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
  • Players: The Story of Sports and Money, and the Visionaries Who Fought to Create a Revolution
    Players: The Story of Sports and Money, and the Visionaries Who Fought to Create a Revolution
    by Matthew Futterman

Some of the most interesting holes are those where the best line to the flag is not direct. A.W. TILLINGHAST


    

Saturday
Mar142009

"And the only people unhappy about such a situation seem to be the whining Americans."**

John Huggan says the demise of Americans in the world rankings is long overdue payback for years of European discrimination...

Changed days indeed for the most powerful golfing nation on the planet. Actually, "pay-back time" may be a more accurate description of this still fairly new phenomenon. Not so long ago, before the advent of world rankings and WGCs, America ruled the professional game with a self-interested and insular attitude that served only to distort the history of the sport at the very highest level.

Despite those nasty rumours you may have heard about statistics, the numbers don't lie. Until quite recently, even the very best European players were all but completely excluded from three of the four major championships, those – surprise, surprise – played across the pond.

Friday
Mar132009

"But a little bit of dull to his game should have been expected at this point. It just takes some getting used to."

Greg Stoda looks at Tiger's understandably rusty play. After all, his 8-month layoff was probably the longest since the Mike Douglas Show appearance days when he was two.

Hey, he might blitz the Blue Monster with 64, 65 or 66 today.

But a better guess is that Woods, who's simply not going to win mired so deep in the pack 10 shots off Mickelson's lead, will manufacture another round much like his first two.

It's not that he's being careful - he says he feels "great" save for a sore right ankle - as much as it's a matter of Woods being unable to sustain anything positive. He says it's a lack of "feel" on the course, which might be true. But it's almost certainly a nicer way of saying he's rusty.

It's as though Woods is in a struggle with his internal clock. He seemed several times to be fighting an urge to hurry between shots. There's a pace to the game - heck, fast or slow play can even be a strategy - and Woods might have to get used to his own rhythms again.

Woods isn't, as he said, "playing for five bucks at home in Isleworth" anymore.

No, he isn't.

And as much good as those social rounds surely did Woods in his physical recuperation, he might also have grown too accustomed to zooming through 18 holes in much less time than it takes to compete on the PGA Tour.

Friday
Mar132009

Greg And Chrissy TMI Files, Vol. 23

Not content with having put the ex in her place, egomaniacal newlyweds Greg Norman and Chris Evert spoke to Rich Lerner for a future story of undetermined type and share this for Lerner's Hooks and Cuts from Doral:

Spent Wednesday with Greg Norman and Chris Evert for a future story. Norman's taken up tennis in the last two years and is already very good, holding his own with the 18-time Grand Slam champion on the other side of the net. When they were finished, I said to Greg, "Hey you're pretty good and you have a fairly good teacher as well." With his arm around Chrissy he cracked, "Not only do I have a great instructor, but I get to sleep with her when the lesson's over!"

I'm smelling a Greg and Chrissy Cialis commercial: tennis where she's putting him out of his misery with a blistering backhand, Greg showing Chrissy the Vardon grip (from behind of course), dueling bathtubs on the yacht deck watching the sun set, etc...

Friday
Mar132009

Wie Must Fire 12 More Agents If She Hopes To Erase Memories Of Caddy Carousel

Ron Sirak, writing about the firing of William Morris Agency:

The 19-year-old Wie, who has been on a rollercoaster ride of a pro career and last won a tournament nearly six years ago, went through three different agents while with WMA. First there was Ross Berlin, who lasted about a year, and then Greg Nared, who served a similar sentence. Always overseeing the operation for WMA was Jill Smoller, who was handling Wie's affairs directly when the relationship came to an end after the SBS Open in Hawaii in February.

"It's all good," Smoller said about the termination of the business deal with Wie. "I and we love Michelle and always will." That's a lot kinder than most of her many ex-caddies would say about a work situation that includes intense involvement by Michelle's parents, father B.J. and mother Bo. In all, Wie has had about 15 caddies since she started playing LPGA events seven years ago.

Thursday
Mar122009

Stenson Does His Part To Ensure Most Of Us Think All Swedes Are Batty

I don't know if Kyle Auclair is the luckiest snapper at Doral this week, but he certainly captured Henrik Stenson in his most, uh, organic moment. More of a Bert Yancey episode if you ask me, since it's not like he has to pay for these clothes he wears.

Here's his explanation in an AP story.  And here is the Getty Images page with the entire Auclair sequence.

I love how Fanny appears to be totally unfazed by the scene. Then again, she worked for Faldo so it would take a lot to shock her.

Thursday
Mar122009

''I think when you make a par-4 go-able, it should be for the whole field"

Jeff Shain looks at the emergence of Doral's 16th as a driveable par-4 and gets this sneak preview for weekend play:

From the middle of the teeing ground, it's about 300 yards to the front of the putting surface. From a front marker, the middle of the green could be as close as 280 yards. That is where Tony Wallin expects to set his lure Saturday. From the front tee box, just about everyone will have the range.

''I think when you make a par-4 go-able, it should be for the whole field,'' said Wallin, the PGA Tour official in charge of this week's back-nine setup. "I'm going to make it as tempting as possible. I usually have a fairly easy hole location as well -- let's see some eagles. If they go for it and pull the shot off, reward them.''
Some, meanwhile, won't need a front tee to give it a try. In the past five Doral stops, there has been only one round in which no one attempted to drive the green.

''If you can reach it, you will go for it,'' Vijay Singh said.

Last year brought 53 attempts. None stayed on the putting surface.

''More often I'd drive it in the bunker around the green,'' Harrington said, "which I'm very happy with.''

A few images I took in Fall 2007 of the 16th:

Doral's 16: tee view (click to enlarge)Second shot view (click to enlarge)Rear view of #16 (click to enlarge)

Thursday
Mar122009

Vegas Oddsmakers Refuse All Bets On Inevitably Ugly IMG-Wie Breakup

Michael Buteau confirms Golfweek's report that we have a match made in heaven: IMG and B.J. Wie.

And here we were just thinking that her career guidance had stabilized along with her game.

Wednesday
Mar112009

Woods Expects No Ill Effects From 14-Day Layoff

Teeing off bright and early to the delight of scribes and lens experts, Tiger Woods followed his press conference by answering spellbinding questions about his knee, the match play and his new son. Then he had to duck for these brush back pitches:

Q. Do you have any plans in the future to play in Latin America at all?

Q. I wanted to ask you this in Arizona, but I never got a chance. You've made some really good commercials over the years, but this Sunshine Lollipops Rainbows one, this is outstanding, this one. What is the story on this one, and commercially, do you dig them or are they a pain?

He was asked a few tougher questions.

Q. You alluded to this earlier, that state of the TOUR, with sponsorships and whatnot, are not the best, and early in the season, Commissioner Finchem asked people to be a little more participating, I guess, and asked for cooperation of players. Do you contemplate playing in events that you typically haven't before? Of course, this is assuming the knee is in good shape; or any other kind of contributions?

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, well, I can help out as much as I possibly can. I know I'm doing a few things for Tim down the road, but as far as competing in more events, I really don't know.

For Tim? Sounds so...romantic when you put it that way.

And regarding his criticized last minute entry to Doral...

Q. After the Match Play event, I think the assumption was that this would be your next tournament, barring any physical setbacks; why did you wait till the last minute to commit?

TIGER WOODS: Kind of typically what I always do (laughter).

Q. Why?

TIGER WOODS: I don't know. I just tend to do things that way. (Smiling).

And on missing Masters excitement:

Q. Do you miss that?

TIGER WOODS: I miss guys being able to go out there and shoot 31 on that back nine and win a championship. You know, granted, we have had bad weather the last two years and that's aided the high scoring. But hopefully we can get some good weather and the ball will be flying again, like it can, and guys will be a little bit more aggressive on that back nine and create a little more excitement on Sunday.

Wednesday
Mar112009

"Tiger shot 18-under at Augusta, everyone was pretty happy with that. That started the problem, didn't it."

Warning: the scribblers are hard at work on timely "how to restore excitement to Augusta" stories this year. You can tell by the questions asked of Tiger Woods and Geoff Ogilvy during Wednesday's Doral press gatherings.

Isn't it nice to see that the folks who defended the madness of Hootie's ways finally coming around?

I thought this was interesting from Ogilvy, answering a question about whether he would have a problem with 15 or 17 under winning a major:

GEOFF OGILVY: No problem at all. I think the majority of guys out here, want to get rewarded for good shots. They understand you've got to get punished for bad shots. And they want the guy who plays the best that week to win the tournament, whether that's 15-over or 15-under, that's not really relevant.

Sometimes you feel like you're playing golf courses, and they get so hard, that it's impossible when you play well to kind of have it show in your score. Oakmont, Tiger had the best round in history tee-to-green on Saturday, and he shot 1-over or something like that or 1-under, and he hit 18 greens. It was ridiculous, because the greens were so crazy, he didn't get to -- we don't now talk about Tiger's third round at Oakmont because he wasn't allowed to do it.

But one of the best majors, probably ten years ago, Bob May and Tiger at Valhalla, it was at least, 16-, 17-under, 18; I mean, how good was that tournament to watch? That was incredible. Tiger shot 18-under at Augusta, everyone was pretty happy with that. That started the problem, didn't it. (Laughter).

It just needs to reward the guy -- I think it needs to reward the guys that are playing the best. Guys are sick of missing by a yard and having to chip it four yards out of the fairway, and the guy who is a yard away is hitting the green and making the birdie. There needs to be a correlation to how you play and how you score, and sometimes when it gets so hard, there isn't.

Wednesday
Mar112009

"Amendment 309 of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, introduced by Republican Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma"

Dave Shedloski tells us that it was Coburn who specifically targeted golf from inclusion in the federal stimulus package.

Initial disbursements from the $787 billion stimulus package were delivered in late February. Golf won't see a cent. Amendment 309 of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, introduced by Republican Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, excludes funding for "any casino or other gambling establishment, aquarium, zoo, golf course or swimming pool."

And...

A putdown was not the intention, said Don Tatro, press secretary for Sen. Coburn. "It was not a slap at golf. It has to be looked at in the larger view of priorities. Nevertheless, we realize there are elements where parochial interests weighed in with the next election cycle in mind."

Wednesday
Mar112009

"Somewhere in the last decade's culture of excess in America, cheap golf got lost."

Jaime Diaz in a must read column on the last page of March's Golf Digest:

As decadence took over, the $50 green fee somehow became a bargain. The biggest losers have been kids denied a spawning ground, and the game has become poorer for it.

But there are signs of a reawakening. Youth on Course, a program begun in 2006 in conjunction with the Northern California Golf Association, seeks to facilitate the early connection that is the game's best insurance policy. Donated money, much but not all from the aforementioned rich guys, is used to purchase mostly off-peak starting times--some 28,000 last year--from participating public courses. Those times are then made available to golfers under 18, generally for $2 a round. At facilities with ranges, it's $1 a bucket. More than 100 courses in California--whose managers are more acutely aware than ever that a starting time unused is revenue forever lost­--have supplied more than 11,000 kids with the deep discount. Meanwhile, former USGA president Sandy Tatum, that 88-year-old missionary of the public game, is hoping to make the program a national model.

That won't come cheap. Paul Morton, co-founder of Youth on Course, says it will take $1.2 million to maintain the program at current levels.

Any mathematicians care to guess what you think a national program would cost?

Wednesday
Mar112009

"A Puritan's Pine Valley"

In case it disappears with the unfortunate closing of T&L Golf, don't miss Paul Rogers' excellent profile of Boston Golf Club and the late John Mineck.

Tuesday
Mar102009

Putting Jack's Comments Into A Different Context

Some of you defended Jack Nicklaus's remarks regarding Tiger's ability to speak "intelligently" about design at this point in his life. Others found the remarks as condescending as I did, while still others pointed out that the rest of Jack's remarks were quite positive. (Jack: Tiger raises my design fee! Well, pre-2009.)

What we think does not matter. But if Tiger interprets the remarks as I did, there is a way he could quietly get his revenge.

I say this because I now have two reliable sources reporting that Tiger is strongly considering a return to the 2010 AT&T National at Pebble Beach if Poppy Hills is removed from the three-course rotation. Contrary to Commissioner Tim Finchem's remarks after Thomas Bonk revealed the PGA Tour was checking out Fort Ord ("We just want to be up to speed with what the options are," Finchem said. "You never know."), efforts are being made to accomodate Woods.

This is noteworthy in the case of Nicklaus because Tiger did not care for the new home of the WGC Accenture Match Play, The Ritz Carlton Golf Club, a Jack Nicklaus design that received little positive feedback from contestants. So should Tiger want to make a statement, he could suggest he will not return to the Accenture until a new venue is found. Obviously this would be hugely problematic considering that Nicklaus was handpicked to design a match play layout and the PGA Tour was active in its development. 

But in case you forgot, Tiger is sponsored by both AT&T and Accenture. And I just think Tiger gets what Tiger wants these days, especially when he would have the backing of his peers, something that seems likely with Poppy Hills and The Ritz Carlton GC.

Tuesday
Mar102009

T&L Golf, R.I.P.

A sad day whenever a golf publication disappears and especially frustrating when it's one covering course design and golf travel. Travel and Leisure Golf, which rose above the temptation to regurgitate junk by giving several unque writers a place to reinvent the golf travel story, will be sorely missed. Their website is still up and according to some of the stories filed today, they may keep the site around in some form.

"While the award-winning editorial product has enjoyed a loyal and passionate following, the current advertising climate has severely impacted the magazine’s bottom line to where the short-term and mid-term prospects for the magazine are not viable,” president and CEO Ed Kelly said in a statement.

AdAge added this:

Ad pages at Travel & Leisure Golf sunk 13.9% in 2008, according to the Publishers Information Bureau. It reported average paid circulation of 194,047 in the second half of 2008, 32% lower than the 286,053 paid circulation it reported for the second half of 2007, according to the Audit Bureau of Circulations and BPA Worldwide. Including free copies distributed to public places such as doctor's offices, the title reported average overall circulation of 637,048 in the second half of last year, according to BPA.

Tuesday
Mar102009

“It’s the same thing if one of our sponsors declares bankruptcy."

From Jon Show's look at what Stanford Financial's collapse means to the PGA Tour:

A high-ranking PGA Tour executive said that if Stanford remained in receivership or if its assets were sold off and the proceeds distributed to investors, it was unlikely that the PGA Tour would receive any compensation for the estimated $50 million remaining on the final seven years of its contract.

“It’s the same thing if one of our sponsors declares bankruptcy,” the source said. “We wait in line like everyone else.”

So this confirms that those "ironclad" contracts become much less so with a bankruptcy filing.

Tuesday
Mar102009

LPGA To Torrey, With Caveats

Just getting around to Tod Leonard's story on Torrey Pines South becoming new host to the LPGA's Samsung and I'm not getting a warm, fuzzy feeling about the atmosphere after reading this:

Tournament week begins Monday, Sept. 14, but practice by the LPGA players will be limited that day because a corporate outing on the South will go on as scheduled. The North Course will host its usual public play during the week, according to City Golf Manager Jon Maddern.

Will the women have to share the driving range with the public too?

Monday
Mar092009

Jack On Tiger: "It will take him seven or eight golf courses before he'll learn enough before he'll really be able to talk about it intelligently."

Considering the sheer volume of mediocrity produced by the Nicklaus design factory, Tiger Woods should be heartened by Jack Nicklaus's woefully condescending, ignorant and frankly embarrassing answer to Matty G's question:

Have you had the chance to talk design with Tiger?

No. I wouldn't think so. Tiger, at this point in time, wouldn't know anything about design.

Nothing at all, eh?  Sorry, continue digging:

He knows how to play golf and he knows what a golf course looks like. But it was no different than when I was his age and starting out -- I wouldn't know anything about design. If he decides to get involved he'll learn. He's a smart kid and it depends on how much he wants to get involved.

Kid?

He won't know how to do it, but he'll learn. It will take him seven or eight golf courses before he'll learn enough before he'll really be able to talk about it intelligently.

And just maybe reach the point he too can produce his own Dismal River!

In the same interview Nicklaus lauds the "great job" done in renovating Augusta National. Which is why it's a miracle I did not tune out prior to Matty G's most probing question: "What's the best way to cook a trout?"

Monday
Mar092009

"It's easy to cheer for a guy like Compton, but there's a reason there's no cheering in the press box."

Life as a blogger was growing stale, what with Blot and Goon going eons not posting something really short-sighted, lame and hilariously hypocritical. Ah to the rescue they come! 

Current target: Steve Elling, penning a column about Erik Compton with Elling expressing his opinion that it was a bit strange Compton had not been signed up by an equipment company looking to be associated with only one of the greatest comeback stories in the history of, dare I say it...dare! dare!...sport.

Of course, we're talking about gents who were happy to let Winged Foot, St. Andrews and Augusta grow  outdated so the game could "move on" and provide unfettered shopping opportunities. Still, this is special. 

Blot, take it away:

OK, Compton's a great guy with a great story. But when it comes to covering a sport, it should end there. Why any journalist is making calls on behalf of a player to try and get him an endorsement deal or some sticks is crossing a line that shouldn't be crossed.

Now last I heard, when you write a column and express an opinion you aren't violating any GWAA conduct code. No?

And by the way, thank God that Blot and Goon never cross any kind of journalistic line by sucking up generously touting the "game improvement" products of manufacturers that they would like us to buy, even if we don't need them. Never!

It's easy to cheer for a guy like Compton, but there's a reason there's no cheering in the press box. Besides, be serious -- although Compton may have had trouble securing an endorsement deal, there is not a single equipment company in the land that would not happily have made him custom-built clubs at his request. And those garage-sale clubs at Q School? They weren't exactly hickory shafts and persimmon. He was playing with Titleist equipment barely removed from the current line -- or about what you can find in the bags of a handful of PGA Tour players on any given week.

Here I was thinking companies signed players to have them wearing visors, toting ugly luggage disguised as a billboard and acting like good clean men all in the name of building the brand. Logic might say it's pretty wise business to sign up a great guy who has been through hell and who is showing that when healthy, he is capable of playing the PGA Tour. Not in Blot and Goon's world!

GOUGE: Given the state of journalism today, I wouldn't be surprised that a sportswriter would need a second job. I wouldn't have picked sports agent of one of your profile subjects, however. If nice guys got endorsement deals, then most equipment companies would be out of money. The whole point is to sign players that are in the mix, hanging out in final groups on a regular basis and, well, for starters, have fully exempt playing privileges on a professional tour. I want Erik Compton to win six times this year on the PGA Tour, but if I'm an equipment company handing out full-year endorsement contracts, I'm making business decisions.

Maybe that's why you're writing a blog under a silly pen name big guy and not paid a six-figure salary to make major business decisions! (P.S. loved the italics!)

Thankfully, I'm going to cross that big journalistic line and say the folks at Acushnet/Titleist demonstrated extraordinary vision in recognizing the wisdom of Steve Elling's column that an association with Erik Compton would be a mutually beneficial no-brainer.

Monday
Mar092009

Traverse City Course Closings

Bill O'Brien in the Traverse City Record-Eagle reports that Tom Doak's High Pointe joins a growing list of courses to have closed in the Traverse City area.

Monday
Mar092009

"Are you trying to kill the hospitality business? Because that's what you're doing."

Seems there is finally some logic-based backlash in response to John Kerry's proposed legislation preventing any form of hospitality activities for banks receiving TARP funds.

From Richard Johnson in the New York Post:

"At the end of the day, we are an industry of valets, caterers, florists, groomers and the like," said Shawn Sedlacek, whose VOX Group handled technical and marketing aspects of the Northern Trust event. "For every $100,000 that's spent on an event, $90,000 of that goes to human power. This backlash of 'don't do events' is going to hurt a lot of working-class people."

A rep for the National Business Travel Association said, "In this economy, businesses wouldn't be throwing money around if they didn't expect a return. This bill could really hurt a lot of the people the government is trying to help."

Jerry Tarde offers a balanced perspective on golf's place in the economy. He's not defending ill-timed excess, but instead suggests that our politicians not through the baby out with the bathwater. We'll only dock him a half-point for the platform reference.

Corporate sponsorship is successful because of the attractiveness of the golf audience, the global reach of the product (more than 200 countries), the positive image of our sport and players, and the business-building platform golf provides through pro-ams and entertainment opportunities for customers. It's not only good for your business, it has a widespread economic impact in communities where the events are played. As one example, the Deutsche Bank Championship on the PGA Tour has been estimated to generate at least $50 million in revenue annually to the region. And by the way, that region happens to be Barney Frank's voting district.

Then there's the charity argument. Last year, PGA Tour sponsors donated a record $124 million to charity, $1.4 billion since it began. The golf model should be copied, not pilloried.

New York Times columnist and Golf Digest Contributing Editor Thomas L. Friedman remarked to me the other day that when he speaks to members of Congress he asks them: " 'Are you trying to kill the hospitality business? Because that's what you're doing. No, I am not for bankers using taxpayer money to buy private jets, but if holding conventions or conferences or customer or employee retreats is part of how they advance their business, you don't want to kill that. It drives the whole hospitality industry in America, and that industry isn't fat cats; it's waiters and dishwashers, maids and cooks, event staff and hotel clerks -- blue-collar workers who belong to unions.' It starts to give some of them pause."