hall of Fame (click to enlarge)After the Hope special exhibit, you move upstairs where the heart of the collection awaits: a timeline of sorts starting at the earliest references and art tied to golf (sorry Scotland!), including a Rembrandt etching. Later on in the hall you encounter an Andy Warhol painting of Jack Nicklaus. Only golf could bring those two together under the same roof.

Chalmers survey of Old Course, 1836 (click to enlarge)The St. Andrews and Old Tom items range from a stunning 1836 survey map by W.J. Chalmers to many rarely seen images of the course, town and early greats of the game. Even more impressive was the interactive video allowing you to see highlights of any Open Championship covered by film. I could make a day out of that alone.

The collection zig zags in the upper corridors, with all sorts of fun little nooks and crannies that, like a great golf course routing, keeps you in anticipation of more fun surprises. There's the Swilcan Bridge replica for the inevitable photograph waving like Arnie or Jack, a faux green where you can use guttas and hickories to putt on an early 20th century green and plenty of other displays showing off a fantastic early club collection.

It all builds toward the players wing, where you arrive at the grand Shell Hall, highlighted by the shiny bronze "reliefs" displaying the Hall of Famers. Across from there, visitors get to take in memorabilia collected from the HOF's latest entrants (or their families, or in many cases, collectors). Currently there are wonderful displays of items pertaining to Herbert Warren Wind, Pete Dye, Carol Semple Thompson, Bob Charles, Craig Wood and Denny Shute memorabilia, including Pete's beloved copy of MacKenzie's Golf Architecture featuring Pete's notice to anyone who should find the book: a lavish $20 reward.

I will spare you anymore blow-by-blow accounts and just share some images. However, if you are in the area or wavering about going, don't. Just go. The World Golf Hall of Fame is a must for anyone who loves the game.

Early view of St. Andrews No. 18 before the R&A clubhouse was built

Denny Shute's USGA medals (check out that great old USGA logo!)Watercolor of C.B. Macdonald receiving the first U.S. Amateur trophy.

MacKenzie's Pasatiempo drawings on displayAn incredibly rare MacKenzie booklet on Camouflage
Remnant of a Nicklaus exhibition: photo and replica of his dad's drugstore

1904 golf film showing Harry Vardon, here having found a less than stellar lie.


The 18-hole putting course at the World Golf Village
The tower as viewed from the World Golf Foundation offices and the Caddyshack restaurant

Monday
May182009

"This intent thing is a funny one though, and hardly an exact science."

Thanks for all of the great comments on the "intent" issue. John Huggan wrote about it today for GolfDigest.com and reminds us that intent was part of the Rory McIlroy discussion that took longer than Reds to resolve.

This intent thing is a funny one though, and hardly an exact science. Gray areas abound. I mean, how far can using "intent" as an excuse take a player? Yet again, even in a game that sells itself to sponsors largely on the basis of its supposed honesty, integrity and lack of cheating, it depends. But what is certainly true is that golf, it seems to me, wants it all ways.

Monday
May182009

"Let's just say the European Tour may soon have to employ chiropractors to tend to its media bending over backwards to defend his opinions as merely youthful naivete instead of blasphemy."

I smell some press tent skirmishes over Scott Michaux's column questioning the rampant lovefest favorable coverage of all things Rory McIlroy.

Let's just say the European Tour may soon have to employ chiropractors to tend to its media bending over backwards to defend his opinions as merely youthful naivete instead of blasphemy. They've spent so much time building McIlroy up as Europe's answer to Tiger Woods, they just never expected him to answer this question like Tiger Woods.

A smug "he'll learn" from Captain Colin Montgomerie is the harshest rebuke McIlroy has yet received.

You think an American would be treated so gingerly by the notoriously biased European press that cheers in the media centre? Fat chance. Ask Hunter Mahan if he got off as lightly last summer for his clumsy second-hand analysis of the event as an over-hyped burden on the players. The Euro press wrongly assumed he would be overlooked as a captain's pick as punishment for his insolence.

Monday
May182009

USGA Prepares For Disaster 

No, no not what you were thinking. We won't know those ticket and corporate sales numbers until the end of the year.

Neal Weinberg explains how the USGA has formed a partnership with IBM to provide its servers disaster recovery services.

A couple of things stood out in this 1122-word epic:

E-mail is a critical application for the USGA, which generates 150,000 messages a day. "It's really been on my mind," Carroll says. E-mail communication between the USGA and its members is "necessary to run to business."

She adds, "Last summer the phone system went down for a couple of days and nobody blinked an eye. If e-mail is off for 30 seconds, the help desk phones are ringing."

Safe to say the folks at Far Hills really don't like talking on the phone!

Also note the USGA-supplied image of Ms. Carroll. Might those be high-heels on the new Gil Hanse constructed "Himalayas" putting green?

Testing a new USGA Green Section concept for green aerification are we?

Monday
May182009

"They don’t ‘make ‘em like that anymore."

Al Barkow remembers Bob Rosburg and tells us a few things we probably didn't know about the man.

He never took a lesson in his life, and rarely practiced. He was not a ball beating range-rat in the Hogan mode. Fact is, he reminded me that when he won the PGA Championship he never hit one practice ball all week. Not even a couple or three warm-ups. “It was really hot in Minneapolis that week,” Rosburg said, “and the practice range was across the road and down in a hollow. I’d watch these guys coming back up from the range all sweaty and I said to hell with it. I’ll never forget the first hole, a 470-yard par four, hardest hole on the course. Every day I hit a four-wood on the green” Drive and a four-wood, the first shots he hit every day on the way to winning his one major.

Monday
May182009

Rymer Vaults To Prominent Role After Surviving Golf Channel's Most Vile Hazing

I can't think of a more deserving promotion after suffering through Comcast's in-house version of waterboarding: hosting not one, but two Golf Channel reality shows.

Charlie Rymer Joins GOLF CHANNEL On-Air Team

ORLANDO, Fla. (May 18, 2009) – GOLF CHANNEL announced the addition of Charlie Rymer to the network’s on-air team as an analyst for Golf Central, Live From telecasts and live tournament coverage.

An accomplished player, Rymer spent more than 10 years playing professional golf, with a third place at the 1995 Shell Houston Open his best PGA TOUR finish. He also won the 1994 South Carolina Classic on the Nationwide Tour, and as an amateur, was a two-time All American at Georgia Tech.

Prior to joining GOLF CHANNEL in a full-time capacity, Rymer treated golf fans to his quick wit and “down home” humor as a sports commentator for ESPN since 1998. A native of Fort Mill, S.C., Rymer also contributed to GOLF CHANNEL projects such as Road Trip: Myrtle Beach and served as a co-host on Big Break Prince Edward Island.

Monday
May182009

"It became a bigger story than who was winning the golf tournament"

Brian Wacker files a nice follow-up to what continues to be one of the best stories in a long, long time: Lance Ten Broeck looping, playing, playing, looping and beating his man. And doing it with a piecemeal set of clubs on a tough walking course.

Ten Broeck, too, would miss the cut, shooting even par to fall two strokes short. He still made history, however, becoming what appears to be the first caddie to loop for a player and play in the same event. "It was really a big deal," added Parnevik. "A lot of players weren't even aware you could do something like that."

As for beating his boss, Ten Broeck knows better than to bite the hand that feeds him. "I'm sure he was embarrassed enough by it," Ten Broeck said. "I didn't want to rub it in."
Parnevik just laughed at that notion. "I don't know if I would have caddied for him [if he made the cut], but I thought about it," he said. "If he would have asked me to caddie, though, I would have for sure."

Monday
May182009

Just $365 Gets You In The Chalet!

Apparently trying to make a Yankee game look like a bargain, AmEx is getting a little more desperate reminding us of their U.S. Open tournament day passes for cardholders...at $365 a pass.

UNIQUE TICKET PACKAGES NOW AVAILABLE EXCLUSIVELY FOR AMERICAN EXPRESS® CARDMEMBERS TO 2009 U.S OPEN® AT BETHPAGE STATE PARK (BLACK COURSE)

American Express is offering unique access exclusively for Cardmembers to one of golf’s most prestigious championships. Cardmembers have the opportunity to purchase daily passes to attend the 2009 U.S. Open Championship at Bethpage Black on June 18-21 and enjoy access to a private, fully-catered Cardmember-only Chalet.

This special ticket package grants entry to the scenic grounds of Bethpage State Park’s Black Course and the Chalet in the USGA Partner Village that American Express has reserved exclusively for Cardmembers. The Cardmember-only Chalet is located off the 15th fairway and will feature a climate-controlled atmosphere, televisions for viewing championship coverage and complimentary food and beverage.

Tickets* are available for purchase with the American Express Card at http://tinyurl.com/pl5ro2. Cardmembers can also take advantage of a Father’s Day weekend offer, saving $100 when pairs or multiple tickets are purchased.

Sunday
May172009

Intent And The Rules Of Golf

In writing about the Kenny Perry dust-up over his FBR Open playoff actions, Lawrence Donegan quotes the European Tour's top rules referee, John Paramor:

"The fact is the player is allowed to put his club behind the ball, otherwise he would never be allowed to address his ball in any circumstance. As soon as any player puts his club on the grass behind the ball, then the grass will be flattened," he says. "The issue is, is there excessive pressing down with the club?" In other words, was there intent? "Looking at this, I don't think Kenny Perry did use excessive pressure when he put his club behind the ball. It does look bad, it does look like the lie was improved but, as long as there was no intent to do so, and I don't think there was, then it is not a penalty."

To our rules gurus out there, I'm curious, is this intent concept used commonly in the rules of golf?

After all, Roberto de Vicenzo did not intend to sign an incorrect scorecard...

Sunday
May172009

Feherty Corrects Clampett On Air; All Is Forgiven!

I was half asleep during the Valero Open playoff and only thought I heard Bobby Clampett say something funny, but I couldn't be sure. You'll be even more shocked to know that I did not set the DVR for such a historic possibility. Thankfully, reader Mark came to the rescue:

Someone commented on Zach Johnson hitting it in almost the same spot as he had just earlier (during regulation play). Then James Driscoll does the same thing. Clampett notes how "ironic" it is that they both hit it in nearly the same spots they had earlier), and Ferherty quickly chimes in with "Nope, that'd be coincidence." Brilliant! No one else said anything, but that was all I needed.

Sunday
May172009

After Long And Distinguished Career, Rory Hands Torch To Next Irish Golfing Great

There is no truth to the rumors that Rory sustained injuries when burly agent Chubby Chandler sidearmed his young, in-need-of-a-haircut prodigy to slip a card in the pocket of Shane Lowry, amateur and shocking Irish Open winner.

Actually, not entirely shocking considering his topsy-turvy backstory as laid out by Brian Keogh.

Peter Dixon in the Times:

Among those on hand to congratulate Lowry was Rory McIlroy, who put his arm around him after he had missed the “winning” putt in regulation play and told him, “Hang in there. You are still going to win.” And at the end it was McIlroy who led the celebrations by spraying the victor with champagne and whispering in his ear that it was time to turn pro. “He's got nothing left to prove and will learn much more out here than in the amateur ranks,” he said.

Bill Elliott in the Guardian:

For Lowry, there is much to savour. His first European Tour victory came in his first European Tour event, as only the third amateur ever to win on tour and the first to win on his debut.

Unbylined in the Belfast Telegraph:

As Lowry stood on the 72nd hole over a five foot putt for birdie and victory, the title was at his mercy. Yet he couldn’t resist a look, pulling the putt left of the hole.

“Obviously the nerves got to me and I just pulled it. I was just shaking over that putt,” said the 22-year-old, who buried his head in his hands.

In the massive crowd surrounding the green, his mother Briget did the same.

But McIlroy made sure to put his arm around his former Irish amateur teammate’s shoulder as he left the green, saying: “You’ve still got this. You are still going to win this.”

These vital words and the calm assurance of his caddie, David Reynolds, helped Lowry (pictured right) regain his composure for the playoff and later he’d pay due regard to McIlroy.  “I’ve known Rory for a few years now and I’d wondered if he’d wait around for the finish. I actually thought about that for some reason, I don’t know why,” said Lowry. “It was great to see him there.”

Sunday
May172009

“I do feel like a part-time golfer"

Karen Crouse looks at the LPGA's dwindling schedule in a story that is probably most noteworthy because the New York Times put it on the front page during Sybase Classic week. The Brand Lady only conducting interviews via email is also an interesting development. Can't say I think it's a bad idea.

Saturday
May162009

"Kenny has got a lie – it's a down-grain lie but there is a big clump of down-grain grass behind it"

Lawrence Donegan follows up with a more extensive piece sharing a variety of opinions on the Kenny Perry-FBR-Open-controversy first noted earlier this week.

"When I first heard stories about the video I thought, 'I hope Kenny is not being maligned.' And then when I saw it, I was shocked," says Brandel Chamblee, a former PGA Tour player and now a well-respected analyst with the Golf Channel. "What you can say in his defence is that there is no way he was trying to get away with something on a grand scale. The camera was right there and he knew there were millions of people watching on TV. But I was also shocked that no one who was watching at home called in, or that no one who was doing the television coverage mentioned anything about it on air."

It should be noted that the Super Bowl had begun, so the audience at that point was tiny.

John Huggan says this about the incident.

Even the man beaten in the play-off, Charley Hoffman, wanted nothing to do with pointing out the obvious. "I have no problem with that," he gasped. "We all do it."

If what Hoffman claims is true, not only does golf at the highest level have a serious problem, but some education in the area of what does and does not constitute "improving one's lie" is badly needed.

This zoomed in version of the original is below and also on YouTube in a slightly wider version. Note David Feherty's description of the lie as Perry places his club behind the ball.